Cyclist of the month: Lynne Watanabe
Wheels: Specialized Dolce and Specialized Amira
Occupation: Director of Marketing at Krill Systems
“I’m going to be 50 soon but I don’t feel like it. I feel like I’m still in my 30s! Biking keeps me young because it’s fun,” said Lynne, the mother of 17-year-old twins. “Bicycling is just like playing. Everyone should play more, it’s very healthy.”
Last year, Lynne signed up for the Chilly Hilly, her first cycling event in years that so happened to be near her Bainbridge Island home.
“It was kind of snowing, and I had to walk my bike up a few hills. But I did it, and it was my first big cycling event I had done in a long time,” she said.
Lynne first got into biking while attending the University of Colorado in Boulder during the early 80s.
“Everyone in Boulder is super healthy and everyone rode bikes. So I started riding. I learned how to use toe clips, and I rode everywhere. I even rode up to Rocky Mountain National Park,” Lynne recalled.
A “heck of a long time later” – about 20 years – Lynne started riding with Cascade.
“After riding the Chilly Hilly and getting introduced to Cascade, I wanted to do the STP and RSVP also,” Lynne said. So she signed up for the Cascade Training Series and started logging hundreds of miles.
“Biking is like a moving meditation, and it’s such a high!” Lynne said. “I joined the moderate pace training group, rode every weekend and completed the one-day STP, Flying Wheels and RSVP. It was so encouraging; you ride with a group of people every weekend, you become friends and then you do all those events together.”
After riding all those endurance events, Lynne decided she wanted to become a better technical rider and sought out a group that inspires her: women racers.
“I’m not really competitive, I was really just looking to get better and make friends with women that ride and inspire me,” said Lynne. “I had never thought about racing. I danced all my life and unless it was audition, dancing was not competitive. I have never even done a team sport.”
But in October 2012, Lynne made the leap from recreational riding into racing by joining Team Group Health, the largest competitive women’s cycling team in the Pacific Northwest.
She has spent the majority of the winter training with the team but still makes time for Cascade events and Cascade’s Free Daily Rides.
“Al Miller, Jake Wright – the whole [ride leader] gang – they’re so great, I just can’t quit them,” she said.
And after all that riding came passion.
“I felt it was a natural progression to turn to advocacy,” she said. “I want to be an advocate for bicycling, especially for women.”
Lynne attended the National Women’s Bicycling Summit in Long Beach, Calif. in September, returning with a desire to “spread the word about bicycling to women.”
Lynne said she would like to see companies invest in women’s bicycling as women are great influencers of safer streets and healthier families and communities.
“I have kids, I work and I’m committed to Team Group Health, but in the future I’d like to find time to lead rides on Bainbridge Island,” she said.
Later this month, Lynne will be competing in her first ever bike race.
“Yes, I’m nervous about racing but I’m also really excited!” she said.
Good luck, Lynne!
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at firstname.lastname@example.org.