Monday, May 21, 2012

Rider Profile #3: Kirsty F.

What is your age, roughly speaking? 19

What is your occupation or area of study? I am a student, studying Community Organization and Change.

What is your most frequent destination on your bike? I most frequently ride my bicycle to work.

How did you hear about the BCC? I first heard about the BCC three years ago at an information stand in Lacey.

What got you started riding your bike to get around (practical cycling)? When I was 15 years old, my mother purchased me a car for fear that if she did not, I would never do so myself and I would not desire to drive. After having the car for a few months, I came to realize that the costs of owning a car were very high. I sold the car and got a bicycle instead!
At the time, I had a low-grade huffy that I had had since grade school, so it was time for an upgrade. After this, I rode my bike everywhere. I worked my rides up to twenty mile trips one way into Olympia from Yelm. Overall, I knew that it was more cost effective, better for the environment, and better for my mental and physical health.

• How many years have you been getting around by bike? Four years

• Describe your current average or usual trip (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.) Living in an urban area as a student and a worker, most of my trips are very short. I bike in this urban setting on the roadway. I bike daily in this great northwest weather, and only recently invested in some rain pants to make for a dryer ride! My average distance is only about 2.5 miles. This has been quite the transition from when I was living in Yelm, WA in more of a rural setting biking twenty miles to get to school and another twenty to get home nearly every day.

• How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you? Commuting by bicycle takes extra time and trip planning. I changed my schedule so that I woke up early and gave myself extra time to change once I reached my destination. Over time I upgraded my biking gear and transitioned to waterproof saddlebags and reflective clothing.

What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike? The benefits from commuting by bike are many. First, it has saved me vast amounts of money. While I have to fix up my bike every now and again, the costs cannot compare to those of taking a car to the shop, getting oil changes, paying for increasing gas prices, and insurance for owning a car. Second, it feels great every time I hop on my bike to make a trip just knowing that I am doing my best not to pollute the very air that I breathe. Third, I have become mentally and physically more fit since riding my bike. Every trip I take is a workout. It is testing, in the rain and cold. Also, when biking, you gain a new perspective. Everything you pass is beautiful in some way, and you have the opportunity to admire this beauty, rather than zoom past it in a blur. You see every angle. After each trip, you gain a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them? I have experienced some frustration with flat tires and other complications with my bike. I have developed my skills greatly in changing flats, but other than that I know little concerning bike mechanics - I am learning though! Another challenge I had, more so when I was starting out, was working out how to organize my schedule. Once building a routine, the process just became part of my daily life.

What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)? More than anything else, I love commuting by bike. It brings me joy and a sense of accomplishment and unity with other cyclists on the road. Even when biking in a downpour, after the first mile or so, you are already completely soaked and muddy, so there is nothing stopping you.

How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)? I tend towards the most direct route, though on occasion I treat myself to a scenic route.

• What style of bike do you ride to commute? I ride a Windsor Wellington 2.0 road bike as well as a Schwinn garage sale purchase. The Schwinn is not as great of a ride, but it gets me from A to B!

Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist? It can be a tough transition, but once you begin bicycling practically, you will realize its many benefits and pleasures. Be cautious, wear protective gear, and more than anything, have fun!

• What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC? My favorite thing about practical cycling is how rewarding every trip is. My favorite thing about the BCC is how it brings together the community of cyclists. During May, more so than any other month, seeing another cyclist on the road is a thrilling and friendly experience.

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