Women on Bikes Series: Erin Swanson

I started working at Oneota Food Co-Op in 2008 and sometime after that, I met Erin. During our times at the register, I don't think I ever realized that she rode a bicycle, but who am I kidding? I didn't start riding until 2012.

At some point this year, Travis suggested I contact Erin-and here we are!

When did you first start riding a bike?
As a youngster, though high school is when I started riding more distances.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
As a kid, I loved the fresh air…now: Sanity! :) Riding and other outdoor movement sports keep me physically and mentally healthy. I ride, run, and move for sanity! :)

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I was lucky enough to have an active family growing up and did lots of fun Midwestern rides and races, including an ironman triathlon at 16 because I wanted to see if I could do it or not. I could! :) (The power of the human brain is awesome! I am amazed at how our attitudes and determination can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Tell yourself you can do something, and most of the time you can!)
More recently my son, Peter, and I did the MS 150 in MN to raise money for M.S. (which my mom has).

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.)
My favorite is probably taking country road-biking trips (southwest Wisconsin country roads are awesome- blacktopped and quiet, though hilly.) Mountain biking is a close second (Decorah trails, Levis-Trow Mounds, north of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and the Cuyuna bike trails near Brainerd, MN are all favorites). Rails to trails riding like Trempleau, WI or the Sparta-Elroy Trail in Wisconsin are also so fun with kids. (Check out these spots; they are great!) Tandem biking is also so much fun. It’s the best way to bike with my husband, as he’s too speedy for me unattached and it’s a great trust exercise!

Cuyuna Lakes Mountain biking trails by Brainerd, MN
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?
With my husband’s persuasion, I have just bought a pair of clipless pedals. I’m so curious to see how they work! Everyone who has them says they make such a difference.

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I work from home, but have a pair of panniers that I can stuff lots of things into to make biking around town easier.

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?
Yes. I wear leather mittens, leather hiking boots, and rain pants when it’s cold. The Blackburn pannier holder on my back tire works like a fender to keep mud and water from splashing up on my back in the rain.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
Yep, I’ve had a few through the years, though just a split-open knee and a few bruises. I get back and ride again that day if I can or soon afterwards. (I do carry a cell phone now when I mountain bike alone because of my last crash.)

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the fresh air and the physical and emotional lift that it brings to me. The scenery and the company (when I have it) are priceless!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a ten or so year old Trek 8000 women’s mountain bike that I really like. I picked it because I could buy it locally and it fit me great (the women’s fit helped a lot). I also got a hand me-down Trek 1000 road bike that I like to ride on the roads and around the local bike trail.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I love my bike skort because it has great padding without the tight classic bike shorts to leave my bum hanging out for the world to see. I absolutely love my panniers and the Blackburn rack that’s over my back tire. I can hook a pannier or two on the rack or just bunji something to the top of it. I also really like the knog frog bike light that you can change from bike to bike so easily.