When Tragedy Strikes, Get Back on Your Bike

printed in Ultra Marathon Cycling Association
                                                            When Tragedy Strikes, Get Back On Your Bike.

A few years ago, I wrote this article for the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's magazine. It seems that this article may help several people I know, at this time, to get through some hard times. Enjoy and hang in there.

I am writing this letter as a way to say thank you to all of the people that have been very patient with me over the last several months.  When a tragedy happens it is very easy to try to forget it and to hide it from the outside world.  I have decided that perhaps it is best to share this pain so that others may learn from it and remember that they are not alone. 

 A couple of months ago my sister died unexpectedly.

After the initial shock, the phone calls, the last minute flight across the country and the memorial services, I was left to look at my own life, as often we do when someone close to us dies.

For many weeks I didn’t like what I saw.  I saw a person that didn’t see my friends enough, a person that didn’t take enough time to vacation with my family and a person that had been somewhat selfish with her time for many many years.  All of a sudden the years of racing and training seemed so shallow and insignificant.  What had my life become?

All I wanted to do was sit in my garden, watch my puppy play in the yard, and phone my family every few hours of every day.  Not a very realistic way to live.  Work was waiting, magazine editors were waiting, sponsors were looking for results, my bike was collecting dust; it was all I could do to concentrate on getting out of bed each morning.

Then condolences began to pour in, editors took on my extra articles, sponsors called and said racing didn’t matter, friends began to call and my family began to look for ways to heal.

Time does heal the wounds of tragedy.  But there is something else that can help the healing move more quickly.  That magic thing is called “life”.  Yes. It can be as simple as living your life.  Live life for the loved ones that can no longer be here.

We, in the cycling community are a special group.  We ride a bike because we love it.  It is our therapy, our passion, and our life.  We must never forget this.  We must never take it for granted and we should remember to appreciate it. It is a gift.  

If we only have an hour a day or a few hours on the weekend, we can enjoy the pleasures that come from riding our bikes.  We can ride with our friends, ride with our family, or, we can ride with a stranger.  The important thing to remember is that we have the mental and physical capacity to go ride our bikes.  That alone is something more special than we realize.  Sometimes it is as simple as “ just go do it”! 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 8 hours. Really, just go do it!

So, a few weeks ago, I got off my garden chair and just got on my bike again.  At first I did it for my sister. But then I did it for me. I did it because I am capable of doing it. I did it because I know I love it. I did it because there are many people out there that cannot do it.

 I began riding again and found that my bike is healing the wounds of tragedy one day at a time.  I seem to look around more and enjoy the time simply for what it is.  

Life is actually very short.  Enjoy the time we have and enjoy simple pleasure of riding your bike.