We all need to take a moment to breathe, to relax, to regroup, to rethink or regather our thoughts and assess our objectives and goals in life. For me, taking a breathe is riding my bike, whether it be for just a moment, a couple of hours, or half the day. The bike for me is all about trying to stop. pause. and then restart. My greatest struggles with my mental health issues is the fact I can never seem to switch off….even for a moment. They only time I can do this… even if it’s for a few moments, minutes, is when I ride my bike, or when I do yoga. However, it’s more so on my bike that I find peace and tranquility.
This year has been a year of rediscovering my love for the bike, and figuring out what I want out of life, and sport. It’s been a challenging year, with lots of tears, however, I feel like for once I have some clarity in the direction I want to head in. That direction being within sport, coaching and mentoring. I’ve always gotten the greatest pleasure out of helping others, and seeing others get the best out of themselves. So when the opportunity to direct a cycling team in the USA arose, I jumped at it, and honestly it was one of the best things I could have done to help with transitioning out of professional sport, and dealing with my mental health.
The things I have learnt so far, lessons I should say, is this. The bike has been a large part of the healing for me.
It is ok not to be ok. Onlynow am I starting to really realise that it is ok not to be ok all the time, and that I have to learn to be “ok” with feeling bad some of the time. My dear friend Lizzie Williams really helped me realise this, that one thing I needed to learn was to be alone with my thoughts, let them dwell, process them and move on. It’s a tough thing to do…but I’m slowly learning how I can do this, and it’s on the bike where I can just be alone with my thoughts, no distractions, just me.
It is ok to eat junk food. Something I struggle with. Food… and no doubt I will struggle with my whole life. What I have realised is that it is actually ok to treat myself and not feel guilty. I will admit I still have issues with the whole guilt tripping after a nice big ice cream. But you know how I’m combating that? By simply riding my bike more, so I can justify that piece of cake at the cafe.
It is ok to say no. Another thing I have always struggled with is saying no to people. Anyone who knows me very well, knows that I am a “yes woman”, and it is to my detriment at times as I take on too much and get bogged down. Slowly but surely though, I am learning to say no to things, and realise that no, I am not 10 people even though I want to be.
For me, these three things have been quite the challenge for me my whole life. I don’t claim to know it all, and I admit, I am far from being where I need to be, what I wanted to get out of this blog is this. Use the bike not only as tool to improve your physical capabilities, but your mental wellness. This applies not only to yourself, but to your loved ones around you. Notice that a friend is struggling, maybe they are at a cross roads in their life, or a bit of rut? Invite them to a ride, and even if it is for a moment, it will have a positive impact on their day. Bike riding is such an inclusive sport, that you can pretty much do with anyone. Whether it be you on your race bike, and your friend on their cruiser, the pure enjoyment and satisfaction from a simple bike ride is sometimes better than any therapy session.
I invite you, to invite someone to a bike ride. Perhaps the La Ride is that opportunity to encourage those around you to start working towards something new. And perhaps it is just the challenge you have been looking for, for yourself.
If you would like to join me on my La Ride on the Gold Coast during the month of September, please stay tuned to my twitterhandle @lorenrowney or website firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I’m aiming to host a La Ride every weekend during the month of September on the Gold Coast, Australia. So come join me, my friends, bring your friends, and let’s have a ride.
Also read: Train with La Ridley and do the La Ride