What it means to ride for a country

#IRiDE for Haiti.

What does that mean, to ride for a country?

When we walk into that cycling studio, we bring our entire lives with us. From the larger issues to the small, they too begin to pedal with us. We may be riding off a broken heart. We may be riding with accomplished goals. We may be shedding tears as our legs spin remembering a passed loved one. Or maybe we ride while we wait—for the call back from a doctor, for the house to sell, for a new job. Whatever it is, it’s with us.

So again, what does it mean to ride for a country? When I close my eyes and think of Haiti, I see faces. So many faces. There’s Francesca, the thirteen-year-old girl with big brown eyes and long dangly arms, who saved her youngest brother from the earthquake by pulling him off the playground just in time. Meanwhile, her parents and sister perished in their house. There’s Kendy, the eight-year-old boy abandoned in a house on the side of a mountain; days later the neighbors found him. There’s Wiskendy, the boy with one eye because his aunt thought he added too much salt to her rice, so she whipped an electrical cord at him. Faces, so many faces.

I know them by name and I take them with me everywhere. There are hundreds more. From Jerry, the boy in the hospital on my first trip to Haiti, who took my hand and placed it over his heart to have me feel the way he was dying. To the little old lady on the side of the mountain, hair as white as snow, missing most of her teeth—and her joy. The way her bones shook when she laughed, her eyes dancing with the secret of wisdom. The bodies, everywhere, after the earth shook and the buildings fell.

I carry with me the smell of coffee beans as they’re pounded; the sound of clothes being beaten in the river under the hot sun; the flapping of the hummingbird’s wings as it slows to eat from a flower; the goats and the chickens and the horses and the cows and the pigs and the donkeys, walking the paths of the mountains, their noises rising to the clouds.

I close my eyes and I see the stars—the brightest, most profound stars I’ve ever seen. Stars that demand answers. Stars that steal you.

I go into the cycling room at SHiFT and I move for those I miss, for those I lost and for those I love. I spin my legs and bleed out the pain of leaving behind, of moving forward. #IRiDE because I can.

#IRiDE for Haiti. What do you ride for?