2013 Bike To Work Week Video Contest, Second Winner

We are excited to announce the second of two winners for the Bike To Work Week “Video Contest!!"

Our second Winner is Jan Groh who contacted us with a most unexpected shout out.  Jan is a BWC Member (since 2009), a bike enthusiast, and a wonderful individual who suffers from and advocates for individuals who struggle with Hypermobile Ehler-Danlos Syndrome.  To learn more about EDS or donate to our Oregon support chapter, go to

Born and raised in SE Portland, Jan grew up biking and swore all the way to Portland State University she “wouldn't drive!”  And while Jan did break that vow, she has been an active bicyclist for many years.  Interesting side note: Jan was one of the first female bike messengers for Pronto Select Messenger Service back in 1986 (Also interesting:  Jan was a folk dancer – while she started in Contra Dance many moons ago, Balkan music and dance is the bug that really bit her). 

Jan remained active despite building fatigue, pain and, fibromyalgia for just over two decades, but 3 years ago, her knees and back started hurting a lot more.  She almost gave her bike away at one point, but, as she says, thankfully, the recipient declined.

In February of 2012, when Jan became disabled by a "storm" of onset and was finally diagnosed with a collagen defect known as Hypermobile Ehler-Danlos Syndrome (aka EDS Type III).  It generally takes 10 years to diagnose EDS.  For Jan, it was 25 years.  See to learn more about it.

As she put it, the storm, “took me from walking to wheelchair in 2 weeks after all my joints gave out and muscles suddenly weakened. (Now I know why I had chronic fatigue and joint pain and fibromyalgia all my life!)”  What has helped Jan regain her mobility?  Amazingly enough, her biking skills.

Jan will tell you in her video that she does not walk as well as she used to, now needing fore-arm crutches; in fact, she told me that all movement has a painful price at this point, but she has chosen to bungee her crutches to her bike rack  and pedal though the pain because, as she put it, “Although it still hurts to bike, I can ride much better than I can walk now, so I am really glad I did not give my bike away! It's one of my best forms of transportation and exercise now, truly.”  And just as a kid, Jan still likes the fact that biking is sometimes easier than driving around town and doesn’t burn fossil fuels.

“I'm really grateful to BWC for helping me have peace of mind with bike coverage especially in my current condition. And to Po Campo for helping me carry more stuff in a stylish and practical fashion!  And I'm happy to share a little bit about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is often undiagnosed in its milder forms.”

Clearly, Jan’s video is a shameless plug for how great the Better World Club is (clearly being tongue-in-cheek, for those who don’t read between-the-teeth).  For valor in the face of physical adversity and for remaining true to her values even when it hurts, the "Grand Poo-bah, Grade-A Environmentalist" Prize for Bike to Work and Bike for Life prize goes to Jan Groh!  (No added pressure Jan, but we think it is time for Iron Man – or “Iron Jan”, smile.)

This is a difficult disease to live with and an expensive disease to cope with.  We are not going to ask you to send money Jan’s way (though I’m sure she’d appreciate a fat check or two in the mail), but we would very much like to encourage you to find out more about this disease, its symptoms (for recognition in others), and consider donating to our Oregon chapter of support for folks with Ehler-Danlos Syndrome.  See for more or to donate to the Oregon support chapter.

Special Thanks to Amanda for getting Jan out of the house the day of this video.

Kicking Asphalt

This article is from Better World Club's monthly eNewsletter, Kicking Asphalt. To receive Kicking Asphalt in your inbox, subscribe today!

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