After several years of training and participating in running events, a new challenge came up. This time it involved facing my greatest fear: road biking. However, facing this challenge was part of a greater cause leading us to participate in“Bike to the Beach” event in the Florida Keys. The goal was to raise funds and awareness for our great friends from Therapeutic Scuba Institute and Camp Open S.E.A.S.
Bike to the Beach is a cycling race with a mission to support different abled athletes. The race hosts several teams with different causes yet the same mission: Open the world of athletic events to people of all abilities. We joined forces with Team Therapeutic Scuba Institute (TSI) to help their scuba program for kids with different abilities. The race offered several distance options to encourage athletes of all levels to participate. We joined them for the last leg of the race and pledged to bike twenty-five miles from Key Largo to Islamorada, all while assisting our star and fellow adaptive diver, Kerry Gruson of the foundation, ThumbsUp International. She also is a great friend of TSI and Rosemary Ciotti, cofounder of Camp Open S.E.A.S.
Why support adaptive scuba? As recreational divers we have seen the beauty of the underwater world and believe diving is an empowering and healing sport to those who practice it. As our friends from TSI say “The only barrier in Scuba is the barrier reef (K Pearson).”
Biking is not a pickup and go sport like runners are used to. It is like scuba diving where you need the proper equipment and training to practice it safely. Road biking causes great fear for me as a runner. It reminds me of learning how to swim at age 20, just so I could go scuba diving.
This FEAR is real, and it can either freeze you or motivate you. Just like my first open ocean dive, fear took over and I froze halfway into the race. I found myself behind the rest of the team and could not keep up the pace while staying safe from upcoming traffic. At this point, I had to remember the cause I was supporting and why I was riding. The two most important rules in scuba are never hold your breath and never dive alone.
These rules saved the day as I took a deep breath and got back on the bike with the mission to finish the race, even if I had to ride slow the rest of the way. Never dive alone means having a buddy to share the experience and rely upon if needed. As I found myself riding alone, a fellow teammate came back to check on me and help me through the rest of the race.
After crossing the finish line and meeting the rest of the riders and teams, I could not help breaking down in tears feeling sad and disappointed but at that point Kerry told me “Fear is good. It keeps you alive and you overcame it. That’s a win.” “That is why we must face and respect fear, but not be frozen by it.”