Oh hi. Good to see you. Let me introduce you to a new friend. This is part four of Cycle Aware Wellington’s meet-and-greet series and you’re about to meet…
Cool Bike Person #4: Alana Joe
Gandhi tried to teach us to be the change we want to see in the world. It sounds so good—easy even. But where to start?
Alana Joe started with her career. She’d been in the corporate world for over 15 years and the perks could no longer compete with the stress. So she stopped doing the stuff that caused the stress and started focusing on the stuff that took it away. The decision may have been hard but the new direction seemed pretty clear cut. A multi-sport enthusiast whose experience includes Ironman, Crazyman, Arrow 24-Hour Races and Coast to Coast, she turned to fitness. Lo and behold, it was a very good fit.
If there’s a unifying theme to Alana, it’s making the world a better place in a super active way. When she shifted gears, she put her hand to the task. She’s about to finish a degree in Exercise Sports Science at Massey, and already offers personal training, injury prevention and rehabilitation and massage services. “I want to help people become healthier,” she says. “I believe it’s an element of sustainability. Healthier, positive people share their happiness with others and priorities change.”
For Alana, the bike is another part of that sustainable model. “Doesn’t it make sense? The cost of health care can be reduced if we prevent injury and illness. Well, getting on a bike makes us stronger, fitter, healthier.” Indeed. Alana channeled the same thoughts into a long volunteer gig with Cycle Advocates Network.
She started riding as a kid—on a shiny red cruiser. She biked to school everyday, sometimes alone, often with friends. The habit took her straight through university and beyond. It wasn’t until she moved from Christchurch to Wellington in her early twenties that she stopped the daily bike commutes. Somehow, she recalls, “Wellington seemed hard.” She lived by the wind turbine, but she’s quick to slap down the obvious excuse. “I could have kept riding. I just didn’t.” She did, however, stay on her mountain bike for fun and after a few years she caught the multi-sport bug. She bought a road bike and started commuting again. By that time, she was living in Eastbourne. After the expressway “gave her the shits,” she modified her route. Ride in and ferry home. Eventually, she just moved back to town. Her current bike—a Giant Trance called “Little Giant”—accepted her apology for a season of neglect. She’d been busy paddling outrigger canoes in Porirua– she’s got her eye on international Waka Ama paddling competitions. Biking with her paddle from Lyall Bay proved a dangerous challenge. The bike and the paddle are getting equal time now, she says.
Like every good personal trainer, Alana has thoughtful advice on confronting the reality of riding. Her lessons come from experience, including a few near-misses. “Don’t feel like you have to ride the way you drive. Bike routes are different than car routes,” she says. She used to find herself intimidated by the congestion through Newtown on her way to Massey. Then she realized that she can turn into Tasman Road and avoid a lot of the cars. “It’s valid to recognize dangerous conditions but don’t ditch your bike to avoid them. Ride around them.” She’s also a big proponent of slowing down. “Race in races,” she says. But in town, she feels, speed isn’t necessary. “The point isn’t to beat the car. It’s to get to where we’re going.” Hmm. She’s right, isn’t she?
Of course, as someone who wants to make the world better, she’s an advocate for etiquette. “We have to earn the respect of the other road users. We do that by obeying traffic laws,” she says. That doesn’t mean you put their safety ahead of yours: “I have a bee in my bonnet over cyclists who run the red. It’s fine if they want an early start to make sure cars can see them but don’t speed through it.” She sees roadies doing this more than anyone else and she’d like to shake a fist at them: “It’s a recipe for disaster.” For her, it’s about building good relationships. “Unfortunately, the bad act of a single rider puts all the rest of us in the sights of a frustrated driver. If you can’t think about your safety, then think of the safety of your cycling buddies before you do something stupid.”
Alana wants to see bike riders building friendships with folks outside their cars too. “The community is not just on the road. Sometimes, we’re on the waterfront, or maybe on the footpath. So slow down and be courteous. You don’t want to trundle a trolley or woosh past your Grandma. Think about your own Grandma. Would you ride past her that fast?”
Ah, Alana—maybe she’s also a coach for our consciences. That she is so sweet about it makes me realize how good a trainer she probably is.
And we should probably listen to her because she’s very on trend, as you can see in the catwalk (catroll?) shots from Wheel Stylish. She’s a superfan of Frocks on Bikes; it’s an initiative born for success. “Getting girls in dresses on bikes is brilliant. Who doesn’t love that?” Probably no one. When Alana rides, she says she wears jeans and boots if she’s just cruising around town. If it’s a commute, she might mix in some lycra. The helmet is an absolute always for her. “Definitely and without question, the helmet is a must for me,” she says.
So, now we’ve met Alana. And we’ve been politely coached on becoming our better selves. Nice to meet you, Alana (and thanks for the advice)!