Joel Van Kuiken (Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)

Words by Joel van Kuiken. Customer since 2018.

I started using Red White bibs and jerseys in 2018, and they quickly became my go to apparel. I’ve got three different bibs and three separate jerseys hanging in my closet. I’ve covered lots of miles in them and they sort of feel like a natural extension of my skin. They’re good that way.

I’ve climbed Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon, Kitt Peak and Mt. Graham in them, and I’ve participated in a number of local gravel races and Gran Fondos, but the ride that stands out for me was essentially an 80-mile gravel combo ride on my road bike here in Western Michigan. I typically ride with others, but on this morning, I rode alone.

It was my first experience with the Long Distance bibs. In some sense the ride itself was unremarkable. But isn’t that the beauty of cycling? Not every ride needs to be epic to be meaningful. The moments that happen during the ride are what you

Although I had covered most of the territory before, it was the gravel section that was new to me and it led me to the tiny town of Freeport where I stopped to refuel at the general store. Inside I struck up a conversation with a couple and their son who were headed to a nearby campsite where they would spend the summer while the father looked for work.

They seemed somewhat down-and-out, but they were hopeful. They were probably dealing with a set of problems that would never give them the opportunity to ride an expensive bicycle 80 miles through the hinterlands. My life experiences and perspectives were likely quite different from theirs, perhaps as
foreign to them as the Red White bib shorts and jersey I was wearing.

But we made a friendly connection and found time to share pleasantries talking about my ride and the surrounding area. Those simple interactions become imprinted in our minds in ways that give us richer experiences as we progress through life.

That’s why it’s a pleasure to live life on two wheels. Sometimes we take it for granted, but we shouldn’t. Because everyone can come along for the ride.

joel van kuiken