Stephanie Frans’ next adventure as full-time bike-commuting mama
Cyclist of the Month: Stephanie Frans
Wheels: 10-year-old Specialized Stumpjumper; Raleigh Port Townsend with upright bar (I couldn’t ride in the drops when I was pregnant); Bianchi Giro with a triple.
Occupation: full-time, out-and-about, bike-commuting mama
After over four years of living, breathing and working the mission of getting more butts on bikes, Stephanie Frans announced she would be leaving her post as Commute Programs Manager at Cascade Bicycle Club to become a full-time, “awesome, bike-commuting mama”.
Knowing Stephanie, she will be anything but a “stay-at-home mom”. Instead, we expect to see her biking all over town with her daughters Audrey, 3, and Jackie, 1.
From commuting to bike touring to bike racing, Stephanie is a skilled bicyclist no matter what kind of bike you put her on. When she joined Cascade in April 2009, she was a natural fit.
Stephanie had become an avid bike commuter after coming to Seattle to attend Grad School at the UW. Before making the move, she decided to leave her car at home and try living car-free and save some money while in school.
“I was a nervous Burke-Gilman commuter,” recalled Frans, who was living in Wedgewood at the time and commuted to UW. “I was just not fit. I will always remember the first time I rode home all the way and didn’t have to push my bike up the hill.”
But practice makes perfect and over time Frans became a very confident bike commuter. She even landed a job at Children’s Hospital helping others get out of their cars and explore alternative transportation options. She also got involved with Cascade by volunteering with helmet fits and serving on the Bike Month committee.
When a Commute Programs position opened up at Cascade, she was quick to apply.
In fact, when she applied for the position, she was sitting in an internet café in Cappadocia, Turkey, at the end of four-month bike tour through Eastern Europe.
It was late 2008, and Stephanie and her husband, Bill, had been travelling around the globe for the past year, after giving up their jobs in search of adventure.
Their adventure started in South America, where the couple bussed, climbed and mountain biked their way across the continent. But upon their return, they felt like we were missing a lot by travelling by bus.
Inspired by a documentary of a globe-trotting, bike-touring couple from Quebec, Stephanie and Bill decide to travel by bike.
“We just loved the sense of exploration and the ability to go on any road we’d want,” said Frans.
As practice, Stephanie and Bill embarked on a 400-mile “mini tour” from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the middle of Indiana.
“Biking in the Midwest in July –we learned everything about what not to do,” said Stephanie.
With their new-found experience, the couple headed to Frankfurt, Germany, to embark on their bike touring adventure.
“We just decided to pick a starting point and see how far we could go – no itinerary or plan. We took it day-by-day. I loved that about it,” said Stephanie.
“We didn’t take smart phones, and we made it all the way to Bulgaria without a proper map. In a world in which everything is so easy, it was cool to make mistakes, to explore and overcome obstacles. When you’re bike touring, everything is a challenge, and you’re always pushing your physical abilities,” Stephanie continued. “Bike touring was by far the most challenging thing I have done but also the most rewarding.”
After traversing nearly 3000 miles across Eastern Europe their journey ended in Ankara, Turkey.
Winter was looming and their water bottles froze while wild camping at night.
“We had to go south quickly, but we didn’t want to fly anywhere,” Stephanie said.
But this was late 2008 and there were political upheavals in Georgia, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Stuck in Turkey, running out of safe places to go by bike as well as money, Bill and Stephanie headed back home for the holidays.
Back in the States, Stephanie and Bill decided to stick around and look for jobs.
“We thought, ‘if a job pans out, we’ll work. If it doesn’t, we’ll travel’,” said Stephanie.
Sure enough, Stephanie joined Cascade just months later, and for the past four years Stephanie has been instrumental in getting more people riding bikes.
The travel bug settled and Stephanie embarked the new adventure of starting a family and being a family rider.
After her oldest was born, Stephanie couldn’t wait for her daughter to be old enough to support a helmet so they could ride together. And while pregnant with her second child, Stephanie even intended to ride to her C-section appointment.
“I just knew I wasn’t going to be on a bike for a while with two kids and one of them being a newborn,” explained Frans. “I thought it would be a nice way to relax before my C-section.”
Unfortunately, on the morning of her scheduled C-section, it was pouring rain, and she bussed instead.
Now, with two little ones on board, Stephanie’s bike rides may not be as fast as when she raced or as exciting as traversing across foreign countries, but Stephanie is very excited to dedicate all her energy to her girls and to be part of the bike movement in a different capacity.
“Just because I will no longer be on staff, I assure you that I will still be an active participant in our movement,” she said. “I’m excited to have the time to go to neighborhood meetings and an engaged citizen.”
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at [email protected]