You do your best to prepare. Put one shoe on after the other. But there are a lot of challenges out there. You meander on your own…get lost or sick or injured. Things happen. “Life happens.”
It seems strange to look at a single activity and say, “This is where I found my people and my little space in the world.” But, that’s the narrative that I have.
I had no idea what I was doing when I first started riding a bike. Yet, I instantly fell in love with the joy and freedom I found in exploring the roads on my own. I pedaled around solo for a while…dabbled in triathlons, and was admittedly searching for direction when I graduated from college in 2010. I moved to Boston, got a research position at MIT, and with an enormous stroke of luck, was taken-in and accepted by the then powerhouse MIT cycling team. I had ONE coach say, “Hey, you look like you could be a good cyclist,” tried ONE 20-minute intro to cycling race, and that was it. I was hooked.
It’s funny to look back at the glorious roller coaster that has been the past 6 years. It’s been fun; I’ve had plenty of 10-out-of-10 days and “shining moments” out there riding and racing. But, I’ve undoubtedly learned the hard way on many occasions, and had my fair share of struggles and fall-on-your-face encounters (both literally and figuratively). People will sometimes ask, “Why do you it?” (There have been times when I’ve had to ask that question, myself). And, the truth of the matter is that I discovered and became who I am on the bike. The joy, the challenge, the struggle, the wanting more, and willingness to let certain things go in order to hold on more tightly to the things that mattered most – going through that entire process—is what allowed me to find and forge who I was. The interesting thing, that caught me by complete surprise, is that it was this same journey that allowed me to find some of the most amazing people in my life.
I never could have imagined that that first coach would become an incredible mentor, and then turn into a close friend. I NEVER could have anticipated the band of characters that I would meet along the way, many of whom would eventually become friends, teachers, mentors, ride buddies, and some of the most hilarious and glowing acquaintances. I went from adventuring on my own to somehow, some way, being part of this amazing and incredibly supportive tribe. I don’t actually know how it happened. But, I feel overwhelmingly lucky and grateful to have found a “family” and a “home” in cycling. As someone who started “alone,” I both see and feel the difference that the sense of community can make. It allows you stand a little taller, reach a little higher, take more risks, dare a more greatly, and sometimes just have a bit more fun. There’s no doubt, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
We created the Unity Jersey, a bold design on our ES Jersey, aimed at celebrating what unites us. 100% of the profits from its sale goes to one of four charities of the buyer's choice, each with a mission to unify and celebrate togetherness.