My bike is an integral part of my life. It represents freedom, fun, travel, exploration, introspection, pain reduction, transportation, exercise, connection and, personal expression. These representations ebb and flow throughout my decades of riding.
When I reached my early teens I noticed a marked difference between my parents - beside the obvious stuff like Dad was a man and Mom was a woman. They had very different interests especially when it came to physical fitness. In fact my parents were at opposite ends of the bell curve when it came to physical fitness. My Dad ran and coached track and my Mom very rarely exercised. Eventually my Mom’s declining health left her in chronic pain, obese and struggling with various health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Dad kept working-out well into his seventies and maintained a perfect weight until his death at eighty one.
I inherited many of my father’s physical characteristics but I also inherited many of my Mom’s health issues such as high blood pressure and arthritis. Physical characteristics inherited from my parents are one part of what makes me, me. I also learned healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms from my parents. What do you do during emotionally challenging situations? I learned to eat and to exercise but not necessarily to share my feelings. Sometimes I couldn’t share my feelings because I didn’t even know what I was feeling.
As I have gotten older and have spent many hours riding my bike, I have meditated on my life and how I could be a better me. I ponder the passages I read in the Bible, consider the advice given to me from my close friends and sometimes I just ride, emptying my mind of all the dialog that sometimes clogs my brain.
I have learned to be in the moment while riding my bike: just enjoying where I was and what I was doing at that moment. I have learned to commute with my bike: taking quick trips to the market, movies, coffee shop or post office. I have learned to treasure the beautiful Southern California climate. I have learned how to pack up my bike and trailer and travel across several states carrying all the supplies I need, camping and swapping adventure stories with my fellow travelers. I have learned that even though I wake up with chronic pain, one of the best ways to lessen the pain is to ride my bike: not an easy feat since I would rather stay in bed than move my painful body.
I could not imagine my life without my bike. It is my physical, spiritual and emotional life glue.
Kellie did her first multiday, fund-raising bike ride in 2002 after a co-worker dared her to take up the challenge - the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2010 Kellie was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Mixed Connective Tissue disease that left her so weak she could barely dress herself. Through medication, dietary changes and exercise she was able to recover much of her strength. Kellie does most of her local trips on her trike including shopping, running errands, attending fitness classes, visiting friends and even riding to church. In May 2013 Kellie became a certified bicycling instructor via The League of American Bicyclists. She now teaches throughout Long Beach and Los Angeles.