Meet the newest member of the BikeArlington team!
Henry Dunbar joined BikeArlington this month as our new Program Manager. We are excited to have him join us and share his experience and ideas for the future of biking in Arlington.
I want to re-introduce myself to the cycling community as many of you may know me from my most recent job as Executive Director of Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit youth bike program in Barcroft Park, but I’ll go back a little further. I moved to Arlington in 1988, driving by myself from Anchorage, Alaska in a Ford Escort with my steel-framed road bike* in a roof rack (a bike I still have and ride). I came to work on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Though the Arlington part was coincidental (it was the first place I could find a cheap room, a basement apartment in East Falls Church), I have called it home almost continuously for 26 years (save for 10-months in D.C.).
Throughout that time, I got married and raised three children (all products of Arlington schools) and worked multiple jobs in journalism, nonprofits, and education. My family has lived in Douglas Park off of Columbia Pike since 1990 and have been deeply involved in the community. I’ve been president of the Douglas Park Civic Association; served on the boards of the Arlington Little League and Virginia Gardens Housing Community; coached multiple girls softball teams through the ASGA; and was briefly managing editor of the Sun Gazette newspapers (after and before Scott McCaffrey).
I have always been a casual cyclist, part-time commuter, and periodic racer**, but “drank the Kool-aid” in 2009 when parking fees in the Dupont Circle building where I worked were jacked one too many times. In short, I became a full-time bike commuter and have never looked back. About this time I became a customer of Phoenix Bikes because in addition to training kids how to fix bikes, they are also your go-to supplier of inexpensive used parts, which I needed to keep my bold beater bikes*** running on the cheap. In 2011, I joined the Board of Directors for Phoenix Bikes, wanting to help the organization grow and become a permanent fixture in the community.
When the job of Executive Director opened up in January 2012, I made the leap to staff, being entrusted with the golden opportunity to lead an organization that brings cycling and a host of world skills to Arlington’s youth. Not only was this my first job in the cycling industry, but it was also a way to relearn my own community. Teaching the kids, helping cyclists get their bikes rolling again, and leading youth and adults on rides around the county and beyond have been some of the more rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve also gotten to know the leaders of the local government, business community, other nonprofits, and faith groups in ways never before possible, all in the effort to spread the positive messaging and benefits of what biking can do for us individually and collectively.
To now have the opportunity to lead the Bike Arlington program (and work the Walk Arlington and Capital Bikeshare teams, too), is honestly to be a bit more lucky than I deserve (but I’ll take it). There is a strong team in place with Tim Kelley and Erin Potter, and a ton of success on which to build. But we also have ample opportunities to get more wheels rolling and butts on saddles, particularly with the non-MAMILs****. Say hello if you see me on the streets or trails. I’ll be the old guy riding a black Cannondale with fenders, too many frame stickers, and a metal milk crate in the back.
*For the bike geeks, it’s made by a company called BiTech, which I believe was bought out by Performance shortly after I bought it. Blue and white, with down-tube shifters.
** I know I’m succeeding a bike racing legend in Chris Eatough, but I proudly display the Gold Pan Trophy I won as 1987 Senior Men “C” Class Overall Champion for the Arctic Bicycle Club. Coupled with the fact that I managed to sneak in a place 3rd finish in the 50-54 age group at the 2013 Culpeper Triathlon, I can say that while my accolades do not match his 6 World Championships in the 24-Hour Solo Mountain Biking, they are spread over a longer period.
***I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for rust-buckets that no one else wants. More than once I’ve pulled bikes off the trash heap and gotten them rolling (if not quite “safe”) again, much to the chagrin of the mechanics at Phoenix Bikes. I usually find that they sell them “As Is” out from under me to another like-minded old fart who will actually finish the repair job.
****Middle Aged Men In Lycra