Administration and Leadership, Columns

Wrong Turns Illuminate Bigger Picture for National EMS Memorial Capital-to-Capital Riders

Entry 6: The Journey Becomes the Destination

It is hard to believe we have already completed the fifth day of the Capital-to-Capital Bike Ride—seventh day in Canadian days secondary to depreciation against American days. Ha! Ha! Just kidding my Canadian friends. You know I love you, eh? Come to think of it, I haven’t heard a single one of you say “eh” once. I’m beginning to think this eh thing was all made up just so that when Americans say it jokingly back at Canadians they are in reality mocking our attempt to sound clever.

At any rate, we added another 65 miles to our total so far of around 410 miles biking from Ottawa to Concord, N.H. Well, in reality, some have biked anywhere from 65 to 85 miles today, secondary to getting lost along the way. Me being one of them.

There is an urban phrase here (originally from Maine) that goes, “You can’t get there from here.” Or when said with the appropriate Northern New England accent, “Can’t get they-ahh from hee-yahh.” I’ve heard that phrase from friends in New England before, but I had to chuckle today when a group of us riding through the beautiful countryside of New Hampshire were informed we had missed the turnoff many miles back from where we came.

I have been involved in several organized bike events unrelated to the Capital-to-Capital Bike Ride or National EMS Memorial Bike Ride. In similar situations of lost riders I have witnessed before, there was usually much weeping and gnashing of teeth by these disoriented cyclists. Not so for the Capital-to-Capital riders. We literally took our misdirection in cycling stride. The weather was beautiful and the hills and mountain lakes beckoned us onward. Did we have to rearrange our route that added a few miles? Yes, but we stopped along the way to smell the roses, or in our case a small quaint New England store to get some soft swirl ice-cream. And, believe it or not, there was a framed quote on the wall of the store that read, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.”

So what’s my point of this misadventure? To recruit you for next year’s ride!

I have cycled the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride every year for the past 11 years to bring awareness of LODDs in our profession, and now I join the Capital-to-Capital ride to promote support for PTSD. Why? Because I have a deep passion for caring for our own, yes, but there is a selfish part to this also. I need it for myself: To be among kind and supportive EMS providers who truly have a passion for prehospital care and still believe they can make a difference; to see parts of this great country (and Canada) that most people will never get a chance to see on a bicycle; to motivate me to stay in shape year round and keep my body physically healthy for the spontaneous physical demands this job requires; and to be mentally happy, because it’s hard to be melancholy on a bicycle.

Everyone in EMS searches for a means to deal with the high stresses of the profession. It takes hard work, but sometimes you have to step out of your small local world of EMS and see the bigger picture.

The rides are continuing to grow in popularity, and the vast majority of riders return each year to recharge their batteries. You owe it to yourself to experience this beautiful journey and at times get lost.

I know my late partner who died unexpectedly in 2005 would have said, “Look over your shoulder one more time for the places you see, for I cannot be there. Do this in memory of me.” Sometimes I guess the journey becomes the destination.

Previous entries: