Best bike memories: Jamie

March 03, 2017

As a way to introduce you to the people behind PeopleForBikes, we do a short interview with every member of our staff. This month, we turn our questions to PlacesForBikes project manager, Jamie Pfahl.

1. What is your first memory of bicycling?

I have a sister who is just a year and half older than I am, and I always looked up to her tremendously. She was probably about six when she got a new sparkly pink bike. I was jealous of her sleek new wheels, while I was stuck with a rusty old hand-me-down tricycle. I didn't care about the merits of the trike, I was way more interested in her sophisticated and stylish bike. Its removable training wheels shouted, "I'm a big kid!" Its handlebar ribbons and beaded spokes proclaimed, "I'm a princess, not some plebeian 1980's trike rider." After a lot of pouting, I convinced her to let me try her bike, and she convinced me the best place to test it was riding off the front porch steps. It didn't end well, but I obviously kept riding.

2. When did you first fall in love with bicycles?

I think my love of bikes started much like everyone else's, with blissful childhood memories of dad holding the bike while I slowly gained confidence to ride down the street by myself. Then came the freedom of riding my bike to school or adventuring down an old dirt road through the woods to discover unknown places and feeling like my bike could take me anywhere. From the pragmatics of needing a cheap and environmentally-friendly way to get around to the fun of riding with friends or for fitness, bikes have always had a special place in my life.


3. Why did you decide to make bicycling a part of your career?

My entire career has been in public health—working on chronic disease interventions through healthy eating and active living, health behavior change and health systems quality improvement. Although moving from the world of healthcare to a bike non-profit is a bit of a change, bicycling fits right at the intersection of my interests in policy, environment and health behavior. I've been a lifelong bike commuter whenever possible and I really believe in the power of bikes to make the world a better place. This work aligns perfectly with my passions and lifestyle.

4. What is your favorite thing about bicycling?

I love that bicycling is for everyone. You can have a great time whether you're on a cheap old fixer-upper or a really expensive racing bike. You can ride on dirt or paved roads and paths, in cities or in the mountains, in groups or all by yourself. Bikes are simple machines that can powerfully transform people, the environment, and communities. 


5. What's the coolest thing you've ever done on a bike?

Everything I do on a bike is pretty cool! One time as a kid I rode a bike down 4 or 5 porch steps (see above). Obviously, I'm pretty rugged and adventurous when it comes to riding.

6. Where is your favorite place to ride?

I do an annual 20 mile mixed-surface ride with a group of friends on the Rio Grande trail and Owl Creek path near Snowmass, Colorado. We vary the route slightly every year, but it always ends with carrying our bikes up a steep section of trail. The post-ride margaritas in Snowmass Village are a highlight too. 

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