Riding has changed me. It has changed how I see the world, where I want life to take me, and what truly is important to me. Being able to power my own way through life and feeling independent from what the mass majority of society thinks and does is such a freeing feeling. Cycling started as a way to better my health & to be happy about my body by feeding it what it needed, and then it grew the more I rode, the further I went and the harder I pushed myself to tear down mountains that I thought I could never climb. It has put into perspective what matters: living life to the fullest, trying and challenging myself, not just on the road, but in other areas of my life. Now more then ever I feel like I am on the right path to where I have always wanted my life to go. I have a partner who shares my goals and who pushes us to keep going and when that hill is super steep and we are in our granniest of granny gears, to put your head down, keep breathing and keep pedaling. There is nothing like conquering that hill, looking back at what it took to get there and then flying down the other side to reap that, oh so sweet soothing breeze. It is so easy to jump in a car, put it in cruise control and be taken on a ride but nothing is more satisfying & empowering to truly earn that final ending resting place.
And there is no better resting place then that of the ancient redwood forests. Touring has opened up so many wonderful worlds and so many other places that are yet to be explored. There is a warmth on that open road that I often do not feel on my everyday commute, a solitary nod from my fellow cyclist acknowledging that in that single moment we are both out for the thrill and joy of living an awesome life. Although I have had my run in with unfriendly motorists, it doesn’t stop me from living how I want to live. It is more important to preserve rather then to hide when the road gets a little bumpy. That is what riding on two wheels is all about.
by Cristie Burghard, 29, Bay Area
Swift Industries’ Tough & Tender Project is an annual LITERARY AND PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT TO CELEBRATE WOMEN’S EXPERIENCE OF THE BICYCLE because Women’s experience of cycling is not celebrated enough in bicycle communities. Cycling is a male dominated activity and industry, and it’s our experience as women and female bodied individuals that cycling empowers and inspires us in ways which are not portrayed by mainstream bicycle culture. It’s time for something different!