“I like not driving. Bike commuting is a great way to think about things, before work or after you leave,” says Russ Lee, CEO of INB. “It’s my workout for the day.”
Lee moved to Spokane from Bellingham, Wash., in June 2015, and chose to live on the north side of town because of the proximity to rural roads and Mt. Spokane for cycling routes. “This is a great bike-commuting town, and if you don’t do it at least a couple times you’re missing out,” he says.
The most direct bike-commute route, from Lee’s home in Wandermere to his office at the INB bank branch downtown Spokane in the Paulsen Building, is 15 miles—but he rarely does just that. “In the middle of summer, I try to ride 40 miles before I come to work,” he says. Lee’s routes to work include the bike lane along Highway 395 and the Centennial Trail to downtown Spokane from the Nine Mile area.
When the weather is nice and his work schedule allows, Lee commutes by bike 3-4 days a week. This allows him to maximize daily mileage while minimizing time away from home and family. This schedule has allowed Lee to ride up to 300 weekly miles, especially when training miles are needed. “Last year I was training for a week-long race in Italy—the Haute Route Dolomites. I could ride up to 100 miles a day going to work and coming home,” he says. “The only time I don’t ride is when there’s frost on the ground.” During winter, Lee stays in cycling shape with his indoor trainer, riding 100-150 miles a week. “I get sick of biking in my basement,” he admits, but the consistency is critical. “I’m over 60 now, and if you stop, you’re done,” he says. As an alpine climber in summer and backcountry skier in winter, “cycling is the way I stay fit for everything else…I always have something I’m training for.”
Like many devoted cyclists, Lee owns a few different bikes. He rides his Specialized Roubaix to work, and wears regular cycling gear. An accessible workplace shower and a week’s supply of professional attire, including suits, waiting in his office, makes it easier for Lee to transition from cyclist to banker.
For safety, Lee has three lights on the front of his bike and two lights on the rear. He thinks that drivers in Spokane are pretty good at sharing the road, but also that it’s best to be cautious. “My assumption while bike-riding is that people don’t see me,” he says. “If you plan it right, you can find a road with a bike lane or a wide shoulder.” Lee recommends Google Maps for route-planning because it indicates which roads are bike-friendly.
For those considering bike commuting for the first time, Lee says, “Just do it. There’s always an excuse for why you’re not going to ride your bike to work. I usually plan it so that I feel bad if I don’t do it. Just schedule it as part of your routine and it happens. And it’s also fun.”
As CEO, he encourages “a fitness-friendly workplace.” Lee says, “I’ve always believed that fitness and exercise are part of a whole day.” With flexible scheduling and a shower at the corporate office, his employees are better able to accomplish before-work and mid-day workouts. “That fits the Spokane lifestyle.” //
Get Out There for Bike Everywhere Month this May
Spokane Bicycle Club hosts events throughout Bike Everywhere Month (May). Riders of all abilities are welcome to participate. More info at Spokanebikes.org.
- May 6: Bloomsday Bike Corral, 7:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Riverfront Park.
- May 10: Latah Creek Trail Ride, 6-8 p.m. Meet at Sandifur Bridge parking lot.
- May 11: Bike tour of downtown Spokane’s bike lanes; noon, Riverfront Park.
- May 12: Kidical Mass, child-oriented 3-mile ride; 1-3 p.m., Chief Garry Park.
- May 13: Mother’s Day Park & Cookie Ride, 6 miles; 2 p.m., Comstock Park.
- May 14: Pancake Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., Riverfront Park.
- May 15: Morning Energizer Stations, 7-9 a.m.
- May 15: Centennial Trail 9-mile women’s ride, 5:30 p.m., Kendall Yards’ Olmstead Green Park; followed by flat-fixing clinic at REI.
- May 16: Ride of Silence, 6 p.m., starting from INB Performing Arts Center breezeway; meet at Michael Anderson statue. Short loop around downtown, escorted by Spokane Bicycle Police.
- May 17: Peaceful Valley/Sandifur Bridge/Kendall Yards loop ride, noon-1 p.m., Riverfront Park.
- May 17: Ben Burr/Iron Bridge 9-mile ride, 6 p.m., Lincoln Park.
- May 18: National Bike Everywhere Day, Pizza & Beer Party, 5-7 p.m. at River City Brewing; free pizza and door prizes.
- May 20: Lilac Century, 5 tour lengths. Lcom
- May 21: Hike-n-Bike South Hill Natural Areas, 6 p.m., Hazel’s Creek.
Bike Commuting Resources
- Find an interactive Spokane bike map at my.spokanecity.org.
- Plan your route with maps for local cycling routes at mapmyride.com.
- Check out more bike commuting resources at wabikes.org.
- Take part in the National Bike Challenge with individual and team contests at LovetoRide.net. //
Amy S. McCaffree is special section editor and the Out There Kids columnist and compiled the Family Outdoors & Summer Activity Guide for the April issue. She enjoys camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, and nature adventuring with her family.
Feature photo: INB CEO Russ Lee cycling in Italy. // Courtesy of Russ Lee