Meet Kat Chen, a therapist and social worker who loves bikes because they are fun for little kids, babies in trailers, older people on tricycles, and older people blasting past you on Mt. Tam. California North Coast will be her third Climate Ride.
In 2016, her friend Joanna off-handedly asked if she had heard about ’Climate Ride.’ Kat Googled it and immediately signed up. Joanna wound up joining Climate Ride California 2016 and is going to be doing Climate Hike Glacier this year! Kat met a lot of awesome people along the way that first year and has kept on going ever since because, “Beautiful rides, cool people…it’s hard to beat!”
City by the bay and sea level rise
Kat was raised in a suburb of SF called Foster City which is eight feet above sea level. Growing up, she took classes like Desert Ecology, which included a week hiking and camping in Joshua Tree National Park. Those classes led her to value the ethics of reduce, reuse, recycle. She also bicycles and walks for her daily commute whenever possible and has attended marches locally. The pressure to take action is real as she is certain that her hometown will be quickly under water should the glaciers, ice caps, ALL the things, continue melting.
San Francisco is known for fog and cold summers. There’s a quote, often attributed to Twain that goes: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” But recently, Kat has seen the temperatures in SF rise, even though it is right on the bay. The winters have been crazy – sometimes snowfall in Tahoe is so low it impacts the skiing economy.
For Kat, Climate Ride California North Coast, in all of its 300-plus mile glory, is a challenge she goes for year after year. Getting started and taking on the fundraising is the first challenge. Also, while the San Francisco Bay Area is known for its racial diversity, cycling remains a largely Caucasian pastime and a well-to-do one at that. While finding an inclusionary space within the bay has been relatively easy for Kat (her fellow riders from her first Climate Ride are proactively building inclusivity), going out for solo training rides have been hard at times and can leave her with a sense of “do I REALLY belong out here?” Ultimately though, she thinks cycling as a community is growing and becoming more inclusive.
Kat Chen doesn’t let Type 1 Diabetes slow her down
Kat is also a type I (insulin-dependent) diabetic and has been navigating the delicate balance between food, insulin, and exercise since she was four. Sometimes, even though she gets the dosages, the food, and the carbohydrates just right, it still all goes haywire. Kat describes low blood sugar as feeling a lot like a bonk, “but unfortunately a bit life-threatening-y and they always seem to happen at inconvenient times! Until there’s a cure, diabetes is going to be part of the deal so there you have it!”
That’s why she likes to say, “Power to the people and people to your pedals!” Kat loves bikes for how they can travel on dirt, trails, roads, and can go from velodrome racing to trans-continental. To keep people pedaling, Kat is fundraising for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) for the third time, because of the work SFBC does on bike advocacy, education, access for all, and building community. She loves seeing all the progress whether personal (she started as a three-mile a day bike commuter and has now punched out a couple of centuries) or as a community (there’s a number of grassroots/local all-comer bike groups in SF) or team (her first year she says they had a pretty scrappy random team). If you see her on this year’s California North Coast ride, be sure and ask about Gromit!