Sarah

Sarah

Note: Today, we share a poem by Sarah Rust, exploring a personal journey and growth through biking. A story of resilience, belonging, and finding one's pace in a world that echoes 'other.'


A symphony of crashing waves and chatty seagulls mixed with my bike tires churning through the wet sand. Every inhale full of the swirl of sweet sunscreen scent, salty ocean spray, and warm sweat pooling on me. Ever exhale pushing away from my troubles, my thoughts. No responsibility, no expectation, no judgement. Me. Alone for a summer. Riding as far as I can. I feel alive.

I like riding bikes.

Inspired, I bought my first bike for a summer in Cupertino. It was a cheap bike from Target that got me to my internship. I cranked out breaths and sweat, more than miles. Every day, large men with fiercely sharp muscles would fly past me on their paper-thin bikes. The whoosh of each biker chanted Other, Other, Other. No relief at work. It echoed louder in the cubicles. In the meetings. My skirt bouncing amidst all the stiff jeans. Other, Other, Other.

I ditched my first bike at the end of the summer.

It’s my second job. Driving 15 minutes to work and back is sucking my soul. I could bike this, I thought, it’ll be different. So I bought my second bike from a man named Gator. I still didn’t know anything about bikes. Definitely didn’t after buying. It was too big. Every dismount hurt me. I was scared to even ride it. It must be my inexperience, I told myself. If I keep riding, I’ll be better. So I commuted. I sold my car. If I keep riding, I’ll be better. So I rolled on the greenways, the trails around the city. If I keep riding, I’ll be better. Every week, my bike turned more miles. Then, every ride shared on Strava. If I keep riding, I’ll be … not good enough? Oh.

Other, Other, Other. I delete Strava.

Reset.

I break up with the too big bike that hurts, scares. I learn, I start new with another. Change the fit, the seat. We go on the same rides as my ex. It’s easy, fun, right. This one’s for me. Each rotation, chugging Mine, Mine, Mine. I’m riding again.

I inhale. I feel myself stretching, reaching up like a flower asking for love from the rising sun. Bright kisses and humid air wrap me in a hug. The morning birds are laughing, to a joke I didn’t hear but I don’t mind, I laugh along. More laughter now. My friends on their bikes too. I cover my ears, waiting. Other, Other, … I remove my hands in defiance. The chant morphs into Tougher, Tougher, Tougher.

I exhale. I ride as far as I feel like and I feel alive, embraced by friends.

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