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Bike to Work Week with Meghan Cahill
In celebration of May as National Bike Month, we are asking League staff members why they ride and how they make the most of Bike Month.
Next up is Communications Director Meghan Cahill.
Hi Meghan, happy Bike to Work Week!
What was your favorite Bike to Work Week experience?
My favorite Bike to Work Week experience was Bike to Work Week 2009. I got a new bike, and I biked to work for the first time on Bike to Work Day. My co-workers helped me put my new bike together and helped me find my way from Arlington, Va. to Washington, D.C. My ride is very hilly and at the time the commute seemed like a hundred miles (it was a 16-mile round trip; now it’s a 14-mile round trip) – especially on my uphill ride home. However, my co-worker’s enthusiasm and encouragement kept me riding. That week I became a bike commuter. I sold my car three months later, and now the majority of my trips are taken by bike. I occasionally use the bus or metro.
In addition to Bike to Work Week, how are you celebrating Bike Month this year?
My job as the League’s communications director keeps me immersed in Bike Month – approving Bike Month events across the nation, sending e-news, connecting on Facebook and Twitter and answering tons of press inquires. I celebrate by riding as much as I can and trying to get my friends to ride. This year I got my boyfriend to consider riding to work and one of my friends wants to ride with me to the D.C. Bike to Work Day event. Oh, I’m also celebrating by using my new purse that clips to my handlebars. It’s so cool!
Bike Month is taking off on Twitter (#bikemonth) and Facebook, and the events list is overflowing. What has surprised you or impressed you about Bike Month’s relationship with social networking?
It surprised me how much our members and fans use Twitter and Facebook! They love sharing the League’s information, using the Bike Month logos as their profile pictures (!), sending Twitpics of their rides and using the #bikemonth and #B2WD hashtags in their Tweets. Our Twitter feed is constantly updating and nearly 1,300 Facebook fans have committed to riding and encouraging others to ride by RSVPing to our May is Bike Month Facebook event.
When and why do you ride your bike?
I ride my bike for all my commuter needs and errands – work, the grocery store, going out to meet friends, and all sorts of things in between. Last week, I rode my bike to get a pedicure and manicure – it’s a little tricky not messing up your nails on the way home but they sure do dry fast. I also love to use the Capital Bikeshare system when my friends and family visit. They all rave about the “Meghan Bike Share tours” and how much fun the bikes are to ride around.
Why do I ride? I ride because it keeps me in shape, keeps me healthy (I have asthma, and it really helps to keep my lungs strong), is easy on my joints, and because it elevates my mood. Gotta love endorphins! Bike riding also makes my stronger – and this includes my confidence. Though, I am completely comfortable riding in traffic there are a couple things I hate about D.C – the insane congestion on the roads and the summer pollution (August is a killer for those who have respiratory issues). I like to think that by riding my bike instead of driving that I am part of a solution. Hopefully, other women will see me out there on my bike with my cute handlebar purse and think, “Hey if she can do it, maybe I can too.”
What tips do you have for new bike commuters?
If you don’t have a comfy seat and you are riding 10 or more miles a day, you might want to consider some lycra – I know it sounds heinous. But for ladies, we have great options. You could wear bike shorts underneath your skirt or dress or there are cute and functional cycling skirts and dresses that have the shorts built in. Also, drink lots of water and learn how to change your own flat. It took me a year to finally change my own tube, and it was a great moment for me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started to ride frequently?
Bike riding is just as fun now as it was when you were 10, AND you can sleep in later. I get to work faster on my bike than I do on the metro.
What do you typically wear to ride?
I live seven hilly miles away but during the spring when D.C. feels like northern California, I experiment with wearing my work clothes while biking to and from work. Dresses or skirts with bike shorts work best. If it’s hotter than 70 degrees out, I wear a cycling skirt or bike shorts with a tank or t-shirt, sneakers – no clips, my helmet and some shades. Sunglasses are key. If it’s below 40 degrees, super thick, waterproof gloves are vital. I finally got a pair of the lobster gloves last Christmas, and they completely changed my winter riding. Fleece or wool tights and wicking layers are important too.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Bike commuting saves me money. I do not pay for car insurance, car payments, gas, or tolls. My bike is a smart investment.