Meet Siddeeq Shabazz, a Southwest Philly resident who took up biking in April 2020 and has since logged 6,500 miles, graced the duvet of Bicycling journal, and change into an advocate for cultural range in biking.
• Motivating power: “The aim is to normalize Black faces being seen in biking and excelling at this. That’s one of many issues that’s stored me on a motorcycle.”
• All-season bicycle owner: “This previous winter was my first winter and it confirmed me it may be achieved. I’ve coined myself the Winter Soldier.”
A month after shopping for a bicycle to assist him stave off cabin fever throughout quarantine final 12 months, Siddeeq Shabazz went on his first group journey by way of Manayunk and Conshohocken with the Okay.R.T. Biking Staff.
“They kicked my you-know-what, however I completed and mentioned, ‘I’ll see you subsequent Sunday,’ ” he recalled. “It felt wonderful, although I used to be getting killed.”
Shabazz acknowledged it was his lack of expertise about how one can correctly climb hills that had been his best problem.
“So I locked in on studying how to try this and each Monday I’d do the journey on my own,” Shabazz, 31, mentioned. “I don’t like saying from the beginning of one thing that I’m not good at it. I simply don’t have the expertise.”
Since that first group journey in Might 2020, Shabazz has logged greater than 6,500 miles on his bicycle, appeared on the duvet of Bicycling journal, and, for the final 12 months, he’s additionally led a weekly elevation journey up and down hills for Okay.R.T. Biking referred to as “Nostril Bleed Tuesdays,” a nod to the nickname for high-elevation seats in a stadium.
“I see how far you possibly can go in a 12 months and I’m not telling folks this as some tacky motivational tactic,” he mentioned. “It’s as a result of I’m dwelling it.”
As a Black bicycle owner in a sport that “with out query” has lacked range and illustration, Shabazz mentioned he hopes he can elevate consciousness and be a useful resource for Black riders and different folks of coloration keen on becoming a member of the biking group.
“I need to be a well-recognized face for folks to talk with and get intel from on how one can get in on the floor ground,” he mentioned. “The mission is advocating for cultural range.”
Shabazz grew up in Southwest Philly in a household of 12 youngsters and is presently enrolled at Penn State Brandywine, the place he’s learning public relations with an emphasis on company communications.
He was going to highschool and dealing full-time at an insurance coverage firm in King of Prussia when the pandemic hit final 12 months. When the insurance coverage firm closed its doorways amid stay-at-home orders, Shabazz additionally misplaced entry to the corporate’s state-of-the-art fitness center.
“I didn’t have a fitness center and couldn’t enroll in a single due to pandemic,” he mentioned. “I was a runner, however I’m not the most important fan of what it does to your knees, so I believed ‘Let me get a motorcycle.’ ”
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Shabazz received his first bike for $70 on-line, however when that proved to be too small, he purchased one other bicycle at a South Philly pawnshop for $200. His good friend, who is among the cofounders of Okay.R.T. Biking (which stands for Kings Rule Collectively), noticed Shabazz posting about his new endeavor on Fb and invited him on that first group journey that kicked his “you-know-what.”
Ever since, Shabazz has been hooked. Through the peak of the pandemic final 12 months, he was logging no less than 200 miles every week on his bicycle.
“On the time after I first began, there was so much to flee from mentally, from being jobless to my mother battling stage-four most cancers,” he mentioned.
Whereas the ache was palpable when he was stationary and confined to his dwelling, when Shabazz received on his bicycle, it was “nothing however the street,” he mentioned.
“I’m one of many fortunate individuals who has discovered an outlet that basically helps me,” Shabazz mentioned. “However for many who wrestle to search out that, don’t let that stigma that’s connected to truly going to get assist deter you.”
In October, Shabazz did a 55-mile journey with 70 folks out of Trenton and ended up within the entrance of the group with one other bicycle owner who occurred to work at Hearst Magazines, writer of Bicycling journal. By way of that connection, Shabazz was requested to mannequin for Bicycling, which relies out of Easton, Pa., and appeared as a featured bicycle owner within the journal’s April difficulty.
Simply weeks earlier than the difficulty hit cabinets, Shabazz’s mother misplaced her battle with most cancers.
“However she knew the difficulty was coming and that I did the shoot,” he mentioned. “She gave me my hugs and kisses for it and congratulated me for it.”
Shabazz was requested to mannequin once more for Bicycling this 12 months for a narrative about Practical Threshold Energy (FTP) checks, a method of measuring a bicycle owner’s efficiency degree. This time, he ended up on the duvet of the June difficulty.
“Truthfully, it felt surreal, I gained’t lie,” he mentioned.
However his 10-year-old daughter, Suri, stored him in verify.
“As I prefer to say, she’s very unimpressed,” Shabazz mentioned with amusing. “She thinks it’s cool, however she’s additionally enjoying it cool.”
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Nowadays, Shabazz logs about 100 miles every week on “The Darkish Knight,” his 2020 Big TCR street bicycle with razor-thin wheels, a featherlight body, and a matte-black end.
He’s unsure the place biking will take him, however he’s contemplating beginning a biking membership for Philly youngsters and probably taking over racing at some point.
“I feel that me not forcing something has taken me far sufficient proper now,” Shabazz mentioned. “I’m simply going to proceed being a voice of positivity and inclusion for others within the house and hold doing issues with intention.”
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