Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roll Models: Jessica Estep And Johann Weber

Atlanta cycling takes on a special meaning when meeting your love. So it was for Jessica Estep and Johann Weber, who are long time friends of these blogs. He reached out to me two years ago in his work for Georgia Tech Bike Week. A professor of English, she interviewed him to write this guest blogger post for us to enjoy.

Jessica: I actually started riding because of a dream I had five years ago, in which I was flying down the street on a blue bicycle. The next morning I got on Craigslist and bought a blue bicycle for fifty bucks. That bicycle was stolen after a few months (lesson: invest in a decent U-lock), but I’ve kept riding. This summer I purchased a white steel-frame Jamis road bike with dropbars. I was scared of dropbars for a long time, and I now I can’t remember why. I also have a rear rack for carrying my purse and groceries and the occasional water balloons.

Johann: I have two bikes. Nicole is my commuter/touring bike, a Trek Portland I’ve outfitted with a rear rack, pannier bags, bright front and rear lights, a fancy rear tire, and a rear fender. Lexi is my road bike, the more finicky and impatient one but so much fun. She’s a Trek Madone, which I’ve given some Look pedals (good for cleats and sneakers). I mostly ride her recreationally. When I moved to Atlanta from Portland, I drove across the country with her on the roof, stopping frequently to make sure she was secure.

Jessica: I would call myself a casual transportation bicyclist, as I typically wear flats and summer dresses when I ride, and I rarely go further than a few miles. However, Johann recently bought me spandex bike shorts, my first pair. I tell him he has to stop upgrading my bicycle gear, that I don’t want to change the kind of bicyclist I am. Last weekend, though, we took our spandex bike shorts to the Silver Comet, and we rode over forty miles, an incredible distance for me, and it was exhilarating.

Johann: Riding a bicycle is simply the ultimate independence—there’s no need for anyone else to fix, fuel, or store your machine. I ride mostly to save money and enjoy my commute. I used to commute forty-five minutes each way by car, and I’d watch so much of my paycheck disappear into gas and repairs, and at the same time the long commute was destroying my old love of cars, stressing me out, and exhausting a large chunk of my day.

Jessica: Johann and I met at an Atlanta Bicycle Coalition event at Georgia Tech, the same night that you first photographed me for your blog, Cameron. My old vintage Schwinn had bled chain grease on my leg and my white dress. I guess he found that pretty; less than a year later, he proposed to me on a Mobile Social bike ride. Sometimes I think our lives are so intertwined with Atlanta and bicycling that each improvement (like the city’s first cycle track) is a deeply personal celebration of the life he and I are building together in Atlanta.

Johann: It’s funny, though: I don’t consider myself a bike nut or anything, and I don’t think Jessica does either. But biking has been a wonderful way to share the city with each other. I can’t imagine how empty my life would be now without bicycling, not only because it is an exceptional way to experience Atlanta but also because it led me to meet her.

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