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A ride for Jessica

RIDING A BIKE MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT for anyone whose ever put their butt on a saddle. For some it’s a fresh look at the neighborhood. For others, it’s a race through the mud. For me, it’s often a way to clear my mind, reflect on the day’s offerings, relieve stress and improve my attitude.

Last weekend was a difficult one. I traveled to Tampa for a memorial. There, I met with many other family members and friends to honor my 30-year old niece who had recently died from breast cancer. Saturday was a gut wrenching day of sadness for everyone. Jessica had little opportunity to enjoy her life or her husband. I left the memorial with a mixed bag of emotions: anger, sadness and a plethora of frustrations.

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Then, I went to my church

I was staying on Clearwater Beach and had the forethought to bring my bike along. I took two rides during my 4-day stay on the beach. They were both similar in distance and direction, but so different in experiences.

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On the first ride I cranked the pedals until my legs ached and my heart reached its limits. I felt only sorrow, the Florida heat and sweat. Visually, all I remember is the blur of cars, the shade of trees and the glare of water.

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Wherever you go, there you are

On my second ride I slowed down and took in my surroundings -- the smell of neighborhoods, birds that I couldn’t identify, and fish swimming near the surface in an inlet. I meandered around a bit, had a bite to eat, and climbed the same three bridges that I climbed on my previous ride, but this time I took in the views of the many waterways along the Gulf.

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I’ve discovered in recent years that, for me, cycling is an effective coping mechanism. I’m sure that those 70-miles of saddle time made my 5-hour drive back to Jacksonville a little more tolerable.

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We love you Jessica. Rest in peace.