2013 – The Unknown
Moving to a new city was nerve-wracking, but exciting. Independence had become hugely important to me (rightly so), and a large part of that was having my own circle of friends. With my newfound love of road cycling, mountain biking and commuting by bike, I knew that this would be the best way for me to make new friends in my new city. In April of 2013, Chicks Who Ride Bikes was born. I created a Facebook group and would stop girls on the trails and at the cafes to tell them about it. Over time, the community grew. And grew… At the same time, I decided to enter and train for my first long course triathlon – a 70.3 Ironman. It was a 16-week program, the longest amount of time I had put into any single event. Just looking at the training schedule was utterly exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. I learned what it was to be dedicated. To do something because you know you should, not because you want to. I learned what it took to get up at 4am when it was cold and dark outside and go train before work. During those 16 weeks, I learned what it meant to be dedicated. To do something because you know you should, not because you want to. I learned what meant to be strong. Not just in the body, but in the mind. It took an iron will to get up at 4am when it was cold and dark outside and go train before work. During those 16 weeks, I found myself again. In August of 2013, I crossed the finish line in 5 long hours and 40 agonising minutes. And for the first time, I learned I was capable of anything. 10 weeks later I suffered a stroke while out for a jog. At first, I thought a snake had bitten me. Weird, but I couldn’t think of any explanation more logical. My face went numb on one side and I felt my mouth, the neck, then arm and leg on my right side go completely limp. By the grace of God, I had been carrying my phone in my left hand and was able to call my partner for help. Within minutes, we were on our way to the emergency room and I was admitted to the neuro ward for 4 days. When I got out of the hospital, the first thing I wanted to do was ride my bike. It didn’t have to be fast. It didn’t have to be far. But somehow, riding my bike had become the very barometer of my independence – a part of me I had only recently gotten back and which I would gladly walk into battle to keep. The next week, I rode my bike around the block and never felt so proud.