(photo courtesy of Maria Borowik)
Meet Maria Borowik. An Argentinian/Canadian, she found her way to the southeastern United States because of love, and although she and that man parted, she let love of the outdoors steer her forward. An avid adventurer who split her growing-up years between countries who has since traveled via human-powered transportation around the world, Maria has learned to make home wherever she is, and to connect with the memory of her sister (who died eight years ago) when she rides a bike. Maria told me:
“My sister and I had a love for bikes from a very young age. After her suicide, I found a sense of peace when riding a bike. I could remember her without so much pain, and I was able to develop a new relationship with bikes in the world.”
At the time of her sister’s death, Maria was working in Decatur, Georgia with Ken Rosskoff, a lawyer who is an avid cyclist. She says she was originally hired as an interpreter but ended up being trained from scratch as a litigation paralegal. Ken poured his love of bike riding into her, she told me, and this continued when the firm was invited to be part of Bike law, a national network of law firms (each led by attorneys who are cyclists themselves) representing bike riders injured by motor vehicle drivers.
Maria left in 2016 to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, which starts in Georgia (she went beyond the Maine terminus to include the international leg of the trail in Canada). In 2017 (funding her travels with proceeds from being The Balloon Lady — that’s a whole other story that’s totally worth the six minutes), she traveled by public transportation and bike through South and Central America. In 2018, she hit Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and even ran the original marathon in Athens, Greece. In 2019, now back at the firm and taking a vacation, she biked from metro Atlanta to Key West, thereby completing her human-powered travel of the entire East Coast of the United States.
Now the Quality Control Manager of the firm (Hagen Rosskoff), Maria spends a great deal of her time focusing on Bike Law Georgia’s work, not just supporting the representation of injured cyclists but also influencing policymakers in conjunction with the state advocacy organization Georgia Bikes; encouraging the enforcement of existing laws; and teaching a certified Bike 101 course to police departments, bike clubs, social groups, and schoolchildren (offered for free, by the way). Bike Law also provides free state law booklets (many bike riders carry this with them to show police officers if they are stopped even though they are riding legally); rider identification cards; magnets; and more.
Maria, whose bike riding now includes commuting to and from work as well as bike touring and gravel rides, said:
“Grief is very transformative. It challenges your borders and your perception of who you are. When I look at myself, I feel like I am in constant movement — physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And I’ve learned I don’t have to plan very much when I travel. I just find a local bike. My advice for others? if you have a willingness to ride any available bike, you’ll make an immediate connection with the community when you travel.”
Thank you, Maria, for all you are doing to make it more welcoming to ride bikes in the USA — and to encourage more world travel (when it’s safe again to do so re: COVID-19) via bike.
If you are interested in finding out more about BikeLaw’s services and outreach offerings, see the national Bike Law website here and tap in to the interactive map to find a bike crash firm in your state. You can even order this terrific face mask for just $5:
Having just recently survived a hit-and-run while Traveling at the Speed of Bike in the place I call home, I am grateful that specialized services, education, and advocacy efforts such as those offered by BikeLaw exist.
The complete series:
10. Meet Irene Lutts
14. Meet Jenn Dice
28. Meet Megan Ramey
30. Meet Aly Nicklas