The popular adage, “It’s just like riding a bike” is often used to describe a skill you can gain, that is so intuitive and natural, you don’t even think about remembering how to do it. As a kid, I can still recall the feeling I had when my parents took the training wheels off my one-speed purple Huffy bike. Balancing on two wheels while pedaling and steering at the same time was exhilarating!
Words by Beth White, Trek Travel Guide
Throughout my life, riding a bike has served many purposes for me. My first job was delivering newspapers with that same Huffy bike. I was able to sling a canvas bag (bursting with papers) over the big banana seat, allowing my to complete my route in less than an hour. It was my introduction to responsibility and earning my own money for the first time ever! Then in my high school and college years, biking became my main mode of transportation (even through all of Wisconsin’s seasonal weather changes).
As an adult, I’ve been part of various cycling advocacy groups, working to improve commuting routes so that cars and bikes can safety share the road. I believe that these efforts help to build healthy communities, from reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality to having a culture that encourages physical activity.
But my passion for cycling grew in a recreational capacity when I was introduced to mountain biking through the Texas-based Ride Like a Girl non-profit organization, created to encourage more women to go mountain biking. The group is extremely welcoming and supportive of cyclists at all levels, from first time mountain bikers to competitive racers. Cycling not only challenged me physically and mentally outside of my day job, but also helped me create a circle of new friends.
Upon ending a 17 year relationship, I had an opportunity to really examine what I was doing with my life as well as what I wanted out of my future (I call this my “mid-life awakening”). I had spent the last twenty years of my life building successful careers in human resource management and sales while working for high-tech emerging companies. After many long hours at a desk, devoting my life to my career, I was discouraged by the frequent layoffs and lack of personal gratification for the sacrifices I was making. It took a lot of deep soul searching and a little inspiration from other risk takers in my life, but I finally decided to make my passion a way to make a living. I just had to figure out how.
Then one day, a friend gave me some advice: “With your love of travel, people and cycling, you would make an awesome cycling guide!” Honestly, being in my mid-forties, it was not a profession I had ever considered. But after speaking to friends of friends at Trek Travel, I realized that this job was a great fit for my personality and it was the perfect way for me to combine my love of cycling and travel.
Each trip I meet wonderful guests–two sisters celebrating each other’s birthdays, old friends reuniting after years apart, couples taking first vacation in years without children, parents and their daughter celebrating a college graduation, anniversaries, honeymoons and more.
Being able to guide guests through experiences of a lifetime in beautiful locations has allowed me to share my passion for cycling and travel with others. It brings out the kid in everyone. Cycling is no longer just a hobby, but now I can proudly say that it is my profession and way of life. Sometimes we all have to take personal journeys and try many things to find our true calling. But in the end, we may revert to the passions that have long been present in our lives, “Just like riding a bike.”