This I Believe

Catarina - Seattle, Washington
Entered on June 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in bicycling. Six years ago my best friend dragged me on a four week bike trip. I had never even ridden 10 miles. The bike shop scoffed at my old bike, friends were skeptical and I became resolute. Until that trip I had never climbed a mountain powered by my own strength and determination, by my own sweat and tears. Now I’ve climbed more than I can name.

The trip’s misery is blurred by feelings of accomplishment and pride, by the people I met who taught and encouraged me, by the release of self-consciousness. Afterwards, I returned to normal life, still not quite in love with biking. I had places to go, people to see, accomplishments to achieve. I could always find a way to justify driving.

My newfound confidence lingered and despite my own fears, I signed up for a bicycle trip from San Francisco to D.C. I made it to D.C. exhilarated, thrilled, desperate to just ride.

But again I returned to normal life. Working in a high school, staff knew me as the girl who bikes in every day. I remained youthful, because I rode I was seen as a girl, even though it was this very aspect of my identity that made me a woman. I drove less. I became increasingly saddened and disheartened by world affairs and I wanted to do my part to combat the wrong in our society and world. But work and school and life continued to consume me and I gained weight, became lazier, struggled to find the time to bike and the courage to brave New England winters.

I sold my car, moved west and purchased a used bicycle. I explored a new city on my two wheels. I climbed its hills, sailed down its descents. I became a better rider, more skilled, more capable. I met people who ride bikes too. I stopped being “that girl” who rides a bike. I stopped apologizing for arriving a little late, a little sweaty.

I battle feelings of laziness, the desire to get there faster and easier by car. Sometimes those feelings win out. But I am more in tune with my body, my mind, my spirit and I realize how much happier I am arriving by bike. I try to not let the wet and cold discourage me knowing that I’m sick less often, I’m not groggy from idling in traffic, I’m not sitting angry and boxed in. I am free on my bicycle. Riding can be dangerous but I feel no safer or healthier in a car.

Life is no longer about the destination; it’s about enjoying every second of the journey. I believe in wind in my hair, a flush in my cheeks, a shortness of breath, sweating, and childlike freedom. I believe in independence, femininity, exhilaration. I believe in contemplating to my pedal stroke, reevaluating life through the spokes in my wheels; examining the world differently to the rhythm of my drive train. I believe in biking.