Killing Fear In Survivorship–Like Riding A Bike

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On wheels with BoboIt’s been ages since I’ve biked to shrink my carbon footprint. But in my pre-cancerous life, I used to cover great distances on my road bike. Bleh! I hate how that sounds. It’s what people depressingly say when they think their life has already peaked … “I used to (fill in any challenging feat here).” Not sure how else to say it though.

Anyway, I would wake-up early on many weekend mornings to bike out a marathon-training route that I would subsequently run. Biking before running had two purposes – to precisely measure the training distance with my pedometer, and to hide fuel packets and water along the path, tying off red ribbons on trees to mark my hidden treasure. I’m dating myself here, but my GPS did not work well in wooded areas, despite being half the size of my forearm.

For the last seven years, my bike sat untouched in the corner of my various apartments – logically collecting dust and questionably collecting fear. I’ve ridden it indoors on a bike trainer a few minutes here and there, and there was that one time when I rode around the block after my San Francisco bike enthusiast friend, Ben Golvin, tuned it up for me. But that’s it.

Ben Golvin tuning up my bike in SF!I was afraid it would hurt. Not the biking, but the difference between what I can do now and what I could do before. I was afraid the felt difference would be too much. I had already mourned the loss of marathon running, and figured that I might as well give up the other thing that was closely tied to it. But the fear hanging over me eventually got uncomfortable enough for me to want to do something about it – especially, since my lung function has seen improvement over the last two years.

So, I asked Bobo to let me tag along with him on a bike ride. I figured, if this guy can crush marathons on a handcycle after surviving teen cancer and its aftermath, then I need to Jade up and get out there.

Biking thru L.A.'s sunset magic with BoboWhen I shared my mash of fear and excitement with Bobo, he plainly said, “Oh, I bet you’ll be great … It’s like riding a bike. Because, it is.”

On a pleasant fall day last week, we got on our bikes and cruised through Venice Beach, heading south along the Pacific Ocean. A regular “whatever” bike ride for Bobo, but the pedaling blew my mind.

“Wow. We got here by the power of our own bodies,” I said, as the sunset did its magic all over everything.

Fear is a strange paradox. I needed it to live, but it also kept me from doing just that.

Big thanks to Bobo for being my cycling inspiration and for keeping it real. Also, big thanks to Ben Golvin for tuning up my bike and to Ben’s amazing wife, Karen Klein, for that yummy bike tune-up brunch. We’ve grubbed together since, but I haven’t forgotten that one!

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