Firecracker 5k

Take a look at past articles about Ride The Rockies, and you’ll find there are common themes among many of the cyclists: overcoming odds, celebrating life, improving health, discovering hidden strengths. Extraordinary events have a way of bringing out the best in human nature, and Ride The Rockies is one of those extraordinary events. It demands rigorous training, strong resolve, and a desire to push past our own self-induced limits.

I related in a previous blog post how cycling helped me to overcome my addiction and learn to use healthy solutions during difficult times in my sobriety. It has also connected me with a wonderful community of like-minded souls — Phoenix Multisport — made up of people with similar struggles who achieve amazing goals, whether it’s completing their first triathlon, climbing their first rock face, biking their first mountain trail. Seeing this phenomenon at work in others has only made the experience more meaningful — richer, sweeter — a true spiritual experience.

Topping out over Ward, CO.

Topping out over Ward, CO.

When I first starting cycling, it was an attempt to fill part of the gaping hole left by alcohol. Before I got sober, I was literally without hope. I couldn’t see a future for myself; I had no faith in my ability to overcome my deep depression, little feeling for anything in life. I was numb. I remember watching groups of cyclists speed by my South Boulder apartment, on their way down from the foothills of Boulder, whooping and laughing, and it seemed an impossible thing. I definitely couldn’t see myself doing anything like that, because everything was impossible.

Getting sober is more than just quitting drinking: it’s also learning to get rid of destructive, self-defeating ways of thinking, selfish ways of living, and creating a future of hope and possibility. You have to fill that huge space left by the drug or the substance — the time you spent using, planning your next drink, worrying you wouldn’t have enough, worrying about your dependence. It seems an overwhelming thing. It’s like you’re starting over in life with an empty space in front of you, and you’re way behind everyone else.

A new sober friend of mine introduced me to cycling, and once I started, I was hooked. It was my solution. There was something so meditative about the rhythmic pedaling, the feel of wind on my face, the sounds of the cars and birds and barking dogs — even the bumps in the road beneath me. Though my head was still spinning with worry and fear, it seemed even that would disappear with each mile I put behind me. I was amazed at the change in my formerly bloated body, which my doctor said had been showing symptoms of cirrhosis. My hands no longer shook, my head was clear, my fear was leaving me, and I was becoming strong and lean. I was a new person, it seemed.

After I became comfortable on the bike, I could look around and it seemed like I was seeing the world through new eyes. There was so much abundance around me — the scenery, the sounds, nature, people. I couldn’t believe I’d been missing that for all those years. I started bringing a camera with me on rides, and taking photos became an integral part of the cycling experience for me. I wanted to grab onto, record and remember everything I was seeing.

I discovered Phoenix Multisport in 2007, when it was first growing out of the heart of its founder, Scott Strode, who filled his house with donated gear to hand out to new members. I did my first relay triathlon with the group, and then started with road rides and other activities. It is a group after my own heart and experience. I see new members come in scared and doubtful at first, then see them running marathons and climbing multi-pitch routes just months later. It’s an awesome thing. I wear my Phoenix kit constantly, both to raise awareness that this precious resource exists and also because I’m so proud to be part of it.

So if you see someone on the tour with a Phoenix jersey, come ride beside me; if you know someone who is in need of this precious gift of sobriety, someone who could use the fellowship and activity of the PM group, talk to me. (you can also e-mail me directly here). Because I couldn’t envision this amazing, abundant life without the people I’ve met on this journey, and I’d be honored to share it with you.

— Ingrid Muller

Members of Phoenix Multisport gather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research overlooking Boulder after a ride. The photo was taken during a video shoot for CNN's "Heroes" program, which recognized the achievements and contributions of the group's founder, Scott Strode -- the cyclist pointing, quite aptly, to the heavens. I'm one of the insanely happy people around him, standing second from left.

Members of Phoenix Multisport gather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research overlooking Boulder after a ride. The photo was taken during a video shoot for CNN’s “Heroes” program, which recognized the achievements and contributions of the group’s founder, Scott Strode — the cyclist pointing, quite aptly, to the heavens. I’m one of the insanely happy people around him, standing second from left.