Rider Profile: Lizzy Rojas
Photography by Chris Lee
I'm not sure how it was that I didn't know Lizzy Rojas. We grew up in the same city, had so many friends in common, but somehow we had never met. We connected over social media and finally made a plan to meet in real life. When we finally sat down together, it was as if we had always known each other. Lizzy's warmth and enthusiasm is captivating. Her eyes light up when she talks about her myriad cycling ventures. She is involved in so many projects, from her cycling based film projects to her work with Times Up New York. Her life is truly guided by her love of cycling.
We were particularly excited that this rider profile allowed us to work with photographer Chris Lee. A veteran courier himself, his photos truly capture someone driven by their love of bikes. This isn't a social media ready highlights reel, but the real work of someone giving back to their community. We look forward to seeing all that Lizzy does here in New York.
You grew up in Miami, which for all its great weather, isn't the most 'bike-friendly' city. How did you get into cycling in South Florida?
This is totally valid, it's really not a bike-friendly city. I've been into cycling since I was a kid. I spent most of my time outdoors with my brothers and neighbors. Riding our bikes was a daily ritual. It wasn’t until my late teens that I began cycling intensely. I began to really get into riding because two my my closest friends growing up, Fabian Garcia and Randy Caraballo, had become increasingly involved in the bike community. We created rides within our circle of friends and attended rides throughout South Florida. From there I kind fell in love and began to ride by myself.
It sounds like you are particularly drawn to riding in cities. What is it that you really love about urban cycling?
It kind of feels like a video game in a way. The intensity of this city really resonates with me. I'm able to speak a certain language with it all. From weaving between cars and beating traffic, it makes me feel like I'm invisible in a weird way. There's something so invigorating about being challenged by an environment like the streets of New York City. I purposely challenge myself by remaining 100% focus and calm mentally. While my surroundings are chaotic. It's a major meditation for me.
What was it like when you first rode in New York?
It was magical. The excitement of new sights was overwhelmingly beautiful. I rode along the East River bike path. I’ll never forget I was biking to Battery Park and thought to myself “This is crazy”. I went from riding mostly flat terrain in the middle of the suburbs to riding with skyscrapers next to me. I fell in love and I knew I’d never want to stop having this feeling.
How about your first winter cycling in New York?
Riding in the winter is rough. Let alone someone like me that is still not used to winters. I had to learn what to wear. How to protect my hands and my face. It wasn’t the happiest transition, but with that being said, I ended up appreciating it so much more. It is relatively quiet in the streets compared to the warmer weather. If you’re lucky enough to be riding just as the snow starts falling, then you know what a mystical experience that is.
Tell me a little about your favorite ride.
Honestly, my favorite ride was back in 2011 when my friends from Miami came to visit me for The Bicycle Film Festival. We had a blast! I was cycling with all these guys and and they are definitely a little reckless. Lots of fun, but you need to know what you’re doing to be able to stay safe. We were in Chinatown bombing down Canal Street. It was a trip, we were weaving between traffic. Kind of felt like it was our own alley cat. That was such a great memory! The rush of the city, and to be able to share that moment with people that I love is what its all about.
You recently became a courier. In winter. Do people think you're crazy? Are you just totally stoked to riding your bike every day?
Do people think I’m crazy? Yes, they do. Most of my friends don’t understand why I would do something like become a courier. Let alone become a courier in the winter. The way I see it is I get to do what I love and make some extra cash while I do it. I love that this job has given me the motivation to get on my bike everyday. Weather isn’t a concern for me as much. I am now much more focused on preparation.
What's it like being one of the few women who does what you do? Do you think other women should try being couriers?
I guess it feels pretty cool to be one of the only women. It really empowers me to push the envelope and continue pursuing outlets where I can be of a positive influence. I’d like to think that everyone should do what they love regardless of their gender. I think women should try it out if it’s something that they genuinely have a passion for. It’s not the easiest of gigs, lets be honest but if you love it, then do it.
What is your next project?
My next project is to become an active member of the bike community. I’m partnering up with Times UP New York. I’m taking bike mechanic classes and hope to also take bike welding classes. I want to learn as much as I can. That way I can become a resource for my community and hope to influence those around me to create a positive and active change for commuters in the city.