23 June 2008 By Rachel’s

Becoming the Sun

Years ago, pre-head trauma, I lived on my bike. No car, couldn’t deal with bus schedules, especially when I knew I could ride to my destination faster than a bus could get me there. I may have been a very poor college student, but I was the happiest girl in the world. Good friends got me into racing. I didn’t have a bike worthy of a race. I was even given my first race bike by a friend who said the beautiful bike was “out of date”, meaning a year old!?! I was so free, so lucky, so happy.

I had amazing friends (my brothers, I still call them) who made sure I got to races, had a floor to sleep on, something to eat (I almost never ate anything–I think my engine ran on pure love of riding), they learned quickly that they also had to make sure I showed up with shorts and a jersey, water, my, bike, helmet (the necessities of racing), as I always seemed to forget something important. They never asked for gas money or money for the space I used on their floor. Something tells me they’d been there once upon a time.

I had everything going for me. Yep. I was even fast. I learned to thrive on racing. I loved it and began dreaming of becoming one of those amazing pros everyone loves/hates depending on whether or not they lined up next to me. Sometimes though, live has a way of moving you to another direction. Kicking and screaming, it will drag you there if you fight it. That is what I did. Even after my accident. Sick, weak, even more broke, you name it, I thought I could still race. I was told more times than I want to think about to hang up my wheels and I would never be there again. I chose not to believe that. I knew some day I would be back. I just kept believing and never gave up my knowing that I would be back.

Giving birth to my son somehow also gave me a new birth back into my life of racing. It is different now than before. I race triathlons, I run, and this year I have even found myself back on the line with the road racing women. Slower than I once was, but I am there. I love it. I love putting my body to the test and finding out what it is capable of. I love watching those who are faster than myself on the day being inspired by them. I love encouraging those who are slower than me on the day and love how they inspire me. I am so thankful to be back.

My good friend Burke gave me such a reminder today of just how fortunate I am to have my health back. He told me of a dear friend of his whom has been through so many tough times. Sadly she can’t do all of the things she loves. She has been through hardship after hardship and unfortunately her health did not come back. He told me that she always has a smile on her face and she finds and focuses on the positive things about life.

I almost cried when he told me this. I am so spoiled. I have people who love and care about me. I am racing well again. I have a beautiful son who keeps me grounded. I live a ten minute bike ride away from my favorite canyon. Lately I have been whining and complaining about mean cops who write unfair tickets, not having my own space to live, money issues, scary processed food, my teeth having problems and not being able to afford to fix it, cold weather, not enough time, missing a bike ride, and on and on, and on.

I am such a spoiled girl. I have lost appreciation for all the the little things and I let the “small stuff” bother me which in turn hurts others and myself. I am determined to get my innocent college mindset back. I am so lucky. I am so thankful. I love my friends, my family, my racing, my sunshine. I am going to try so much harder to be like Burke’s friend. When the sun won’t shine, I’m going to become the sun and shine anyway. Thank you so much Burke for helping me remember. I’ve missed being the sunshine. I know my family and friends have as well. She’s back.

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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