Unity: Kai Wiggins

July 11, 2017

Unity: Kai Wiggins

My dad’s bike sat in the garage for a month. He died in April and I went for my first ride in May. This was back in 2009. I had just turned 15.

I am 23 now. I will never get the chance to ride with my dad, but it is on my bike when I feel closest to him. Cycling induces a collapse of time, some surrealistic dreamscape in which the simple joys of childhood meld with the wonder of an unknown road ahead. It is in moving forward without moving away from what I love that I find a better self: more grateful, lighthearted, and open to whatever might come.

Along with good times, happy memories, and abundant opportunities for growth, cycling has brought a fair deal of pain. My friend, Chad Young, died of complications from a crash this April while racing at the Tour of the Gila. In those first excruciating days, I thought a lot about what cycling means to me, about the risks worth taking in life, and about the tensions between living fully and staying alive.

I also spent a lot of time on the phone, hours upon hours, with friends, former teammates, mentors... all of whom I only happen to know through a shared passion for the bike. I am grateful for these connections, embedded in laughter, antics, happiness, vulnerability, suffering, and love.

The beautiful things in life are paradoxical. In mine, cycling is one of them. I have contoured my life around the bike, and in drawing that circle I have perhaps limited my horizons. It might seem reclusive, or restrictive, or ascetic, even—and yet all that time alone on the road has only brought me closer to myself, closer to those I love, and to those I have lost.


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