Saskatoon woman biking every residential street before 65th birthday

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Joanne Cliff isn’t celebrating her 65th birthday with cake, presents or a big party. The Saskatoon native wanted to do something she would always remember, so she decided to bike every residential street in the city.

“[People] think I’m crazy, which maybe I am, but now that I’ve almost completed all the neighbourhoods, now they’re saying, ‘oh good for you,’” Cliff said.

Her adventure started mid-April. There was still a bit of snow on the ground, but cycling at the beginning of the pandemic was a good time to get busier areas like downtown out of the way.

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The retired switchboard operator writes in a journal after each ride and includes details about what she saw and who she met. She also highlights her routes on a giant city map.

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Cliff started off biking five times a week, but now hits the streets three times a week to fit in some summertime activities.

“I left the house at 8 a.m., and biked to Sutherland, then played pickleball for two hours,” Cliff said about her Tuesday ride through the city.

“Then after pickleball, I biked over to the Silverspring area and biked around and went up and down every street in Silverspring, and then I did the forestry farm.”

Cliff only has four neighbourhoods left to bike through and is on track to finish before she turns 65 on Aug. 24.  While it’s an impressive feat, she said the best part has been getting to know the city better.

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Saskatoon Cycles co-chair Cathy Watts said Cliff’s adventure has been inspiring others.

“Maybe at the very least, it makes people think, ‘well you know I could even investigate my own neighbourhood. I could go on the streets in my own community,'” Watts said.

“If you do that, you’ll find out how easy it was and move to the next community.”

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Putting in the miles Cliff has put in isn’t easy, but she has a few things that keep her going.

“I just love biking — I just love it. You’re outside, you’re getting in the sun.”

“I’m solar-powered, I think,” Cliff said.

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