Note: This is a longer version of an article I wrote for the Intranet site at work. “Personal Best” is a wellness program launched by ODS. One of the employees working on the program asked me to write about being captain of the ODS Team for the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. Because I wasn't sure what to write, I staged it in the form of an interview.
Me: You're a captain for The ODS Companies team doing the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Bike Commute Challenge. How did you get that position?
Me: I was just the first to sign up. There are tons of other more worthy people for a Personal Best profile. I know people who ride every single day, even in winter. I know of one guy who takes the bus to work and rides over 30 miles to get home. I know--
Me: Excuse me for interrupting, but aren't you supposed to be talking about your "Personal Best?"
|A lazy bit of Johnson Creek|
Me: Honestly, I have three secrets. First off, I have the right equipment: saddlebags are essential for carrying my lunch and extra clothes, and a quick-drying biking jersey makes it easy to always having a clean shirt for the ride. At work there are showers and locker, great for freshening up after the early morning wake-up ride. And finally, I've found the SpringwaterCorridor Trail, which works like a secret passageway for cyclists (and pedestrians), is amazing for getting around the East side of Portland.
The Springwater Corridor trail is also great for seeing wildlife. From downtown it runs along the Willamette, and then turns and follows the Johnson Creek watershed toward Gresham. Along the way it passes the Oak’s Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Here’s a short list of the animals I’ve seen while riding on the trail: deer, mice, feral cats, rats, a skunk, a river mink, eagles, heron, osprey, redwing blackbirds and numerous other birds I didn’t identify.
Me: Have you ever had any accidents?
Me: Decades ago (in the 90's!) I was riding to work during “Bike to Work Day.” At a stop sign I bumped tires with another rider and fell over. I got back up, shook it off, and rode the rest of the way to work. It wasn’t until my coffee break that I realized my arms were still hurting. At lunchtime, when I couldn’t lift my peanut butter & jelly sandwich I decided to take the bus home for the day. Turned out I had broken both arms -- hairline fractures! After that incident my supervisor convinced me to buy and wear a helmet, which I've been doing ever since. Luckily, I haven't had any accidents after that.
|Springwater Corridor under Sellwood Bridge|
Me: Do you ride all year?
Me: I ride as much as I can. In the summer that's multiple times per week. After Daylight Savings Time ends, I prefer to ride once a month.
Me: So, would you say you're a fair weather biker?
Me: I know my limits, and push them whenever I get too comfortable. If you don't ride at all, then just try the ride once. If you ride once a month, then try riding once a week in the summer. If you ride once a week, try two times a week. I don't like riding in the rain in the morning, but if it's raining on the way home, well, I know I've got some dry clothes at home. The little things count. Last July I rode to work enough times that I only had to fill up my gas tank once that month.
Me: What inspires you?
Me: There's a woman I see almost daily taking a morning jog on the Springwater Corridor. She's about 70-something, 5' tall, doesn't have a runner's physique, and she's not going very fast. But she lays one foot down in front of the other, and she keeps on going. I see her out there nearly every day. She's like the Eveready Bunny. I figure if she can do that every day, the least I can do is give it the same commitment.
Here's a time-lapse video of my ride