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Monday, October 22, 2012

BUILDING CYCLING CONFIDENCE A PEDAL STROKE AT A TIME



Diane Jones Randall is known as an organized person.  She has a lot to juggle in her busy professional and personal life. “I like process,” says the 50-year-old Manhattan resident.
So it wouldn’t surprise people who know her that Randall took a deliberate approach to her journey into the New York City bike lanes, beginning in the summer of 2011. Two bicycles, and four bicycle seats, later, it’s been non-stop discovery and adventure.
In Randall’s stepwise approach — building confidence with each gradual advance — are found lessons and inspiration for others who are curious about adding bicycling to their urban routines.
A New Way to Explore
“I’m not a driver,” says Randall, who is director of custom publishing at iVillage. She grew up in Queens, riding a coffee-colored Raleigh roadster as a girl on sidewalks and paths near her home.
Having inherited a love of New York City history from her father, Randall, who was an editor at Reader’s Digest for 19 years, decided that a bicycle would become her vehicle both to explore the city from a different point of view, and to build her fitness.
After noticing more people on two wheels, Randall approached her younger brother, who likes to ride the Central Park Loop, for advice on bike shopping.
“He wanted me to get something rugged and sturdy that would stand up to the potholes,” Randall says of her sibling’s brotherly concern. Randall started off with a mountain bike: a Specialized Mica HT Disc.  She bought a helmet, lock, lights, bell, rack and rear “trunk” carrier. Ready to go.
The Ride That Made ‘All the Difference’
But, like many beginners in the city, she felt hesitant about riding with traffic. So, she started off pedaling her mountain bike on the sidewalks that weave through the apartment complex where she lives. “I began off the road and away from traffic,” she says.
After a few weeks, when she felt ready, Randall researched group rides, and found what she was looking for in a tour of the history of the New York City grid. The journey, from Cooper Union on 8th St., up Eighth Ave., through Central Park and up to 125th St. was her initiation to the streets.
In the company of about 20 riders, Randall says, “I rode over the potholes, and around the buses, and across the intersections – and after that I had no fear. That ride made all the difference.”

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