Women on Bikes Series: Amy Cassidy

I'm 52 and a single (divorced) mom of 2: Kelly 19 and Jack 18. I have 2 dogs, Ripley (8 year old Golden Retriever) and Kona (1 year old Border Collie who I rescued from my brother) I’ve lived in the Vail Valley / Eagle area since 1984 and like to ski, skate ski, swim, mountain bike, road bike and trail run. 

When did you first start riding a bike?
I started riding a bike when I was 4. My first memory was when my family lived in Tucson, AZ and our backyard was the desert. My older brothers and sisters found an abandoned bike in the desert and took me to a park, put me on the bike on the top of a hill and pushed me down. I don’t recall ever having training wheels.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?Mountain biking is a huge release for me – whatever stress I’m feeling I can usually overcome with a ride. I’m lucky enough to live in Eagle, CO where we have over 100 miles of singletrack, all of which are accessible right from my driveway.
What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain) Mountain biking is my first love. I also just bought a new road bike and hope to do some century and longer rides this summer. My first is the MS 150 in June.
Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride? (If not a mountain biker, how about first commuter ride, paved trail ride, gravel, etc.)I do. It was so fun. The downhill is like skiing, picking your line and just trying to go for it. (That sounds braver than I am!)
If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?I try to look ahead and not focus on the obstacle in front of me. I try to remember to breathe. Many of the friends I ride with are better riders than I am so I try to just do what they do. I also have no problem walking when things get too steep or technical!
When you mountain bike with a few friends, do you frequently go with men or women? I've had many individuals say that for some women, it's easier to learn from other women vs. men. Any thoughts on that?
I would say I ride equally with men and women. Both are super fun. I ride with people of all ages - my son and daughter, for example, The Cycle Effect girls and 35-60 year olds. 
Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?I do use clipless pedals. I keep them pretty loose so unclipping usually isn’t a problem.
If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?My job requires me to attend a lot of meetings up and down I-70 so commuting is not always an option. Whenever possible, I have a townie bike I ride to work and around Eagle.  
Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?I’ve had more bike biffs than I can count! It’s rare when I don’t have road rash or bruises somewhere on my body. The older I get, the longer it takes to recover. I try not to focus on falling but it happens. I also fall often trail running so maybe I’m just uncoordinated?
What do you love about riding your bike?I love the challenge of climbing hills and going downhill. I love the exercise, I love getting dirty. I like the adrenaline rush that comes with mountain biking, especially night riding. I love being out in nature and riding with my friends. Some of my best conversations have happened on bike rides. I’m not much of a group rider, I like to get out with a couple friends, or by myself, and just go. I’ll set out for a quick 45-minute ride and a few hours later I’m still riding.
What would be one fun thing you'd like to share about yourself with everyone?
I did a super cool open water swim in St. Croix with a couple girlfriends for my 50th birthday. We had to swim during a tropical storm so it was brutal. But the rum drinks after were delicious.

You are involved with The Cycle Effect, how did you hear about them?
I got involved with The Cycle Effect when they put on their first big event, the Haymaker Races, in Eagle. I do the marketing and events for the Town of Eagle, so I had the opportunity to work with Brett Donelson and his team. I love the concept of what The Cycle Effect does to empower high school aged young women through biking, mentoring and education. The girls are awesome and willing to try anything. They inspire me.
--Check out their website: The Cycle Effect and Facebook page: The Cycle Effect--
What do you do at The Cycle Effect?I am the Development Director so it’s my job to raise money. I love telling The Cycle Effect story. People get really enthused when they understand what we’re doing and the effect we’re having on these girls’ lives. I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t wanted to help us in some way and that’s amazing.

How has working at The Cycle Effect changed your life?
I’ve only been working for The Cycle Effect for a couple months and the changes in my life have been profound. Working out with the girls, working with people who believe so strongly in the impact we’re having, it’s inspiring. I’ve always enjoyed coaching and sharing my love for sports and fitness with kids. Helping provide an outlet for these girls is life changing for me and hopefully for them. 
What would you like individuals to know about The Cycle Effect and what they do?
The Cycle Effect eliminates any barriers to getting girls interested in mountain biking: cost, access to bikes, access to coaching, access to trails and knowing where to go, access to bike clothes, shoes, etc. We also provide mentoring and education, we’re changing not just one girls’ life, but the trajectory of her life, plus her kids lives, etc. etc. by showing them what they can accomplish. 

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment while working for The Cycle Effect?
We recently partnered with a local restaurant group (Dionysus Hospitality) to make The Cycle Effect the main focus of their charitable giving. While this group is very generous and gives to many organizations, they have decided to make The Cycle Effect their main focus and have gotten all staff members involved in raising money for our charity. John Shipp, the owner, believes so strongly in what we’re doing, he has agreed to form an amazing partnership to raise money and awareness about The Cycle Effect. Hearing him speak so passionately to his management team about The Cycle Effect was very moving.