I went to coffee the other day with a nice guy. Conversation turned to biking as we shared our interests.
I shared some of my biking adventures. We talked about my different bikes (he does not own a bike so wondered how I choose, and why I have three, lol). He asked if biking is my favorite activity….I really enjoy cycling, love the empowerment and fun of biking. I also really enjoy hiking, Zumba and a mix of other activities, and get different enjoyment from these. For instance, hiking in nature brings me great peace and relaxation while also providing a good workout. But he asked about cycling. 🙂
I kind of struggle to describe why I enjoy biking so much. I asked if any activity made him feel strong and confident. Well, sure, but any activity could do that for him. What activity made him smile and feel alive? I got a smile at this point, and a reply “well, I guess if I’m doing the activity, then I’m alive.” I sipped my coffee and thought ‘hmm’ at this point. He replied that he enjoyed a lot of activities but nothing held his interest or excited him as biking does for me.
I’ve always enjoyed biking. I’m grateful my parents ensured my sisters and I had bikes throughout our childhood. We spent hours on those bikes, riding around the neighborhood, to friends’ homes and more. In college, biking was a great escape and exercise. When I was diagnosed with bone cancer at the end of my college senior year and had my lower left femur replaced with a titanium, I admittedly was nervous to do many activities that I typically didn’t think twice about. I was devastated to give up riding my beloved horses and scaled back on activities as I was worried about hurting my leg (ironically, I had to have the rod replaced shortly after chemo when I slipped on ice and snow during Michigan’s winter). I lost confidence in myself and my body. In time, my courage and faith in my body slowly returned and I now participate in many activities, with modification and probably more caution and awareness than someone without a rod in their leg.
A few years after treatment ended, I still had not been back on a bike. I saw my sister’s bike leaning against a tree and without thought, I got on it and rode down the street. I still remember the huge smile. After that moment, I purchased a new hybrid bike with great shocks and comfortable fit. I’m not sure I can ever get rid of that bike – I gained confidence and trust in my body again.
Then, over two years ago, I purchased my Specialized Ruby road bike after great advice and encouragement from a good friend. Some of the best advice I’ve received in my adult life. Truly. As I said before, it’s hard to describe what this bike has done for me. Or maybe not the bike, but all that has developed. My mind so often clears when I’m on that bike, riding mile after mile on the road, trail, park, wherever. The more I ride, the stronger my body feels. And the stronger my body feels, the more confidence and trust I have in it. My body has survived a lot. We’re in the midst of kicking ass on a third cancer treatment. To be able to bike twice across Iowa with Team LIVESTRONG, have a strong resting heart rate of 48 after massive doses of toxic chemo and simply know that my legs, my own two legs, are pedaling….well, that’s pretty indescribable to me. (I wrote about the freedom that my bike brings in a past blog if you want to check it out.)
It’s not just about the bike. It’s what I feel and experience when on the bike. It’s the reminders of how far I’ve come in this journey and how much I can accomplish. I will never ride the fastest, hardest, longest or craziest of others, and that’s perfectly ok. Everyone’s ability and journey are different. For me, I embrace the freedom, strength and joy in this seemingly simple activity. I hope everyone finds these opportunities.
Do you like to bike? What activity motivates and helps you? Share with me below!