I met Jenna Burton last month at a bike ride in the San Francisco Bay Area that was just too much fun — the Red, Bike, and Green ride she and her friends organize each month. The ride meandered through urban terrain as diverse as the people who live in it, and I can’t recall laughing so much on a bike ride! Here is my interview with Jenna, who shares some of what she loves about cycling and the outdoors:
What is an early memory of riding your bike?
My dad taught me how to ride a bike. When I was a kid I was never allowed to go very far on my bike unless I was with my dad. He and I would ride everywhere. In hindsight, I realize how unusual that was for black folks in my hometown to hop on a bike and just ride all afternoon.
Describe your favorite bike.
I’m still learning about bikes but I really love the one that I have now. It’s a Bianchi Eros. It’s light weight and it is the perfect size for me. I experienced a lot on my bike – the most memorable being the AIDS ride from San Francisco to L.A. My bike was so good to me, I didn’t catch a single flat!
How did the RBG ride come together? It’s intentions?
RBG started with me reaching out to a bunch of friends and saying, “Hey, let’s start a bike group!” The whole thing started by word of mouth. We would just invite people that we knew had bikes and would be down for something like this, told folks to bring friends, and hoped for a good turn out. Needless to say, we got off to a slow start. I think it’s because none of us were exactly sure what we wanted this thing to look like – we just wanted to see black people on bikes. We saw bike riding as a unique approach to bringing people together and actively responding to the issues around health, environment and economic status within the black community. Now we see RBG as a way to build community and promote health.
Describe the type of people who ride with RGB?
What else do you like to do in the outdoors?
I like hiking. I’ve been living in California for about four and a half years and I’ve gained so much appreciation for nature and all of this beauty around me! Hiking allows me to take it all in and connect with my surroundings. It’s really meditative.
To learn more about the Red, Bike, and Green Rides, visit their website or find them on facebook!