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This is my triking buddy KYLE BRYANT. He’s one of the people who inspired me to reclaim cycling in spite of multiple sclerosis. I don’t think I could love Kyle’s big heart or huge-thinking ways any more if I tried. What he has accomplished – and continues to accomplish – is brightly burning fuel that I use to empower my own Life List adventures, as well as my everyday rides. A “normal” daily ride for me is anything but ordinary. When you live each day with illness and disability as a part of your life, every ride calls upon you to be a warrior fighting the good fight. The fight against illness and disability. The fight to ignore pain and fatigue. The fight to get, and keep! moving. The very personal fight for independence and freedom, for health and literal safety. The fight to – as Kyle puts it so perfectly – “focus on what you can do.”

Without Kyle Bryant, I never would’ve thought myself capable of racing the New York City Marathon via recumbent trike. Once I met that goal, I felt like I could do just about anything. I got the crazy idea that I could do an MS 150 someday. Since then, I’ve done two Bike MS rides, one in Texas and one in California.  In Kyle’s Ted Talk (below), he discusses how his actions – how manifesting his own dreams – affect others. I am living proof of that. I want Kyle’s story to be heard all over the world because I know, firsthand, that it has the power to change lives.

Echoing Phil Keoghan’s N O W philosophy, Kyle also lives by the motto “take the opportunity.”

Here’s a hint: whenever you notice similarities in the people you most admire – whose words and actions inspire youpay attention. There’s probably great wisdom, profound truths and more than a little bit of mystical/magical/supercharged mojo in those shared traits, practices and beliefs. You might be surprised by what you can achieve when you steal channel the mojo of your heroes. Thanks to challenged athletes like Kyle Bryant, handcyclist Helene Hines and another triking friend of mine, John Elliott – each of whom inspired and personally encouraged me – I made history. Well, lots of folks played a part in that, but these 3 were my main role models. That’s me, left side of the photo, on my ICE Qnt crossing the Finish Line of the 2010 NYC Marathon.

It should be noted that I completed that 26.2 miles just 2 & 1/2 months after I began cycling again; after not having been able to ride for 12 years due to MS-related balance issues. The first ride I took after putting together my recumbent trike was 7.2 miles. (when you listen to Kyle’s Talk, you’ll see why this matters) I went back to NYC the next year (2011) and crossed the Finish Line again, pedaling all 26.2 miles with a knee injury.

That’s me recovering with the help of some ice and my mobility assistance dog Luke at the FDNY after-marathon celebration. Another thing I learned from Kyle and Phil and my friend John was to make my efforts count for something larger than myself, to pay my pedaling forward, to do whatever I can, while I can, to make a difference in the lives of others. Both times I raced the NYC Marathon as a member of Team Leary Firefighters Foundation. I love that I’ve been able to raise some awareness and funds for a phenomenally worthy organization that helps firefighters and their families. I feel like a warrior against MS for making it through the entire 26.2 miles of the marathon each year; I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do the race in honor of and in service to firefighters.

When I was finally diagnosed with MS I had been so sick for so long that I didn’t believe I’d be able to do anything good, anything that really mattered, with the rest of my life. But here’s the thing, MS has brought countless people, experiences, insights and opportunities that I never would’ve had the privilege of otherwise. No one asks for a life intersected with illness or disability. But if that happens, you get to choose how you’ll interpret all the challenges you’ll face. You decide whether to look at those many challenges through a lens that shows you obstacles or opportunities. It truly is up to you. That one, significant, huge, wild choice will change everything: how you view yourself as a person, how you feel about your ill and/or disabled body, how you interact with everyone and everything, how you envision what you hope for, for the rest of your life. I happen to believe making the choice to see opportunities where I used to see obstacles is the very thing that brought hope back to me. I was the first – and remain the only – challenged athlete to have completed the NYC Marathon via recumbent trike. If I, a 46 yr-old woman with multiple sclerosis, can make history – What can you do? More important, What will you do?

Speaking of similarities, Kyle Bryant and Phil Keoghan are both phenomenally dedicated athletes and advocates. Both have done rides across America to raise funds and awareness for causes that matter to them. Not taking anything, in the least, away from Phil’s ride, keep in mind that Kyle made his ride with the additional challenges of a debilitating, energy-robbing, life-shortening illness.

Please reTweet, re-post, Facebook & e-mail Kyle’s TEDxPhoenixville Talk. I want Kyle’s passion for thinking huge and manifesting dreams – like tackling a cross-country-sized goal on 3 wheels armed with not much more than a few good friends and more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches than you could shake a stick at – to be passed on so that Kyle’s words and spirit have the opportunity to fuel the dreams and adventures of as many folks as possible.

Dear Kyle,

Three things:

1) I can never Thank You enough.

2) I love your big “make a move” heart.

3) We need to ride together again someday soon.

Okay, make that four things:

4) Luke sends woofs & wags of Howdy :0)

Seriously, dude, we must ride again, and further! very soon.

Your 3-wheeled-warrior friend from Texas,

Denise

Readers, if you’re feeling motivated after watching Kyle’s TED Talk, you can sign up to raise awareness and funds for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance right . . .

     HERE.      Come on, ride with us!!!

*** I met both Kyle Bryant & John Elliot (and more good people than I can count) through Bent Riders Online AKA BROL. I learned everything I know about recumbent trikes from those folks who give freely of their time, knowledge and experience. BROL is anchored by Brian Ball and Larry Varney, and it’s because of them that BROL is the kind of welcoming, informative and oh-so-generous community that it is. If you’re new to recumbents and thinking about diving in, there’s no better place to go, no better people to pick the brains of.

In addition to all that wisdom, you can find past and recent reviews of 2 & 3-wheeled recumbents, as well as other cycling-related goods. You can find a group ride to travel to or a riding buddy near you. You can check out the classifieds and find BROL-recommended links for manufacturers and dealers. You can learn something you’ve always wanted to know about long-distance touring or recumbent racing or riding for a worthy cause. You can find fast riders and slow riders, able-bodied and differently-abled riders. You can find all of that plus inspiration and support. Best of all, you can find (wonky) ‘Bent friends 🙂

(Dang, I’m only just now realizing – as I type this – that I’ve forgotten to renew my own membership. ACK! Which is to say, Mea culpa; forgive me Larry and Brian. I’m going forthwith to make my undying love and devotion to BROL “official” right now, I promise. See? Here I am copying and pasting the link to Donate / Become A Member And now I’m going to use it!)

Happy trails, everybody ~ I hope your weather is as beautiful as it is here in Texas. Let’s all get out there and ride, and let’s think of all the folks in the Northeast who are still dealing with devastation, whose roadways – quite possibly their homes and cars, bikes and trikes, maybe them or their loved ones – have been affected.

Forget about the things you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.

Think huge. Act on crazy ideas.

Take the opportunity.

Move.

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