As her home city of Minneapolis became the center of the Black Lives Matter movement in late May, Rachel Olzer emerged as one of the most powerful voices in cycling. Olzer is a Black cross-country and cyclocross racer, Specialized ambassador and co-founder of Pedal 2 the People, an Instagram community for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. When she posted about the difficulties in talking to her white family about racism, and pleaded with white followers to not shy away from those conversations within their own circles, it garnered hundreds of comments of support. The post quickly circulated feeds throughout the cycling world and beyond, her raw honesty no doubt influencing how countless people have chosen to approach an issue they may have otherwise avoided. Olzer has used the social platform to share her thoughts on the importance of celebrating Black lives, not just mourning their deaths, lifting up Black womxn and listening to Black trans and queer voices, offering free lessons in humanity, respect and equality, and helping to wake up folks within the largely white cycling and outdoor industries. Olzer graciously took a break from writing the dissertation for her PhD in evolutionary biology to continue the conversation.
HAS RIDING AT ALL BEEN A PART OF YOUR HEALING PROCESS?
It’s been touch and go. I do try to get out when I can, but for a while there, I was like, ‘I don’t feel safe being Black and riding by myself right now because things are so volatile and there are a lot of people in town who would wish harm on me,’ so I was kind of avoiding being on my own, but my partner and I were able to go to a few protests where we could stay away from the crowds.
WHEN YOU STARTED MOUNTAIN BIKING, DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE MORE, OR LESS, WELCOME AS A PERSON OF COLOR THAN IN OTHER SPORTS?
You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD
Log in, if you are already a subscriber
Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines
READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE