Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to travel. I wanted to travel and see amazing sites that I could gain experience from and have fun doing. I put the two together, that I loved to travel and I loved to ride my bike. I would travel with my bike around the world to multiple countries.
I always told my family I was going to travel the world and cycle across each area. The responses I got in return weren’t favorable and I can still remember them being said to me.
My mom told me that I couldn’t make a career out of my desire to travel. How would I support myself? Would I bring along my future husband? Her need was for me to be supported by someone and to be safe with a man.
My father told me that it would be impossible for a girl to travel alone by herself. It was too unsafe for a female to be on her own in a new environment. For a female to travel by herself was out of the question and I would need to be a stay at home mother, or get an appropriate job for my position.
My sister practically laughed me out of the room. She found it both amusing and absurd that I wanted to travel when I lived in such a great country that gave me everything I could ever want. It was a “dumb idea” in her opinion.
What I Did
It was hard to hear my family tell me that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl and it was too unsafe for me. I wanted to follow my dream and do what I wanted to do, but first I went to college. I studied hard and after 4 years, I got my bachelor’s in English.
Why English? It got me closer to what I wanted, while allowing me to support myself in a safe work environment. As an English teacher, I am able to teach English to a variety of countries around the world, while being able to cycle all around where I’m living at the time.
I bike all over the world now, just like I wanted to. I’ve travelled to all kinds of countries and I’ve cycled through every place I could imagine wanting to see and experience. I’ve stayed in countries of all kinds, such as China, Korea, Japan, India, Cambodia, and so many more places you could imagine.
I supported myself through working in schools to teach English to children, teenagers, and adults. I’ve also done private tutor sessions in places where there was no school to teach in.
The reason I’m telling you my story is because I’m a girl, a woman, and I can and do the thing I wanted to do the most. Travel and cycle across the world. If I can do it, you and all the women and girls in your life can do whatever they want to do.
After college, I went to Korea as my first experience with cycling in an Asian country. I learned quickly that while a lot of people in Korea have cars, more people use biking as transportation. There were so many ways to experience the country through bike riding. I lived in the countryside and would ride my bike over these dirt paths off the roads, and would bike alongside the farmland and enjoy the beauty of nature. I was in the city of Gongju, which has quite a bit of people, but it also has a beautiful amount of nature.
In Japan, I learned that biking wasn’t as common in the cities as much as walking, but out in the rural parts of the country I could find beautiful places to get away and enjoy. Biking through the city while everyone else was walking was an accomplishment to say the least. It was difficult and something to get used to.
In India I was relieved to be in a rural countryside. I would bike to the city for my shopping if I needed major products, and I would use the small markets in my area for basic food shopping. My bike took me all over the landscape to experience new places and beautiful scenery.
What truly was important through the whole idea of these experiences was the fact that I was doing what I had wanted to do all along. Since I was a child I dreamed of traveling to mystical places and finding new experiences.
From new countries to visit, new bike paths to create, and new people to meet, I’ve come a long way and have made more friends and have biked more miles than I can count. These are the important things to remember when you want to do something. Remember that you are a girl/woman and you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.
I’m Denise and I’m a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking all around the world. I worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train and ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country and any activities they want to indulge in. I’m also a co-founder of MountainBikeEZ.
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Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl?
This is one of many reader entries designed to encourage and inspire other women to rise to the challenge and follow their dreams. Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl? Share your story!