Whether it's winding through the streets of Emeryville or blasting 21 miles down the Iron Horse Trail from Lafayette to Pleasanton, the East Bay's 2009 Bike Commuters of the Year are nothing if not intrepid.
In fact, some might call them fanatical. But Laura McCamy, of Emeryville, and Jeff Kent, of Lafayette, cite financial, health and environmental benefits, not to mention more pleasant commutes, as reasons for riding to work.
The top bike commuter awards were bestowed on McCamy and Kent as part of events leading up to the 15th annual Bike to Work Day, on Thursday. The event offers energizer bike stations with freebies and food around the Bay Area to encourage commuters to eschew four wheels for two.
McCamy is Alameda County's Bike Commuter of the Year and Kent won the award for Contra Costa County.
In fact, McCamy, who works at San Francisco law firm Severson & Werson, has taken her commitment to bicycling to a new level. She gave up her car three years ago, two years after moving to the East Bay from San Francisco.
McCamy, 46, is so stoked about cycling that she had a bike parade at her October wedding, with herself and bride April Atencio astride their respective steeds in their wedding gowns.
"Generally, I ride my bike to the MacArthur BART station in the morning and leave it there," McCamy said. "If I want to go somewhere in The City after work, I take the bike into San Francisco on BART."
McCamy said the ride is great for her physical and mental well-being.
"It has helped me with my mood," she said. "I'm much happier. I get to work in the morning energized."
She's also jazzed because "not only am I saving gas, but I have spared the environment a lot of carbon emissions."
Kent tells a similar story.
"I save some $60 a month on gas by cycling to work," said Kent, 45, who knocks out a 21-mile commute to Pleasanton from his Lafayette home an average of three days a week. Kent, sporting a Hugh Jackman-esque physique, credits his morning and afternoon bike workouts for his excellent physical condition.
The ride also helps reduce stress, Kent said.
"If work didn't go well, you can hop on the bike and by the time you get home, you say, 'That wasn't so bad,'"" he said. "Whereas if you drive and there's traffic, it exacerbates a bad day."
For a number of years, Kent worked at bicycle shops before pursuing a career in informational technology, his current job at Robert Half International in Pleasanton.
"People should get out and try it (biking to work) to see if it's something they would enjoy," Kent said. "Just try it for one day a week."
For those with first-time jitters, McCamy advises checking out the classes at the Bicycle Coalition of the East Bay to learn how to ride safely.
"The biggest surprise for me was that riding a bike is big fun," McCamy said. "Every trip, even an errand, is a fun ride."
Reach Janis Mara at 925-952-2671 or email@example.com.
All nine Bay Area counties participate in the annual event. "Energizer" stations with food and freebies are set up at various locations around participating counties from about 7 a.m. to
9 a.m. Thursday, with some open in the afternoon. Some communities also plan after-parties in the evening. For exact times of energizer stations in your city, visit btwd.bayareabikes.org/energizer.
How to get rolling