Meet Tia Sherry! Tia’s the newest member to our Street Trust team, joining us in February 2017. Today, we highlight Tia and share her story as women bicyclist in Portland. She is our new Development Associate, an avid bicyclist, and a Women Bike member. Check out Tia’s story below!
I was born and raised on the idyllic island of Guam, where family meals, birthday celebrations, and the general passing of time were spent on the beach. We swam and dreamt, as we napped under the swaying of palm trees. Unlike coconut husking and fishing, bicycling was not a “native” activity, and we figured out pretty quickly that bicycles don’t get very far on sand, so we left it for the foreigners to do. The Americans brought in the bicycles, and the Americans rode them.
I moved to Portland as a young adult and immediately felt like a fish out of water. Oh, how I missed home! It was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that the cold Pacific Ocean that lapped the shores of Seaside, OR was the same warm ocean back home. As a way to squelch my homesickness, I decided to dive in, learn, and embrace my new surroundings. What choice did I have?
Bikes. Everyone was on one. All the time. The sense of adventure and freedom was attractive to me, as well as the opportunity to be healthy. I grew up with three brothers and spent most of my childhood chasing after them, trying to keep up, so I had a good foundation. I knew how to ride a bike, but I wasn’t very confident or steady. Learning that Portlanders ride their bikes as a way to get to and from work and for running errands to the grocery store was fascinating. Why not drive? I was convinced it was much quicker and safer.
While getting around more quickly and safely in my car, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer number of bicyclists on the road. I also noticed there weren’t many women riding, especially women of color. I was curious what these bicyclists knew that brought them out in huge numbers. I wanted badly to belong – hoping that blending in would dull the sadness of being so far away from home. It wasn’t too long before I bought my first (then second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth – but who’s counting) bike from iconic River City Bicycles. I remember taking it for a spin upstairs, in their indoor track, praying I wouldn’t fall over or worse…crash into their displays. I made it unscathed, and so did they (much to their relief).
Biking wasn’t easy at first – well, actually for a long time. I was clumsy, scared, and thought I would never pick up this American sport. I thought my family back home would think I was nuts! At first, I’d ride around the block, then I’d venture down the street. Eventually, I rode the Eastbank Esplanade. Riding over the Hawthorne bridge was terrifying yet empowering. Often I would think, “if my mom could see me now.” Actually, I’m glad she couldn’t – she would have yanked me off my bike! Eventually, I learned the rules of the road, basic bike maintenance, what to wear in the rain and how to commute. Over the years, my bike and I have covered thousands of miles and have seen some incredible places that you couldn’t see from a safe and quick car. I’ve also seen the number of women on bikes increase, even though I’d like to see more women of color on bikes!
Today, my commute is a beautiful 7-mile ride (one way) from Mt. Tabor area to The Street Trust office where I work as the Development Associate. I had been following The Street Trust’s Women Bike Facebook group, for some months; inspired by their mission to get more women on bikes. Through the group, The Street Trust shares tips, encourages, and organizes fun activities for women to get on a bike and grow together. I like the positive messaging and sense of community they foster. I definitely felt like I belonged to that group, and perhaps not coincidentally, I found my job posted in the Facebook group. I had been dreaming of a job where I could combine my fundraising background and love of bikes. I didn’t think it was possible! Now, I help raise funds and awareness for safer routes for all active transportation users, and I get to ride my bike for work. If only my mom could see me now! She would be very proud of me.
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Check out upcoming Women Bike social meet-ups!
Coffee Club 7:30-9:00 a.m.
- April 12th. Jazzy Bagels, 5 E Powell Blvd., Gresham
- April 19th, Stingray Cafe, 240 N Broadway, Portland
Happy Hour 5:00-6:30 p.m.
- April 11th, Happy Hour Lounge, 344 N Main Ave., Gresham
- April 27th, Pambiche, 2811 NE Glisan St., Portland