Women on Bikes Series: Laree Schouweiler

You first met Laree with her Women Involved blog post, now meet the woman on the bicycle!

When did you first start riding a bike? 
I first started riding with training wheels when I was four years old at my grandparent's home in Northfield, Minnesota under my dad's supervision. Although, I don't have much memory of that, only the photo attached, I remember the freedom I felt when I received my first Huffy in middle school. It felt as though I could reach all the corners of the world; especially because my world consisted of the convenience store down the block and my best friend, Rachel's home in the neighboring neighborhood. 

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years? 
Riding came haphazardly as I was really trying to get my running career off the ground (aka: finish a half-marathon in under three hours). I found running endless and boring; not to mention all the ailments that come with training (sore knees, tight IT bands and blisters). So, after training for several half-marathons, I decided I needed to break-up the longer runs with competing in duathalons. I loved it. I picked up my first road bike at Decorah Bicycles and have continued to ride three seasons out of the year since 2011. 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain)  
Pavement. I'm a wuss and don't like to venture too far off the road/trails. I'm a city girl at heart. 

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.)
 2011 Honestly, I was wondering if I could "play the part"?  Would people be able to tell that I wasn't a veteran rider? I was really nervous about understanding the rules of riding on the road. Wanting to make sure I did all the right signals, road in the right lanes, etc... 
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?  
When I purchased my bike, I also got SPD pedals (see above about "playing the part"). They have truly changed my ride since DAY ONE and I am thoroughly happy with the purchase. I always exclaim that I wish I could find running shoes that are as supportive and comfortable as my clip-ins... For beginners: YOU CAN DO IT. Hop on (near a grassy knoll) and go for it. Don't think too much about it. Everyone falls. There is more information in falling than there is in riding on the straight and narrow your whole life. Take that metaphor as you like :)

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them? 
I would consider myself a quasi-commuter. The winter riding isn't for me, but I try as much as I can to ride to the studio (or when I need to run errands) during the other seasons. With that said, there are days that I teach several classes per day and my legs need a break or timing doesn't always work out. We became a one car family last fall, so I am excited to see how that changes my commuting this spring!

If you live where there is a snowy or icy winter, do you still commute? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable? See above

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?  
Thus far, I have been really lucky and only had several close calls (where I clipped out at the last minute). I have gotten caught in a few cracks in the concrete crossing over the green bridge and I remember thinking "Pull it together so you don't fall in front of oncoming traffic." That thought can really straighten one out. 

What do you love about riding your bike? 
2011 It brings me back to the freedom I had when I first received my Huffy. There is something to be said about putting the work in and feeling like you've accomplished so much. You can get out for an hour and see corners of Decorah you've never seen. Not being a slave to the gas pump when you need to run a quick errand. The possibilities on your bike are endless...