For as long as I can remember, bikes equaled freedom. The summers of my youth revolved around bikes - biking to friends’ houses, biking to get eggs or milk from the neighbors a “country mile” up the road, biking to escape into our childhood imaginations. They were the source of smiles, laughter, a few cuts, scrapes, road rash and, yes, the odd broken bone or two. Fast forward 45 years….and here we are again...laughing, smiling, cuts, scrapes and the broken bone or two. It’s funny how circular life can be.
I walked away from bikes when I went to college. The campus was compact, I could walk to class or drive where I needed to go – until one day I went past this new shop on the edge of town. The big picture windows full of these wonderful new majestic steel steads and the memories of my youth flooded back. I walked in and rode out with a brand new 1990 Trek 820. I was back in tall cotton – for a bit – then graduation, adulting and life took over. The poor Trek moved from city to city, house to house.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the old stead was pressed back into service. Let’s do a little local triathlon, they said. It will be fun, they said. What I bad idea, I said…then…when are we doing it. Sometimes things are better not knowing ahead of time; like how painful 18 miles would be on a Trek 820 with no bike shorts and no fitness. I walked away with a renewed love of the bike (and yes, its still in the stable, and always will be).
Over the years since, teams have come and gone, my goals changed from fast paced races (CX/XC MTB) to long form endurance events. After discovering gravel in 2013, things shifted even more to finding like-minded folk who weren’t afraid of a challenge and liked to get dirty. This led me to shift from a team to riding for a bike shop and eventually leading road and gravel rides around the region. I still competed regularly but began to miss having a “hive” around me.
Crystal invited me to join the Eliel Factory Team in 2021 and I immediately felt the “hive” vibe I had been missing (…and lets talk about the quality of the clothes, y’all). Sharing adventures, having the opportunity to meet new folks at events and even virtually has been an absolute blast. I was invited to help with the Eliel tent at the BWR Asheville event this year and that cemented it for me. This is the group I want to hang with. The engagement with the team members and the customers was really a sight to behold.
EFT offers us such a great opportunity to come together as a team. A geographically dispersed group of folks that run the gamut from beginners to pros – but folks you can always count on to give thoughts, advice, kudos and encouragement. I love that Eliel will ask for feedback and embrace member ideas to learn and improve the member experience. I love that team members will seek out others in their area to ride with or find folks to ride with if they are visiting. The EFT kit is like a secret handshake. When you see an EFT kit, if you know, you know.
My goals for riding are always very simple. Be safe, have fun and get butts on bikes. I want to see the smiles, hear the laughter, dip in on amazing conversations, and to support and encourage others – if I look good doing it, bonus points. EFT is where I want to be to do all that…and more.
See y’all out there…Ride On!