In 2010, when I was still a very new rider, my husband got deployed to Afghanistan. He was the only person I had ever ridden with. He was my security blanket. How was I going to keep progressing with my riding while he was gone? I wanted to, but really wasn’t sure I could. Then at his going away party, I overheard his best friend say to him “she’s not gonna ride while you’re gone”. Ummm…wtf? Who the EFF did he think he was anyway? Clearly he underestimated me. Game on.
The week after my hubs deployed, I sought out a local female riding group for support. Joy, the leader of the group owned a restaurant about 5-miles from my house. She suggested I stop by the next evening to learn more about the group. I told myself if it was not raining, I HAD to ride. After all, if I was going to be a “real” rider, I should ride there. Alone. Right?
Secretly I was hoping for rain, but the next day there was not a cloud in the sky. “Crap” I thought to myself.
All day long the voices in my head were telling me all the reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t ride up there. But after work, I started gearing up, trying to disregard the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. And as I fired up my bike in the driveway, knees shaking, stomach churning, palms sweating, I gave the proverbial “finger” to my fears and off I went. Already I was over my first hurdle.
Joy was a very seasoned rider, and explained that the group was open to all women riders, regardless of experience. Perfect. I joined that night. My first ride with them was a charity group ride. I had never done a group ride before and was stupid nervous. But the day of the ride, Joy and Mary showed up at my house to pick me up. Joy took the lead, I followed behind her and then Mary behind me. They put me in the middle to look out for me as we rolled down the road to the meet up point for the charity ride.
Large group rides can be daunting for a newbie. You have to be alert at all times, and maintain your speed and proper distance between the bike in front of you, while keeping an eye on the bike behind you. Margaret, an experienced rider, stayed behind me the entire way… she had my back. Wind sister. It’s what we do.
I’ll never forget my first highway ride with the group. “Don’t look at your speedometer, just keep up with me” Andraise said. Wait, what? Not look at my speedo? What if she went faster than I was used to? What if I couldn’t keep up? What if, what if, what if! And yet I took a leap of faith and did exactly as she said. I honestly have no idea how fast we were going, but it didn’t matter. I was part of the group. I was keeping up and flying down the highway with my sisters. Passing cars. Changing lanes. Shit-eating grin under my helmet. It all felt AMAZING.
In the days and months while my hubby was deployed, and I rode with the group just about every weekend. I learned invaluable lessons about riding, communication, friendship and trust during that year. I never felt that I didn’t belong, even though I was almost always the newest rider in the group. When I dropped my bike or struggled to park, my sisters were there to help. When my hands were numb and freezing on a cold ride or when I was running low on gas, they always looked out for me. We looked out for each other. My confidence grew along with my skills. I pushed myself but never felt unsafe. Someone always made sure I got home ok.
It’s hard to put into words this whole wind sister thing. But here’s my best shot…
My wind sisters. We come from all walks of life. We’re single, married and divorced. We’re mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. Gay and straight. Tall, short, thick, thin, black, brown and white. Some are happy to lead, others prefer to follow. We roll together. We’re different but alike…bonded through our journeys on the road. The unspoken word is “trust”. It’s “I got your back”, on the road and in life. The bond is strong. Hard to break. Hard to explain to others. Wind sisters are the family you choose. I think this says it best.
So when I started this little business of mine, Ride Like A Girl Designs, my dream was to combine 2 of my greatest loves…riding and designing jewelry. But it was more than that. I planned to honor my wind sisters and my riding family by connecting with riders all over the world through my work.
The other day when I was photographing this little bracelet before I shipped it off to a wind sister in Ohio, I suddenly realized my dream is becoming a reality. Looking through the camera lens it hit me that I’m actually doing it! One day and one piece at a time. And this is really just the beginning. As we roll into a new year, my heart is full of gratitude, and my mind is full of new ways to connect through my work. Look out 2018!
SHOP the Wind Sister Bracelet pictured above! https://www.ridelikeagirldesigns.com/collections/bracelets/products/wind-sister-waxed-cotton-cord-bracelet