When people ask me, “how do you cope with everything that’s going on?” I realize my answer is not what they expect to hear. I sometimes, shrug and say, “I just do”, or “I do what I always do” and ask them, what do they do to cope?. I do this to hear the real meaning behind their question, because often this question is baited to trigger some emotional, political or religious response without really caring how a person really copes with anything. While at the doctor’s office, the PA paused at the end of her questions and said, “I have a few personal questions I’d like to ask”. Now you have to understand my thinking, because in the past, they usually asked, “do you ever suffer from times of depression” of which my response has always been, “only when I get your medical bills”. So when she asked I said, “go ahead”. Which was followed by about 20 questions of various intent all leading to gauge your current mental health.
I joked some but then looked at her and said this, “I’m a weekend road cyclist and spend 5+ hours per weekend riding my bike. I ride for people who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, for kids and adults who are diagnosed way to early in life with various forms of cancers, I ride for those who are not sure where their next meal will come from if the local food pantry runs out of food, I ride for soldiers who need support in coping after returning from battle, and yes, I ride for my health as well. You see, the best way to deal with negatives in life is to make a positive impact. To go do something, but most importantly, do something for others.
Internal Motivation is sometimes hard. Is it always easy to go out on a hot day and ride or after a hard week at work? Not always, but there are few reasons not to ride. This year has been a hard year for me. It started with several skin cancer surgeries (been there before, but these impacted my practice rides). Then a leg injury (no, not bike related, just a stupid miss trying to jump over a fence) and then COVID. Yes, I knew it wasn’t if, but when I would get it and that set me back another 2 weeks of practice. That doctor’s visit I mentioned above? After she finished her questions, I said “I have one more question for you.” With the Covid symptoms gone, can I get back to riding? I needed to be back on the bike and back quickly.
It’s simple, when I question whether I’ll ride, I think about those I ride for. If you’ve ever ridden in an organized event for any of the causes I listed above, then you’ve seen the faces of those who fight these diseases everyday. I reflect on their faces and think about their smiles as they wait at the finish line for all the riders to cross. Cheering, yelling, ringing bells, clapping, WOW!!!! that’s all the motivation you need. So whenever I’m on my bike, I think of them and not me. Whenever I’m struggling, I realize my struggles are nothing compared to others. My bike is my coping mechanism. My connection to something greater than myself.
So my recommendation is this, turn off the TV and the radio. If you want to know what’s going on, read. You’ll learn more and be better informed. If you want motivation and inspiration, get on a bike. You’ll remember what is was like when you were a kid. The wind in your face, the thrill of speed or the peaceful journey of an easy lingering ride. Just get on a bike. Ride with friends if you can and if not, just ride, you’ll meet some new ones. You’ll feel better about yourself. You will gain more motivation, more inspiration than any book because you are investing 100% of your body and mind into every ride you make. Frustrated? Ride! Tired? Ride! Need a break from the negativity pushed on us every day? RIDE!!!!!