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Authored by Kaden Ambassador Tracy Harden.
My journey with cycling has shifted.
At the age of thirty-five, I picked up cycling again after several years of not riding, though not by my choice, might I add. You see, my husband and I needed something to help fuel us in our weight loss journey. Something that was fun, active and had to be outdoor. We live for the wild.
My husband had committed to riding the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride. This was his turning moment and I got towed along. My very first ride was on a hardtail that lasted what he says was for 4-miles and I could swear I made it 5 and I was DONE!
After a few weeks and maybe a few dozen nudges, I tried out my first road bike in twenty years and I was hooked. The freedom it gave me, the smells of fresh flowers, the cool breeze from the Puget Sound, I was lost in my own meditation while pedaling. That next year I rode several organized rides, completed my arch nemesis the STP (206 miles) and lost 42 pounds.
I tell you that story to share this one…
During the next several years I continued to push myself in road cycling and started to dabble in mountain biking. I gradually progressed from my hardtail to my first full suspension mountain bike. As I got closer to the wilderness, I felt more at peace. I ended up getting hooked on cross-country mountain bike racing. The skill, challenge, and pure adrenaline it gave me, lit me on fire. I began to find a part of myself I either never knew existed or completely forgot was there.
Who was this person?
I was free, confident, passionate, and connecting with other women, which is something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
I dove head first into leading women’s group rides, building relationships, putting on events and having the opportunity to partner with a few women’s specific cycling brands such as Juliana Bicycles and Kaden Apparel.
Today, I continue to challenge myself not just on the bike as I develop my skills but also off. I have found true connection with others, sharing my story, leaving fear and the need to fit in at home. I found a place to just be me. I have always struggled to find my place, to know who I am, trusting I was enough exactly the way I was. On my bike, I was exactly that person.
So, I started to share my story. My journey of growth, challenging fear, walking into vulnerability, overcoming my own ego and then something started to happen. I started to listen…
I could hear stories of sadness and strength, courage and fear, ego and loss of connectivity. I realized we all share a similar story. A story of connection.
And now I grow….
Today, I continue to ride, lead and listen, but I have made the decision to use my platform for something greater than myself. Each group ride is started with honest, vulnerable conversations, learning something new about each rider. I mean really listening with intention, sharing stories of bravery and failure. Creating a non-bias space to be honest and open. Join me this month as we ride in support of September – Suicide Awareness & Prevention month. I encourage all to get out and ride in small groups where a conversation is had and a $25 donation is made to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org.
~ Tracy Harden