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The Big Why

I can still remember the very moment my wanderlust hit me like a punch in the stomach. It was such a strong feeling–an urgent need, really–to discover what was out there, like my life depended on it. That one moment has driven my decision-making and guided the trajectory of my existence ever since. As soon as I could, I traded everything that was familiar for that which was unknown - what is permanent for that which is transient. And as my world expanded, my world started to become the world.
Words by Krysten Koehn // Photos by Joe Harper and Steff Gutovska

But the world is a big place. And while it often feels surprisingly small, it can also sometimes feel inhospitable, unnavigable, or just plain big when you have to find “home” so many times over. I needed something to feel like I belonged. The idea of using my body to draw lines in a landscape is a process that helped me to do that, and it was also an abstract way of thinking about making your mark on a place that is simultaneously making its mark on you. Having grown up in the mountains, using my physical faculties to establish a coalescence with my surroundings made sense to me–finding harmony with a place through action. Feeling and navigating that place with my body. Using my physicality to push into the world around me and allowing it to press back. So I got on a bike.

Cycling serves as a conduit and an underpinning by which I am able to dovetail into my immediate environment, to lose myself in the landscape of a place and feel like I belong there. It gives me a specific connection with the landscape, the weather, and the community that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It allows a level of assimilation that nothing else does. This is why I ride. But this meta-view also trickles down into countless other rivulets that have helped me assimilate. Wherever I am, my community already exists. Wherever I go, I can count on an already-established group of people with whom I have something really important in common. The ways in which we are different evaporate when we are pedalling next to one another. We are just people on bikes.

I don’t think a day passes that my world is not indivisible with cycling. It is a sport that tends to permeate our lives in multiple embedded relationships. My artistic practice orbits around the interdependence of the body and the landscape, and that physical movement is a form of drawing. My closest friends are those I have met on the bike–have suffered, explored, adventured with. I go to work, run errands, and take care of everyday tasks on a bike. Every decision I make about my free time orbits around cycling: what are my plans this weekend, where am I going on my next holiday, do I have to fly there or can I just throw some packs on my bike and go?

The world and our existence therein has always been in a constant state of flux. But especially now–when so much of our lives is perceived via intangible means, when so much is socially, politically, and environmentally uncertain. when it is so difficult to feel grounded, two wheels to the earth is what situates me in a very real and specific way.