by Alexis David
Palms are sweating. Stick hands in pockets for comfort. Look down at the floor for relief. These are your friends. These are your friends. These are people who support you. You like these people. They have come to watch this movie, “Half the Road.” You are holding a microphone. You should be talking.
And now I’m talking. Yes, I am really talking. I am saying words. Are these words sentences? Are these sentences are in English? Hope they are nouns and verbs that work with one another. Forgot to say my name. Forgot to say so many things. Forgot, forgot. Remembered to say “This is the beginning of an important conversation about cycling and women.”
The theater dims. The movie plays. It is a movie about many things, the essential one being that there is more to be done for and by women. Women continue to make breakthroughs in sports even among adversity. I feel my heart beat. I feel this intense sensation in my throat; often I feel this same sensation at weddings when couples exchange their vows. It is passion and determination. It is looking at the women in the film and thinking, how do I go from here to there? How do I do make things better?
And now it is two weeks later and I am standing in the back of Campus Wheelworks, my local bike shop. I have a PBR in my hand and it’s getting warm. My bike is hanging upside down on a hook. I just rode on the Tuesday Night Group Ride. It was fun and easy and I can feel the strength building in me. I am talking to a group and then my friend pulls me over.
“Alexis. We’re talking about the movie.”
It is my friend who helped with Athena Cycle. She is intellect and strength of mind. She is someone who can literally be in any group, any situation, and emanate comfort and poise. She is standing talking to a man I have joked with but never talked to. I have talked to his wife. They ride a tandem. They are unique in this way among the solo cyclists.
And, then it hits. A storm of thought from the three of us: my friend, this man and me. We are ideas. We are hope. We are talking and agreeing and nodding our heads. Feminism is not over. It is still needed. Biking is a tool. We are all some kind of feminists in our group right here. It’s a word, a light little thing said in a breath. It’s some kind of new wave that brings hope through movement. We are talking about bicycles in Afghanistan. We are talking about the suffrage movement. We are a thousand ideas and it is like a song in a night that carries you through. If nothing else amazing happens to me tonight, this will be it. This conversation is my missed dinner. It is my tired eyes. It is my wanting to take a shower. It takes care of all of that because it offers me hope and equality and meets me on my own terms and I am pure adoration of these people.
This is how we begin. This is change. “Half the Road” screened and the conversation has begun. The man explains this is a “meme.” We are creating a “meme.” What is a meme? It is an idea that spreads from one person to another in a culture.
The conversation will take us from here to there. To seventy-seven cents on the dollar as my new friend says to one dollar on the dollar. This is equality. This is me getting to ride my bike as fast as I can without any limits. This is you and you and you and especially you getting to ride your bike in that same exact way.
This man and I are standing in our kits and we look the same. We wear the same clothes. This is our freedom tonight. We have earned this. I don’t have to wear a corset. I don’t have to wear anything but what I want, what I choose to wear. I wear a hat and my crazy sweaty hair sticks out of it and no one cares at all. This is not about traditional beauty. This is about muscle and mind and riding.
My Athena friend’s eyes are glowing and I look at her and the moment is so meaningful it could sing us a sonnet. We are three people talking together about ideas, about our meme. We are dispersing information and isn’t that what a documentary is about?
Katherine Bertine did this. She gave us this information. She dispersed it so we could understand and learn. A light goes on in a dark room. Ideas are illuminated like the sun in a forest. We are learning. Katherine Bertine’s film sells 131 tickets. People come from all areas of my biking life. I see people here who I am so flattered have chosen to come. Even though it’s not my work. This isn’t my documentary, but in some small way, I am a part of this. Her ideas are the match and I am in the pile of wood. We are all on fire tonight. We are burning with ideas.