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Bike Week a ‘wheelie’ big deal for riders

Tribune-Review
| Friday, May 11, 2012 5:17 p.m
PTRBIKEWEEK3051512
Lisa Primerano, of Lawrenceville, has been taking long-distance journeys on her bike for the last five years. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
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Lisa Primerano, of Lawrenceville, has been taking long-distance journeys on her bike for the last five years. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
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Lisa Primerano, of Lawrenceville, has been taking long-distance journeys on her bike for the last five years. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review

Lisa Primerano learned a lot on a nearly 2,000-mile bicycle trip alone from Vancouver, British Columbia, to near the border of Mexico.

“You really don’t have to know what you’re doing to get something done,” she says.

She now is telling the story of that nearly two-month trip to show how a bicycle can give a person a simple form of freedom. She’s geared her program, Pedaling the Planet, to schools, particularly grades kindergarten through 6th.

The talks are part of a growing consciousness about the bicycle as more than a recreational device or a toy. May has been declared National Bike Month by the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group that advances all uses of bicycling. May 18 also is Bike to Work Day across the nation.

Primerano, 49, of Lawrenceville, is using her ride as a way to teach about how the bicycle can be a commuting and transport device. She is trying to generate acceptance of life on two wheels.

She has done only a handful of the programs in this area, but recently presented one in Illinois and has inquiries from sites in West Virginia.

Primerano is a rider who has discovered the glory and efficiency of cycling without resorting to the Spandex, Tour de France look. She does not even have what she calls a “big-wheel bike,” relying instead on a Bike Friday, a smaller-wheeled vehicle that folds for easy transport.

She is not addicted to riding; not a person always on the road. But she has found cycling to be a way of discovering “the opening of the five senses you don’t get in a car.”

Besides the trip down the Pacific Coast Highway Trail five years ago, she has ridden from Cumberland, Md., to Washington, D.C., and last year spent some time touring the Midwest in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Those days on the road have helped her discover bicycling as a unique way of traveling and even of relating to people.

For instance, she explains how on her solo Pacific Coast trip she often would run into fellow riders evening after evening at camp sites. They did not try to join each other’s rides, but at the same time, they were pleased to see each other at day’s end, she says.

She uses the ride not only as a way of talking about the adventure, but also as a way of discussing such matters as salmon migration and the geography of the Pacific Coast.

But she also introduces her listeners to the mysteries of bicycling, how such a long trip can be accomplished simply by muscle, momentum and balance.

Lisa Seagriss, a Girl Scout troop leader from Natrona Heights, recently brought Primerano back for a second performance of her workshop.

“Her story is remarkable,” she says. “Everybody likes it.”

The first time was to only about six Scouts, but the second one was for about 50 from various troops.

“She is teaching them to get out of the front yard and see the neighborhood,” Seagriss says.

Primerano has a degree in theater from what is now Point Park University, a master’s in English from the University of Kansas and a master’s in education from the University of Minnesota.

Life on the road is nothing new for her. She presents mobile programs for the Carnegie Science Center, North Shore, but her main occupation is as a traveling interviewer for various opinion and research programs.

Currently, she is working on a survey for the National Science Foundation.

“I don’t know if I could handle working every day in an office,” she says.

For more on Primerano’s presentations, go to www.pedalingtheplanet.com


Bike Week

Bicycling is rolling on many roads these days.

At noon Tuesday, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will unveil the first of several bike corrals planned in the city. This one outside the OTB restaurant and bar in the South Side will provide a number of parking spaces for bikes in about as much room as one car would take up.

Joanna Doven from the mayor’s office says corrals are being planned elsewhere in the city to go along with 300 individual bike racks that have already been installed to meet the growing number of riders in the city.

This is the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month, but riding also is a key element to the current Great Outdoors Week, a celebration of outside activities in Western Pennsylvania. It began May 18 and runs through May 20.

Besides road and trail rides throughout the week (Details: www.wallsarebad.com ), bicycling also will be a big part of the Venture Outdoors Festival May 19 at Point State Park, Downtown.

Jon Lucadamo, projects director of the South Side-based outdoor activity advocates, says the festival will feature rides on the city’s trails throughout the day as well as a rodeo for children teaching bike-handling skills. (Details: www.ventureoutdoors.org ).

Bike to Work Day on May 18 is the local manifestation of an effort to get people using and seeing bicycles in commuting. In past years, the event has been focused on bike get-togethers Downtown, welcoming riders as they arrived at work. This year, 10 “hydration” stations will be spread around the city, says Lou Fineberg from Lawrenceville-based Bike-PGH ( www.bikepgh.org ).

The stops will provide liquid fuel for riders as well as tote bags with items from various vendors.

The city also had planned on being host to a bicycle conference this week, too, but it has been pushed back to June 21 and 22. ThinkBike, done in connection with the Dutch Embassy, will offer workshops in which three bike-route experts from the Netherlands will deal with making a specific route friendlier and safer.

The locations of the workshops are to be determined.

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