Tona Ferguson’s is not a conventional cyclist origin story. A skateboarder, a west African immigrant, a dude with a face tattoo. He doesn’t look like most bike riders in New South Wales.
He describes a challenging early life after emigrating to Australia, but – and this is where his story becomes universal – he found freedom in cycling.
“We couldn’t afford proper rental. Obviously, we relied on the department of housing,” he explains. “We always had a roof over our head, food on the table and two loving parents, but my parents did believe in physical discipline.
When things weren’t that easy at home, and I needed to escape, I’d jump on my bike.”
Now living near Sydney, he is a proud father of two. Cycling plays a vital role in his life, as a tool to pursue self-improvement. A building block for a better version of himself.
“Taking shitty experiences and being a shitty person before and transferring that into positive experiences like being a dad, moving forward, working on myself, working on my emotions. The bike is a stepping stone towards self-improvement.”
For Ferguson, cycling isn’t just about personal growth. It’s also about self-expression and being your own person on the bike. It’s with this change in mindset that his relationship with cycling has progressed to what it is today.
“I wouldn’t say it’s flourishing because you know you can always be faster, stronger, fitter on the bike, but it’s guiding me. It’s helping me. Now, it’s a sanctuary for me. It’s freedom, it’s physical and mental health, it’s self-expression.
“When I’m on a bike I want to wear fun stuff, I want to search brands, I want to do that sort of thing so it’s a hobby and an interest that’s more positive than other ones that I’ve been involved in when I was younger.”
Cycling means different things to different people, and individual pursuits make the sport what it is. From a rider chasing time trial PBs, to one training for an ultra, there’s something for everyone. Progress is made more-often-than-not by the outsiders. It’s an aggregation of changes, pushed through by the collective, that add up to something greater. The enhanced perspective of an expanded consciousness.