A few weeks ago while at a fundraiser in New York City to benefit The Million Dollar Bike Ride for Rare Disease research, a supporter asked me how far I would be riding that day. I told him 34 miles and he was really impressed. 5 min later he came back and told me if I ride 34 miles he would make a generous donation. Sweet! That was a few weeks ago.
On Friday May 2, with my focus on riding my 34 miles the next day and already checking it off the list I came home to find that my Catrike was not in the spot where I keep it in the parking garage of my building. It was gone! Anyone who knows me, knows that my Catrike is part of what defines me; my accomplishments on my Catrike are no small part of my general confidence, not to mention my health and well being. So with a pit in my stomach and my heart racing I saw the cable and bike lock just hanging there, still locked, untouched. How did someone unlock my Catrike, take it, and then lock it back up. My mind raced. I racked my memory and then remembered the last time I put it away. I was searching the bags on the back to make sure I had spare tubes for my next ride, which would be The Million Dollar Bike Ride. I discovered that there was only one tube in there and it had a hole in it so I took it upstairs to patch it. That distracted me from securing the lock. I have owned a trike for almost 10 years, and that is the only time I neglected to lock it up.
My Catrike is gone! It was like someone cut off one of my limbs, or removed a vital organ. My Catrike is my freedom. When I ride, I feel powerful, like I can accomplish anything. When I am on my Catrike I am not disabled, the sky is the limit. And all of that was gone. And then I thought about the ride the next day and my commitment to ride 34 miles. I may not be able to hold up my end of the bargain! I sat for 10 minutes, with all of this swirling in my head, I could not move.
Whenever I don’t know what to do, I call my Dad.
Dad knows what my Catrike means to me, he was right there during all of my epic journeys, so I was not going to be surprised if he was a little freaked out too. However with a level head and a calm voice he explained what I needed to do. It was almost like he was saying (without actually saying it) “The world is not ending, you’re gonna be alright”. He asked me if I have renter’s insurance, I do. That should cover it, he said. And then he told me I needed to file a police report for a stolen item. Ok, there’s some hope here, that was a start at moving forward out of despair. But what about the donation and the commitment? I needed to be ready to ride in the morning. Then we thought of my original trike. Now I use it on my indoor stationary trainer for spinning during the winter. More hope! However it had not seen the light of day in a few years. I had no idea if it was road-worthy, but it would have to do. It lives in my office which is upstairs about half an hour away. So I called a Teammate, Evelyn, and she met me at the office to bring the trike down and load it in the van. We put air in the tires and they did not leak!
I rode 34 miles the next day and held up my end of the bargain. During the ride and after we finished I was not so fixated and freaked out about what was going to happen with my trike. I had my moment of panic and grief and then figured out solid steps to start moving forward. The fact that I had this challenge, this purpose, in front of me minimalized the situation of my loss. My need to ride the 34 miles became more important than my loss.
I think this situation is in some ways similar to being diagnosed with a rare disease. The initial shock knocks the wind out of your chest. There is a justified period of motionless despair. However, when you find out that there are others going through the same thing and there is real hope in research and you can contribute to the forward movement of the community, the diagnosis takes a back seat to the purposeful forward movement.