Twenty years ago this month, I moved to Georgia and got a job at a local bike shop. My long-term boyfriend from my early twenties was an avid cyclist and bike mechanic. He had gotten a job wrenching at a local shop, Bicycles Unlimited. I was 19 and looking for a retail job since, at that point, it was all I knew. The shop was owned by a family and they were welcoming to this young girl working there with ZERO experience. I started on the sales floor and moved on to inventory management.
It was my first foray into the inner workings of small businesses. More importantly, this was my introduction to the bicycle industry which has been one of the most meaningful relationships I've ever had.
I'd say 75% of the people I know in my life can be credited to a bicycle. Whether it be through rides, shops, or sponsors... I have met some of the most inspiring and influential people because of a BIKE. Some of the most fulfilling experiences I've had have been on a bike or because of bikes. And, some of the hardest, too.
I have a love affair with the industry and while I haven't been in it for years, I miss so many aspects of it. Moreso, my bicycle, and the ability to ride it brings me joy and freedom. I hope to write a little here about just a few of the people, places, and experiences that have shaped my life in the last 20 years.
I've only owned 5 bikes in the span of 20 years.
- My boyfriend's white Redline cyclocross bike that he custom built orange rimmed wheels for
- A way-to-small Giant OCR in black and yellow. It was my first REAL bike and I rode it for YEARS until I was able to get another and after realizing the hard way that I had been riding a bike 3 sizes too small. Sidenote: It was the early 2000s, I'm 6'1"/6'2" with narrow shoulders and super long legs. It feels like (and did more than once in my career) I was a young, gangly girl, and bike fitting for women was at a very LOL stage, so they threw me on that. It wasn't until I was at Specialized's Fit School in 2012 that I realized I shouldn't be on a 56cm, but a 61cm. You know, 3 sizes bigger. Thank god my knees and back were young.
- A red loaner Specialized Roubaix, affectionately and appropriately nicknamed Big Red.
- A black Specialized Roubaix that I really loved.
- A red and graphite gray Cervelo that I absolutely hated. This body was built for comfort and that bike was just never right.
- The love of my life, my Bianchi Infinito. No matter what happens in my life, I am holding on to that bike forever. I'd say cremate me with it, but I've seen what happens to carbon when it burns.