Women on Bikes Series: Monica Garrison

Meet Monica of Black Girls Do Bike! 
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When did you first start riding a bike?
Like everyone I rode as a kid. That's when I got hooked.  As a young adult living on my own with a job in the city I started commuting by bike in my mid-twenties.  But then I didn't pick up a bike again until after marriage and kids.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
As a kid and as an adult I can say that I ride for the pure unadulterated fun.  When I commuted to my stressful job I wanted a way to start and end my day right, to de-stress.  In recent years I've also gravitated to cycling as a low impact alternative to running, in the hopes losing weight post pregnancies. 

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
No, no competitions. I do love to watch cyclists compete.  So far I've stuck to bike tours around town.  

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I recently attended my first outdoor BMX dirt event and enjoyed that very much.  It was very exciting and I met some amazing people. 

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.)
I love a good trail. Paved roads are my favorite.  Gravel makes for a good workout.  I'd love to try my hand at BMX or mountain biking one day, they are fun to watch. 

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.)
The first time I commuted was great! I conjured up my inner bike messenger and hit the streets.  I was nervous the first time and a little apprehensive but it was early morning with not much traffic.  I quickly settled in and arrived to work feeling energized. Better than any cup of coffee. 

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I made sure to travel when traffic was light and the weather was cool.  That helped me keep panic at bay.

 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’m adventurous and I am intrigued by clipless pedals. Some cyclists swear by them.  I will try them one day, most likely when I purchase a road bike.  

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I live in the northeast in a city known for its steep hills and lake effect snow storms.  So, if I had to name my challenges it would be weather and terrain. I try to pick routes and are challenging but not insurmountable, that way I am always getting better and I always feel like I accomplished something.  As far as the weather goes, so far I have cut my riding season short during the harsh days of winter and move to an indoor trainer.

Do you commute even if the weather isn’t ideal? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
I actual love riding in the rain and getting caught in a rain storm just makes my riding day. 
My city has harsh winters though so I tend to hibernate in the sleet, snow.  I don’t feel that I have enough cycling experience under my belt to safely navigate snowy, slippery roads. 

Have you had a bike accident? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I wrecked a motorcycle once but never a bike; thank goodness.  I recovered from that accident by spending my recovery time doing my own repairs to my motorcycle so that by the time I was physically healed; my bike was ready to go. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
Riding a bike is as close as I will ever get to flying.  Pure freedom and fun all wrapped into one experience. There is nothing like it. I get off my bike every time anticipating the next time can do it again. 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am a novice only re-starting biking in the last two years.  I have one bike a Specialized, commuter/hybrid.  I purchased it because it was reasonably priced and very versatile.  Versatility means I can explore on my bike and “she” has been a very good companion. I love bikes and would like to own one for every occasion road, track, dirt and mud!  Next purchase will probably be a road bike or a fixed gear.  

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I am real mess when it comes to cycling clothes.  Style is less important as I put more emphasis on keeping cool and comfortable, though I realize that there are “cycling  clothes” that will accomplish these things.  I’ve only recently purchased my first cycling jersey and find it most comfortable.  Still trying to navigate that corner where practicality meets style.

As for my bike it is pretty much stock.  I couldn’t live without a good bike bag and a great set of lights, so I always recommend these to friends. (Let me know if you want specific brand recommendations)