Andrea Cohen

Iowa City, Iowa

Bicycles are a challenge. I can get myself into pretty sticky situations if I am not paying attention to what I am doing at that moment. Bicycles challenge me to be more aware. Making sure that giant cloud doesn’t swallow me up or that I don’t fall into giant potholes are small tasks, but can make or literally break you. Off the bike the challenge is learning how the machine works. I love learning how to fix my own bikes. I feel so empowered and ready to take on life after successfully getting a broken bike rolling again.

Andrea's Kit

I am most proud of myself for finishing Trans Iowa. I think that accomplishment broke down a lot of walls for me and really opened my eyes to what I am capable of. I spend less time questioning how I am going to finish a ride and more time exploring how far I can go. I learn more taking risks I would have otherwise avoided. Sometimes these risks end in failure, but how else am I going to figure myself out?

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What kind of cyclist are you?
I just love being on a bike. Plain and simple. I will always be a commuter at heart, those are the rides where I learn to get over myself and just get to where I need to be. Mixing in a lifelong athletic background I couldn’t help but search for adventures to challenge myself. Organized events have become a part of the cyclist that I am right now. Every chance I get to travel, meet new people, and see new places on a bike is a time for me to learn and grow.

How long has cycling been a part of your life? When did it become more than just “riding a bike”?
Cycling has always been a part of my life. My family has been riding Ragbrai since I was a baby. Whether or not I actually wanted to be around bikes since birth is another question. My Mother loves telling stories about how much I hated learning to ride a bike when I was a kid.  My younger Brother on the other hand has worked in a bike shop most of his working life, which didn’t help with the indoctrination of cycling into my life. When I moved to Iowa City in 2007 I was re-introduced to cycling, but from a different perspective. After two years of battling with a car I gave it up and I have been car-free ever since 2010. This is the year when I really had to learn how to ride and take care of my bicycle. My rides slowly transformed from point A to point B, to include detours along quieter roads until eventually I was introduced to the gravel roads in Iowa. Now I can’t imagine my life without cycling, I just took the stubborn route.

 The cycling accomplishment you’re proudest of to date?
I am most proud of myself for finishing Trans Iowa. I think that accomplishment broke down a lot of walls for me and really opened my eyes to what I am capable of. I spend less time questioning how I am going to finish a ride and more time exploring how far I can go. I learn more taking risks I would have otherwise avoided. Sometimes these risks end in failure, but how else am I going to figure myself out?

Favorite place you’ve been on a bike so far?
This is a really hard place to pick. One of my favorite places was during a trip across Iowa in the middle of the state somewhere, probably 5 years ago. It was the hottest part of July and I had no clue how far I had gone or how far we had to go. I probably didn’t have any of the essentials I needed to fix my bike or the knowledge for that matter. God knows how I finished that trip across the state, but I figured out I could go wherever I wanted on a bike and that was all I needed.

Favorite place to daydream about that you haven’t yet ridden?
I bet on a weekly basis I am creating new routes and places to explore. I search for funny street names and make a route towards them, or try to search out tiny towns in Iowa I haven’t ridden through yet. On the other hand my big daydream is Adventure Cycling’s Idaho Hot Springs mountain bike route. My daydreams are constantly evolving and shifting, but that route is always in the back of my mind.  I am so fortunate to have had opportunities to achieve many of my hopes and dreams, and I know the adventures are just beginning!

How do you describe what the bicycle means to you?
Bicycles are a challenge. I can get myself into pretty sticky situations if I am not paying attention to what I am doing at that moment. Bicycles challenge me to be more aware. Making sure that giant cloud doesn’t swallow me up or that I don’t fall into giant potholes are small tasks, but can make or literally break you. Off the bike the challenge is learning how the machine works. I love learning how to fix my own bikes. I feel so empowered and ready to take on life after successfully getting a broken bike rolling again.  

How will your future as a cyclist unfold?
I have seen myself get stronger physically and mentally each year so hopefully that won’t stop anytime soon! I am going to continue to try and see just how far I push the limits. These limits are only for physically challenging races, but also how much fun can I have. Just how fast can I ride my townie bike through the local trails? Probably way too fast. I am so excited to get more people on bikes and educate them. Recently I added bike touring instructor to my resume. Sharing my knowledge about how to ride bikes and why is one of my favorite things to do, having it be a part of my professional life is amazing.

Who inspires you and your riding?
My family really inspires me. My Mother raised me to be a very strong person because she herself is. I am always working to try and be more like her. I know I have a long way to go to be as tough as her. Recently my brother and I realized we are nearly the same person. He is my best friend and is one of the most encouraging people when it comes to my riding. I am very lucky to have people in my life who understand why I ride my bike.  

Favorite Salsa model and why?
My favorite Salsa model is the Warbird. I have been riding all too aggressive cyclo-cross bikes and I never really felt comfortable on them. The first time I rode the Warbird I knew it was meant to be. Instead of having to spend hours questioning the fit, what components to swap out, and what I could carry on my previous bikes, the Warbird already had those questions addressed and answered for me. All I had to do was make it my own!

Favorite pre, during, and post ride/race food and bevvies?
One of my pre-ride rituals involves the breakfast that I like to eat before hand. I will make oatmeal with dried fruits and peanut butter, a whole salted avocado, and a banana. That breakfast just seems to get me in the mood for a nice long ride. During my rides I love eating the pre-packaged peanut butter and cheese crackers. I am pretty sure those crackers have helped me through some tough moments on two wheels. Post ride if I haven’t been dreaming of something during my ride I will probably eat whatever you put in front of me. There is a running joke at my shop that I am constantly eating, and it’s even worse after a long ride!

When you’re not cycling…
If I am not riding a bike I am probably within very close proximity to a bike; that keeps me pretty happy. If I can escape I am usually scouting for food, trying to find new music to add to my library, teaching people about bikes, stealing bike knowledge from my co-workers, working on my tattoo collection, and driving my mother crazy.  

What don’t you leave home without on a ride?
I don’t leave home without a snack (seeing a theme here) and optimism. Even a ginger candy is enough of a snack; sometimes my rides are just quick jaunts around town! The optimism is something I really believe in. Those long rides can really tire me mentally so I am always working on little tricks to keep my mind in a good place.