Mary Oschwald


Tell us about yourself.

I love biking and I’ve fallen in love with bike touring. I’ve been biking since I was 5 years old and I started biking to get away from my six older brothers! I had a banana seat bike with tassels and a basket. I’d put a lunch in the basket and be gone all day. It was a way of achieving freedom.

How do bicycles fit into your life?

The way I get to work is by bike – but biking also fits my other tasks of life. I live in a large city and biking helps me get around without experiencing the hassles of traffic. And I don’t have to pay for parking!

You just need the basics on a bike. Our bodies are pretty amazing in terms of energy output and the bicycle is an amazing, efficient, simple machine. Putting the human form on a bike is just a good fit.

What inspires you to keep on riding?

After 40 years of living, working and playing on a bike, I’ve expanded my horizons to include bike touring. I love putting all the things I need on my bike as a means of self-contained travel. I appreciate seeing the world at 10 miles per hour.

Being on the open road for days on end and interacting with people, communities and the environment on my bike brings me closer to all of those things. I feel very safe on my bike and I feel very safe being seen as a biker by motorists and town folk alike.

As far as touring goes, I once rode a solo trip from Whitefish, MT, into Canada, across Canada, and ending in St. John’s, Newfoundland (that took me 10 weeks). My nephew joined me for a 3-week bike ride from Vancouver, BC up to Jasper and back down Bellingham, WA. I did a 6-week solo trip from Victoria, BC to Valdez, Alaska. On that trip I first rode to Port Hardy, BC and then took a ferry to Prince Rupert, BC, where I continued on into Alaska.

Right now, I’m planning a 2 week ride in Northwestern China.  This one will be self contained, but not solo – on the basic bike! Three of us are bringing our bikes to China and planning to give them away at the end of the ride (possibly in exchange for travel back to a city where we can catch a flight home).

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