Women Who Ride: Rhiannon Millar, Age 13
This is the second interview in my follow up to the Women Who Ride piece I wrote for the Oregonian. I’m so glad to be able to publish Rhiannon’s complete responses because she’s articulate and thoughtful as well as inspiring. This interview gave me a lot of hope for the future of bicycles – if we’ve got more kids like this pedaling into adulthood I think we’re going to end up in a great place.
As a fellow rain-lover, I also really appreciated her philosophy about riding in the rain.
Rhiannon Millar-Griffin, 13
I started riding when I was in kindergarten. I rode a trike in preschool. I was fearless on my trike and training wheels, but without them, that was a different story. Even when I was on Training Wheels, I was terrified. In time, I got used to it, and I was fine with that. When I transferred to two wheels though, the fear came back. I was 5 or 6, and my grandfather taught me. We went to the Benson Running track, and he ran along side us as he taught my brother and I how to ride bikes without Training Wheels. I was so scared that when he let go I would spin out of control and crash into a nearby tree, but I took it slowly, and I figured it out.
On her bikes:
I have had a lot of bikes in my life. When I looked for my most recent bike, I looked at several bikes at several different stores. The one that I have right now is a KHS, a sort of hybrid of a road bike slash cruiser type thing, called a Mixte. When I was first at the bike shop, I rode around on the surrounding streets, and I looked at my mom and told her it was the one that I wanted (this was after riding bikes at other shops).
Where she rides:
I ride the most often to my school, though I often ride my bike to the library, and to Powell’s Books, and Fred Meyer as well. I like the neighborhood around my house, the Sunnyside area, and when the sun is shining it’s amazing. I have a spot where I sometimes stop after school. There is a tree with a swing on it, and when school is stressful, or the day is just sunny, I will sit there for a while, staring at the sky as i twirl slowly around.
Best cycling memory so far:
When I close my eyes and think about my biking experience in general, the first thing that comes to mind is my grandfather jogging along in his running shorts, calling out encouragement to me as I circle the track. That’s all I see.
On helping her mom teaching kids bike safety:
I spent the day of my birthday helping my mom with her job as a bike safety teacher at the BTA, because, mostly, I thought it would be fun. I liked helping the kids and the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I have never heard my mother yell quite so loudly!
On how to convince more people to ride:
I think if people just realized how much fun it is, and how you don’t have to depend on anything or anyone else to get anywhere, that might help to get more people to ride. Riding your bike gives you a certain level of independence. You can go anywhere, at any pace, within reason, and I am surprised that that isn’t more attractive to teens.
Her one cycling wish:
If I could have any wish anything biking related, it would be that more people would ride. A lot of people already do, but the more the merrier.
On whether she’ll keep riding as an adult:
As an adult I think that I will definitely still ride my bike, though I might resort to other methods of transportation from time to time. I don’t know about when I’m in college, but if you can’t afford a car or gas, it does seem like a good idea, doesn’t it?
Riding in the rain:
I like riding in the rain, the way my hair gets drops from the holes in my helmet, the way the streets smell of rain. I would prefer to ride in the sun, but all weathers are pleasant, as long as you are positive. You need a waterproof bag. I rode with a non-waterproof for a little while, but that little problem is now solved. If you don’t have a waterproof bag, your papers and whatever you have in there get soaked through, and it takes quite a while to dry assignments and books, amongst other things. Your head doesn’t normally get wet because your helmet should cover it. I normally hang out with friends as they walk home, but on rainy days, I will normally head straight home to get dry. I am usually a good judge of when it is going to rain in the morning, and usually remember to bring my windbreaker-raincoat.