I am pleased to announce the addition of Jessica Ginster to the Wisconsin Bike Fed team! Jessica will be leading our development and membership initiatives. Read the press release here. Jessica comes to the Bike Fed with a love and connection to the Wisconsin bicycle community that spans twenty years. I thought it would be fun to interview Jessica, so you can see, for yourself, what she brings to the Bike Fed and Wisconsin bicyclists.
JG: I’ve been active in competitive and recreational sports throughout my life, and soccer was my primary sport, but I wanted something I could do alone or with others. At the time I was working in a cafe on Downer Ave. and a loyal customer and avid bicyclist, Tom, encouraged me to get a bike. So we went to Wheel & Sprocket (twice) and I spent what I thought was an insane amount for a bike, $299. I learned a few things after traveling across Florida on that bike, you get what you pay for, and riding is addictive. I now have a box or three of parts that carry a value over $299, just sitting in storage. Funny how your perspective changes. I really got the bug after that tour and I haven’t stopped riding since, matter of fact I didn’t get my drivers licence until I was 24. I rode 24/7, 365 days a year through rain, slush, snow, ice, sweltering heat, and head winds when commuting to work, which at the time was Wheel & Sprocket. I commuted to and from the Eastside for 7 years, well some days I’d hitch a ride.
KH: What is your best bicycling memory?
JG: Honestly, it was when my boyfriend (now husband) and I drove for hours to a race. On the morning of, we woke to a nasty, wet, cold, super sticky muddy morning. He mumbled something about not racing, I said ” Ahhh I did not come all this way for nothing, eat this banana and let’s go.” What makes it the best… as he crossed the finish line and asked me where everyone was, I got to say, “Behind you! Nick, you WON!” Well that, and when I used to ghost ride my bike down St. Mary’s Hill, my white Huffy with bright green banana seat, daisies painted on and all.
KH: What is the hardest thing you’ve done on a bike?
JG: Aside from Chequamegon, Cactus Cup(s) and some of the WORBA races, I’d say, riding the streets and foothills of Taiwan, on my Hello Kitty bike from Carrefour. Yes, Taichung, Taiwan, the epicenter of bicycle manufacturing. I lived there for five years with my husband and first child. Learning how to navigate a new city, with street signs in Chinese or phonetic English, was a major accomplishment. Once the freshness wore off, I was able to sit back as I rode and took in how well cars, motor scooters, pedestrians and bicycles were working as modes of transportation. I mean, nearly 3 million people somehow navigated the bustling narrow streets whether walking, biking, scooting or driving. Despite what looked to be organized chaos, somehow it all worked. I am not saying it was always safe, you had to pick your routes, and always be on guard. Street signs and lights are seen as “suggestions” with the unofficial option to stop.
It was great. Traveling by bike connected me with the community, there is no barrier between you, your bike and strangers. Ms. Kitty, my son and I explored that city so much, that Milwaukee seemed a little foreign when coming home.
KH: Why the Bike Fed?
JG: Good question, why? Because I love bicycling, Wisconsin and uniting communities. My husband, founder and GM of Fyxation loves bicycling. My son rides his bike to school everyday, and my daughter begs to get in the trailer. We are a family of bicyclists.
Prior to Taiwan, I had only lived in Wisconsin, and didn’t always appreciate what we have here. However, the old adage rings true, you don’t realize what you have until you’ve lost it. Well thankfully, I didn’t lose Wisconsin, it stayed right here and grew.
I know my expat experience plays a major role in forming my perspective, but Wisconsin feels and is different now, the people, the streets, and communities. Everyone is working towards rebuilding communities and helping those in need. I was also happy to see how many people and families were out on their bikes, how many more trails had been created, and laws passed protecting bicyclists and motorists. It made me want to get into the mix.
I asked around and found the Bike Fed, the perfect blend of things I care about, bicycling, bringing people together, communities and helping others. I wanted to see what the Fed was all about so I volunteered. Volunteering is a great way to check out a potential employer, as you come and go as you please and people are ‘real’ around you. As far as the Bike Fed, once on the inside I saw a group of dedicated, energetic, committed individuals pushing their hardest to make Wisconsin bicycling better. Through education programs, community outreach and legislative actions, I saw how the Wisconsin Bike Fed is making a difference.
So, why the Bike Fed? Because I want to be part of something big, something that reaches and affects all Wisconsinites. I now work with a team of professionals that are dedicated to bringing communities together, educating motorists and bicyclists, expanding bicycle trails, plan bike friendly communities and who have an impact on legislation that affects Wisconsin bicyclists.
Although laughter can often be heard in the offices, we all take our roles seriously. My role is responsible for keeping the lights on and finding the resources so our statewide team of dedicated volunteers, ambassadors and staff can keep moving bicycling forward in Wisconsin.