TWIN FALLS — Suzzane Cawthra has been biking since she was 5 years old.
She started the same day her younger brother also learned how to ride without training wheels, which she felt stole her thunder. But what was most important was she could get on her bike and immediately have freedom.
She spent some time biking in Los Angeles while in grad school. That was when she started to really see the benefits of biking. She no longer dealt with expensive parking or getting tickets. She got rid of her car and devoted all transportation to her bike. She has over 3,000 miles of loaded cycling tours, she’s ventured through the passes of the Sierra Nevada and the 120-degree heat of Death Valley.
“It makes you realize you can do anything,” Cawthra said. “We aren’t as fragile as we think we are.”
As a part of National Bike Month, local cyclists offered tips on ditch cars and trying cycling.
Twin Falls is an accessible town to start cycling — the roads are quiet and is easy to get across town quickly, Cawthra said. But it isn’t perfect; she is flipped off by drivers, cars brake check her after passing and she is sometimes told to get off the road.
“I don’t know why people think where they are going is more important than where I’m going,” Cawthra said.
To be a safe cyclist sometimes it’s best to avoid heavily trafficked streets and take longer routes through residential areas, Bull Moose Bicycles co-owner Nate Rioux said.
“People are infatuated with this idea that cycling is unsafe,” Rioux said. “If you are aware of your surroundings and predictable you’ll be safe.”
Bull Moose Bicycles’ other co-owner, Chris Cawthra, encourages riders to change their route to work every so often to keep the trek exciting. It can become a refreshing look at your community and an excuse to explore.
The Magic Valley Chain Gang also offers a chance to explore with casual rides Tuesday nights April through September. Group rides go at a light pace and focus more on the cycling community. Mark Alexander, a member for 20 years, hopes that people join the group as a chance to learn how to ride safely.
“Cyclists need to be courteous to motor vehicles,” Alexander said. “Courtesy goes both ways.”
Courtesy was also the motivation for Bike More, Drive Less, Give Back, which started four years ago as a fundraising effort at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center during National Bike to Work Week. It started as a challenge to cycle to work while giving back to the community. Now, it’s a large event encouraging everyone to get out on a bicycle.
Trina Lewis, the director of food and nutrition services at St. Luke’s and organizer for the event, is an avid cyclist. Sure, it’s a great and simple work out for her, but ultimately it’s an excuse to relax while commuting, she said. As Twin Falls grows she hopes that the bicycling scene grows too.
“It’s just something great to do,” Lewis said. “It helps with the cardiovascular system, it’s low stress on joints. It’s also great for mental health. It helps reduce stress. I never dread a 5-mile bike ride.”