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Frank Shumaker Q&A

How did you get started riding a bike to work?
My Christmas present from my wife this last year was a bicycle. You would think that bikes are just for kids. I am here to tell you at the age of 46 it’s a great gift. This is not one of those mid-life things either; it’s just a great gift. 

How far do you commute and how often?
This is hard to answer as the distance I travel will change frequently. My house is 7.5 miles from my work, although I will ride between 7.5 – 10 miles to work. My ride home is from 7.5 – 20 miles depending on my route. I change the ride to make it more challenging; it also allows for a change of views. 

What do you like about your bike commute? And what don’t you like? Any safety concerns?
This is a fantastic time to get up a tad earlier and enjoy the cool morning air and the activity of the birds and animals. You will be surprised at the things you miss every day by driving in a vehicle. Safety is a No. 1 concern and needs to be with every bicyclist. I took the time to insure the bike route I used would allow me to arrive at work in one piece. I also think that a bike lane is exactly that and you should use the lane given you; so I personally would not ride three abreast or ride out of the bike lane. If you choose to ride out of that lane you are placing trust in drivers you have probably never met in your life, and they are traveling at times in speeds in excess of 45 mph. I can assure you that you would not win this type of collision.   

Have you had any measurable positive results of bike commuting, such as money saved, weight lost, time savings, stress reduction, new friends, etc.
I have lost between 10-15 pounds in riding for the last seven months. The amount of money I save depends on what miles you choose to count, but I feel confident that I am saving between $100 -$150 a month, plus the satisfaction of knowing that the “Big Oil Companies” are not getting that money. I have to say that for me my energy level increased, which has made that honey-do list seem like it’s nothing. The people I have met while riding are neat people. You will find yourselves planning trips with other bicyclist to further enjoy the outdoors and challenge those new found riding skills. Be safe and have fun!! 

Any recommendations on how to get started for someone new to bike commuting?
This was a Christmas gift from my wife. She allowed me to know about it ahead of time. I utilized the Internet to get ideas for the type of bike that would be right for me. When I went to the bicycle store, Jesse, the manager of Performance Bicycle and Matt, one of the bicycle mechanics, led me to a bike that met my needs and was within my budget. The bike you purchase can affect the way you feel about riding. Take your time and make a good informed decision on your purchase. Take time to find a safe bike route for your commute, if you need to ride the extra mile or two, don’t compromise on safety. You will find that just because a bike lane is in place, you may not feel the lane itself is in good enough condition to ride.

Is there one experience you’ve had while biking to or from work that you’d like to tell about, something funny that happened maybe.
I had decided one morning on my way home from work I would ride the Saguaro National Monument East nine-mile loop. I had only been riding a couple weeks; I suggest that everyone should take things a little slower. Anyway this is downhill for about four miles and then, of course, uphill the rest. When I started the uphill side I had about five guys pass me like I was standing still. At one point I even had to get off my bike and walk. When I started to top the hill I noticed the guys that had passed me were all in a group. I rode up to them and immediately noticed they were all older, so I laughed and said to them, “Hey, are you waiting for the old guy to show up?” They all laughed and told me the youngest guy in the group was in his early 70s and the oldest was in his 80s. What an inspiration these guys are! They invited me to ride the loop with them as they always ride twice. Ha! I had to decline. I had things I had to do, like try to recover from the first nine miles.

Anything else that you’d like to share, maybe something that you’ve learned but wish you knew from the get go.
PAG has a fantastic program called Guaranteed RideHome program. This program will help you feel more confident in riding your bike to work, in that when certain conditions arise, family emergencies for instance, you’re not stuck riding your bike home. A ride is provided for you. This is just one more reason you should commute to work on a bike. Thanks PAG!


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