What does cycling mean to you as a Black man?
I love this question. I think about how my work with The Black Foxes is about expanding Black culture to cycling. It’s about highlighting Black stories, Black people, and Black accomplishments within cycling. For me, cycling is an opportunity to build a figurative and metaphorical bridge so that riding bikes in all kinds of ways can be normalized in my community. The goal isn’t always winning races or breaking records (even though we know that’s on deck), it’s quite the opposite. Cycling is an activity that opens new ways of thinking and moving with the people I love. In this way, it is a tool for liberation. It is a tool that can free our people intrapersonally and collectively while empowering us to take charge of our lives.
Sometimes I get the response, “Yo, we are just riding bikes, what is all this about?” I want to say that cycling isn’t just about riding bikes for me and many others like me. It’s about claiming a win for the day. It’s about stepping into our greatness and feeling capable and unrestricted. We all live under a governmental system that has been designed to oppress and enslave Black people, past, present and future. To take an hour or a day to feel triumphant and liberated is priceless. And if you can’t understand that then listen to Hov when he said, “We ain’t meant to be friends.”
You talk about connecting to the land, can you explain this in regard to cycling?
This is huge for me. First off, I want to say I do not identify as indigenous nor claim to have any expert knowledge when it comes to indigenous history or practices. What I do know is that our lands have been exploited under colonialism and capitalism since Europeans stepped foot on this continent, and the way we engage in outdoor recreation in the U.S. perpetuates a conquest culture dating back to those early days.
When we head out to ride we are engaged with the land, regardless if we are aware of it. Connecting to the land isn’t a three-sentence land acknowledgment or just looking up an indigenous nation on the Native Land app. Connecting to the land is personal, for everybody. It’s learning about the history of what has taken place there and how you’ve gotten there and what things you perpetuate by being there.
Ultimately, connecting to the land through cycling has increased my sense of belonging to the places I love. As a Black man, my ancestors’ relationships to the land is one of complexity, deep caretaking and resilience. When I head out to ride, I make it a point to learn how my people have shown up in these regions, and what they’ve gone through. We can’t care about things we don’t understand or are not aware of. I want to say that riding our bikes, again, isn’t just about riding our bikes.