My name is Christy Markel. I am 35, married to the love of my life Kyle, for almost 12 yrs now. We have 3 beautiful kids, two girls; Carolynn 10 and Claire 6 and a little boy Ryder who is 4 years. In the last two years my family adopted 2 sweet cats named Stormy and Catness from the Orange County Animal Shelter.
We got a pop up camper this year and love the family time we get out of it. I work part time for my husbands bike shop (Kyle’s Bike Shop) doing various tasks such as clinics, event planning, merchandising and sales. I get to work around my family schedule in an industry that I love.I am the captain of the fierce KBS Katz Women’s Cycling team, an inspiring local group of everyday women who love to race their bikes ranging from road to dirt. I am also a Liv Ambassador. Liv (Giant) is a cycling brand committed to making products for any woman and enriching women’s ride experience. I consider myself to be very lucky to be surrounded by loved ones and people who inspire me.
There was a time when I would have never thought of myself as a cyclist. Growing up my family traveled a lot, so watching movies was our family past time. I do remember enjoying my first taste of freedom riding a bike as a kid but then that all went out the door when I became a teenager and the obsession for driving set it.
Then I met my future husband. We were at the very young age of 19 and 21, in a plaza we both worked. He cruised by me on his BMX bike while I was smoking a cigarette (gasp, yes I smoked!). It was one of those fairy tale moments, we locked eyes’, hearts fluttered and the world slowed down. He turned around and asked me for a light to strike up a conversation. Then he asked me if I liked to ride bikes, and I laughed at him. At the time my friends and family were obsessed with cars and I had just bought a brand new car that I was very proud of.
Kyle was oh so cute so I gave biking a shot. Our first ride together was a disaster. He took me to a mountain bike trail in the middle of the summer in the middle of the day on his buddy’s “FrankenBike” that was totally too big for me. Beat up, hot and frustrated I used every cuss word in the book and didn’t ride again for a while.
I warmed up to it after getting a job at a bike shop with Kyle. I bought a mountain bike that fit and the women at the shop taught me some of the basics, such as not wearing underwear with my bike shorts. Kyle learned quickly how to break down skills and teach them.
It was years later that I really developed my own relationship with cycling. My husband open up his own shop and I became a stay at home mom. I fell into a depression after going through a couple of miscarriages when my oldest daughter was about 2. It made me question my worth as a mother and at times I hated my body. Worried, my husband encouraged me to go for a ride with him.
Because I loved him, and because we had this cool new baby trailer, I did it. At first it felt rough, I was so out of shape. I barely rode since having my daughter and I had a poor attitude about myself. With every ride I felt better and before I knew it I was enjoying riding again.
One day after “SAGging” (providing Support And Gear) for a charity ride (MS 150) my husband brought home one of the shop’s rental road bikes and I instantly fell in love with it. It became my “mom me” time that I didn’t feel guilty about taking, because I could easily roll out my door and get a ride in before my family woke up.I never competed in any sport ever and in that year I signed up for TT to warm up for my first triathlon the following weekend. Just about the time I felt healing with my body I became pregnant with my little Claire and soon after that I had Ryder. Since I had Ryder I tried Road Racing, more time trialing, cyclocross and mountain bike racing.
Something that I love about cycling is that no matter where I am at in life there is bike that fits the job. Cycling has been integrated into my entire family’s lifestyle. Now my kids are all riding their own bikes. We ride to school, to the park and to Tijuana Flats. My kids love to ride the pump track. We also love bringing our bikes when we go camping as our means of transportation around the park. Recently, my oldest rode the 15 mile off-road fun course for the Camp Boggy Creek challenge with me. Last week, Ryder and Claire just rode in their first little cyclocross race.
My husband and I both race, so in order for us to get our training in, I still ride those really early morning hours before traffic gets too crazy and he commutes to work on his bike just after rush hour.
I love my early morning hours. I crave the sound of my wheels rolling along the quiet streets and the feel of my breath sync with the rhythm of my heart.
He loves being able to sleep in and loves the $$ we save on gas, and it only takes him an additional 30 minutes but gets his work out in with out really taking away much family time.
With all my years of being around the cycling industry and seeing many of my peers as being hit by cars I am well aware of the risk of being hit by a car. I once asked a fellow cyclist, mother, racer friend after a crash I had (not motorist related) why ride knowing one could get hurt? She responded: because the rewards outweigh the risk. I watched my fellow unlucky peers who have been struck but lucky enough to live to tell the tale get back on the bike and it’s inspiring, a testament to the heart of a cyclist.
This year I took a cycling savvy class. Of all my experience in cycling the class was a real eye opener for me. I learn quite a few more techniques to keep me safe on the road. I would recommend this class to anyone, even those who have no interest in cycling. I do my best to make sure that I am visible, predictable, stay with in the law and encourage my fellow cyclist to do the same. It won’t prevent me from getting tagged by a totally distracted driver or a person who wants to give me a punishment pass because they feel I don’t have any right to be on the road, but it will reduce my risk greatly.
The repercussions of getting hit by a car could be terrible. Whether it be my children, me or my husband we all mean so much to each other. To my non-cycling friends, I repeat my Daddy’s wise words to me when I got my license, “while on the road we are not only responsible for own own safety but the safety of every one around us”.
With that said I ask you to put away the distractions. A lot can happen in two seconds. I see it all the time at my kids school. I see so many parents come ripping through the neighborhood late to work, on their cell phones, putting on make up, signing paper work, eating all kinds of stuff, etc. Whatever you are doing it’s not worth the risk of hurting someone. What will you say to the person you hit?
To the person who deliberately skims me because you may feel you have more rights to the road then me? Just know feelings will go away if you don’t act on them. So I may have held you up for a few seconds, but if you hit me in an attempt to scare me off the road you will be caught and probably sued. If you go on your way you can make up your lost time further up the road and you will no longer remember me.
Thank you all for reading my story.