By Lindsey Boisvin | Dec 11, 2015

By Lindsey Boisvin, Facilities Services’ Sustainability Communications Intern

The Burke-Gilman Trail is swamped with puddles and leaves, but that isn’t stopping Ride in the Rain bike riders.

Beginning Nov. 1, UW students, faculty, and employees created teams to take on one of the rainiest months of the year as part of the Ride in the Rain challenge. Each individual logged trips longer than 0.25 miles online to attempt to meet 50,000 trips across all teams.

Facilities Services staff have taken on the challenge for the past few years. This year, employees within the FS Administration Building, UW Surplus, and Building Services united under the “Foggy Facilities Flyers.” Their team is composed of nine people. And all throughout the challenge, Robert Gaynor, an energy engineer with FS, hedged toward the top of the leaderboard.

Gaynor bikes to work nearly every day, and started pedaling to commute when he moved to Seattle in 2014. Although this was his first year participating in the Ride in the Rain challenge, Gaynor logged over 170 miles. Gaynor said his goal is to bike to work every day.

Jessica Lisiewksi, the program coordinator at UW Recycling, also finished strong at the top of Flyers’ leaderboard. Lisiewski has been biking since college, but her first long-distance bike tour happened along the Oregon coast in 2005. After moving to Eugene, she began commuting seven miles oneway along a riverside trail.

In the Washington weather, Lisiewski has had her own fair share of adventures. Last March, on a stormy day, Lisiewski was riding down a residential street in Bainbridge Island with her husband.

“Suddenly – just 15 feet in front of us – an otter holding a large fish it its mouth ran across the road, being closely chased by a bald eagle. The otter ran into the bushes on the other side of the road and disappeared with the bald eagle close on its tail,” Lisiewski said.

Although Lisiewski didn’t see the confrontation, minutes later she saw the eagle chomping on a fish.

Emily Kathrein hosted "Tips and Tricks for Biking Year-Round"
Emily Kathrein from Transportation Services hosted "Tips and Tricks for Biking Year-Round" to discuss biking options around campus.

While the challenge keeps FS employees busy with friendly competition, Emily Kathrein, the commute options assistant manager from Transportation Services, took biking one rotation further. On Nov. 10, Kathrein hosted “Tips and Tricks for Biking Year-Round.” The introductory class helped campus community members learn about biking safely around campus, selecting the right bike to purchase, and how to combat fears of traveling on Seattle roads. The intimate gathering was the stepping stone in helping hesitant commuters become riders.

“Since bicycling is an inherently fun activity, you want to make sure it stays fun by having a bicycle that’s comfortable to ride,” Kathrein said. “Having the right gear is important, but you don’t need to go buy anything new to ride a bicycle. For the most part, if you have clothes that you’re comfortable walking in, then you have clothes that you’re probably going to be comfortable bicycling in.”

Although this is only Kathrein’s second year participating in Ride in the Rain, she said she loves the community aspect to riding in more severe weather.

“I love that I have fresh air and time outside built into my day-to-day, especially when weather is not-sofriendly, because I might not otherwise go outside even though it makes me so much happier. Even in the rain, my bike commute is one of the best parts of my day,” Kathrein said.

This story was first published in the Facilities Services newsletter. Sign up to receive future Facilities Services mailings here.