Ride for Life

Simone Justice found her life’s drive in cycling and is determined to see the sport better reflect and reach out to minority communities.

Who would have ever thought I would end up in Madison, Wisconsin? Somehow a 29-year-old, African-American lesbian from Queens, New York did, though.

It’s been biking that has inspired all of my many goals and travels and brought me this far. I currently work at Trek Bicycle Corporation as a warranty/technical support representative. Basically, my days are centered on providing technical support and managing/processing warranty claims for parts of the east coast region. But it all started with me riding around the neighborhood in Queens—biking for fun, to my grandma’s house, and to just get away for a bit.

“Are you one of those ‘lesbionics’?” my Nana used to ask. I knew from a very young age that I was attracted to women. Man, have the times changed! I never thought growing up as a lesbian could be so easy and even trendy. I never experienced overt prejudice because of my sexual orientation.

Basketball, volleyball, and cycling are just a few of the sports I participated in, so I’ve always been a tomboy. Cycling is the one I chose to make a career out of because it was the sport with the least injuries. Seriously.

This sport has broadened my horizons and granted me access to people and things I never knew existed, such as mountain biking trails in New Rochelle where I attended college, and a century (100 mile) ride to Montauk, Long Island. It is also an easy and simple means of reliable transportation. Attending Monroe College, I decided one day to pop into a local bike shop on campus. I got a job there the next day.

From there, I excelled. Starting as a cashier and then moving to sales, I earned promotions up to the manager position. Working in the biking industry also exposed me to careers I did not know existed. Now, biking is my life, but I’m one of very few African American individuals who fall in that category. I never saw a clear image of what I wanted for myself because it didn’t really exist. So, here I am now, breaking barriers and putting myself out there for people like me who may not see themselves represented in the bigger picture of sports. Sometimes you have to be your own role model.

Since moving to Madison, I’ve been an active member of this thriving community, volunteering for Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics, Trek Women’s Summit Event, Wheel & Sprocket and Bikeorama Expos, and as an active member of Black Girls Do Ride.

Black Girls Do Ride Madison is a group I can relate to the most. It reaches out to a non-represented culture within the biking community. The founder of this great organization, Christina Outlay, has been an awesome example and motivator for me and others to feel part of a community. Working in the cycling industry for more than 10 years does not mean I feel represented, which is why organizations like this are so important.

I will continue to be involved here, participating in mountain bike clinics and basic skills courses. Moving forward, my ultimate goal is to be a brand ambassador, joining a marketing team to reach and gain more traction from all minority audiences in cycling. I want to be the first to take a step in the biking industry to spread equality in both representation and availability. Ultimately, I want to change the world by spreading wellness and helping people experience the greatness I have—one bike ride at a time.