Portraits of 6 Essential Workers Who Are Also Cyclists

Dec 19, 2020
by Ian Terry  
During the month of December, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, a professional trailbuilding and advocacy nonprofit in Washington State, is featuring essays, personal anecdotes, and portraits of workers who have used mountain biking and access to trails as a tool for coping with the stresses of 2020.

After putting out a call on social media to speak to mountain biker “essential workers” in early November, we received responses from a huge range of people all playing their own part in fighting the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and medical lab technicians shared firsthand how important mountain biking has been for their mental health, engineers and utility workers chimed in with stories of long hours followed by long rides to clear their minds, and teachers described a school year filled with constant challenges and the relief that comes from a good rip in the woods.

Some even described mentally working through tough situations at their jobs while out on a ride.

Mike Cheney Chief Engineer
Mike Cheney, Chief Engineer

“At times, I would think of solutions for work while pedaling down fire roads between trails. In fact, a lot of how I’ve dealt with Covid has come about on the trail,” said Mike Cheney, an engineer with Washington’s iconic ferry system that transports millions of passengers each year across the Puget Sound region.

Here at Evergreen, we’re calling this collection of stories our “Essential Trails Series” because they illustrate how vital outdoor access and trails are to keeping communities healthy during difficult times. Of course, trails don’t build themselves– maintenance of existing mountain bike trails, construction of new ones, and the protection of all through behind-the-scenes advocacy work is often done by local trail organizations that rely on community support and donations. Many of these local organizations, including Evergreen, are in the midst of their annual year-end fundraising efforts to ensure a bright future for mountain bikers going forward. If you’re able, please consider making a donation to your local trail organization before the end of the month to ensure a productive 2021.

Elaine Irons Medical Laboratory Scientist
Elaine Irons, Medical Laboratory Scientist

Dr. Patrick Willauer General Surgeon
Dr. Patrick Willauer, General Surgeon

Xu n Mai V Veterinarian
Xuân Mai Võ, Veterinarian

Daton Nestlebush Bike Mechanic
Daton Nestlebush, Bike Mechanic

Davey Simon Commercial Pilot
Davey Simon, Commercial Pilot

Check out the Essential Trails Series on the Evergreen Blog.

Photos by Ian Terry / Courtesy of Essential Trails Series participants.

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  • 298 5
 I thought there would be a dentist in there. So much potential debate about their bike.
  • 15 18
 Best Comment Of The Year!!!
  • 3 4
 You beat me to it.
  • 5 3
 So disappointed
  • 10 2
 i was so excited to make a dentist comment I skipped the whole article, drats, enjoy this fame brother.
  • 8 1
 Surgeon doesn't look to happy on the bike. He should try the new Slash!!
  • 10 0
 @curendero: How did you miss a Scalpel gag?
  • 2 0
 Beat me to it - I was ready to make a yeti joke
  • 3 0
 Dentists in Melbourne were not essential services in our stage 4 lockdown except for emergency dental. Even then it was hard to find a dentist that would open.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: Touche!!
  • 8 0
 My orthodontist is a trail builder and has decorated the clinic in MTB decor. He rides a YT ...ironically, I ride a Yeti
  • 1 0
 @TBaldwin90: He can have my busted out teeth to the wall as well!! Blood included!!
  • 3 0
 @chakaping: how do general surgeons avoid doing anything specific?
  • 1 2
 I guess the closest qualified person in the article would be the vet? So dentists ride Transitions too?
  • 1 0
 @ceecee: Maybe that's why he looks so bummed.
  • 2 0
 @ctd07: I'm a vet that rides a Sentinel. Transition is to vets what Yeti is to dentists.
  • 121 0
 I know Davey Simon is a trustworthy pilot because of the mustache.
  • 12 1
 You see I guy on the street with that 'stache and a haircut you can set your watch to and know he's either a pilot or a police officer.
  • 9 0
 A pilot who likes DH. What could possibly go wrong with that? Big Grin
  • 12 0
 @pakleni: He likes to fly I guess.
  • 9 0
 Turbulence? Just gonna send it.
  • 1 0
 The plane is just for the shuttle to the top. Like a pro, he leaves it up there and shreds his bike back down.
  • 8 0
 My mustache approves of this comment
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: He just likes being in the air!
  • 48 7
 How is every comment on this article just people being arse holes, n not a single word of thanks for all these people who would be our friends, for their work keeping the lid on this whole disaster of a year. THANK YOU to those of you mentioned here, and to all the other folks doing essential service out there.
  • 10 1
 Exactly ^^^!

Plus, HUGE shout out to possibly the best, most effective local MTB trails & riders association on the entire planet- Evergreen MTB!

Washington state is soo lucky to have all these great folks, along with all the other members and staff actively advocating for us with gov’t agencies, raising $$, and planning and building hundreds of miles of new, totally rad trails ALL OVER the Evergreen State. A model for how to do it right. Thank you all of you, for all you do!!!
  • 3 7
flag ceecee (Dec 19, 2020 at 17:52) (Below Threshold)
 Arseholes are essential workers
  • 4 0
 Thank you! And thanks to the awesome community of cycling that keeps all of us happy! Essential or not.
  • 33 5
 Pretty much everyone is essential to someone or something, but yeah, I suppose it’s nice to think about what folks are struggling with during the quarantine, especially at the holiday season.

As a mental health provider, it’s been tough, folks are not doing well, but long winter will end, the vaccine coming, and all eight billlion of us will continue.

If I could wish for one thing this holiday season, it would be for folks to be smart, stay home, and be patient just a little longer.

I’m taking the vaccine next week, pretty excited, oddly so.

Happy holidays!
  • 14 62
flag OldScratchJohnson (Dec 19, 2020 at 9:12) (Below Threshold)
 Get off your soap box...
  • 2 35
flag winston77 (Dec 19, 2020 at 9:19) (Below Threshold)
 Lol nah
  • 19 9
 @OldScratchJohnson: I’m a medical provider, do you understand my role and responsibilities? Educating others is what we do, even stoopid people can learn.
  • 14 40
flag OldScratchJohnson (Dec 19, 2020 at 11:49) (Below Threshold)
 @nurseben: Are you on the clock now?

Telling people to stay locked up at home but you're concerned about their mental health.
Oh the irony.

Tell your patients, nobody cares what your medical advice is.
  • 5 1
 @nurseben: can you elaborate more on what your position is? Is it mental health or medical, or both?
  • 7 0
 @OldScratchJohnson: I think the point is more you can get outside, but not go out to bars and see your friends. Two very different ways of getting out of the house.
  • 5 1
 @nyhc00: I practice psychiatry, but much of my practice is integrated with the medical side because they’re generally my referral source.

I typically have two to three times as much “time” to talk with patients than a medical provider, so I do a lot of education; teaching is integral, medication is an added benefit.

I don’t do straight therapy unless a client is in crisis. I see a blend of ages from young children to the elderly, treat everything from ADHD to Dementia, and everything in between.
  • 5 0
 @OldScratchJohnson: so you clearly got a problem with me or perhaps anyone who disagrees with your world view, so there’s no point in continuing any conversation.
  • 5 6
 We are all essential! This myth that you don’t need purpose, relationships, and don’t need to earn income is total lie.

Every government will run out of funny money to hand out at some point if people aren’t working and paying taxes. Our government did a “stimulus package” that was enough money to give every household $20,000, but most of us got less than $3000, and billions of dollars never got paid out just so one political party could make the other party look bad. The rest of the money went to pad the wallets of “essential” campaign donors who help keep the swap full.
  • 17 0
 How many days did I get off because of corona? 0. What did happen is our overtime was revoked. And none of the desk jockeys have to come to work anymore. Yeah for the wind power industry! Every time something was delivered late or a vendor couldn’t supply a part, a sub contractor was late, etc. All of them used the best cop out in our time. Corona. We have a running joke, when something takes too long we call “safety”. Just trying to be safe! I hate my work 70% of the time. But my job is taking care of my kids. My office space is plastered with pictures. As a reminder of why it’s worth it. And my bikes are hanging up there too obviously. Unsung heroes of the world! Keep it up!
  • 4 0
 Hang in there man! You got this.
  • 4 0
 Hell yeah I got this. Challenge accepted. Bigger faster stronger smarter. It’s a good year for perspective and what’s really important. Everything is an opportunity! @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST:
  • 3 1
 @chileconqueso: Likewise. Time to get off pink bike and go finish my final exam lol
  • 3 0
 If the "desk jockeys" at your company are like the ones where I work, they were told they could NOT come into the plant and had to lug their PC and anything else they needed home and use their own infrastructure to try to get their jobs done from home. Need a desk? Buy it yourself. Need more bandwidth to do your job? Once again you get to buy it. Best yet when you work from home you are pretty much on call 24-7 due to all the conferencing software. It is not a party to "get" to work from home.
  • 1 0
 Yep, And now the ones that stayed productive are loosing the office space completely! @jonemyers:
  • 2 0
 I couldn’t imagine how hard it is. I’m great full to be needed. I like being able to go to work and have some separation. I feel like my employer is taking advantage of the situation and is making a lot of money in the process. @jonemyers:
  • 13 0
 I loved reading the comments! Hope you all stay safe and healthy and I’d love to get a lap in at Whistler with all of you. If I’m allowed back of course.
  • 11 2
 The butthurt in these comments is phenomenal
  • 9 1
 A pilot with a mustache... so typical I love it.
  • 7 0
 Oh boy, no way this is going to set off another Covid pissing match.
  • 15 33
flag jclnv (Dec 19, 2020 at 8:26) (Below Threshold)
 No need. The data already proves current numbers aren’t even close to the great flu season of 2018. Remember that one?
  • 7 5
 @jclnv: I do. I had 40 year old coworker die of that flu. No one gave a shit. No lock downs.
  • 14 0
 @jclnv: If Covid deaths are the same as this "great flu", but covid had lock downs, I'm sure you can tell which one is more dangerous.
  • 5 5
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: Dangerous to people with comorbid conditions. Lets get real here.
  • 6 3
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: That one is questionable. Does the measurements tell us how dangerous it is? That is a weak statement to judge how bad the virus actually is given its being decided by political power. I think the whole thing is just an excuse to shift us in a different direction, something that will not necessarily benefit the ordinary people.
  • 2 0
 @janci1236: Sorry, that was a little unclear on my part. I mean the similar death tolls, but different surrounding circumstances show's covid's danger. Totally agree about the politicization of it though. Doubt it's an attempt to shift us in a certain way. I think that could be done a lot easier with a lot less effort (i.e. look at the misinformation campaigns that foreign governments run on each other. Pretty wild).
  • 2 0
 @Monsterman156: Generally, yes. I don't want to take any chances though. I'm not a betting man, and wound't bet on the small risk of death from covid if I don't have to.
  • 6 2
 @jclnv: I've just looked on google and the numbers are somewhere between 60 and 80 000 deaths in USA. They're now at like 310 000 death from covid 19? It probably has the time to go near half a million deaths, in a year so mmm I really don't know where you take your sources but maybe it's time to stop believing every idiots on facebook!

Don't even talk about Canada, the difference is even bigger! lol
  • 1 3
 @Monsterman156: I've thought that all along as well. But last week someone we know who's 63 with no co-morbidities got it and died in the hospital within a week, so. . .I'm sort of up in the air on this now. Don't get me wrong, the reaction/close-down was the absolute wrong way to handle it, but the politicization of it on both sides has both made light and too much of this thing. It's a deadly bug to vulnerable people, an annoyance to others, yet harmless to the rest. If you ask me, if this thing did come out of that lab – I think it did – it's all the scarier.
  • 4 5
 @Timo82: Current Numbers. Most countries had the April spike (it briefly matched the heart disease and cancer numbers but quickly fell away) as susceptible people in care homes were mopped up by the virus. Please see the CDC graph attached for my source - www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm
Don’t forget that people aren’t dying of influenza and pneumonia anymore. Everyone is being labeled a C19 death. The current numbers are likely very, very, small and likely not even comparable to the current excess suicides.
  • 1 0
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: No need to apologize, I understood. That is the problem, the measurements are unjustified taking in consideration the actual mortality of the virus. Look up what is coming from the works of WEF - The Great Reset, I think that’s enough of a shift in a certain direction. The covid crisis is an excuse to finally push it through.

@jclnv: Agree, all would be influenza deaths seem to be marked as covid. Not only those though, anyone who dies and tested positive is marked as covid death. That was officially declared by several governments worldwide.
  • 7 0
 I’d think that commercial pilot would have some time off
  • 1 0
 He's probably flying Amazon packages around.
  • 5 0
 Im a truck driver.I do flatbed and I have the coolest Bronson ever. I dont consider myself an essential worker but thats what they say about truckers.
  • 5 0
 For sure they are ????
  • 2 0
 @DaveySImon: Cheers Smile I enjoy what I do for now.And yeah in the beggining of this shit-show I felt good. It was only trucks running in the States.Was fun and easier to drive actually.
  • 1 0
 @barbarosza: My brother is also a trucker and yeah, you were all essential workers! Smile

My brother was saying the same thing...no traffic, so much easier! haha
  • 3 0
 I appreciate what they're doing, but I think it'd be sweet to see something similar from PB. Maybe an ongoing series on how people have been using riding around the world to cope with everything going on in 2020. Shouldn't be limited to just essential services (and that's coming from a social worker who's life has only gotten exponentially more difficult and complicated since March).

How has riding helped those who've lost work to keep going? What have you done to keep riding, even if you've lost your job or if your trails have closed? How have more people on the trails impacted your local riding community (positive or negative)? What do you do (professionally) and why is riding important (and then highlight everyone from doctors to police to folks working from home, to parents to seasonal workers and everything in between, to professional riders, etc).

I'm always down to hear other people's perspectives.
  • 3 0
 Not every essential workr gets treated so well during the pandemic. I worked at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, WA, where the first outbreak of deaths in the US happened. Every doctor and nurse gets new PPE between each patient, but in the basement, I single-handedly moved all the contaminated and soiled linens, used PPE, bloody instruments with a short sleeve shirt and no PPE. Everything is supposed to be sealed, bagged, but it rarely is, leaving open piles of this on the blood stained floor of the chute rooms. Everyday I had to scoop up unbagged linens that patients layed and coughed, spit, and bled onto. Blood got onto my bare skin arms from unbagged surgical instruments. When I told my management, they literally said "just don't roll in it", wash it, and get back to work. At the end of the day, I touch the same busses, elevator buttons, doors, chairs that everybody else touches.
  • 2 0
 Man that's f'd up! Can you go to your Union about this? Is this still going on? Have you considered going to L&I about this?
  • 5 1
 You'll find a lot of mountain bikers in any fire house. But not as many police as its hard to have fun always doing speed checks...
  • 3 0
 Great content. Pinkbike I would also be interested to read about people who suffered COVID and have their riding affected. I hear more and more victims of long Covid that are unable to get back to normal physical activities.
  • 6 2
 Essential worker is nonsense? What if you where dying and the emergency room was closed
  • 1 0
 Apparently I'm an essential worker. I'm a heavy equipment operator. This year has actually been one of my busiest years. Consistent 60 to 70 hour work weeks. No time off. What exactly am I essential to, the economy? I'm fortunate I never had any lost hours but I just don't see how I'm essential.
  • 3 2
 Ten thumbs up for the ladies. "Women don't do that", from my experience. I've done it for 29 years, and it's an absolute nightmare, so. Women; correct again, Wowtownsenville Arkansas.
  • 8 4
 Time magazine should take note..."People of the year"
  • 1 3
 Let me guess you're not a Biden or Harris fan?
  • 14 10
  • 23 2
 but some might be more essential than others e.g. intensive care nurse vs. beauty pageant coordinator ( yes, that's a very important job, too!)
Sorry if i stepped on your toes. seems your job is very essential too...
  • 1 0
 @DocT: politics pov for lockdowns hahaha! Damn don't tell you don't work for your own family first or you're a liar anyway Wink then dedication in a job is your "public" face...
  • 8 8
 @DocT: Meh...Everyone works to feed themselves and family so no, I dont think anyone is more essential than the next person.
  • 11 5
 Ugh. This is the new all lives matter comeback. Her der her muh freedum.
  • 9 1
 @nug12182: But at the same time, if a Dr. works to feed his family, he'll still end up helping people in reaching that goal, regardless of motivation. Treating patients and reducing the load on the hospital system is the result of if his job. As much as I'm sure we all love beauty pageants, beauty pageant coordinators aren't easing the burden on the hospital system and treating covid patients by way of their employment. There should be Covid relief for everyone (i.e. :$$$ so you can eat and survive), but you're kidding yourself if you think every job is the same during this pandemic.
  • 1 5
flag jwdenver (Dec 19, 2020 at 16:02) (Below Threshold)
 @DocT: wrong
  • 1 1
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: Covid relief, whats that?? You do see that little flag next to my name right?
  • 1 4
 @nug12182: The more idiots TAKE (for no reason) the less folks give to any charity. Half the country is a freaknig charity (of apathetic, dogmatic losers). The failure of some to PLAN should not make a crisis for me. Simply, NOT MY PROBLEM, nor the problem of the others who had the common sense (granted, now the Government in a few states is hell-bent on destroying the lives of its citizens based on nothing more than scare-tactics and unscientific theory).

I did give zero this season to any charity. I figure I have already given enough. What is super funny is all the businesses' who took money from the "Cares Act" who will now need to pay taxes on the money. This means many of them will be laying off folks in Q1. The LAST thing the Dems and Liberals want is for people to not depend on the Government. (I took no Federal Dollars and was not eligible for the $1200 or what ever it was direct deposit). I also just left WalMart where I did not even consider wearing a useless mask.
  • 1 0
 @JustAnotherRiderHere: I didn't get any money either. I actually got super busy since covid started. I just feel bad for people that dont see whats going on. I never been much of a follower in life. I feel very fortunate I can do what I do.
  • 2 0
 @JustAnotherRiderHere: it’s sad to me that there are people out there who don’t care about others.

I’ve spent my entire life serving others, serving my country, serving my community, and I feel good about giving to others.

We all die in the end, some sooner than others, nothing we have will go with us, but when your days wind down you may find a life of selflessness to be satisfying that selfishness.

Think about it.
  • 4 0
 Dr. Patrick Willauer has a jawline sharper than most my kitchen knives.
  • 10 7
  • 6 3
 Where the First Responders at?
  • 2 7
flag james182 (Dec 19, 2020 at 9:39) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly, the 2020 definition of essential workers is a slap in the face of our First Responders.
  • 2 0
 First Responders can't afford bikes nice enough to be featured on PB.
  • 1 0

I make enough in OT to splurge on the nicer things in life lol.
  • 2 0
 @eurospek: Even working 72 hour weeks on average, I barely made enough to support myself when I worked on the bus...granted I worked in Boulder County and lived in Denver, so cost of living was definitely a factor. It's a shame how little they paid us. Our EMT-Basics were making $7.45/hour base and us Medics were bringing home 14.50 (starting) for 24 hour shifts. Being in the hospital def. improved the quality of life, but I do still miss working the streets.
  • 3 2
 I guess I shouldn’t be surprised how people are being critical of these choices. PB can’t pick everyone and instead highlighted a select few. Nicely done.
  • 1 0
 There's this rockstar ICU(?) doctor in Edmonton who is all over social media. His twitter feed is lots of fatbiking to the hospital. twitter.com/drdagly
  • 1 0
 Dr Patrick Willauer, who presumably was inspired to take up a career i medicine by The Todd from Scrubs.
  • 1 0
 marketing departments are frantically adding these people to their databases
  • 3 1
  • 5 6
 Yes, bikes are essential. As a bike mechanic I've been working every day since this whole thing came about. But I have to wait in line for the vaccine like everyone else.
  • 6 4
 You can have mine
  • 3 0
 Oh man has it been a rough year to be a bike mechanic. I'm exhausted. I can only imagine how tough this year has been for those in the medical industry
  • 2 0
 @notthatfast: Im a truck driver.Doing FlatBed.In between Canada and USA.And in February id take this bicycle mechanic course.Im so thrilled man about it.Ill pick up another kickass skill.
  • 1 0
You'll never be out of work as a bike mechanic I can tell you that!
  • 1 0
 @notthatfast: A mate has just been laid off from my LBS. Repair work has dropped off significantly with the onset of winter. The owner has just about enough coming in to keep himself busy, but it's a very different story from the summer.
  • 1 0
 @commental: wow crazy, we're still slammed
  • 1 0
 What about the peat control cyclist? ????‍♂️
  • 1 0
 Scooby Doo is looking good these days.
  • 2 0
 Great article!
  • 1 0
 Well done. Normal people who work AND ride bikes. Insane.
  • 1 0
 Davey Simon is as solid as they come.????????
  • 2 2
 Mask with the dog but no mask in the forest with the bats lol
  • 4 3
 Every job is essential
  • 6 6
 Stupid article, EVERYONE is essential, F the lockdowns and the F'ing hoax
  • 1 1
 No Filipino nurses? lol
  • 3 4
 everyone is essential you knobs.
  • 1 1
 What about a teacher?
  • 3 4
 No dentist?
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