We're interviewing a few intrepid practical cyclists who commute by bike year-round, to find out how they do it!
What is your age, roughly speaking?
2013 will be my last year in my 20s!
•What is your occupation or area of study?
I manage the Customer Care department for The Spa Depot. We are an online retailer of hot tubs and spa supplies based here in Olympia.
•What is your most frequent destination on your bike?
Work, the grocery store, laundromat, Eastside tavern, Ralph's - I bike pretty much everywhere. The majority of my miles, however, are commuting to work.
•How did you hear about the BCC?
I believe a friend of mine encouraged me to sign up when I first moved to Olympia about 4 years ago.
•How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest?
Every year since 2009. In that first year, I had just moved to Olympia from
Centralia, but I was still employed down in Lewis County. I commuted 5-6 days a
week from Olympia to Centralia by bike and ended up winning the overall
mileage category with 1,763 miles!
•What got you started riding your bike to get around (practical cycling)?
When I lived in Buffalo NY in 2005, I decided that biking into downtown made a
whole lot more sense than driving my car 4 miles and then paying for parking. I
was still a fair weather rider at this point - that has definitely changed!
•How many years have you been getting around by bike?
My bike has been my primary means of transportation for about 5 years now.
•Describe your current average or usual trip (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.)
My current work commute is from the eastside of Olympia to Tumwater, just south of the airport.
After pedaling up Eastside St, I’m on Henderson the majority of the way. It’s right at 8 miles each way with generous shoulders and bike lanes.
•How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you?
I haven’t had to adapt very much – I moved to WA without a car, so I’m very reliant on my bike.
Sometimes when I’m tired or especially unmotivated, I will take the bus (I call it cheating).
Even then, I’m still riding at least 2-3 miles each way.
•What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike?
I have more energy throughout the day, and I find that my rides take on a
meditative quality. I've had some stressful jobs over the years, and biking is a
•What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?
When I used to ride through Lewis County, aggressive drivers were a real problem.
Most drivers in the Olympia area are very respectful to cyclists though. Ice is definitely a challenge, but thankfully it’s rare!
•What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)?
Routine is part of it, but I’m also addicted to the rush I get from clipping in to my pedals and sprinting at a green light or powering up a hill.
•How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)?
In the winter season when visibility is reduced, I find that a route with bike lanes and wide shoulders is best. When the weather is warmer, I like more aggressive routes (e.g. Capitol Way) where I can really pedal hard in traffic.
•What style of bike do you ride to commute?
I ride a Jamis Aurora, which is a touring-style, steel framed bike, with heavy duty
racks, tough wheels, and lots of dings from years of use and thousands of miles.
My dream bike is an A. Homer Hilsen from Rivendell – truly gorgeous lugged
steel with blue paint and white highlights.
•Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist?
Make a concerted effort to use your car less, especially for short trips. If you're
unsure of the kind of gear you need, ask anyone at one of Olympia's many bike
shops (The Bike Stand is my personal favorite). Read "Just Ride" by Grant
Peterson. Buy some wool clothing. Most of all, find your own way to have fun
•What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC?
I like that I am doing the environment a favor. I love the adrenaline rush when
pedaling down a big hill. Seeing other commuters riding through rain or shine is a
big encouragement, and I am proud to live in a city that promotes bike commuting.
•What would you say to someone who feels that it’s not do-able to bike through the winter?
First of all, winters here are pretty mild compared to the East Coast.
If you dress in layers (wool!) and invest in a decent waterproof jacket, you’ll stay dry and comfortable, and after enough practice those winter rides won’t be nearly as daunting.