EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of National Bike To Work Week on May 16-20, we will be running a series of features of bike commuters who work at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Southcentral Foundation and Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Sitka. Thank you to Laura Kotelman of Southcentral Foundation for supplying the four Anchorage profiles and SEARHC for the Sitka profile (note, all profiles appeared previously in newsletters for the various organizations).
By Janice Swier
Jackie Buckley, administrator in the Southcentral Foundation Medical Services Division, has experienced biking in different ways over the past couple of decades. With each decade she has adjusted her biking style and bike choice to fit her current needs and desires.
“In the ’70s I biked to work and rode very fast on a racing road bike. I used to ride 17 miles round trip,” Buckley fondly remembers from what she considers her days of youth.
During the ’80s Buckley thought it would be great to take the more scenic route, so she traded in her road bike for a mountain bike and enjoyed nature around the Anchorage bike trails.
Buckley enjoyed all of her biking days, but her sweetest biking memories are those of the ’90s. “I rode my youngest two kids in the Burley trailer a lot when they were tykes. I always loved riding with the kids and singing or discussing things they could see … The older kids would ride ahead or behind or ride circles around us,” Buckley sighed with a smile. “Fun times and fond memories.”
It isn’t just because she likes the thrill, scenery or the opportunity to develop stronger relationships with those she bikes with, Buckley likes the way biking makes her body feel.
“I feel more awake and alive when I am active,” Buckley explained.
After the new millennium Buckley changed her bike choice once again. Frustrated with having had two bikes stolen, and being forced to lug around a lock that was nearly as heavy as the bike itself, Buckley opted to just carry around the bike. She bought a Dahon folding bike.
“The bike folds down to a 22-inch bundle that I can sling over my shoulder and stuff under my desk. It’s fun and folds and unfolds in less time than it took to lock up or unlock a bike,” Buckley said.
Though Buckley defines herself as a ‘fair weather rider,'” she is hopeful that she’ll be able to ride her bike to work more often this summer than she did last. She participated in the annual Bike to Work Day for the first time last year to encourage others who work on the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) to participate as well.
When asked if she would bike the 4.2 miles from her house to ANMC for Bike to Work Day again this year, Buckley enthusiastically replied, “Absolutely! It’s a fun event and it lets us meet all of our biking buddies over at the gathering areas. Last year was fun; I can’t wait to do it again!”