“I can’t help but think that if Robin Williams had gone for a bike ride yesterday, he might still be with us today. Bikes are good medicine. Pass it along.”
This was a post that I put on facebook. This had more “likes” than my average post, and most of the comments supported the statement. Lisa said “I agree 100%, my biking literally gave me a second chance at life.” Ken commented “Sure works for me” and Patrick showed that my thought was not out of line in writing “I had the exact thoughts earlier today. You never know…”
Personally, I have seen the power of what being active can do and more importantly what the absence of it can do. My grandmother,Oma, was a physical beast. She danced in the Nutcracker with the Detroit Symphony at the Ford Auditorium into her 60’s. We were still skiing black diamond runs in Telluride when she was 70. As long as she was active, she was delightful to be around. If she went a few days without pushing her body, she became wicked. She died doing an operation everyone said was a death sentence when she was 80. She said not doing the operation was the real death sentence. The option of dying was preferential to a life of stagnation.
Another friend who understood my post sent a personal message. She was a professional racer and the bike was her world. “I’m doing the best I can, but riding & racing has been my passion, my coping mechanism and my life. It’s all I know. That it has been taken away from me so completely and without hope of returning is more than I am able to “get over”. Anyway, your post struck a chord. If I could ride to cope, I would. It was a beautiful post about Robin, but cut deep for me.”
Her comments also hit home for me. Last week, I wrecked my back. The first day I was unable to leave the house(or the floor). I stretched it, iced it, soaked in Epson salts and a dozen other remedies I’ve used over the past 20 years. The second morning I got on my road bike. In the past, I’ve always been able to stretch my back while riding. Even if it was a challenge to get my socks on, I still get on my bike and work through the pain. This time it was different. I went under 5 miles. At mile 2 I realized that it was causing more harm. The spasms shot from the middle of my back to my toes. Every revolution of the pedal felt like it was tearing me apart. For the first time I had the thought, I am not going to be able to ride my way out of this.
Like my friend and like my grandmother, I also find myself in a funk when I don’t get in my daily exercise. On the outside, perhaps like Robin Williams, I appear to be a happy person. With all of the pain, suffering and injustice in the world it is easy to be depressed. I over compensate with advocacy work, helping others and making people laugh to make up for many of the darker feelings I have. However, when I’m not active I quickly find that I am not able to do any of these and desire to lock myself up inside of a dark room while I try and block out the world. However, like my Oma, THAT IS NOT AN OPTION I’m willing to live with!
And that brings us back to Robin Williams. I do not know if he was suffering physically as well as emotionally. I do believe if it was only metal anguish that perhaps the bike could of saved his life. If you are feeling blue, I hope this blog post will be the motivation to get out and do something. If it does, let me know. That would make me happy, and we can all use a little good news.
Side Note on my back injury and what I’m doing to cope with it.
It has been a week since I hurt myself. I’m still in pain and the road bike is not pleasant to ride. If I go in a low gear and don’t push it, I can feel the tension on the back, but am able to keep it a notch below pain. Still, I’m riding. It is just enough to get outside, smell the creosote after the rain, feel the wind in my face, and ride with the kids. An added bonus, I don’t ride with my daughter, but we not on a level playing field. I will work on another post soon about “not fighting the universe and going with the flow” to address how I’m working on the reality that I’m not doing the rides I want, but figuring how to cope.