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From your Bicycle Coalition: This is the start of a series where those hard-working volunteers who serve on our Board of Directors write blog posts to give you a window into their connection to the bicycle and the Coalition as an organization. Our first post comes from one of our newest board members, Corrie Green. Corrie tells the story of how she became hooked on bicycle riding later in life. Her story is also one of community and the power we have when we all come together and rally around those who may need extra love and attention. As always, remember you can always reach out to your board members if you have questions or ideas for biking/walking in our region.

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Board member and author: Corrie Green

From Corrie: I first began bicycling recreationally to increase my exercise and decrease my stress level. I was the owner of a busy downtown business and a new mother to a beautiful and sleepless baby girl. I was out of shape and overworked. I literally could not conceive of adding anything extra into my life especially something as frivolous as self-care. A wonderful group of ladies started to invite me on bike rides and because they were all at least ten years older than me I foolishly believed that I could keep up with them. At about fifteen miles in, as the world before me began to wobble and bend, these kind ladies pulled me aside and shared their food and water with me as I was bonking and had brought little in the way of supplies. They set me back on my bike, I caught the proverbial second wind and completed my first thirty miles much to my shock and delight.

I was hooked. We all know the thrill of our first googly eyed accomplishments on a bicycle, our first speedy descent, our first high climb. I battled voices of self-doubt believing I somehow wasn’t strong enough or fit enough to complete the goals I set before me. But with each mountain climbed and with each ride finished I began to see that my inward strength was growing and that most rides finished were all up to my state of mind. If the tortoise always takes the prize then I would always win with patience and endurance. Eventually, my excitement and vigor about riding would normalize like most true loves and become such an integral part of my mental and physical health that I would hardly notice its constant presence in my life.

Bicycling was time spent with my friends solving the world’s problems. I felt like anything we needed to say or hear was better received while riding. I would cheer on a good downhill and groan on a painful climb and riding became much like my life, sometimes filled with joy, sometimes filled with frustration. Following every up and down on every road, I can remember celebrating highs of goals achieved and wiping my eyes so that I could steer my bike without wrecking over the loss of a loved one or an unfair world tragedy. I was solving the world’s problems out there with all that space to breathe. I would come home refreshed, exhausted, and somehow my whole self again. Biking was giving me back energy stolen from life’s daily grind and I came to rely on the release of riding away from life’s trouble and into the welcoming sunlight. As it would turn out my three toughest mountains to climb were just around the bend and bicycling and the lessons learned there would keep me balanced and ready.

Mountain climb number one: You have Cancer. I spell Cancer with a capital C, lowercase just cannot do it justice. Surgery to remove the tumor. Time off. Time to heal. This is the stage where you armor up, tell yourself you will keep riding, you will stay the same. The landscape will change but you? You will remain. But parts of you start to disappear anyway.

Mountain climb number two: Chemotherapy. Maybe you can just ride up Ore Bank Road and back? Maybe just to the end of Good’s Mill? The end of Pineville? The bottom of the neighborhood? Can you walk to the mailbox today? Shhhhhhhh its okay go to sleep now.

Mountain climb number three: Radiation. Every. Single. Day.

I am climbing out of a deep dark hole, the entire bike coalition and all my friends in it have gathered around me and helped me stand on my feet again. My body is soft and out of shape again just like when I gave birth to Marlo and I have before me only one thing that remains the same. My bike is sitting in a corner in the garage just waiting to take me for a spin. I have ignored it and neglected it and even despised it at some points. But there it is waiting to take me for a ride, into the sunset, into the wild west where the possibilities for a tortoise are endless.

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