The Bike – An Incredible Way of Bringing People Together

If I’ve learned anything from my 10,000 miles of bicycle touring, it’s that the bike has an incredible way of bringing people together. As a PEARL iZUMi Ambador, I’m part of a Facebook group in which we share feats big and small. A few months ago, I was planning a five-day bike trip in Holland. I figured I’d post a call-out in the group, asking if anyone would like to join. Maria, a Florida-based cyclist, replied almost instantly.

“Life is short. I’m coming!!”

Over the next few weeks, we quickly planned logistics and before we knew it, met for the first time at an Amsterdam bike shop, where we embraced for a good 20 seconds. It felt like we were old friends.

Since I’ve got family in Holland, I’ve visited the country several times throughout my life. But it was on this trip that I got to know the country best –– because I was seeing it from the seat of a bicycle. I’ve never stopped so much to take pictures, breathed fresher air, or ridden on smoother pavements. And the tulips! They were in full swing.

We didn’t count the miles because it wasn’t about the miles. It was about the views, the freedom of the seemingly endless bike paths, the countless coffee breaks, the stroopwafels, and the people.

The people are always the best part. Every night, we stayed with a different Warmshowers host. Francina and Arie, our hosts in Gouda, took us out for a tour of the city’s rich history. (Apparently, there’s more to the town than the cheese!) Frank, our energetic host in Leiden, showed us pictures from his year-long bike trip from Amsterdam to China. My favorite part about chatting with Warmshowers hosts is that the question of “what do you do for a living?” is absolutely never the first one that’s asked.

As we pedaled, Maria and I bonded over the shitty things we’ve been through, like the loss of our mothers, and how they’ve lead us here. How these dark times make us realize that if we can help it, we ought to be doing what we love. I’m so grateful for our PEARL iZUMi Ambador group and the way I’m able to turn so many strangers into friends –– all thanks to pedal power.

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Annalisa van den Bergh was born and raised in New York City by a Venezuelan mother and a Dutch father. She's a visual storyteller with a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She's currently riding her bicycle around the world and taking pictures of the people she meets. The project, called Miles of Portraits celebrates the ways the bicycle brings people together.

Ambador

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