Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. Back in 2009 as a broader awareness campagin featuring local residents active in our bike loving community. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, recognizing one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, The Pedal Post eNewsletter and BFC social channels, and highlighting their love for bikes. Please join us as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
February 2022: Tamene Abebe
….by Anna Kelso, BFC Community Relations Coordinator
Born in the small Ethiopian town of Deder in 1959, Tamene Abebe came from humble beginnings. With few paved roads and scarce resources, it was rare to even see a bike in Deder, nevermind owning one. It wasn’t until Tamene was in his early teens that he saw his first bike and was mesmerized with the possibilities and freedom it represented. Not long after that, he and his older brother found an abandoned bike and slowly brought it back to life. His older brother, the more mechanical of the two, was able to cobble together a functional bike with the limited supplies and materials they had.
Together they taught themselves to ride their new steed by coasting down a schoolyard hill. Eventually they mastered this skill and even acquired a second bicycle from some medical missionaries in town. Tamene and his brother were the only kids in all of Deder to own a bicycle. Having any transportation in Deder was an extreme privilege and owning his own bike was profoundly meaningful to Tamene.
With the support of American missionaries, Tamene came to the United States in 1979 and began his studies at Heston College in Kansas, and eventually completed his bachelor’s degree at Goshen College in Indiana. It wasn’t until moving to Fort Collins in 1998 that he really got reacquainted with his love of riding (insert shameless Fort Collins plug here). Tamene found a used bike listed in the newspaper and quickly learned his way around the many miles of paths and trails in town. Soon Tamene realized his love for mountain biking and spent hours riding the foothills trails and beyond into Horsetooth. More recently, Tamene has learned to appreciate the art of road cycling after purchasing his first road bike in 2011.
Whether on the road or riding dirt, Tamene is grateful for the reprieve his bike gives him from the stress and strain of everyday life. He credits cycling for maintaining his mental and emotional health and believes firmly in the power of the cycling community to replenish mind, body, and spirit.
As a person of color, it is important that we not gloss over the racial implications for Tamene navigating America’s rural roads. Racially motivated road aggression is still a very real thing, and something we need to shine light on. In the past Tamene has been the victim of racial slurs spewed by passing cars. He encounters safety risks and aggression many of us in the front range would rather believe no longer exist. Like most problems, the solution is complicated, but very real and tangible strides have been made thanks to groups such as Bike Ride for Black Lives and Ride for Racial Justice.
Tamene is encouraged by steadfast efforts being made to encourage more people of color to venture into the world of cycling. Encouragement not only means improving access and opportunity, but also increasing diversity in the sport of cycling as well as media coverage. In recent years we are seeing more diversity in cycling media as well as rider sponsorship. Last year the Ride for Racial Justice put together the FIRST all BIPOC team for the Steamboat Gravel Race. Tamene also follows the L39ION Team closely and feels proud to see faces that look like his racing at the highest echelons of the sport.
Today Tamene serves as Director of Operations at the Lory Student Center and looks forward to finding new opportunities to be of service to the cycling community. As a League Certified Instructor (LCI), he is eager to shepherd more young people into the sport of cycling, particularly in some of the more underserved areas of Fort Collins all with the overarching intent to make cycling more equitable and fair.
We are so very grateful to Tamene for his time and service to our community and hope that you will join us in our collective efforts to highlight and celebrate people of color in all areas of two wheeled human power.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Name and age: Tamene Abebe, 62
What do you do for a living? I work at the Lory Student Center, CSU
How long have you lived in Fort Collins? 23 years
How long have you been riding? 20 years on a regular basis
What kind of riding do you do? Mostly on road now
Do you commute via bike? I do not commute with my bike
If so, how far do you commute? Fun, exercise, community, physical and mental health
Why do you ride? What kind(s) of bike(s) do you ride? I currently ride a 2011 Cannondale Synapse
What would you like to tell someone who is thinking about starting to ride a bike? Encourage and share that riding will will be fun. To be safe, educate self and use available community resources
What makes you smile when you’re on your bike? The feeling of freedom and the excitement of accomplishing a fun activity
What got you into riding your bike? Was there a specific moment/experience? Moving to Fort Collins and learning about the amazing bicycle culture
Where is your favorite place to ride? I have many to list
What are the biggest improvements you’ve seen for bicycling in Fort Collins? Bike boxes and other road markings, bike lane improvements, some signage
What gets you on your bike on a cold, rainy, crummy day? I am a Fair-weather Rider, sunny and warm makes my ride amazing
Did you enjoy the latest edition of YKM? Read about other inspirational local folks here.
Wonderful story, Tamene! I’m glad to know more about you other than just that you’re a great rider.
Tamene, who is featured in the above story, is a close friend of mine and compatriot (we are both Ethiopian Americans, arriving in US the same year). We met here in FoCo few days after my family and I moved from PA about 18 years ago. When we are not visiting each others families during the holidays, we frequently cross each other on the trails or roads, he on his bike and me on feet. We never pass the chance to praise each other, chat about family, and brush up on our vernacular. In the article, it is sad to read his encounter with aggression on the road as if balancing on two wheels is not hard enough. I am proud to call Tamene dear friend.
Thank you for sharing your personal story, we have worked together on projects for years and it is great to ern more about your personal journey.