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From Motorcycle to Bicycle

When I first met Jared Marchiando last summer he had just started bike commuting a few weeks earlier. He was still establishing a regular route and routine. When I asked him why he was riding he said that a friend who had been bike commuting for two years, told him it was time to "man-up".

What Jared did not tell me at the time was that he was a former motorcycle rider. In effect, a former biker that turned, well biker.

Soldier Field to the Loop

The view of Chicago riding northbound along the lakefront bike path; near Shedd Aquarium.

A working professional, Jared regularly rides to the office. His route starts in the south loop near Soldier Field. He rides over the pedestrian bridge at 18th street which gracefully spans the Metra train tracks. Then he heads north along the lakefront eventually taking the river-walk for the final leg to River North. The ride is 10 miles round-trip and mostly on dedicated bike path.

A regular reader of the ZappaWheels blog Jared has focused on increasing the number of days he rides. For instance, this past winter he rode after adding a bike rack and Ortlieb panniers to carry his stuff. And this month, he is riding for charity.

Transition From Motorcycle to Bicycle

Jared tends to avoid the city streets for riding given the unpredictability of drivers. For six years he rode a motorcycle prior to riding the bicycle. One of the lessons he learned is the need to pay attention to what other people on the streets are doing.

During his time as a motorcycle rider, he lived downstate and rode on the open country roads near Urbana-Champaign, IL. When I asked him why he gave up riding he shares that it was unpractical living in Chicago. The cost of owning a motorcycle and the lack of easily accessible roads for riding caused him to sell the bike. Despite the obvious differences, one of the similarities he sees between riding a motorcycle and a bicycle is the openness of the ride. Each provides a sense of freedom and calm. ​

Riding for Charity

Jared is in the final days of a bicycle challenge to raise funds for Children’s Cancer Research Fund. The Fund is dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer, funding innovative research, family services and education to improve the way families experience cancer treatment and life afterward. As a father of a young daughter he feels strongly about the need to support this research; sadly 38 children die each week in the U.S. as a result of cancer.

The notion of giving back is very important to Jared. He's delighted that he can use his love of cycling to support a worthwhile cause and ultimately contribute to something bigger. His efforts are part of the Great Cycle Challenge USA which encourages riders across the United States to challenge themselves and set their own personal riding goal throughout June to fight kids' cancer.

When he started the challenge, Jared was amazed by the initial support from family and friends and as a result decided to up his commitment to riding 250 miles this month. To date, he has ridden over 180 miles and raised close to $2000. Every time I'm riding and tired, I think about the kids and why I'm doing this. You can check out Jared's rides and support him by clicking here.

Making Connections Through Biking

Bike commuting is a great way to connect with people. Jared shared a recent story of riding south near Oak Street beach. While he was waiting for the light to change a fellow biker pulled up alongside and they started to talk. They quickly discovered they were both headed in the same direction and decided to ride together for the next 20 minutes. After the ride they exchanged numbers and talked about the potential for other rides. A great example of building community one relationship at a time.

Jared's advice to people that want to start bike commuting:

  1. Just try it - there's no substitute for getting started. He shares the story of buying a used bike for $80 on Craig's list last year to get started. Since then he has switched to a historic Italian bicycle brand: Tommaso. Quite an upgrade!

  2. Plan out the route - the bike infrastructure in Chicago has improved dramatically; that said it's important to know which routes are the best way to get to your destination.

As Jared says, "I was inspired by other bike commuters at work and started asking questions. Once I saw that if they could do it, I could too."

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