Sarah Kopper

March 21, 2018

We will never tire of meeting women who ditch their cars and go by bike – especially here in the states! The reality is, America still hasn’t fully jumped on the “go by bike” bandwagon, so when we see people like Sarah and her husband take that leap, well, to say it’s encouraging is an understatement!

Thank you, Sarah, for the reminder that slower is usually better, that the view is better by bike, that winter riding isn’t all that bad, and to question the status quo! To follow more of her journey, PLEASE go check out her website, Family Pedals and corresponding podcast!

Name

Sarah Kopper

Location

Bloomington, Indiana

What kind of bike do you ride?

When I am riding solo I am on an Electra Ticino, but I am usually carrying kids and/or cargo in our Madsen bucket bike. Riding cargo bikes makes me appreciate how light and fast my Electra is; I feel like I am flying when I get a chance to ride it.

What is your preferred style of riding?

I cycle for transportation, but consider myself a leisurely cyclist. Part of the joy of traveling by bike is getting to slow down and be in less of a hurry, which is a good thing as I am only getting slower as my kids get older and heavier. I also enjoy bike camping, but I only get a chance to do that a couple of times a year.

How long have you been riding?

I learned to ride as a kid, but I started riding for transportation the summer after my freshman year of college. I spent the next five years incorporating more and more active transportation, then in 2009 my husband and I sold our car and have been living car-free ever since.

What got you into cycling?

A broken arm. I was in the habit of driving everywhere I needed to go, even if it was less than a mile away. In my mind, if I needed to get somewhere I needed my car, and I didn’t put much more thought into it than that. When I broke my arm I was unable to drive (my car was a stick shift), and I started walking. It opened my eyes to the fact that for many trips a car was not only unnecessary, but also a less enjoyable way to get around. After I got my cast off I bought my first bike as an adult at a local bike shop. Once I started biking around town, I was hooked. The more I biked, the more I wanted to bike. I was initially attracted to the financial benefits of leaving my car parked, but the longer I did it the more intangible benefits I found. In some ways not having a car has made our life more complicated, but overall it has simplified it and allowed us to focus on what we value as a family.

Do you prefer riding solo or with other riders?

I enjoy riding with my husband or a friend, but have limited experience with large group rides. One of the things I love best about biking is the chance to be in my head and have moments of quiet built into my day, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to the social nature of riding in a group.

What is one of your happiest moments on your bike?

The summer after graduate school my husband and I biked around the Gorge in Oregon and up to Mt Hood. We were woefully unprepared for bike touring, had all the wrong equipment and bikes, and yet I look back so fondly on those two weeks. I specifically remember the day we biked up the mountain to Timberline Lodge, and the sense of pride and satisfaction I felt making it to the top. There is a sense of power and accomplishment in knowing that my body took me from point A to point B.

What has been one of your biggest challenges as a cyclist?

I’ve found it to be both a mental and physical challenge to bike through the winter with two kids. The flip side is that it makes me appreciate the warmer weather when it comes. It is so freeing to just hop on the bike and go as opposed to needing to gear up in multiple layers and get the kids situated under the cover.

Have you/ would you travel with your bike?

The cargo bikes we have don’t lend themselves well to long-distance traveling, but I wish they did! Traveling by car makes me realize how much more you can see and take in from a bike. We have started doing more bike camping with the kids, which has been incredibly fun and rewarding. I love the feeling of getting out of town (even if only a few miles) and riding down the backroads to our destination. I hope we can take more of those kind of trips as our kids get older. 

If you could go on a ride with ANYONE (dead or alive), who would it be?

I would have to say I’d love to go on a long bike tour with a good friend of mine from high school. We both bought the same bike after our first year of college and spent the summer riding around our hometown together getting comfortable on the roads. She is always up for adventure and a great conversationalist, but she also knows how to sit in silence and just take in the world. I’d love to explore a new-to-us country with her by bike. Perhaps in Scandinavia? Lately I’ve been dreaming of cycling in Norway.

What is your favorite food?!

I love to indulge in good cheese and crackers. St. Angel is one of my favorites, but there isn’t a soft cheese I would turn down—the stinkier the better.

Any tips for the newbie rider?

Be willing to ask questions. There have been so many times that I’ve felt silly asking something that seemed obvious to everyone around me, but I worked up the courage to ask anyway. I have been fortunate to have kind and encouraging cyclists in my life, but I am not sure I would have found them if I hadn’t been willing to speak up and ask questions, no matter how basic they seemed. People want to share their knowledge and help you get riding, so don’t be afraid to reach out! I have found the biking community—specifically the family biking community—to be a such a warm and welcoming place. If you can get connected with people either virtually or locally, I think you’ll find the kind of support that makes getting pedaling less intimidating and more fun.

 

 

If you, or someone you know, would like to be featured as a “Woman Who Inspires”, CONTACT us today. We’d love to hear more about your/their cycling journey! Don’t forget to join our Facebook community!

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