Start the new year right with the classic Post Handlebar Bag $10 off now

2020: The year for new beginnings for Carolin


Carolin (@bikewithcarolin) wrote for Post last year about how the Transfer Case empowered and liberated her. She, like all of us, adapted to the challenges in 2020 and still found ways to her pursue passion of leading group rides and inspiring others to cycle.

2020 has been quite a year. Like many, goals have been flipped on its head and we've had to find a way to become not just resilient, but creative during these ever-changing times. While the journey to get to the goal has encountered some bumps, my goal remains the same - provide an opportunity to engage, educate, and empower the community to start their journey on becoming confident cyclists. This has been my north star on every ride I lead. In this piece, I'll briefly share how the pandemic drove me to reconsider how I engage with the community, adapt my rides to this ever-changing climate, and ultimately, launch Circa Cycling

Briefly about me

My passion for cycling started in South Korea in 2012 where I rode 50 miles (80 kilometers) for the first time with colleagues to Chuncheon, a city known for its mouth-watering marinated grilled chicken. It was an achy, yet deliciously rewarding ride that was well worth it. After that, I was hooked to cycling (and the grilled chicken). Fast forward to 2020 and the cycling bug is still there and along the way, I've been blessed to have a strong support group readily available to answer my silly questions about the subtlest of clicks from my bike or gently call me out on carrying too much stuff in my backpack that I didn't need to bring. How can I pay forward the generosity of their time and patience in educating me about all things cycling? I decided to give back and share my excitement for cycling with my community through leading group rides.

Engage

The first half of the year brought a blanket of uncertainty around the world. To be honest, there wasn't much information around how to “ride safely” while a contagious respiratory disease is spreading. The efficacy of masks was even questioned. Though, what was certain at this time was to avoid as much social interaction as possible and “flatten the curve.” Only venture out of your home if you need to buy toilet paper essentials. Given the above information, what could I do that still points me to my north star? Turns out, I had it right at my fingertips:

  • Invest in an indoor trainer and sign up for Zwift (@Care Rowlin) - giving me the opportunity to continue hosting meetup rides online


Cycling together online, like the good ol’ days

  • Inspiring others - Sharing sights of the world from the comfort of people’s homes. Documenting my trip in Italy paved the way for my friend, Fanny, to try her hand at packing her own bike. With similar initial feelings of intimidation and fear that I had, I shared the advantages that came with traveling with your own bike and what it took for me to overcome those feelings. What it came down to is providing resources and reassurance that she can do it, which is the same experience I went through to breakthrough. I am forever grateful I can pay this forward.


Fanny took her bike to Hawaii recently. She can’t ask for a better place to fix a flat that’s for sure.

Adapt

The second half of the year provided some more news about how to ease back into riding outside while abiding by COVID-19 city health guidelines. With emerging data from various sources, I felt it my responsibility to discern how to create an environment where cyclists can feel comfortable outdoors. It took me weeks to create relatively appropriate and conservative guidelines for outdoor cycling which entailed the below: 

  • Mandatory face masks
  • Max 5 people per group ride
  • Max 1-2 hours ride
  • At least 2 cyclists distance from others, as much as possible. (Droplets from exhaling, coughing, sneezing, spitting, fly at faster speeds when riding).

Launch Circa Cycling

Through it all, what pushed me to continue is my passion to empower others to start pedaling on the right foot which led me to launch Circa Cycling. I love leading and assisting others on their own personal journey and finishing their ride with a euphoric high. Circa Cycling serves as a resource and an opportunity to engage with other riders to make riding social and approachable. Many start from all walks of life. From people transitioning into cycling from running injuries, to casual riders who are eager to ride 3 miles away from their front door, to people who just moved to the area and want to see more of the Bay Area. New cyclists had at least one of the below in common:

  • A thirst for adventure that is within their realm of expertise
  • A need to learn the basics to feel confident on the road
  • Riding with a group and making new friends along the way 

Circa Cycling provides an avenue to experience the world while empowering them to feel confident on their bike. 

Conclusion

I will say that this year opened more opportunities for me to explore and support my community to be better cyclists. It was about staying flexible and working with my surroundings to ensure that my north star continues to shine bright in all that I do. Cycling taught me that it is more than aiming for the "Tour de France". It’s how you personally choose to integrate cycling into your lifestyle. Whatever your "why I ride" may be, I encourage you to go forth into the world and discover your community who can guide you to your own north star. 

Acknowledgements
I’d like to thank Michael P., Jaq G., Nick U, Kendrick L., and Marc M., for being my biggest allies on my own cycling journey. Teresa L, for encouraging me to lead my first ride in 2018. I also want to give a shout out to Machines for Freedom for being an advocate for inclusivity and supporting women to feel powerful in their own skin, while on bikes. It was the first full kit I owned and I knew from there I was unstoppable. Finally, to the cyclists who have continued to show their unwavering support and return to these rides for more than just fitness, but as lifelong friends.