Early members spotlight: Jan Johnson
In 1970 a small group of active cyclists gathered in a basement on Mercer Island. Little did these individuals know that they were going to change the future of bicycling in the Puget Sound region. Forty-five years later, the Cascade Bicycle Club is the largest bicycling organization of its kind in the U.S. with more than 15,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 38 staff. Here we highlight a few of Cascade’s earliest members, hear how their involvement changed the course of their lives and find out what they’re up to today.
“It was a time of 10-speed bikes, zero women-specific bike clothing and before lycra shorts,” said Jan Johnson, describing 1976, when she began volunteering with Cascade.
Her involvement was sparked by a week-long bike tour she took in Oregon with touring organization Bikecentennial, now known as Adventure Cycling Association. After the tour, Jan searched for local groups to ride with in Seattle. By asking around at local bike shops, Jan learned about Cascade Bicycle Club.
“Cascade’s meetings were attended by all kinds of cyclists of all ages,” Jan recalls. “We worked together to actively push towns, county and state organizations and jurisdictions to improve facilities and build bike trails.”
“An important service of Cascade was to interview [political] candidates and their attitudes toward improving cycling facilities... it was the working together, face-to-face, having shared experiences with determined and welcoming people, that made Cascade different from just a bike club,” said Jan.
“How else would I have ever known Jerry Baker? He was in the racing scene with the Velodrome–the things he does in cycling and the things I do in cycling are so different!” Jan exclaimed. “And yet, we have all been brought together.”
Jan was on Cascade’s Rides Committee for 12 years and named the 2012 Ride Leader of the Year.
“I'll keep riding until I can’t get my leg over the top tube anymore.” - Jan Johnson, Cascade early member
When asked how her involvement in Cascade has improved her own life, Jan said with a laugh, “it’s gotten me out of the house!”
“It gives me energy and keeps me [going] outdoors, a way to find the people who ride at my fitness level and my style of riding,” she continued.
She also took note of the advocacy that Cascade has done to improve the region, “the advocacy has been very important [to my life] because it has made my bicycling safer.”
Today, Jan is still very active, leading Cascade Free Group Rides and mentoring new ride leaders. Her rides, FRIDAY RIDERS leisurely rides are not just about fitness, she says. They are also about welcoming new people and socializing.
Jan said she loves the cooperative nature of Cascade’s Free Group Rides, seeing participants “doing something as a group and facing the joys and dismays of group riding–fixing flats, dealing with mechanical issues and stopping to sip cocoa.”
Jan says she’ll continue riding until “I can’t get my leg over the top tube anymore.”
Join Jan on a FRIDAY RIDERS leisurely ride and tell her thanks for all of her contributions to Cascade Bicycle Club. View all Cascade’s Free Group Rides at www.cascade.org/grouprides.