What attracted you to Eliel?
I fell in love with the line years ago. I feel really comfortable in the kits, which makes the riding that much more enjoyable. I also really appreciate that Eliel is local, and that I’m able to support local business. I find their responsiveness to communication to be top notch. That’s really important to me. On top of that, the PEEPS! I’ve met some great people through the brand. Lots of smiling faces to be found on the road in Eliel gear!
What about bikes brings you joy?
I’d have to say it’s beyond joy for me. Riding bikes enables me to stay centered, balanced, and content. When I began cycling, it became an incredibly significant tool to manage my mental health. Instead of the old saying, “Take Two Pills and Call Me in the Morning”, I created the phrase, “Take Two Wheels and Call Your Bike in the Morning.”
How does riding make you a better person?
As I mentioned above, riding has become the main way I manage my mental health. It allows me to be a better partner, friend, and colleague because I am able to stay healthy. I’m very open about my journey with depression because I feel that so many of us are affected by mental illness, either directly or indirectly. And often, my work in the mental health field comes up on the bike. Normalizing the conversation around the topic is how progress happens and we save lives.
Which rider inspires you the most?
I have to give you two.
The first is my brother, Terry Johnes, a local Masters racer, to whom I give credit to for getting me on the bike. It was late in 2012 and I was searching for something to become passionate about… to help take me outside of my own thoughts. That first bike ride up Mission Gorge Road with Terry was life changing for me, and I will forever appreciate him for that.
And the second is Esther Walker, a truly amazing woman with a heart of gold. Esther leads a women’s team in San Diego, and she is not only an incredibly strong rider, but also one of the kindest people I have ever met…never leaving anyone behind and always stopping to help with mechanicals. She is a great ambassador for our sport.
What are your goals for the future? On and off the bike...
On the bike, I will continue to seek events that challenge me both physically and mentally, particularly those that raise mental health awareness. And of course, to keep enjoying “the ride!” Off the bike, I have several goals in addition to my mental health advocacy. I also help with other causes too, like Labrador Rescuers of San Diego, and I work with my husband on the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, the Kyoto Prize Symposium, and the Catalina Island Medical Center Foundation.
What is important to you?
My life partner, our dogs, my family and friends, music, and our quality time together. Also, I strive to live my life being of service to others, living with purpose and staying healthy and balanced both physically and mentally.
In my struggle with debilitating depression, I often couldn’t stand to be in my own skin. I couldn’t bear to be in my own head. And it eventually led to my suicide attempt.
Now I look forward to being with myself for hours a day. Sometimes I do my best thinking on the bike, and sometimes, if I’m riding hard, I can barely think at all! Both are magical and awesome experiences. I have created beautiful friendships with people who have a passion for the cycling community. Cycling is freeing, challenging, mindful, connecting, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time! It is how I challenge myself both physically and mentally.
Cycling has put me in, and keeps me in, the best shape of my life. It gives me structure and purpose, which is not only fantastic for my mental well-being, but also it means that when I’m not on my bike, I am vastly more productive.
I capped 2020 with the Everest Challenge. I rode my bike up and down a hill repeatedly until I exceeded the height of Mount Everest…climbing over 30,100 ft. It was a way to bring light to the topic of suicide and to encourage people to have real conversations about mental health, while raising over $30,500 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
So, for me, cycling is way more than a sport or hobby. It’s defining.
Off the bike, I co-manage a music production company and sometimes trade the water bottle on the bike for a microphone on stage as a singer in a band.
Our company has produced over 100 concerts in Catalina and an equal number in San Diego. We’ve staged such artists as Smash Mouth, Michael Franti, The Wailers, G Love and Special Sauce, Herman’s Hermits, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and many more.
In the last 12 months we’ve also produced six Live-Stream broadcasts that have raised almost $1 million for their respective causes.