I’ve spent the last few years questioning my worth.
In May of 2015, I found myself in a pile-up of riders at a stage race in Arkansas. I broke a rib and tore the ligaments between the T5, T6, and T7 vertebrae, leaving me with limited stability in my spine.
I lived in the racing world, where winning is valued at all costs, so I continued to try to race for another month. I believed that if I was strong-minded enough, I would be able to continue. I believed that the pain was only in my head.
It wasn’t. Sometimes I wished I had actually broken my collar bone—a visible injury is easier for everyone to accept.
Eventually, I saw a specialist and was prescribed a five month break from physical activity. That five-month period was one of the lowest points in my life.
After some time, though, I found I could ride my touring bike without pain thanks to its relaxed position. Touring helped me rediscover my love of riding and helped me realize that my own self-doubt had been what held me back.
For three years now I’ve made the pilgrimage to the Black Rock desert in northwest Nevada for Burning Man. This year I decided I wanted to ride my bike there through some of the most desolate parts of the Utah and Nevada deserts on my way to the event.
Yes, I rode my bike to Burning Man.