Cyclist of the month: Brian Bothomley
Wheels: rebuilt Trek 8500 – “my urban assault vehicle” and a Trek 6500 with electric assist
Occupation: Bike Ambassador
This biking season marks Brian Bothomley’s seventh year as a Bike Ambassador for Cascade Bicycle Club. In these past years he has seen the bicycle movement grow tremendously and he has helped fuel the movement by getting dozens of people out of their cars and into the saddle.
Armed with knowledge, maps and safety brochures, Cascade Bicycle Club Ambassadors are experienced cyclists who are out in the community inspiring people to ride by informing them about safe riding, commuting options, bike infrastructure and the services that Cascade offers.
“Being a Bike Ambassador suits me,” Brian said. “I like to ride my bike, and I like to talk to people; it’s a perfect match.”
In 2005, less than a year into his early retirement, Brian applied to be a Bike Ambassador. Not because he was bored but rather due to his desire to bike more.
Before his retirement, Brian bike commuted from Ballard to downtown, a 16-mile roundtrip, five days a week for 12 years.
“When I retired, I noticed I wasn’t riding as much anymore,” he said. “Being a bike ambassador allowed me to do more biking. When I started, I was biking three times a week and talking to people all over the city.”
Talking about bicycles comes easy to Brian as bikes have always been a part of his life.
“I was born in ’47 in rural Wales. Bicycles were our mode of transportation,” Brian stated. “I had a paper route with a bicycle and saved up to buy a used Italian 10-speed road bike. That was my first addiction and realization that you don’t have to ask someone for a ride – you can just bike there. I remember taking days off from school and going on rides, exploring the woods.”
Brian briefly diverted his love for bicycling when he discovered motorcycles but it wasn’t long before he came back to bicycling.
In 1972, Brian moved to Oakland, Calif., to be with his wife at the time.
“There, I found an old bike in a dumpster, put it together and started riding to work,” said Brian. “But it wasn’t [yet] an everyday thing.”
After moving to Seattle, Brian rediscovered the joy of exploring the woods by bicycle when he got his first mountain bike in the 1980s. Later, while working at King County Metro, Brian made the switch to full-time bike commuter.
“I participated in Bike to Work Day and discovered, ‘Oh boy, this is the way to go!’” Brian recalled. He bike-commuted every day until he retired in 2004.
“I love the freedom,” said Brian. “There’s no waiting for the bus; you can go your own speed and route; and it’s just fun. It’s like being a kid again every day. When you’re biking, you’ve got a more intimate connection with the world you live in. You register the smells, make contact with people and it makes living more real. It makes me feel more alive.
And for the past seven years, Brian has spread that passion in the community by hosting Energizers Stations, selling helmets and spreading information at farmers markets, health fairs, summer streets events and more.
“I enjoy making a connection with people and being the go-to bike person,” said Brian. “There’s that little spark of interest I see in people. I inform them and then the following year, they’ll tell me how they’ve been commuting twice a week. It feels good to be a major part of the bicycling movement by being part of Cascade.”
Brian said he continues to be inspired by the people he sees when he’s out in the community – from long-distance bike commuters to mothers carrying multiple kids and groceries on a cargo bike.
“They’re not doing it for recognition or anything. It’s just a choice they’ve made and they are completely dedicated to that commitment. I find that inspiring,” said Brian. “It’s amazing to how [the bicycling movement] has grown. And there’s such a mix of people biking, from homeless people to riders on $5,000 road bikes.”
In August 2012, Brian got the biggest scare of his life when he collapsed while biking home. His heart had stopped and he was found unresponsive by a woman who happened to be a nurse and was able to start reviving him.
“She found me slumped over my handlebars, leaning against a wall with a purple face. She started CPR and called an ambulance. I was in the ICU unconscious for three days. My heart just stopped and I had fluid in my lungs. They thought I may not make it through the first night. ” Brian recounted. “The doctors still don’t know what happened exactly. I’ve been a vegan for 20 years and have always lived a healthy, active life.”
“It’s damn scary,” Brian sighed.
Brian is now on medication and has a monitor embedded in his skin.
“It’s all balanced out now. I was briefly off the bike but it’s not stopping me,” stated Brian. “Biking makes me happy.
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.