Meet Cecile, Retiree Extraordinaire

We’re not exaggerating when when we say we have the greatest members in the world. One of our exemplary members, Cecile, inspires us daily with her spark, dedication to our Women Bike SF program, and just her sheer volume of activities. We sat down with Cecile recently to learn more about what keeps her rolling.

SF Bicycle Coalition: How did you start biking in San Francisco?

Cecile: When I started high school in Marin County in 1970, my parents bought me a 10-speed bike, which was all the rage at that time. I like to say that’s the last they saw of me. I loved the freedom and independence bicycling gave me, so my territory expanded. My Marin cycling friends and I started a road-racing club called Velo Club Tamalpais. Our rides included Tuesday bagel rides into San Francisco to the House of Bagels, rides to the Polo Fields to ride on the bike track, full moon rides over Mt. Tam at midnight and more.

Sometimes, my rides kept me in the city after dark. In those days, the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk closed at sunset. To return home, I had to climb around the locked gate on the bridge to access the sidewalk and ride home. (Is the statute of limitations up on that infraction?)

What’s the story of the beautiful Schwinn we’ve seen you ride to recent Coffee Clubs?  

When I was eight years old, I awoke Christmas morning to find under the tree a beautiful blue Schwinn Hollywood two-speed bike with a coaster brake. We lived on a hill so the two gears were a huge advantage. I still enjoy riding that workhorse, which is well worn and battered. It now styles white-wall tires and a wicker basket with flowers. It’s my around-town bike that I feel safe locking up while running errands or having coffee with Women Bike SF. Although heavy, it can still fly!

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen to bicycling in and around San Francisco?

I have enjoyed watching the positive changes in the San Francisco cycling environment over the last 30 years. There are so many more people biking on the road both commuting and for recreation. With designated bike routes and lanes, I find I am riding in good company among a diverse group of both bicycles and people biking, especially on Market Street. My experience is that people driving are becoming more bicycle-aware and friendly as well. More often than not, as I approach a stop sign and slow to stop, I receive a smile and a wave through from the cross-traffic person driving. Amazing!

What prompted you to become a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition?

I am so grateful to have the SF Bicycle Coalition represent me and advocate for me as a person biking. As a lone voice, I don’t have much power, but as part of this group, so much progress is being made for all people biking. My husband and I raised our two boys in San Francisco and part of our motivation when joining the SF Bicycle Coalition was to have a safe and encouraging cycling environment for them. (Success!) Thank you, SF Bicycle Coalition.

What has been your favorite experience with Women Bike SF?

The first Friday of each month, I look forward to the Women Bike SF Coffee Club. Although I usually cycle alone, it is terrific to have a group to share stories with and from whom to get tips. I initially went to the coffees to make sure that my age group was represented and was pleased to find that it a wonderfully diverse group, with cycling being the binding force. I look forward to leading my first ride with the group on Feb. 4 to the Marin Museum of Bicycling in Fairfax. Please join me!

Can you give us the latest on your volunteer activities?

I have reached that time in my life when I am winding down my career as a physical therapist and spending more time doing all those other things that I love to do. In the last year, I have reconnected with some of my old buddies from Velo Club Tamalpais, who recently opened the Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Fairfax. I volunteer at the museum on Thursdays and have recently joined their board of directors. Sewing is another one of my hobbies. So I combined those interests and stitch up a line of cycling caps and bags that I donate to the museum gift shop.  

The museum focuses on the history of the bicycle and the bicycle’s influence on American society. Its chronological collection starts with 19th-century bicycles, each one representing a stepping stone in technology. The displays of the evolution of the bicycle takes you from 1819 to today’s modern innovations in bicycle design and function. I could go on, but there is a wealth of information in the well-curated collection. You really should come visit the museum and see for yourself!

Want to get more involved with Women Bike SF? Come have a cup of coffee with us at our next coffee club meeting on Friday, Feb. 3 at Mercury Cafe.

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