Why I Continue To Do Bike MS

Why I Continue To Do Bike MS

170 miles in two days, no problem.
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Now you might be asking yourself what Bike MS is. "Bike MS is the fundraising cycling series of the National MS Society and raises more money than any other cycling event for any other cause. To date, Bike MS cyclists, volunteers, and donors have raised more than $1 billion so people affected by MS can live their best lives as we stop MS in its tracks, restore what's been lost and, end MS forever." Am I happy to be apart of this movement? Of course, I know people who suffer from MS and I have seen what it has done to their lives. I want to help in anyway that I can. In New Jersey I do the coast to coast ride. In which we start at Monmouth University and bike all the way down to Cape May. The most southern point in NJ. In total it is 170 miles in two days. Now yes, it is a lot of miles and a long time to be sitting on a bike. But I can still bike for those who cannot.

Here is what Bike MS is all about:

So each year for a weekend in May, I hop on my road bike and take the journey. You might be thinking that I am a little bit crazy. I'm in college, right? I could be doing so many different things on the weekend. But could I really? This ride gives me the opportunity to spend quality time with other people who enjoy riding bikes as much as I do. I have the amazing opportunity to raise money for a good cause that hopefully will be able to cure MS. I get to meet people of all different walks and hear their stories. I would much rather do something like this on a weekend knowing I am helping people, that I am a symbol of hope for someone. I'm there to inspire other young people that they can do this too.

In a demographic that is primarily middle-aged men I am a rarity in the biking community. But I want to show people that it's ok to do something you enjoy no matter how silly you look or how much your muscles will ache while doing it. It is no easy task, it takes strength, endurance, and heart. It is just you and the road out there for miles. You get to see parts of the country that you would never have seen and for that I am thankful.

This was my 3rd year riding with Bike MS and it wasn't easy. When cars honk at you and startle you to the point where you almost fall off of your bike, or when cars cut you off because they are getting impatient with you. There were points in which the wind was pushing us back so much it felt like we were biking backwards. Going up those huge bridges to cross into the shore towns you just wanna quit because it hurts so much and one wrong move means you are on the ground praying that a car doesn't run you over. But it isn't a daily pain like MS, it is a temporary short pain that in reality you can handle.

Biking on the side of a highway or some backroads in the country isn't always the safest and you must be very aware of your surroundings. We work as a team even if we do not know each other. The people in the front slow down at intersections to check and see if it is all clear. The people in the back warn us about cars coming up behind us. we all work together for no one can get through these rides alone.

If you do not know what MS is, take a look at this video:


So why do I continue to do Bike MS? Because I can!

What are you doing to help those around you? You never know how much you can impact other people's lives to make the world a better place until you get out and try.

Cover Image Credit: Kelsey Hoffman

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From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P.: Identity Theft

For a lot of athletes, we tend to feel like the sports we play define us. Learn more about the journey in Part two of the "From Student-Athlete to N.A.R.P." series.

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So you're done playing... now what?

When you abruptly stop playing the sport you've played your whole life, something happens. I like to call this, Identity Theft.

This is something that many athletes, including myself, have experienced. Instead of waking up for conditioning at 6 am, you're waking up 15 minutes before class to get ready. You're no longer looking forward to or dreading practice (me) in the evening. Maybe you find that you're no longer "important" on campus. People aren't looking up to you anymore, and maybe you feel like you've just become a number. Some portion of your self-esteem has disappeared, you don't know where you belong anymore, and all of a sudden it's more difficult to make friends.

For some people, being an athlete is their main characteristic about themselves. Maybe even a personality trait, some may argue. Once you stop doing something you used to do everyday, a self-discovery journey is necessary. It's a journey that's for sure, and not a short one.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You may struggle to figure out who you are, all over again. It's comparable to recreating yourself. Some retired athletes will continue to thrive in their sport, even if they aren't playing for their school anymore. Some, like me, will go through the days, weeks, and months, not knowing what to do with themselves, or who they even are anymore (I didn't lift a weight or break a sweat for 6 months straight).

Before you know it, you begin to question yourself.

What am I good at? What am I passionate about now? Am I good at anything besides basketball?

These are the questions I asked myself every single day. Tearing my self-confidence down piece by piece because I didn't have the answers. I haven't always been the most social person, that being said, the friends I made were through sports. Teammates, opponents, fans- these were all friends I didn't need to work for. Not only that, I all of a sudden had all of this free time and had no idea what to do with it. Yeah, I could do homework, but that got boring after a while.

So what happens next? For me, it was depression.

Something that once defined you is no longer a part of your life anymore. The one thing that people thought about when they heard your name, is now nonexistent. The best way to describe life after being an athlete in my opinion is Identity Theft, because it almost feels like you've been robbed of a vital quality of yourself. And what's funny is I never thought it would be this way for me, because I never let basketball define me, yet there I was.

I'm here to say this:

Pick yourself up and remember who you are. Being great at that sport you once played was just one of the qualities of the stellar human being you are. You are more than your sport. You do have a purpose and a place in this world, even if you don't know it yet. This journey will be scary, but you'll discover new things about yourself that you didn't even know existed.

Since completing this self-discovery journey, I have learned that I am not as introverted as I thought I was, or at least used to be. I like art, music, and even writing. Never in a million years did I think I'd be writing articles that would be shown to the public. Helping people and learning about people is something I am now passionate about. I look back at my old self and sometimes can't recognize her because things are so different now, but I am grateful for those chapters in my life because they helped mold the person I am today.

I've learned the best life lessons from playing sports my whole life, and that is what should be taken from that whole experience. Very rarely do you end up playing your sport forever- everyone can't be a professional athlete.

Identity theft is a real issue that occurs in retired athletes. It is important that you, the athlete, understand what is going on, as well as the people around you.

This isn't the end of your life, it's truly just the beginning.

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