“That wasn’t working for me.”
Cassie was feeling dissatisfied. She had moved to Columbus from Southern California in 2007 for graduate school and was spending most of her time working. “I was kind of at a point in my life where I was bogged down in work,” she says. She spent the little free time she had cuddled on the couch, watching T.V. in an effort to clear her mind. “That wasn’t working for me. I needed something to change so I could feel happier.” Trolling Facebook in early 2014, she came across a post about Year of Yay! ride. She gave it some thought. “It looked like you could just show up, so I went...by myself.”
“I felt like I did something.”
Cassie arrived to her first Year of Yay! ride in July of 2014 on a new bike she had purchased just a month before. Previously, she had commuted three miles on the Olentangy bike path to OSU, rarely on the road. Though she felt hesitant about jumping into a new experience without anyone she knew, Cassie is a self-described social butterfly so she embraced the discomfort and was excited to try something new.
The group welcomed Cassie with open arms, making sure she never felt alone during her first ride. Many miles later, she was pleased. “When I got home I felt like I did something I wanted to do. My body felt good!”
Cassie’s free time shifted. She ditched the T.V. for a more social kind of relaxation. “I liked going on the ride because it was an easy way to be with a group, but I didn’t have to orchestrate anything.” She immediately decided to become a Yay Bikes! member.
“It’s easier than driving!”
Riding with Yay Bikes! expanded Cassie’s knowledge of hand signals, traffic laws and bike safety, but it also gave her a nudge to be more adventurous on her bike. “It made riding on the road part of the experience and helped me to be more brave to try new routes.” Most importantly, it helped her to feel comfortable to commute the streets of Columbus by bike multiple days a week. “Now I drive only on the weekends.” Without the hassle of managing her car, searching for parking, paying for parking, Cassie’s mornings are stress-free. For her, biking is much easier than driving.
“It’s our duty to teach others.”
Cassie feels confident in her new lifestyle. Soon after her introduction to Yay Bikes!, she was asked to become an ambassador for our How We Roll program. She gleefully accepted the opportunity to teach college students to ride bikes. With ease, Cassie transitioned into a role that has her leading new bicyclists through the streets of Columbus like ducklings following their mother. In the two hours they ride with her, the students’ demeanor goes from stressed and scared to calm and confident. She adores it. “To see someone walk away with something they didn’t have before is really cool”
Armed with her heightened awareness, deep knowledge and passion for bicycle commuting, Cassie takes her role as an educator to the next level. “It almost feels like a duty to teach others how to interact with us [bicyclists] and to know what to expect.”
“I feel like I’m doing something for myself without doing something extra.”
Bicycling has brought a sense of community and a new purpose to Cassie’s life that didn’t exist before. Instead of spending her time watching T.V. at home, she needs to schedule time to herself. “It feels like biking gives me a lot more freedom. I have options.”
In this community of bicyclists, she has made countless friends with whom she explores the city, she has learned new skills that she is sharing with others, she has come to love Columbus and she thinks of it as home. “I’ve built a good life for myself.”