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Commuter Profile: Trisha P. of “Let’s Go Ride A Bike”

As promised, here is the second part of our “Let’s Go Ride a Bike” commuter profiles. Today we are proud to present Trisha P., the second half of the stylish dynamic duo behind the blog.

trisha

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I started riding my bike to work in April of 2008.

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

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Gas prices were rising, I had just bought a new condo that was close to my office, and I needed the physical exercise. The idea of getting a workout while doing something I needed to do was attractive–I’ve never been the treadmill type. I had fond memories of riding my bike as a kid, and the element of adventure also appealed to me: at that point, I didn’t know anyone who commuted by bike. My commute is about 5 miles round trip, mostly through neighborhoods and side streets. I started out just riding to work, but now I frequently cycle over to local restaurants and bars as well as the grocery store.

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

Bicycle commuting has definitely improved my life! Riding my bike to the office and places in my neighborhood makes me feel more like a part of a community. I am able to experience the weather and the seasonal changes (good and bad) for at least 15 minutes a day before being stuck at the desk. It’s not a big money saver for me, since my commutes are so short, but it does help the environment and my health has never been better. As for relationships, I’ve made many new cycling friends, especially after Dottie and I started our blog in January.

nashville

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

I’m an editor at a book review, and I bike commute in Nashville, Tennessee.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I started out riding the 1990 Schwinn Frontier that I received for my 10th birthday. My very first big-girl bike! Pinkie had been gathering dust for years when I dug her out of my grandparents’ basement last year, but she’s forgiven me the neglect and has been a trustworthy commuting companion. She stands as testimony that you don’t need to spend a ton of money to give bike commuting a try: anything with two wheels will give you a sense of whether it’s for you or not. Unfortunately I thought a pink bike was thief kryptonite—apparently not. Pinkie was stolen in February.

pinkie

Since then, I’ve been riding a late 70’s Peugeot UO-8, Le Peug, that a fellow blogger updated for me.

Le Peug

That said, when I started bike commuting, I made a pact with myself that if I stuck with it through a winter and a summer, I would buy a new bike. Shopping for a reasonably priced bike made specifically for commuters was quite the headache, but I eventually found a 2008 Batavus Entrada Spirit on an end-of-season clearance in the UK for an amazing price and will be bringing it home in May. First brand new bike in 18 years — it’s been a long time coming.

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

Back in October, Belmont University hosted a presidential debate. My route takes me past the school, so I was able to see how the landscape changed daily as fences were put up for security and lanes were blocked off (thankfully, not the bike lane!). The day of the debate, policemen and private security guards were posted in front of and behind the fence—and one of them called out, “Nice bike!” as I rode by. I like to think it was a secret service agent who later told Obama and McCain about me and my pink bike.

And just last month, I decided to give riding in the snow a try (don’t get many opportunities for that in Nashville) without realizing the precipitation was changing from snow to freezing rain and back again. It was possibly the most miserable commute ever, but at the same time, exhilarating.

Other than that, I’ve been chased by a (friendly) dog and endured the usual cycling headaches of rude drivers, being buzzed, blocked bike lanes, etc., but mainly my commutes are pleasantly uneventful, and I like it that way!

bassboat
(editor’s note: Trisha is one of very few commuters who has to avoid getting doored by bass boats!)

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

Most people are just plain curious. Some of them think I’m crazy for riding when it’s above 80 or below 40, or when I’m wearing a dress or skirt, though after 10 months my coworkers don’t really comment on it so much anymore. A lot of people ask me if it’s safe (I think so), or if I carry mace (no). Nashville isn’t much for public or alternative transportation, so the idea is a completely new one to many people, like it was for me before I started. But everyone has been supportive and some people have expressed interest in giving it a try themselves. My boss once told me I was “quite a sight on that bike.” Not sure what she meant by that…

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

No, and it’s horrible, since there’s a lot to be done to make Nashville more bike-friendly. Lately I’ve been paying more attention to the city planning committee, which is working on a proposal for more bike paths/lanes and greenways, and plan on attending their next meeting. Other than that, there’s just the little blog Dottie and I started, and my example as a bicycle commuter. Any readers who know about something I’m missing out on in Nashville, get in touch!

trish

Anything else that you want to share with us?

It’s OK to start gradually. My first goal was to ride to work at least twice a week — then it got up to three times, and now I usually ride as many as the weather will permit (I have to admit that pouring rain has so far defeated me). If you keep it fun and comfortable it’s easier to stick to it.

Again, we’d like to thank the lovely ladies of Let’s Go Ride a Bike” for sharing their profiles and their experiences with us (and also showing the rest of us a thing or two about looking stylish on and off the bike!). Check out their blog…it’s chock-full of goodness!

Book Review: Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures

Several months ago, the publishers of Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures sent us review copies of the book. This book, edited by Erich Schweikher and Paul Diamond (Solana Beach, CA: Casagrande Press, 2007), is a compilation of short stories by different authors, and within these stories are tales of woe that almost any cyclist can relate to.

cover

From tours gone horribly awry to mountain bike adventures that include getting terribly lost in a foreign country, this book is packed with one cycling bummer after another. Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures contains 27 true stories in all, and even has a photo gallery of gnarly crashes and other mishaps!

Several of the stories contained within this book seem embryonic…half-formed, rushed or a little bit lacking in terms of cohesiveness. Others could easily stand on their own and I found myself wishing that the author would continue with the story beyond the confines of the book. No matter what, though, there will be something for every manner of cyclist to relate to…a plague of flat tires, getting lost in the woods, suffering gastric distress (or worse) on a long tour.

Perhaps my favorite story is “Cycling in a New World” by Stan Green, Jr. Green tells the story of his ride through Hurricane Katrina-devastated New Orleans shortly after the storm, visiting old haunts and trying to salvage belongings (and memories) from his childhood home and those of his family members. As a former “occasional” resident of the city of New Orleans, I was familiar with many of the sights Green talked about as he surveyed the destruction and rebirth of the city by bicycle. It moved me when he wrote, “A bike ride through New Orleans can never be what it was before August 29, 2005. Something else lies ahead, something undetectable, something unknowable — a new normal.” My feeling is that statement is a testament to the New Orleans residents’ ability to pick themselves up and adapt to changes no matter what they may be, and the story is a touching look at what was, what is, and what may be for the people of NOLA.

Overall, the book is a fast-paced and enjoyable read — something for everyone. If you get a chance, take a look for yourselves.

Bicycle-Friendly Urban Prank

Longtime reader Eric Nordstrom sent us a link a month or so ago…an article illustrating one of my very favorite methods of civil disobedience — a great prank that included issuing a fake press release and putting up altered signage that helped cyclists with a concern.

Torontoistthe entire article — a prank from the fertile minds at Urban Repair Squad.

I’ve often joked that since the City of Tampa lags behind when it comes to painting bike lanes and adding other bike-friendly infrastructure, I was going to come up with some way to attach a painting device to my Xtracycle and start striping my own lanes…articles like the above and groups like Urban Repair Squad inspire me to make my joke more of a reality!

The Well-Tempered Cyclist

My friend Ken Sturrock turned me on to a well-written essay over at the excellent online/print magazine Momentum…in the essay, author Deb Greco describes her evolution from hotheaded badass to a more “well-tempered cyclist”.

What motorists have always suspected is true: When I get on my bike, a switch goes off and consideration for anyone else ceases to exist. Each morning, amped on fresh air and adrenaline, I fly downhill on San Francisco’s Market Street and head for the Financial District. My goal is simple: to make it to work without stopping – or at least not long enough for my feet to touch the ground.

This is how I recently found myself in the middle of an intersection before the light had turned green, when a MUNI bus came barrelling through despite a good solid red overhead. I only avoided a crash by turning in the direction the bus was travelling in; it came so close, I felt the kiss of steel along the length of my right side. The bus driver slammed on his brakes, stuck his head out his side window, looked me right in the terrified eye, and yelled, “A…”

To read the rest of the essay, please visit Momentum Planet.

This essay really resonated with me — especially because I’m steadily evolving into a more well-tempered cyclist. There were many times in the past when I was quick on the draw with a middle finger and a shouted curseword, and I made a commitment to change after spending a lot of cycling time with my good friend Alan Snel. Alan, a consummate cycling advocate, showed me that a thumbs-up, a friendly wave or any other positive acknowledgment of the motorists around us does far more to help our fellow two-wheelers than any shouting match, obscene gesture or physical confrontation ever could. Alan claims to have transformed several streets in our area into a far more bike-friendly atmosphere by simple acts like throwing the peace sign at every car that passes by, and by God — I think he’s right!

I’ve got a way to go, but Deb’s essay gives me encouragement to continue my evolution towards calmness and friendliness out on the roads.