“Why I Ride” – Winning Story

We’ve put some time onto reading all the submissions we received for our “Why I Ride” competition and have come up with a winner. The most votes went to Kamila Gwiazda. She wins a Team Specialized-lululemon racing kit. Here is her story:

By Kamila Gwiazda

I bought my first road bike on a whim at age 21, a week before racing my first triathlon.  Four months later, I signed up – again on a whim – to join a bike tour, riding down the pacific coast from Bellingham, WA to San Francisco.  It was a trip that took 30 days, but it made a lasting impact and changed my life.
Before the trip, I was a nervous college graduate who didn’t have much, if any, self-confidence, and little identity outside of studying biochemistry.  I wasn’t particularly happy and didn’t know what direction my life was going, nor what direction I even wanted it to go.
I met an amazing group of people on this trip, the most important of which was the leader, Sally: a 60+ year old woman, who started touring when the last of her kids went off to college.  She saw in me what I couldn’t see myself: strength, determination, character.  She inspired me to dream, to set big goals, and to chase happiness.
After riding my bike every day for 30 days, towing all of my gear and camping every night, I came home a confident and independent adult, worlds away from the shy and nervous girl who left home.
Six years later, I’m pursuing a PhD in molecular biology and still riding, and racing, bicycles.  I’ve met my best friends, my mentors, and even my boss through riding (albeit the latter indirectly).  Riding has helped me fight depression, anxiety, body image crises, and the stress that comes with being an adult in this world.  And in a very real way, my bike has helped keep me away from the threat of addiction.
I choose Joy every time I get on the saddle.  Whether it’s an easy recovery spin, a mountain bike adventure, or a set of interval hill repeats, riding has always been my escape.  I feel the most at home, the most myself, and the most at peace when I’m holding the handlebars.  And on days where I don’t have the strength to choose joy, I choose to ride, and eventually Joy finds me.
And so I smile every time I see a little girl on her bike: finding her own independence, strength, and hopefully the knowledge that she gets to choose and shape her life’s path.  I smile every time I see a similarly spandex-clad woman riding, or racing, or touring: tough girls and women who can ride and compete with the best of the guys.
In the words of H.G.Wells:  ‘When i see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.’  He was right.

 

We’ll be announcing the runner’s up over the next couple of days and sharing all of their stories with you. Stay tuned.