Biking Makes Me Happy

I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends recently about how much fun biking is.  Pretty sure most of the people that will take a second to read this blog might not truly understand why riding a bike brings me and my friends so much joy.  I get it… it’s not for everyone, but I’m a big believer that everyone needs to have something that brings them joy.  Joe Rogan refers to a Henry David Thoreau quote a lot in his podcasts:  “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  That’s deep.  Sadly, I believe it is true, perhaps now more than ever.  I am committed to living my life to the fullest and to doing as much good as I can while I’m here.  I may not leave a lasting mark or a legacy but since we are only here for a very limited time, we need to make the best of it, right?  You probably know someone that is “stuck” in a job that they are not happy in, slugging away for hours and hours every day just to get a paycheck.  Or worse, someone that is in a relationship that no longer brings them joy but it’s comfortable so they stay…  it’s the worst.  Biking is the cure for me.  I can say this because biking has healed me.  I had some unexpected life changes in 2015 but that happens to be right when I started upping my bike game.  Let’s look at the numbers (because I looooooooove numbers)!

In 2014, I rode my bike 45 times, covering a distance of 993 miles and climbing 33K feet!  I spent 73 hours on my bike!  This was the year that my friend Christy asked me to ride the Bike MS:  Waves to Wine ride with her.  I did it for my Aunt Alba, raising over $3,000 for the National MS Society!  This was only the beginning.

In 2015, I rode my bike 40 times, covering a distance of 1,356 miles and climbing 47K feet.  I spent 114 hours on my bike!  Definitely an improvement in that my rides were longer and I was climbing higher with each ride.  This was my second year to ride Waves to Wine.  This was also the beginning of a pretty difficult period of time for me.   This is the year that I was supposed to ride RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) with the Air Force Cycling Team, followed by a week of riding with Bike the US for MS.  Unfortunately, life happened and because I was dealing with some issues at home, I decided to bow out of RAGBRAI, hoping to fix the problems at home.  That was a bad call.  I don’t regret many things in life, but I totally regret not doing that bike ride.  I was very close to cancelling my ride with Bike the US for MS as well… but at the last minute I decided it was no use trying to fix something that can not be fixed, and besides, a lot of people donated towards this ride and I was looking forward to some time away from a very depressing situation — and it was just what I needed.

Hello 2016!  72 rides.  3,243 miles.  173K feet of climbing.  239 hours!   This is where all the healing happened.   Last year was all about proving (to myself) that I was capable of accomplishing amazing things.  I completed a ride called the DEATH RIDE.  And I survived.  I even trained and ran my first marathon during this time.  I can thank Bike the US for MS for all these miles – I rode with the team from Yorktown, VA to Berea, KY and then from Telluride, CO to San Francisco, CA!   I made new friends, I started listening to podcasts and I had endless hours on the bike seat thinking about all sorts of things and appreciating the beauty of our country.  2016 was the beginning of the new me.

So far, in 2017, I’ve done 31 rides, for a distance of 663 miles and 31K feet.   IT’S ONLY MARCH!

For me, biking is peace.  It’s a chance to connect with myself or another rider.  It’s time to listen to podcasts.  It’s breathing.  It’s nature.  It’s dogs. Lots-and-lots of dogs.  It’s accomplishing difficult things.  It’s stopping at a brewery, or a winery, or a diner in the middle of nowhere.

I know what quiet desperation feels like.  It’s not good.  You can be sure that I’m done with that, and I hope my friends and family are, too.  Life is too short to be unhappy or to worry or to be afraid.  I can’t count how many times I’ve had a bad day, or I’ve felt stressed or worried about whatever…   and then I jump on a bike and it all goes away.  My favorite #lifeistooshort story is from November of 2016.  I just finished reading Juliana Buhring’s book “This Road I Ride” about her bike ride around the globe.  After reading this book, I decided that there was no point in waiting for the “perfect” moment to ride Italy.  NOW IS THE TIME.  Why wait?  I was supposed to go to Italy for Christmas 2016 but since that couldn’t happen, I knew 2017 was the year.  I can make a list of a million reasons why I should not be doing this bike ride right now.  But you know what, none of that matters.  I ride for Aunt Alba so it only makes sense to ride TO Aunt Alba.

I started this challenge to ride every day in March because I wanted to do something for MS Awareness Month.  But, I’m discovering that biking is not just a hobby, or a past-time for me.  It’s a way of life.   Today I rode my bike to Target for some household items (yes I bought some girl scout cookie cereal, DON’T HATE!), and this is a trip that I would normally do by car – without even thinking about it.  But, this month, I am doing more errands by bike — riding places that I normally would not have.  And I’m loving it!

I’m 100% sure my life is better because of my bikes.  The places it has taken me, the people I’ve met, the accomplishments I’ve achieved…. but not just that.  The good we are doing!  The money we are raising!  I bike because there are people living with MS that can not.   So, I feel good knowing that not only am I doing amazing things for others (with others!), but I’m also enjoying every second (every mile?) of the journey.

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