The green way to tour — cycle across Canada
Winter, spring, summer or fall, you hardly ever see Derek Olive without his bicycle helmet. The 31year- old musician moved to Ottawa from Montreal two years ago, and already has fond memories of biking alongside the Rideau Canal — while others were skating on the ice.
A passionate environmentalist, the singer- songwriter- guitarist commutes by bicycle, year round, to his job as a guitar and banjo instructor at the Ottawa Folklore Centre. Sure enough, his helmet is on the table when we meet for a healthy lunch at the Wild Oat eatery in the Glebe.
Chat with Olive for a few minutes and you’ll hear about his music, as well as his longdistance bicycle adventures in Eastern Europe, Mexico and the Atlantic Provinces. He obviously loves cycling, which he sees as one way to lessen his impact on the planet.
Olive and fellow Ottawa musician Johnny Eden are about to embark on a tour that will put their concern for the environment into action. The pair plans to spend four months cycling between concert dates across the country.
They meet up next week in Powell River, B. C. to start the 6,500- kilometre journey they’re calling Musicycle. Eden is already out west.
What’s driving them? Eden’s website lists a few reasons, including the environment, the Canadian experience, exercise and well- being, and the urge “ for an extraordinary life.” In Olive’s case, a large part of it is environmental guilt.
“ I love playing music and I love the musician’s life,” he says, “ but the environmental aspect is something I’ve been involved in for a long time as well, and really wanted to figure out a way to tour as a musician that I didn’t feel guilty about.
“ That’s really what down to.”
Olive, who records and performs his own acoustic guitarbased jazzy folk music, was contemplating the idea of touring by bicycle when he happened to meet Eden, a singersongwriter- guitarist who roams the country, often by Greyhound bus. He had the same idea; it made sense to join forces.
Olive has plenty of experi-
it came ence in planning bicycle trips, and didn’t mind approaching potential sponsors, while Eden has booked many of his own tours. His wandering spirit has earned him billing as “ the last troubadour.”
Eden did an impressive job assembling the Musicycle itinerary, lining up more than 60 concerts in cafés, pubs, living rooms, art galleries, community halls and other venues across the country. They pedal through 17 stops in B. C., another dozen or so between Black Diamond, Alta., and Winnipeg. A dozen more through Northern Ontario, followed by eight in Eastern Ontario ( and West Quebec). A handful through Quebec, and then a dozen dates in the Maritimes.
The grande finale is scheduled for Petite Riviere, N. S. on Sept. 8.Olive deserves credit, too, for the sponsors he’s managed to round up. Hull- based bicycle manufacturer Eclipse is supplying the two- wheelers, VIA Rail is comping a train ticket to B. C. ( for Olive, departing Friday), Mountain Equipment CoOp has thrown in some camping gear and John Pearse is supplying guitar strings. Instruments and gear will be transported on Yak trailers towed behind the bikes.