Biking while pregnant: an interview

Courtesy of Biking in Mpls
Jessica Baltzley

Biking in Mpls: How long have you lived in Minneapolis, and when did you start biking here?
Jessica: I’ve lived here since 2006, so 9 years. I started biking about a year after I moved here.

Biking in Mpls: Did you bike before that, or how did you get started?
Jessica: I lived in Florida which is not very bike friendly at all. Other than riding around as a kid, and in college I rode my beach cruiser around to class sometimes, I didn’t really ride. I didn’t own a bike when I moved here. Not a real bike.

Biking in Mpls: What was the thing that caused you to get started biking?
Jessica: Seeing how many other people were doing it. At first I thought it seemed unbelievably impractical to ride your bike downtown and then after awhile I was like, I think I could do that. Then I started trying to ride downtown. After that I saw people riding in the winter and I was like, no way. A year later, I was riding in the winter. Once I started doing it I realized how much faster it was and I could leave when I wanted and get where I wanted to be when I wanted, and not have to wait for a bus, and not have to wait for someone to come get me. It made a lot more sense to do that.

Biking in Mpls: When you started biking did you buy a bike right away or did you just use what you had?
Jessica: I rode my beach cruiser downtown with its big awkward handlebars that would almost hit the sideview mirrors of all the parked cars. Then I got a used bike from Craigslist and rode that. I don’t even remember what it was now, just an old vintage frame.

Biking in Mpls: What sorts of things do you do on your bike besides getting from point A to point B? Do you do any group rides or racing?
Jessica: I used to, this year I’ve kind of scaled back. I like doing long adventure rides or gravel races, like gravel centuries. I don’t really race race, I more do them for fun. I’m not particularly competitive. I do it more for the challenge and the scenery, and for personal improvement to see if I can improve on my own times. Last summer I did a ride called Oregon Outback, which went across Oregon on off-road, dirt trails. I like doing casual racing but not anything serious.

I like general group hang-outs with my friends, ride to breweries, ride to each others houses. Last year I led the women’s weekly Hub group ride. This year I think my friend Loretta is leading it, but last year I led it. It’s just for women, it’s a road ride, and I think it’s Wednesday nights. This year I decided I’d take a year off from that.

Biking in Mpls: I see you’re riding a road bike, have you been able to ride in that position even though you’re pregnant?
Jessica: Yeah, it’s very upright for a road bike. It does work very well right now with my condition. It’s getting to be a little uncomfortable. I’ve had some really sweet friends offer to put upright handlebars on it, so I might take them up on that pretty soon, but for now it’s working. I thought about buying a cheap step-through frame so I don’t have to throw my leg over, but I’ve made it this far. I only have two more months, so I’m going to try to tough it out. If I do have to do more transit and walk a lot the last month, that’s okay.

Biking in Mpls: Has anything changed since you’ve been pregnant with regard to bikes?
Jessica: Yes, I haven’t been doing any of the long endurance rides. I was hoping to do it up until my third trimester but I found that I’m way more winded and tired than I used to be. I think I had some really awesome role models who led me to believe it would be a lot easier than it’s been. A couple of my friends who’ve had babies and continued to ride bikes were just such badasses. It turns out I’m a little more tired than I thought I would be.

Biking in Mpls: Has being pregnant affected the way you feel when you’re riding around town at all?
Jessica: I’m a lot less risky. I wasn’t really risky before, I was always a very conservative rider, but now I’m extra, extra, extra conservative. If a light’s about to change, I’m stopping. I won’t take certain roads that I never would’ve worried about. If it’s raining I don’t really like to ride when it’s raining. The drivers are a little more unpredictable when it’s raining and it’s more slick. Rain didn’t used to bother me at all, now I’m just a lot more careful.

And I’m a lot more angry at cars when they do more assholey things. I’m like, “I have a baby!” I’m sure drivers think I’m being irresponsible by riding but I don’t see it that way. I don’t see them as being more entitled to the road than I am. I’m outraged when they’re careless because they’re not thinking about the lives they could be putting in dangers.

Biking in Mpls: When you have your baby, do you know what you’re going to do to bike around?
Jessica: We’re going to wait until he’s a little bit older. We’re playing with some different options. My friends have been really helpful posting links every time they see anything about biking with a baby. We’re probably going to get some kind of trailer that we can secure the baby carrier to. Once he’s a little older we’ll look into getting a regular kid trailer, and a trail-a-bike when he’s much older like 3 or 4.

Biking in Mpls: What’s your favorite thing about biking?
Jessica: My favorite thing is the feeling of complete independence it gives me. I don’t have to rely on anything but my own two legs and feet to go anywhere. 

Jessica Baltzley is a cyclist living in St. Paul.

This post was written by Lindsey Wallace and originally published on Biking in Mpls. Follow Lindsey on Twitter: @bikinginmpls.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/21/2015 - 12:40 pm.

    Real bike?

    ” I didn’t own a bike when I moved here. Not a real bike.”

    Say what? Beyond two wheels, pedals, and handlebars, just what kind of metric needs to be attained before one enters the exalted realms of owning a “real bike”?

    If we really want to see an increase in bike ridership, this kind of an exclusionary attitude doesn’t exactly strike me as helpful.

    • Submitted by Lindsey Wallace on 07/21/2015 - 01:54 pm.

      It’s her own perception

      Clearly she didn’t feel that a huge beach cruiser with handlebars so wide they nearly knock into car side view mirrors was what most people picture when they think of an urban bike. That’s all. No need to nitpick about the way someone phrases something in an in-person (ie. spoken not written) interview.

      I actually love that she just biked on what she had, even though it was hard and impractical. It shows that you don’t need anything fancy to get started biking.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 07/21/2015 - 01:57 pm.

      Its only exclussionary

      because you chose to read it that way. Her wording may have been inelegant but her meaning is clear: the bike she has was not practical for her purposes and now she has one that is, or a Real bike.

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