Commuter Profile: William Atitie

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Biking is cultural where I come from. The number one form of transportation is by bike. 

I’m from the northern part of Ghana, and the people are poor. They don’t have money for cars and all these things, so they all struggle to get bicycles. They travel from village to village doing business on bikes. Most of the roads are not very good, so they use mountain bikes to deal with the potholes. William3

I learned to ride in 1951.

The teachers taught us so we could run errands for them. These days I ride to the African markets in the Bronx. They have so many African markets in the Bronx. I have to get my local food. I ride all the way back to Manhattan and I am 73.

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I have a Brompton. This is my second Brompton. The first one was stolen from me in less than 3 minutes. I left my bike outside of a convenience store, turned around, and it was gone. I got the surveillance video, made photos from the video and posted them up. Someone from the neighborhood ended up telling me where it was. The police called me and I went in and identified the thief in a line up. The State of New York gave me $150 because they said the value of the bike had depreciated.

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I ride passively, I want to follow the traffic rules.

It is better to be late than to be the late William.

I have discovered that biking is very, very healthy. To me, it keeps your mind always on. When you are on a bike, you are active and alert to your surroundings. You are keeping buy. So it is very, very healthy.

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My favorite story is the one about Albert Einstein and his students’ question about the meaning of life. He came back the next day with the answer:

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.”

It’s true!


William Atite is originally from Ghana, Africa, where he worked as a police officer and later a journalist for the Ghana news agency. After attending school in England, he moved to New York City. A graduate of Fordham University, he worked as administration for New York City Children Services (ACS). He has lived in New York for 33 years and rides his Brompton every day.

Interview and photos by Eric LaCour.

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Where we ride: Kristen’s first MTB race of the season

Although New York City was recently voted the best city in America for biking, it’s still not the easiest city for mountain biking. With a little bit of effort, though, and a short train or car ride, the trails of Long Island, New Jersey, and upstate New York are easier to get to than you think.

After a spring of road riding, Soho employee Kristen just completed her first mountain bike race of the season: Rumble in the Jungle, in West Milford, New Jersey, coming in 4th in the Pro/Cat 1 Women’s field.

JH KPWhat did you learn from your first race of the season?

So many things… At the beginning of every season, I have to re-learn the things I’ve conveniently forgotten. Like that racing is harder than I remember. That casually riding trails and racing are not the same thing. That course knowledge (or lack thereof) can be a defining factor. Things like nutrition and how I set up my equipment carry over more seamlessly from year to year. The main thing I learned from this race is that I need to get out on trails more, which is the real challenge living in Brooklyn.

What are you going to do to prepare for your next race?

Right now I’m focusing on building my fitness, because it’s still early season for me. I don’t do a lot of training through the winter — just enough to have a base come springtime. These days racing is something I do entirely for fun, so I’m not too rigid with my schedule. I do training rides 4-5 days a week and do things like yoga and strength training the rest of the time. I try to stay laid back about it, but when it comes time to do the work I’m very focused. I know how to get my head in it, so I feel like it’s quality over quantity these days.

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Kristen and Gary, still smiling post-race.

What do you do in the city that helps you ride better on the trails?

In the city, training on the road is the obvious choice. So that’s what I do during the week. My schedule is a combination of structured intervals, group rides, and recovery rides, usually in Prospect and Central Park. Riding the road really helps fitness and endurance, so at least come race day my legs are ready. Then when I do get out on trails, I try to push the pace so I learn how my bike handles at speed. I’m lucky because my husband is my training partner and he takes really clean lines, so if I can follow him I’m having a good day.

What advice do you have for New Yorkers looking to spend more time on the trails?

I will say that even though it takes a little extra effort to get out to trails living in NYC, it’s totally worth it. We have such good riding within an hour or two of the city, and a lot of it is accessible by train. The local races are ​​also really fun, so it’s actually a great place to be a mountain biker. If anyone has questions about local trails or races, I’m always happy to meet other mountain bikers, and they can email me at kristen@bicyclehabitat.com.

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Commuter Profile: Charles Komanoff

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I just love how I feel on my bike. I love how fast it is, how it gets me anywhere I need to go.

I like being able to see the city in a different way, to be able to interact with everybody and everything as I glide by.

I keep two pair of rain pants, one at home and one at work. I want to be on the bike every day. I don’t even own a winter coat. I just wear windbreakers lined with sweaters.

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Bike stories are the story of my life. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until i was 25. I grew up in a very bikeable suburb in the fifties but somehow didn’t learn how to ride. A friend taught me after I’d been living in New York for five years and it totally flipped my relationship with the city.

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After learning to ride a bike I stopped feeling beaten down by the city and started feeling on top of the city. I felt I had the ability to be in the city in a way that made it all work.

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I met my wife when I was running TA in the late eighties. Now we have a couple of kids. A few years ago, the younger one and I took a 600-mile bike trip through New England. I just can’t imagine who I am without bicycling. I have three bikes.

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I say you have to ride proactively. You have to go for it, you have to command your place on the road. You have to be predictable, you have to be strong, decisive, and aggressive — but just before that point where you could be putting yourself seriously in danger.

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Anything and everything I do I’m on the bike. I love going over the GWB and taking River Road along the Hudson to Piermont, or riding into Westchester and taking Metro North back.

Nobody younger than 11 has lived through a month in which I didn’t bike 100 miles.


Charles Komanoff helped refound TA in 1986, and in the ’90s co-founded the direct action traffic justice group Right of Way. He currently works in policy analysis. Charles moved to New York in 1968 and learned to ride in 1973. He still has the Cannondale Charlie sold him in 1990. Between that, his Bridgestone mountain bike, and his relatively newer Domane, Charles finds a way to spend time on two wheels every single day.

Interview and photos by Eric LaCour.

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Get your bike ready for spring

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If you’ve been riding all winter, by now salt, snow, rain, and road grime have probably wreaked havoc on your brake pads and drivetrain. Even if you’ve been diligently cleaning your bike every day and re-lubing the chain, a winter’s worth of riding is a lot for a bike to take.

The annual tune-up offers a comprehensive cleaning, servicing, and reenergizing of the bike. Brakes and gears are adjusted, wheels trued, hub, bb, and headset bearings adjusted, and all parts and accessories are installed. The whole frame and drivetrain get a deep cleaning to eliminate all traces of this endless winter, and your bike emerges like new and ready for a season of riding!

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New Bike Day for the YMCA

Some look for flowers blooming ymcabikes2or birds chirping as signs that spring is near, but we know that the real indiction that spring is on its way when you start to see new bikes appear.

The Chinatown YMCA, with the help of Exploring Paths, picked up 28 new Trek bikes this week to start building their after-school program fleet.

We’re excited to help them build such a great resource for local middle and high schoolers and can’t wait to see where the program goes!

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Jim’s favorite bike: Trek Émonda

Even though it might not seem like it thanks to this week’s awful weather, spring and summer are (eventually) coming, and that means one thing:

SHORTS!

I mean…ROAD BIKE WEATHER!

And with road bike weather comes the inevitable lusting after a new bike. Trek’s new Émonda is pretty much the bike on all of our minds this summer, and it should probably be yours too.

It’s super light — the top-end SLR frame is just 690 grams (about 1.5 pounds), and even the more affordable SL weighs in at barely over 1kg (around 2.2 pounds). This makes an amazing starting point for a really awesome bike build, which brings me to the next great thing about it…

 

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So.

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Many.

emondaslr10Options!

You can choose from 11 different options for stock bikes with Émonda, with a huge range of prices and componentry across all three frame levels. No skimping there, either — if you get Shimano 105, it’s full 105. Brakes and cranks, too.

Why is all of this so awesome, though? “It’s so light. How can it possibly be safe?” is probably the question on your mind. The coolest thing about this bike, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to compromise on stiffness or durability to get that light weight. Émonda is an all-out race bike.

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Like this, but fewer wheels and motors.

I’m just saying, you should probably consider taking a ride on one of these things. I know I’m going to as soon as it gets warm enough that our hot water pipes stop freezing.

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Not pictured: me with a hairdryer.

Fingers crossed that it’ll be warm enough for shorts (and road bikes) soon.

I love shorts. (Also, bikes.)

PS – Emondas are $150 off through the end of the month. And all ’15 Trek bikes over $2500 are $300 off!

 

 

 

 

 

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Commuter Profile: Cynthia Basinet

commuter cynthia 5Biking to me is very pleasurable. Unlike many other forms of transportation, you enjoy the journey, not the destination.

I have never arrived somewhere on a bike and not been in a great mood.

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I grew up in California, and I learned to ride when I was around six years old. I really wanted a 10-speed, and my cousins had this old rusty bike at their house. They gave it to me, and I stripped it to the frame, re-painted it silvery blue, fixed the wheels, and slapped a Schwinn sticker on it, so the bike would look more complete.

The kids in the neighborhood all rode bikes together on Saturday mornings. We would all pack backpacks with some water and just a few things and just go ride up in the hills, listening to music along the way. I can still remember the mist on my face.

To me, that was freedom.

Before I got a car, I always had a bike and could go anywhere. There are so many things you can see, hear, and smell. The car restricts your view of the world in some ways.

I actually rode a bike to work until the day I had my son. I worked and lived in Los Altos at the time and rode the bike to work every day while I was pregnant.

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The best time of year for biking in New York is Summer Streets. There is something about going down Park Avenue with no cars, and looking up at all these buildings.

There is a certain pace to biking… It can depend on who you are riding with, kind of like dancing.

There is definitely a zen to riding a bike.

Commuter cynthia 3

I ride passively. I mean the average car weighs what – two tons? I just don’t want to gamble, I prefer to be passive. In fact, that’s the whole zen of the bike. Especially here in New York where everybody wants to be the top dog. When someone pulls out in front of you, its not personal, so don’t take it that way. You just watch out for your safety, be courteous and it all works out, man.

You get there when you get there, I think that’s the key.

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Cynthia Basinet was born in Los Angeles, California. The sultry singer and actress, best known for her hit “Santa Baby,” has appeared in film, TV, and hundreds of commercials. Long considered a social change activist, she has visited refugees in North Africa, addressed the UN nearly a dozen times, and was nominated for a shared Nobel Peace Prize. You can find Cynthia cruising on her bike daily in SoHo.

Interview and photos by Eric LaCour.

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