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.
MARCH 2021: PEGGY MILANO
….by Jennifer Hoover, BFC Board Member
Milano is one cool lady, a commanding presence, a force. Initially she balked at any story in which she would be the feature, insisting that her self-assuredpresence belies her shyness. “Why would anyone want to know about me?” Simply, put, because Peggy is an inspiration, and as she crosses a threshold into her retired life a look back at how cycling was at the center of a life well-lived is a worthy read. “All my bicycles stories are happy, fun… I have not had a bad experience,” she tells me.
When Peggy strides into my office and sits down it’s evident that she’s given this interview careful consideration and prepared what she wants to say. I wouldn’t expect less of this “roll up your sleeves, do the work and participate,” kind of person. She begins with a story about her son. Divorced and single parenting when he was just one, Peggy was determined to create a good life for them both. She recalls his first bike, a red specialized rock hopper. A sport, she felt, was necessary, but was repelled by the idea of being a mom on the sideline amongst other screaming parents, a thing that felt in opposition to her quiet nature. “Riding a bike is a place where you can find a great expansiveness.”
Her sons first big bike trip was with friends over Hurrah Pass in Moab a 14.5 section of jeep trail in Utah. There is pride and defiance in this story but she just laughs when describing how they used belts to fashion a rope with which to help pull her 7 year old son to the top of the pass. “I looked back and he was as red as a beet and we sprayed him down with water bottles and tucked him under a ledge to cool down.” It’s a special kind of fortitude to take little kids on long journeys in remote areas. A commendable effort and she tells me that it paid off. “He became a really good cyclist, now my grandson is a mountain biker.” These are the legacies of our bicycle Stories.
It was Peggy’s friends that had introduced her to Moab and she says she fell in love with the slick rock. “The first time I rode there I was terrified but was in awe of the scenery and the tire traction!” Later she would take her Dad on the White Rim and foment a love of both bikes and the sweeping magical canyonlands of Utah. This two-wheeled love is a gift, a passion that one can’t keep to themselves.
Peggy wasn’t always athletic and says her bloom happened when she went back to school in her thirties. She took a fitness class at CSU and says she felt for the first time the capabilities of her body. She didn’t grow up doing outdoor things and wasn’t from a family that exercised. But when she started running and lifting weights she felt she had found her authentic self and while she wasn’t very good or very experienced she persevered down her new path. As a young girl Peggy says she was “Rubenesque,” and used to cover herself in boxy shirts and pants. Hard to believe, that the lithe, perfect postured, tall woman in front of me ever identified with the idle women of a Renaissance painting, so often in repose. As she began to get fit she realized that her relationship with food and with her body wasn’t always healthy. Riding her bike gave Peggy the pleasure of exercise and helped return her to the pure joy of being alive.
Peggy retired from her job as a Nurse Practitioner at The Women’s Clinic after 25 years. She moved here when Prospect was a dirt road. She tells me how she used to commute to work every morning behind old Hughes stadium down to Bellvue Grange and loved to start her day this way. When she met her husband Bob she found a biking partner and she describes sheepishly biking and roller blading all over town, stopping at bridges to “make out.” She closes her eyes for a moment to remember, and then moves on with her story. Memories of riding a bike with someone you love is certainly worth reminiscing over.
Peggy’s favorite bike trip ever was the Bicycle tour of Colorado and though she encountered weather, closed roads and was slower than the friend she was biking with, but it was still her best bicycle memory! “Biking puts me in touch with my playful side.” Peggy has sworn that after her shoulder surgery there is no more mountain biking in her future and all her bikes are headed to the bicycle co-op, to be replaced with something lighter and easier on her shoulder. But she has no plans to stop riding at her self-described, slow and steady pace.
Name and age: Peggy Millano, 65 but often feel 28.
What do you do for a living? I was a Nurse Practitioner and gynecologist for 25 years.
How long have you lived in Fort Collins? I have been here since I was 17 when I moved from Long Island to be in the big country. This was back when Prospect street was a dirt road. Then I traveled all about the US in a Monte Vista cruiser early Vanagan.
How long have you been riding? I have been riding since I was 30 when I found my home in Masonville and enjoyed doing rides out from FC to Carter Lake.
What kind of riding do you do? Since I now have two new shoulders, no more mountain biking but I love road and jeep roads.
Do you commute via bike? If so, how far do you commute?
Why do you ride? It calms me and I like the slow pace to be able to stop and look at flowers or animals. I am slow but steady.
What kind(s) of bike(s) do you ride? Right now I just gave away my 37 lb stumpjumper and an antique motobecane. I am trying to empty the sheds for just 1 really versatile bike.
What would you like to tell someone who is thinking about starting to ride a bike? Find your own pace and think of your knees making big fat circles.
What makes you smile when you’re on your bike? The perfect combination of wind sun and the intricacies of nature.
What got you into riding your bike? I found Moab and fell deeply in love with the slickrock. The first time I rode there I was terrified but was in awe of the scenery and the tire traction.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
What are the biggest improvements you’ve seen for bicycling in Fort Collins? Awareness of bikes being on the road.
What gets you on your bike on a cold, rainy, crummy day? Neoprene booties.
How often do you ride your bike (vs. drive)?
Any last comments?
Did you enjoy reading about Peggy? Read about other inspiration individuals just like her who ride bikes here.