Nothing compares to simple pleasure of a bike ride. – John F. Kennedy
We wrapped up our first day of endowments with eighty-five bicycles endowed, not bad considering we had traveled for thirty hours without any sleep. Several of the girls that received bikes earlier that day were congregating in front of Krousar Thmey anxiously waiting for Ellen and I to finish up. They were all excited to ride their new bikes with us. We mounted our bikes and made our way down the gravel driveway. Dan was laying across the ground snapping photographs while the staff from Krousar Thmey lined to driveway to get their own photos on their phones. We charged forward, like we were in an action movie or on a commercial set. I’m not sure about all the other girls made it sure made me feel like a movie star.
Once we got onto the road and away from all the cameras we were free to be ourselves. We kept a pretty good pace, like a small peloton cruising right along. For a few moments it felt like the start of the race, all the girls were jockeying for position, trying to zoom to the front, or slow down to ride next to a friend, or Ellen or me. We were all smiling and laughing and Ellen ratcheted the excitement up a notch by letting out a loud “Wooooo!” The day had been filled with translating and working through language barriers, but we’d finally discovered a word that means the same thing to all girls, no matter their native language. Suddenly we were all wooing and laughing even harder. Locals passed by on motorbikes and couldn’t help but smile and wave. We skirted around lazy dogs in the road that couldn’t be bothered to move. Hooting and hollering all the while. At one point our woo-girl rally cry caught on and people working in their yards started to call out an enthusiastic “Woo!” as we rode by. Naturally, we all responded in unison with a high-pitched “Woo!” This started a fun round of call and response in the neighborhood. Eventually we got back to the Krousar Thmey campus and our joy ride came to an end. We took a few more photos and hugged like we were old friends. Our short ride together had solidified our bond.
I’ve always loved cycling, for me, its more than a mode of transportation or way to stay fit. Riding my bike is my favorite way to experience life. I ride my bike in times of celebration, to reduce stress, to process, to get my creative juices flowing when I’m stuck in a rut and sometimes I ride my bike for therapy. My bike is always there when I need to get far away from everyone else for a cathartic cry. I feel more aware of my emotions when I’m pedaling. My short bike ride with the girls from Krousar Thmey lasted only fifteen to twenty minutes, but during that time I experienced an indescribable amount of joy.
All photos courtesy of Dan Austin, 88bikes.