What type(s) of community work do you engage in?
Well, I’m all about bikes AND bike community!
FOR STARTERS: I’m the co-founder of 30 Days of Biking, a pledge to ride your bike every day in April and share your adventures online with the hashtag #30daysofbiking. There’s no required distance for this pledge (around the block counts just as much as a century ride) and we don’t want you to feel guilty or bad if you miss a day — it’s just about getting on your bike and documenting all the fun you have. We’ve built a community of more than 12,000 people around the world, including especially big followings in Spain, Belarus and Ukraine. Our 2016 kickoff ride for Minneapolis–Saint Paul was enormous, with 600 people in attendance.I like using the big group excitement around 30 Days of Biking to fundraise for good causes. Collectively in 2016, our group raised $15,000+ for World Bicycle Relief. We’ve also fundraised for Full Cycle Bikes, which provides bikes and bike internships to homeless youth, and to Free Bikes 4 Kidz, which gives bikes to kids in need!
FOR SECONDERS:I’m the co-founder of the Joyful Riders Club, an off-shoot of 30 Days of Biking that meets for social rides, once a month, year-round. (Though in April we meet once a week.) My partner Mario Macaruso and I are all about creating an environment that’s welcoming to riders of all skill levels and speeds. Everyone can keep up with these rides! And everybody gets a free beer at the end courtesy of Surly Brewing
THIRDSKI:I’m currently working on launching a podcast called “Let’s Ride!” whose aim is to hold up a mirror to Twin Cities bike culture. Producer Chris Roberts, co-host Emily Smoak, and I want to speak with movers and shakers in the Twin Cities bike community, get their stories out through high-energy conversation, and transport the lessons we’ve learned here to bike communities around the nation and the world. Our goal is to be the #1 bike podcast for riders everywhere! I used to host a podcast called Pedal Hub, from MPR News, that you can find at http://mprnews.org/pedal-hub.
What is your experience with group fitness before Solcana?
Pre-Solcana, I’ve worked out at three group fitness gyms. I find group fitness super invigorating, whether you’re encouraging the person next to you, counting on someone to keep YOU accountable, or exchanging high-fives after an especially tough workout. I can work out on my own, but I’m less accountable to myself than I am to other people, and I find working out with a community is WAY MORE rewarding. Why not build friendships while you’re getting fit? Heck yeah. At AX Fitness, the last gym I joined, a highlight was that I organized a Saturday morning coffee — sometimes, getting hyped on coffee together after we boxed was even better than the workout. It’s about friendship.
Why Solcana? Why now?
I first experienced Solcana Fitness through an event that Hannah and Kate O’Reilly organized for the Joyful Riders Club. We worked out together in a group and I LOVED it. As I get older, it’s more important to me to find environments and places that accept me as I am — no shame, all positivity — and I got that vibe from Solcana immediately. It was a very welcoming spot and I felt SAFE there, right away, not put under a microscope. I need that more and more in my life. In addition to that, I’m finding that JUST biking isn’t enough for me. I miss the group fitness environment and encouragement, and I miss getting that full-body experience that a Cross Fit–type workout offers. I’ll admit that I’m a little intimidated about joining, but I’m also eager to get started. This ambassador-ship program came along at the RIGHT moment for me.
You have a free Saturday with no obligations, what do you do?
Well, my Saturdays have changed quite a bit lately, with my wife being pregnant with our first baby! We’ve been doing a lot more relaxing, sleeping and idling together. I’m really enjoying these relaxed Saturdays of just sitting around, maybe walking to Rise, the new bagel shop in our neighborhood, for a breakfast sandwich, and maybe then also going for a walk along the river or to the supermarket. If I’m in the mood for an active Saturday, I’m all about spending the ENTIRE day out on my bike, starting with a ride to a donut and coffee shop, and ending with dinner and some beers. The Twin Cities feel like a playground in the summer, just this incredible place that’s packed with amazing things to do. I love it.
What is something you want everyone to know about you?
I grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, an oasis community surrounded by vast Saudi Arabian desert and owned by the oil company my parents worked for. I’m grateful for the international perspective this experience gave me, especially in times like these when one side of the poltical spectrum is so intent on demonizing and otherizing Muslims. I’ve often been shy about talking about this experience, for some reason, but I’m owning it lately because it’s so central to who I’ve become. The New York Times recently did a photo feature on our community: Anytown, U.S.A. — in Saudi Arabia
Oh yeah, and this too: I’m gonna be a dad soon!