Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Winter Bike Commuter Profile #4: Steve

•What is your age, roughly speaking?
Mid 50’s (exactly)
•What is your occupation or area of study?
Fish Biologist
•What is your most frequent destination on your bike?
Riding to work at the Natural Resources Building is my daily commute. I also visit friends in the neighborhood or do light shopping by bike, but most miles are daily commute.
•How did you hear about the Bicycle Commuter Contest?
The Fish & Wildlife BCC team coordinator sent out an agency email. Thank you Tiffany!
•How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest?
Six times- 2008-2013, plus I rode one year with my daughter when she was on the Lincoln Elementary School BCC team.
•What got you started riding your bike to get around (practical cycling)?
The Bicycle Commuter Contest- I actually started riding a month prior to the 2008 contest to get into shape. It took all of April, 2008 before I could make it to the top of San Francisco Street. I was so excited, I rode back down and up again.
•How many years have you been getting around by bike?
Realistically, just the seven years since I first joined the BCC, but I would jump on a bike occasionally before that. Mostly I would ride with my kids when they were younger.
•Describe your current average or usual trip (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.)
I live and work in Olympia, so my ride is all road and neighborhood/downtown. Right now I ride about 3 miles each way. In the summer I take the Woodland trail to Boulevard or Pacific to get a longer ride in. I have seven different routes that I choose from based on my available time, daylight and mood.
•How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you?
The biggest change is that I shower and change at work. That way I don’t need to worry about getting wet or sweaty on the ride in. I have learned to make do with used and DIY gear and to do many repairs myself.
•What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike?
In the first year of riding I lost 23 pounds and improved my fitness level. I save $300 per year in parking alone and got rid of our second car. I have met some great people and have enjoyed some wonderful rides on the Chehalis Western Trail and out to Boston Harbor.
•What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest learning curve was getting the right bike. I still don’t have my dream bike, but it works. I am on my third bike (all used), and it finally does what I want. Trial and error, and seven years of riding taught me a lot about what I want out of a bike. I also had to get used to riding with school buses, logging trucks and the occasional angry driver. I have become much more aware of my surroundings and I don’t take green lights or right of way as a free pass to ride through.
•What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)?
I have a short enough commute that the weather doesn’t bother me. I don’t ride in the snow, or when there is a wet freeze, only because my tires aren’t made for that. If I go a couple of days without riding, I find I can’t wait to get back in the saddle. Also, by giving up my parking pass and one car, I have fewer options.
•How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)? 
 Most mornings I choose the most direct ride through downtown Olympia. I have a few choices that keep me away from the heavier traffic, but I can’t avoid it all. I almost always take a longer ride home that takes in more bike trail and bike lane. On nice days, especially summer, I choose the most scenic ride and take my time to enjoy it.
•What style of bike do you ride to commute?
I ride a hybrid bike that is 11 years old and pretty well used. I have only been riding it a few years and have replaced most of the original components. The frame is bent and rusting in places. Believe it or not, this was a move up. I had been riding a road bike with a short wheel base. The bike couldn’t handle the weight and rigors of commuting and my heels were constantly kicking my panniers.
•Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist?
Get on your bike and ride. Don’t read about it. Don’t think about it. Commit to riding for a month and you’ll be hooked. Also, don’t buy new until you know what you want and need. Most of the local bike shops are excellent resources, and some offer used bikes and gear.
•What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC?
I like seeing the different stages of the tide as I ride along Eastbay Drive, the view of the Capitol lights on dark foggy mornings and having a very personal connection with the weather every day. At my fastest pace, I am still going slow enough to spot wildlife or enjoy views on my commute. My favorite things about the BCC are the events. I like the Bike to Work Day event at Tumwater Falls Park, the Market Ride and showing up at the awards ceremony to see who won in all the categories. Last year I won a bike tire.

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