Road Cycling

Cycling and the Ego: My BFF?

It’s early morning, 5am. It’s still dark and the air is cold. A few bites of an energy bar and I’m off to battle the rolling hills, rain and the skunks and other little critters creeping around the narrow roadside shoulders. Sound familiar? Not to me. I don’t do mornings. Never had and probably never will. But many cyclists do. What makes us different? What fuels some of us to rise early and others to sleep in and ride later? Why do some of us choose to race toward a finish line, while others tour along perfectly content with passing scenery. How bad do you want that personal best? How bad do you want to win? More importantly, why? I used to think I rode for fun, adventure, the physical challenge, the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie, and for my overall health and well-being. To help control my stress level, weight, and my allergic asthma. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Well, not my entire story. There’s one more reason I have spent my life training, riding, building bikes, and touring. My Ego. Yes, my BFF and I have traveled the world together, through thick and thin, wind and snow, from the Rockies to Iceland. So much time and so many miles, that I began to take him for granted. Until, one day recently, on a long 90 mile “seatless” tribute ride, when I saw him for what he really is and left him behind. Well, tried at least. He was a tough one to shake off my wheel. At times, when he was out of sight, I felt terribly alone and exhausted. I never realized just how much he fueled my efforts, until he was gone. It was actually frightening at times. After a long while, I became more comfortable with being truly alone and pushing myself forward by sheer will, belief in my purpose, and memories of why I started to ride in the first place, way back when. Suddenly, things got much simpler both on the road and in my head. Is this Soul Work, I wondered. My years of meditation, both on and off the bike, were telling me this was my true nature. Wow, enlightenment. Wink, wink. Very cool. I rolled back to my car in the dark at the end of that long, chilly 12 hour day. I, the Standing Cyclist, had cycled standing up without a seat/seatpost for 90 miles. I was flying high, feeling free and loving life without my old friend. As I was gearing down and locking my bike up to my roof racks, a New York State Trooper pulled up to check on me. I explained what I had done and it blew his mind. He asked more questions and I provided the answers, with speed and excitement. As he drove off, I realized I wasn’t alone on the dark roadside shoulder. Yep, you guessed it. My ugly BFF was back. Ah life, a work in progress…

Exercise as Medicine: Asthma Management, Cycling and Adventure Touring

With modern medicine promoting itself during almost every commercial break, many of us tend to forget that simple has its place within our circle of wellness. I'm not saying that pills do not save lives but it is becoming more clear everyday that pills are often incorrectly prescribed and misused. I, for one, remember a time when the words "rare" and "minor" were used to describe side-effects. More often these days we see "common" and "serious" popping up in fast talking summaries and small print. Again, not to knock modern, traditional medicine. I believe there is a place for many different methods of healing...as long as they address root causes rather than mask symptoms. Providing they add more healing power than side-effects. Case in point. I am asthmatic. Specifically, I suffer from Allergic Asthma which means environmental triggers such as chemical vapors, pet dander, and pollen can significantly impair my ability to breathe. This is usually accompanied by severe sinus pain and pressure (sinusitis). The most common treatment for this sort of discomfort includes pills and inhalers that open up the lungs. I myself have used many of these to control my allergic asthma. For me, however, the best medicine was a bit more...organic. My body and often my mind did not react well to manufactured medication. As a life long cyclist,  I reenlisted exercise, in the form of cycling and later adventure cycling/touring, to rediscover my own personal wellness. Exercise became my primary source of healing, along with dietary changes, meditation and the more spiritual side of cycling, Adventure Touring. I found this combination of effort most effective for me. I not only began healing my body, but my mind and spirit as well. As my energy increased, my passion for cycling returned. This passion eventually transformed into www.TeamStandingCyclist.com and fueled my seatless "cycling for a cause" activities. Often when out on a charity bike tour, I meet individuals, parents, and children who become confused when they learn of my asthma. I hear comments like "You shouldn't be able to..." and "My doctor told me I would never..."  I take the opportunity to tell my story and provide a bit of hope. I am concerned that too many children are hearing the message that asthma is the end. I am proof that it can in fact be the beginning. Some simple requests to parents and doctors. Don't write us off...before we even get started. Don't drug us up...when drugs may not be the best solution. As for us, please take the initiative to learn about your own body and mind. Are you leading a healthy lifestyle? What environmental triggers are you sensitive to? How will you avoid them? Is your fitness level where it should be? Are you eating healthy foods? Do you have food allergies? Are you managing your stress level? Are you following your passions? First address what is right in front of you and within your control, before looking off into the distance for complex solutions. Use your intuition. Often the simplest solutions are our best solutions. I suspect that will remain true, always, no matter where technology takes us. Peace.

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