For Heather Rizzi, managing the Plaine and Son Bike Shop in Schenectady, NY, is about more than operating a sales floor. It’s about inspiring the people in her community to get out and ride and encouraging its political leaders to make sure they have the resources to do so safely.

“I want this area to continue to thrive in an athletic nature,” Rizzi said. “If my kids are going to grow up here I want them to be in a community that is active and in the outdoors.”

Rizzi has worked as the Plaine and Son general manager for more than a decade. The family-run shop, which has been in business for close to 60 years, has been a loyal Polar Bottle customer for years. We reconnected with the shop after it was selected as the retailer for a $100 gift card giveaway we on our Facebook page earlier this week. The winning fan, Jonathan Stillman, says he selected the retailer in part because of the work Rizzi does to inspire cycling in Schenectady.

“Heather has seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm that she uses to get and keep people involved in cycling,” Stillman said of the shop manager.

Not a traditionally bike-friendly community, Schenectady has seen a shift in its cycling culture over the past decade thanks to the activism of people like Rizzi and the support from shops like Plaine and Son.

Through regular group rides, bike clinics hosted at the shop, fundraisers, youth clubs and its own cycling teams sponsored by Polar Bottle and other companies, Rizzi and the rest of the team at Plaine and Son are encouraging more people to get involved in the sport. And city officials, she mentioned, are starting to notice.

For example, just a few years ago city leaders attempted to shut down mountain bike trails through the Schenectady Central Park to the dismay of the area’s cyclists. Today, thanks to the activism of Rizzi and other community members, the trails are now well marked with city-sponsored signs. Bike racks are also popping up at local shopping centers and bike lanes along the New York community’s streets, Rizzi suspects, are on the horizon.

Thank you Heather and the rest of the crew at Plaine and Son for being such rad bike advocates! We need more people like you!