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.