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Why I Ride

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.

Best always,
Christie
Captain, Team Luca
MS Fighter
Lover of bikes

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • zanster
    3 years ago

    I say…If you can’t bike, TRIKE! I have a terra trike Rover NuVinci and even though I have balance, vision, and Uhthoff’s syndrome, I’m able to cycle to get stronger and feel better mentally, too. Check it out!

  • Zarrin Madelene P
    5 years ago

    If I had time right now, I would explain why exactly I’m posting and it would be in my usual way of writing.

    So, writing. As I read through this post, I started to feel something I’d never expect. Your style of writing with it’s choice of words and overlaid emotions reminds me of my own writing.

    I’m an avid writer because it soothes me and it sometimes gives me padding from even thinking or remembering that I have MS.

    Moreover, when I biked for Bike MS: Waves to Wine, I felt exactly like you did. I also use the words joy and bliss a lot so I literally and verbally say that I feel how you felt. I was also diagnosed in the summer and like you, I wrote in my blog of a warm and beautiful midsummer day when I found out that I had MS. I also didn’t want to accept it because it was too much of a coincidence. I chose MS as what to present in a nuero-psychology class because it immediately grabbed my attention seeing that it scared me. It was a disease that I just wish people knewabout it…
    #MSawareness

    My mom, who coincidentally makes Extavia (which I take) and Betaseron, told me that I also presented myself to my class. The coincidences run rampantly in my life and I’ve learned to adapt to it. For example, my entire house’s rooms have orange everywhere for decorations. Little did I know, orange is the MS awareness color! Extavia was proven to really help me so after hearing that, I immediately thanked my mother,

    So with your post, I’ll just say that I’ve said many times that arts in my veins and I grew up with it which is helped by family that is swimming in art and creativity. It helps me to keep myself passionate and happy because it’s what I know the best. Funny enough, I fell in love with brains before my diagnosis and I told a friend the other day that I’m thankful I have MS because it’s given me a new dream. I want to be at the forefront of helping cure MS or in reality, if anything, I want to bluntly put, cure MS. First step being getting a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF or my alma mater, UC Berkeley.

    Those hopes and motivations are what also got me to renember that I loved biking when I was younger. I’d always beg my parents to take me to the park! So for me, I biked because I also knew that I could still do it. The bike MS event really made me feel even more thankful so now I’m working at the NMSS’s Northern California chapter at UCSF (my dream school! That was a great coincidence too!)!

    I’m glad you’ve found serenity when you got back on your bike and pedaled again after all those years. You did a brave thing because you faced the uncertainty in how your bike would treat you after you at first used your bike as what to blame.

    Stay strong and happy early Thanksgiving, Zarrin Madelene
    Captain, Team Go MS Bears!
    MS is BS; MS is Beatable Someday

    PS thank you for your post

  • Christie Germans author
    5 years ago

    Hey Zarrin (love your name!),

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story, your dreams and your determination in the fight against MS. As you near the completion of your PhD in neuroscience at Berkeley, send me a note as I would love to attend your graduation! Until then, keep going, keep studying, keep dreaming!

    You rock!

    Best, Christie

  • Horse girl
    6 years ago

    Your story is just like mine but I used to spin just about everyday then one day both my hands went numb then felt felt like sand paper it’s the worst feeling.I then went from dr to dr then finally one said it was MS I didn’t want to believe it but after a few months of new symptoms I believed it . I stopped spinning which the dr recommend for 2 yrs I felt no different so a few months ago started again I feel so good now the symptoms are gonna come n go my whole life spinning/ riding is so good for you I am glad your riding again

  • ladygator1983
    6 years ago

    I’d not ridden a bike since I was in high school. I was overweight and then diagnosed with MS in 2002. I lost 135lb. and wanted to ride again, but balance issues were too bad.

    My gentleman friend (Scott) bought each of us a Recumbent Trike (Terra Trike). I live at Edisto Beach in South Carolina and have discovered the I can ride again.

    Scott watches the Tour de France every year and has introduced it to me. I love it!

    Thanks for posting this article!!!

  • Christie Germans author
    6 years ago

    Bonjour Lady Gator. So, so glad to read that you are able to ride again. It’s amazing, right? I love the Tour, too, and each year I watch it I am all the more motivated! Maybe I’ll see you out on the road one day. Best, Christie

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    6 years ago

    Ah, Christie, your narrative captivated me. I pedaled right alongside you, feeling the wind and sea salt on my face. I hope you’ll be cycling for a long time to come.

    Kim

  • Christie Germans author
    6 years ago

    Thanks Kim! I do intend to ride for as long as I can. Glad you enjoyed the post. Best always, Christie

  • wheels460
    6 years ago

    Glad to hear you’re doing something you love. I had to go to a hand-cycle with an assisting motor after my legs wouldn’t do the things they used too

  • Christie Germans author
    6 years ago

    Sorry to hear that your legs aren’t what they used to be. It sounds like hand-cyling is pretty cool though – would love to hear more about that. Take care.

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