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Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy on cycling

There's no question in Jim Cuddy's mind why there's such a connection between cycling and music for him and other musicians.

Jim Cuddy

by Dan Dakin

Jim Cuddy
Jim Cuddy. Photo credit: James Ramasy
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There’s no question in Jim Cuddy’s mind why there’s such a connection between cycling and music for him and other musicians. “Anything where there’s a Zen or meditative component to it appeals to artists,” the Blue Rodeo frontman said from his home in Toronto. “You have this clearing of the mind. When I’m writing songs, it helps to germinate ideas and to mull stuff over.”

Cuddy had never spent much time on bikes until 2009, when he got involved with the charity Gold Medal Plates, which raises money for Olympic athletes by auctioning off culinary travel trips with well-known Canadians. The first trip he took was to Tuscany, where his introduction to cycling was a challenging one with long rides alongside Olympians and more experienced riders. “That first year was the first time I had ever clipped in. I remember thinking ‘how hard can this be?’ But I realized that people don’t fall when they’re moving, they fall when they try to stop. You’re not going to kill yourself, you’re going to embarrass yourself,” Cuddy said.

Jim Cuddy Fast Facts

Born Dec. 2, 1955
Career Singer/songwriter with Blue Rodeo
Bikes Opus Andante, Opus Vivace

Back in Canada, Cuddy wanted to get more into the sport, so he bought an Opus Andante from a local shop and quickly got hooked. “I started riding around and once I got it, I started to understand biking, I loved it.”

The musician returned to Tuscany in 2010 along with his wife, actress Rena Polley, and the two rode the countryside together. “It was so much easier. There were a few things I learned about cadence, rhythm, being in too high of a gear and just pacing yourself that makes so much of a difference.” That trip, said Cuddy, got both of them hooked. “The elegance of being on a bike in the countryside, once you kind of click in, that’s what you’re looking for all the time. We came back and we bought her a bike and I got a better bike. Since then we’ve been really hooked.”

One thing he has learned is that, unlike with musical instruments, newer usually means better when it comes to bicycles. “So much of what I use for music is old. What I’m looking for are things that have stood the test of time – old vintage amps or guitars or pianos that have had that aging. With bikes, I realized that a lot of it has to do with what you’re riding and how you’re riding it. In Europe they gave me a special bike and I knew it was a good bike. It just took so much of the stress out of my back and legs.”

Cuddy now rides an Opus Vivace decked out with Shimano Dura-Ace components. So far, his longest day on the bike has been around 60 km, but he figures that will change when the couple heads back to Italy for a third tour with Gold Medal Plates this summer. “The big line to cross in Tuscany is 100 km. That’s a lot of riding. But I’m looking forward to hitting it.

“I know there are more serious riders than I am, but you have to admit that there aren’t too many sports where you can combine a lunch and wine with your sport. It makes you so bloody happy. It’s fantastic.”

That much time spent on the bike should be good news to music fans, as Cuddy will have lots of time to think about ideas for the solo record he’s working on that will be released in the fall. He’s also working on a new Blue Rodeo album due out in 2012. And when he tours with the band the bike is almost always part of the luggage. “Anywhere that we take a bus, I can put the bike underneath.”