“To put it simply, cycling is therapy in motion.” – Jeremiah Reiner
Since early March, Jeremiah Reiner and Elise Porter have been riding their bikes across the country – a tour that’s on just about every cyclist’s list. But these best friends and teammates are making it happen for more than just the joy of pedaling the open road.
Jeremiah and Elise each manage their own depression and anxiety, and they believe in the power of movement as a means to cope and to thrive. They’re riding across the country to open up conversations about depression and anxiety – clinically referred to as mood disorders – and to encourage others to find a healthy outlet by which to treat them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mood disorders, including mild to moderate depression, affect nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population above the age of 18. Within the same adult age group, over 18 percent of people live with anxiety disorders.
Ibex is proud to know Jeremiah, from when he helped open our second flagship store located in Seattle University Village in 2012. When he and Elise met, they were working independently on ideas for non-profit organizations to address the lack of established programs to help people manage mood disorders. Together they’ve founded Ride Above Depression (R.A.D.). The cross-country tour is a fundraiser and awareness-builder for the official R.A.D. programs that will launch once they’ve landed back home in Seattle.
We recently caught up with Jeremiah, via email.
Ibex Question (IQ): Let’s begin with the cross-country ride – a dream trip (and challenge) for so many of us! How’s it going?
Jeremiah Reiner (JR): It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. I have days where I’m on top of the world and other days when I want to hurl my bike into the woods. So we just take it one day at a time. The experience thus far has been amazing.
IQ: Now that you’re about half way through this extended bike tour, do you have any advice for anyone wanting to do the same?
JR: Just do it! Doing a tour of a month or longer will change your life in amazing and unexpected ways. It allows you to discover who you really are and what is most important in your life. Do not let the distance scare you; just take it one day at a time.
IQ: Great advice! Seems to be applicable to more than touring, too. You’re very open about your own depression, and sometimes, the stigma that comes along with it. Why is it important to be so forthcoming?
JR: Depression is a subject that affects millions and yet very few talk about it. Depression does not define anyone – all people with mood disorders are capable of leading amazing lives.
IQ: Part of how you’re leading an amazing life is through cycling, which you’ve said is one of the most powerful tools to help manage your depression. How do you define the connection between mental well-being and physical health?
JR: I could spend all day on this topic! To put it simply, cycling is therapy in motion. In my view it is impossible to improve mental well-being without caring for your physical health. When depression has crippled me the most I turned to my bike for freedom, joy, a sense of purpose, community, stress relief, clarity, and the rhythmic movement that makes me present. You really can just leave everything behind, just by hopping on a bike and turning the pedals.
IQ: How do you hope this tour and R.A.D. will help other people?
JR: I hope to bring inspiration to all people with any mood disorder – let them know that they are not alone and empower them to live a life that brings them joy and vitality.
IQ: What has been the most pleasant surprise of being on the road?
JR: This tour has given me an inspiring and rejuvenated view of humanity. There are so many caring people in this world. No conversation is ever a waste of time; all of them are completely worth it.
IQ: Your ETA back to Seattle is early to mid-July. What do you most look forward to being home?
JR: In some ways we don’t want it to end, but we really can’t wait to set all our plans in motion to launch our nonprofit programs and start changing lives in our hometown. We are doing this ride to raise money to bring our talks and future programs to those that need them the most.
Thanks, Jeremiah, for your time and commitment.
If you would like to donate to R.A.D., follow the tour’s progress, or read further about Jeremiah and Elise, please visit: www.RideAboveDepression.org.