• Abigail Hall

Casale says cycling rescued her from chaos

Originally published at Muskogee Phoenix, Healthy Living Magazine, summer 2018 edition, cover story.

Not a day passes where Esthela Casale does not ride her hot pink bicycle. Whether she’s out for a leisure ride or competing in a race, Casale cannot help but cycle in some form or another.

In 2017, the life Casale knew came to sudden halt when she became a 32-year-old single mother to her two sons. In the midst of a dark time in her life, she turned to cycling and found solace in the activity.

“There was a lot of chaos going on, (but) every time I got on the bike, I was able to process everything that was going on and put a plan into action,” she said.

Casale said she got through this time in her life by cycling everywhere, everyday. The physical act of cycling built emotional and physical determination in her mind and body, she said.

At the time, she was already a member of Muskogee Area Cycling, a local cycling community, where she had built solid friendships. After finding a community where she felt supported and challenged, she wanted to use her experience to help others interested in the activity.

Casale founded a nonprofit, Live Love Cycle, in March 2017 as a way to provide cycling and racing resources, build self love and strengthen her cycling community, she said.

“I knew I wanted to bring cycling to the community, and I wanted it to  be a little more personal,” Casale said. “Because to me, riding a bike is not just hopping on a bike and going and getting miles, it’s really being in touch with your surroundings.”

Since the formation of the nonprofit, Casale has used Live Love Cycle to sponsor racing cyclists, organize community rides and safety ride workshops.

One of the cyclists she has helped is Wonk Milligan, a local cyclist and member of Muskogee Area Cycling. Through Live Love Cycle, Casale sponsors Milligan in his racing career and aims to help him receive a cycling college scholarship.

Milligan said before he met Casale, he rarely cycled and has gained a passion, and hopefully, a future in cycling.

“If it wasn’t for Esthela, I wouldn’t have (participated in) the races, I wouldn’t have met the people I did,” Milligan said. “She’s helped out a lot. It’s never too late and it’s never too soon to start riding.”

Live Love Cycle is comprised of Casale and the nonprofit’s board of directors, Casale’s younger sister Blanca Burns and friend Galia Alrafi, who help with finances, support and organization.

While Casale said Live Love Cycle is an independent entity to the cycling group, because of her origins and friendships through the group, the nonprofit works to benefit their local community in Muskogee and beyond.

Blanca Burns said she and her family share love for cycling with her sister. She said she is proud of her sister and enjoys sharing a love of cycling with her.

“I am most proud of her for bringing cycling to a community that didn’t know anything about it,” Burns said. “It’s cool how she’s able to bring people together.”

Casale said Live Love Cycle is a cycling resource to anyone in need. Through the nonprofit, Casale and her group offer cycling advice and instruction, information about local trails and safe riding, support and resources for racers, she said.

“Live Love Cycle is here to make your cycling experience easy, fun and motivating, exciting — whether you’re a racer, or you’re just starting out,” Casale said.

Those interested in Live Love Cycle, or with cycling questions, should contact Casale through the Live Love Cycle Facebook page.

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