Breaking the Mold
by Emma Bishop | May 17, 2018 | General
From a small mountainside town in Ecuador to Connecticut, entrepreneur and single mom of three Paola Ortega is all about setting the bar high and then soaring above it
Paola Ortega, 40, has been a resident in the USA for 18 years. Cycling was never part of life in the USA, it came to her two years ago in the form of therapy when her marriage ended and she started the transition from married life to life as a single mom with three girls.
“I always used to cycle back home in Ecuador, back then it was my only transport. Rekindling my love for cycling after my divorce helped me overcome the hard times that I was going through.”
Those hard times include discovering she had breast cancer following a fall while out cycling. Ortega shrugs off the discovery as just, one of those things.
“How we overcome problems, is how we succeed. That (breast cancer) was not going to stop me. I tell my girls, you live by example – it’s in your hands.”
Through her cycling group, Cycling Connection CT she learnt of GFNY NYC and decided to sign up in order to prove that she can ultimately do anything if she puts her mind to it. She also had the full support from her three girls. Sunday will be Ortega’s first century ride.
“It’s my first and I’m really excited and also very nervous. I’m sure I will be in pain but enjoying it at the same time!”
Training for a Century ride is no small thing. It takes planning, preparation and dedication. If you are a single mom it also takes heaps of organization and the ability to prioritize that only a single mom would know how. When Ortega is not making ice cream at Tropiglace, a family business from Ecuador she brought to the USA, she may be ferrying her girls, Emilly 19, Natalie 14 and Isabella 10 years old around.
“I take literally any opportunity to ride, in cycling classes, on the trainer and on the road. Actually my bike and cycling kit are in the car with me all the time, just in case,” she laughs.
Ortega likens riding to complete freedom. She has also discovered and recommends it as a great stress reliever.
“When I am going downhill I usually scream. My friends know that this is not a cry for help but just my stress reliever. It’s also a plus to be able to lose a pound and makes it all a perfect combination!”
Understanding there are limits but never afraid to push them, Ortega believes people get distracted in life and this prevents us from dedicating time to things that really matter.
In a world where men dominate the sport of cycling, Ortega is all about encouraging more women on bikes and has inspired her girls with her determination and training.
“Emilly and Natalie are so excited. Yesterday was their first time riding with me, it was awesome to do that and I look forward to more rides as a family in the future.