A worthwhile ride

For Diego Rivera ’19, what started as a typical bike ride with his uncle turns into a lifelong passion.

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When most kids turn 16, they want nothing more than their own set of car keys and their very own car. But this wasn’t the case for Diego Rivera ’19. He would rather have a brand new bike to ride around on.

Rivera was first exposed to biking by his uncle, an avid biker. He tagged along with him and got to meet his friends, who were also devoted bikers. He stared at their fancy bikes with wonder and knew that someday he wanted a bike like theirs.

“All of [my uncle’s] friends had these super cool bikes, and I was like ‘Man, those are awesome,’” Rivera said.

But his uncle told him he had to learn how to ride well first in order to earn a better bike, which can range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. He took his uncle’s words to heart. Rivera biked as often as he could, and soon enough, he found himself with a red road bike and a brand new passion.

He fell in love with the liberating feeling while being on a bike.

“It’s definitely such a fun feeling, speeding past cars and taking turns super quickly with a constant rush of adrenaline and feeling that you could crash at any time,” he said.

He also enjoys how biking improves his fitness, and how he can go out for hours at a time and meet new people. He thinks that meeting new bikers is the most interesting part of his rides.

“Most bikers are really friendly to each other,” Rivera said. “They’re always willing to lend out helpful information about [bike] paths.”

Rivera watches the sunset in front of the Old Capitol with his bike.

The information he has gathered from other bikers has led him to explore some forests and unfamiliar trails in Cedar Rapids.

Rivera’s dedication to the sport is shown through how much he practices. It has become a daily routine for him to go out for a couple hours at a time. His dedication has been noticed by others as well.

His girlfriend, Ellie Brown ’19, said, “Diego is super, super dedicated to his biking and to other things in his life too. When he wants something done, he gets it done.”

Fellow biker and friend, Mitchell Clements ’19, agrees. “He is a very strong and experienced rider,” Clements said. “He loves riding and puts a lot of time into the sport.”

But biking comes with its fair share of challenges. By spending so much time on his passion, Rivera isn’t able to spend as much time with his family and friends.

“Sometimes I don’t see my family until 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock at night,” he said. “I don’t always have time to hang out with my friends because I need to get [biking] done as well.”

Another big obstacle for the young cyclist is money. Biking has recently gained traction since it is a cheap sport to enter. But once bikers become more advanced, they have to start investing thousands and thousands of dollars into every bike.

“I wouldn’t consider myself to have the ability to just drop thousands of dollars [on a bike]. I mean, of course I have, but that’s because [biking] is my one passion. I really enjoy it, and I have had to make a lot of sacrifices for it.”

Both time and money are challenges that Rivera has had to overcome in order to continue doing what he loves.

As of now, Rivera is uncertain of what the future holds. He wants to participate in a race in the future and see where it takes him. Even so, he doesn’t think he’ll ever race professionally, saying he loses interest when things become competitive.

“The reason I go out is because it’s fun, it’s liberating, it’s not a commitment and I can just go out and enjoy myself for a couple hours of the day.”

As unsure of his future as he is, Rivera is certain of one thing: that he wants to keep on biking forever.

 

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