Getting back up on the bike: literally and figuratively

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Two years ago, when I fell during the 600 mile AIDS lifecycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I thought it would be hard to get back on the bike. I was scared, sore and maimed…with 21 stitches stretching from my eye to my cheekbone. But I got back up…because it was just a physical fall. Superficial pain: A few scrapes, some bruises, a tear here and there and several stitches. Physical pain is manageable. It is easy to overcome and I was fine. Scared, but fine. Mainly because my biking partner was with me — my emotional rock, my safety net, my confidence booster, my best friend.

So, how do you get back on the bike when you fall off emotionally? How do you get back on the bike when your best friend is gone?

You lift one leg over the seat, clip in and ride.

You do it because he would have wanted you to do it.

Because it’s who you were. Who you are. Who you will be.

And even though you cry the entire ride — you embrace the sadness, letting your tears evaporate in the hot sun and get blown away by the steady wind. You accept the pain and the hurt and the memories of the pair of you riding. You attempt to cycle, hoping that a memory or two glides through the gaping hole in your heart and sneaks past the searing pain. You push up hills and remember. You race down hills and forget.  And with each gear you shift, you get slightly stronger.  And even though the entire experience reminds you of him and feels awkward and strange and sad without him, it is what you need to help you begin to find your balance again.

Getting back on the bike is hard. But life keeps spinning onwards and so must we.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Alisa Curry

    Your whole ALC family is behind you, pushing you forward, like the tailwinds you need…

    • Stephanie

      Mmmmm. So gorgeous Collette. Honored to witness your anguish channeled through your artists’s heart, honey.

  • James Farrell

    I send you Collette my silent prayers on the wings of angels to help lift you as you get back up and ride again.

  • Melissa

    Just read this out loud to Beth, Jerry, Tom and Ginny while we are here in Delaware thinking of you. Hope you are healing. Sending you lots of love and support. –Melissa, Beth, Jerry, Tom and Ginny

  • lois rothberg

    Your words werre so powerful and meaningful. I am so appreciative that you shared your feelings with us in such a beautiful way. Although I did not know Mark, I feel like I have learned so much about him from others’ comments and recollections. He sounds so special, talented and loved. Continue to pedal.

  • Lynne Moses

    So beautiful and moving. You honor him and yourself in such an inspirational way. Ride on,girl. Ride on.

  • Maureen

    Colette I am so proud of you . You are working through this horrible tragedy with such courage. The best thing you are doing for yourself is facing your grief and understanding how to deal with your emotions. Cry when you feel like crying and laugh when you feel like laughing. Every day will get brighter and all the happy memories you have about Mark will keep his spirit alive.

  • cam


  • claudia

    so beautiful – thanks for writing it and sharing it and being able to ride. you are a beloved and exquisite creature. never forget.

  • nik

    so proud of you colette for getting on the bike! i absolutely know he is beside you and smiling at you. go girl go.

  • Michael J. Cahill

    Beautiful. Courageous and beautiful.


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