User Stories: Katie Spotz and Ride 4 Water
Welcome to our blog series featuring remarkable user stories of individuals who have embarked on incredible biking journeys with the trusty companion of Reelight bike lights. Today, we have the privilege of hearing from Katie Spotz, an adventurous soul who recently took part in the charity event Ride4Water across the picturesque state of Maine.
Katie Spotz is no stranger to pushing her limits. Known for her remarkable feats of endurance and determination, she has previously rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean and conquered various cycling, running and swimming challenges. Katie is the author of the book Just Keep Rowing, she has given a TED talk on her many incredible challenges and she is a great charitable ambassador. Ride4Water, a charity event aiming to raise awareness and funds for clean water initiatives, provided Katie with the perfect opportunity to combine her passion for cycling and her desire to make a positive impact in the world.
Throughout her exhilarating journey, Katie relied on the powerful and versatile Reelight bike lights to ensure her safety and visibility, especially during the challenging night rides. From traversing rural roads to conquering mountainous terrains, the Reelight bike lights proved to be a reliable and indispensable companion, illuminating the path ahead and alerting others to her presence.
In this post, Katie is sharing her awe-inspiring journey. Join us as we discover the challenges she faced, the breathtaking moments she experienced, and the remarkable impact she made through her dedication and determination.
At 17 years old, I took a walking/running gym class because I thought it would be an easy A; although, at the time, I wouldn't have called myself "active" or "athletic" by any stretch. I remember showing up to that class one day and being told I had to run a mile — eight laps around the school's track. TBH, that sounded like a massive undertaking. After nearly sprinting around the track, I made it to the end. I was shocked; I had no idea my body was capable of doing that. I wanted — needed — to keep experiencing that feeling over and over again.
In the years to come, endurance challenges became my life — and they went way beyond just running. In 2008, I became the first person to swim the 325-mile length of the Allegheny River. In 2010, I set the world record for being the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 2011, I biked 375 miles in 24 hours as part of the San Francisco Randonneurs 600K Fort Bragg Brevet. That year, I also completed the 3,000-mile bicycle relay for Race Across America. In 2014, I completed my first Ironman in Louisville and went on to finish three more in Texas, Chattanooga, and in Louisville again.
In the midst of it all, I also ran several marathons. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I got into ultrarunning. In the span of one year, I ran three 100-mile races and realized my true passion lied in where my journey began: running.
Doing ultra-endurance events often puts my mind and body in the ultimate state of flow and allows me to be completely focused on just that one step ahead. During Run4Water across Maine in 2020 - running 138-miles nonstop across the state in 33 hours - mile 50 had me pondering whether there could have been a better, more fun way to see the state than by legs alone.
In my next challenge, Ride4Water across Maine I had just that chance to both pick up the pace by cycling and slow down the pace by stopping to discover the beauty along the long, rocky Atlantic Coast. The home of the most photographed lighthouse in the world, vast coastlines, incredible seafood. Maine is an easy choice for seeing the splendor, majesty, and inviting nature of the American landscape, and its people.
Hearing cacophonous waves crashing into the rocky shore at Thunder Hole, stopping to grab blueberries, smelling the piney trees, and the moisture in the air before a sudden rainstorm, all experiences that were distinctly North New England and exuded its charms.
There is a saying in the region Downeast, where I am currently stationed: “you can’t get theya from here-a.” It’s distinctly Maine, and often true in a still-wild state full of bear, moose, timber; and more coastline than California. You can’t get anywhere you can’t see and be safely seen by motorists. I went across Maine, but I wouldn’t have been able to without my Reelights especially on those early mornings and during inclement weather.
It lasted 360-miles across the state, covering about 60 miles every day. The journey ended in Kittery, Maine just across the river from the New Hampshire state line. Cycling past Acadia National Park, Old Orchard Beach, Portland Head Light, Kennebunkport, and beaches like Popham was like a supercut of the Pine Tree State. If you want to fall in love with everything a state has to offer, get on a bike, throw on your Reelights and go.
While I'm certainly motivated by breaking records and striving for the impossible, I'm also inspired by the causes I get to support during these challenges. Throughout the years, I’ve mainly worked with organizations that help to provide clean water and sanitation for underserved communities — an initiative that benefits billions of people around the globe. Worldwide, an estimated 2.2 billion people lack access to a safe, clean water source, and roughly 4.2 billion people live without adequate sanitation services, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In doing my part to help those suffering from the current water crisis, my adventures have taken me all across the world.
For me, it’s all about the water. The “why” behind what I do. Adventures can last a day or a week but the impact can last a lifetime. Funds raised riding across Maine went towards funding a clean water project in Uganda on behalf of H2O for Life. H2O for Life. It was the experience of a lifetime for me and I am honored that it resulted in making a real difference in the lives of those who now have access to clean water. There are too many people on the planet we share without clean water and we can change that.
Small things can make a huge difference. Reelight is doing that by making it possible to cycle in a safer and simpler way. Knowing I had lights requiring no batteries or external power sources, meant that I was able to focus on the road ahead and mission behind the Ride4Water.
As always, I hope you know you can do big things even if you don’t believe you can. You can do big things despite having fears, worries, or doubts. You can even do big things even if you don’t feel like it all the time. All you have to do? Show up and start. Pedal around your state, and see what you find.
Sometimes I look back and think of my 17-year-old self, and the disbelief I felt when I ﬁnished running my ﬁrst mile. Countless runs and endurance challenges later, I still feel like every mile is worthy of that reaction. It's the curiosity and celebration of those little accomplishments that keep me wondering: Can I take another step? Can I swim another stroke? Can I turn the pedal one more time?
If nothing else, I hope my story inspires people to channel their own extraordinary abilities. Remember: Each and every one of us is capable of making a difference in this world.
Written by Katie Spotz.