(A native of Kenya, Winnie is a participant in the Learn to Ride education program at Cycles for Change in Minneapolis.)
The best experience I have ever had is when I was in Kenya, and my friends and I went cycling in the woods. As we were still riding, a monkey jumped on my back. It was so exciting that he made me lose my way home. I had never been that close to the monkeys; it was then that I learned they are very friendly animals.
In Kenya, at one point, I used to actively train and race every other Saturday with my friends. I still train, but only for physical fitness. Cycling provides physical relaxation, too, despite the intensity of exertion. I always feel refreshed, relaxed and motivated after a good ride.
When I first came to the United States and had my physical done, the doctor noted that I had high cholesterol. Without any medication, riding a bicycle has helped lower cholesterol in my body. It acted as a mood enhancer, as well, providing me with physical and mental benefits.
Now, when I have time to ride my bicycle, I do it. Riding a bike to go to work, school, and shopping can be faster than riding the train or buses. I get straight where I want to be because it’s accessible and it’s cut my cost for bus fare a lot. On a bike, a person is able to bypass heavy traffic jams, eliminate the time it takes to find a parking spot, and arrive wherever I am going refreshed.
As a bike rider, I find myself multitasking by getting from different places and getting some exercise in at the same time.
I cycled back in Kenya but not on major roads, because drivers in Kenya don’t agree that cyclists have the right to the road. Now I can ride my bicycle anywhere, provided I am in a safe position to do it. I am learning how to ride in traffic; I try to ride as safe as I can. I am now eagerly looking forward to the day when I will know how to ride even on major busy streets.
May is National Bike Month and this year’s theme is One Ride, Many Reasons. To highlight and celebrate the many benefits of bicycling, throughout May we’ll bring you the personal reflections and inspirations of a diverse collection of bicyclists from coast to coast with our daily 31 Days, 31 Reasons blog feature.