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Zuza/ Szczecin –> Kraków (Poland) / commuter with a hint of a messenger, freedom rider, abandoning my infant son to ride a bike as often as possible
What does riding mean to you?
The more I think about it, the more I realise at some point riding a bicycle became a huge part of my identity. I quit cycling around the 5th month of my pregnancy, partly because it became difficult to get on my bike, mostly because I got scared of getting hurt in the traffic. And I missed it SO MUCH.
My first post-pregnancy ride, after 3 long months of baby blues, almost got me in tears. It felt like coming back, reconnecting to the world, remembering who I am aside of being a mum. I felt like Zuza again.
It’s not an original thought but riding really IS freedom. It’s being in touch with my body. It’s a symbiosis with a machine. Together we’re this perfect, well-oiled mechanism. Even if in reality we’re both far from perfect.
I love riding through the well known streets of my city, speeding up and slowing down in all the right places. I love riding through the woods. I love how riding gets me places in the most efficient way. But I also love the mere act of joyful riding, how I feel every muscle doing the exact moves necessary, the wind in my hair, the deep breaths. It’s who I am, I’m a girl, who rides.
What is your favourite set up?
The current one, a road bike put together by my brother on a vintage steel frame, claiming to be a Nishiki (which it probably isn’t). It’s possibly a little too big for me, it got hit by a car and may break at any point, it’s nothing fancy, but for me it’s just perfect. It’s beautiful in its imperfection and if anything happened to it, I’d be obsessively looking for a frame with the same geometry.
Do you think the environment is male dominated? If yes what are your thoughts about it?
Even if the numbers are equal, the male voice is louder and that is still a universal truth. I worked as a dispatcher in a bike messenger company for 9 years and it was/is a boys’ club. I have huge respect for every girl who came to at least try working with us. Not only is it a hard, demanding job – by the clients and her coworkers a girl messenger is often considered either a wonder of nature or a mascot.
If you’re a girl doing a stereotypically male activity, people get surprised, ask silly questions, treat you like a circus freak, patronise you – it’s no different when you’re riding your bike for a living or for fun. I kind of wish it stopped already.
Luckily, my local cycling gang in Szczecin, although male-dominated, is very inclusive and supportive. I learned a lot from them, had heaps of fun, and was never made feel bad for being weaker/less in shape. It’s important that we treat each other simply like humans, equal but different. And that is another universal truth.
Any riding plans for the future?
I’m slowly getting back on track, which isn’t too easy with an infant on board. We’re moving to Kraków in autumn, I’m hoping to tame the new city by finding my cycling routes around it. And hopefully in the spring I’ll be ready to take my son for a ride – I’m really looking forward to infecting his little heart with the bicycle disease.
Ride like a girl is a series of interviews with WTF (women *trans femme) riders from around the world. If you would like to be contributed drop us an email.