At Bicycle Roots, we pay attention to the individual needs of our customers. We know cycling has a different meaning to everyone, and we love to hear how cycling has made an impact in our customers’ lives.

Krista grabbed our attention when she stopped by our store a few weeks ago. She told us she had decided to ride a 284-mile charity tour from Boston to New York City for Housing Works this September, and needed to upgrade from her trusty single speed to a bicycle better suited for long rides. We were impressed with Krista’s enthusiasm, especially her dedication to Housing Works’ mission. So, we asked her if she would share her story with our readers. We hope that you find her as inspiring as we did!

Krista admiring her shiny new Specialized Tricross. She upgraded from a trusty single-speed for her upcoming 284-mile Braking the Cycle Charity Ride for Housing Works.

“I’ve been riding a bicycle since I was a kid,“ Krista says. “I had this little banana-seat bicycle, and I would ride to school.[…] But it wasn’t until I graduated in 2008 that I began riding for transportation.” Like many New Yorkers, Krista was exasperated by long subway commutes. The turning point for her came after she was stranded on the subway at 2:00 in the morning. Frustrated by the long wait and the MTA’s inability to let her and other stranded commuters know when the trains would be back in service, Krista ventured above ground to try and navigate her way home. It quickly became apparent that although she had lived in New York for a few years already, she knew very little about the place she lived.

“Walking home that night was a nightmare. It was late, and I had no idea where I was.  I knew what was in my neighborhood, I knew what was around work, but I didn’t know what was in between, because I was underground the whole time,” she says. While fitness was a part of her decision to begin riding for transportation, wanting to connect the dots and see what was in between stations and becoming more self-sufficient were major motivating factors for hopping on her bicycle.

Although Krista has been commuting for nearly five years, the Housing Works Braking the Cycle Tour will be Krista’s first long ride. The 284-mile course will take the riders from Boston to New York over 3 days, and will be a test of her endurance.  A co-worker, who knew that Krista rode her bicycle to work, had been planning on doing the tour and invited her to join in. “At first I was intimidated,” Krista says. “I had never done anything like that before. I didn’t know if it would even be possible to ride nearly 300 miles in just 3 days.”

Interestingly, Krista discovered that her leg muscles were not the only muscles that needed training—her mental muscles needed strengthening as well. “I definitely believe that just convincing yourself that you can do it is half the battle.” Although she definitely appreciates the ease with which her new Specialized Tricross tackles a wide range of terrain, thanks to its wide range of gearing options, developing the mental endurance for tackling 50+ mile training rides is just as challenging as developing the physical endurance. With her goal clear in mind, and with her trusty rubber foam noodle for working out the aches and pains, every day she gets closer to achieving that goal. The biggest mental strain these days comes not from wrapping her head around the mileage, but from fundraising. “I’m not comfortable blatantly asking people for money, but I have been sharing my experiences on my Firstgiving and Flickr, hoping to inspire people to give by sharing my struggle.” If you’re interested in finding out more about Krista’s trials and tribulations as she edges closer to her goal, check out her Flickr and her fundraising page.

If you’re highly active, you can’t be afraid to eat! Krista shows off her mouthwatering homemade vegan hand pies.

Of course, anyone who attempts to train for a long tour discovers that nutrition and fueling your body is a major part of training. A vegan for 12 years, Krista is very passionate about food. “People have this idea that when you’re vegan you don’t eat. They’re always asking me, well, how do you get this from your diet?” Krista has discovered that veganism has made her more conscious about what she eats. Instead of mindlessly munching when she’s hungry, she carefully considers what her body needs. “Learning to listen to your body is an important part of taking care of yourself,” she says. “Since increasing my activity levels, I’ve really been careful to eat more protein,” noting that nuts,  legumes and kale are her main sources of this essential nutrient. She is especially partial to pecans, and loves berries for their high levels of antioxidants, which help minimize pain from sore muscles. (Ed. note: Check out those blueberry-raspberry vegan hand pies. I got to try one during our interview, and man, they were delicious.)

Krista also loves the changes cycling has made in her physique. A formerly chubby child, a combination of conscious eating and intense physical activity has helped to streamline her shape. “I know I’ll never look like Natalie Portman. I mean, I’m 6’1” and all muscle. I stand out wherever I go—you can’t not notice me,” she says. But she has come to accept her body in a way she was never able to before. “I’m pretty sure that the 55-mile training ride I did last weekend got rid of my back hip,” she says, smiling. Krista points to Olympic volleyball player Gabrielle Reese as her fitness inspiration for her visible strength–it doesn’t hurt that Gabrielle is also ~6’1″/6’2″ and a realistic and healthy physical goal. She has another source of inspiration: “I’m always saying I want to look like a pit bull!” she laughs.

Pit bull Emily shows off her musculature, but her eyes tell the real story–she’s total sweetheart! Emily is proud to be an inspiration for women everywhere, canine, humanoid, and everything in between.

Charity tours are a wonderful way to bring your fitness to the next level while supporting a cause you care about. You’ll gain the support of your team to help you through the tough times, and push you to accomplish feats of strength you may never have thought you were capable of. Many organizations for various causes hold charity tours in the spring and summer. “Even before deciding to ride for Housing Works, I supported them. I donated clothes, I shopped in their stores,” Krista explains. Riding in such an event was a way for her to deepen her commitment to her values. If you’re interested in riding a charity tour, Krista recommends that you do your research. “It’s important to find an organization that shares your values,” she says. Housing Works attracted her because they offer valuable non-judgmental comprehensive care to patients with HIV/AIDS, providing housing and medical care, as well as additional services such as legal assistance, job training, and outreach to homeless youth. “This organization really believes in a full-circle healing process by helping the other aspects of livelihood before treating the disease… they don’t just put a band-aid on it,” she says.

Charity tours are great motivators, because working to help further a cause that you’re passionate about will help you to achieve your own goals, physical and otherwise. Once you’ve decided which organization you want to support, don’t be afraid to reach out and inquire about when and where they hold tours and other cycling-centric events. It’s easy to be intimidated by fundraising goals, but if you start fundraising well in advance, stay positive, and are outspoken about your cause and why you support it, you may surprise yourself by exceeding your own expectations!

That’s what she said! That’s all for our interview with Krista. Please check out her Flickr and Firstgiving page for more details of her story and her progress. Krista is incredibly inspiring, and her story shows just how cycling changes lives—on both a personal and a higher level.

Do you know someone who is riding a charity tour and needs some help getting to their goal? Please email our editor, Cassandra, at cassandrabicycleroots@gmail.com. We’d love to feature you on our page to help you increase awareness for your cause.

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