Who We Are

Who We Are Issue 13.2

I’ve experienced conflicting emotions while producing this edition of Freehub,

filled as it is with stories of hope, resilience and community cooperation. The stark contrast between the positivity in these pages and the overall state of the world has haunted me as I’ve edited each inspiring story and reviewed thousands of aspirational photographs.

For weeks, I’ve grappled with a cloudy ambivalence that borders on guilt: How could we celebrate our lives of comparative luxury, of riding bikes in beautiful places, while a barbaric war in Eastern Europe marks the end of post-Cold War stability and thrusts us into a period of grave military and political uncertainty? Is it right to be rejoicing in our relative privilege when so many of our fellow humans are suffering?

As I dug deeper into this issue, the stories themselves started to answer my questions. Though they all revolve around the indulgence of mountain biking and the liberation it affords us, many of these stories are about overcoming adversity and finding avenues to a brighter future. Each one, in fact, is a microcosm of the broader tale of human existence, an example of how people can turn darkness into light, both individually and together.

Our cover story looks at the life of Angelo Washington, who, growing up in a low-income housing project in Richmond, Virginia, turned to sport as a way to transcend the violence of his neighborhood. When his career as a baseball player took a bitter turn due to injury, Washington discovered mountain biking and the freedom of riding in the forest, surrounded by nature and its inherent healing properties. Now a downhill racer and coach with legions of fans, Washington is showing how bikes and a positive outlook can open up new realms of possibility for disadvantaged youth.

In the semi-arid desert of northeastern Arizona, a Diné(Navajo) mountain biker named Nigel Horseherder James has rallied his entire reservation around a homegrown enduro race he calls the “Rezduro.” The event, staged on the timeworn horse and sheep trails that have long linked Navajo Nation communities, is rapidly raising awareness of mountain biking as a means of reconnecting indigenous people to their ancestral land.

These and the many other stories in this book are relevant to all of us, as they reveal how we as humans can find pathways to peace and happiness, even in the most challenging circumstances, if only we look for them. And though I initially struggled to see the importance of mountain biking in the midst of international upheaval and destruction, what I ultimately realized is that this terrible global tumult makes it all the more important to continue to tell these stories. Because these stories can help show us the light.

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