My bicycle taught me more about feminism than books ever could.
I remember when I first started noticing bikes as an adult. It seemed like every zine I picked up had a story about cycling, or messengering, or a community bike project. I started to think there was something to it, that I should find a bike. Funny thing is, a bike found me. I lived in a small town in Vermont at the time. While walking home one day I saw it – an old, rusty, black and red ROSS bicycle, leaned up against a tree, calling me to come claim it.
I took that bike – which would soon be nicknamed “Rossome,” (you know, like awesome?) home and gave it what some might call a tune-up. I had no idea what I was doing, but I pretty much disassembled the whole thing and lovingly cleaned it with a toothbrush. I know enough nowadays to cringe at the thought of oiling a chain with WD-40, but at the time I felt proud to be doing it myself – with nothing but a few grease-smudged zines to guide me.
That night I redefined personal freedom – me on my new bike, the hair on my shaved head ruffling in the breeze, warm summer night air caressing my thighs as they found a strength in me I had never been aware of before.
Six years and four bikes later, I decided to try going on a long bike tour for the first time. I rode from Cave Junction, Oregon to San Francisco, California with my friend Sara this June – the odometer read 500 miles right after we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge! Now I’m taking it a step further and going it alone. By the time you read this, I will have embarked on a journey from Bellingham, Washington back to my home in Portland, Oregon – just me and my bike for two whole weeks!
For a long time, fears about being a female-bodied person in a male-dominated sport (and world) kept me from pursuing my dreams of becoming a touring cyclist. I finally decided to overcome those fears and go for it. So far, it’s been one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. I want to document this journey and share it with people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience it’s this – IT’S WORTH IT.
Worth all the hard work. Worth all the hot days. Worth all the long nights. Worth all the early mornings. Worth all the money and the time and the effort and the pain. Worth all the wondering. Worth all the tears. All for the feeling of the wind in your hair and your toes in the sand; for the fullness in your heart at the end of the day.
The only time I’m looking back now is at the top of a big hill that I just rode up!
FOLLOW YOUR HEART.
GET THERE WITH YOUR LEGS.
Deanna, Portland Oregon
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