Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Women Involved Series: G.E. (Endless Velo Love)

How many years have you had your blog and what inspired you to blog your journey(s)?
I’ve had this particular blog going for a little over 7 years now. It started out as more chatter about life and things that were going on, but found a focus on bicycles and related activities about 5 years ago. I have always enjoyed writing and at one point thought I would have a career focused in the area, but I think I’m a person who is simply in to too many things to focus on one specific outlet, so instead I spent time exploring a variety of potential careers. As far as the blog in concerned, I never expected anyone to read it. 

I started writing about bikes because I was excited about them, but also frustrated and wanting to learn, and the blog was an easy outlet (or as I saw it at the time, a journal of sorts). So, even to this day when people write to me for my opinion or thoughts on a bicycle or part, I find myself giggling just a bit. I never thought anyone would view me as an authority or person to seek out for advice in regard to bikes (but it’s a great feeling, and I love my blog and the readership – truly amazing people)! Even if I don’t always have the answer(s) someone is seeking, I enjoy the dialogue with people from all over the world. I feel fortunate to be able to connect with such a variety of individuals.

What would be some unexpected and/or surprising things you’ve experienced since blogging about your journey and biking?
Getting spotted on the street. {laughing}  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I’m always taken by surprise. The blog isn’t a top bicycling blog by any stretch, but somehow people have found me and I’m guessing identify with something there. I also don’t put many images of myself up on the blog, but my daily/commuter/do-everything bicycle is definitely identifiable. So, when someone says, “I know you (or ‘I know that bike’ more appropriately)! You write that blog… Endless Velo Love,” I can’t help but be caught a little off guard.

I also have to admit, there is a part of me that sometimes purposefully leaves photos of myself off the blog. I think there is a preconception of what a “cyclist” looks like, and I definitely don’t fit that mold – and I likely never will. I experience pre-judgment regularly when out riding the roads (and just in every day life for that matter). Some people assume because I am not the image of a typical rider physically that I can’t/won’t put forth effort, or that I will be slow. Yes, extra weight will slow anyone down, and I’m not saying I’m super speedy-speederson (because I’m definitely not), but I’ve passed my fair share of others out riding. Truthfully, there is a piece of me that thoroughly enjoys the looks on some folks’ faces as the “big girl” passes. I suppose I hope that if nothing else I am helping to break down stereotypes of the overweight. We aren’t all lazy, un-driven, and/or incapable. I work really hard in everything I do and I don’t like the common perception (misconception) that is so frequently perpetuated in society as a whole.

I suppose another unexpected happening since blogging was discovering that I actually could participate in distance/sport riding. In fact, my first bicycle (which really started all of this) was a heavy cruiser. Because I have weak (injured) hands and wrists, I thought I would never be able to ride a road or mountain bike and be comfortable. Instead, I rode my cruiser miles upon miles, finding myself exhausted – because, let’s face it, as stubborn as I can be, a cruiser is not meant to do distances that road bikes are meant to be able to cover. Slowly, I started trying bikes more conducive to longer distances and discovered that there is a place in my heart (and for my physical ailments) in both transportation cycling and riding for sport/exercise purposes.

Do you name all of your bikes fun names or just a select few?
My first bicycles in adulthood all had names. It seems as though I’ve slacked off on that habit just a bit over the last few years.  Sometimes a name just stands out to me and I start calling the bicycle by that name. Other times, I suppose they feel more like a means to an end or a tool and I just never get around to naming them.

If you had to pick one bike as your personal, most favorite bike-which one would it be?
We have actually had this conversation regarding which one bike we would keep if we were forced to give them all up.  While I would prefer not to ever have to be limited to one bike, if I had to choose one, I would pick my Rivendell Sam Hillborne. It would never be able to get the speed (except downhill) of a road bike, but it’s very multi-functional and I can tow a trailer and load it up, so that would have to be the one.

What would be your dreamiest dream bike?
I am actually in the process of having a custom road frame built, but even that isn’t my dreamiest of dream bikes. It would be tough to pick only one because there are a lot of beautiful bikes out there and fabulous builders too. It would also depend on whether my dream bike was going to be a road bike or a commuter bike or something else entirely (which explains why it’s so difficult for me to pick a dream bike). I think Vanilla Bicycles are absolutely gorgeous, but I would never have the patience to wait out fabrication. Three years ago the wait time was 5 years, so I wouldn’t even want to take a guess as to the current time frames.  ANT makes some beautiful commuter bicycles. I am also drawn to Sweet Pea Bikes, and a number of others. As I said, it would be really difficult to pick out one dream bike, so I’m happy to keep sampling and trying various bikes. I have to admit, I am drawn to lugged, steel bicycles though – whether new or old.

What would be some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced with finding bicycles that work for you? How have you worked through that?
It sometimes feels as though the blog has been my means of working through finding bicycles that work properly. I have made a ton of mistakes along the way, but honestly, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have never been one to learn through others’ mistakes, but rather find it more beneficial to sample things for myself. It can be incredibly costly though (especially if, like me, you have the desire for aesthetic pleasure as well as a bike that fits properly).
Initially, my biggest challenge was finding an upright bicycle that didn’t hurt my hands and that I liked. It evolved into trying to find a long-distance bicycle that also wouldn’t kill my hands and wrists. I have learned that I can ride a road bike just fine, but I need to keep the handlebars level with my saddle (or higher) so that I don’t end up having problems. I’m sure a sort of evolution will continue through life though, so I’ve sort of learned to just accept that change (at least for me) is inevitable with bikes.

Riding a bike isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. I appreciated your honesty with your post: Giving Up Bicycles. Once it was suggested I not write anything negative about bike rides and my experiences, it would scare people from riding. What are your thoughts on this and why do you feel it’s good to bring some “humanness” to the topic? (I swear headwinds follow me.)
Oh, poppycock! {laughing}   Seriously though, I think that writing about both good and bad experiences can be invaluable to others, and for me, I have always tried to be as real as I possibly can be when it comes to my experiences on a bike. Sometimes, that means I have a great time and of course I want to share that with others; but the reality is, if we’ve been riding a bike for any length of time at all, we know that there are bad moments in which we question why we ride a bike at all.  At times, I feel guilty sharing the negative moments in cycling, but I hope it comes across as simply being real. As you said, it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops (or, I guess you said rainbows) – it can’t be – but I do think the good far outweighs the bad. Even my “bad” moments usually end up being positive in some manner, so I think there’s always something to be learned and as long as I don’t completely cross to the dark side, I think sharing those not-so-great moments can help others identify and know they aren’t alone when/if they have a bad experience or day on the bike.
As for headwinds, I think we all learn quickly that we just have to enjoy the times when there aren’t headwinds. They do seem to be ever-present though, I will admit.

Do you call yourself a bike rider or a cyclist? What are your thoughts now in terms of biking or cycling? Yes. I use both of these terms at various times and in a variety of instances. I understand why the term “cycling” or “cyclist” can be intimidating (and, if I’m being entirely truthful, I have a hard time calling myself a “cyclist” anyway because it just has a certain connotation that’s undeniable in our culture… It doesn’t seem to matter how many long distance rides I complete, or how many organized rides I participate in, I still seem to avoid this term when referring to myself). I think when I’m talking to someone who is thinking about riding a bike, I use that sort of terminology (riding a bike, people on bikes, etc) because I don’t want anyone to think it’s something s/he is incapable of doing. Personally though, it doesn’t matter to me what term a person chooses to use. If you’re riding a bike, you are a cyclist, and if you’re a cyclist, you are riding a bike, so I have no problem going with whatever an individual prefers.


8 comments:

  1. Excellent! So glad you featured Endless Velo Love in your series! I enjoy her writing and perspective. It's nice to learn a little more about her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked the post! G.E. will have one more post coming up in rotation in the near future :) I think it's great when I can incorporate other bloggers who bike!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Chasing for taking the time to pop over to read (and for your kind words, of course too)! :O)

      Delete
  2. I, like G.E. am not a svelte cyclist. I've ridden for decades, and partly because I have so many years under my belt, I do not match the stereotype cyclist physique. So I understand all too well why she mentions in the interview that she tends to shy away from photos of herself on her blog.

    I would assume G.E. has some of the same motivations to cycle that I have. I imagine she cycles for fitness, self esteem, basically to feel better. Cycling is generally regarded as a positive activity - both personally (improves health, etc.) and socially (i.e., it will save the planet). With all that as the back drop, I see G.E. as one in a thousand, no . . . , more like one in ten thousand. Jeessh! That's still not right. She is is easily one in a hundred thousand when it comes to women willing to cycle. I think she is a role model.

    My experience is many women do not embrace cycling as it is something they see as beyond what they think they can do. For G.E. to write her blog and throwing a a photo or two of herself once in a while - as uncomfortable as those photos may make her feel - will help other women see that it is possible. Possible not just for perfectly fit and gifted athletic women, but possible for a broad cross section of women. So let me offer my encouragement to her, so she can provide encouragement for others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think G.E. is a great inspiration for so many people, not only women. I really admire how she does what she does and also blogs about it to share her experiences. A very real woman with a very real voice sharing what she can. You said it-other women will see that it's possible for them.

      Thanks for reading the blog post!

      Delete
    2. Hey! What do you mean I'm not a svelte cyclist, Augsburg! ;O)

      I should also say that it's not always that I'm uncomfortable putting up photos, but more frequently that I just don't have any photos of myself to put up. I will attempt to be better about having someone take a few when I'm riding with others though. I think one of the great things about a bicycle is that truly anyone can ride, regardless of their fitness or ability, whereas other activities can be more challenging to joints and such when we are bigger than average.

      Delete
    3. Why oh why did I throw in the "like G.E." part? I knew as soon as I posted that would get me in trouble!

      Delete
    4. LOL... you are forgiven (and since it's not always easy to tell online, I was truly just kidding). :O)

      Delete