Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Women Involved Series: Kris Eagle

Meet Kris who has quite a story to share! I recently met her online at the Wheelwomen Switchboard. One day while on Twitter I had seen some "tweets" that made me very sad, Kris had sold her bike to get some money to pay her medical bills. Her bike and bike riding have been a huge part of her healing journey, so a bunch of people got together and created a fundraiser for Kris. Not only did she receive money for a new bike, but also some to put towards medical bills.

Here is more about the woman on the bike:


What inspired you to create VeloHut and what is the purpose behind it?
It's funny, I actually hadn't even thought about creating a cycling website until last year. 
Two things I never imagined I'd be doing:
1) Riding a bike to save my life and 
2) building a site around any type of sport. I've never been much into sports of any kind and I used to just point and laugh at people riding bicycles up hills when there was this invention called the automobile.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't so lazy a person that I just sat on my butt all the time and ate pizza. No, I was just more into things like hiking and exploring National Parks, camping, etc. 

My previous experiences of bicycles were when I was a child and after I'd stopped riding, I just never really got back into it. However, there was always that niggling reminder of how much fun I had as a child and that sense of freedom I got from riding my bike. So, when I was diagnosed, and I chose cycling as my means to fight, my life naturally started revolving around the bike. 

Last year I was having a chat with my father about how much I'd learned but I still have so much more to understand. He suggested that we put our knowledge of websites into something useful for myself and maybe for others. VeloHut is still a work in progress but I love it and am enjoying adding and experimenting with fun ideas until it really takes off. It's so exciting for me to see it growing regularly and getting to know more and more people. I feel more connected to the bicycle community now because of VeloHut.

So the purpose? To help or inspire others and to learn and BE inspired BY others. VeloHut isn't about me or being a business, it's about the bicycle community and why I have come to love it. 

What inspired you to want to encourage more women to get on a bicycle?
There just aren't enough women out there in the road. I think women could really benefit from bicycling at so many levels. It doesn't matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. Bicycling can be so beneficial to physical and mental well-being and I believe that women deserve to take that time for themselves to have fun, get their minds off of the every day hum drum and go kick their feet up and celebrate who and what they are - women.

How long as VeloHut been around? 
Just about one year now. It started out as analysis until I realized I just didn't care. I was riding for two reasons, fight cancer and have fun. I found analyzing everything was slowly sucking the life out of it for me. So after completing the entire project, I dumped it. 5 months of work down the drain. Oh well, life is about change and moving on when something isn't working. I moved on and have been happier building the site around topics and bicyclists of all types.

What are some of the things you’ve learned about VeloHut and what it’s brought to the bicycle community?
Well, I wasn't sure I was even making an impact until more recently. When I "came out" in a way by allowing people to know I have cancer, there was a reaction I never expected.  The support was tremendous. While I am normally a very private person when it comes to serious things like health, it was the best thing in the world for me and VeloHut to talk about it. The caring response  gave me the freedom to start "living" in a whole new way. It also helped me to focus on what was most important to me for the site - the community.

What do you enjoy about being a positive voice?
It's funny to read that question. I never used to think of myself as a particularly positive person. And certainly not a "voice". Discovering that I have had a voice and helped some people even in the smallest of ways has just made me happy. So that's what I enjoy most. I like when other people are happy and living their lives. 

You were diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, what inspired you to be proactive about your health?
My family and my stubborn way that I believe I can prove doctors wrong. Some might think that could be arrogant but I don't like being told I have no options. I don't like feeling backed into a corner and after enough crying and self pity, I decided I wasn't going to give up. I had too many things I still wanted to do or try. More people I want to meet in life.

What inspired you add riding a bike to your health care? (vs. something else, like yoga?)
When I thought back to when I was little, bike riding is what made me feel free. It helped me escape and that just seemed very fitting for the situation.

What do you enjoy most about your bike rides? What have they brought to you?
I enjoy exploring and time to myself. I do ride with a friend once a week and have a blast when he is with me but I also love the peacefulness of riding alone. Thinking about my goals, what I want to do next on VeloHut and I enjoy the confidence bicycling has given me. I never knew what I had in myself until I really got rolling.

What kind of riding is your favorite?
So far I've only done road riding so it's hard to say if it's my favorite. I do love it though! 

What kind of riding do you want to learn?
I’ve always wanted to grasp mountain biking.  I tried a long time ago when I got a Bontrager and got one ride in before it was stolen.  All I remember from the one ride was I was terrified.

What inspires you to keep riding or wanting to learn?
My health and that riding a bike is just plain fun. I feel alive when I am riding my bicycle.

Are you a commuter? If so, what are your reasons for it?
No, I work from home.

What are 5 things every commuter should have or would find useful?
I’m not sure.  This is an area I want to work on for VeloHut but I will need help from commuters.  

What are your 5 most favorite bike riding accessories/tools?
-   My chain tool to see how it’s wearing
  • My multitool for when I’m out there and I need to readjust my saddle.
  • Tire levels because my fingers are just too weak to fix an inner tube without one.
  • Not really a bike tool/accessory but I carry handi-wipes.  In case of road rash or from sticky fingers
  • Wind vest

What are 5 suggestions you would give someone new to riding a bike?
  • Make sure to buy a bike YOU feel comfortable with and not what the LBS says is right for you.
  • Women - you do not need to purchase a bike that is “women specific”.
  • If you aren’t comfortable on the road yet, don’t push yourself. Get to know your bike and build your handling skills.  Confidence is everything.
  • Hand signals and eye contact with drivers.
  • Don’t ever be afraid to ask for advice or help.

What are 5 things you’ve learned from riding a bike?
  • I have a lot more confidence than I ever imagined.
  • I need to balance my exercise and not just ride a bike.  Not everyone will agree with me on that one but it’s something I learned that I needed. I love riding but even I suffered burnout from time to time.
  • Knowing the basics about your bike can go a long way when you are out there and don’t have an LBS nearby. ;)
  • I’ve learned that I am not as shy as I always thought I was.

There was recently an out pour of support for you with a tough life decision you had to make. I’m just one voice but I feel I can say that you are well-loved and supported by many.
What do you hope to accomplish with this new (future) bike?
I want to get back to what I was doing best - fighting cancer. The decision felt so right at the time because I am stressed daily by my medical bills and that stress has not gone away. I thought that I would have more time without my bike before things would start to turn for the worse.  Now, between not being on a bike yet and with my stress, I have weakened some. I hope to be riding again real soon. I’ve got a great deal offer from an LBS for a team price discount even though I am not on a team but I can’t order until end of May, early June. 

This time around though, this bike will be fueled by a lot of support and love from the community.  I’m eager to get rolling again as a thanks for the support and to know that when I struggle out there, I can cry a little and then look at the bike and know who it came from.  That’s something very special. The only way I can truly thank everyone is to get back out there and fight.  

What kind of bike do you think you might get?
This time, I will get a mountain bike.  Someday I will get another road bike when I know I can afford a second bike but in the meantime, I have been talking about MTB a lot recently and so this year I will dedicate to learning something new.  Besides, I’ve always had a dream to MTB through Canyonlands National Park. Only way that will ever happen is if I start learning and building confidence in bike handling skills for MTB.

I have my heart set on a Cannondale F29 with Lefty fork. It’s weird looking but I like things that are weird.  Most of all, it fit really well and I had fun during my test rides. I felt like a little kid.  

Have you ever named bikes? (I’m fond of naming mine!) If so, what do you think you will name it?
Yes, my BMC was named Serenity.  I am still trying to decide what to name the new one.  Maybe Donut. 
(Check out the Facebook and Twitter links below to see photos of Donut!)

Would you like to say anything here as a thank-you or acknowledgement?
I want to thank each and every person that helped me during my time of need but I also want to thank everyone that has visited VeloHut, read an article, chatted with me on Twitter or even just followed.  Without all of you, engaging with me or silent, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.  I’m grateful and it encourages me to keep fighting and keep working on VeloHut. I’m glad to be a part of the bicycling community.

Check out VeloHut!
VeloHut on Facebook!
VeloHut on Twitter!

Check out this t-shirt fundraiser for VeloHut!

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