by Karen Brooks
Professional cyclists get plenty of saddle time while training and racing, but many are everyday bikers, too. You?ve seen some evidence already on this blog: Marla Streb and Tim Johnson are two pro racers who also ride to get around town. Here are three more: cyclocross racers Craig Etheridge, Maureen Bruno Roy and Serena Bishop Gordon.
Not only is Craig Etheridge a dominant singlespeed cyclocrosser with plenty of wins so far this season, he’s also a professional bike messenger on the streets of Seattle. That’s right?Etheridge gets after it seven days a week.
You ride not just to get to work, but also to do the work itself?what?s that like? Are you ever too exhausted for messengering or for racing after a particularly hard day?
Most of the time I feel really lucky. It’s certainly rewarding. Of course, there are good and bad days on a bike (especially when it’s your job), but in the end I get to diversify how I get my miles, which has kept me interested in both avenues.
Which came first, messengering or racing?
I?ve been racing a few years longer than I?ve been a bike messenger. Not until I moved to Seattle (10 years ago) did I really have an opportunity to work full-time as a messenger. Messengers have this funny ?reserve? built into our system that doesn’t ever seem to allow us to be fully drained at the end of the day. You never know when that last job may surprise you. I’ve had quite a few Mondays after two- or three-day race weekends where city miles came painstakingly slow. Somehow the work always manages to get done, though. Similarly, I’ve spent a number of years showing up to races never quite fully rested from the workweek, but having to accept that since it’s the reason I got there in the first place. Give and take, I suppose.
But my racing has really taken off since becoming a messenger. It just seemed like an awful waste of at least some sort of fitness that I found myself in after putting so many miles on the bike!
What kind of bike do you ride?
Since I’ve been racing for Raleigh, I have a few singlespeed cyclocross bikes that I have set up for different applications. Street tires and a different gear plus fenders make a great messenger bike. Flat bars for comfort and maneuverability are a bonus.
My racing bike is similar, but with fancy bits for intimidation factor?just kidding! The race bikes really are dialed in nowadays. I race on tubulars and have a whole different set-up, and it really does make a difference. Still a Raleigh singlespeed CX bike though.
Maureen ?Mo? Bruno Roy’s name often appears in the top tier of cyclocross race results. In fact, she recently added Singlespeed Cyclocross World Champion to her palmar?s. Besides being fast on a cross bike (and on a mountain bike), she’s a certified massage therapist based in Massachusetts.
To where do you ride your commuting bike?
I commute to work every day on Frank the Tank (FTT for short). My muscular therapy office is about 1.5 miles from my apartment each way. It’s a short, sweet trip!
I also commute to the local grocery store, to yoga classes, coffee shop, farmers? market and to local shops for errands. I ride into downtown Boston for get-togethers, classes or events, and get to avoid car traffic jams and our often-unpredictable T system.
Tell us more about Frank the Tank. Do you have another transportation bike that you like to ride as well?
FTT is a geared bike, and has two panniers and a front rack for carrying goods and fenders, making it a perfect year-round cargo commuter. I have two other commuter bikes! Both are singlespeeds. One is Pinky, a semi-retired city bike that used to be my cargo bike, but one gear on a loaded bike was not practical for urban commuting for daily errands and grocery shopping. The front end was too light and the bike was completely squirrely when loaded. She’s a bike for visiting guests now.
My other commuter is a nameless singlespeed that was formerly my first real road bike, a Novara from REI. It’s a very sleek bike with a simple rear fender and narrow handlebars for urban navigation. I ride this one on longer city rides when I am only carrying a backpack and no extra gear.
What are your favorite parts of traveling by bike?
Number one would be that it’s literally the fastest way around Boston. Between our one-way streets, traffic and unreliable subway system, a bike is the ideal way to get around efficiently. We have also had a lot of new bike lanes and bike paths built in and around Boston, and it’s become a really nice way to explore new neighborhoods and create car-free commutes to and from destinations.
I also love the freedom of creating your own schedule when commuting by bike, the ease of parking and the ability to be outdoors as much as possible.
Serena Bishop Gordon — All Access Racing
After getting bit by the cyclocross bug in 2008, Serena Bishop Gordon quickly ascended to the top levels of racing. She’s the Oregon Cross Crusade champion four years running, and won the Mountain Bike Ultra Endurance Tour in 2013. Her love of the outdoors comes through in her job as Program Director for the Conservation Alliance.
Do you ride a bike for transportation? If so, what kind of bike?
YES?everyday! I ride a J. Livingston repurposed townie, 8-speed, with a Brooks saddle, very comfy. I ride to work each morning and home each afternoon. I ride to yoga, the grocery store, friends? houses for dinner, massage, cruise along the river and pretty much all my errands. I don’t drive my car at all during the week.
What are your favorite parts of traveling by bike?
What better way to start the day than to pedal a bike? Slowly, smiling, with the cool air in my face. I find the time I spend on my commuter bike before and after work prepares me for the day?I can brainstorm for a morning meeting, clear my head after a couple of hours behind the desk. Doing errands by bike, I love the feeling of moving faster than the cars, taking back ways and short cuts, and getting around under my own power.
Does commuting enhance your training or does it interfere with it?
I live in a relatively small town, so my commuter riding doesn’t often interfere with my training miles?but it makes for a great way to wake the legs up after a hard day of training or weekend of racing. When I am tempted to grab the car keys because of bad weather (or just laziness), I remind myself that driving and parking would most likely take longer than just grabbing my raincoat and heading out?I have fenders, after all.