Two of the team members rode every work day during the month. Pretty impressive considering the total commute miles ridden by all 7 riders are akin to riding from Seattle to Nashville, Tennessee. When I asked some of the team members to share a few highlights from their month and beyond of riding, I discovered they have many common experiences and opinions on the topic, but they also have unique tales to tell.
Gavin Brink is our Product Design and Development Engineer for the Bike Parking line of products. He lives in Seattle, in the Greenlake neighborhood and commutes by bike throughout the year. Gavin’s roundtrip commute from Seattle to Woodinville is 30 miles. He rode every day in May and rides 2 to 3 times a week during the rest of the year. Gavin is originally from Australia and has been interested in riding his bike for many years: “All in all, a good effort and a beautiful month to ride bikes. Definitely the best May I have had here in Seattle weather wise!” Seattle did have a lovely spring this year which is quite uncharacteristic for us. Normally, we would be pedaling through bone chilling rain showers and blustery days. Gavin rides one of two bikes depending on the weather; “My rain bike is a Kona cross-bike with disk brakes and fenders, and my dry weather bike is a Specialized Tarmac.” When asked what he likes most about commuting to work by bike, Gavin said; “Not being stuck in Seattle traffic! I feel much more relaxed and refreshed. I also love being able to ride home with my buddy at work “Scooter” along the Burke-Gilman Trail. I especially love watching the sunrises over Lake Washington some mornings, the quietness of the Sammamish River Trail and the wildlife I see from time to time. I really am lucky to be able to ride to and from work along these beautiful trails!” With a round-trip bike commute only 40 minutes longer than his commute by car, Gavin opts for his bike more often than not.
For Zqwan Peterson in Purchasing & Account Management, commuting by bike is an offshoot of his real passion, racing his bike. Zqwan races on the road as well as on the velodrome at Marymoor Park in neighboring Redmond. He has been racing for many years on a local cycling team and even takes cycling vacations in his off time. He has been to Europe and all over the US on cycling trips and is planning a future trip focused around riding the classic climbs of the Tour de France. Zqwan’s bike commute to work is from nearby Kirkland making his roundtrip commute 18 miles. He says he would commute more often if it were not for the fact that he has to get to races and training after work making it hard to ride to work on a regular basis. His commuting bikes are a Specialized road bike and a Seven. When I asked Z to describe the strangest thing he has seen or experienced while commuting by bike he had this to say; “I saw a guy pulling a Xmas tree in a bike trailer.” Brilliant & strange indeed! Z says he rides mainly to reduce his carbon foot print and for the exercise.
The Engineering Department was very well represented on our bike to work team this year. Eric Rayl, our VP of Product, commutes from a neighborhood in Woodinville to the nearby factory. Eric is an avid runner, sailor and skier, a general all-around outdoor guy. Last year, he spent his time off racing a sailboat from Vancouver Island to Hawaii. Jerry Stewart, who is the VP of Engineering & Quality, had the longest commute on the team at 40+ miles roundtrip. Jerry lives in Seattle in the Ballard area and has been very involved in starting bike programs and facilitating bicycle infrastructure at his kid’s elementary and middle schools. He also rode the most miles logging 690 miles during the month of May! Jerod Harbert rounds out the engineering contingent on the team, commuting by bike from the suburb of Shoreline into Woodinville.
Scott McKinley completes the bike to work roster this year. Scott is our VP of Materials Control and has been with Sportworks for over 20 years. He is an avid cyclist who has bicycle toured and mountain biked far and wide as well as dabbled in racing and some crazy hardcore rides like the “Death Ride” in California which travels over 5 mountain passes with over 15,000 feet of climbing. Scott commutes to Sportworks from the Maple Leaf neighborhood usually via the Burke Gilman trail and Sammamish River Trail. His commute ranges from 28 – 30 miles roundtrip depending on the route he takes. Scott rides one of three bikes to work; “An Eddy Merckx Team Scandium, a Specialized Source Eleven for my rain bike, and a 1985 Specialized Rockhopper converted to a single speed for those days where I want to go really slow, and maybe stop along the way.” He says his bike commute is only nominally longer than his commute by car due to the infamous Seattle gridlock.
When asked about the strangest thing he has encountered on his bike commute, Scott relayed the following; “Coming to work very early in the morning in winter (when it was very dark on the unlit bike trail), I heard a horrible loud grating sound coming at me from the front. It actually scared me; it was so loud and unexpected. I pulled off the trail to the side, and right past me sailed this dude on a bike that had no tires or tubes. Just aluminum rims on asphalt. An unbelievable racket!” Crazy and strange indeed. Scott echoes and adds to Gavin’s sentiments when commenting on what he enjoys most about his commute by bike; “Solitude, and time to think. I spend a fair bit of my commute on the bike trail where this is more possible. When riding in traffic around cars, I remain pretty focused on not dying prematurely.” The latter part of which too many of us who ride unfortunately can relate to.
There may have only been a handful of members on the bike to work team this year, but many more Sportworks employees ride a bike for both pleasure and as a means of transportation. Everyone from the folks who work the production floor to the tooling department to sales & marketing to the accounting department right on up to the owners of the company, like to get out and ride. Bike to Work Day is an opportunity for employees to spend time in the community and greet the throngs of commuters using the protected Burke Gilman & Sammamish River Trail to get to work by bike.The Sportworks trail stop was staffed this year by folks from our Accounting and Customer Service Departments who braved a very early start to hand out water bottles and show off our bike friendly parking racks. Bike to Work day is organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club who provide a wide range of support materials and classes to those who want to learn more about bicycle commuting.
For a company that makes products that take care of bikes and who has so many employees who are dedicated to the pursuit of riding and supporting better bicycle infrastructure, even we can stand to improve our employee bicycle benefits and accommodations. As one might expect, we have ample bike parking, a shower and changing room and we are very close to a dedicated bike trail which offers a safer riding choice away from cars and city streets. Our riders would also love to see us add more incentives to ride such as providing bikes and accessories for those who are interested, but don’t have the equipment. A second shower has been requested as well as making sure we are adequately recognizing the folks who are making the effort and putting the miles in. There is always room for improvement.
Like many others who choose to ride, but opt out of an official bike to work team, I was not a member of the Sportworks bike to work team this year as I primarily work from home now. I did however manage to ride to school all month with my 4 th grader which was not only great fun, but a wonderful way for us to start the day together.I may not have ridden a ton of miles as I have in year’s past, but I felt just as gratified by our short commute together as I did when I used to ride the 40 miles roundtrip to Sportworks many years ago. Whether your commute is long or short, every day or once in awhile, what matters most is to do it when you can and set a goal of riding more often. That little extra bit of preparation and effort will reward you in ways you may not yet be aware, but I am pretty certain you won’t regret it.
Happy & safe commuting.