Sheryl Yvette is an icon among New York City’s longtime bicyclists, who see her riding all around town, always looking like a million bucks. (And she literally rides all around town - she did the 100-mile NYC Century in heels!) Known as “BitchCakes,” the name of her blog, Sheryl is actually a warm, funny, total inspiration, especially to would-be bike riders. We’re big fans.
Here’s her story…
Name: Sheryl Yvette
Occupation / Interests: biking, photography, beer, bearded men, NYC
Grew up in: Yonkers
Lives in: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Works in: Westchester
Years in NYC: 17 total (my first 8 in the Bronx, and the last 9 in Brooklyn)
Sheryl travels through Grand Central Terminal five days a week. In May 2010 she was crowned Miss Grand Central! (OK, she crowned herself, but who cares?)
What made you start riding a bike?
Nearly 30 years after I learned to ride as a kid, I took my first ride as an adult in 2007. My first bike tour was in 2009, but I didn’t start riding often until 2010, when I faced my fears and started using my bike for errands and transportation. And that’s when I fell in love with biking in NYC.
You have your own beautiful bikes. What made you sign up for Citi Bike?
Thank you :) For one thing, I just had to be a part of this historic initiative. Bike share seemed so impossible for the city of New York to actually pull off, so I had to support it!
And despite having my own bikes, I knew I would have uses for Citi Bike. For example, one time I was riding my own bike to work, crossed the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, and got a flat tire. I locked up my bike on 2nd Ave and grabbed a nearby Citi Bike to get to Grand Central. I also use them during marathon training season. I go out for a long run into Manhattan and then ride a Citi Bike back over the Williamsburg Bridge as part of my post-run cool down. There are just so many uses for Citi Bike, even if you already have a bike!
What’s your favorite thing about riding a bike in NYC?
The absolute pure joy and exhilaration of being on a bike in the greatest city in the world is something that’s difficult to put into words. You have to experience it and feel it for yourself.
Many people tells us they’re nervous about riding a bike in NYC. Any pointers that might help them get comfortable riding on NYC streets?
I tell people to start first in parks and on dedicated bike paths, so they can get used to riding while dealing with the unpredictability of other people. When they’re ready to take it a step further, they can do some street riding. But again, starting in less dense areas until they are comfortable enough to ride in busier areas. (Ed. note: Also try early morning on weekends, when many are still asleep!)
Can you describe anything interesting, funny, or memorable that’s happened to you while riding Citi Bike?
That would have to be my very first ride ever, on Citi Bike’s launch day in 2013. I rode from Williamsburg to Manhattan. First, on the bridge I bumped into my photographer (Dmitry Gudkov) who was on his way to City Hall for the Citi Bike press conference. He remarked that “of course” I was the first person he encountered on a Citi Bike. Then docking in Union Square, I noticed a man taking a photo of me. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but that photo ended up on the Daily Show and used on countless online articles and a few local newspapers. I only wish I had been smiling in the photo.
Speaking of which, Citi Bike just celebrated its first birthday! Have you noticed anything different about New York City since Citi Bike started a year ago?
Happy birthday, Citi Bike! I honestly think that the addition of all the Citi Bike cyclists on the road has changed the behavior of some drivers. We still have a long way to go, but I’ve noticed more drivers who are about to turn will actually look at the lane, checking for bike traffic (as they are required to do!) before turning.
If you were Mayor of NYC for a day, what would you do?
One day isn’t long enough to do much, but I’d love to be able to walk up all the stairs in the Chrysler Building (if you’re wondering why - it’s my favorite building and I’ve walked the stairs in the Empire State Building, 30 Rock and 4 World Trade). I’ve asked a few times, but I can’t get anyone to let me in there.
If you got a surprise day off from work, where would you spend the day in NYC?
Weather permitting, the beach, with my friend Amanda! I love riding out to Fort Tilden and the Rockaways and there just aren’t enough weekends in the summer!
What’s your favorite restaurant in Brooklyn?
Champs, on Leonard & Ainslie in Williamsburg. I’m vegan and they’re my favorite go-to spot for any meal - breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or baked treats. (A 15-min walk from the Metropolitan Ave. & Bedford Ave. Citi Bike station.)
Have you had any memorable encounters with any of your fans while riding?
More than I can count, actually! I meet online followers/fans all the time because I’m known from so many different places. One that sticks out is when I was riding north on Park Ave at rush hour one night a woman was so excited she saw me, she waved her arms and yelled out “BitchCakes!” then quickly covered her mouth because she was so embarrassed she said it out loud. I stopped at that light and talked to her for a minute. She was *really* excited to meet me. I always talk to people that recognize me and take a photo with them or for them if they ask. I’ve had a lot of my own celebrity encounters while biking around, too. Those are always fun.
If you spot Sheryl next time you’re pedaling around, be sure to say hi!