Sunday, May 16, 2010

Using the Bike to Deliver the Message

I read an article in my local paper about a young woman, a professional mountain biker, Grace Ragland, who is using the bike in a similar fashion to our American hero Lance Armstrong.  Now granted, Ragland has not reached the same heights that Tour de France Champion Lance has, but she has fought and been victorious in a similar, life-altering fight.  You see, Ragland was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (commonly known as MS) in 1980, 30 years ago.  At the time she was diagnosed, there were no medications to treat the symptoms of MS.  It wasn't until 1998 that she was able to take medication to alleviate the symptoms. 

Unfortunately, the side affects of the medications made it difficult to live the life she wanted, so she stopped the treatments and ultimately suffered one of the worst relapses in her life.  That is when she tried a new drug called COPAXONE.  COPAXONE made her feel better and she has since won several races, all while battling MS.  Once reading the article about this inspiring story, I felt compelled to contact Ragland and received an immediate response.  In fact, despite this incredible testimony and her professional mountain biking success, she is still humble, responding to my request for contact with a laugh (as if she had no idea why anyone would want to celebrate her accomplishments).  While I have yet to meet Ragland in person, I look forward to the opportunity how she has impressed me as a inspiring figure on the bike.  The quote she uses on her Facebook page, "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do", sums up the depth of her character. 

It seems the bike draws these types of inspirational characters; Greg LeMond (after being shot in the legs, wins the Tour de France), Lance Armstrong (after battling cancer, wins the Tour de France 7 consecutive times), Eldon "aka - The Fat Cyclist" Nelson (famously and couragously blogging about his wife's battle with cancer while preparing and riding the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race), and Ragland.  For every story of blood doping you might hear, there are 10 stories of challenges overcome and barriers knocked down.  I am proud to be a part of the fraternity, this community we call cyclists - the best part is that the membership fee is cheap, just jump on a bike and start peddling.

Keep the rubber side down and keep pushing those peddles!

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