Buffalo , New York | http://ed.buffalo.edu/teaching/directory/faculty/profile.html?uid=nwaight
|Primary Discipline(s)||Road Cycling / Criterium, Gravel Cycling, Hiking|
|Bucket List Race||Ride for Roswell, Erie Canal Bike Tour|
|Off-Day Activity||TRX and Core Exercise|
I was eleven months old when I contracted polio and it would be another five years before I was accurately diagnosed with this condition. I was born in Belize, Central America and this posed specific healthcare limitations for my conditions. Still yet, my condition did not determine my current or future intellectual or mobility potential. I was five years old when I was gifted my first bike, a beautiful red bike with hanging tassels on either side of the bars. This was a significant moment in my childhood because it meant that I could participate in an activity that is the rite of passage for many young kids. Since cars were not a regular mode of transportation, my bike was the medium to visit friends’ home, run errands and bike to the neighborhood grocery store. What is most memorable about this time was the access to mobility; racing with friends, bruises from falls, but most importantly, even at a young age, biking offered me freedom and independence to have experiences and move across spaces. So, biking did not highlight my limitations, but instead it made me see possibilities—how much further I could go, how much faster I could move, and what other new spaces I could see.
Fast forward to six years ago when I re-started my biking journey. This time the impetus for this journey was for physical exercise and mental health. As an Associate Professor of Science Education at the University at Buffalo, the rigors and stress of my career called for an alternative approach to exercise and selfcare. Yet again, I turned to biking! It was biking that allowed me to face my worries and to bring my challenges, associated stresses, and tears and release them to the wind, release them into the ether and the releasing is what brought freedom and peace. For the last six years I have biked consistently—short rides which have yielded great impact. My mantra is, “I will get there, a little slower, but I will get there”. Effectively, while my aim has never been increasing speed and longer rides, this has come naturally. Importantly, biking has served as the lynchpin to various biking communities—slow roll Buffalo, the autoboots (our very own summer biking group), and Black Girl Do Bike. Community has thus further enriched my process. It is thus my determination and consistency that make me an “everyday”, regular athlete. It is in us—ordinary people like me—that people see more realistic potential of what they can achieve and if my presence as a Black, immigrant, differently-abled, professor and educator, encourages one more person to move, then we would have been successful. Biking is my therapy and it is black joy personified.