Biking 447 Miles with Hemophilia? No Problem. [Q&A with Ride the Rockies Racer]
Whether you’re a world-class athlete, a busy parent, or somewhere in between, chances are you struggle with disadvantages, setbacks, and bad days. However, there are millions of inspirational people out there, redefining health and wellness.
Last week, I sat down with one of them: Colorado local-guy Kyle.
Kyle is currently preparing for Ride the Rockies, a 447-mile bike race through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. While this event is mind-boggling hard for everyone, Kyle has another layer of challenge to cut through: he’s completing the race with Hemophilia.
For those that don’t know, Hemophilia is a condition in which your blood doesn’t properly clot. Minor cuts and scrapes can quickly turn into something more serious if not dealt with appropriately.
Since Kyle’s story is so unique, I wanted to share it with others who may be facing an illness, disability, or mental block. Here is Kyle’s preparation, inspiration, and words of advice.
KA: Was there ever a point in your life where you thought Hemophilia would hold you back from physical activity?
Kyle: I was the first person with hemophilia in my family, (typically it’s genetic), but my parents wanted to raise me with the idea that anything is doable–as long as there is preparation. I can do 99.9% of what anyone else can do as long as I’m prepared for it. They raised me with that notion.
KA: Why did you choose biking as your sport?
Kyle: Two reasons, the first being purely practical. I played golf in high school, but it wasn’t exactly an athletic sport. Cycling was the first sport I tried to see if I had any true athletic ability. It was fun to come back hot, sweaty, and tired. It was the first time in my life I had done that.
It’s also the best way to see Colorado. I’ve driven through the mountains several times, but with cycling, you have a chance to look around, feel the wind in your hair. You appreciate it. We live in one the best cycling environments in the world.
KA: What made you want to do your first Ride the Rockies?
Kyle: It’s the ultimate challenge. The first time I encountered Ride the Rockies, I thought these people are crazy. You’ve got to be crazy to want to do a 7-day ride through the mountains, but after a while, I wanted to participate.
It’s also such a spectacular ride. It’s the chance to explore areas of Colorado that you couldn’t do by yourself. Ride the Rockies has support in the community. I wouldn’t dream of doing the Million Dollar Highway without some level of police and traffic. This is the one opportunity to ride in those remote places.
KA: What precautions do you take in relation to hemophilia?
Kyle: With Ride the Rockies, I connect with the hemophilia team out of CU. They put together a plan for me each year which consists of an infusion post-ride every day. The idea with Hemophilia is that as long as you have some medicine in you, you should be pretty “normal.” What’s cool about Ride the Rockies is their volunteer medics. Not only are they the first responders, but each year they know my situation and have a code for me. If I have a fall, they know to act immediately.
KA: How are you preparing for this year’s race?
Kyle: My yardstick is 1,000 miles. I start at 20 miles per week and lay five additional each week following. What that does is drop me off at 100 miles the week before Ride the Rockies. Right now, it’s all about base miles and appropriate weather. As soon as the weather gets nice, it’s training time.
KA: What is your motivation?
Kyle: I find the physical aspect of it motivating. It gets me out and enjoying everything that Colorado has to offer. I also like the people I ride with, the comradery we have, and the causes we support.
KA: What would you say to readers that face challenges, whether physical or mental?
Kyle: There are people of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities out there kicking ass. I’ve seen paraplegic veterans who ride on hand-crank bikes, using their upper bodies to push them the distance. They serve as an inspiration for me and everybody out there.
For me it was deciding to do it, taking the appropriate steps, and training. It came down to sheer willpower. I never want my hemophilia to be something that prevents me from living the life I want to live.
What’s the magic formula? There isn’t one. But the first step is deciding to do it.
We wish Kyle luck on his training season. Ride the Rockies takes place early June with hundreds of riders from all over the country. Get updates on the race here.
Kelsey is a Midwesterner at heart who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. She loves hiking, running, dancing, vegetarian cooking, and writing in her spare time.