Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I Bike: Ashley

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
I do not have any memories of learning to ride a bike, so I must have been about 4 or 5 years
old when my parents taught me to ride. I do remember helping to teach my younger brother and
sister to ride a bike when they were old enough.

In what city and state do you live? (country?)
I have lived in Medford, New York (Long Island) now for nearly 9 years, but grew up in New
Martinsville, WV.

What is the biking culture like there?

Many people are surprised to learn that Long Island has a ton of cyclists and many bicycle
clubs (I am the Secretary of the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association).We have a few bike paths
and trails, but not nearly as many as I would like to see. Quite a few of our roadways have bike
lanes, but traffic here is so congested that even with the bike lanes, a lot of people do not feel
safe riding there. I am hoping that we will continue to see an increase in dedicated bike lanes
with the passage of the Complete Streets legislation in NY.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
I own a road bike: a carbon fiber Specialized Ruby Compact and I love her! I am hoping to get a
mountain bike in the next year so that I can extend my riding season into the late fall and winter
on the trails in some of the local county and state parks.

How often do you ride your bike?
My riding season is usually from March through November. I typically ride 2 days a week, but
if I am training for a century or a tour ride (like Climate Ride), I will ride at least 3-4 days per
week. During the winter, I move my training inside to spin classes and my indoor trainer (a Tacx
Fortius, generously given to me second-hand by a fellow Climate Rider) so that I’m ready to go
again in the Spring!

I wish drivers...
I really wish all drivers would ride a bike on the roads that they drive on for just one day so they
can understand what it is like to be on a bike sharing the road with cars. I think if more drivers
had those experiences, they would show more empathy and care when they come across
a bicyclist. They also would understand the many obstacles and dangers cyclists face on a
regular basis and might share the road a little more.

I would ride my bike even more if...
I would absolutely ride my bike even more if my office had showering facilities to clean up after
a commute to work by bike. I would also ride more if I lived somewhere where the winters were

My favorite bike snack___________

My absolute go-to choice while biking is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I love PB&J’s so
much and they are an excellent source of protein and good carbohydrates, which are two things
needed to fuel you on a long ride.

My favorite piece of bike gear is
One bike accessory that I absolutely love is the MapMyRide app for my iPhone. I love that it
tracks all of my rides so that I can see what my average pace was, track my distance and know
how many calories I burned. It is a really important component for my training so that I can track
my progress and continue to challenge myself to be a stronger rider.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?
I typically do not ride during the winter because of the cold, ice and snow, and debris on
the roads. I prefer not to ride during rain, but have done so more times than I would care to
admit. My favorite weather to ride in is around 70* with a little cloud coverage to prevent pesky
sunburns! On Long Island, we usually are riding in very strong winds (8-15mph), so when there
is a calm, breeze-free day, I absolutely love it!

Do you own a car?
Yes, I own a Toyota Prius.

I mostly ride my bike ___
I mostly ride my bike for exercise and to spend time with my cycling friends and to raise money
for great environmental causes! I have commuted to work a few times and I am planning to do
that more regularly in 2013. It is tough for me, though, because I live 15 miles from work, so a
round trip commute is 30 miles (which will take about 2.5-3 hours total with all the stop signs
and traffic lights figured in).

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
I most enjoy the fact that I notice and see things I would normally miss if I were driving my
car. I love that I can stop my bike and take a picture of something that catches my eye. I also
thoroughly enjoy being a part of a cycling community. I have made so many friends just from
riding my bike! And after a ride, the adrenaline is pumping and the endorphins flowing freely and
I feel like I am on top of the world and can conquer anything!

Craziest thing I did on my bike:
The craziest thing I ever did on my bike was ride from NYC to Washington D.C….TWICE! I
participated in Climate Ride, an annual fully supported 5-day ride to raise awareness of climate
change and money for environmental and bike advocacy organizations. I heard about Climate
Ride in March of 2011 and I was so inspired by their mission that I went out and bought a bike
(I had not ridden a bike since high school) and 11 weeks later, I rode 300 miles! I am now in
training for my third Climate Ride. This time I am participating in the California Climate Ride and
I am so excited to see such a gorgeous coastline by bicycle!

The craziest thing I ever carried on my bike was some fresh rhubarb from my Community
Supported Agriculture pick up. It would not fit into my back pack, so I had to strap it to the rack
behind my seat post and it stuck out about two feet. It looked like a flag, but it made it home in
one piece so I made a pie!

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible?

My office does not have any sort of accommodations. I wish that we had showering facilities so
that I could commute more often. I am appreciative, though, that they do allow me to bring my
bike inside the office.

Keep riding, Ashley!

Reader poll: Why do you ride your bike?

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