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.
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