On World Bicycle Day today we talk to two cycling advocates from two different backgrounds.
One is Olympic Champion, the other is co-founder of “All Bodies on Bikes”, a movement to create and foster a size inclusive bike community. Both have the same message: Cycling is fun!
Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer stunned the world in 2021 when she soloed to a spectacular victory in the women’s road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The mathematician, who resides in Switzerland, proved she is one of the best in the world but insists that cycling at any level is incredibly important.
“Sometimes people come to me and start by saying ‘I also like cycling but I’m not like you, I’m only a hobby cyclist, I’m only training for a small race’.
“When I hear that it almost makes me a bit sad because there is no ‘only’ when it comes to goals, there is no ‘only’ a hobby cyclist, there is no ‘only’ a small race. It’s really about what is important to you. It’s not about what kind of medal you get in the end, whether it says Tokyo on it, whether it’s from a Gran Fondo. It’s the obstacles that you have to overcome to get there that are important.
“It really depends on whether the goal is important to you. It’s the only thing that matters,” she says.
Anna Kiesenhofer will try to retain her Olympic title at the Paris 2024 Games, where she will battle against the best in the world. But she does not believe that sets her apart from other bike riders. Her message to them is: “I am a cyclist and you are too.”
Kailey Kornhauser puts aside her fears
One of those people who used to be reticent about calling herself a cyclist is American Kailey Kornhauser. She felt her body image did not fit the generally accepted bike image.
“When I first started riding my bike I had a lot of fears. I thought I didn’t look the way I was supposed to, I really didn’t like that I went slower than a lot of my friends and other people I was riding with. I felt like I was holding people back. I thought you had to be really thin and really fast at riding bikes or really good at going up jumps, that you had to wear certain clothes or ride a certain bike and it turns out a lot of that is not true.”
After realizing that the beauty of the bike and it benefits were open to every member of the population, Kailey Kornhauser co-founded “All Bodies on Bikes” to share the message and encourage everyone to ride bikes.
“The bike can show me that my body is capable of way more than I thought it was. When I’m riding my bike uphill I can feel every ounce of my body. It’s really hard to climb, especially for a larger person. I used to really struggle with that feeling but now I feel really powerful going up hills.
“And going downhill, wow, that’s the best feeling. Going downhill on a bike is the closest humans get to flying without having to jump out of an airplane or something. It’s just awesome and feels so good.
“I think the biggest benefit to cycling is just that it’s so much fun and feels good.”
Happy World Bicycle Day!
Photo credit: Caleb Blatz