BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: miriam gee

Commuter Profile: Willy Campbell

Today’s commuter profile comes from Willy Campbell, who submitted his information months ago and has patiently waited for his time in the spotlight. He’s coming to us all the way from Hawaii — and that makes our second Hawaiian bicycle commuter (hi, Miriam!) Take a look and see what he’s got to offer!

Name:

Willy Campbell [appearing as WillyC on the threads]

thats me

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I have been commuting off and on for most of my life, but have become more regular [not diet related] over the past 2.5 years since moving to Hawaii. I started riding my bike to school, t-ball games, etc. sometime around grade 2 [about as far as I can remember]. We lived in the sticks in Washington State, and it was ~5 miles to and from school. I loved the freedom. I would occasionally ride to a t-ball game [again in the neighborhood of 5 miles] down country roads…of course, this was the early 80’s, and you just did things like that then. I continued to ride until my older brother got his driver’s license shortly after I started my freshman year of high-school. I had a neighbor move in that was a bike junkie [up to this point we had the equivalent of Walmart bikes growing up]. My brother got a Giant Mtn bike for Christmas that year, and they asked if we wanted to go for a ride. They let me borrow an old Schwinn Mtn bike [it was old in 1989], and we took a spin around the hills of the town we lived in..I was hooked. I didn’t ride to school regularly, but when it wasn’t raining, I would take rides as often as possible. Like I said, I just loved the freedom.

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

About 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with Diabetes. The doctor told me I needed to start exercising and eating right, or I was going to die [no joke, I switched doctors shortly after that]. I have never been much of a runner, and I loved to ride, so it all fit. A friend of mine had basically all the pieces I needed for a “commute” bike [mtn bike with slicks, you know the type]. Since I am a MTN biker down to my soul, the drop-bar and super skinny tires never did it for me. Shortly before the diagnosis, my work moved office locations, and happened to end up right on the bike path that splits the Salt Lake Valley. It was 7.5 miles from my house to work. The diagnosis came early spring, so I started to roll to work as much as possible. When the weather didn’t cooperate, I would ride after work and on weekends. Plus, there was no shower available at work, so that deterred me a little…I’m a sweater. About 6 months later, I took a promotion that moved us from Utah to Sacramento. We happened to move 3 miles from the office, but that was just enough to get me sweating, so I didn’t do it much. I did continue to ride after work and on weekends all year round since the winters in NorCal are milder than Utah. 2 years later, I took a job in Hawaii, where I currently live [3 years later]. I still have no shower access at work, so I bus in, and ride home as often as possible [try for 3 times per week]. My commute home is 18 miles; 6 of which are on a bike path that wraps around Pearl Harbor. The remainder is me being a gutter bunny since it is against the law to ride a bike on the sidewalk in most areas on this island. Other than the local favorite past-time of breaking glass bottles all over the gutters, it’s not too bad. I get the occasional finger from the impatient tourists…someone really needs to show them the proper way to “Shaka” [hang loose].

path1

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

The traffic here on Oahu is horrific. I would compare it [during rush-hour] to LA [pretty much always]. The up side is you can only go so far, and if it’s not peak hours, it flows pretty well. Gas here is more expensive than most places in the US, and there is no such thing as free parking on the island. Costco doesn’t count; they will mark your tires, and tow after about 4 hours. Parking at work is $100/month, but they will buy you a bus pass if you use it at least 50% of the time. Winner, winner, winner!! The bus system here is excellent, and I can get from door to door in about 45 minutes. In traffic, it easily takes as long to drive as it does to take the bus. So I don’t have to buy gas for my car, no wear and tear, don’t have to pay for parking, or the bus pass, and get to ride home whenever I want…and since it’s Hawaii, that’s most of the time. I have 32 concurrent bus passes [$65 each], which is 32 months I haven’t had to pay for parking [$100/mo], no gas for the car [at $4.50 a gallon now, who knows], plus no maintenance on the car. Riding also lets me unwind from the daily grind. A bonus to riding the bus is all the books I read, and the occasional nap I get. I try to avoid sleeping on the bus; mostly I fear missing my stop, but even more that, I fear being the guy snoring that everyone on the bus can hear, but no-one wants to poke to get him to stop [which has happened on several occasions]. My company recently [in an effort to go green] has even offered to pay for a bike to get people to stop driving. The rules are still vague, but $300 is more than I could sell my ride for, so I will take it.

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

I work for an Engineering firm based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I teach/train/support Civil Engineering software. It’s basically just glorified baby-sitting, so the unwind on the ride home really helps keep me on an even keel. There are a few designated bike lanes in Honolulu and surrounding, but they don’t seem very well laid out, and usually just end abruptly. Another thing to keep you on your toes is the tide, when it’s high-tide, you never know what you are going to see.

hightide

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

Currently I have a pair of Kona bikes. My commuter is a 2009 Kona Dew Plus, and my Mtn bike is a Kona Smoke 2-9 [actually sold as a commuter, but I added fat 29er tires]. The before mentioned bike I put so many miles on, and that followed me from Utah to California to Hawaii [after following him from Pennsylvania to Utah] was stolen about 18 months ago. I went to lunch with a co-worker, we biked over, and it was stolen in broad daylight. Mine was a bare-bones 10 year old trek I had put 5000+ miles on, and his was a Surly with discs, shock, etc…they cut the cable [my bad] took his bike off mine, and left his. That led to the need to buy a bike, and after shopping around, I decided to give the big wheels a try, and glad I did. Still a flat bar you understand, since my soul would go on strike if I got anything with a drop-bar.

mtn bike

commuter

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

The best I can do, is my claim to Bike Commuters fame. When I saw the profile for Miriam Gee, I thought she looked familiar. A few mothers later, sure enough, there she was at my office for another presentation. I saw the shoes and knew it was her. We had a good chat. She works on the other side of Honolulu, and heads the opposite way to get home.

The only other thing I have is I managed to run over a mongoose’s tail last week on the way home. If you’ve never seen a mongoose [and no, not the junk bikes], look it up. Two ran across the path in front of me, and a third hesitated almost too long. I waited for the bump as he went under my wheel, but it didn’t happen. I would have thought he made it, but there was a slight hesitation as I rolled over his fuzzy tail. Speaking of junk bikes, they really like to make that thing look all mean and frenzied on their decals. Truth be told, they are like roaches, they see you and they bolt, and the decals on the bikes are about double size what a real one is.

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

Mostly jaws on the ground, and that dumbfounded look that usually lasts longer than is comfortable. 18 MILES??? How long does it take? 1:15, oh, that’s not bad [like they could do it faster]. Then I watch them try and figure out how I do it. There really aren’t too many options when it comes down to it. A couple of pinch points, and no matter where you veer off, you end up within a street or two of the only other options. Most people don’t drive to where I live…ever. I work with a handful of people that have lived here their whole lives, and have never been to Ewa.

path3


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

There used to be a Critical Mass occasionally, but they kind of faded when the cops started cracking down, but was before I got here. I am not aware of any groups or advocacy programs, so mostly it is just me riding home, waving to all the other guys I pass on bikes [cause that’s what you do when you ride].

path2

Anything else that you want to share with us?

1. If it seems like I’m roadie-bashing [with the dropbar comments], it’s not intended to be hateful or hurtful. And yes, I have had several road bikes and tried to “get used to it,” but they all ended up being traded or sold in favor of a Mtn bike [mostly it’s the upright position I like]. My current commute bike has 700×35’s [enough volume to take the bumps], a riser bar with extended steer-tube, and is dialed just right…leaving no numb parts after 40 miles.

2. I have tried several ways to keep a pack off my shoulders, but seem to be stuck now. I had a rack with a trunk bag, but all the Velcro made it less than convenient to remove it from said rack. I saw the article on panniers, found one on Craigslist for a song, and gave it a try. Just stuff my pack in, and roll. About 2 weeks ago, one of the mounts for the top of the rack [where the post screws to the frame] came out. The whole thing [which amounts to a fancy rivet] popped out. Took it to the shop, and they replaced it with yet another rivet. 2 days ago, the other side pulled out, AND the replacement was stripped out…the bag doesn’t weigh that much, but a couple thousand miles, and the bumpy roads around here = no more pannier or rack. As I mentioned, I sweat, so the idea of having a pack on my back is my last resort. If you have any other suggestions, please pass them along.

3. I took the chance recently to make a video of my commute home. I mounted a GoPro to my helmet, and had it take a picture every 2 seconds, then compiled to a video [I call a flick]. It is choppy, so if you tend to get motion sick, you may want to reconsider. (Editor’s note…it is quite choppy. Drop a couple of Dramamine and come back to the video):

We’d like to thank Willy for sharing his words and photos with us. We have a few more commuter profiles waiting in the wings, but the hopper is getting low. If you’re interested in being profiled, drop us a line at: info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com or ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

Hawaii Bicycling League: Zach Manago’s Ride in Paradise

Aloha from Honolulu, Bike Commuters! Mir.I.Am here, announcing the Hawaii Bicycling League’s summer safety adventure: Zach Manago’s Ride in Paradise. Info about the event from Chad Taniguchi, director of HBL, goes something like this:

For more details, contact Chad Taniguchi at HBL : bicycle@hbl.org

Join us for Zach Manago’s Ride in Paradise July 9-10, 2011 for Safety Awareness

* 144 Miles around Oahu in 2 days
* Ride all or parts** of it
* Pledge or donate to HBL’s Safety Education & Awareness Program
* Read Zach’s story and register/pledge at www.HBL.org
* Order T-shirts by July 4, 2011

The plan is to ride around the island in two days with camping overnight and support vehicles along the way. The group will be stopping at various police stations discussing road hazards and safety awareness for cyclists and motorists alike. The ride is to commemorate the life of Zach Manago, a Hawaii Pacific University freshman who was killed by a hit and run motorist in December of 2010 at the beginning of a round-the-island group ride planned by Aloha Fixed. Word is that Zach’s family is supporting the ride and advocating for bicycle safety on Oahu – apparently notorious for bad driving and an overall disdain for cyclists!!! (You tell me, I’ve never had any bad juju on my commutes, but I typically ride in my own world where Michael Bolton is a pirate).

This ride is not for the weak-tushed. Get your safety gear on and steel your okole for some serious mileage… or take on at least part of the ride! The scenery will be killer and donations go towards a good cause. I’m not usually one to “bike” for advocacy, as my personal form of advocacy reflects the mentality of a kindergartner (“If you ride bikes with me, I’ll be your BEST FRIIIIEEEEEND!”) But anyone can join in for part of the ride, when the group passes through your hood, just hop on the bike and cruise with the crazies. Check the maps** for the breakdown:

Day 1 - West side!

and then there’s this~!

Day 2: CAN YOU HANDLE THIS!!!

HBL is also sponsoring a free “Cycle Safe Oahu” clinic at 3:30 pm on Saturday July 9th at the State Capitol in downtown (day one of the ride). At the start of day two, meet again at the capitol for the Rally for Safety at 8 am on Sunday July 10th, meeting at the State Capitol and ride with the group to Waikiki. If you want to register for some or part go to www.hbl.org to do it right.

Hawaii commuters and cyclists, break out your fixies, foldies, roadies, MTBs, cruisers, commuters, and whatevas to come out for this ride. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun! I’ll be there, bunny-hopping a hot dog or puking electrolytes at about noon on either day…. so no EXCUSES! (Remember the Daria-like athleticism that I overcome on a daily basis.)

Me Bunny-hopping a Hot Dog

Post if you’re into it!!! Mainland peeps, fly over for the fun if you feel so inclined, I can bring you along in my baby cart (Bell says the limit is two passengers at 50 lbs. each). Guess it’s time to learn how to bunny hop for real if any of you fools show up!

Guest Article – Dispelling “Cycle Ladies” Myths

This article was submitted by Miriam Gee, our homie over in Hawaii. You remember Miriam, don’t you? Well, she’s brought her brand of humor to bear on a topic of great interest to many of us: encouraging more women to join us as we ride our bikes to work. Take a look at Miriam’s irreverent, yet eminently useful, advice:

All my Cycle Ladies, all my Cycle Ladies! Why is it that members of the better half of humanity are less likely to make commuter trips by bikes than those possessing Y chromosomes? Perhaps it is our aversion to tight-fitting clothing, getting a tan, and the hot pink bike jersey. (Whoops! Wrong kind of Jersey…) By politely barraging the inboxes of my female co-workers, family, and friends, I uncovered the three top reasons why (some) women (I know) in America might PUNK OUT of bike commuting! From Seattle, Honolulu, Sacramento, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Columbus, Vancouver B.C., and San Clemente: meet me at the mall… it’s going DOWN.

uw-bikes-ala-moana_s

Armed with science, nonsense, and bribery, this post is inspired by Alan Snel’s original Top Ten Bike Commuting Myths – BUSTED posted last year. Let’s bust some mythical creatures.

1. Nasty Girl – stringy hair, red in the face, swampy crotch, changing clothes, pit stains, and all around fear of unlady-like stank. Seems that males and females alike both fear the ultimate sweaty walk of shame in the morning in front of your coworkers. Take this response from Emily S. in Columbus, OH: “My office mates are too immature and the male officemates are too gross for me to ever consider allowing them to see me in sweaty riding apparel. Seriously, I don’t even wear skinny jeans around these sickos.” But the bike commuter “Nasty Girl” walk of shame can actually better your career and attract a mate! Consider this wonky logic: sweaty face, glowing skin, and pit stains are signs of a good work out and a healthy lifestyle! Why else would human anatomy continue to spray pheromones out of your armpits!? You will be considered the most fit, the most progressive, and the most fearless Cycle Lady commuter at your workplace when you arrive with a fanfare of glistening sweat and pheromone fireworks each morning!

Still unconvinced?

Solution: Witch Hazel. Mad shout out to Chad Taniguchi from HBL who hooked it up with this tip! Not everyone needs to shower after their bike commuter, just bring a change of clothes, some toiletries or baby wipes and you are ready to talk to corporate! eat a bagel! remember birthdays! promote synergy! Erase that swamp crotch like sham-WOW!

bike-am-routine_s

2. Scaredy Cat – low confidence on two wheels, intimidated by spandex warriors, don’t know local bike safety rules or are afraid of riding in traffic. Take Cecile R. from San Luis Obispo, CA who may cop out of a ride cause sometimes she doesn’t like “competing with boy bikers and their man legs.” Ladies, bike commuters are not terrorists. If I can do it, anyone can ride a bike with confidence! I assure you, as I am the female equivalent of Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid or more accurately: Daria. After a couple of months on a beater commuter franken-bike, I became as confident as any fourth grader on a bmx… Cycle Ladies can definitely hang with boy bikers, like this story from LGRAB. Don’t be scurred, ride it and own the road like Shy Ronnie owns the mic.

Still need more?

Solution: Look online for “Smart Cycling” classes offered by instructors approved by the League of American Bicyclists that teach how to ride your bike with skill and confidence. Ride with an experienced friend. Be predictable and be bold! You don’t need testosterone or liquid confidence to ride…. bike commuting is fun, and so easy, any human being can do it!

frank-itb_smart-cycle_s

3. Da Broke Phi Broke – no cash to buy a sweet bike, no cash for a tune up, and no cash for bike commuting essentials. Cash flow DOWN like the economy? Caela B. and Trixie C. are self-proclaimed members of Broke Phi Broke in Seattle, WA, don’t own bikes and think they are too expensive. Wellwz, Cycle Ladies: things can’t be that bad if you have money for a gym membership, gas, car registration, car payments, parking pass, bus pass, running shoes, or a commuter llama. Look, I’m no math expert; math and writing are my weaknesses, but somewhere in my Chinese genetics, I know that bike commuting is saving me loads of cash money vs. driving a car or taking a bus. While saving money on your bills, invest in that first bike and roll up feeling independent! With the bike, no more waiting for the bus, or waiting for parking, or waiting in traffic! Bike commuter freedom for less cash than a car. If we asked Ms. Beyonce, she’d tell em “The bike I’m riding, I BOUGHT IT, cause I depend on me!”

Still super-broke beyond all reason?

Solution: Like Alan Snel says, borrow a bike. When I first showed up in town, I contacted the Hawaii Bicycling League and borrowed the director’s beater mountain bike for free! Check on Craigslist for families moving out of town who need to clean out the garage, or ask friends for one to borrow. Last but not least, if you’re uber broke and unemployed, with free time on your hands you can volunteer at local Bicycle Collective non-profits, where you can usually build a franken-bike out of donated parts and used bicycles. Voila, custom ride for zero dinero.

bike-lockup_s

So, if this post and Alan Snel still doesn’t convince you that bike commuting is too easy for all humans, perhaps you share opinions with some of my friends. Here are some of the most hilarious reasons not to bike from the survey:

1. Maybe I want to pick up a mocha latte on the way to work (don’t judge me)
2. I don’t prefer to shower and get ready at work…cuz you know Shorty’s going to be sweating after an hour bike ride
3. Shitty tube-changing skills, backed up by no public transportation along the route I take to work = too many opportunities for my ass to get stranded in the boonies.
4. Bikes are banned from drive-thrus, and the only way I could really convince myself to ride into work would be the promise of a daily McGriddles fix. Too lazy to lock up the bike and walk into McD’s. Need to roll and eat.
5. That is a big ass hill I’d have to climb (in my opinion) and I’m afraid of having a heart attack.
6. The only people that ride bikes are crackheads, and I don’t want people to think I am a crackhead.

It’s always baffled me why more men are willing to throw on some spandies and fancy footwear than women in the world of cycling and bike commuting. Hopefully this post will make you laugh, and realize that biking is easy and fun for women… Cycle Ladies represent!

Commuter Profile: Miriam Gee

Next up in our recurring commuter profiles category is Miriam Gee — funny, irreverent and very excited to be profiled here on Bikecommuters.com. Plus, the scenery of her commute absolutely trumps the competition…imagine riding your bike in a place where “the air is so dewy sweet you don’t even have to lick the stamps!” Take a look for yourself, and read on:

Name:

Miriam Elizabeth Gee

pro style
(Miriam in her “PRO-STYLE” orange sunglasses)

How long have you been a bike commuter?

More or less since 2005 – or since the birth of the overhauled, hand-me-down from my college roommate’s sister, old Costco bike, known as “the purple GROUNDPOUNDER.?


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

I started riding my bike to work in Seattle when I moved to Capitol Hill and worked just 2 miles away in downtown. After a few months of constant lurching, putrid smells, and unreliable scheduling, I broke up with my commuter nemesis, the King County “Metro? (fancy name for the bus) and chose bike therapy over nausea. Not to say that I don’t love the shame train on extra rainy days or for the express routes, but the time it took to ride the bus, and the amount of Dramamine it took to ride it just wasn’t worth it! Naturally, my Seattleite cycling friends convinced me to invest in shiny new Kona Dew, and I rolled my way down the hill faster than the Metro from that day on! I love my bike like some people love their Mom.

mountain

Now I live in Honolulu. My first commute was about 5 miles round trip. But, in the past year I’ve moved out to the ‘burbs for cheaper rent, amazing views, and a longer, more scenic commute; I’m racking up close to 25 miles per day now. Eff you 24-hour fitness: hello Scott Speedster! Okay and sometimes, I do take TheBus (non-fancy name for the bus) when my legs are shot or if it’s super voggy. But everyday I ride it’s still faster than waiting for the bus! It took a few months, but now I’m able to bike to and from work 5 days a week – no sweat (figuratively speaking).

diamondhead

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

Bike Commuting has upped my social status fo sho: before I was just lame bus girl who always needed a ride to the north shore. Now I am badass bike girl who rides to Hawaii Kai every day – the envy or dismay of all of my co-workers, clients, friends, and family. More women than men in my office commute by bike and my boss brags about us “tough girls? whenever a client sees a sweaty face rolling into the office in the morning. I’ve also made some of my closest friends in Hawaii through cycling camaraderie. Bikes for Life! If it weren’t for my bike sisters, none of us would have entered the Haleiwa Metric Century Ride as the “Greasy Threesome?.

fisheye

As far as economy, nothing beats $ Free.99! My boyfriend and I have been car-free and bus pass-free for about two years now, which leaves money for a 401K, sweatpants with words on the butt, a gold jet ski for my grandma, and feta cheese.
And as for health, it must be doing something right. Even though I eat whatever I want whenever I want (this isn’t a dieting blog, right?) I just flew home for a wedding where everyone referred to me as “the bridesmaid with the nice legs.? Thank you, Chinese genetics for my calves, but I guess the 2-hour daily commute workout must be helping too.

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

I’m an architect, and I’m into the “S-Word?, or sustainability and green building. I’m fortunate to bike commute in Honolulu on the beautiful island of Oahu.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

1. 2007 Kona Dew – on permanent loan to another friend who wanted to start commuting to work. The Kona Dew was my main commuter/hybrid and first real love, I ditched the yellow Planet Bike Fenders and the rack when we boxed and flew it to Hawaii.

kona

2. 2009 Scott Speedster – my bumblebee colored entry-level road bike. My first roadie and attempt at clippie-shoes. A note to fellow Oahu cyclists: don’t be fooled, I’m not that fast – it’s the racy paint job, and I’m not that rich – I bought the bike buy-one-get-one free! After getting used to the numb-crotch feeling and gearing down for stops on inclines, this Scott road bike is my newfound love. I love this bike like I love my step-Mom.

speedster
(Speedster on right)

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

I’m really bad at spitting while riding as it often ends up on my face. A funnier one though is the first time I was testing out my long commute route in Honolulu. I had borrowed a friend’s junk-a-lunk MTB with shimano SPDs. I rode the busted thing about 15 miles in sandals equipped with only one water bottle, a huge backpack, and a trendy helmet without enough vents. At about 3pm, the Hawaiian Sun beat me down with heat exhaustion, and I ended up in a quivering pile on the side of the road by the beach. A Jehovah’s witness in a painter’s truck picked me up and drove me back home. I ended up instantly puking the vitamin water from my mouth and nose into a paint bucket all the way back. My boyfriend thought I was kidnapped by a crazy rapist, but instead the nice man sent me home with a jar of homemade lilikoi butter and a paper copy of The Watchtower. Awkward yet comical commute of the year.

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

Coworkers often say, “You should get pegs so we can go pick up lunch? or “I think you need to take a shower.? I do take a pirate shower in the sink at work in the a.m.

Friends and family often say, “Biking to work is HOT, I want to buy a bike!? in my dreams. In reality, they say the typical, “Do you want to die!?? To which I reply, “It’s actually tons of fun if you’re careful, you should try it!? I think I’ll make a commuting jersey that says: Yes, I am Crazy. No, I don’t want to Die.

road

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

I advocate by waving profusely and smiling at all cyclists, pedestrians, and car drivers at red lights. I participate in Hawaii Pedal Power’s annual Bike to Work month events and practice individual bike commuting evangelism. This means I preach fun, fitness, and $ free.99 by fixing up bikes and doling them out to friends as much as possible!

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Swamp crotch is the worst. You cannot cure it with anything but a shower. Baby powder does not work, nor does fancy anti-bacterial underwear. As a cyclist in humid Hawaii weather, it’s something to embrace. You are not alone, humid-weather riders.

sunset

We’d like to thank Miriam for sending in her profile, and ask the rest of you to do so if you’re interested in sharing your experiences with others. Ride on!