Cycling is a way of life for Deirdre and Michael Barry, a Leaside couple who have taken part in the Olympics and now run the family business, Mariposa Bicycles.
Deirdre (known as Dede) grew up in Milwaukee and was introduced to cycling as a teenager as a form of cross-training for speedskating. She had raced as a national team speedskater for three years, but she soon found success on the bike, winning the 1989 Junior World Championships road race. She says that was the beginning of a 16-year cycling career capped with a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She was a multiple medallist of world, national and Pan-American competitions, and a member of the U.S. National and Olympic Cycling teams, as well as the Saturn and T-Mobile professional cycling teams.
Michael, who grew up in Davisville Village, immersed himself in cycling at an early age from the time his parents had bike shops at King and Jarvis and on Millwood. He soon became a keen cyclist with a dream of racing in the Tour de France. His dream became a reality when he rode for some of the most famous teams of the time, including Team Sky, T-Mobile, Discovery Channel and the U.S. Postal Service, competing in the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia. He also represented Canada at the Olympics (’96, ’04,’ 08), the Commonwealth Games (’94, ’02), and as a World Tour Cyclist (1998-2012).
Dede and Michael met in Boulder, Colorado in 1997, and lived there and in Girona, Spain for the next several years. They settled in Leaside with their family in 2013 after Michael’s retirement from professional racing and in order to be closer to his parents.
Once in Toronto, Michael and Dede took over the operation of the family business, Mariposa Bicycles, founded in 1969 by Mike Barry, Sr. Today, the company specializes in custom, hand-built bicycles and restorations, but they also have an online store and sell a wide range of bicycles from around the world as well as components, wheels, apparel and accessories. Dede, who has an international MBA, runs the operations and Michael spends most of his time in the workshop, and, with his “experience in bicycle fit and design…he has a unique skill in translating a cyclist’s specifications to the bike design.”
In addition to running the business, Dede and Michael coach aspiring racing cyclists and lead cycling tours to Spain and France. Michael is also a writer who has shared the “cyclist’s perspective from inside the peloton” in four books, three about racing and one, with Dede, about training.
The Barrys’ two children, Liam, 17, and Ashlin, 15, are also avid cyclists, who enjoy biking to school, saying that the commute makes them more focused in class so they never miss a day of biking even in the winter. Moreover, Ashlin, who enjoys racing, set a record in the U-17 pursuit at National Championships in the spring and has a full slate of races this fall.
Dede and Michael value their easy access to the Don Valley park system and use the “phenomenal trails” for running, walking and commuting to work in East York. Dede sums up her family’s dedication to cycling: “It provides health benefits, a way to get fit, an energy-efficient and clean way to commute and an opportunity for competition.”