Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

Susan Gautsch was joined by Director of Parks and Recreation Dave Simon to announce the launch of Free-to-Roam eBiking, an ebike (a bike assisted by electrical power) company, with the support of the city. Founded by Gautsch, Free-to-Roam eBiking will be partnering with a popular local coffee shop, Bike In Coffee, to offer ebike rentals and other options to supplement Albuquerque’s growing cycling community. 

Gautsch was quick to commend the large and growing cycling community in Albuquerque and how ebikes will allow even more Albuquerque residents to enjoy the recreational activity. She stated that the company’s goal will be “enabling healthy, sustainable, and safe lifestyles.” 

“A large part of what we’re focused on is the community because it’s the community which helps makes a change,” Gautsch said. Gautsch hopes that greater accessibility to ebikes in Albuquerque will encourage residents to embrace cycling for both health and practical reasons. “Our focus is largely on active mobility and agile transportation, and as well of course outdoor recreation,” Gautsch added.

Gautsch, who grew up in Albuquerque before living in Los Angeles for 25 years, recalled her time in the City of Angels as a significant source of inspiration for founding Free-To Roam eBiking. She rode an ebike for four years without the need for a car. She would commute from the west side of the city to the city’s east side, often with groceries or her children. Gautsch noted that the change in her lifestyle dramatically increased the quality of her life, mentioning weight loss and a better posture as some of the benefits. “At some point, I realized because I had the ebike, the car became more of a liability than an asset to me.”

“Burquenos know this, but the whole world needs to know this: that Albuquerque is Bike City U.S.A,” said Simon, the city’s parks director. Simon highlighted that the city has over 400 miles of bike lanes; 150 of those miles are separated-multiuse trails. He believes that nothing is holding Albuquerque back from becoming a leader in cycling opportunities. 

Simon was also quick to highlight the importance of outdoor recreation for Albuquerque’s pandemic recovery. “Bicycling and some aspects of outdoor recreation in our city, they’re pandemic proof. And we need more businesses that rely on the outstanding and unique assets that Albuquerque offers to the world and biking is an outstanding and unique asset that Albuquerque offers better than almost any city in the world.” The Parks and Recreation director heralded Free-to-Roam Ebiking as a sign of Albuquerque’s recovery. 

In Albuquerque’s attempt to assert itself as a major cycling destination, Simon announced that the city has will undertake a significant bike trail improvement project beginning in July. The city’s focus on trail maintenance is part of the Keller administration’s goal to make Albuquerque a more sustainable and resilient community. The project will focus on repairing cracks on some of the cities most popular bike paths. Albuquerque will also be hosting the U.S.A Cycling Masters Road National Championships in August.

Bike In Table owner Lanny Tonning shared Gautsch’s and Simon’s excitement for the initiative. “We had no idea that the cycling community was this vibrant in New Mexico. It stunned us and continues to stun us. And the best part of it is that everyone who seems to get on a bike seems to leave all their other baggage behind.” He commented that Albuquerque’s growing cycling community has been a tremendous boost for his business, especially during the pandemic.

Free-to-Roam eBiking will be offering rentals at Bike In Table on weekends, as well as opportunities for biking tours, employee programs, and other programs. More information can be found on their website

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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.