Cyclist of the Month: Cindy Riskin

In August 2006, seeking promotion for Easy Riders (described as “a kinder, gentler bicycle group”), Cindy Riskin contacted Group Health’s Communications Department. Coincidentally, while contracting for Group Health, I intercepted Cindy’s email and encouraged her to start a dialogue with Cascade. Her story…

Age: 39
Occupation: self-employed / writer
Hometown: New York
Alma Mater: University of Washington
Degree: Communications
Residence: North Seattle
Bikes: Trek hybrid with suspension

What prompted you to start Easy Riders?
I haven’t always been an eight-mile per day cyclist. Eight years ago, I was riding 60 miles around Lake Washington…I worked in a bike shop.

In 2001, I had to get off my touring bike when I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis (versus osteoarthritis that is mechanical). Within ten years, people inflicted with inflammatory arthritis become disabled.

Describe the Easy Riders style?
At the end of summer, I was too embarrassed to ride on the trail. I’m a bit overweight – self-conscious that I have to walk up hills. Easy Riders is a place where we can support each other. Any hour doing our activities you are outside enjoying yourself; it’s not a contest…there’s no shame involved.

Most rides are five to 25 miles. We do a Seward Park loop that is 2.4 miles for very beginners.

How many cyclists are involved?
Our rides are receiving their second month of exposure through the Courier. Twenty five people are on my email distribution. Seattle Bicycle Club and Jim Eanes have also promoted our rides and helped with route setting.

Allyson Welch and Terri Calnan are leading Easy Rides at a higher level, so that participants can move up from ten to 25 miles routes.

Tell us about your affiliation with Cascade?
I wanted Easy Riders to be accessible to more people. When I first heard about the Club, I wasn’t even thinking of insurance, but it has been an added benefit. Albert [last name] was incredibly helpful mentoring me and pushing me to get certified as one of the [insert # of ride leaders] Cascade ride leaders.

Any plans for the future?
As spring arrives, I hope to work with the Education Foundation…to host a spring kick-off event geared toward beginner riders. I’d like to help more people…see more people join in. It would be great to see more volunteers lead Easy Rides.

I’d like everyone that knows someone who would benefit from Easy Riders to help us spread the word…hopefully to join their friends on their first Easy Ride.

Who is your audience?
Folks with chronic illness, people recovering from illness, people who are overweight. I had a friend who didn’t even know how to use her gears. All are welcome.

Recently, a woman was scared she wouldn’t complete the ride. Weather was poor; she was wearing cotton, very anxious, almost terrified. I swept behind and walked with her for some time. By the end, she was willing to return and try again. She’s exactly the type of rider that we cater to. But my best customer is me.

Do you have a favorite piece of cycling gear?
I wish every Easy Rider could get a discount on [Co-Union’s] turtle cycle horns. I bought the last one at REI [squeezes horn].

Seattle Bicycle Club used to lead its Escargot Rides. (It was popular among riders, but leaders stopped because it wasn’t very far and it was too slow for them; Jim Eanes sends us many referrals now.)

Is the turtle going to become your mascot?
I’ll have to redo the website!

You can find more information about Easy Riders at . Check the CBC Rides calendar for upcoming rides.

Send comments and nominations for cyclist of the month to:

Ed note: There are more than one hundred types of arthritis. One in three people are afflicted. Most conditions are inflammatory, auto-immune diseases. The first, and most important, symptom is fatigue – often followed by joint pain. Exercise and movement is the key to pain reduction and maintaining mobility.