First Fridays, First Memories: Erik

May 03, 2013

erik on mountain bike

As a way to show you the people behind PeopleForBikes, we launched a quick interview series on the first Friday of every month. The theme? Bicycling firsts. Last month we interviewed Green Lane Project Director Martha Roskowski. This month, we turn our four questions to Vice President of Finance and blues guitarist, Erik Esborg.

What is your first memory of bicycling?
I spent most of my childhood in Belgium, and my first memory of riding a bike was the day I was able to ride without training wheels. I recall rolling all the way down our sloped front yard on a red bike, and how I was overjoyed that I finally didn't fall off doing so. I still remember running back up the hill calling to my parents to say that "I did it!".

When did you first fall in love with bicycles?
In Belgium, we lived in a 200 year old house (about twenty minutes outside the military base where my Dad worked), surrounded by cobblestone streets the Romans had laid, and smooth dirt roads with farms in every direction. For my eight or ninth birthday, the big present was a turquoise Peugeot 5-speed road/touring bike. To this day, I think it is still the best birthday gift I've ever received. I remember thinking how cool it was that the gears would make it easier or harder to pedal, and I put on a speedometer that ran with a cable down to a little plastic wheel-piece that would rub against the tire to measure speed. The trouble was that the cobblestone streets would throw off the little measuring wheel regularly. I would ride that bike every chance I could find, up and down over the dirt roads, and sometimes stopping to eat blackberries that grew wild in a nearby field in the summer.

Erik and his first road bike
Erik (l) cleaning his beloved Peugeot.

Shortly after we returned stateside to Maryland in 1980 (age 11), I got a daily paper route for about three years. I only had about 15 subscribers, but every morning – rain, shine or snow – I'd deliver the newspapers on my bike with a bag slung over my shoulder. My bike was my companion and simply part of my daily life.

When did you first know bicycling would be part of your career?
I bought my first mountain bike in 1997, during the summer we moved to Colorado. From there, a real love of trail riding grew. I was working as a CPA in a public accounting firm at the time that specialized in nonprofit audits, and IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) was an audit client of our firm. It was my favorite audit gig of the year, and after two annual audits, I hand delivered a resume to Tim Blumenthal (the first executive director of IMBA) the day after I heard they were in search of a new finance director. It was a dream job: combining my numbers skills with a passion for cycling. I held that role for nine years, until 2008. However, in 2004 Tim left IMBA to lead Bikes Belong, and for four years, I wore hats for both organizations part time. In 2008, I went full time with Bikes Belong, and have held that role ever since. After 14 years working in bicycling advocacy, it still feels very fresh to me, it's an awesome cause, and every day is exciting.

erik and old trek
Falling in love with mountain biking.

What is your favorite thing about bicycling?
For me, it's about the freedom that it brings. Whether I'm bike commuting to work, on a long road or mountain bike ride with friends, or just pausing at the top of a long climb to take in a great view, it fills a void. I feel more refreshed, I can "tune out" while "tuning inward", and it simply puts a smile on my face. My guess is it's the same type of smile and happiness I felt when biking along cobblestone roads 36 years ago.

erik and daughter anneka
Exploring Europe by bike.


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