Archive for ‘On a Roll with….’

November 22, 2011

On a Roll with Betsy Lawrence: On Becoming a Late-in-Life Jock

This piece takes a different approach than our usual Q&A for the On a Roll with series. Introducing occasional guest blogger Betsy Lawrence: community college composition instructor, yoga teacher, and the founder of Belles and Baskets. What she doesn’t mention here that you should know: Her round trip to work is nearly 20 miles.

I was the baby of the family: the cute one, the dancing one, the happy one—NOT the athletic one. That was my big sister. I was the not-athletic one to the extent that my mom went to my grade school to warn the PE teacher (one of those old-school, could-have-been-a-character-on-Glee PE teachers) that I was not like my sister, so don’t expect much.

Mom was right. I didn’t learn to walk until I was two and couldn’t ride a bike until I was eleven. I couldn’t make contact with a ball with my hand, foot, or a bat. I spent my junior high years finding ways to be injured to avoid PE. When I ran out of injuries and had to do a 360 on the uneven bars, three spotters had to push me up and over. When we had to jump over hurdles, I refused. The teachers ran masking tape between rows of hurdles so I would jump over the tape without fear of the hurdle falling on me. Title IX was wasted on this girl.

Once I became an adult, while not an athlete, I was pretty active. I adored tap dancing, old-school aerobics, and weight lifting. In my forties, I began practicing yoga and soon became a yoga instructor. All these activities had something in common—they could be done indoors and didn’t feel like “sports.”

Eight years ago when I began dating Steve Faust, the man who later became my husband, he took me on a bike ride. I unearthed a bike that I had used twenty years prior on trips to the playground with my young children. I expected an easy ride, not the fifteen-mile, Riverside State Park loop that he took me on; it nearly killed me. (How is it that loop is uphill the whole way?) However, I enjoyed riding again, so I soon visited a local bike shop and bought a comfort bike.

In the following years, I came to love my heavy, comfortable bike. I added a rack and grocery carrier and became what I called a “lateral cyclist.” No huge hills for me, but living near drug stores, a library, and several grocery stores, with my bike I could easily accomplish tasks, get a little exercise, and (to my shock) feel a little bit less uncoordinated. I biked nearly every day during nice weather and it made running errands feel like play.

Betsy Lawrence in a Ruu-Muu on a summer Bikespedition to Carnegie Square.

Three years ago, as I became more comfortable riding, I heard about Bike to Work Week. I couldn’t imagine ever getting from my home near Comstock Park all the way to my work at Spokane Community College, but just to get involved, I volunteered at the BTW wrap-up party. I marveled at those spandexed folks who seemed to easily commute by bike. Even though I was daunted by thoughts of the trucks, the roads, the distance, the helmet hair, I vowed to ride to work during the next year’s BTW Week.

I began preparing for this task by gathering lots of information. Friends who bike commute explained routes that are commonly used, and I learned that I could avoid streets that frightened me. I found that those in the cycling community are thrilled to educate those who want to give commuting a try.

The next step to becoming a bike jock occurred when I rode in Spokefest the following September; there was a bus with a kind STA driver who demonstrated how to put my bike on a bus rack. Learning that easy, two-step process was the key to opening up the whole town to cycling. On a Friday in May, the last day of Bike to Work Week, I was ready. I rode to work and downtown to the wrap up party, put my very heavy bike on the bus for a two-mile break up the hill, and was proudly able to join the ranks of bike commuter.

No longer only a fair-weather rider, Betsy sets forth on winter roads.

Since that day two years ago, I have biked to work dozens of times. Last summer I decided it was time for an upgrade and bought a lighter bike that makes riding all the way up the South Hill easier. Bike commuting makes my work day a lovely experience. Sure, my hair isn’t quite as fluffy as usual, but after enjoying views of the river, saying “hello” to runners, yielding to geese, and smiling at truck drivers, I enter my work place much calmer than I would after driving. I am very proud to mention that I rode 1,000 miles in 2010—a huge accomplishment for the girl who took years to learn to ride a bike.

This piece first ran in Out There Monthly, Spokane’s fantastic free monthly publication featuring all things outdoors. It’s such a great story that we had to repeat it here to inspire those of you who think you can’t possibly ride a bike for transportation. Our thanks to OTM publisher Jon Snyder for permission to republish here and for being a sponsor from the beginning of Spokane Bikes/Bike to Work Spokane.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Were you athletic as a kid?
  • How has Bike to Work Week affected you?
November 4, 2011

On a Roll with Mary Verner

Mary Verner (center) rides on the bike lane on Jefferson, part of the new downtown Spokane loop created in 2011.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner (center) rides on the bike lane on Jefferson, part of the new downtown Spokane loop created in 2011.

Name: Mary Verner

Location: Spokane

Things Mary does: I’m a content mom and grandmother working as mayor to improve my community.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I lived in sunny Florida with a broken-down car and a commission-based job. I started commuting to work and got hooked on feeling healthy!

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I have an inexpensive street bike with no accessories and an antique (1938) road bike that was used during the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far? 

Recreational riding, usually 10 miles to restore the spirit on the Centennial Trail on the weekends. Occasional commutes to/from City Hall when my daily schedule allows.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

When are you going to fix the potholes (or sweep the bike lanes!)?

What do you usually wear when you ride?

Comfortable shorts or slacks, shirt depending on activity/destination, flat street shoes. I keep a change of clothes at the office.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to? Or at least bike and be comfortable.

Need a dark wash-‘n-wear suit that’s lightweight and suitable for biking so all I have to do is unclamp the pants leg and change shoes and I’m transformed from biker to business woman.

What does this area need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Equal acceptance of women’s rights to wear casual clothing in the professional workplace.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Three-woman bike camping trek from Portland, Maine, through Nova Scotia, Montreal, Vermont, New Hampshire, and home via Boston.

What question didn’t we ask that you really want to answer?

What size seat do you use?

Answer: I’m not telling!

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Know someone we should profile? Is it you? Email us! info-at-bikestylespokane.com.
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October 10, 2011

On a Roll with Jamie Morgan

Jamie Lynn Morgan, Hayden, Idaho, with her 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser

Jamie Lynn Morgan, Hayden, Idaho, with her 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser

Name: Jamie Lynn Morgan

Location: Hayden Lake, Idaho

Things Jamie does:

I am a craft-beer-loving bicycle-riding wife to one and mother to three. Currently I’m the owner of a travel and tourism marketing company (I just use my name for the company name as I am a one-person operation at the moment). Living in the Inland Northwest offers so many opportunities for outdoor activities, but I have to admit I am not a winter sport person; I prefer biking, camping, hiking, and other warm weather sports. When not working to promote craft beer, dining, and activities in the Northwest you will find me homeschooling two of my three children (oldest has two years of college under her belt), teaching as a new instructor at the North Idaho College Workforce Training Center, planning outings for our Bikes and Brews Crew bicycle club, and studying to be a certified beer Cicerone.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I have always loved riding, but I would have to say that my parents buying me my first purple bicycle got me started and living 15 miles out of town for a portion of my teenage years (and not having a driver’s license–wasn’t old enough yet) showed me how efficient riding a bike can be when you want to get somewhere.

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I actually have two of my own. 1. 1935 Elgin Classic Cruiser (the one in the picture). 2. Jaguar 7 Speed Cruiser and several other ones to choose from in my husband’s collection that he has for sale for different types of rides. But 99% of the time I am on one of mine.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I like all kinds of different rides, from short commuting in town to longer rides that include several miles in a day. I would someday like to travel around the United States by bicycle, but that is for when the kids are out of house or at least all old enough to fend for themselves.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

You really rode 20 miles on that seat?

What do you usually wear when you ride?

Since I am a casual rider (meaning I will never race or get anywhere in a big hurry) I am usually just wearing what I have on for the day: shorts, jeans, blouses, t-shirts etc.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, or at least bike and be comfortable?

I would like there to be more options for carrying the things you need in more fun colors and made for women. I don’t bedazzle, so the stuff I buy must already have the bling going on. Clothing that is more comfortable and suited for long rides but still fashionable is definitely on my wish list. My cute shorts don’t always work well for long rides.

What does this area need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

More education for drivers and bicyclists and MORE bike friendly roads and or bike paths. I’m a little tired of having to sometimes go out of my way to get places because the more direct route is not bike-friendly.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Making it up the hill on Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive on the way out to Higgins Point without having to stop. (Has been awhile though–not sure if I could do it now)

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?

Excited.

What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer?

Why would you rather ride your bike than drive your car?

We are always moving so fast through our daily lives and we miss so many things. The smells from the bakery, the older gentleman in his garden who gives you squash because you stopped to admire them, the sounds of nature, and just the ability to pause and take in the scenery. That is why I ride!

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Want to be profiled? Know a woman who should be profiled? Shoot me an email: info AT bikestylespokane.com!
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September 16, 2011

On a Roll with Katherine Widing

Katherine Widing, travel author, on a bike tour in The Netherlands with her bike.

Travel writer Katherine Widing on her latest trip to The Netherlands for a biking/writing tour.

Name: Katherine Widing

Location: Spokane, WA

About Katherine:

Born in Melbourne, Australia. Lived in USA since 1985, with short sojourns in France and the Netherlands. Freelance writer and author of four books on international bicycle touring. Volunteer on Spokane Summer Parkways committee. Addicted to bicycling, travel and chocolate.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

Being an Australian, I’m from a place where most kids ride bikes, so it was natural for me to want to ride a bike as soon as I could, to ride to school, hang out with my friends, do errands, ride to the beach. Thanks to my patient father, who ran behind my bike and held the saddle to give me confidence while I found my balance, I learned to ride a bike. One day he didn’t tell me he’d let go and off I went at 5 years old, and I have never stopped pedaling.

Tell me about your bike(s) and accessories.

How many pages do I have for this answer?

I have three “steeds” in my Spokane stable aka garage: an old Bianchi mixte, a Trek hybrid, and a Bike Friday (folding bike with 20″ wheels that fits in a suitcase). My newest bike, bike #4, is a result of getting annoyed with the hassles airlines have created for cyclists travelling with bikes. I recently took a Dahon Espresso (26″ wheel folding bike) to Europe, and it now lives there with friends waiting there for me (at $150-$200 each way for a bike on the plane, the pain of packing a bike and the worry of damage in transit –after 2 round trips the bike is paid for!!!). And I will always have a bike in Europe 🙂

My bikes are my primary mode of transport, both at home and abroad. ALL my bikes have rear racks and I have assorted panniers. For travelling/touring, my favorites are my Ortlieb waterproof back rollers. I have a pannier fetish, and my bike could don a different pannier for every day of the week. For commuting/shopping etc., I have a variety of panniers collected over the years from a Dutch briefcase to a Jandd grocery bag pannier. I love my handy rear trunk bag for day rides, and find that for touring my Ortlieb waterproof handlebar bag is essential. All my bikes have a computer, fenders, bell and lights. My latest purchase is a map case that attaches to the handlebars, indispensible for bicycle touring.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I ride every day from short rides to do errands to a longer recreational ride on the Centennial Trail, the Fish Lake Trail, or further afield in the Palouse, Seattle or the San Juan Islands.I love joining the Belles and Baskets and FBC for fun, social rides.

For longer touring adventures I have cycled in Australia, California, Utah, Hawaii, and Europe, my favorite European countries being the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg. My trips can be anywhere from a week to 2 months – distances varying from 25 to 70 miles a day.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

“Are you alone?”  I do so much self-supported solo touring in Europe that people I meet en route expect me to have a cycling companion. Often people are surprised to find me as a woman cycling alone.

What do you usually wear when you ride?

I always wear padded bike shorts and gloves. I have all the appropriate gear such as tights, leg warmers, and jerseys for long distance rides. However for riding around town, I often ride in whatever I have on, and add my helmet and a highly visible bright vest or jacket. I love my Burley rain jacket and Craft windstopper pants for chilly, rainy days!

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to?

I am not very fashion conscious, but I do look out for tops, t-shirts, and jerseys with fun designs from polka dots to stripes in bright colors for maximum visibility. My next purchase will be one of Bike Style’s cute Nuu-Muus in one of the fabulous colorful patterns. If there is one thing I wish someone would invent for cyclists, it would be mini windshield wipers for glasses, so I could see in the rain!

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

More bike lanes and drivers who are more attentive to cyclists on the road. More bike racks in strategic locations. I wish the city could afford to re-pave and smooth out the cracked, potholed and lumpy road surfaces. I ride up and down Adams and Jefferson on South Hill at least once a day, and I always feel like I’m in training for the Paris-Roubaix (one of the toughest European road races that takes place in northern France on cobblestones and unpaved roads!).

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Getting back on my bike several months after being hit by a “casino tour” bus, and severely injured.

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?

Happy.

What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer?

What is my global cycling vision?

Obviously to see more people out riding bikes, but especially as an everyday mode of transport. People should see cycling as a way of life—to shop, commute, run errands, visit friends, go out to dinner and recreation. We should take a lesson from the Dutch where cycling is the norm!

Related Reading

——————–

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • Have someone to suggest for a profile? How about you? Suggest a name here or send an email to info AT bikestylespokane.com
  • Have you biked overseas or gone on long tours? What was it like?

Books by Katherine

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September 7, 2011

On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan

Wilma Flanagan wearing a Ruu-Muu and holding her bike. Spokane, WA

Wilma wearing the Ruu-Muu she got for a biking vacation to The Netherlands, at the August Spokane Summer Parkways.

Name: Wilma Flanagan

Location: Spokane, South Hill

Things Wilma does:

I work as a librarian for Spokane County Library District. I also volunteer at Spokane Public Radio, at my daughter’s school (currently Lewis & Clark High School), on the City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board, and with my church.

I like things that are rhythmic and go round, because besides bicycling, I love to knit socks, and I’m learning to spin my own yarn.

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I have always loved to ride a bicycle. However, in 2007, I visited The Netherlands with my husband and daughter, and was completely blown away by the bicycles and the infrastructure. My husband and I spent some time touring around Amsterdam on borrowed bicycles, and it was so much fun that I instantly became obsessed!

Tell me about your bike(s) and accessories.

I think I got my first bike in about 3rd or 4th grade, but I saved for and purchased my first brand new bicycle, a 5-speed Schwinn Suburban, when I was a high school junior. It cost $85 in 1972! I still own that bicycle, but only ride it very occasionally. It’s heavy, and hard to shift!

When I first moved to Spokane, it was just before Mount St. Helens erupted. I had just purchased a brand new car, and after the eruption, I was afraid to drive it in the ash, so I bike-commuted to the library (about a mile each way) for most of the summer of 1980.

In 1990, I met my husband, and he convinced me I should have a better bicycle, so I bought my Bianchi Advantage, a pretty white mixte 21-speed. I didn’t know much about fit, and the shop didn’t really do much for me, so that bike caused me a lot of wrist and neck issues. However, I used it for some touring, and really enjoyed pulling my daughter, first in the Burley d’Lite trailer, and later on the Piccolo tagalong to playgrounds and to and from daycare.

In 2005, I got my third bike, a 24-speed Electra Townie. It was super easy to ride, with flat-foot technology, easy step-through frame, and twist shifters. I added fenders, colorful Dutch bike bags (from Basil) and just rode everywhere. I got brave about riding up and down the South Hill, so I was able to use it for commuting out to the Valley for work, as well as shopping trips to the Valley Mall. I rode it up to fifty miles at a time.

When my husband challenged me to ride STP (Seattle to Portland) in 2010, I considered doing it on the Townie, but was told that this would be very difficult, because there aren’t options for changing position, and it is a slower bike than a road bike would be. I shopped for a road bike, but didn’t find anything I really liked (I wanted something that could accommodate a rack, so that I would be able to carry a few supplies), so ultimately, a friend helped me revamp the Bianchi, by putting road tires on it, and switching out the handlebars for something with more positions for my hands. I chose butterfly bars, because I’m not fond of drop bars.

Nowadays, I mostly ride the Bianchi, but I’m dreaming about an A-Line, which is a semi-custom bicycle made by Natalie Ramsland, Sweetpea Bicycles. Either that, or getting a real Dutch touring bicycle, probably a Gazelle.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I mostly ride for transportation. I bike commute when I can, which is at least once a week, and I do most of my grocery shopping using the bicycle. I have also found that it’s a lot more convenient to do errands downtown with the bicycle. I never have to pay for parking that way, and can almost always find a place to park right next to the business that I want to visit.

I also love day-touring. I love to ride the local trails, the Centennial Trail, Fishlake Trail and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes are favorites. Our family vacation this year was back in The Netherlands, where we did a week-long barge and bicycle cruise. Every day we rode our bikes from the place where we spent the previous night to the new place where the barge was moored. There were fifteen people on the barge, along with three crew to take care of us and guide us each day. It was really a terrific way to tour, and I can’t wait to do it again!

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

People ask me about the Basil bike bags, which I got through Amazon. I see them around a lot more nowadays, so I think more bike shops must be carrying them. Lately, I’ve been enjoying my Po Campo bag, but nobody has asked about that yet!

What do you usually wear when you ride?

I mostly wear ordinary clothes. I don’t like the feeling of padded shorts, unless I’m going a long distance, so I usually wear capris or longer shorts in the summer, or semi tight jeans when it’s colder. I wear t-shirts or a sweatshirt, depending on the temperature. If I’m going to church, I’m quite comfortable dressing in a skirt or dress. That is one of the benefits of riding a step-through or mixte frame. I do have one NuuMuu that I’m extremely fond of, and a couple of jerseys made by Terry that are really comfortable as well. Last year I acquired a rain jacket from Cutter, made of Event waterproof fabric that is fantastic. It is totally breathable, but also very waterproof, so when it’s wet, I can ride without getting sweaty!

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to?

One of the reasons I am thinking about getting a Dutch bike is because that would make it possible to ride in any kind of weather, and in any kind of clothing that I want. Standard equipment on most Dutch bikes include rear rack, chainguard, skirt guard, drum brakes, front and back lights, and step-through frames (in The Netherlands men use them as much as women because of the ease of entry). When you buy a bike in The Netherlands, everything comes standard. You don’t have to add a bunch of stuff to make the bike work for you. You can get more or less deluxe bikes, but all of the necessities are there no matter which model you choose!

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

More bike paths would be outstanding, but if that’s not possible, more bike lanes would do nicely as well! It would also be wonderful if there was a bike shop that catered especially to women riders of all ages and abilities.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Finishing STP last summer was a something I never dreamed I could do, so I was very proud of that. However, just using my bike as a means of getting my transportation accomplished is something I’m proud of every day!

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?

Peaceful.

What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer?

How many bikes should one woman own?

    1. Gazelle for errands and commuting (with fenders, chainguard, skirt guard, sturdy rack, lights, built-in lock)
    2. Sweetpea for the fast rides & cruising
    3. Brompton folder for taking along on trips
    4. Mountain bike for the rides along dirt trails

Bonus: Wilma made this video of one of her bike commuting routes a couple of years ago. Part of the route at 57th/Hatch is much improved today; there are new bike lanes on 57th.

Related Reading

—————-

Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • If you’d like us to go on a roll with you, send an email to info-AT-bikestylespokane-DOT-com with the answers to the questions that Wilma answered, and a sweet pic of you with your bike
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August 28, 2011

On a Roll with Rachel Scrudder

Rachel Scrudder and her Surly Cross-Check

Rachel and her Surly Cross-Check, decked out for commuting.

Name: Rachel Scrudder

Location: Spokane

Things Rachel does:

  • Bicycle commuter
  • Member of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board
  • Software tester

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

Initially I wanted to be more green, and to save money because I couldn’t continue to afford gas at the rate its prices were climbing. Bike to Work Week helped me get my big start riding my bike around town for errands, since I didn’t have a job at the time. Several months later I started working downtown, so the free parking and being able to get there faster than by car or bus were additional motivators.

Tell us about your bike(s) and accessories.

I started commuting on an early 90’s Yokota road bike that I picked up for $80 on Craigslist. It was a great, zippy little bike, but I couldn’t put a rack, a front fender, or snow tires on it. I also picked up a yellow windbreaker on sale at REI, and a set of battery-powered lights.

Rachel Scrudder in profile showing her hat by Old Man's Pants.

Rachel with the very cute hat from Old Man's Pants that she got at Sun People Dry Goods on Bikespedition #2.

That winter I used an old rigid-fork Diamondback someone had given me and added some snow tires I also got from Craigslist, and some new fenders and a seat-post-mounted rack. It was nice to have fenders and a rack, but I preferred the positioning my road bike offered. Not to mention, the derailleur was a low-end, old piece of junk (an unmaintained, early 90’s Shimano SIS) and the drivetrain was old, so the gears were always skipping.

Once spring arrived, I took my tax return and bought a new bike: A black Surly Cross Check. Initially I started with the “Complete” bike straight from Surly’s website, but I’ve gradually made small improvements, including adding a rack and panniers, fenders, black reflective tape, a dynamo hub with LED lights, a Monkey-Lectric wheel light, pedals that are clipless on one side and platform on the other, a leather saddle and handlebar tape.

Last fall I picked up a Showers Pass jacket, and this spring a pair of their rain pants, because I wanted to be waterproof and reflective. I also have two pairs of shoes with recessed cleats: a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of Keen sandals. And this spring I snagged a Po Campo purse from Bike Style that I absolutely love and take everywhere with me.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?

I primarily commute around town. My ride to work is 2 miles each way, but I take my bike to other places such as coffee shops, the grocery store, the park with my daughter, and meetings. I usually don’t bike commute more than 5 miles in one direction. When I don’t, it’s because I have a need for my car like hauling lots of stuff along with my family, and/or I don’t have the time to spend riding 10 miles each way so I take the car.

However, I have planned my life so that I rarely have to travel that far. When I was searching for jobs, I actually looked for one based on if I could commute there by bike or not. Liberty Lake was out, and even a company on East Third seemed pretty impractical because there are very few good ways to get there by bike.

I also enjoy joining some of the local bike events, like the FBC’s monthly fiasco, Summer Parkways, SpokeFest, and the Belles and Baskets group. Occasionally I ride recreationally, between 20 and 50 miles, usually on paved trails. I would like to do this kind of riding more often, but I’m so busy I rarely have the time.

Commuting is the primary way I stay in shape. I love it because it’s so easy. I’ve never been the athletic type, and this way I don’t have to find time to go and exercise. I’m just getting from point A to point B and staying in shape along the way.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?

Summer: How far do you have to ride? Good for you!

Spring and Fall: Aren’t you soaked? You’re very dedicated.

Winter: Isn’t it slippery? Wow, you’re brave.

What do you usually wear when you ride?

For commuting, I wear my normal clothes. I most often wear jeans and a t-shirt with my SPD shoes, but on hot summer days I like to wear big flowy skirts (that I tie up around my knees on the bike) with cute sandals. Sometimes I even wear slacks and dress shoes on the bike. If I have to go extra far, I will change into my bike shorts (if it’s chilly they’ll just go on under my regular clothes), but I just picked up a pair of Pedal Panties and I’m looking forward to trying those out for longer trips.

When I ride recreationally, I wear a pair of bike shorts or knickers, a normal-looking wool shirt, and my SPD shoes.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to? Or at least bike and be comfortable.

I am lucky that I’m 5’10” so I was easily able to find a bike that fit properly. On the other hand, all of the ladies’ bike gloves out there seem to be far too small, so I’m stuck with boring, masculine-looking gloves.

I wish that there were more stylish-yet-functional clothing options for women to ride in–especially in the cold weather. With the hipster biking craze, choices for “normal looking” bike clothes are increasing for men, but they’re still hard to find for women. I don’t care for the way women’s bike jerseys look, and I don’t want to wear Lycra off of the bike.

More companies are starting to offer an option for women bikers (for example, my shoes and jacket), but at this point you’re mostly stuck with hunting around online to find anything. And the price is also often an issue. I have come across some amazing designer-made garments for women to ride in, but I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on one or two items of clothing. Spending more than $50 is difficult for me, but if I know the item is made from good fabric and stitched to last, I’m more likely to hand over my cash.

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Spokane needs more bicycle infrastructure. Paths and cycle tracks would be the best way to draw women out, but even additional bike lanes would help. So many women I talk to say things like, “I want to ride my bike more, but I’m too scared of being hit by a car.” One of the reasons I’m on the Bicycle Advisory Board is to be a voice for women bicyclists and to try to get more bike lanes installed.

I think the other thing that would encourage more women to ride is seeing other women out there riding, demonstrating how easy it is to get around on your bike. The more people who are out on their bikes, the more aware cars become of us and the safer it is for everyone.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?

Every time I ride up a big hill I’m pretty proud of myself. I was shocked at how effortlessly my legs got into shape just by riding to and from work for a month. I used to go out of my way to avoid even the tiniest incline, but after doing that kind of riding, I hopped on my bike and went for a 40-mile bike ride with a friend and it was easy and pain-free!

I’m also pretty proud that I rode my bike to work for 97% of my work days last year, and my butt looks the best it ever has!

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?

Free.

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August 16, 2011

On a Roll with Angela Brown

Angela Brown of Spokane rode Seattle to Portland in 2009

Angela Brown at the 2009 STP (Seattle to Portland) ride.

Name: Angela Brown

Location: Spokane

Things Angela does:  Roots and Wings International Board member, WSU Alumni Board and African American Chapter President, Fundraising Volunteer for Act Six Spokane, Partner of Higher Level Consulting, Co-founder Sistahpedia.com, Director of Employment Services for Spokane Public Schools

Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?

I had a child late in life, which was a catalyst to stay healthy.  I’ve always been athletic, but my weight has always gone up and down.  Along with that, I have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. With a bum knee (from athletics!), my orthopedic surgeon encouraged me to try swimming or cycling.

And with my personality, I couldn’t just “try it”–I plunged in and decided to sign up for the STP (Seattle to Portland ride).  With such a large goal in mind, and the fact that I’m too cheap to pay for registration and not use it, I started training with a good friend of mine.  That was in 2007 and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Tell me about your bike(s) and accessories. 

I love my bike!  It’s a Specialized Dolce.  Everything on it and my accessories are black and pink…including my Camelbak!  My uncle ordered my shoes for me from Specialized and they were actually made to match the bike.  He hadn’t seen my bike at the time, so it was a crazy fluke.

I actually purchased my newest bike accessory from Bike Style Spokane, which is the little square wallet by Po Campo I can carry my ID in when I cycle.  I’ve been using a Coach wallet and it’s too bulky and not waterproof.

What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far? 

I try to ride every week and the distance just depends on how much time I have.  If it’s during lunch, it’s a quick 10-mile ride on the Centennial Trail.  I’ve been training for a sprint triathlon, so I’ve been riding between 10-16 miles on the Fish Lake Trail and then doing a 2-3 mile run.  (Ugh.)  If I’m training for the STP or MS Idaho Ride, I’ll do 25-70 miles depending on how close it is to ride day.  I try to ride to work sometimes, but it’s difficult to manage for me.  That’s 5 miles roundtrip.

What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere? 

“How can you ride with your feet clipped in?  Don’t you fall?”  I’ve fallen twice.  The first time was the very first day that I tried them out and I clipped in with my weak leg and immediately crashed to the ground.  It was 5 am and no one was around…and yes I did check. The second time was during the Loreen Miller Classic and the directional sign had fallen down in the rain.  As I slowed to figure out which way to go, I didn’t pay attention and rode into gravel and kaboom!  Quite funny actually.

What do you usually wear when you ride? 

Bike shorts, jersey, sunglasses, helmet and gloves are my mainstays.

What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to?

I think your new company is helping with that!  I need to get one of the dresses!  A prettier helmet would be nice though.  No one looks cute in a helmet!

What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Drivers who want to share the road.  Better bike lanes throughout the entire city.  I don’t feel very safe riding on our roads.  I’ve almost been hit twice.  At one point, I had even dismounted to walk my bike across a crosswalk and a driver still came through and almost hit me.  It was a matter of seconds and me paying attention.

What’s your proudest biking accomplishment? 

Finishing my first STP! 202.2 miles in 2 days!

What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?  Free.

What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer? 

“What goal do you have for the cycling community?”  To get more people of color out on bikes.  I get excited when I see other cyclists of color because there aren’t many of us here in Spokane.  I ran into a group of about 6 African American cyclists at the STP in 2009 and asked them to stand in their group for a minute so I could see what it feels like!

Related Reading

Your Turn

On a Roll with… features interviews with women who engage in all kinds of riding on all kinds of bikes for all kinds of reasons. Check out the list of women we hope to interview and add your suggestions, or email info at bikestylespokane.com with names (including your own, if you’d like to answer these questions!).

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May 1, 2011

On a Roll With….

“On a Roll with….” will feature interviews with women in and around the Spokane region who bike in style. I’m compiling a list of interviewees I’d love to catch up with and working on the questions I’ll ask them.

This isn’t just about “notable” women (although I’m proud to say we have some notable women leaders who bike!). It’s about talking with women who make biking part of their lives (mostly without making a huge frickin’ deal out of it) and who manage it with style and grace.

Here is the beginnings of a list of women I’d love to talk with:

  • Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, who has opened the Bike to Work Week Kickoff Breakfast every year since we began in 2008
  • Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (@SenatorLisa on Twitter)
  • Bike coach, bike events organizer and Spokane Regional Sports Commission events coordinator Marla Emde of Emde Sports
  • City Council member Amber Waldref
  • Belles and Baskets women’s bike club founder Betsy Lawrence
  • Bicycle Advisory Board member and Spokane County librarian Wilma Flanagan
  • Bicycle Advisory Board member, software QA analyst at Next IT, and mom Rachel Scrudder (@thequestess on Twitter)
  • Eileen Hyatt, Bicycle Alliance of Washington board member, League-certified bike instructor, and SpokaneBikeBuddy@aol.com if you need some advice and help with routes
  • Angela Brown, Director of Employment Services for Spokane Public Schools who started out riding just a little and has now done STP (Seattle to Portland) twice; founder of Sistahpedia
  • Wendy Osterling, a recent transplant to Spokane who’s a pediatric neurologist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital
  • Liza Mattana, certified bike mechanic and board member at Pedals2People
  • Beth Mort, urban forester for the City of Spokane and part of the team at Sun People Dry Goods
  • Nancy Roth, a familiar voice from promos for Spokane Public Radio
  • Erika Henry, co-chair of Spokane Bikes and Spokane Summer Parkways

And here are some questions I might ask:

  • Tell me about your bike(s).
  • What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?
  • What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?
  • What do you usually wear when you ride?
  • What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good?
  • Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on the bike?
  • What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?

Your Turn

  • Who would you like to see interviewed? How about you?
  • What questions would you like to see answered?

We’re Rolling!

I’ll update this list as I add interviews.

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