Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. An individual’s motivation may be inspired by others or events (extrinsic motivation) or it may come from within the individual (intrinsic motivation). Motivation is of course different for everyone, but it begs the question, what motivates you? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Some people have no idea what motivates them while others will simply say they need motivation. I want to share with you a personal story, journey if you will, that just concluded for me in the hopes that perhaps you too can find some motivation and begin your own journey.
MS City to Shore
20 years ago I embarked on a journey I thought would be one and done. I liked riding my bike, so I was looking for some charitable event which involved riding endless miles on my bike. I came across the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual City to Shore Bike Tour, or MS 150 as it was known back then. The 150 represented the 75 miles from Cherry Hill, New Jersey to Ocean City, New Jersey and back across over two days. Perfect! I also had the honor, if you will, of knowing someone first hand who was living with this disease, my aunt’s sister Diane. As the years would go on and many rides later, my sister in law Susan was also diagnosed with MS. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease that causes damage to the central nervous system (CNS), manifested in outward and silent symptoms. Although there is no cure yet for MS, many treatments are available that can help slow the progression of the disease, which is why I continued to fundraise in hopes that even more treatments could be found and perhaps even one day a cure. So one year quickly became 20, and every year I looked forward to the next. The inspiration and motivation I drew from those who lived with the disease pushed me on even further. So you might be asking, why stop now? And the answer is simple – to find other ways to continue to help those in need.
The “Road” Tests
I had every reason not to ride a second year after an incident that occurred my very first year. About 27 miles from the finish (I had chosen to ride the now optional 100 miles on the first day; 75 the second) I had an awful crash. It was a completely freakish thing, but I had an open compound fracture of my right humerus and a broken right hand. Drawing on my own intrinsic motivation, I could not wait to get back on my bike again the following year and complete the ride, which I did. About 12 years later I crashed again in yet another freakish accident, but this time only skidded across the macadam with some flesh wounds. Unlike the first time however, I was able to keep riding and complete the ride, even more motivated this time to ride yet again. And then two years after that, an extremely freakish mechanical issue with my bike occurred as I had stripped the crank completely off of the bottom bracket with 8 miles to go, hence unable to finish the ride. So I rode again, and again. This ride had become such a huge motivational journey in not only the desire to help others, but also myself by not giving up due to setbacks. If those I was riding for weren’t giving up, then neither was I.
Perhaps for you it starts with a charity walk/run where families are encouraged with kids and animals in tow. It could be to support a cause that has meaning to you, or it could be just for fun to get you moving. Even better, maybe you’ll volunteer at any one of the hundreds of events held locally (they’re always in need of volunteers) to support those participating. Many volunteers find their motivation at the very events they support and then become a participant the following year. They became motivated to do what they had seen others finish. While there’s no perfect time to get started, why not make it now? No matter the event, I can’t even put into words the euphoria I feel every time I cross a finish line about what I just accomplished. So find something that motivates you, and go after that euphoric feeling. And don’t worry about what others might think, because believe me when I tell you that everyone at any event is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone about to partake in the journey ahead. And while everyone prepares differently, ultimately everyone does the same course.
By the way, I’m not done riding yet.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.
Some Fun and Interesting Stats:
• 20 years riding in the annual MS City to Shore Bike Tour (one year was actually cancelled due to hurricane fall out)
• I’ve raised over $23,000.00 for the National MS Society
• I’ve biked over 3,000 miles
• I used two different bikes: Bianci Brava and Trek 5000
• I had two crashes; one really bad, one not so bad
• Rode through 2 hurricane-esque storms
• Met some incredible, inspirational people on the ride, including a Japanese woman who rides every year in her Sunday best and just this year, a 70 year old woman who just discovered riding a few years ago and was hanging with me
• My wife accompanied me for 2.5 rides
• My sister accompanied me for ½ ride
• Made some very good friendships with guys who have gone on to participate in triathlons and ultra marathons