Meet the Rad Red Rider

Four photos of Anita Elder posing with her Rad electric bike after charity rides.

This month, cyclists from across the Pacific Northwest will gather in Redmond’s Marymoor Park for the Tour de Cure — an annual ride that raises funds for the American Diabetes Association’s fight against type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

If you’re cheering from the sidelines, you’ll immediately notice the Red Riders, a collection of participants who’ve personally been affected by diabetes, and don red to showcase their courage in the face of it. 

One of these heroes is Seattle-based graphic designer Anita Elder, and she’s not just a Red Rider, she’s a Rad Rider.

A woman wearing red cycling gear rides a red Rad electric bike.

“I've had type 2 diabetes for about 25 years now,” Anita told us. “I like to give back and support things that have an impact on me personally, as well as my family. My dad has type 2 diabetes, his dad had it, many of my aunts and uncles had it. It’s definitely a genetic thing for us.”

Anita is no stranger to riding for a cause. This will be her third Tour de Cure, and she’s previously jumped in the saddle to support the American Lung Association’s Reach the Beach and the Fred Hutch Cancer Center’s Obliteride.

“I have a connection with all of these,” she explained. “In fact, one of the people who died from cancer, she rides with me all the time in a little urn on my keychain. She visits me in my dreams, and she's always helping me in some way on my bike events.”

And while the goals may vary, her Rad electric bike has been a constant for the past four years.

“I've always liked to ride bikes, but I had health problems and with Seattle’s big hills, riding a regular bike just wasn't fun anymore,” she said. “My ebike has really given me the freedom to feel like a kid again and get out there and see things.”

The bike, she added, has also helped her improve her health — both mentally and physically. 

“It really, really has helped me focus and clear my head. If I'm stressed, I find hopping on my bike and doing a couple laps around the lake resets me,” she said. 

“And because I'm enjoying it so much, I'm going longer distances and riding more hours. Studies have shown that I'm getting probably the same, if not more exercise than the average bike rider. I usually ride with little to no pedal assist, and I only crank the throttle if I have hills.”

A woman in cycling gear rides a red Rad electric bike along the waterfront.

The bike has also had an additional unexpected perk: introducing her to an entirely new community of fellow cyclists.

Anita signed up for a group ride with Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club shortly after getting her first Rad bike, and was nervous leading up to the big day. After all, at 65 and with an electric bike, she didn’t feel like she fit the role of a hardcore spandex-wearing cyclist that people sometimes imagine when they think of a bike club. 

Her concerns, however, quickly faded the moment she arrived. Instead of elitist snobs, she met a friendly crew that were happy to pedal alongside her. 

“They were so encouraging,” she said. “I never got any grief for riding an ebike. They were surprised at how well I could keep up with them, especially since I didn't have any gears.”

The experience prompted her to sign up for more events, including a three-day long cycling trip. 

“They become like another family to me,” she told us. “My husband says I found my tribe.”

Now, Anita is an evangelist for getting other ebike riders into their own local bike clubs, a message that she shares with older ebike riders in Facebook groups and with new electric bike owners she meets while zipping around the city.

“I encourage everybody to try to get involved. There's so many misconceptions, but we're all just happy to be out there having fun,” she said. “They can teach you a lot of tips. I knew hand signals and stuff, but when you start riding with them, you'll learn more about riding smart, following the rules of the road, and not being one of those cyclists that people in cars complain about.”

A woman wearing red cycling gear poses with a red Rad electric bike under a fundraising ride banner.

And when the Pacific Northwest chapter of the American Diabetes Association kicks off the Tour de Cure on May 5th, Anita will be bringing that same sense of community to the Red Riders.

“This is my first year as the team captain,” Anita told us, proudly. “We're ‘the Pacific Northwest Cycling Sisters’!”

 

There are Tour de Cure events taking place nationwide all year long. Find a ride near you! Live near Seattle? Rad will be hosting test rides on 5/4/24 at the 2024 Tour de Cure: Pacific Northwest.

 

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