Different Spokes for Different Folks Hundreds of NIH Cyclists Enjoy 2011 Bike To Work Day By Susan Johnson
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NCI director Dr. Harold Varmus (l) and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins share a light moment after both gave brief remarks to those who pedaled to work on May 20.
Despite the pervasive thunderstorms leading up to 2011’s Bike to Work Day, the morning of May 20 was perfect for the record 11,000 two-wheeled commuters around the D.C. region. NIH’s nearly 700 participants were treated to cool weather, a bright blue sky and even smoothies made with a bicycle-powered blender.
This year, NIH hosted three pit stops in and around campus: in front of Bldg. 1, on Executive
Plaza and at the Rock Springs Business Park in partnership with Marriott
At pit stops, bikers enjoyed breakfast, camaraderie,
raffle prizes, bike maintenance services and the wisdom of seasoned bikers like Dr. Harold
Varmus, director of NCI.
Collins (l), accompanied by his wife Diane Baker, addresses the crowd at the Paul Rogers Plaza in front of Bldg. 1.
Lee Cramp of the Division of Property Management rode his 1891 Columbia Light Roadster through campus to the Bldg. 1 Bike to Work Day pit stop. The bicycle, a “semi-racing model,” according to Cramp, has nearly all of its original parts and can reach a top speed of about 10 mph.
Yolanda Kumm of Proteus Bicycle in College Park pours a bike-powered blenderful of fruit smoothie at the Bldg. 1 pit stop.
Sean Macnee (l) and Chad DeVall of Red Barn Bicycles in Hamilton, Mont., demonstrate how to change a flat tire as part of Bike to Work Day activities on the Rocky Mountain Laboratories campus.
“The sweat from biking in D.C. in the summer is better than the sweat from wearing a suit on the Metro,” Varmus advised the small crowd gathered at the Bldg. 1 pit stop. He bikes 24 miles roundtrip to NIH nearly every day along the verdant bike paths of Rock Creek Park.
Community Policing Ofcr. Matt Catherwood of the NIH Police offers bike registration and safety tips to NICHD’s Ajay Chitnis.
Photos: Bill Branson
Not every participant in Bike to Work Day was an expert at this mode of transportation. “Today, I used a different kind of internal combustion
engine than I usually do,” said habitual motorcyclist and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins,
who powered a distinctly non-motorized bicycle to campus.
Volunteers register attendees at the event, offering raffle chances and commemorative T-shirts.
Organizer Dr. Diane Bolton said that the number
of D.C.-area NIH participants in this year’s Bike to Work Day was comparable to 2010. But NIH participation spiked in Montana, where NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) held its first Bike to Work Day. Anita Mora, who helped organize RML’s event, described it as a “huge success” and promised another in 2012.
In his remarks in front of Bldg. 1, Collins thanked the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club for its work promoting bicycle commuting. Joe Cox, project officer in the Division of Amenities
and Transportation Services, echoed these sentiments.
“We have a great bike club and they’re really an important force behind the success of NIH’s Bike to Work Day,” said Cox. He said that NIH was on track to win yet another award from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
for being the employer with the most participants in this yearly event.