Katharine is a biker in Chicago and it is a main form of transportation. You can get to know Katharine in this Q&A.
You can follow Katharine at @bike_to_brew on Instagram.
Tell us your bike story. How did you get into biking? What kind of biking do you do? How do you stay motivated? Do you have any bike goals for 2019?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't riding a bike, but in high school I started using it as my only mode transportation. I never bought a car, and never looked back. Since I've gotten into biking of all kinds; road, mountain, touring, but urban cycling for utility and everyday transportation is still my favorite. Some days it's tough to get on the bike, especially in a city with such changeable weather and great public transportation, but reminding myself that I have never regretted riding anywhere, and that the worst day on the bike is still better than the best day on the L gets me moving. I like who I am when I am riding my bike, and I'm more productive at work when I ride there. My goals for the year are getting more people in my community on bikes, having fewer days when I think it is too cold/wet/hot/windy to ride, and to feel strong and fit.
Where do you live? What are some of your favorite places to bike there?
Chicago. It's a great city for biking. I love the Lake Front path and the North Branch trail, but my favorite is street riding through all our unique and interesting neighborhoods and getting to see new things.
Two words that best describe how biking makes you feel.
Free and independent
What do you do to make biking better where you live?
I try to make sure any encounter I have with motorists or pedestrians leaves them with a positive opinion of cyclists, I stay active with our local bicycle activism groups, and make sure I obey the traffic laws. And vote!
A suggestion for people interested in biking but have safety concerns? Or, how did you get comfortable with using your bike for transportation?
The best way is practice. But I tell people that if you follow the traffic laws and pay attention (no earphones!) you greatly minimize your risk. There is a reason in my years of riding I have never been seriously hit or doored. Get some good lights, wear reflective gear, and be courteous and aware of your surroundings.
Tips for dealing with helmet hair?
I have short hair, so as a rule my helmet hair looks fly! When its a bit longer I use the helmet like one of those old fashioned hair dryers. I pin my hair in twists when its wet and by the time I get to work and unpin it, its perfectly curled and wavy from all that air though the vent holes. Wrapping a bandanna around your head pirate-style will keep your hair flat and prevent those helmet wave indents.
Tell us about some things you do to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Over the last few years I've tried to get the amount that goes out in the trash (rather than recycling or compost) as minimal as possible. So no paper towels, no paper bags, as little packaging as possible. I stopped using disposable feminine hygiene products in favor of silicone options (best decision I ever made). I am a motor vehicle free human. And of course I ride my bike!
If you could take a bike vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
I would love to do a long European bike tour. It would be amazing to experience bike culture in different cities, and see as many countries as possible.
Tell us about a time you surprised yourself by accomplishing something that you previously thought impossible or super hard.
I rode my bike through an entire Chicago winter! I was so intimidated by city riding and the nasty weather than I never thought I would commute the way I do. My best days were riding to work when the temp was -12F, and getting out for a ride on a Saturday when we had a snowfall of two inches. I felt like an arctic explorer!
What do you like most about your Po Campo bag?
My bergen pannier goes everywhere with me. Top thing I love: The form is beautiful, but the function is even better. It's so easy to get on and off my bike. I love that it still looks as sharp as the day I got it, and it looks enough like a regular shoulder bag that most people have no idea it's pannier. And all the pockets!!
How do you describe Po Campo to friends - or - what do you think is special about Po Campo?
I love recommending Po Campo to friends who use "backpacks make me sweaty" or "I don't like showing up looking like a bike messenger" as an excuse not to commute. That it's a woman-owned and operated business that supports world bicycle relief is something that is important to me, and to a lot of the people I recommend Po Camp to. The amount of thought and effort that goes into product design is amazing.
What are you hoping to accomplish/contribute as a Po Campo brand ambassador this year?
I'm hoping I can help my community (other women especially) to find out how easy, safe, and fulfilling it can be to incorporate your bicycle into your everyday life, and of course, that you can look chic while you do it.
Interested in becoming a Po Campo Brand Ambassador? Applications now open for our 2019 Brand Ambassador program. - apply now!