Portland gets a lot of attention as a hub for “bike fun,” but that city certainly does not corner the market.
Chicago has its fair share of bike fun, thanks to people like our latest Roll Model, Balloon Biker Jami Krause. Read on to learn what inspires her to ride, her advice for new bicyclists and what’s up with the balloons.
How would you describe your bicycling style in three words?
Exuberant, adventurous, utilitarian
How does the bike fit in your daily life?
I use my bike for everything. I commute daily to my day job, go grocery shopping, visit friends, go on trips and socialize.
You have a part-time business, Balloon Biker. Tell us about this!
I do balloon twisting for all kinds of events. Birthday parties, festivals, store openings, restaurant patron appreciation…really anything. I also do deliveries of bouquets or special sculptures. With enough time, I can make anything out of balloons.
Naturally, I can make a balloon bicycle.
If it’s at all feasible to bike to the event, I will do so. I also sometimes do street performance and use my bike for transportation for that.
Given enough time I can make anything from balloons. My website has information on hiring me for events.
Often I’ll attach balloons to my helmet at group rides and it always makes people smile. This past weekend I helped out with the new Kidical Mass ride. It was great to see so many kids enjoying helmet décor.
Has Chicago’s bicycle culture changed since you’ve been around? If so, how?
I’ve only really been riding for 3 year, but things have changed a little bit. I think that The Chainlink is a great resource for finding rides and riding companions. I’ve met some really great people through that and have gone on some amazing rides. My perspective has also changed. I’m a lot more confident and have begun organizing my own rides and events.
What inspires you to keep cycling?
It just makes sense. Within the city it’s usually the best way to get around. I don’t have to worry about parking or about the train and it’s easy to stop and do errands.
I’ve also met some amazing people through biking. If I were to stop cycling it’s like a third of my social circle would be much harder to see.
It’s great to have pedal powered adventures. I’ve gone on several bike camping trips and I love that. I’d really like to do a long distance tour, supporting myself by making balloons along the way.
What advice would you give others, especially women, who are interested in or new to cycling?
Just try it out. Other than a bike, a helmet and a lock, you really don’t need anything special. You don’t need to be in-shape or to have the latest and greatest of anything. I’m a plus-sized woman and have had no problems. If I can do it, really anyone can.
You can start with a visit to the store, or to a friends or to the park. It’s very easy.
As for fashion…it’s really about your own comfort levels. I wear what I’m comfortable in. You can dress nice if that’s what you like to do…or you can wear normal jeans, or office clothes or yoga pants. Heck you can even wear spandex if that’s really what you want to do.
I’d really recommend trying out some group rides. Join The Chainlink and see what is coming up. Think of the rides as a party…sometimes you need to approach people and strike up a conversation. Just like at a party, not everyone is going to be friendly or interesting. This was something that I struggled with at first, but now I see the same people over and over again and really find it a welcoming community.
Thanks so much, Jami!
Jami and I started talking at a stop light on our way to work a few months ago. From there we moved on to email, which resulted in this profile. Isn’t it so much fun to meet people while riding?