I have battled depression my entire life. But I do not consider myself depressed.
Tragedy and bullying, isolation, hurting people, seeing death up close and personal, losing family and friends — these experiences all keep you in a place. The world seems to be working against you as you are called an idiot, a loser, being told you will fail. I felt society seemed to put me on a path.
When I am depressed, I don’t want to get out of bed, the day is not important, the world is gray, life is procrastination. I feel vulnerable and I fear truth. I fear myself. Everything can be going wonderful in life, and I am full of sadness.
I cannot run from my mind. I existed in a dark place when I first started riding bicycles. The bicycle was instant freedom, the bicycle was power, the bicycle was a happy place, something I create from nothing. From this valley perspective I could now see a new peak for the first time in my life — I felt a battle I could win. I felt strength, I felt hope. Even today, I feel most comfortable in my skin when I am on a bicycle, nearly naked, and I like to pedal hard. Intense physical movement is medication. These are facts.
As a kid, I had a silver BMX bike. I loved that bike, an escape, only associated with good memories. At 21, when I first started riding a road bike, I was on a old, brown, steel Schwinn road bike wth downtube shifters that didn’t work, the wheels were wobbly and rusted and the brakes were stiff. I wore poofy Adidas pants and tennis shoes, I was 180 pounds.
The bike was a heavy heap but the bike was real magic — I visualized myself on a beautiful silver race bike as I raced around my hometown of Pompton Plains, just relentless loops around town, over and over and over and over, I got faster, not slower. I was pedaling hard and racing an endless road. I dreamt of imaginary victory during the day and I dreamt of imaginary victory before sleep.
Do not be fooled — thoughts are things, thoughts are real, and what you think very much will form right before your eyes.
One summer day, I came home and in the garage was something very unexpected — my mother had bought me a Fuji race bike, silver, beautiful, lightweight, the most beautiful machine I have ever seen in my entire life. I will never forget how I felt.
I began crying right in front of her. Mother and son have a connection, she knew me, and I remember talking to my mother late into the July nights, out in the garden, out on the porch, the quietude of the world around us as I told her of my dreams. At this same time, I was dealing with things in life I would not wish on my worst enemy.
When things are going good and I can visualize good things happening, this is easy. But when things are going bad, and I am envisioning the good stuff, this is not easy. You almost don’t feel any place in this world, but you are able to live in your imagination, riding bicycles, moving forward. In times of struggle, I visualized surviving, I visualized winning.
And I felt so alive. My mother believed in me. I told her what I was going to do, and I went out and did all of it. The personal pinnacle of this inevitable ascension is winning the Bear Mountain Road Race for her on Mother’s Day, May 12th, 2002 — she was at the finish line, in the rain.
When I can stay positive, I attract what I want. I never felt so alive as when I suffered on that bike. I didn’t want anything else. My bicycle was my home. I didn’t want this and I didn’t want that — I had everything I wanted already.
I love all forms of racing, but I gravitated towards time trialing. I wanted to prove to myself how fast I could go, no waiting no planning no tactics no bullshit, I wanted to pedal without stopping, to prepare for an opportunity, to push through my pain barrier, to find something new. Few events are as mentally arresting as this race of truth. When you are in the tunnel of time trial performance, you eternally pause the most intolerable of moments – pain can be your enemy, or it can be your friend, and you see firsthand just how much the bicycle demands of your will.
I discovered I only want to race against one person. I am the only rider that matters, and I began to believe in myself so much that I felt I could beat myself.
People might think it’s suffering, self-mutilation, self-hate — it is not. It is self-love.
I made a choice. I created a vision of what I wanted to be, and then began to live my life like I was already there. The body is very important, but the mind is more important than the body. From summers with my mother to just this morning, I tell myself who I want to be, what I want to do, and where I am going. The mind is what creates improvement, confidence, satisfaction, courage.
The mind is what creates the will. This motivation is what constantly pushes me forward. The universe is not holding me back — inspiration is everywhere. Positive emotion does trump negative emotion. If I sit back and think about something, how hard it is going to be, how impossible it will be to succeed, how fear will inhibit me, I am just affirming this to myself.
What you think about is what you are going to get. My life, even sitting here right now, is a manifestation of my thoughts. I don’t need to be fake, I don’t need to be anything. I just need to be positive and good things will come.
I write all of this because I am truly grateful and I am truly humble — Happy Holidays to my family & Happy Holidays to all my friends.