(By Gabby Robinson) Sarah Russell opened her yoga and indoor cycling studio, Breathe, three years ago. She planned to teach the first day, guiding yogis and indoor cycling students alike through her classes, but her plans got a bit off-track. The day before the doors were set to open at Breathe, Sarah broke her back in a bicycle accident. She was hit by a drunk driver in her neighborhood. Lucky for Sarah, she has lots of energy and motivation. After working through two surgeries and six months of rehabilitation, she began teaching again. Another year later, she was back to normal (except for her new-found weather forecasting capabilities…she can now tell when it is going to rain). Sarah constantly shares her energy with her students, inspiring them to be confident, strong, and powerful on a bike.
Not only does Sarah teach cycling skills, she really walks (or should we say “bikes”) the talk. Sarah sees bicycling as recreational and functional. She prefers to hit the trails of Colorado’s beautiful mountains on a bike rather than on foot, explaining that she experiences more of the landscape by bike. Sounds like the logic of someone who commutes to work on her bike because she loves to be “out and about.” Whether in the mountains or on the street, Sarah takes a serious approach to biking…seriously FUN, as she says!
At her indoor cycling classes, Sarah infuses fun with a good workout. She points out her title is indoor cycling coach, not instructor. Think about it: coaches inspire, motivate, and help people through challenging moments. Sarah certainly fills this role by pursuing confidence- and self-esteem-building techniques in her classes, challenging the limits of those who are fit while pushing students who want to get in-shape or lose weight. Besides the fitness aspect, Sarah uses her indoor classes as an opportunity to teach outdoor cycling skills. She builds students’ power and efficiency so they will be successful when out on their own bikes. Did we mention Sarah also teaches yoga? Talk about energy! She likens riding a bike to being on the yoga mat; they are both happy places.
Sarah understands that many people are scared to ride a bike, thinking the roads are dangerous. She can certainly empathize. However,she tells people to get out and have fun! Spreading the joy of biking is part of the everyday life of any Bike Hero, and we thank Sarah for modeling this lifestyle to the max.
Bike Hero of the Month Awards highlight different people each month, and help encourage other people to bike by telling the Hero’s personal story. The goal of the Bike Hero Awards Program is to showcase the diversity of citizen-cyclists and the people who support them in Denver.
BikeDenver’s Executive Director Piep van Heuven says: “We introduced the Bike Hero awards because we want to encourage a friendly environment for and public image of bicyclists in Denver. One of the ways we can do this is to showcase the different faces of and great stories about people in our community, like Chris, who ride bikes or help others get out there and ride. Through the Bike Hero awards, BikeDenver honors bicyclists of all ages and walks of life, from the first time bicyclist to the rain or shine bicyclist! We all know people (our neighbors, co-workers, family members or community leaders) who inspire us to reach for the handlebars instead of the car keys. Take a moment to look around you and help BikeDenver recognize the people in our community who are making a difference for Denver, one ride at a time!”
To nominate a Bike Hero, please send a photo and a brief description of why you think they should be recognized (100 words or less) to info(at)bikedenver.org.
We started naming Bike Heroes in 2010. Meet past honorees here:
Bicycle Village has been a Colorado owned and operated business for more than 30 years. From modest beginnings in an 1800 square ft. building in West Denver, Bicycle Village has grown into the largest bicycle retailer in the Rockies. www.bicyclevillage.com
BikeDenver is Denver’s bicycle advocacy organization. BikeDenver promotes and encourages bicycling in and around Denver and works to make Denver a better place to ride your bike for fun, recreation and transportation. Why? Because it’s healthy for you, and healthy for Denver. www.bikedenver.org