from the San Diego AA Coordinator, January, 2020

Hi, my name is Kristine and I am an alcoholic. My journey in AA has been a series of lessons. Lessons of growth, through hardships and triumphs. My sponsor always used to tell me that in order to continue to learn and grow in recovery I would need to challenge myself to learn new things. So, several years ago I picked up cycling as a hobby. I began by riding every weekend, always learning more about this sport called cycling. After a few years I saw an advertisement about an organized race that would take place nearby. I took this as a challenge. I knew I wanted to participate in this race!

So I signed up for this race that, ironically, would take place on my sobriety anniversary. It felt like a “sign” that I should accomplish this 100k ride on the anniversary of my 24th year of being sober. So I set to training. I used basic skills I had learned in AA to ask for help and to be teachable. I signed up for classes and workshops on the “art” of cycling. I learned how to signal my fellow riders if I was slowing down, and how to alert my fellow riders about obstacles on the course. I learned a lot in each class and workshop. Then, finally, the day of the big race came.

AA had taught me to stand in my truth and be proud but, as I stood there with 2000 other riders, waiting for the race to begin, I felt alone and somewhat intimidated by all the fancy bikes and gear of the other riders. My bike didn’t look as good, my gear wasn’t as fancy, and I was riding alone. As I heard the signal for the race to start: I stepped on my bike pedal with my brand new sneakers and I was off! Five miles into the race I felt good: people were very nice as they passed me. After 15 miles I was starting to feel a little tired but, I had trained for this and I knew I would be okay. I thought about my sobriety and how lucky I was to be able to ride with all these amazing people. Thirty miles into the race I began to feel more tired but, I had known this would be a challenge – right? Resting briefly at 45 miles I was feeling exhausted. Forty five miles of sun, wind, and hills pushing against my body. I wondered if I really was going to make it.

As I began pedaling again I remembered my sponsor telling me to draw strength from my higher power. So I prayed for that strength as I continued pedaling. During my months of training I had heard of a riding strategy called “drafting”. NASCAR drivers sometimes use it but, I had never tried it. As I approached a hill I began chanting to myself “anything hard is worth it”. I just wanted to make it to the finish but, that was still over 15 miles away. I was taking a deep breath and asking for God’s help when a group of cyclists approached me on the left. They all seemed so at ease! As if the sun, wind, and hills were not at all difficult! As the last rider began to pass me she motioned to me. I saw her shining blond hair and a big smile on her face as she said “hook on chica”. Just then it finally came to me! This is it! I get it! As I slid in behind her I felt the ease of her “draft” carrying me! I continued on the trail of this train of cyclists and felt my tensions ease and my heart get lighter. When I saw the finish line approaching tears began to stream down my face and I realized this race was like my journey in recovery.

I came into AA believing that for anything to be “worth it” it had to be hard. But the men and women of AA wrapped their arms around me saying “hook on chica”. We don’t have to do recovery alone! Recovery doesn’t have to be painful and difficult. We can join those who have gone before us and “hook on”.

~ Kristine