Why I Ride
You might say that I was born to love cycling. It’s in my blood. My family, after all, was raised in a part of the world where everyone bikes around to school, work and play. My loved ones have told me stories of how they rode their bicycles to school in the spring, summer, fall and even the icy winters, with their books in side bags hanging alongside their back wheels.
So, yes, you might say that I was born to ride. The perfect day for me is strapping on my helmet, hopping in the saddle, clipping into my pedals and taking off, eager to ride as quickly as possible along the Pacific Ocean because ultimately that is what I love most about cycling: riding fast and taking in the ocean air.
Until one beautiful sunny day in the summer of 2009.
After a great ride, my right arm went numb, I couldn’t feel my ear when I touched it, my face tingled and everything I touched with my right hand felt like sandpaper. I thought to myself, “Um, this can’t be normal.” Sure enough, it was not normal. My neurologist initially diagnosed CIS or, Clinically Isolated Syndrome.
Feeling scared, confused, overwhelmed and a bit in denial, I did what any normal person would do in a situation like this - I hung my bicycle on the bike rack where it stayed for two years.
Eventually I did get the nod for a MS diagnosis after another round of MRIs revealed new lesions. So, there it was. Multiple Sclerosis. Numbness, blindness, tingling, cognitive dysfunction, balance issues, vertigo, tremors, nerve pain and fatigue were all things that became part of my life.
MS in, cycling out.
Every day I passed that bicycle hanging on the bike rack and I silently cursed it. I became aware of the thoughts I had buried deep into my MS brain, “that stupid bicycle gave me MS.” Silly, I know but I needed to blame something, anything for all that came with the diagnosis. Obviously, bikes can’t give you MS but for a long time I associated my new normal to that beautiful black, white and gold, carbon fiber bicycle that hung on the wall. Collecting dust yet begging for a ride.
Fast forward to July, 2011.
I remember sitting in my living room on a mid-summer’s day, glued to the television set, watching the world famous Tour de France. As the boys of the Tour pedaled, I felt this sense of determination rise within me. I watched them race around the beautiful countryside of France and thought, “Enough is enough. I can do that and I will do that again.”
Let the Tour de Christie begin.
Within days of the last stage of the iconic French race that year, I took down my dusty bicycle, cleaned it up and headed to the beach for a brief ride. It felt sooo good! “Why did I put this off for so long?” I asked myself. Well, no more. I began regularly cycling again and I intend to for as long as I can.
For those of us living with MS, doing things that we love makes things better, more bearable. For me, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to ride because of the balance issues I sometimes have when I walk. On that beautiful July day I tried anyway. To my surprise, I didn’t fall. I didn’t stumble. I did not have any balance issues as I pedaled. The best part? When I propelled myself down the bike path I was full of joy and bliss and forgot that I am a person living with Multiple Sclerosis.
That’s why I ride.
P.S. to keep the cycling momentum going, my sweetie and I started Team Luca as part of the annual Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour. We are pedaling like mad in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis and we will do so until there is finally a cure.
Captain, Team Luca
Lover of bikes
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