Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. back in 2009, where we featured local residents, for whom riding bikes is big part of their life in a broader awareness campaign. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, where we feature one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, as well as through The Pedal Post eNewsletter and our social channels, highlighting their love for bikes and for riding them. Please join us and read on, as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
April 2021: Jeni Arndt
….by Jennifer Hoover, BFC Board Member
Jeni Arndt is Ft. Collins Mayor elect and we were lucky to get the chance to speak with Jeni as she wraps up her work at the capital and looks forward to stepping into her new mayoral role this Spring. Our conversation was also a welcome reprieve from the political questions and conversations that dominated just a few months ago and allowed us to focus on our favorite things; bikes and the people who ride them!
“Do you know who my mother is,” Jeni replies somewhat incredulously when I ask how her cycling journey began? Jeni’s mom is Libby James who is a local legend and accomplished runner as well as a mom who never let her kids sit still for too long! “My brother and I were watching tv in the bean bag chair and my mother comes down and asks us if we wanted to ride our bikes to Oregon?” So off they went to attend an older sisters’ college graduation with a tent strapped to their “old steel bikes,” no special bike packing equipment, or lightweight gear, just the grit of a family steeped in endurance sports and an enthusiastic mother in the lead. This was the beginning, she notes, of many bike trips including leading a bike trip at age 24 from San Francisco to New York City. “I got those people across the country safely,” she muses with pride in her voice.
“My graduation trip when I finished college was with my mom, we started at RAGBRAI and then we rode to Maine. That was our idea of a graduation present.” Jeni and her mom are still riding bikes together, but her voice breaks when she shares that her mother is slowing down now at 84 and that the pandemic hit her hard. “We go wherever we want, we camp, we laugh, I make her change my tires…” those are Jeni’s memories of touring with her mother. Their bond is clear, and cycling has been at the center of it. “Biking is about friends and family.”
Jeni laughs when she shares that her own kids were somewhat less game than her and her siblings growing up. “They weren’t raised here, we moved back to Colorado in 2008… my daughter huddled with my sons and said someday somebody’s going to ask us to go camping now that we live in Colorado… don’t trust mom, she’s one of them. And Jeni truly is, “one of us.” After living all over the world, including Mozambique, Jeni came home to Colorado, a place she feels is “perfectly poised to be one of the first American cities to have European style bicycling.”
We promised not to veer into topics too serious, but I couldn’t resist asking what she envisioned for a bicycle friendly Ft. Collins and Jeni didn’t hesitate to answer. “Safe routes to schools for biking and walking and skateboarding––however you want to get there–– is absolutely, fundamentally critical to the health and well-being of our students and it builds the life-time habit of understanding that when you want to go somewhere, you don’t have to get in the car.” We could not agree more. “I would like to take one enormous step forward––maybe we build this community to emphasize bicycling in Ft. Collins.”
Before our interview ends Jeni counts off her bicycles, there are six, including a “clunker tandem,” good for the Ft. Collins brewery circuit. When asked about her favorite ride to do in Fort Collins, Jeni debates between Rist Canyon and the dams, classic loops that we love to hate. Her favorite non-local ride was Isle of Skye which she did “alone in the rain,” and biking the Rockies in Canada is still on her bucket list. Like her mother, Jeni seems to have an endless depth of energy that she has applied to her life in politics and in her personal pursuits. We are excited to see Jeni assume her new role as Mayor of Fort Collins and continue to help our community grow as a safer and more bikeable city.
Did you enjoy reading about Mayor Arndt? Read about other inspiration individuals just like her who ride bikes here.