We're interviewing a few intrepid practical cyclists who commute by bike year-round, to find out how they do it!
Beth: Roughly speaking?!? Is that question worded like that for those who fear growing old? I’m 47!
BCC: What is your occupation or area of study?
Beth:I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I own my own business near downtown, Olympia. I work with individuals who are suicidal and who self harm. I love my work and I love the people I work with (both clients and other therapists).
BCC: What is your most frequent destination on your bike?
Beth:Sadly, work. I’d say 90 % of my bike riding is to get me to work or home from work. I want to do the CUPPA rides with Capital Bike Club, but errands and family commitments rarely make it possible for me to take that much time to ride on a Sat.
BCC: How did you hear about the BCC?
Beth:Originally, I’m not absolutely sure, but I think it was one of those street banners across State Ave by the bus station. I remember the first year I did it (I think maybe 2010) running into Duncan right after I had registered. I was commuting that day and I stopped at the bus station to sign up. After signing up, I went to Olympia Hardware to pick something up on my way to work. When I was coming out of the store, he asked me, “Hey, do you ride much? Have you heard about the Bicycle Commuter Contest?” (or something similar to that). And, I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I just signed up.” It was really cool to meet the “Director” of the BCC within minutes of signing up!
BCC: What got you started riding your bike to get around (practical cycling)?
Beth:I’ve always loved biking and I needed to get more exercise, but was too stingy with my time to go to the gym. I decided to start commuting to get my exercise in.
BCC: How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you?
Beth:I bought an office building with showers in the rest rooms so I can shower before work, but I don’t think you really need to go to this extent :)
Seriously, I have clothes at work I change into. Once a week I bring in clean clothes and take the dirty ones home. Before I had this office building, I would take clothes with me in my panniers. This was more challenging, but it really only took a bit more planning and packing each night. I have two sets of make up - one at home and one at my office. I have a hair dryer at my office and leave all my hair products in my office.
BCC: What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike?
Beth:I commute about 3 times a week which is about 60 miles. My truck gets about 15 mpg, so I’m saving a lot of money on gas. I’m starting to feel the physical effects (I have more energy and my pants seem to fit better). I receive a strong sense of “mastery” every time I ride - an overall feeling of, “Yeah!!! I did it!!” Probably the most important one, though, is my wife told me the other night, “You sure are happier when you ride!”
BCC; What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?
Beth:Challenge #1:Cold and rain! I am a gear junky! I go to the Seattle Bike Expo every year (It’s better than Christmas for me!) and get stuff I need and I talk to the bike shop people and get their opinions about what works and what to avoid.
Challenge #2: Motivation. I had a really rough time in the mornings “just doing it”. Like I said above, I had to make the decision the night before, do as much prep work the night before so it was easy in the morning (i.e. setting out my clothes, having my bike ready and packed, planning an easy breakfast, etc) and cheerlead myself during the night.
Challenge #3: Flat tires - I had 7 flats in 7 days when I started seriously commuting in October. I became so frustrated I almost quit. I went down to see my buddies at Old Town Bicycles and they educated me about Kevlar tires. They’re not cheap, but I’ve not had a flat since I put them on and I’ve ridden over 400 miles! The peace of mind I have with these tires is worth every cent I spent on them!
BCC: What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)?
Beth:I have a weird (?) thought that goes on in my head when I see other commuters - “I wanna be THAT guy”. When I hear myself starting to talk myself out of commuting, I have trained myself to say something like, “You’re never gonna be THAT guy if you don’t ride today, just ride today...”
BCC: Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist?
Beth:Start slow. Set reasonable, achievable goals that are time specific (i.e., I will ride to work once a week during the month of February, 2013). Write your goals down in a space where you will see them every day. Put a line or a box or something next to each goal so you can write in when you’ve achieved it so you can celebrate your accomplishments! Tell others what you’re doing so they can reinforce your behavior by telling you how awesome you are!! Join a local club and ride with others. Talk with the bike shop people - most of the ones I’ve met in Olympia are totally cool and want to make you happy.
BCC: What would you say to a fair weather cyclist who feels that it’s not do-able to bike through the winter (constructive and encouraging-like!)?
Beth:I'd tell them it's all about the gear! When I first started riding in nasty weather (preparing for my first Chilly Hilly), my feet froze! I had to get shoe covers and find the right socks, etc. It took a couple of years of testing and buying before I really felt prepared to ride. I asked for gear for Christmas, for my birthday and for my anniversary. I saved $ and rewarded myself with gear when I made cycling milestones (i.e. my first 100 miles on my computer, each successful completion of the Chilly Hilly, etc). I would tell people to not be put off by the cost of the gear (Capital City Bike Club has a annual bike gear swap coming up, look at Craig's list). Build your gear collection slow by talking to others and testing what works for you. Take baby steps and "just do it"! Biking in foul weather is just as fun as fair weather - just a bit more challenging!
BCC: How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)?
it’s been the most direct, but I read a blog recently that said, “Never
take the same route twice.” So, I’m incorporating this idea a bit at a
time and am starting to take different routes. The challenge is,
there’s really only one way off of Johnson Point, unless I want to add a
lot of miles. I will be adding those miles a little at a time.
BCC: What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC?
love the challenge. When I put the miles down on paper and tell my
friends (or my barista, or anyone who will listen for that matter), I
just feel good! And, the word on the streets is I’m just a happier
person when I ride.
BCC: How many years have you been getting around by bike?
4. I had some “pie in the sky” ideas that I was going to become this
super cool biker in the first year and ride my bike everywhere. It
became apparent very quickly that this was something I needed to ease
into. At first I kinda beat myself up for not reaching “super cool”
status in a couple of months. It took a while to learn to put my bike
stuff together the night before and to go to bed with the “decision”
already made that I was riding the next morning. This was a biggie for
me because if I didn’t make the decision the night before (and cheerlead
myself when I woke up in the middle of the night - Yeah!!! I’m riding
in the morning), I’d often just talk myself out of it in in the morning
while snuggling up in my warm bed.
BCC: Describe your current average or usual trip (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.)
live a ways out towards Johnson Point and work near downtown. The road
is very dark when I ride in and ride home. I have 2 mondo bright head
lights - one on my handlebars and one on my helmet. The shoulder is
pretty wide for the majority of my ride. There is typically a crazy
amount of debris on the shoulder (this October I had 7 flats in 7 days -
once with both the back and the front flat at the same time!), so I
usually ride in the car lane. It’s about 9.25 miles to my work. It’s a
bit scary with cars passing at 50 - 60 miles an hour, but most of them
move over so it’s not too bad.
When the temperature is at least 35,
I commute with my dog, Cooper. Cooper is a therapy dog who works with
me to help my clients. When he commutes with me, he is in a trailer
which I tow. When it’s cold, I put a bunch of towels and a hot water
bottle in the trailer to keep him warm. He loves commuting with me and
when I’m just hanging out in the garage he chills in his trailer.
BCC: What style of bike do you ride to commute?
6 (?) year old Trek 1000 that has had a lot of modifications to fit my
long legs and very short torso. I have fenders on it, a bento box for
my headlight battery and a trunk/pannier rack. I love my bike!!!