Tuesday, July 18, 2017

·  What is your age, roughly speaking?
32
·  What is your occupation or area of study?
I'm a Parking Services Field Representative for the City of Oly.
·  How many years have you been getting around by bike?
I've always loved riding my bike, but my midwestern hometown is notoriously awful for practical cycling. I dabbled in practical cycling in college and began earnestly commuting by bike right after college.

·  What got you started riding your bike to get around (practical cycling)?
The first job I got after college was located only a mile from my house. Cars are too expensive, especially when I lived within a mile or two from work, groceries, friends, etc. And it seemed silly to walk almost half a mile to take a one mile bus trip. But taking my bike to work was fast, cheap, and convenient. I added a milk crate to my bike so I could use it to run errands, and I've never looked back.
·  What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them?
Occasionally, I have to transport things that don't fit in the crate on my bike. There have been times that I've just determined that I WILL make it work. Somehow. I've transported small furniture items, 50+ lbs of groceries, boxes big enough for me to fit inside, and even towed a lawnmower once. The last time I had to move, I moved most of my non-furniture stuff on my bike. I've found that with enough bungee cords, I can do almost anything. And for the things I truly can't transport, I can either take the bus or pester a friend who has a car or truck.
·  What is your most frequent destination on your bike?
Either work or the West Side Co-Op.
·  How did you hear about the Bicycle Commuter Challenge?
I had several friends who did it every year and they always pestered me to do it. I actually really wanted to do it for a few years, but I was very poor at the time and couldn't scrape up the $5 entry fee. I did end up paying for the contest the last one or two years there was a fee. And I was thrilled when the fee went away because I knew it would encourage folks like me to participate.
·  How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Challenge?
I've done it every year since 2013.
·  Describe your current average or usual trip (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.)
My commute to work is about two miles of downhill coasting on pavement with a couple of sections of bike lanes. Heading home is a grueling uphill no-pain-no-gain battle. Most of my biking is short trips (four miles or less) on pavement in urban areas, although a couple of times every summer I'll do 20+ mile rides out to rural areas. My goal this summer is to bike out to the Maytown quarry for a day of swimming and lounging.
·  How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you?
Not having a car, I more often feel like my cycling has adapted to my habits. Do I have to go to a meeting all the way across town right after work? I'll have to bike faster to get there on time. Do I need to transport a large item? I'll have to strap it down securely and ride in a lower gear on hills.
·  What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike?
Happiness. I really feel a sense of joy when I'm riding on a warm sunny day with a nice breeze in my hair. I also enjoy biking up the 4th Ave bridge during the 5 o'clock rush hour. Even when I'm peddling slow and pushing against that long hill, I'm still passing dozens of single-occupant cars. Every time, I quietly hope I've convinced someone to bike or take the bus instead.
·  What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)?
Oh, man. I'm really bad at that. My brakes don't work in the rain (steel rims circa 1978) so if the weather isn't so great, I just take the bus or walk. My year is divided into biking season and busing season.
·  How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)?
I typically decide based on topography. I'd rather bike around a hill instead of going up one side and down the other - even if it's farther. I take side streets when possible due to the lower volume of traffic, but I try to stay close to the most direct route. I LOVE the bike paths like the Chehalis Western Trail. It almost feels like I'm traveling via wormhole.
·  What style of bike do you ride to commute?
I ride a road bike that my mom bought in 1978.
·  Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist?
Own your space on the road. If the shoulder is too narrow or non-existent and there's no bike lane, it's ok (and actually safer) to ride in the center of the lane. It'll encourage cars to give you more space because they won't be able to pass you without leaving the lane, as opposed to trying to squeeze into the lane with you and coming WAY too close for comfort. At intersections, if you suspect someone may try to take the right-of-way when it's your turn, try to make eye contact with other drivers. Give them a stern look. Not quite stink-eye, but a look that says, "In a court of law, I'm bigger than you."
·  What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC?
The joy of riding and the sense of accomplishment that you traveled a lengthy distance by harnessing the power of your own body.

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