First Fridays, First Memories: Martha
April 05, 2013
As a way to show you the people behind PeopleForBikes.org, we launched a quick interview series on the first Friday of every month. The theme? Bicycling firsts. Last month we interviewed PFB vice president Bruno Maier. This month, we talk to Martha Roskowski, director of our Green Lane Project.
What is your first memory of bicycling?
My first memory of biking is pedaling really, really fast on a bike with training wheels set up over a hole in the ground. The bike would be stationary, as the back wheel was off the ground, and you could pedal as fast as your legs would go. I think I was in second grade when my grandma bought me a used turquoise Huffy. I loved it. The neighborhood kids made a track in a nearby vacant lot we called "the bike field" and I'd cruise over the little jumps on that heavy Huffy, with its fenders and chain guard clanking away.
When did you first fall in love with bicycles?
Like a lot of people, I biked as a kid, then drifted away from it. I fell back in love in 1987, when a friend suggested we escape mud season in Breckenridge with a trip to Moab. My first-ever mountain bike ride was on Slickrock, on a borrowed Stumpjumper wearing turquoise Chuck Taylors and a kayak helmet. I fell in love with my husband, John Waitman, over bikes, too. I met him when he was managing the High Wheeler Bike Shop and I walked in to ask him to donate a bike for a Bike to Work Day prize. He did. Our first date was a bike ride. We rode over the Colorado National Monument with a bunch of friends on our wedding day.
When did you first know bicycling would be part of your career?
I stumbled into the bicycle field in 1990. I was doing freelance video production and working at KGNU, the local community radio station, organizing fundraising events. I saw a job description for the City of Boulder for someone to coordinate Earth Day and Bike Week events. I applied and got hired. The first day, they told me they decided not to do Earth Day events, so Bike Week became my sole focus. Boulder had been celebrating Bike to Work Day in 1977, but it had lost energy, so I got to reinvigorate and reimagine it. And bikes became the central theme of my professional life. From there, I ran Bicycle Colorado, then America Bikes in DC, then GO Boulder for the City of Boulder and now the coolest job ever, helping to get protected bike lanes on the ground.
What is your favorite thing about bicycling?
Biking to work is a lovely way to start the day. John and I ride with the kids to school, then I head to the office. I never get stuck in traffic and I get to see my town whole every morning. The crocuses have been blooming for a few weeks, now the forsythia are out. Boulder has built a great pathway system so it's a very pleasant ride. I also love mountain biking. We ride with a gang of friends, exploring out of the way places. I love it all: working hard the uphills, navigating the technical bits, being out in the wild and stopping for a break at a big view spot before flying downhill.
Martha and son Lucas riding on Moab's Klondike Bluffs trail.
On her first mountain bike, a Raleigh Elkhorn. (1987)
But before mountain bikes, horses were Martha's first love. (1972)
Martha on a self-supported tour of the Tabeguache Trail. (1993)
First ride on an "ordinary." (1990)