I love to ride my bike. No, I am not one of those people who ride 100 miles, 7 days a week – but I am definitely hooked. Growing up I enjoyed riding a bike. I was the second oldest of 5 children in a household that only had two bikes. But most of the time, it was my brother Paul and I who had the bikes. But I was an entrepreneur at a young age doing a wide-range of odd jobs. By the time I was in 6th grade, I had saved up enough money to buy my own bike – a 10 speed. Even though in retrospect, it was much too big for me, I loved it nonetheless. In a lot of ways, riding was a great sense of freedom for me.
During my first years at college, I continued to ride. I still enjoyed it, but mostly rode for commuting purposes. I tried riding my first century when I was 20 years old. A friend who I worked with was riding it, so I though – what the heck. I had not trained, at all. I just showed up early that morning and jumped on my bike. Even though I was young – I bonked big time. It took me over 8 hours and by the time I was done, I was miserable.
Over the years, I continued to ride, but as I got more busy with business and other things in life, I seemed to ride less and less. I tried a mountain bike when they were first popular, but never got hooked. Wanting to get back into it, I decided to buy a Trek Hybrid. I rode it for several years, but much of the cycling passion I experienced when I was younger no longer seemed to exist. And my neck and shoulders always seemed to be in pain from riding.
In May of 2002, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My life turned around. About a year after I had completed chemo and having a bilateral mastectomy, I was ready to start making some changes in my life. Cycling was something I wanted to explore again.
I headed off to a local bike store and looked at the different bikes. I really had no idea what I wanted – still thought a hybrid would be the best. I test rode a couple, and they were nice. But then I saw the road bikes. I always loved my road bikes! I decided to take one out for a spin. Oh yeah! I remember that feeling! I was on the road to being hooked again.
I convinced my partner to come with me to test ride a couple of road bikes. She wasn’t too keen on the idea of riding a road bike. She was still leaning towards getting another hybrid, or a recumbent. But she came anyway. We took out two bikes for about a 20 minute ride. Now she was hooked too!
Once again, cycling became a regular part of my life. As a cancer survivor, there is a wonderful phenomenon that happens when I ride. I feel strong. I feel like I have beat cancer. The lingering fear of recurrence disappears. I feel like I am alive.
More importantly, I feel like I am living! When life gets too busy, and I am not on the bike, my whole psyche changes. I don’t sleep as well. I tend to feel depressed. I start worrying about my health again. I am not happy. It’s difficult when I get in this mode – I don’t really want to ride. But for some reason, I do. And when I get on my bike, within seconds — everything changes. The movement of the bike, the momentum, the motion, the rhythm – there is nothing like it.
Some people say they live to ride. Other’s say they ride to live. I do both.