I was fourteen years old when my brother was born. I can still you details from that very day – about how we ordered pizza to the hospital, only for Aiden to be born a few minutes later. Or about how small he seemed as he lay in a bed in the NICU. Something about our age gap has always made my youngest bother special to me.
When I graduated high school, Aiden was only four years old and so my lifelong dreams of moving across the country for college, and studying abroad, were put on hold. Instead, I went to a local branch of a state college and spent my hours between classes and homework painting pumpkins with him, or exploring the children’s museum – always photographing him along the way.
When Aiden was eight, I finally took the leap and moved from our hometown in Pennsylvania to a small town in Montana, and then to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And while I missed my entire family, and hometown treats like Rutter’s Iced Tea and Maple Donuts, what I mostly missed was Aiden.
I’ve lived away from home for nearly five years and during that time, I’ve made an effort to continue building my relationship with my brother but an unsurprising thing is what has brought us closer together – our bikes. This year, Aiden graduated from a kids mountain-style bike to the Schwinn Rocket – a “real” mountain bike, as he would say. After riding my own, girly, baby-blue Streamliner with a basket last year, Aiden was determined to have a Schwinn of his own and this year, it happened.
My brothers were both born with more athletic genes than I was but Aiden never seemed to thrive at his sports of choice from soccer to skateboarding. But mountain biking? Mountain biking is his thing.
This year, on his second annual trip to New Mexico, he spent a day traversing trails in Taos with my boyfriend, Trevor. When the two returned home, Aiden couldn’t stop telling me about the things he had seen (including wild goats) or the spills that he had taken (including one right into a bush alongside the Rio Grand Gorge).
That week, our time in the car was spent talking about derailleurs and the benefits of full-suspension. I jokingly text my mom and mentioned that while she thought I talked a lot as a kid, Aiden certainly had me beat in his new found passion for bikes.
Our passions for riding are very different. I could never spend nearly ten hours bicycling – and especially not on rocky trails, away from cell-phone service. My preferred pace of riding is a slow, leisurely, crawl through the neighborhood. I bike as a way to safely exercise despite my health concerns, and to enjoy time outdoors. Aiden prefers more interesting views, and much more dangerous paths. But on my recent trip home, I had the chance to photograph him breaking his new bike in on trails near my childhood home and it felt almost magical to have the chance to photograph him again – just like I had when he was so young.
I don’t get nearly enough chances each year to ride bikes with my brother but I’m thankful that our shared passion gives him a reason to text me, and even to call.
Jen Lake & Trevor
Jen and Trevor are East Coast transplants living life in the high deserts of New Mexico with their pack of three very large rescue pups, Miesha, T-Bone and Bumper. By day, Jen is a web designer and photographer and Trevor fills his time as an extra in the many movies and tv shows being filmed in New Mexico. With the help of Schwinn, Jen learned how to ride a bike again, after two major neurosurgeries. Meanwhile, Trevor joined her and quickly learned that biking was a great way to help his anxiety and depression as an Army veteran. Outside of biking, Jen and Trevor love trying to master their InstantPot, traveling around the U.S., and finding the best green chile in their home state.