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Did You Know?

A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Meet a racer: Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans doesn't look like a typical commuting physician. 

You’ll find her on her bike headed to work at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

She rode throughout her childhood, on the bright red Sears bike when the training wheels came off, through high school on the Raleigh Competition racer with full Shimano 600 gruppo, to the fendered and racked Redline 925 with over 8,000 miles she now commutes on through four seasons and the best and worst that Chicago has to offer.

“I’m just happier on my bike. I love the freedom: I’m not beholden to clogged roads or train schedules or the price of gasoline,” she says. She’d rather the bike dictate her life. Her short hair, for example, was the result of too many rainy rides that left her shoulder-length hair damp for much of the day. She doesn’t own a purse, but instead five messenger bags.

She loves the way the cycling-lifestyle forces her to make those choices and while at the same time freeing her to make even better decisions. “I shop more like Europeans do, stopping each day or two for fresh dinner ingredients.”

Enter the Bakfiets. The ultimate Dutch city bike, the Bakfiets is a two-wheeled dump truck. Looking more like a dog-sled than a bicycle, Natalie and her husband use this ultimate grocery-getter to haul everything from 40-pound bags of dog food to watermelons – which right there is the very definition of freedom – to supplies for Thanksgiving dinner, recyclables, takeout pizza…

Kegger anyone?

Her interest at Northwestern is cardiovascular disease prevention, and she doesn’t know of a better way to practice what she preaches. At 37, “I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life,” she says, and her cholesterol and blood pressure are at all-time lows, despite her family history of the disease. “When I counsel patients, I encourage them to ride their bikes.”

Natalie joined XXX Racing – AthletiCo this spring, finally realizing a goal after years of fretting she wasn’t fast enough. She had competed in a few triathlons, but then read Arnie Baker's book Smart Cycling, and was fascinated by the idea that the smartest rider wins, not the strongest.

Incredibly, she won only her second race. On a soggy, muddy, summer morning in the Sherman Park Criterium on Chicago’s Southside, she crossed the line first in an open women’s field of more than twenty racers.