Riding Against The Odds; A Tale of Courage and Determination – is dedicated to those who, for whatever reason, have lost hope of ever being able to achieve their dream due to insurmountable challenges.
It began with a strong desire. I had “had it” with life in a wheelchair and was tired of always relying on a walker due to balance and leg lifting issues caused by M.S., So I began to work on walking with hiking poles to bring my whole body upright for the first time in 15 years. I’d walk for a bit and then come home and collapse in exhaustion. Kept at it. Slowly….got a bit stronger..and stronger. Many days my progress would stop or go backward…but refusing to give up was key.
After finally feeling successful (and very surprised) that I actually accomplished that, I asked myself…” Well..if I can do that, what else do I want to be able to do?!” It was springtime in the mountains of North Carolina, and the thought came to me immediately..”I want to be able to ride a 2 wheel bike again!” As soon as I said it to myself, I was thrilled, but inside my head, the thought went to….” but what about your balance problem? You know you need great balance to ride a bike!” I guess I ignored that voice because the feeling that came with the idea of riding again…was just TOO lovely. And I wanted THAT reality. Balance be damned.
SOooooo, I brainstormed. I thought about all the physical movements necessary for biking and started to invent specific exercises that might help my body to mimic those movements.
Oops…we have a problem…..I forgot to mention….I didn’t own a bike or have the money to buy one. So again….my head flew right past that fact and put it to the side. Kept brainstorming.
I decided that if I could possibly enlist the help of a good bike store to take an interest in this endeavor and loan me a bike to learn on…..I’d offer them any and all publicity I could muster up for their store, using my “bike quest” story. Fairtrade.
Then I researched which bike store I wanted to approach and walked into the store. I went in to pitch this idea to their boss, but he was busy. So I pitched the idea to a very nice employee who LOVED it and even offered suggestions to help me see if I could learn to ride again. (He was a Dad and had taught his young daughters how to ride.)
The store was nice enough to loan me a wonderful new kids-size bike. Due to balance issues, I needed to be on a very small bike so my feet would be flat on the floor while I’m in the saddle. Less chance of falling over. Discovery number one….I didn’t have the leg strength to lift my feet to the pedals. So Rich took the pedals off just to see if I could even walk the bike seated in the saddle. That was extremely hard. I spent 3 weeks doing that every day. Then I tried to lift my legs up one inch, hold and glide for 2 seconds to find out IF I had any balance left in my body after 29 years with M.S.
Turns out 2 seconds was the total amount of time I could hold my legs 1 inch off the ground. So I started THERE.
The process continued. I’d get up every day at 4 am so I could fit in my 2 hours of specific bike exercises before I had to leave for work. I did the same when I got home. After mastering the kids-size bike, I moved up to an adult-size bike, so the process started again. The entire process I developed required 64 specific steps. I found a perfect token of this journey and wore it around my neck to always remind me of the key to making a dream a reality.
When I first started on this quest, people thought I was absolutely NUTS. I mean, honestly….how can a person with a progressive neurological disease who has to use a walker because she can’t balance nor lift her legs up …ride a two-wheel bicycle?. Impossible. I decided to tell just a few close friends. Most were hesitant to encourage me as they were lovingly concerned for my safety. One said to me…..” are you SURE you want to try this???? ” and when I kept sticking to my goal, finally said, “Well, I know you’ll be careful.” I remember that statement so vividly because when she said it to me… inside my head, I responded,” Babe, if any of me was focused on being safe, I wouldn’t even attempt this project!”.
When you think about the odds and the hard facts of what secondary progressive M.S. does….the idea of a person trying to ride a 2 wheel bike is extremely dangerous (and a tad ridiculous). The entire first six months of this project had many, many moments of being extremely terrified, which required 100% of my courage and determination. Like the first time, I lifted both legs off the ground as the bike was moving, purely relying on faith and balance to stay upright. (I have osteoporosis from all the prior steroid infusions I had early on to combat debilitating M.S. symptoms. So falling for me?… not a good scenario at all.) That moment was the true test of my level of BELIEF and desire.
It took me 11.5 months to complete, but I became a cyclist once again! It was my belief and desire that made it happen. Know this: this same principle works for all of us. The power of believing is like no other. I’ve learned that it is not about “wishing” or “hoping”. It is KNOWING that it will happen. I’d even take it a step further and say it is, knowing that this IS happening now. Wishing and hoping have no power behind them. And they both imply the concept of waiting for something to happen. But knowing…implies it is happening; it is real now.
The newspaper where I live did a feature article on me and my bike quest, which you can read, and also see their brief video of me doing all this: Beyond beating MS: The fight to ride a bike.
Achieve the Impossible
To achieve something said to be “impossible,” all you need is:
1. A dream of something you really really want. Something that will bring total joy to your life forever.
2. DON’T ask anyone what they think or their opinion of what your dream is. That is inconsequential and might only make you doubt your inclination and desire. Instead.
3. Brainstorm and keep brainstorming. Think of every possible thing you can DO to start your dream journey. Think OUTSIDE the box..no matter how crazy or far afield it seems.
4. Immediately start taking steps every single day. No huge step is required. Just consistent progressive little steps, And along the way, visualize your dream. Feel it. See it. Make a dream board or vision board. Immerse yourself in positive, insightful readings and quotes. I’ll be sharing one of my favorites in a bit.
The main thing is to always “keep your eyes (and heart) on the prize” and never ever ever give up. Surround yourself with positive people. Find a community of positive thinkers and doers. But most importantly……..BELIEVE and take a small, simple action every day.
The Dream Continues
It came full circle…thanks to the power of BELIEF! The Specialized Bike Company heard about my bike quest and generously made a brand-new bike available for me for practically nothing. Then a very kind and supportive person in Asheville purchased the remainder for me with his thanks to me for inspiring others. What an amazing journey this has been.
I continue my daily fitness routine every day, now working on walking unassisted! Since the bike quest was so successful, I KNOW I can continue to accomplish anything and will assist others to realize their dreams.
If you aspire to achieve YOUR dream, I recommend you say this quote out loud to yourself every day: “Anything you can vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically take action upon…WILL come to pass!” – Jim Rohn
My journey on this bike quest is living proof that this statement is true.
We are given just one shot at life, and it is your birthright to live it with joy. It goes by very, very fast, so GO FOR YOUR DREAMS and never ever take “no” for an answer.
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