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LCI Spotlight: Sarah Hadler

The League certifies hundreds of League Cycling Instructors every year and there are thousands of LCIs around the country leading bike education efforts in their communities. In our LCI spotlight series, we are sharing the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do every day: educating, mentoring, empowering. You don’t have to be an extraordinary athlete or overachieving student to be a stellar LCI, all you need is the conviction that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes. 

Warm up this cold February with another story about finding freedom on a bike and joy in bike edcuation in this month’s League Cycling Instructor Spotlight. Find our earlier LCI Sportlights in our blog archives. 

League Cycling Instructors are teachers, they are mentors and perhaps most of all, they bring bike joy to so many. For Sarah Hadler of Santa Rosa, California, the joy she found on a bike inspired her to enable others to experience that same bike joy. “I love the fresh air, waving to my neighbors, the fantastic feeling of getting somewhere under my very own power,” she says. 

Did you know? You, yes you!, can be a League Cycling Instructor, too. Like Sarah says below, all it takes to get started on the journey to becoming an LCI is a love of some kind of biking, whether it’s for commuting or for recreation.

Are there local bike groups you’re a part of locally? 

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition

Tell us a little about yourself and why you enjoy teaching others to bike.

My brother gave my husband and I touring bikes as a wedding gift. We dreamed about riding through Mexico for a couple of years and then put it into action in 2006. We rode for 5 months, starting in Tucson, AZ and went down to Oaxaca in Mexico. I completely fell in love with everything bicycle-related and the freedom and connection it brought. Upon return, I was so excited about the bike that I took a non-paying internship at the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition so that I could share my love of bikes. A few weeks later, I was offered a paid job and I’ve never looked back. It’s the best job in the world! I love teaching people of all ages how to move through the world on a bike. My favorite part of teaching is when someone is fairly new to riding and they just fall in love with it and I get to see that!

What first motivated you to become an LCI?

I had been working at the Bike Coalition for about 6 years and I was ready to move on to the next level and challenge myself. I was also a fairly new mother, my son was a year and a half old when I took the 3-day seminar, it was the first time that I had been away from him for so long! It felt good to do something to expand my professional work, while also staying so true to my heart and passion. It was really helpful and wonderful to go through the training with my co-worker and dear friend, Michelle Nikolayew. Together, we brought back new ideas and really changed how Smart Cycling was taught in Sonoma County.

What has been your greatest reward in teaching bike education?

Oh, wow, so many things! I wear a lot of different helmets at my work: I teach adult Smart Cycling classes and Family Bike Workshops and I run our Middle School program. I really thrive on working with middle-school aged kids in the after-school Bike Clubs. It is so rewarding to get to know these kids and to have a positive influence on how they are experiencing the world. I really connect with all of my students and my hope is that they stay empowered and remember what they learned on the bike and continue to ride throughout their lives.

What is your best piece of advice for an LCI who wants to teach a class but isn’t sure how to get started?

I would start with what you love about biking. If you love commuting, then start there. If you love riding for recreation, then start there. Start with what you love first and then expand. Keep yourself in the teaching, tell your biking story! It can also be helpful to check in with someone else who has either taught bike education before or someone who is new to it like you are. Finding a teaching partner can be incredibly helpful and grounding.

What is something you think that all LCIs should know about teaching bike education? 

Every LCI that I have met genuinely loves and is passionate about biking. That is pretty amazing. So because you are an LCI, then you love biking and your teaching will reflect that!

What is your favorite memory from being on a bike?

When my son turned 6-years old, we did a 20-mile ride together and it was so wonderful to experience his joy and enthusiasm and hard work. I have really brought him up on the bike and believe that it is a big part of his life education, so that ride felt like a rite of passage for both of us!

Know an LCI who should be featured next? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!