Hi! My name is Alena. This is my story of how my love for cycling began and why I love team Evesham.
I came to the US from Belarus when I was almost 19. I had no job or place to go when I landed in JFK on June 11, 2004. The stars must have been all lined up for me when I started my journey to pursue my American dream. I safely got to Wildwood, found a place to live with 8 roommates, got a job in a restaurant on the boardwalk and worked long hours all summer long trying to save up because I did not know where I would end up once summer in Wildwood was over.
One day in the middle of summer I was having some immigration issues due to a misspelling of my name. I was sitting on the side of the road in Cherry Hill and I was uncontrollably crying. A woman pulled over, asked me what was wrong, took me to lunch and eventually asked me if I wanted to live with her and her family once summer was over. Just like that I was picked up off the street and “adopted” into a warm and loving family. I will be forever grateful for this encounter. This woman, Linda Amorosia, has become my American mom; her kids, Brenna, Anthony and Nick, have become my American siblings.
Fast forward a few years later, I graduated from Temple University School of pharmacy in 2011 at age 25. While in pharmacy school I became an avid runner. I also met some people who did Irish Pub Tour de Shore every year. I really wanted to try cycling, so I went out one day and bought myself a brand new shiny road bike with cage pedals. I had no idea what I was doing. I did not know how to brake or shift gears. The possibility of getting a flat was not even on my mind when I first got my bike. I went out once or twice for a very short ride and, honestly, I was a little freaked out. I decided that I needed to make some friends in my area who loved to cycle, knew what they were doing, and could teach me a few things about cycling. So I Googled “cycling clubs” in Cherry Hill zip code. This is how I found out about team Evesham.
I showed up for a Thursday night ride one day not knowing what to expect. I still had my cage pedals, no water bottle, no cycling gloves and no flat tire supplies. I had no idea what I was doing. I was scared.
I was immediately welcomed by Sandy and 3-4 other guys who showed up to ride that day. They told me not to worry about that night’s ride and that they would stay with me the whole time. Sandy and I chatted the whole ride. I was shown how to shift when going uphill and downhill, I was introduced to clipless pedals, Sandy explained why cycling jerseys have big pockets on the back (for snacks and stuff, duh!). It was definitely a day and a ride to remember! Just like that I was hooked to cycling and was excited to meet more people on Team Evesham!
I started showing up for Sunday rides and occasional Thursday night rides. I eventually got the “cool” pedals. I rode with C group, then B group, and even attempted a portion of the route with speedy A’s one day. I loved that fact that no rider was ever left behind, and everyone was so friendly and caring. I did not join a cycling club- I joined a cycling family! It was amazing! I ended up riding in Philadelphia Bike-a-thon for ACS and Tour de Shore. I pushed myself further and started participating in triathlons. I have met so many people through the sport of cycling and so many are now my good friends.
I live in Minnesota now and truly miss Team Evesham. I proudly wear my Team Evesham jersey and brag about it every chance I get. Sandy, Dennis, Brad, Laura, Cathy, Wesley, Carrie, Simon, Jason (just to mention a few people) – I miss you guys! Maybe I should start a club like that in Minnesota, what do you think?