One of the many privileges that comes with writing a women’s cycling blog is connecting with female cyclists all around the world. This week I’m highlighting a fantastic woman called Josie who lives in a town called Decorah in Iowa in the US, and like me she writes a cycling blog, she works in a bike shop and riding a bike has changed her life. I was enchanted by her story which I’ve included here. Over to you Josie……
June of 2012, I woke up on a Monday morning and had a dialogue with myself probably similar to this. “Hey, you. Stop being a putz and saying you can’t ride a bike. You haven’t even tried riding for a long time. Stop questioning your capabilities and just try it!”
I bought my “first” bike that Friday. It was a used, homely as all-get-out Fuji hybrid. You can see for yourself, it’s a pretty ugly duckling bike.
However, when I rode it I felt confident and I felt comfortable with how it handled. Ugly or not, it was my bike. I rode my bike to work. I rode my bike on the paved trail. I loved riding my bike because it gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t had in years.
Eventually this bike opened up my mind and heart, and I found out that I needed to divorce my then-husband. Our marriage was over and had been over for about 5 years, but neither of us were strong enough at the time do to anything about it. My confidence from riding eventually gave me the confidence to make a difference in my life.
It was a do or die moment, because I caught a glimpse of something that could provide me something so needed. A person to spend time with me, be there with me, and go on bike rides with me. A person to share my life with vs. living side-by-side a couple days a week.
I saw a future.
The bike shop guy aka Travis, encouraged my love of riding bikes. I also became a poster child for all things bike.
It’s not to say that my first year with Travis went without a hitch. Would you believe I had two bike biffs within two weeks of each other? The first biff happened on my new commuter bike, Athena (a blacked out Karate Monkey) and the second biff happened when we were going to go out street riding with a friend of ours. You can see from the photo, I had seen better days.
I had a concussion, stitches in my chin, and some minor buffing done to my nose and lip. It was an experience, that’s for sure. However it didn’t keep me off the bike, oh heck no.
During the winter I experienced the fun of going fat-biking with some friends of mine. It was a liberating and fun experience to go out with a couple girlfriends and look like badasses out in the snowy tundra. It was an accomplishment all of its own.
I was a woman doing something I loved, and that’s all that mattered.
I never realised a bike would change so much of my life, give me so much confidence in myself and with life. All I wanted was to use my car less prove to myself that I really could do it.
Not only did I find out I could do it, I found out that I wasn’t terrible at riding. I also found the courage to make another change in my life, and the heart to try love again. For me, a bicycle gives me freedom. For me riding is a lifestyle and just part of who I am. I live for the #BikeLife!
Bicycles hold so much power within them, you really never know until you get on one and go for a ride. Something clicks in your mind, heart, and soul; a feeling of happiness, freedom, and joy all wrapped into one! I write this as a person who used to hate how a bicycle made me feel: insecure, inadequate, and slow. I took some time, but I’ve come to terms with the child of yesteryear and now she can say she really loves riding bikes and they can truly change your life.
Now, I’m taking it a step further and working at Decorah Bicycles. It was a literal leap into a “new career” that scared me but also gave me hope. I know not every person looking for a bike will have a similar story to myself, but the thought of helping someone find their personal freedom excites me.
It’s special to be a woman in a very male-dominated industry. I’ve always been someone who thought there was “something more” for me to be doing. Breaking down barriers, helping people find their #bikelife, and taking away some of the “mystery” surrounding the bike shop.