It takes a hundred miles of love to heal a mile of pain. – Ben Harper
Like many of you, I self-medicate with the bicycle. I find it is the best therapy that money can’t buy. Many problems have been solved or at least temporary ignored during long bike rides. My desired dose is three to four hours of solitary confinement, just me and the bike. Ideally that dose would be administered two to three times per week, but often it happens only one to two times per month. While I crave more, I’ll take what I can get and cherish every moment of those sessions.
Over years, there have been a variety issues dealt with on those rides, ranging from trivial issues such as girlfriends or pending term papers, but recently my time has been consumed with a more pressing matters.
In the summer of 2011, my nephew was diagnosed with cancer. This is never news you want to hear, but it was even more devastating this time because he was only two years old. Hell, devastating isn’t even the right word. In fact, I’m not sure that there is a word in the English language that can properly describe the impact this news had on my family.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years prior, I heavily medicated with the bike. Early that year I had signed up for Leadville and the timing couldn’t have been better. I used those long solo rides as a way to clear my head, cry, sweat…turn the pedals in anger at times. Each time I returned from those rides, I felt a little bit better. Those rides weren’t making my mom feel better, they weren’t easing the pain of her chemo and treatments, but they were helping me cope with the gravity of the situation and process my emotions. In turn, this allowed me to communicate better with her, to have what would be my final conversations with her. The delta 8 cartridges is what one can get their hands on to get help with anxiety.
Since that form of medication/therapy worked so well for me, I decided to write another prescription for myself in an effort to help with cope with the pending struggle my nephew was about to endure. Whenever I was suffering on the bike I thought of him and his suffering. The pain we experience on the bike is a metaphor for life, but it is nothing compared to what goes on in the oncology ward. Getting caught in the rain no longer seems so bad, in fact we should consider ourselves fortunate that we can get caught in the rain. The pain of turning yourself inside out on a climb, nothing compared to the pain of literally being turned inside out as the chemo meds rip through your body.
The next time you think it’s too cold, too windy, too hot, you’re too tired, you have work to do, you’ll ride tomorrow…stop those thoughts immediately and get out on your bike. Rather than look for reasons to not ride your bike, create reasons to ride your bike. We owe it to ourselves and to those who aren’t able to ride. Ride in their honor.by
Thank you for this, Legs…I needed to read this; the bike is indeed a great outlet for grief.
I posted about this on the DC FB page awhile ago..8 weeks ago today, my girlfriend died in a fall while we were riding around the West Maui mountains on the second day of our vacation. :(
We were doing what we loved together. 2012 was the best year of my life: finally meeting and falling in love with a beautiful woman and spending nearly every moment together, and riding 10k miles (highlights: Haleakala [Maui], Ride the Rockies, Liege-Bastogne-Liege)
Every ride is bittersweet now without my soulmate and riding partner. But I need the therapy, now more than ever. Every ride in her honor.
Great piece, Legs. And, Expat In NL, that comment above… I’m without words. I’m very sorry for your loss.
I am going riding tomorrow. And I’m going to fucking drill it.
Thanks, legs. We all need that reminder sometimes. Today I ride for Quinn too.
Ex Pat in NL, I can’t even imagine what you must be going through, but know that she is with you on each of those rides and you need those rides to heal the wounds.
Crazy how theraputic this deal can be.
Perspective on life from the turn of a crank.
It isn’t a wonder why we are a community.
my brother and i recently did a memorial ride for our dad who died of cancer in 2006. losing someone you love is the worst thing that can happen in life, yet life goes on for the living. we keep riding because it’s fun, we keep riding because our friends and family would want us to.
My deepest condolences Ex Pat, I can’t even imagine the loss.
Thank you Legs for the motivation.
And thank you Jonny, I’ll be doing some drilling now too.
Not just emotional pain–my wife is getting ready for her hip replacement surgery. For the last few months she can’t stand, walk, or drive comfortably–but riding is no problem! Four hard hours on a bike are more comfortable for her than a thirty-minute car drive. She’s going to be riding a trainer a couple of weeks after the operation–she’ll be a damned animal once she’s back on the road;)
We have a local man who has come through cancer treatment a few years ago. This week they found more. My long tome riding buddy is feeling the pain with his mother as well. They will motivate me to whine less and pedal harder in their honor.
Next time I ride I truly hope the sky opens up and it pours.
My condolences Legs.
Thanks, just in from a 2 hour bushwack through new and old snow, willows, alders. My hips hurt, my elbows can only do one movement pain free (pole) and my back is often jelly. I am so lucky.
Excellent post, thanks for sharing. My thoughts are with your family.
“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.”
BGW and Mikey: I give you this.
A few years back I too had my heart knocked out of my chest with the news of a compadre forced to lay down to let chemo fight something we couldn’t. I bottled that hate/pain/grief/love into the ride of my life, the one and only time I ever (likely) grace the podium steps.
The ride helped me, sharing it with him helped him get away from it.
There is power buried within us. Sometimes we need a reason to dig it up.
Beautiful. Thank you.
It’s true. Every day above ground is a good day, a blessing, and a reason to celebrate, and every ride is a privilege we would do well to be grateful for.
Peace, love and blessings to you and your young nephew – may you both come through this stronger than before.
Eyes are wide open
Best post on here in a long long time. You gave me some much needed perspective. Prayers to you and to Expat in NL.
Thank you, Legs.
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