Name: Lekisha Hamilton
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Time Cycling: Nearly 20 years
Reason for Cycling: I enjoy cycling for recreation, fitness, and socializing.
In my 20s, I had a good friend who worked as a nurse, and her friends invited me to compete in the MS 150 Bike Tour for the National MS Society, a 150-mile, three-day ride. To take part, she encouraged me to purchase a new, more efficient bike, so I got a Trek gravel bike, which I still own today.
I didn’t complete the race because I didn’t feel prepared, but a new hobby was born. I continued to ride local paved and gravel trails, joined cycling groups in the area, and eventually purchased a road bike.
More From Bicycling
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where the cycling architecture is quite advanced. There are multiple cycling options—like paved and gravel trails and greenways. There’s also a local non-profit organization called Trailnet that organizes regular cycling events throughout the year that are fun, educational about the culture of the city, and competitive.
When I lived in St. Louis, I’d often often participate in these organized rides, such as the Tour of St. Louis, Tour de Donut, architectural tours, and gravel rides to the vineyard. They were all rides that helped me find joy on the bike.
My passion for cycling led me to start Cycling Out Loud, a company dedicated to making cycling skinsuits for women of all sizes. Cycling Out Loud was born in 2020, the year of COVID. Many people were discovering cycling, and seasoned cyclists were spending more time on their bikes. I was a part of the latter. As a result, I was shopping for new cycling gear both online and in local stores, and was extremely frustrated by the lack of options for women.
Most of what I saw was majorly overpriced, lacked flavor and individuality, and simply wasn’t flattering to my body type and curves. Cycling Out Loud was born from this frustration. I wanted to bring bold, bright colors, designs, and personality to cycling apparel.
In addition, I wanted to ensure all cyclists had something they felt they looked great in and that was specifically designed with women’s unique physiques and curves in mind. I also wanted to provide a mid-range price option so women didn’t feel like they were compromising comfort for budget.
After considering many options, I landed on women’s cycling skinsuits as my focus. At the time, cycling skinsuits were mainly worn by professional racers in European and Latin Countries.
During the website building process, there were no stock photos that showed people of color cycling in a professional or semi-professional capacity. I wanted to change that.
We’ve built a notable online community for both female and male cyclists, cyclists of color, and cyclists around the world. Many women have sent testimonials about how we have increased their confidence while on the bike, as they didn’t realize how just looking great pushed them to ride more confidently and frequently.
I still enjoy cycling recreationally and socially; competitive cycling has never been my thing. I love going out with local cycling groups, cycling as a form of exercise, meeting new people and exploring my city of Charlotte, North Carolina on my bike. What I enjoy most are themed cycling events, such as art tours, architectural tours, and light up the night tours.
Cycling has changed my life for the better in several ways. I’ve created lifelong friendships, and I enjoy having a hobby I can share with friends. When looking for a vacation, I generally first look for a bike tour. I also use cycling as a form of exercise, and that helps keep me fit and my muscles strong.
Explore the different types of cycling, such road, trail, or mountain to find your tribe and have fun. This helps ensure it will be a sustainable hobby. And, of course, find a cycling apparel brand that resonates with you and allows you to express yourself on the bike.
These three tips have made my cycling journey a success:
1. Have fun
Ensure your cycling routine includes people you truly enjoy spending time with, and it’s oriented around things that interest you (travel, art, wine, etc). This will help to instill a fun hobby that will last a lifetime.
2. Just do it
It can be intimidating looking at riders who have more experience (or “look” like they have more experience) and appear to be more outfitted. Focus on not comparing yourself and just jump in! We all started where you are right now.
3. Try everything
Test out the many types of cycling—you might be surprised that you love more than just one.
Lekisha’s Must-Have Gear
→ Cycling Out Loud Skinsuits: I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage all women to incorporate a cycling skinsuit into their wardrobe, regardless of size. The freedom it gives you to not worry about riding jerseys, rolling shorts, or any peek-a-boos is life changing.
→ BOLLFO Cycling Glasses: Definitely add these to your arsenal to keep the sun out of your face while riding; you can’t help looking fly! I usually grab an inexpensive pair from Amazon, as I tend to often misplace or break them.
We want to hear how cycling changed you! Send your story and submit your photos to us via this web form. We’ll pick one each week to highlight on the site.