Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Gloria Hendricks about how Yay Bikes! has profoundly affected her family's life.
FEELING AFRAID: "I said, 'You put my babies on THE ROAD...in snow and ice?!'"
On a wintery January morning in 2012, Gloria Hendricks went to work, and her husband, Rob, took their kids on a bike ride (in fact, the very first Year of Yay! ride ever!). On the road. In snow and ice. Rob called later, when they were home safe and sound, detailing their adventure. "So that was my first reality to Yay Bikes!. I’ll never forget that" she said, chuckling. The family was extremely new to bicycling at that point, with Rob just having taken it up after knee surgeries prevented him from running. But Gloria didn't yet own a bike, and she hadn't ridden since she was a kid. And she was very, very clear that she didn't want to start up again now—especially with her boys being out there on the road.
JOINING THE GANG: "Mom, I think you'll really like it!"
For Valentine's Day that year, Rob bought Gloria a bicycle, and she took her first ride since earning a driver's license in high school. But the bike was a tank and not so much fun, so they traded it for a new one that was lighter and faster. Which was super, except that she was left without an excuse to beg off rides! With her boys badgering her and Rob pressuring her to join the family during her limited time off work, she agreed to attend her first Year of Yay! ride in March of 2012. As she rode on the road, she remembers thinking "Oh, this is not right!" and being scared out of her mind. But she bravely returned for April's ride...during which her oldest fell and injured his arm while he was riding far in front of her. As she caught up to him, she saw several fellow riders around him and felt...calm; he was safe, because everyone had his back. Regardless of where they fell in the pack, she realized, they were never alone.
FACING TRAGEDY: "I didn't really start to enjoy riding until Rob's accident—is that weird?"
In October of 2012, a driver who was texting at the time rear-ended Rob as he was riding to work. He very nearly died (saved by his helmet and sheer luck!), but he was especially sad not to have made his goal of riding 4,000 miles that year. So Gloria got to thinking—what can I do for him? "I took over riding," she said. "I took over riding for him so he could make his 4,000 miles. That's what started it. It made me more independent to ride on the road by myself, it made realize I could do things." People thought she might quit riding after the crash—and she did too—but she just couldn't let fear dominate their lives, or have her kids see them giving up. Everything has risk, she figured, and this was one worth taking. Her family's bicycle adventures had become more than just rides. Yay Bikes! was introducing them to fascinating parts of Columbus, plus surrounding her kids with good role models and developing their characters through conversation and volunteerism. It was too good a thing to let go of.
GOING ALL IN: "Biking is very peaceful; it shuts your mind down in certain ways. It makes you think about what's important to you."
Five years into her now-lifelong bicycling adventure, Gloria isn't necessarily proud of how many bikes she has, but hey! They each do different things! Gloria is a commuter cyclist, goes mountain biking, races (slowly, but it counts!), vacations and camps by bike and does a 100-mile ride on each anniversary of Rob's accident. She is officially all in! Gloria credits Yay Bikes! with helping her gain independence and self confidence, and connecting her with people who have become like family to her, both on the bike and off.
Yay Bikes! is grateful to Gloria for her spunk, her sense of humor, her perseverance and her extreme dedication to family. We appreciate the hours she has devoted to volunteering with us, and all the joy and hardship she has shared with us over the years.
Helmets off to you, friend!
To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!