Cycling out of the bubble — By Bea Major

TMC's Hannah Johnson
TMC’s Hannah Johnson

Students and staff of The Master’s College are more than familiar with the phrase, “The Master’s Bubble.” It’s a phenomenon adequately understood and overwhelmingly disliked. But are there methods to break away from this stereotypical lifestyle? Resident Director, Hannah Johnson would say, “yes.”

Johnson enjoys cycling. It is a hobby of hers and has been for the past four years. Participating in spin-classes at a local gym, Johnson began to develop the taste for cycling in 2010, when she enjoyed the exercise, but saw it as a dangerous sport to attempt outside of the gym’s closed walls. Five years later and Johnson has been cycling outside of those walls for nearly four and continues to love the sport in newfound ways, achieve new goals and go from strength to strength in her athletic ability.

Johnson has spent the majority of her outdoor cycling life in her home of Sacramento, Calif.

“The area where I am from … is such a bike friendly community with lots of bike trails, most of the roads having bike lanes and cars are very familiar with cyclists being on the roads,” Johnson says. “I felt very safe and I felt comfortable riding there.”

However, after moving to Santa Clarita in the fall of 2013, Johnson wondered if she would be able to continue riding. There are few bike lanes on the Santa Clarita roads, and the bike trails don’t offer as much variety as back home.

“Last year I ended up just setting my bike up on a trainer which is a stand you put your bike on indoors to ride,” Johnson says. “I would just do that because I’d get a better workout and I wasn’t getting run over by cars.”

Johnson still managed to continue being relatively consistent in her riding even while training indoors, but then during her time home this past summer she was able to ride a lot.

“I felt really refreshed and realized how much I loved and missed it and how much I loved being outside and being on the road,” she says. “I decided when I moved back to Santa Clarita, fall semester, I didn’t want to lose that again. I wanted to maintain cycling. I wanted to cycle outdoors and I wanted to get involved in the cycling community in Santa Clarita, both to get into riding as well as just to build relationships with non-believers, as an opportunity to evangelize. I began praying about that at the end of summer, 2014.”

Johnson admits that cycling can be a “snobby sport” and it can be difficult to get into its communities. But, not only has Johnson been able to lodge herself into this community, she has also met new goals and exceed her best rides in both length as well as climbing. Meeting local cyclists in a coffee shop got her heading in the right direction as they introduced her to “the bike trails and good routes to ride on the roads, they even provided opportunity to ride with groups and with individuals.”

Johnson has found this a unique way to get to know people in the community.

You can just have really great conversations when you are out on the road on a bike,” she says. “That’s a big part of what I enjoy about it … I’ve met some really nice people. I have even gotten to share the gospel, and have had some good conversations with a number of people. I am trying to get into some regular group rides so that I can get to know more people.”

Tom Coussens, an experienced cyclist, active member of the SCV cycling community and friend of Johnson’s says, “You can just get on any bike and start riding… get to know some people outside the campus bubble. You get to meet a lot of folks from all walks of life who share a common interest… most are unsaved, so it’s a vast mission field as well.”

He speaks highly of the vast benefits of cycling concluding that, below the very elite levels, it is a very achievable sport for student budgets.

Allie Lawson, a good friend of Johnson’s from Sacramento, completed a five week, 3,000-mile ride across the United States during the summer of 2012, and refers to this experience as “magical and life changing.” Lawson played a large part in Johnson’s decision to get into road cycling.

“When Hannah got her bike it was so exciting to have a girl to ride with,” she says. “It’s been so fun to see her go from strongly disliking hills to crushing them.”

Lawson names cycling as “a most excellent sport,” recommending its every facet from “racing, to across country, to just commuting… it’s all good for your body.” She sees the sport in its more individual light and shares that options unique benefits which include 45 minutes of uninterrupted prayer time every morning and evening as she commutes to and from work. With a busy life now days this is the main cycling she is able to fit in.

Both Lawson and Coussens recommend this sport to students as a viable and enjoyable option regardless of your current skill or fitness. They are also both pleased with Johnson’s progression as a cyclist in her own right.

Last semester, Johnson participated in the “Bike MS” ride from Santa Monica to Ventura. This ride was 60 miles in length, and was ridden by teams each who had raised money for this Multiple Sclerosis foundation.

“That ride was special to me because my aunt has MS and so getting to participate in a fundraiser for MS was a cool opportunity. It actually meant a lot to my aunt and to other family that I did it,” Johnson says.

After completing the 60-mile “Bike MS” ride, Johnson and another rider were game to add another 30 miles to their total.

“I rode 90 miles that day which was my longest ride, but [there wasn’t] a lot of climbing, so [it was] pretty easy but a lot of fun,” Johnson says.

Johnson’s latest goal is to ride a century, which is 100 miles.

“Maybe over Christmas break. There is also an organized one above Santa Barbara in March, which sounds really fun,” she says.

By Bea Major

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