Thursday, May 7

Cycling Thoughts for Today

On my ride in this morning (as on most mornings) I let my mind wander and it wandered so far and wide. Of course mere seconds after I dropped my sweaty gloves and helmet on my desk the thoughts, ideas and epiphanies rushed out of my head like lemmings to the sea.

But one thought remained. It was the most profound, the most intriguing and the most likely to stick with my psyche for the longest time. Some background on the train of thought that got me to the ultimate point of this piece…

Last night I was talking with Jim Foster, one of the Elders at the Golden church of Christ and he asked if the bike on the car in the parking lot was mine. I answered that it was. I mentioned that I had ridden to work that morning and that Mandy had picked me up from work. There was a pause and I continued, telling him about the Triple Bypass and how I had never attempted something like that before but that I was trying to get prepared for the ride.

He then told me about a spinning class he has taken and we got to talking about that. Eventually I mentioned to him that my long term ultimate goal is to ride cross country. He didn’t give me the usual “you’re crazy” response so I elaborated a bit. I also gave him a little history on how I came to have that as a goal in life, about talking to Jason Haas about his cross country ride and then the retired teacher a few months later that I talked to who had also crossed the continent on a bike.

I told him a brief bit about Joe Bowen and how he had raised money for charity on his later bike rides and on his stilt walks.

So my thoughts rambled about these ideas the past 12 hours. On my bike this morning I began to fantasize about riding cross country. The actual act of pedaling the bicycle wouldn’t be much different than my morning commute to Golden. So it was easy to slip into that fantastical world, where I would be pulling a BOB trailer as I traversed 4,000 or so miles of American roads.

My long standing plan is to ride from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. Two reason led me to those termini. First the direction: Jason rode west to east with the prevailing winds at his back. He did it in about 40 days. The teacher did it in 80 or so days east to west. His reasoning was that he wanted to have the best part of the ride (the West) toward the end of the ride. That made perfect sense to me, though the thought of fighting continental winds is slightly daunting. Second: Sam Bush has a song Eight More Miles to Louisville in which he sings “from Portland east to Portland west and all across the land” or something like that. It stuck. The other part to that reasoning is that when Mandy and I visited Portland, Maine I fell in love. I want to go back there so bad. I’d have loved to have found a job there and I looked hard.

In my musings about how the trip would go, the route, the timeframe and all I thought of Joe Bowen and his 14,000 mile bike ride and where it took him. And then I thought about the places he visited, the purposes he had for seeking out certain locations and historical sites. And I tried to plug myself into a similar socket. And that’s when the epiphany hit me…all at once, fully conceived and at full maturity…

I’d ride for a cause.

HA! Me? A cause? I’m not a “cause person.” Its not that I don’t care about causes, but I don’t care about most causes.

The cause: adult ADHD/SPD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder) awareness. Adult, not child, not parents of children with ADHD/SPD. I’m so tired of reading of the woes of parents of children with ADHD or SPD. It’s not truly the parents’ issue. It’s the poor child that has to live with it, to endure living in a world built for people with different brain and thought processes.

And woe to the poor adult who discovers in their 30s or 40s that they have lived with ADHD or SPD their whole lives with no inkling. So they make the discovery, or someone else points it out to them and then they go researching to find out how their brains are wired compared to how they had always believed their brains to be wired and all they find is literature and websites dedicated to either helping children cope with ADHD/SPD in school or writing aimed at helping parents cope with their child without having to face embarrassment in polite society.

It makes a person want to scream, to punch something, to be voluntarily distracted by things that take their mind of the reality that no one out there really sees their plight. Or at least that it seems that way.

People my age are in a unique situation. These days we have a much better understanding of what ADHD/SPD is. We have a language to discuss it. But 20-30 years ago in the ‘80s it was entirely possible that you could pass through the public education system without being labeled as an “ADD child” or a “Ritalin kid.” Instead you got labeled “lazy”, “not living up to potential”, “unmotivated”, “disappointing” and so many other nasty names. And in your heart of hearts you didn’t believe the labels, but after enough report cards with those scathing accusations, after years of being kept in from recess for not doing your homework, teacher after teacher flip flopping between praise for your keen perception and disappointment at your “refusal” to complete assignment you began to believe the lies and misconceptions.

Looking back I have no one to blame. No one in my life understood what I was going through and I am sure on the outside that it appeared as if I was making haste to live up to all of the low expectations people were beginning to have of me.

Thankfully kids today have some recourse as long as they have understanding educators and parents and when they have been properly diagnosed. There are mountains of literature to climb over and through pertaining to navigating the educational system with any number of “non-average” conditions.

And the ADHD/SPD children of today are going to grow up into adults with no support whatsoever. Oh, they’ll have the strategies they’ve developed over the years (good or bad) and hopefully their parents will still be supportive and understanding as well as their spouses and children. But where are the new strategies? The strategies which address adult living: marriage, raising children (most likely with ADHD or SPD themselves), successfully holding down a job and providing for themselves, paying bills, fitting in socially…where are those strategies?

Do you think most employers are aware that a good portion of their employees could be diagnosed with ADHD or SPD? Do you think they would make provisions for those employees at the expense of doing business? Do you think a person should have to divulge that they have ADHD/SPD to an employer? Should they be discriminated against? Would they be discriminated against?

Is ADHD/SPD a handicap?

I know what I believe about it. What are your thoughts?

My cause?

Promoting Awareness for Adults with ADHD/SPD and other sensory issues.

How this can fit in with a bike ride? It would need to be high profile. It would need to involve well known people that have or are affected directly by ADHD/SPD and there would need to be some sort of huge public outreach. I also came to the conclusion that with a cause that the Portland to Portland route might not be the most appropriate. It would make more sense to do DC to LA by way of my hometown or something.

Guess I’ll save the Portland to Portland (with new epiphany – NORTH of the Great Lakes!!!) for my personal ride…or maybe as a preliminary ride before the one for The Cause.

I need to do lots of research. I need to try to make contacts. I need support and a huge network of like minded people.

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