She always told me to get on a bike

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a nerve disorder. I’ve been fighting it for most of my life and sometimes if my routine is thrown off even by a little, it feels like life had ended and it takes forever to get back to where I was. It’s taken many years to get me to go outside, let alone ride a bike or hike. My health had gotten so bad that my arm went to sleep for a year and the doctors couldn’t figure anything out. Many years of taking medications to do basic life skill functionalities while at the same time I was a highly functioning intellectual when it came to working, code, software, and tech. I couldn’t keep up with basic things like shaving my face, brushing my teeth, showering, any of these things without a daily reminder to say “hey did you do this, or do this before you forget”; man, I love Annika.

Over most of our relationship, Annika and Marley kept me sane as Annika and I both worked 16-20 hours a day, 7 days a week; work was all we knew for years. Annika told me on many occasions that we should get bikes. She said that it would help me relax and how much it would help my health, at that time riding a bike just didn’t make any sense to me. In 2017 work was on the level of working way too much. It was once of our busiest years and we were reaching the need for a break or a breath of air.

We started going outside a bit more when we made it back home to the west coast in 2016. So between then and the beginning of 2017 we started going out a bit more often. Slow baby steps to get me acclimated into being out of our work environment and into enjoying some time off. We started getting out to Comicon, a few concerts, Animecon, and just going outside in general. The more I went outside, the more I enjoyed the beauty of it and I slowly started visiting places of interest like comic book shops to get new and collector comics and a few action figures here and there.

Our first bikes, what a waste of money | Dont buy Cheap Bikes | MattyAndAnnika
Our first bikes, what a waste of money | Don’t buy Cheap Bikes | MattyAndAnnika

One day out of the blue, Annika and I went to Toys R Us and were just checking out some of the Funko Pop figures when we ended up walking all the way around the store and made it to the bike section. We both started hopping onto bike after bike as Annika told me how much we could do if we had bikes. After about 20 minutes we were at the checkout with two new bikes. Little did we know at that time, $300 for 2 bikes doesn’t get a good bike; it gets you a piece of shit with tires; lol.

The next day Annika and I rode our new bikes for almost 3 miles and we were so happy! The freedom, the feeling of just going was amazing. It brought back those memories of when I was younger and freestyled BMX bikes and skateboards on street and ramp. Annika and I made a pact that day to ride a little bit a few times a week and that hopefully by December 2017 we would be able to ride a total of 20 miles to go from our home to her parents and back; this was August 13, 2017.

A few rides later we had made it up to 4 miles each ride and our asses were hurting literally. Something was certainly wrong with our bikes, they felt very wrong, this made us look for a bike shop. We ended up meeting Dave at a local bike shop that has recently closed down. Dave explained to us why our bikes hurt us and he took the time to do some tweaking on our bikes to make them more comfortable for us. He didn’t try to sell us a new bike, he didn’t even charge us for the assistance or the adjustments. Dave just wanted us to enjoy our bike riding, from that day we always went to Dave for anything bike related.

MattyAndAnnika | Mountain Bikes
We bought two awesome Giant ATX’s mountain bikes.

A day or two later we went back to see Dave and bought two more bikes. We needed real bikes, not Toys R Us’ bikes, so those bikes got returned a few days afterward.

When we got the new Giant ATX’s we went for a quick 25-mile bike ride the next day. We didn’t hurt at all, we enjoyed the ride so much that we celebrated by stopping in a pizza shop during our ride to have some lunch. We were so happy and it was nice to know that we finally had a real bike, it costs us around $1000 for the two bikes and it was worth it.

Not much longer after that I started riding further and further and was doing 100-mile bike rides on my mountain bike. I even went as far as taking my mountain bike (Kara is her name) down the Beeline Highway and back for 86 miles; epic climbing and very painful. All we thought about was riding bikes every moment that we could. The minute we got off of work or finished with a client’s project we would grab the bikes and ride on.

Annika was right, I was obsessed with riding a bike; I was riding my MTB in road bike group rides averaging 18 mph; tearing my legs up and enjoying it. After several months of riding my mountain bike with groups and out climbing huge hills, one of the group leaders realized that I didn’t shift at all. I was climbing 7% to 10% hills in the hardest gear possible the whole time all the way up until that moment when they stopped me. She said, “why aren’t you shifting to climbing gears?”, my reply was “what’s that and how do I do it?”. After a few minutes, she had told me how to change my gears and was telling me when to change as I climbed the hill we were on. From then on, it was very hard for people to drop me in a group ride. I started taking my MTB to Fountain Hills to do that climb and yes I made it several times to the top and back on Kara.

All our friends at the bike shop said I needed a road bike, I didn’t know what the difference was until they got us looking at one. We almost started with an entry-level road bike however that was pointless; go big or go home; so we did. For a Christmas present, Annika gave me a receipt for my new road bike, a Giant TCR Advanced Pro1.

Icarus - Matty's Road Bike
Matty named Icarus because she is so fast.

This 17-pound race bike is off the chain and I love it. I’ve had several modifications done to it so far and as of today I’ve ridden about 10,000 miles and have gone through over $2000.00 in tires riding it. I was riding my bike so much that is got a tuneup a few times a week, every week. 3 Cassettes, 3 chains, a headset replacement, a bottom bracket repair, a rear derailer repair, so much mechanic work went into keeping me on the road cause I rode hard and I didn’t quit for nothing; until I couldn’t use my leg due to riding way too much.

I had a leg blowout due to way too much riding and no breaks. I was burning 3k-5k calories per ride and only putting back 250-300 a day. My body started eating itself, I thought it was just sore muscles; I didn’t realize that I had to eat more till a friend started helping me with protein tips. So between my leg blowout and a tore rotator cuff on my shoulder from doing CrossFit (again working out too much), I had to slow down. I was riding 120 miles per ride and then at one point did 150 miles in a single ride for charity on Zwift. Yeah, I was riding indoors and outside constantly; I love to ride.

Annika was right, riding a bike brought me to life! It helped my health and made me very strong. It helped me to be able to go outside without having nervous breakdowns. So after my leg and shoulder took me to slow down a bit on my bike for it all to heal, we started hiking. Biking, hiking, we didn’t care we wanted it all; adventure all the way. Our happiness in cycling, hiking, exploring, etc continued up until January 2019. January 1st, 2019 was the day for me to go into high gear with riding my bike with a goal to ride 480-600 miles a week. Everything was ready to roll until we got a phone call that devastated this entire year for us.

During most of 2018, Marley was very ill due to CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). Treatment had been going well and she was getting better for the most part. In January our son came to visit, he also brought his girlfriend and all of his crap drama. It didn’t take but 1 day of them being here and everything in our lives was going downhill. Marley’s health started going downhill as well, the stress was so bad that Annika and I were having trouble coping. I was to the point of ending life, what our son and his girl done had affected us that badly. Then to add Marley’s health getting worse, grrrr; I hate thinking about that.

After being eaten out of house and home and our savings taking a huge dent, our son decided to take his girl and go do the same thing to her parents; so they left. Not much later is when Marley passed away.

Riding a bike is how I cope with life, it’s what helps me to remember to breathe and when we lost Marley, it was harder to ride for a bit cause I could think about was her being gone; I would’ve ridden off a bridge at any time. So things started to level and we were getting back on our bikes, slowly getting some distances and what else could happen? Major migraines, shoulder injury kicked back in and my lower back went out.

So now everyone is caught up, a lot has hit us and we’re still here and we’re always trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Daily I dream of riding, and of course, I will be able to within the next few days and I’m pretty excited. I’m waiting through the weekend to allow the muscles to hopefully finish up with their soreness. We will not be riding outside until after summer is over, we will be riding on Zwift and our Peloton bike during these hot weeks. Once the Fall kicks in, ride on my friends!

Yes, we’ve had a lot hit us over a short span of time and it has seemed as if it would never stop; it’s just life and sometimes it hurts. Once I’m back on my bike I will be able to start putting my brain back to where it should be and until then my goal is to try and retain some sort of calmness to help me cope through each day. Many upsides to everything, I have a beautiful, wonderful woman in my life who loves me and I love her. We did lose Marley, however, the years with here were some of the best of our lives. We have some time to work on other things while giving some love to these new awesome little munchkins that are now in our lives.

Okay, so I’m sorry if this article was so all over the place; I just wanted to share why I love to ride and how much it means to me to be able to pedal to keep living. Hugs and many thanks for the support.

 

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