The Three Pillars of the Awesome Beacon Bike Ride

bikeride-larryCamaraderie, Advocacy, Health. What an apt set of objectives, though truth be told, I hadn’t fully processed their meanings before the ride. However, staring at those words on the back of someone’s jersey while pedaling down the road stimulated a number of thoughts.

Over the course of two days and part of a third, I not only thought about those words, I had the opportunity to experience them. While I’m not prone to putting my experiences on paper much less sharing with who knows how many others, I agreed to share my experience in how those objectives came to life.

We shared time together as well as struggles and accomplishments, anxiety and exhilaration, even a minor crash. At the end of the day, at the end of the ride, we did it together and that is the essence of camaraderie.

Camaraderie is one of the things I have always loved about activities and sports…doing things with other people. As I suspected, the Awesome Beacon Bike Ride afforded me the opportunity to meet people I would not likely have met otherwise – I also got to do something with people I’ve known a long time but in a whole different capacity.

Success is the sum of the parts

We had a disparate array of people who made up each group, each day, but we also had the solidarity of the combined group, including those before and after us. We had different roles and different skills but we all had a common goal and purpose. We shared time together as well as struggles and accomplishments, anxiety and exhilaration, even a minor crash. At the end of the day, at the end of the ride, we did it together and that is the essence of camaraderie.

The important thing is for each of us to find our own cause to believe in and then look for the way in which we feel most comfortable to contribute.

Like most of you, I’ve contributed money and participated in a number of local events over the years to benefit various causes, including mental health and addictions. It was especially fulfilling to participate in such a large-scale event sponsored by our company to benefit two national organizations focused on mental health – NAMI and Mental Health America – and to raise awareness in the effort to reduce the stigma of mental health conditions.

Different strokes for different folks

I’ve always tended to think of advocates as those who are out front, in the public eye, advocating for a particular cause or issue. What I thought about during the ride was that, while my previous picture of an advocate was accurate to a certain extent, there are in fact many ways that each of us can be advocates, including volunteer work, contributions, event participation, to name but a few. The important thing is for each of us to find our own cause to believe in and then look for the way in which we feel most comfortable to contribute. The Awesome Beacon Bike Ride has been a great opportunity for all of us to advocate for mental health issues and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

I have always been fortunate to have good health, partially the product of good genes and partially the result of an active and healthy lifestyle. During the ride, I thought a lot about good health and fitness and, while doing a long bike ride is certainly good for your health, it is not necessarily the right activity for everyone. The good news is that there are lots of ways to practice good fitness – yoga, walking, running, swimming and more. The important thing is to find what is good for you and do it.

So, while we were advocating for mental health we were also advocating for physical health, and we all know how the two are intertwined. In fact, the Awesome Beacon Bike Ride hit on three of the four pillars of good health…social, emotional, and physical. That just leaves the financial part, but I think you have to be at the highest levels of the professional ranks for that to work. Guess we’ll have to keep our day jobs.

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