Commuter Profile: Joe Newell

Meet Joe Newell, he is from Central Point Oregon, here’s his commuter profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started commuting last June. I commuted most of the summer, got a bit burned out by the heat for a few weeks, but got back into the swing and commuted right up to about Thanksgiving. I drove after that until this April and have been commuting again since then.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

The most common answer I hear to questions like this is: I’ve always liked riding bikes and so it seemed natural. This is true for me too, but that’s not why I started. I got the bike touring bug a few years ago and decided to tour the Oregon Coast on a weeks vacation in September ’07. As spring/early summer ’07 happened upon me I began thinking how I could get plenty of miles in for training purposes. The solution was like a light bulb above my head, and I began riding to work and keeping a log of the miles. I might add that I also commuted on an old school pieced together 10 speed Schwinn for the summer about 5 years ago. I am not sure why it took me 4 or 5 years to commit to it again.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I’m a big believer in exercise. My wife and I both observe all of our family members getting older and older and having to deal with all of the physical challenges of old age and bad physical condition. We don’t want to go that route. We believe in keeping in good shape and keeping our weight down. Commuting helps in those areas and it’s sort of a no brainer. I have to go to work anyway…why not multi-task and get a good workout in also??

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I live in rural Southern Oregon in a town called Central Point. It is the next to the city of Medford Oregon, which is 30 miles north of the California border.

I work for the local Sanitation company doing on-site document shredding and recycling.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a GT Nomad hybrid that has been tweeked into sort of a commuter/light tourer. I use that bike for weekend rides and fun rides where I like to go a bit faster. I commute on an old (1990 I think) Cannondale SM2000 rigid MTB.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Last year I was commuting very early in the morning (a rare Saturday workday) and I was the only thing on the road for miles (It was 0’dark thirty) and I had a possum try to commit suicide under my bike tires. At the last second it saw me and reared up and hissed at me. Those things are ugly as hell and it scared the bejeezus out of me.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Last year it was sort of mixed. Some thought it cool to get out and get the exercise and save a few bucks on gas; and some thought it was sort of stupid or nonsensical. This year with gas prices at $4.35 or so, more people are affirming of the bike commute. I am seeing more bikes at work, and more people come up to me and ask me about riding my bike to work.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

No, except to sign up for the local ride whose proceeds go towards the maintenance and extension of the Bear Creek Greenway, which is a 35 mile, nearly continuous bike path and greenway.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

My wife’s cousin works where I work. All and early this year when he would see me commuting, he would laugh at me good naturedly and call me “Schwinn Armstrong” (40 year old virgin reference). He went to the doctor and got some bad news about his health. He called me up and we had a conversation about bike commuting. Now he is riding almost every day. I guess my commuting rubbed off on him.

Many thanks to Joe for emailing his profile, your stickers will be mailed soon.

If you sent a complete commuter profile, be patient, we will be posting them in the upcoming days.


  1. Shek

    The health benefits of bicycling regularly far out-weigh any gas savings or risks. Only if more people would recognize that, health insurance would be so much cheaper.
    I am overweight and have lost almost 10 pounds in the last month. More than that, I feel great, active and alert.
    The health benefits are making a 42 yr old friend of mine start cycling to work as well!

  2. Joe

    I forgot to add to my profile that my commute is about 12 miles RT, but I take a more scenic route and lengthen it to about 14.5 RT. I work 4-10 hour shifts a week and commute 2 or 3 days.

    Thanks guys.

  3. Iron Man

    I LOL’d on the possum story. In the dark months I’m always catching glimpses of those things. Once I had a skunk do the same thing your possum did. I got through faster than he could spray thank god.

  4. Mike Myers

    Possums are scary. I encountered an albino possum one night. Wow. It didn’t retreat from me at all—just hissed. All I saw was red eyes and teeth in my headlight beam.

    Is that a Brooks I see in the first pic, Joe?

  5. Joe

    Yes, the brownish B17 on the hundred dollar Cannondale. My friend sold me that bike (less the mirror and B17 for 100 bucks). It has Armadillos and a suspension stem. He hurt his leg and doesn’t think he will ever get back into cycling. My gain :O)

  6. Elaine

    I love these commuter profiles! It’s so much fun seeing one or two in Google Reader every week. 🙂

    This one really resonated for me — I’m just getting started with bike commuting, and I’m mostly doing it for fun and health, though the environment and gas savings factor in a little bit too.

    I kind of banged up my foot and knees in my running training last month, and casually biking has been great for recovering while remaining active.

    Thanks, Joe!

  7. tadster

    Joe, those pannier straps look like they could tangle in your back wheel, chain, or derailleur!

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  9. Doug Simerly

    You should have seen Joe when he was seriously weight training. He is in awesome shape, physically and spiritually.

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