Feeling Free - Jen Goodbody

I was introduced to cycling while I was at the Menlo Park Women’s Trauma Recovery Program. Cycling became one part of my treatment plan.  Though my time to ride was limited , I did try to ride as much as possible. 
The staff at the Women’s Trauma Recovery Program recognizes how important cycling is – physically, mentally and emotionally. The treatment that I received at Menlo was top notch, but when you factor in the cycling, it was an amazing combination that really helped my healing. I had finally found the right path to my recovery. When you are in that “dark place”, it feels hopeless. Cycling illuminated the way to start living and thriving and not just surviving. 
In October 2011, I embarked on this new cycling journey with Ride 2 Recovery on the annual California Challenge – 450 miles of cycling along the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  The seven-day event pushed me – and the other 200 cyclists – to our limits and then some.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but also one of my proudest.
One of the difficulties in dealing with PTSD and TBI is that my injuries are literally in my head.  Its super easy to tell myself, “I’ll go on a ride later.” Most of the time, later never came around. Now, that’s just not an option for me.  Not only do I want to ride because I want to get better at it, I have to ride for my mental health. Even knowing how much it benefits me, I still have this internal fight trying to keep me from riding. The hardest part is the first three minutes of a ride. Once I’m on the bike, everything changes.  
When I am riding, I am focused. I am grounded. I pay attention to things that keep me in the present. All the chatter that I have going on in my head stops. I feel a sense of freedom, being outside, with the wind in my face. It satisfies this “small” adrenaline addiction that I have in a relatively safe way. 
I am by no means a speed demon down a hill, but its fast enough for me to be totally thrilled by the time I make it to the bottom. Not matter what my mood is before a descent; by the time I reach the bottom I always have a huge smile on my face.   
I ride everyday. Period. Whether I am on the road or on my trainer. 

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