There are a lot of people out there who do their best to avoid hilly, brisk rides but ride leader Alexa Volwiler thrives on them. The hillier the better.
“For me, it’s fun to ride fast, to keep up with the men, to see how fast I can go, to build my endurance and push myself,” she said. “I like hills. I like the challenge.”
But Alexa, like everyone else, had to work up to that level. Not too long ago, Alexa was just a brand new commuter and cyclist.
“I started bike commuting because my husband was doing a commute challenge with work and I thought, if he can do it, I can, too,” Alexa said. “I have always been active and biking is a fun and nice way to incorporate my exercise into my commute and it’s also a nice way to relax on my way home.”
Alexa said she hadn’t been consistently biking since her parents gave her a Trek mountain bike “to grow into” when she was 10.
“It was a long time ago and it was great to get started again,” she said.
An avid equestrian, Alexa found that horseback riding uses similar muscle groups as cycling, which helped her progress quickly.
“When I started out, I went from steady to moderate to brisk,” she said. “But it took about a year and a half of commuting before I thought a one-day STP would be attainable.”
Along with her husband, Alexa participated in the 2012 Cascade Training Series in preparation for the one-day STP and “got hooked.”
So hooked, that soon after riding the STP, Alexa and her husband, Wilfried Mack, became certified ride leaders.
“At first I did a lot of solo rides but then I started leading MEETS rides,” she said.
The Midweek Eastside Evening Training Series (MEETS) is aimed at getting people fit for whatever event is on their schedule and takes place every Wednesday evening at convenient Eastside locations. Even when it’s raining, there are usually a few hardy souls up for a ride.
“MEETS draws a dedicated group of riders,” said Alexa. “It’s fun because there are multiple paces offered so everyone has a nice experience and you always know that quite a few riders will show up.”
Alexa uses these rides not only to give back to the riding community but to socialize and push herself.
“I encourage everyone to go on a daily ride,” said Alexa. “CTS definitely helped me become a better rider, and riding in a group is safer and a lot more fun. It helps you push yourself and you have people to socialize with.”
One of the youngest female ride leaders, Alexa has noticed that she’s frequently the only woman and/or many years younger than the average rider.
“Women in the 20s and early 30s age group are definitely a minority, especially on the paces I ride,” she recognized. “It would be nice to get younger people riding. I think the daily rides are a great opportunity to start riding.”
Find the MEETS series and 1,500 other free daily rides on our online daily rides calendar.
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at email@example.com.