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Jun 20

Interview: Lindsay of the Blog “You Ain’t Got Jack”

Lindsay and Jack

I’m proud to announce Bike4heck.com’s first guest blogger: Lindsay from College Place, Washington USA. Lindsay is a person I’ve meet through the blog-o-sphere and the cargo bicycling culture that lurks in cyberspace. Her blog is titled, “You Ain’t Got Jack“.  I was moved by her how she describes herself and her blog on her website. She states this about her blog: “A chronicle of my year without driving in small town America with a toddler in tow. This is my attempt at a more sustainable future for my son, myself and the planet we call home. Please join me as I attempt to go from couch potato to pedal pusher for an entire year!

Lindsay has made some great progress on her goal of transforming from  a couch potato to a pedal pusher.

I have identified with her because I fell that I’m right there with her. I’m trying to get more fit and get in better shape while riding my bicycle. Please enjoy the following interview:

1. What was your motivation to take on cycling? Do you wish you took on this challenge earlier in your life?

 

My health and the health of my family. After reading that a child raised by two overweight parents is 80% more likely to be overweight themselves, I felt that I had to make a drastic change. Helping Jack (my 2 year old son) beat those odds has become my personal motivation and I have found, I can do for him, what I could never do for myself. As much as I wish I had taken this challenge on before now, I do believe you have to be in the right mindset to take on something as life changing as giving up your license for a year, this was the right time for me. I spent a few months planning and mentally preparing for it and then jumped right in.

2. What was your biggest obstacle you had to overcome so far in your cycling adventure/way of life?

Without a doubt, learning to not care what other people thought of me. It’s an ongoing challenge I face every single day, sometimes it still beats me, but generally it is getting easier to beat with everyday that passes. A friend of mine really helped when she reminded me, that most people are too wrapped up in their own insecurities to notice mine. My biggest fear was being seen as the fat lady on a bike, when I say it out-loud it sounds ridiculous, why should I care what judgmental people think anyway? Giving up that fear has been and continues to be a liberating experience.

3. What is riding like in your city? What is the attitude of drivers toward cyclist? The city officials views? Your friends, family, neighbors?

My city is bike friendly in the sense that it’s very quiet and the roads are mostly wide and flat. For someone like myself who is still building on distance it has some disadvantages however, in that most of the things to do and places to visit are spaced far apart from us and each other. This area is also known for it’s weather extremes, where we can face single digits in the winter and triple digits in the summer!
I haven’t had many “run-ins” with the local motorized traffic, but occasionally I’ve been “buzzed” purposely by large trucks and have been left angered and scared, but mostly shocked by the fact that someone is cruel enough to purposely scare a mother riding with her child. 
I’m not aware of my city’s official views but I do know that my local Police officers are always courteous and will stop to let me cross a road, even if I don’t have right of way.
My family have been an immense support and generally amazing! I couldn’t have made it this far without them, especially my husband who has become a bit of a fan of cycling himself, now that Jack and I are on the go. I have a few close friends who have been another major support, but sadly most of my friends haven’t even commented once on my change in lifestyle, which has been hard. I’m not sure why and try to not take it personally, I do after-all have the support of all my new found online cycling friends, who have more than made up for any support that may have been missing.

4. Think back to before you were a cyclist…what was your perception about cycling? Has that perception changed now that you are an avid cyclist?

I had been bike crazy as a teenager and really always loved bicycles, but had let life alter my course so much that I had gotten away from them when I “grew” up.  I tried briefly to re-gain my passion for bikes about 4 years ago, unfortunately I got hit a car and never got back on it again. It could have been a lot worse, and I escaped with bruises and scrapes.
 
Whilst living in Portland, where every other car is a bike, I had a run in with an angry cyclist. Apparently he didn’t know he had a stop sign and that I had right of way, because he chased me down taking pictures of my license plate, while screaming obscenities and threats of “police” men. I pulled over, screamed back at him (not one of my finer moments) and told him to go look at the stop sign and continued on my way. About 2 minutes later I felt bad that we had had such a miserable interaction, turned around and went and found him again…he had seen the stop sign and was very sheepishly cycling along looking pretty sad too. I pulled over near him and he probably thought I was going to yell at him again, but we both just looked at each other and said “sorry” in unison. I clearly had right of way and he had missed the sign, but I could have defused the situation by not yelling back. He was very nice and as it turned out we stood there for about 20 minutes discussing bicycle politics and how life could be better if we all kept our cool and had more positive interactions between our community. He invited me to a bike meeting to discuss an S.U.V. drivers prospective, but I was unable to go. I did tell him that I’d tried cycling in Portland and had been hit by a car, I think that was a shock to him too, we parted friends.

5. Why did you choose a cargo bicycle? Which one did you choose? Was it the right choice? Why or why not?

I chose a cargo bike because I wanted to replace a car. I know many people like the bike with trailer option for kids, and while I can see their attributes, I personally couldn’t see putting my child below the average motorist’s line of sight. I think there is no right and wrong answer to everyone’s individual needs, but for me the Yuba Mundo fits like a glove. It feels stable, well built, solid and safe. If the Yuba Mundo was a car it would be a Volvo…not quite as pretty as a sport’s car (or an old fashioned cruiser bike), but far more energy efficient than a large truck (or a box-bike). It’s a good price point too and fit within our budget with some finagling of expenses.

6. What words of encouragement do you have for readers of my blog who want to start cycling for transportation but are too afraid of being on the road with cars, getting all sweaty and gross form cycling or they are worried they aren’t in shape enough to do it?

I would say find your motivation and be honest with yourself; for me this meant writing a blog to hold myself accountable. Research the various forums and social media groups aimed at cyclists, there you will find literally thousands of people willing to answer any cycling related question you can muster, but beyond that you will find people who will encourage and uplift you, who will welcome you to the group. Research your bike well, buy for comfort and don’t be intimidated by people who don’t recognize you as a cyclist yet. Once you have your bike take out a map, draw a circle around your house that is as big as you can ride with ease, look within that circle for places you usually drive to and replace those car trips with your bicycle. Doing errands by bike adds a whole other element of pride and accomplishment that joy rides don’t provide. The simplicity of bikes is what makes them wonderful and addictive, don’t complicate it, find a bike that is comfortable and start riding.