Julia Reisner , Massachusetts (U.S.A)
Greetings fellow cycle enthusiasts!
Allow me to introduce my self. I’m Julia Reisner, an unconventional avid cyclist, hailing from Massachusetts, U.S.A! I am ageless and always will be!
The bicycle. What is it that drives the passion of a cyclist? For me, the experience of my very first, 2 wheeler. I won this bike in a Christmas Drawing, at the age of a wide-eyed 5 year old. The memory so vivid, my father proudly carrying me to accept the win from none other then, Santa Claus! A shiny green, much too big for me, big girl bike! Undoubtedly, this moment would forever set the tone for my life long affection & passion for cycling. Over the next, several days, my father painstakingly taught me to balance. He reassured me with this phrase, “just go forward”. Within no time, I was officially riding all on my own, trainers off, with a newfound sense of independence. The following year, 3 days before Christmas, after battling the brutality of lung cancer, my beloved father passed away, creating a huge hole in my heart. He was only 38, a non-smoker, my hero. Christmas from that point on became hallmarked, as the season of melancholy. However, as children often do, I made due. I was resilient and optimism prevailed. Throughout my childhood and my teens, I found solace in biking.
Fast forward to my young adult years. Having always been athletic, with an affinity for individualized sports, I indulged in water/snow skiing, swimming, running, hiking, kayaking, skating and cycling. I tended to gravitate towards enjoyment, rather then competition, although, I definitely challenged myself. My routine was always casual but I was habitually lured to motion. My personality reflects this as well, as I am a very bubbly, friendly, precocious individual! I am insatiably curious, creative and drawn to nature and all it’s wonder. Cycling quickly became the go to motion. It always felt good to move. It was easy. It was freeing. It was seasonless. It was social. It brought out the best in me! Cycling was for fun and this is how I was able to view the world, on a daily.
Before I continue with my story, I would like to make clear that sharing this was not easy. I was honored when asked to contribute to allblack.cc with the premise of being real and authentic. I tend to be very private regarding this particular part of my life because it altered my direction for a time. It is not a reflection of who I am, it is merely an experience that I endured for a period. I include details to only bring awareness to this often misdiagnosed and misunderstood disease. Cyclists, as outdoor enthusiasts, are very susceptible to the poisons of the tick. It is my hopes that prevention will ultimately quell its ability to spread. Beyond this telling, although I do still experience random symptoms, mostly this part of my life is behind me.
Continued…..Then suddenly my once thriving and very active lifestyle, mostly out of doors, was hit hard with Lyme Disease. To make matters worse it went misdiagnosed for over 2 years, manifesting, as a chronic condition. Although, I had the telltale bulls-eye rash at the time, little was known about the tick-born disease. I quickly went from a vibrant, ambitious, able bodied, young woman to the complete opposite. This disease not only wreaked havoc on my physical body, but also weakened my cognitive processing, while whittling away at my overall zest for life. I endured years of unpredictable bouts of paralysis, unexplainable lethargy, painful stiffness, vertigo, hearing loss, pulsating pressure, headaches, excruciating joint pain, and severe muscle weakness. This horrid illness mimicked multiple diseases, so much so, that I was misdiagnosed 6 separate times with life altering news that would leave most, white knuckled with hopelessness. Then 2 years of antibiotics, that inadvertently created more physical and emotional anguish. This invisible disease robbed me of time, family and friends. I was miserable, disoriented and numb for several years. The worse was awakening to the new knowledge, that everything and everyone I loved dearly, was nearly gone, all due to this unpredictable, invisible disease. I was no longer in motion. I was stuck, and still and alone.
Fast forward, 2015. One morning, I woke up from the thick fog. I would reclaim my life! I was determined that nutrition would fuel me back to health. Clean eating, tons of water and miles of motion. Slow and steady, I started cycling again. My once positive personality began to resurface and laughter found its way back into my life. I was so rejuvenated that soon thereafter, I traveled solo to 9 countries, including a cycling itinerary in each. Locally, I cycled for MS and The Last Gasp to support local charities. I met so many motivating people along the way! I slowly began to relish in the feeling of motion again.
Christmas of 2016 came and went, along with the familiar, but now, dissipating melancholy. Yes, I was completely alone, but this particular Christmas, I purchased my current Specialized, ironically, from a cancer survivor who utilized this same bike for a battle of her own. This alone, further compelled me, to up my momentum. “Just go forward” my fathers words, still resonating with that impressionable, 5 year old, self of mine. This fired me up and inspired me to push myself harder! Jan 2017, on a cool morning, I saddled up and did what I most loved, I cycled. I began with 20 miles a day, to 30, soon averaging 130 a week. I cycled everywhere I went, including 9 states on the Eastern Seaboard. Rain, snow, sleet, sun, I was happy. I was in motion. I wasn’t fast. I was consistent. I cycled to heal myself, to connect with myself, to get outside of my thoughts and allowed the motion to consume my body. I was focused. Possibility was my fortune. Nothing stood in my way. With every mile, I cleared myself of chronic disease, melancholy, heartbreak, heartache and numbness. With every mile my heart lifted…and I began to regain my strength. I was a child again, inhaling the sun, learning to find my balance again! By the time Dec 12, 2017 rolled around, I had clocked 143 individual rides and tallied 4009miles of blood, sweat and tears and minor ware of gears. I became a road warrior! Yes, I am a cyclist!
I admittedly recognize that I am not your typical road cyclist. To this very day, I do not even own a complete kit. I wear metal sunglass frames. Often, I forego clip-ins and sport my comfy kicks! You may have noticed that I do sport a pair of funky striped Quick-Silver Gloves. This is my signature. Whenever out and about cycling, I am known for randomly high-fiving just about every person I pass, walker, runner, and cyclist alike. If I see an idle hand, I offer mine! I love to see their face light up in that very moment. It is my way of encouraging others to keep going! I ride because it feels good! I ride because I can! I ride because it ultimately has healing powers for the mind, body and soul. And that is why I am here, because cycling offers each one of us the possibility to “just go forward”, wherever, forward may take us.
Laugh, Love and Live #forward