“This is the core of the human spirit… If we can find something to live for—if we can find some meaning to put at the center of our lives—even the worst kind of suffering becomes bearable.” Viktor Frankl
I believe that to understand my love and passion for cycling you must know the origin of its birth…
I have always been awestruck by the idea of being an Ironman (a feat that I am sure I will accomplish one day). After all, the title brings with it such a strength and dignity. However, I knew there would be no way to start there given my intense fear of drowning. In November 2011, I jokingly told a friend that I wanted to do a triathlon expecting her to tell me how crazy I was for wanting to do one. Instead, she offered to join me in my quest given that she had already trained for a triathlon and believed that she knew what we needed to do.
And so that quest began… We chose the Marineland Triathlon being held April 2012 and created a training plan that included lifting, swimming, running, and riding. I trained for it with a friend’s mountain bike which was actually pretty miserable and did not leave me with the desire of becoming a passionate cyclist. The thing is, I am a pretty stubborn person and, in my stubbornness, I refused to do the tri using a mountain bike. I, in turn, set out to find a road bike because it seemed like a superb idea and I didn’t have anything better to waste my money on at the time. After a few weeks of looking and a little help from some friends, I found my bike. I didn’t research it much and, had I done so, I may have spent a little more for a much better bike. Time was running out and, honestly, the bike I found was a shade of blue that spoke to me and I knew that it was meant to be mine. But, I digress… A couple weeks after I bought my bike, I did that triathlon and I loved every moment of every excruciating minute of that journey.
Most would assume that this is where my love for cycling began but, it is not. Following my triathlon, I hung up my bike for nearly a year because I was focused on work and on being madly in love. In July 2013, I went through a horrendous break up… The kind of break up that brings you to your knees and rakes your very being across hot coals. I was broken… My mind, body, heart, and my soul were all very, very broken. It was the kind of brokenness that you swear you will never heal from because you just can’t remember what it was like to NOT feel broken… My self-confidence had been stolen from me, or rather; I had chosen to give my self-confidence away (wrapped up like a present with a pretty bow on top too). I had alienated a lot of the people in my life that had meant the most to me because I thought that the love I felt could conquer all and that it was the place that I needed to be. I was wrong but as they say, “hindsight is 20/20.” The loneliness and sadness that I felt on a daily basis was unmatched by any feelings that I had ever felt before. I felt as if I was trapped in a dark room 24 hours a day, I was essentially going through the motions of life.
The suggestion that would ultimately bring me to a place where I would begin to heal came from a very unlikely source… A source that, in his own right, had caused a lot of broken feelings of his own within me… My ex-husband. My brokenness at the time had the powerful side effect of bringing us closer as human beings sharing the Earth; one could say that it brought us together as friends. I am not sure that even he knows the power that his simple suggestion had on my life. He simply encouraged me to get up and start doing something physical, whatever it might be. He told me that it might be about time to use my bike and go for a ride. I had no better solution so I rode… My first ride I went on was a 15 mile ride and the rest from that point on is history…
Something happened on that ride and on every subsequent ride thereafter. It was as if the time that I spent on my bike was free from the dark shadow that had begun clouding every facet of my life after my break up. I began to crave that light, that freedom, that happiness, that ability to breathe, that sense of accomplishment, that sense of self-confidence… I didn’t feel small while I was riding, I felt powerful beyond belief. I felt as if I could conquer anything. Riding fixed my brokenness, it awakened my soul… Riding made me feel whole again. Riding opened my mind to the idea of forgiveness, to the idea of letting go… There is something about being alone with my bike and the road that brings about a sense of togetherness. There is no crazy world invading my every thought, no phone to attend to, no work to do, no one pulling me in a multitude of directions, there is only me and my thoughts. I am quite ADHD in real life but while I am riding, my thoughts are focused and succinct. I have deep conversations with myself about issues I am facing, about my hopes, about my dreams, about God, about life, about the people I care about, and, often times, about nothing at all.
I have never been a solitary creature; I thrive in the company of others. I acknowledge that a lot of that was because I feared being alone and in silence. Riding changed that… I look forward to my alone time, sometimes hours on end of solitude. I have learned the power of silence and learned about the healing that can take place when one learns to be silent. There are many instances where I will be well into a ride and realize that I have thought about nothing at all and that I have spent all that time lost in the nature and the road around me. I am a firm believer in the saying that “there is nothing that a good bike ride can’t fix.” I am pretty certain, at times, that given the chance I could solve the world’s most difficult issues while out riding my bike. Unfortunately, my ADHD causes me to forget all those amazing solutions as soon as I step back into reality… We do, after all, all have an Achilles heel to contend with.
My bike may not be the best but it is mine. It is my 3rd baby and it understands me more than any human being ever will. It works just as hard as I do, it doesn’t push me when I can’t go, it gives me everything that I put into it, it is where I go when I need to feel free. I think that it would be fair and safe to say that my bike has saved my life and my sanity. Cycling has helped me heal, grow, challenge myself, dream bigger dreams, be a happier person, become a better mother, and become a better friend. It has given me a refuge when the world seemed to be crashing down, when nothing around me made sense. It gave me a safe place to cry, a safe place to “be.”
I am a cyclist. I may not be the fastest, the strongest, or the best climber but I am a cyclist nonetheless. I continue to expand my cycling goals because when people tell me that I can’t, when I tell myself that I can’t, I have to prove that, in fact, I can and I will.
“You can accomplish anything you wish that is not contradictory to the laws of God or man, providing you are willing to pay a price.”