Without question, I love my Inspire bike–the one pictured here is actually not my familiar looking Inspire. A few months ago, I was fortunate to be encouraged to keep riding and keep progressing by the wonderful people at Liv/giant and received a carbon fiber Avail Advanced 0 with electronic shifting. I can’t stop riding this bike. It is light but still very smoothly connected to the road, absorbing bumps but not numb to them, an easy ride but not so easy that one doesn’t still feel the challenge of many miles and looming hills. It is as life should be. Inspiration comes in so many forms. The Advanced itself is such a beauty; the faces and people who brought it to me and champion women’s biking–and all biking–have done so much to simply make life on the bike peaceful, exhilarating, comforting, and joyous, including mine. Emily Gresh
Within each of us is the handmade and unstoppable. Within each of us are the qualities that can deliver beyond compare, powerful beyond even what we believe is possible within ourselves. The right conditions, and the right people around us, are everything. How we come to those moments is a great deal of luck, a blind hope in the face of everything, and unbelievable inner strength. Every now and then, we get there. Every now and then we are the right cyclist for the bicycle we have come to own. Every now and then we get the maximum out of it and understand where to let up and where to dig deep, what is possible, best and good, and what is simply wear and tear on a perfectly wonderful machine. If we only know the handmade and unstoppable within us briefly, it is almost enough. It is best to find it and ride for as long as one can.
We each come to these moments and conditions in different ways. Cycling has been important to me, freeing up a great deal, giving me plenty to enjoy within myself not so much based in speed or physical accomplishment but a different experience of myself that is related to dancing and tapped so much there, but also a release from dancing, and though a completely different experience, cycling is likewise related to surviving cancer at young age, and also similarly a complete release from surviving cancer at a young age.
In each cyclist, in each person, we have to applaud these things, the ability to know however briefly what we are capable of and how much we can find in life, to see these moments and know them in others so that we can continue to find them in ourselves. To thrive post-cancer is a tremendous accomplishment, to find one’s way back to health through cycling is admirable in anyone. To thrive in life, with or without the turmoil and shock of serious illness, is a greater accomplishment than we all sometimes admit and so worthy of our recognition.
It is with the most heartiest congratulations that I admire and applaud cancer survivor and cyclist Barb Greenlee and the next iteration of the Inspire bike pictured above and launched recently, and the many beautiful moments I know she will find on the bike and in life. Designed by Barb and beautifully brought to reality by Liv/Giant, I can’t wait to have the bike open more doors to cycling for women, cancer survivors, and the handmade and unstoppable in riders everywhere. Emily Gresh
There are always two directions when thinking about making time for cycling in the winter–why I am too busy to do it and why I cannot afford to miss my one bike ride of the week at the moment. In the past, for me there was the discipline of daily ballet class. Every day. Maybe not seven days a week, but often six days a week, and definitely no less than five days a week of daily class. And not your daughter’s ballet class, one of cute tikes in pink leotards. Think ferocious athletes, about 45 of them all in one mirrored room, all going for it in combinations of steps that are as familiar to them as breathing and sleeping. And always playing with that fire of how much to push beyond reasonable limits and how much to hold back to avoid injury and or exhaustion. Sure, some days I would really hold back for whatever reasons, to conserve energy or repair my body. But even holding back then was hardly a holding back of much.
So one bike ride a week during the deep winter is not asking much of myself. But like everyone in New England during this time of year, some weeks it is a pinch just getting in the one ride. I did say winter riding would be beautiful, didn’t I? That was back in the fall or early winter before the snow and real cold hit, wasn’t it? Yes, the romanticized side of winter riding. Warmth. Chatter. Two sentence conversations that provide a week’s aftermath of laughter. Post-ride espresso. The smooth gearing of my bike. The fantastic mechanics of the body and many bodies working together getting through a ride. Beautiful riding gear. Sweet winter. As good as ballet class. But ballet class was always hard and demanding. Winter riding requires greater discipline, too. You have to demand more than just a little from yourself. Not a simple hop on the bike.
Salty roads, mud being kicked up by the tires in front of me, cold, dampness. Dark. It is a chase through all that lately. There is a just getting through it, but the riding is still essential. The weekly ritual as necessary as the daily class. There are all the essential reasons for daily class within the reasons now for the weekly ride. Like breathing and sleeping. Familiar and necessary. Just not as easy. Emily Gresh
Here are a few images from the Tour de Pink California–an incredible ride for many, many reasons. Thanks to the Young Survival Coalition and Giant Bicycles for this ride which supports young women facing breast cancer. It was a pleasure to ride my Inspire bike for 200 plus miles, but mainly it was pervaded by an intense feeling of being surrounded by survivors kicking ass on bikes. As I was inspired by seeing other young women survivors out there riding during my own diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, I hope others continue to be inspired. It looks sunny and beautiful here but the journey is a long one for us all. Emily Gresh
It is somehow far into November, Thanksgiving already, when I’m still thinking West Coast Tour de Pink which was a month ago now. A long overdue ride report:
Riding two hundred plus miles in California is just as you would imagine it: sunny and warm, miles passing without even realizing it. Cycling often holds metaphors for life so perhaps it’s true that living in California, with the means to really enjoy it, as one enjoys a really nice bike, is a little work but mainly play. As I was instructed heading out on the first day’s leg of the Cali Tour: “The bad news is today’s ride is hilly; the good news is it’s all downhill.” Imagine getting born and this is the prophecy handed to you: a sloping, downhill ride, under perfect skies…along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.
But the pleasures of my East Coast life are here for me. I came home from palm trees and Pacific waters to the cathedral-like beauty of autumn in New England, arches of trees and warm colors constructed leaf by leaf. When hit by certain angles of light, this could bring nearly anyone to their knees in the private little forum that is one’s mind, regardless of elevation gained or lost. If you know what it is to ride through the sunlight of autumn as it comes streaming through changing leaves, you know that its effect is that of exhilaration…that in effect, it’s a racing downhill ride. Hands off the brakes, fingers ready to slow the rush but staying open to speed. Coasting, concentrating, and letting go, all at the same time.
The textured and etched greys of late November are up next, snow close behind. Uphill, downhill. Beautiful either and every way. Emily Gresh
A quick post on this great contest (link above). It was definitely an honor and truly amazing experience to be a part of the first year of the contest sponsored by Giant Bicycles, highlighting the women’s brand Liv/giant and benefitting the Young Survival Coalition. Having my design selected as the winning design was such a joy. And, even better, sales from the bike raised $75,000 for the Young Survival Coalition, helping thousands of young women and their friends and family members find support during their experiences with breast cancer. I look forward to seeing the next iteration of the Inspire and hearing the story of another survivor.
With a little creativity and a few colored pencils, any survivor can enter her idea of a cool bike which can then become a reality. Survivors can submit their designs and a short essay by October 31. Good luck! Emily Gresh
Day 2: riding 95 miles with my friend Jon and new friends, and yes I was drafting like crazy.
Tour de Pink 2012: 235 miles over three days. Philadelphia to Washington D.C.
Surely, the most intense part of this ride was not the riding itself but the people with whom I was riding and the cause. It is intense to be a survivor on the ride, I must admit. There is a bright pink band on the official jersey I receive. It has “survivor” printed on it in black lettering. I get one of those and, yes, it makes me pause. I wore my Rapha jersey on day 2 so it’s not pictured in the photo above but you can see the “survivor” sleeve there on my friend Kim, a four year survivor and really strong cyclist, not to mention incredible person.
The experience of having had that serious of an illness is still surreal and my moment-to-moment appreciation of every second of my good health now seems more personal than what I wear on my sleeve literally for this ride. But it is important to be visible here. As someone who has been through cancer sooner rather than later in life, I am grateful that I can see the faces of young survivors, as heartbreaking as it is to see so many people around me effected by cancer. We’ve been through something terrible and looking at anyone of us in an everyday setting, you’d never know. On the ride, I know I’m not alone in this experience. In this ride, along with other rides–but this one particularly for me–I know I’m not alone in understanding with the fullest weight that even after such adversity, so much is possible in life. More than I ever expected. My thanks to what I learned from the survivors who were out there on bikes doing the Tour de Pink long before me and helped me see the other side. And thanks to everyone who supported my ride by making a donation in support of the Young Survival Coalition. Emily Gresh