What My Bike Means to Me

Jennifer in an image by Lisa Beth Anderson in Belmont Heights this summer. See more of both Jen and Lisa's work together here.

Jennifer in an image by Lisa Beth Anderson in Belmont Heights this summer. See more of both Jen and Lisa's work together here.

I grew up on a ranch, far away from what most people would consider civilization.  As a kid, I was always doing something active - riding bikes was just a part of that.  It was a means of transportation (I’m sure our dog enjoyed his wagon rides just about as much as my sister loved asparagus); it was sport (how close could I ride to the pool without falling in); it was speed (how fast could we race across the gravel, down the hill and over the cattle guard without crashing).  It was fun.  

After a nearly 15 year hiatus, I rediscovered the bike as an adult, and realized that not much changed since I was 12.  It’s the same; it’s more; it’s better.  

To me, a bike isn’t just a means to get places, it’s sport, fitness, friendships and freedom.  

You don’t always need a destination to use a bike as transportation.  Whether along the beach or into the mountains, my bike takes me places that I would never have seen or noticed by car.  That I don’t have to worry about parking or getting stuck in traffic is a bonus.    

As an athlete, I love racing my bike, challenging myself to reach new levels above and beyond where I thought I could ever go.  My bike is sport, fitness and health.  In triathlon, the bike is the longest portion and can make or break your race.  Whenever I get to my bike after the swim, I feel like a race car driver getting to the starting line: game on!  In training, my legs will scream at me, my lungs burn, but that’s the exhilarating rush of getting faster, more fit and more ready for competition. 

I discovered my innate competitive spirit from a young age - it may be a Tetrick rite of passage.  From family Scrabble games to sports to piano, there was always that drive to be better, to go faster - and most importantly, to enjoy the process.  It’s not always about the competition, but it sure is fun. :) 

Riding bikes is oftentimes synonymous with my social life.  From group rides, to long rides with some of my best friends and family, there’s something great about hanging out with likeminded people, having good conversations while on two wheels.  I’ve met some of my best friends through cycling, and for that I am forever thankful.  My bike means friendships.  

One of my favorite quotes is from an old Nike Ad that reads, “You never workout and regret it. You never go for a run and wish you had just stayed home.  You never climb a mountain, get to the top and say, I should have been content to stay where I was.”  Cycling is empowering.  The sheer feeling of escaping all that’s structured and confined and getting out to ride a bike is, to me, freedom.  I’ve had more internal conversation and have processed more major life events by bike than sometimes I care to remember.  It’s hard to beat the wind on your face, the tingling feeling of blood moving through your body, the realization of how far you can go using a bike and internal horsepower.  

My bike has grown with me through the years, yet in a lot of ways it’s the same, and I hope that never changes.  :)