Women on Bikes Series: Shannon Leigh Kehoe

When I moved back up to the area from Portland (where I used public transportation everywhere), I found that the buses didn't run often enough or to where I needed to go, so I started biking. I'm an environmentalist and graduated in Environmental Studies, so my motivation for riding was to get "one more car off the road". I commuted via bike for 3 years, and then was hired on as a salesperson at Woodinville Bicycle.
(Woodinville Bicycle’s Facebook Page and Website)

I've been at Woodinville Bicycle for almost 3 years. Working here opened me up to a whole different type of riding- it became a passion and recreation, rather than just a mode of transportation. I bought a new, nicer bike and started going on long (100+) mile rides. I fell in love with road cycling and then a couple years ago I participated in a cyclocross race.

Working here, some of my coworkers and a lot of customers are MTBikers and I was finally convinced to get on a mountain bike and head out to the trails. I'm still really new at it and have some friends (including Meg) teaching me how to do singletrack and cross-country MTBing.
I have always loved being out in the woods, and my career goal will actually be to work in ecological restoration. It's so awesome to be able to combine my love for nature with my love of cycling. MTBing is way different than road cycling, but I thoroughly enjoy them both.

When did you first start riding a bike?
Of course I rode around with my siblings as a kid, but as an adult I didn’t get into biking until about 5 years ago.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I started out commuting, as an eco-friendly way (and cheaper!) way to get around. I fell in love with it! I got a job at Woodinville Bicycle and was welcomed into the wonderful world of cycling. I went from commuting to endurance road-riding because it just felt great to be out there, pedaling. It’s really great meditation time for me, getting some fresh air and releasing some pent-up energy from the stresses of daily life.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I was encouraged to participate in the Woodland Park cyclocross race a few years ago by my co-workers- we all did the race. I borrowed a mountain bike to do it- needless to say, as a road rider on a mountain bike in a cyclocross race, I didn’t exactly kick ass, but I had a lot of fun. 

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
Cyclocross races are just a lot of fun. I did another race last year on my boss’s single-speed cross bike. It’s hard, but it is always fun! I like to go to cross races just to watch my friends’ race in the big-leagues. The cross community is just so fun, supportive, and kind.

What kinds of cycling do you enjoy? (road, gravel, etc.)
I love road riding- that’s really how I got into the cycling world. I like pushing myself to improve my speed and endurance. I have always loved being out in the woods, and when I finally got into the types of biking that got me out there I’ve found that is really the biking I prefer now. Mountain biking is so fun, I really like getting out there, climbing over roots, trying new things and being surrounded by the amazing PNW forests we have. 

My friend Meg also took me dirt-jumping. That was awesome- I started out scared shitless, but as I kept going over the tables more and more I gained confidence and had an awesome time! I fell and got a little scraped up, but that didn’t keep me from getting right back on and continuing to enjoy the ride!  I also found a new passion and hobby- bike camping. I started at Deception Pass, just got a campsite and biked all day and went back to the campsite to crash. I tried something new this past year that I intend to start doing more of- took a cross bike and a trailer full of gear up the John Wayne trail and camped up there in the woods. I had such an amazing time. I love my solitary time, and biking all day is so zen. Then to end the night camping out in the woods on my own, surrounded by the beauty of nature, it’s just amazing.

Do you commute by bike? If so, why do you enjoy it?
I used to all the time, that was my only mode of transportation. I moved farther out from school and work, and biked/bussed from there. But it’s a terrible ride- along a highway littered with glass and debris. So, I have a car now. I occasionally commute, but for the most part drive. I’m not stoked on that.  But I intend to move back closer so I can get back to bike commuting. There’s no better way to start and end the day than a bike ride!

What are some of the challenges you face with commuting and how do you overcome them?
When I was commuting more, the biggest thing for me was trying to be recognized by cars as a part of traffic. I’ve been hit 3 times, all low speed, by people turning into or out of driveways without checking the bike lane. People forget the bike lane is a lane of traffic. It’s also hard when you have to be on the road rather than trying to stay on the shoulder. Making a turn at a traffic light, cars get annoyed they have to wait a few more seconds. It’s the constant battle of cars vs. bikers. I really appreciate the people who care to try to make extra space for cyclists when they pass and have some patience.

Have you had a bike accident or a situation that was challenging? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I thankfully have not had any big wrecks. Road bikes have been low-speed, so scraped bike is the worst I got from that. Mountain biking I have fallen a few times, but just scrapes and bruises. Nothing big and I’m thankful for that!

You started to mountain bike pretty recently, what are some handling skills that challenge you?
Meg has been slowly teaching me- literally starting from ground zero. It’s way different handling than road biking, so I need to fight all my road-cycling instincts. Pedal placement, leading turns with the bars rather than turning with my body, one finger on the brake levers. One of the coolest things so far has been learning to do a short drop, how to keep my body level while the bike drops and keeping the bars straight. It’s so different from what I’m used to, but I’m learning! 

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I spoke a little to this in an earlier question, but as for why I chose them: the Dolce I chose because it fit my riding style and the geometry was complementary to me.  It was just really comfortable, but still performed really well for me. 
The Ruby is the carbon equivalent- I didn’t have the money to invest in that then, but if I were to buy it again I’d go for the carbon because it does make a big difference. That being said, my Dolce is my baby and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s an awesome endurance bike, nice and stable, and a fun ride. The Myka I got because it fit and was a good place to start getting out there. I love riding it, but am excited to get on a full suspension bike eventually.

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Haha, everything I own! Working here, I get to have a lot of time with the product and be able to compare before I buy it, so I know what I want. My favorite recent purchases are the Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves. They are awesome- they are neoprene, and act like a wetsuit kind of. They are super warm, and even if my hands do get wet they still stay nice and warm. And they’re not bulky! I hate bulky gloves. With these, I can still be dexterous, and even easily use my phone. They’re awesome. I also love my backpack. I’ve owned it a few years now- it’s an Alchemy Goods backpack with a flip top. Totally waterproof- I once fell in a creek up to my waist and all my stuff stayed dry. I use it allllll the time. 

What do you love about riding your bike?
Depends which bike you mean! I love my road bike so much. Started out with a pretty entry level and have upgraded literally everything on it except the frame. I have such a sentimental attachment to it… it’s weird. My friends tease me about it. I have made it my own. It fits me like a glove, I love riding it. I love everything about it! My mountain bike is an entry level, too, but it fits my needs so far perfectly.  I’m learning, and it’s an awesome bike for that. 

When I get better, I want to upgrade to a Giant Intrigue- I demoed that bike and it was crazy cool! I did make my mountain bike my own by changing all the cables, grips, etc., and I think it’s important at least for me to make my bike my own. I want it to be special and unique to me. (P.S. my road bike is a Specialized Dolce (started as a Sport model now it’s just totally its own thing), and my mountain bike is a Specialized Myka Sport Disc 29er).

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love wetlands. I love how the soil, plants and hydrology all work together to create a really cool, super important ecosystem. They smell so earthy, peaty, and warm; I love the sounds and the peace.