Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Meet the brave people who ride their bike year-round to the SRB

Posted: February 24, 2016

Meet the brave people who ride their bike year-round to the SRB From Left: Gretchen Keppel-Aleks, Chip Manchester, Maarten Roos, Harvey Elliott, Allison Hogikyan, Matt Wozniak and Mark Flanner.

Since 2005, the League of American Bicyclists has ranked Ann Arbor a silver-level bicycle friendly city. While many enjoy the bike paths in the warmer months, only a handful of people ride their bike all year long. Here in the Space Research Building, that handful includes Graduate Student Harvey Elliott, Associate Professor Mark Flanner, Undergraduate Student Allison Hogikyan, Assistant Professor Gretchen Keppel-Aleks, Engineer in Research Sallee Klein, Research Associate Professor Chip Manchester, Research Fellow Maarten Roos and Graduate Student Matt Wozniak. Here is what they have to say about commuting on two wheels:

“I don't have the patience to wait for the bus, or to look for a parking spot... and it keeps me sane because otherwise I get very little fresh air in winter,” Hogikyan says on why she bikes to class.

“I race bikes competitively and so I often ride for fitness after work. It saves me time if I can just ride straight from the office. It’s also one of those things where it’s way easier to park my bike downtown and go to a restaurant/bar/movie/etc. I can keep pace with most cars in town and if you factor in parking I find that the bike is often faster than driving,” Elliott says.

Wozniak says, “If you are thinking about getting started, please do! Make sure you are familiar with your state's bike law, and that you are comfortable with all of the necessary maneuvers you’ll need to do along your chosen route. The road is not your back alleyway from childhood - you need to know how to ride. It’s not hard! But it’s absolutely necessary.”

In addition to riding a bike to work or class, many of the SRB bike riders enjoy exploring new places on their bikes.

Elliott says, “I like riding the dirt roads and trails around Ann Arbor. Within one or two miles in any direction and you can be in the middle of just endless miles of rolling woods and farmland out there. Sometimes you’re rewarded with the most spectacular sunsets, but you just never know what you’re going to find.”

Roos says, “I did biking holidays some years ago, for a month going from the Netherlands to Belgium to France, Luxembourg and back again, 2000km and camping. I was fit after that!”

Exploring a new place on a bike can often be a memorable experience. Wozniak says his most memorable ride was his first ever road ride.

“I was interning in Eugene, Oregon, so I rented a touring bike and set out one Saturday on my own to ride 107 miles through the Coastal Range Mountains. Along the way, I was serenaded by an old, bearded Santa-Claus-hippie and his guitar as I cooled off at a swimming hole. Part of the lyrics: ‘With a little bit of luck and a lotta bit of love, you’ll get by.’ He told me he’d broken almost every bone in his body throughout his life, but assured me (as his name was Will), ‘Where there’s a Will, there’s a way.’ I didn’t have a towel to dry off, so he gave me one of his shirts. I still have that shirt.”

Hogikyan’s most memorable ride was also on the West Coast, in the foothills of the Sierra in California's Anza Borrego State Park. “The view of the mountains and the desert from the top of a steady five mile climb was more breathtaking than the steep descent down the other side!”

For information on biking in Ann Arbor, please visit http://www.getdowntown.org/Bike.

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