By Cheri Felix
Before anyone tries to knock me down (can you tell I’ve been a writer for almost a decade?), let’s get the disclaimers out of the way.
I have health insurance and a husband who is better than any policy an agent could write up. I have cash in my wallet and three kids so I know that although money is an object, money is no object when it comes to healthcare. These three kids are counting on me to show up to their graduation, to council them on their first salary negotiation (go in high) and if I’m lucky I’ll get to look into their own children’s eyes. Now that we’ve acknowledged my privilege, let’s move on. Because I come from people who didn’t go to college, who didn’t own a bike and didn’t have the luxury to contemplate “work/life” balance.
I love bikes. I don’t care if it’s cold, snowy or rainy. I don’t care if I come home with blood on my knee and a cassette full of mud. I’ve ridden in storms, 100 degree days and I’ve raced a bike in the dark of a snowy night. Every day and night is a good time to ride. Until it isn’t. And your body says in its sly, seductive way “Let’s get in bed.” And you do because out of nowhere (which isn’t true, there’s a somewhere but you don’t care), all of a sudden you’re crying not because you watched the latest This is Us on NBC but because your back and your ribs and your sides hurt. Like labor pain and I’ve had three babies without drugs and let me just say, this hurt and people around me haven’t seen that side of me. The side of me that stays in bed for seven days at a time.
Thank god for Netflix and a husband who reminded me to eat and children who have phones so that I can text them when I need them to cover me up or to bring me some water. Here’s this crazy takeaway. I am (just follow me on Instagram) one hell of an optimistic human being. My mom stopped walking and peeing by herself at 49 (guess how old I am) and died at 58 from ovarian cancer that gave her about four months to say goodbye. My dad died at 67. Too much smoking and drinking and sadness. I know gratitude. I know humility. They’re like my left and right hands. But guess what. I’m digging deep here because not only are they my right and left hand, they’ve become the currency of my life. What are we waiting for? Cancer? MS? Think walking a 5K every year wearing a pink shirt is going to cover it? Don’t bet your life on it.
Get your bike out. Wash it, lube it and ride it like there’s no tomorrow. Your bike is your freedom. And there is no off-season. And I’m not talking about off season as in training and races and all that other bullshit we love.
Just ride. I promise you with almost certainty, some day you won’t be able to. I’ve coached people who say “Oh. I’d die if I couldn’t exercise. I’d feel crazy.” And Jesus mary and Joseph, I’ve said the same thing. I’ve told my clients “No, you won’t.” And they won’t. I haven’t yet. What happens is you go deeper. You go to your essence. You are not your sport, your race bib, your time or your bike(s). I know it feels like it but you are not.
I have had a trying 30 days of looking at my life. How have I been doing it. What do I want to do differently. Who do I want to meet. When I die (yep that’s going to happen), for the love of god, please don’t say “Well, she sure loved to exercise.” I swear if you do, my ghost will hunt you down and haunt you. Go outside. Bring your coffee. Take a picture. Share with the world. Move and use your body. But remember, you use it. It doesn’t use you.