Photo Credit: John Matrix from Bike List
Nuun is proud to support Micah in the Citi Bike Century Ride raising money for three very worthy causes. Learn more, and help Micah reach her fundraising goal by clicking here.
Eight years ago, I moved from the Midwest to New York City. Though I had ridden bikes throughout my life, I largely considered myself a runner. I was on the (DIII) varsity cross-country team in college, and kept racing recreationally for years after. But in the city, I discovered a whole new level of freedom in pedaling. While fitness is great, biking, for me, was always about getting around — going places, seeing things, adventure.
When the road bike I had moved to the city with was stolen amid the Hurricane Sandy chaos, I bought a cheap single-speed Fuji Feather, and rode it everywhere. It was the fastest way to maneuver the streets. Even so, I probably never biked more than 30 miles a week. And, it wasn’t always easy. I encountered plenty of setbacks. But every time I went through literal or figurative bumps in the road, I felt like I was becoming more and more a cyclist.
After 4 years in the city, work brought me to northern Colorado, and I’ve been there ever since. These days I own 4 bikes (including that trusty Fuji Feather) and ride hundreds of weekly miles around the Front Range and Rocky Mountain National Park. Sometimes I feel like I’m more comfortable on a bike than off. I like steep climbs — switchbacks with incredible views. I like long rides that end in mountain towns with little pubs and cafes. I like gravel roads that wind next to snow-melt streams, and snapping photos of wildlife at sunrise. Pretty much the opposite of commuting around the boroughs from my apartment in Brooklyn. But with the same sentiment — freedom, escape, adventure.
I’ll be back in NYC in mid-July, and started thinking about a biking challenge that reflected my journey as a cyclist. I thought about shipping a bike or renting a bike, but then thought, maybe I'll just ride a Citi Bike everywhere I go. And I started wondering how far I could go on such a bike. Thus, the Citi Bike Century was born.
In a time when more people than ever are getting on bikes, I wanted to use this challenge in a way that helps those who are actually doing important work.
Last year, I wrote about a conversation that I had with Courtney Williams, about her advocacy consulting work, The Brown Bike Girl. I’ve thought about that conversation a lot lately. It’s clear that “getting more people on bikes” involves a lot more than just the physical bike itself. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t bike, and being aware of those things is wildly necessary in order to create real change. Through initiative planning, facilitation, and training, Courtney partners with local government, non-profits, and institutions to increase bicycling access and adoption within communities of color.
I also became familiar with WE Bike NYC, an organization that empowers women with bicycles. WE Bike puts on a variety of classes and events to encourage women in NYC to ride bikes and feel safe. This organization uses biking as an entry point, but more than anything, they’re a dynamic community of supportive people.
And finally, Pascua Yaqui Cycling, an organization on Yaqui and Tohono O'odham land in Arizona, that educates and empowers Indigenous youth through cycling. Every Tuesday night the tribal youth meet and are instructed by two certified leaders. They learn various lessons in bike maintenance, group riding strategies, and traffic safety. Then they take an organized ride around the Pascua Yaqui reservation. Many children are provided with bikes, and all are given a helmet, lights, snacks, and a jersey.
I not only admire all three of these efforts, I feel they are vital to growing the bike community and ensuring that all people feel welcomed to ride bikes. My riding 100 miles around the city is a gesture of support for the important work these organizations are doing, and the communities they’re creating.