Where It All Began

red child bike in a toddlers room

Written by Stephanie

Founder and Creator of Trailwind Adventures. Stephanie currently lives in Fairfield, Iowa with her two cats.

November 9, 2021

You may be wondering, who is Stephanie? Hi, that’s me! 

And how did I get into cycling? Well, let me tell you. 

First off my name is Stephanie which you already know. My close friends and family call me Steph. I was born in the fall of 1989 and grew up in a very small town in Southeast Iowa with two loving parents and a younger sister. My childhood was idyllic. My younger sister and I would play outside, explore the woods in our backyard and spend countless hours playing with our barbies. 

But just like any kid, once I figured out how to ride my bike, it was a freeing experience.

Sometime between 1994 and 1996, I was introduced to the bicycle. Starting off on training wheels and progressing to two wheels. I’m sure there were many crashes that happened on my progression to those two wheels. But just like any kid, once I figured out how to ride my bike, it was a freeing experience. I would ride my bike all over the yard and up and down our gravel road. 

We lived about half a mile from town, so before I was 12 my mom would ride with my sister and I uptown to get ice cream from the gas station in the summertime. (Yes, the gas station was also our ice cream parlor. When your town’s population is only 600, the gas station doubles as a lot of things.) Once I hit 12 years old though, my mom figured I could handle watching over my younger sister and let us go into town by ourselves, without her. She would give us a couple of dollars and we would bike ourselves up to that gas station to get ourselves a soft-serve ice cream cone. My sister would get vanilla and I would often get twist. There is a park right next to the gas station where we would go to eat our ice cream. We would go sit on the swing set and swing while we ate our delicious treat. It was one of our favorite things to do in the summer. 

This is where my love of biking originally started even though I wouldn’t know it at the time. I just thought it was fun and a freedom I had never experienced before. I remember feeling so much like a grown-up then which is funny to look back on because I was definitely still a kid. 

The bicycles of my past were one’s either bought at Walmart or given to me by our neighbor who drugged them out of the landfill. Yes, you read that right, landfill bikes.

Once I hit my teen years though, biking took a back seat. I can only remember riding a bike once or twice in a 4-year span. I don’t believe I even had a bike that fit me at that time anymore. At least not until I graduated high school and was headed out to college. I asked my parents if we could go and buy me a bike for college. The bicycles of my past were one’s either bought at Walmart or given to me by our neighbor who drugged them out of the landfill. Yes, you read that right, landfill bikes. He worked at the landfill and would bring home tons of stuff and every once in a while we would end up with some things from his treasured finds. This time though I wanted to stop into the used bike shop in a town about 15 mins from ours. So my mom took me to the shop and I got myself my first non-official landfill/ Walmart bike. What I got was a red Del Sol hybrid bike. Nothing fancy but perfect in every way.

So I would trek that bike up north to Cedar Falls, IA for the next four years at the University of Northern Iowa. I would ride around campus a ton to get to and from classes. At some point during that time, I would go out and explore the bicycle trails in town. The discovery of trails was a huge game-changer for me. It lit my passion for cycling. I found a new sense of freedom and excitement. The same feeling I got as a kid riding my bike around our small town and getting ice cream. It fed my desire to get away from the “city” lights. I use city lights loosely because Cedar Falls was anything but a big city but to me, it sure felt like it. I loved everything about my new discovery. I would try to spend my little bit of extra free time out riding those trails with my red Del Sol. My favorite trails were around Big Woods Lake and in George Wyth State Park. I can honestly say I fell in love with biking in Cedar Falls. 

It wasn’t until after college graduation that I became more serious about my hobby. I moved to Des Moines to start my career as a Web Designer in the year of 2013. If you don’t know this, Des Moines is a mecca for cycling in our state. There are over 100 miles of paved trails and the cycling scene is huge. For the next 7 years, I would learn and grow as a cyclist in this city. Eventually trading in my Del Sol for a Silver 2011 Trek 7500 Hybrid bike that I bought at Bike World’s Warehouse that summer I moved to Des Moines. I would ride around that Trek 7500 for a few years before trading that one in for my first-ever road bike. I now own three bikes and still own my first-ever road bike. 

A silver bicycle parked on a paved trail

My Trek 1000, the bike I bought shortly after moving to Des Moines in 2013.

Bicycle leaning on a colorful geometric wall

My first road bike, a Trek Lexa that I still have until this day.

I no longer live in Des Moines but still find time to go out biking as much as possible. My most recent adventure has been getting into gravel riding around Fairfield, IA. I now help plan bicycle events in my town and am a board member on Jefferson County Trails Council. 

You know where I started and where I have been. Now it’s your turn to tell me where it started for you? What events led you to love the hobby? Leave your stories in the comments.

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