Her Bike Style with Susi Wunsch

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

I first met Susi Wunsch of Velojoy over a cup of coffee in Manhattan. I happened to be in town for a few parties in late 2012 and knew that I had to pick her brain. Over the last few years she has been an advocate and sounding board for so many young designers, activists and enthusiasts in the bike community, and is currently serving on the advisory board of the new Women Bike program of the League of American Bicyclists. There is a special place in my heart for Susi, which is why I’m so honored to feature her bike style today.

Susi Wunsch
Title / Occupation: Founder, velojoy.com
Location: New York City
Bikes: Kona Dew Drop, Pashley Britannia, Serotta Ottrott and Citi Bike

Why did you start velojoy.com and what do you hope people take away from the site?
Velojoy started as a personal blog about road cycling, but it evolved into a website focused on city cycling lifestyle in New York as I started using a bicycle for transportation myself. Out of my own experience, I’ve become passionate about attracting more women to bicycling because it’s freeing and efficient and healthful and good for cities, but above all, because it’s fun. I hope the blog ultimately inspires people to join in.

You’re an enthusiastic user of Citibike. Can you tell us why you love the program and what you say to the critics?
Citi Bike has proven enormously popular here, attracting more than 95,000 members since it launched to the public on Memorial Day. The NYC DOT recently reported that the blue bikes account for 30 percent of bicycle traffic in bike share-zones in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I’m a regular rider and a big supporter because this is an accessible, efficient and economical new transportation alternative that lowers the barrier to entry for cycling in the city. I think it’s easier for non-bicyclists to envision themselves as riders when they see the ease with which people hop onto Citi Bike in ordinary clothes and ride off. Just like that. As an advocate, I’m encouraged by data from other cities that shows women leading the way in embracing bike share.

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

How long have you been biking?
I’ve been road cycling for fitness for 8 years. Riding in the city is newer to me; I started using a bicycle for daily transportation 3 years ago.

What made you start biking?
I came to cycling from spin classes. I got tired of pedaling without getting anywhere. Olympic distance triathlon led me to road cycling, and frankly, it was love at first ride. While it’s embarrassing to admit now, I didn’t make the connection between riding a bicycle and transportation until I spotted the then-new Ninth Avenue protected bike lane in 2010. That was the light-bulb moment when I understood, “Oh, there’s a place for bicycles on the streets of New York City.” The improvements to street safety and liveability here are part of the remarkable legacy of NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Was there anything that you were nervous about when you started?
When I began riding a road bike in cycling shoes and clipless pedals – on open roads on weekends, by the way – I wore a huge orange traffic safety vest for weeks. By the time I started using a commuter bike in New York City, I wasn’t nervous, but I was surprised that the skills I had developed did not necessarily translate to cycling in the city; I had to assimilate a new “vocabulary” of street skills.

What are five things that make biking easiest for you?

  1. Bike share. I own plenty of bikes, but the daily, grab-it-and-go convenience of Citi Bike is irresistible.
  2. A cargo net. I can stack vast amounts of goods from Bed Bath & Beyond into the basket of my own bike by stretching a cargo net to its popping point.
  3. A Kryptonite Fahgettaboutit U-Lock for (relative) peace of mind when I park my bicycle on the streets.
  4. A carabiner for my bike lock key and Citi Bike membership fob. I lose my reading glasses every five seconds; my keys, never.
  5. The @velojoy instagram account. My community includes cycling enthusiasts all over the world; it’s a daily source of ideas and inspiration.

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

What is your favorite time of day to bike your city?
Each time of day has its special qualities. Pedaling along the Hudson River Greenway toward the George Washington Bridge early in the morning to meet friends for a long ride on the weekend is particularly peaceful, especially if fog has settled over the water. On the other hand, cutting through Times Square at night (which is nutty, given the number of jay walkers) still gives me that night-into-day sensation that tourists love about New York City.

Where is your favorite route to bike in your city?
My favorite bike route is the one that takes me someplace new. The addition of more than 480 miles of bike lanes here during the Bloomberg administration makes exploring the city easier and safer than ever before.

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

What tips would you share with someone looking to start biking?
People ask me about that a lot, and I always advise them to take things in their own time. Begin by riding in protected, traffic-free areas to build confidence before getting out onto the streets. Riding with a friend – even just on a short trip in the neighborhood for a cup of coffee — is another good way to get started. People who ride bikes love to share, so friends are always a great source for answers to questions when you’re just starting out. So are bike blogs. Just saying.

How has your style changed since you started biking?
My basic style hasn’t changed, but my wardrobe has. I’m on and off one bike or another every day, so my clothing choices are more geared now toward urban mobility – especially basics like well-cut pants and jackets with a little stretch built in, light-weight merino wool layers, and sturdy shoes and boots. I’m the nerd in the dressing room who’s air pedaling to see how a garment would work on a bike.

Who is your style icon?
Just in general? Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill in Capri in 1970, photographed by Ron Galella.

Susi Wunsch of Velojoy Her Bike Style on Iva Jean

Do you have a bike shop or mechanic that you go to?
I’m a believer in supporting independent bike shops, so I use three different ones to service my bikes: Adeline Adeline for the Pashley, Bicycle Habitat for the Kona, and Signature Cycles for bike fitting and taking care of my road bikes.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you or you saw when biking?
The revered Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, who is currently burning down the house on Broadway in Twelfth Night and Richard III, once pulled up next to me on a folding bicycle in the First Avenue Bike lane. I paid no attention until he complimented my silver helmet, and I heard that voice. When I realize who it was, I turned into such a mushy fan girl that I embarrassed him. He fled immediately toward the Queensboro Bridge.

Photos by Ayesha McGowan.

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