#30DaysOfBiking Day 9 – Tiny House

One of the things I love about #30DaysOfBiking is that it eliminates the excuses that let me put off things. For example, looking at the forecast on Day 9 I can see that while it’s still only 7 degrees outside, it will be 16 on Monday and going up into the 20s later in the week. Without a daily commitment I’d just stay indoors and wait for the warm sunny weather to arrive.

I’m also paying attention to the things that go through my mind as I get ready to go and specifically those things that make me want to go later or rationalize not going. Having made this 30 day commitment, it’s particularly interesting because the ideas still come but they have no teeth. Unless the weather is actually dangerous to me (ice or dangerous lightning, for example), There is no excuse. “Not perfect weather” or “Not an interesting enough destination.” might fly other times of the year but this month it’s off the table. Today the cool weather, seemingly ever-present wind come to mind but don’t deter me. Nor does the idea that perhaps after 8 days of riding I really needed a day off. This idea is put to rest by the deal I made with myself that distance does not matter. I just have to go out for a few minutes. Even if my legs were really tired and sore I can manage that. Still, I procrastinate on Facebook a little longer until it is almost 4PM. Then, as if hearing my internal monologue, the Atlas Obscura page shared a post.

Atlas Obscura is a fantastic site filled with weird and interesting places to visit and things to see that are, generally speaking, not on the list of “must visit” places in a city. I’ve visited a good number on the list including the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, The Guild Inn and Estate (Sage and I stopped here and made a video on the way to the Doris McCarthy Trail), and of course Primrose.

Today the post reminds me of the smallest house in Toronto. I’ve known about it for years. It’s been here since 1912, after all but it’s in a part of the city I’ve not really explored – all the way on the west end. My inner critic suggests that as it was all the way on the other side of town, maybe it is too far and I should have a more relaxing ride today. But it is too interesting to pass up and so I push through the resistance, get on my clothes and head out.

The weather is warmer for sure. It’s warm enough that I don’t have to cover my ears but cool enough that I’m glad to have gloves to keep the chill from my fingers. As it’s Easter Sunday the traffic is fantastic – about as light as it can be. But I’ll be honest, I’m not convinced that I’ll be up for the full distance. I’m also finding myself disappointed that that idea is even occurring to me. In August of 2020 I went out and rode 200 kilometres in one day and now I’m wondering if 20 km is too much. What happened? My inner doomsayer tells me that this what this age is. I’m rational enough to know that this is not true even though that voice can be pretty convincing. The reality is that I’d been pretty lazy since my two day ride last July. Then in January I got COVID and stopped exercising entirely for several weeks. My “fitness graph” on Strava, while not necessarily a true measure of fitness is a great measure of how much activity I’ve been doing and how intense it’s been. You can really see the drop after July and the huge drop after mid January.

Show that graph again and turn on the measurement of “Fatigue” (the grey line) and you can see that of course I’m feeling a bit more tired than usual.

The day is great for riding. There is something about the air quality and time of day that has made the world seem to be sparkling and clear – like everything is in Super HD with the colour balance turned up. I ride down residential streets that look like they’re from an 80s sitcom opener: big houses, tree-lined streets, people walking their dogs and kids outdoors playing. Despite the best efforts of my inner critic, my mood is rapidly improving.

Soon I’m on streets I haven’t been on before. It’s always nice to see parts of the city I haven’t been to before. This part of town has a bit more pavement and a bunch more automotive body and repair shops but I’m excited to see there are still bike lanes and drivers continue to give me loads of space.

After a couple of wrong turns I stop to look at my map and figure out where to go. Then I see it. I almost missed it hiding between two much bigger houses: Toronto’s smallest house.

Back in 1912, Arthur Weeden saw a small vacant lot in the neighbourhood and decided he would put a house there in the space that was meant to be a laneway between the two houses on either side. He moved in and lived in it for the next twenty-six years.

The house itself is just 2.2 metres wide and 14.3 metres long (7′ 3″ x 46′ 11″) – about 337 square feet or 31.3 square metres. All told this is only a few square feet larger than the yurt we lived in back in 2000. It actually was on the Ellen Degeneres show when it was on the market back in 2010 – for $180,000 – even then the average price was $400,000 so it was a pretty good deal then. (Right now the average home price in Toronto is $1.09 million for perspective).

For me, though, the funniest thing about this visit was what you see when you step back from the house a little bit. The vehicle parked outside looks as if the person bought it when they were feeling really self-conscious about how small their house was and wanted to compensate for it. I’m not sure it could fit in the space the house is in were it still a laneway.

The trip back home felt much quicker. Partly it was knowing the way, but mostly it was because I was focused on my effort, coasting less and picking up my cadence when I noticed it was slowing. In the end the second half was slightly faster than the first half and my last kilometre felt better and stronger than most of my first ones when I was worried that my fitness had permanently declined. Clearly focusing on something else was the trick.

When I got home I also got a fun email from Wandrer.earth – a site that gamifies exploration by bike or running by keeping track of where you’ve ridden or run. I’d ridden 6.69 km on roads I’ve never biked on before. And now, after all the years I’ve been tracking my rides, I’ve ridden on 16.04% of all of the roads and trails in Toronto. Included in the email was an image that showed in blue all of the new places I’d gone.

In the end, the total distance was 24.88 km, I arrived home with more energy and in a better mood than I left in. All of the objections of my inner critic from the cold and windy weather to not knowing where to go to probably not being able to ride long distances anymore proved to be complete nonsense – and figuring that out only required me to ignore them for a few minutes. It makes me wonder what other nonsensical limitations I’ve placed on my life.

Watch for Day 10 tomorrow!

5 thoughts on “#30DaysOfBiking Day 9 – Tiny House

    1. I really was!

      I’m not sure who lives there now – but there are a few photos in the YouTube clip above. It really *is* small. And apparently a family of four used to live in there which I can’t even imagine. The yurt was small but without walls it didn’t feel cramped. This house does – and with houses so close on either side, there are no windows on the sides making it really dark. It’s cute but I don’t think I’d enjoy living there.

    1. Thanks so much! Nice to meet you! I’ve followed you over there though my French is very bad. I live in Canada but grew up in the US so French was not even a small part of my education. I did learn a little bit several years ago when I was working in Quebec.

      1. Nevermind, let’s talk in English! From Toronto I only know Glenn Gould and what seems to be a gigantic tower (but am I wrong? I didn’t check before writing).
        Now I know a blogger, it is much more precious! 😉

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