“The biggest highlight for me is being able to just go out on a ride today and seeing a helmet on probably 98 percent of the people’s heads”

Cyclist of the month: JOHN PADGETT
Age: 42
Wheels: A Pegoretti named “The Italian Job,” a tandem named “Driving Miss Daisy,” and a mountain bike named “Black Beauty.”
Occupation: Senior District Executive at Boy Scouts of America, Chief Seattle Council

John Padgett and his bike, "The Italian Job"

John Padgett’s earliest biking memory is of going into the garage to get his dad’s tools to take the training wheels off his bike himself. He later remembers terrorizing the neighborhood on a green bicycle that was styled after a motocross motorcycle.

“I’m surprised I turned out as well as I did,” he joked, as we rode along the Ship Canal on the Burke-Gilman Trail one sunny afternoon.

For a large part, the Boy Scouts are to thank for his outcome and his lifelong dedication to community service. Padgett joined the Boy Scouts of America when he was 11 years old, and the Scouts also got him into biking.

“I was probably 12 or 13 years old when I started on the bicycling merit badge and became more serious about my riding,” Padgett said, explaining that to earn the bicycling merit badge, he had to learn how to fix a flat, use appropriate hand signals, oil a chain, ride five 25-mile rides, and complete one 50-mile bike ride during which he had to showcase all the skills he had learned. “All these things sort of culminated into me getting involved in cycling, and I have been doing it ever since,” said the Eagle Scout.

Padgett went on to do some bike racing in college, tour the Canadian Rockies by bike, and participate in many recreational riding events. He even went on a bike-touring honeymoon with his wife, Rebekah.

When he moved to Seattle 15 years ago, he almost immediately got involved with Cascade Bicycle Club. What started with participation in events such as the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic and occasional volunteering, soon led to a 10-year-term on Cascade’s Education Advisory Committee.

“The involvement came in a couple of ways,” Padgett recalled. “I was trying to get a little more serious about my riding and participated in some of the events. Professionally, I was working for the Boy Scouts and for one event someone had borrowed the Cascade rodeo kit. I wound up having to return it and at the office I started talking to Julie.”

Julie Salathé, Cascade’s education director, informed Padgett about the Club’s education programs and touched on one of his biggest interests–bike helmets.

A bike racer in college, Padgett had hit his head on a curb during a race one day and woke up in the emergency room. “All I saw for a bit were stars and I thought, [helmets are] a pretty good deal,” Padgett said. “I learned that Cascade did low-cost helmet sales and put helmets on kids at Seattle Children’s Hospital and such. Julie sort of roped me in with that.”

Looking back on his time with Cascade, Padgett said a few highlights stand out.

“What’s interesting is that riding around here 15 years ago, you’d see maybe 5 to 10 percent of people wearing helmets. The biggest highlight for me is being able to just go out on a ride today and seeing a helmet on probably 98 percent of the people’s heads,” he said. “I’d like to think that some of it is because of the promotion that we have done.”

Another highlight for Padgett was getting the Basics of Bicycling off the ground. The Group Health Basics of Bicycling is an elementary school physical education curriculum for third to fifth-grade students in the Seattle, Lake Washington, Highline and Edmonds school districts. The goal of the programs is to teach kids to bike while also teaching them about safety and the rules of the road.

“There was no program in place when I started at Cascade,” said Padgett. “The idea floated around in meetings, we did some research, got the money from Group Health, and started on the curriculum. Just seeing it come to life is a big highlight.”

After serving on the Cascade Education Advisory Committee for more than a decade, he has decided to move on and focus on some passions that have been sitting on the back burner.

“One of the things that has been a lifelong passion of mine is sailing,” he said. “I joined the Renton Sailing Club, a 501(c)(3) that focuses on education, partners with Renton Parks, and does sailing lesson to promote the sport. I get to go out sailing and sharpen my skills and help other people, too.”

But when he’s not on a sailboat, Padgett will still be pedaling around–be it on his way to work or in the mountains–and maybe he’ll pick up a Cascade volunteer shift or two.

Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marjie Rook at amrook@cascadebicycleclub.org