So I’m about to kick off Year 4 as a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) with the League of American Bicyclists, and I’m curious about what’s next on this strange and interesting journey upon which I tumbled unexpectedly. (Honestly, I was just eating chocolate chips at my computer at the bottom of a hill in suburbia when this all started.) (How this New Yorker ended up in suburban Georgia is a whole other story.)
For Year 1, I was hired by the City of Decatur’s Active Living Department to co-teach (with fellow LCI Niklas Vollmer) a weekly Silver Spokes seniors-on-trikes class; two bike rodeos (including one for kids-in-need); and a four-week Earn-a-Bike class for kids-in-need. I also had kind of an epiphany when I installed lights on the bikes of refugees with LCI and founder of Civil Bikes Nedra Deadwyler at a special event in Clarkston, Georgia (the most diverse square mile in the USA, with which I was already familiar re: my urban agriculture outreach). I published Traveling at the Speed of Bike that year, and some of the stories in the book are from these experiences.
For Year 2, I donated free classes every single month in various metro-Atlanta locations specifically to encourage more women to ride bikes for the first time, or for the first time in years. Additionally, I volunteered with the indefatigable Stephen Spring of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for three distinct classes: brand new adult bike riders; basic bike skills for new Habitat for Humanity homeowners; and those wanting to learn some more advanced urban riding skills so they could commute by bike in the City of Atlanta. Additionally, I served as a Relay Bikeshare VIP Ambassador, where I offered several free bike classes with free access to bikeshare for those who might not have bikes of their own. This was also the year I applied to become the Chief Bicycle Officer of the City of Atlanta (I didn’t even get an interview, but you may enjoy what I intended to do.)
For Year 3, I led and created tours with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta, including the second ongoing bike tour in the world (after Copenhagen) focused specifically on sustainability. I also volunteered to teach a girl with Down Syndrome how to ride a bike at a camp for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities called ICanBike offered by the police department in the suburb-city of Alpharetta, GA; and I started making paid-classes available (grab your spot in one of my September classes). Oh, and I volunteered in a bike class for girls-in-need with a super-hard-working fellow LCI named Courtney Williams (who goes by the social media name The Brown Bike Girl) in New York City.
For Year 4, I’m hoping to continue with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta when appropriate, and to build on my experiences-to-date to grow my impact with girls and women (especially those in need), which continues to be my core interest. I may volunteer with a local chapter of Cycling without Age, which offers rickshaw tricycle (called trishaw) rides to residents at a senior living home. I’m also encouraging my metro-Atlanta suburb-city to add Zagster bikeshare to the park trail system, which would then enable me to expand outreach to those who don’t have bikes of their own. Maybe where I live will even become a certified Bike-Friendly Community soon.
I’m not sure when, but I’d still like to take an immersive bike repair course at the “Bike School” in Ashland, Oregon, so that I can be more helpful to those in need (who often have bikes that need repairs, if they have bikes of their own). Plus, I’m increasingly curious about the women-led multi-day bike tours for women from WomenTours. (In fact, their new brochure just came and it’s very compelling.) Is that something with which I could help someday? I still have so much to learn.
So, we’ll see where Traveling at the Speed of Bike takes me next. All I know is I’m not done yet.
Perhaps I’m just getting going . . . .
(Truth? What I really love to do most is write. Maybe an experientially-researched column for Bicycling Magazine about urban bike riding tips and news, with a focus on showcasing diverse populations? Maybe more articles for Unearth Women? Maybe my book will go viral and I can afford to ride around all day interviewing Today’s Nice Strangers?)