Commuter Profile: Gretchen Jones

Image courtesy of Andrew Hinderaker

Age? 29

Occupation? I’m a clothing designer.

When did you start riding?
When I was a little girl, but I started commuting by bike in college and have been riding everywhere ever since.

What’s your commute like?
I actually work from home now, but I ride into the city for meetings about three days week. I live in Fort Greene, so I usually ride over the Manhattan Bridge and then up First Avenue.

Before you won last season’s Project Runway, you lived in Portland, Oregon, which people here think of as a biking mecca. How does NYC stack up?
In New York, you have to be more aggressive, but I think it’s good to do that no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Has that attitude gotten you into trouble?
Maybe, but never on my bike. There I think it has always helped. The other night, I was riding home from a party when this cab turned into me. He didn’t signal, just cut over two lanes and started coming at me, so I kicked at his passenger door. I was wearing heels and this beautiful dress and my helmet and kicking at a taxi! There were a bunch of people who saw the whole thing and they started cheering. I’m very glad I was aggressive then.

What attracts you to biking?
There is this amazing feeling that comes with pushing myself to where I’m going next. It’s cathartic; it’s much-needed “me” time. Cycling is also an incredible way of participating in the city. To see things and people and neighborhoods and just be there. Especially as a West Coast transplant, it’s just amazing to ride through New York. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing the Statue of Liberty from the Manhattan Bridge in the morning. I never want to take something like that for granted.

What kind of bike do you ride?
It’s a simple single-speed road bike, though my friend and I just started calling our bikes our steeds, so I guess it’s a single-speed road steed. Hers is Feather and mine is Stone.

Does that say something about your bike?
No, it’s not heavy or hard to ride. Stone is more the color: a champagne silver that looks like a rock.

As someone who has to be incredibly conscious of their presentation, how do you deal with sweat and heat and dirt and all of that?
I try not to worry about it, actually. I mean, of course I regulate my pedaling if it’s hot outside and don’t wear garments that’ll stain after it rains and I have to carry the right bag, and I can’t wear my hair in an updo under my helmet, but those are easy to handle, and they’re a fair trade for the rest of it. Walking into a meeting a little flush or even hot and sweaty shows everyone who I am. That’s me. It’s part of my story. It’s sexy.