You are considered by many to be a super commuter - nothing stops you. Why do you do it?
I started commuting a few years ago when my daughter, then in college, got a summer internship and I had the stable-genius idea that instead of buying her a car, I would give her use of mine for the summer. That seemed logical until I remembered that I needed to get to work, proving an inverse relationship between intelligence and commuting by bicycle under all conditions. There’s also the fact that climate change scares the wits out of me – though it now sounds trite, minimizing my carbon output is important. Cycling is a door to an alternative climate reality.
How has biking changed your life?
My guiding principle is best stated by local cycling legend, Gene Oberpriller: “Bicycles are freedom.” Growing up, it was the escape button from my parents and gateway to the huge, complicated and intriguing world of nearby New England towns. I graduated high school at the tail end of a bike boom when everyone got a bike to end dependency on foreign oil. Bike touring was hot for a second or two and my brother and I crossed the country in our late teens, teaching us more life than we had learned to that point. I kept riding after that, during a period when riding a bike as an adult meant that you were either a dork or a pro, and I was not a pro. I took a long sabbatical from cycling and then picked it up again while going through a rough patch of middle life and rediscovered that it was my outlet for pure joy.
What is the most unexpected way cycling has impacted you?
I have always loved cycling. I never realized that so many other people share that passion. It is a connection I have to engaging, passionate and crazy people. We are in the middle of a cycling renaissance and we, the cycling community, are a force for good, bad traffic manners, appalling fashion taste, chain grease and all. There has always been talk of the ways that road racers differ from transportation cyclists who are a different breed than mountain bikers who don’t hang with the wicker basket retro steel ubanistas, and on and on. But we all have more in common than not, and this big, bountiful movement is what I never expected.
How do you stay so positive all the time? Especially on the bike in a grind it out horrible situation?
Ha! Do I fool everyone? My brain churns out large quantities of negative internal propaganda on hard rides. But I have been in so many precarious situations that I now have a rich portfolio of doing dumb things and surviving them to draw from. Like the time I crossed North Dakota from east to west wherein I learned the concept of a prevailing wind. There’s not much to stop wind out on the prairie. Day in, day out, that wind laughed hard in my face. I credit that week with teaching me the art of hunker down and grind.
What piece of cycling gear are you obsessed with now? Why?
Tire choice for gravel racing fascinates me. I run heavy, durable tires, but the trend to big light tires like the ones that Panaracer makes for Compass, and running them tubeless, is interesting. Personally, I’ll err on the side of not flatting than having the fastest wheels. Though I will be on a podium when night stops being dark -- those with a shot at glory weigh the arguments differently. And, by the way, bicycles as a whole can and should be objects of unspeakable beauty and therefore never painted Celeste Green.
After doing DK200 last year - what's your next challenge?
The DAMn, of course. Ultimately, the Great Divide Route, with extensions north to Alaska and south to Argentina. I have no idea how, but surely ignorance is not an obstacle.
What music/playlist are you listening to now when you ride?
One of my goals this year is to get a speaker to play music on the bike. In the meantime, the listening room in my head is a disorganized mess of Charlie Parr, Ben Weaver, The Last Revel, Drive by Truckers, Bruise Violet, Low, Giacomo Puccini, Joy Division, Dead Horses, Bob Mould, Son Volt, Dessa, Maurice Ravel, Happy Apple, The Weavers, Sonic Youth, Trampled by Turtles, Grant Hart, Fugazi, The Blind Shake, Gabriel Faure, POS, Kurt Vile, alt-J, Bad Bad Hats, Husker Du, Mississippi John Hurt, Sleater-Kinney, Dave Brubeck – ad infinitum. Music and cycling are what drive me and are mutually reinforcing.
What social media connections do you want to share?
I’m a social media introvert, but do have public accounts on Facebook and Strava under my birth name.