Who am I kidding? Schwinnter is already here in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. This means my days of riding my Schwinn road bike are on pause.
In fact, much of my life these days have been on pause, while still moving full speed.
Let me explain.
In my life, culture, and community, family means everything. My family is incredibly lucky to be present in one another’s life, especially since we all live in the same city. Additionally, we are so lucky to have the love and support of each family member that keeps us going and moving forward in the direction of our dreams, goals, aspirations, and in our quests for health and happiness.
Unfortunately, though, this past year my family has experienced what has been, and may always be, the most difficult year of our lives. My younger sister has had enormous health challenges that have had a profound impact on her life and therefore, understandably so, also on the lives of everyone in our family. In our strides to achieve and maintain some sense of balance, there is never a moment that goes by when we do not think about her. She is still enduring unfathomable pain every single day, but her inner strength, resilience, and positivity keeps her going, with our family by her side and supporting her in any and every way we can.
My father, who was wrongfully dismissed in January 2012 from his job of nearly 20 years, finally was able to be heard in court this fall, after waiting for nearly six years. The effects his wrongful dismissal had, and still have, on him and our family are considerable. Re-living the hurt all over again while he and my family shared their stories and listened to the stories of others in court, was a significant challenge. Even my grandfather, who is 92 years old, attended each day in court. Shortly after my father’s wrongful dismissal in 2012, my grandfather attempted going door-to-door in his own neighbourhood to have community members sign a petition to give my father his job back. While doing so, in the winter months in Saskatoon, he experienced a fall. A few months later, in July 2012, my grandmother passed away. As part of preparing for court and publicly sharing such stories in court, memories like these (and many more) had to be resurfaced, summing to an even higher level of difficulty of this past year.
Despite these challenges experienced by my family, and other challenges I/we have not shared, we have had many successes. My older sister’s indoor cycling studio has done very well in its nearly two years of business thus far, and will be opening a second location in the new year. My younger sister, despite her unbelievable health challenges, graduated from the College of Nursing and will soon write her national exam to become a Registered Nurse.
Despite the overwhelming family challenges and successes, I have managed to keep myself incomprehensibly busy. For a long time, I have felt a deep sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of my community, too. As such, my community involvement has grown more this past year than ever before. While these commitments have kept me almost too busy, it has also allowed me to focus on more than just the challenges in my family.
What has helped me immensely and every single day, though, have been my Schwinn bikes.
I ride one of my Schwinn bikes every single day. I commute to and from work with my Schwinn Vantage F1, I take recreational and lengthy rides with my Schwinn Volare road bike, and I connect with friends and community members with my Schwinn Tango Tandem bike.
A major challenge I have had, though, is not only remembering to take photos of my bikes, the scenery I pass through, and the people I ride with, but often with living and riding alone, taking photos can be a challenge! Also, my time on my Schwinn bikes is my time to be alone with myself. It is my time to think, to reflect, to be thankful, and to de-stress. As such, I tend to forget to take my phone/camera out and capture the moments (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
What I love about my Schwinn bikes is that not only is there a bike for every person, but there is an experience with every bike – and, with every experience, comes a story. I love that Schwinn designs and prepares their bikes to be put into the hands and homes of real people across the world, and then the people create their own experiences, routines, paths, stories, and memories.
My Schwinn bikes have literally been part of my everyday life – every day. I know I can count on any one of my Schwinn bikes to get me to where I need to be. Even when I do not have any destination in particular to go, my Schwinn Volare or Tango Tandem keep me going. Schwinn has helped me becomes unSCHtoppable!
I know that my story is just one story and that many other people and families have their own challenges. This is the beautiful thing about Schwinn – there is something for everyone and every family. Unlike other bike brands out there solely for the elite cyclists, Schwinn has something for the rider who hasn’t been on a bike in decades, for the competitive road racer, for the child getting onto a bike for the first time, and for people like me who need to get from A to B, who need to de-stress, and who desire to connect with their family, friends, and community through cycling. Maintaining mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance is critical for my daily functioning and I am thankful to have a few different Schwinn bikes to ensure I achieve and maintain this balance.
With Saskatoon now looking like a winter wonderland, I will be Schwinnterizing my Vantage F1 and will continue to experience the pleasure, reliability, and enjoyment of riding my Schwinn every day.
I started this blog entry with a pause, but now it is time to un-pause and get out there and play.
Happy riding, my fellow Schwinnter Riders!
My name is Jaris (sounds like Paris, but with a J) and I am so excited to be a Schwinn Ambassador once again in 2017! I am a Saulteaux First Nations man from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and a Lecturer in Pharmacy at the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan. In my professional world, I am a pharmacist, an academic, and a leader in my profession. In my personal life, I am a cyclist, an advocate, a change-maker, and a spin instructor at the Schwinn-infused Ryde YXE Cycle Studio in Saskatoon.
As a Schwinn Ambassador I plan to share my “ride” through my personal and professional journey with the online community – whether it be commuting, volunteering, or connecting with my family, friends, and community. I always strive to stay healthy – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally – and cycling helps me achieve and maintain balance.