Billy Lister: From Oblivion to Enrapture: How 2 Wheels brought Light to the eclipse of Stroke (Part I)
Billy Lister is a United States Paralympian, is a member of the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team; and is a full-time Elite Cyclist. He currently splits his residency between the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO and his home in San Diego, CA. Billy is training for the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. He is also on Instagram at billylisterIII & Twitter at billylisterIII
It was a sunny late summer day in San Diego, CA; my first time traveling to the West Coast of the U.S. The preceding five days were mirrored with actions and movements that had been absent from my life for over a decade; I was navigating through the eye of catalytic, DNA-altering moments at a Paratriathlon camp with the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
As never existed before in my conscious, I found myself with an innate sense of willingness for the next crusade. I approached a soon to be a lifelong friend simply saying “Can I get on a bike? …I want to get on a bike.”
It had been twelve years since my stroke; which I suffered when I was 17 years old, leaving me in a full left side neurologically paralyzed state. In that half a generation number of years, my life had descended into darkness; and was defined by denial of my disability, and self-destructive behavior of the physical body I no longer wanted.
In moments of exultation, we often act driven by forces free from thought. It was a benign setting in the parking lot of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, where I threw my leg over the side of the bike I was so gallantly loaned. The re-creation of every childhood’s development, for me, entered my life once again; the feeling of riding a bike for the first time.
Freedom can be defined as ‘the state without confinement'; and in that elemental moment of riding a bike 100 feet, it broke the shackles and sky-high walls my mind had erected over a decade of self-preservation and entrenchment.
I learned that epiphany does not equal ascension, and a life-altering moment is only such if you continue moving in that direction.
Re-learning to ride a bike was punishing, deciphering the adage ‘fall down 10 times, get up 11;’ well 10 falls on a bike leaves a lasting impression. But I found a proclivity to cycling, and it came naturally to me. I started riding more often, and would wake up before sunrise so I could get a few hours of slow riding in before work.
Not only did my body begin to change physically, but my entire demeanor and mindset transformed - I sought out all forms of activity; hiking, surfing, rock climbing, soccer, and hockey - And was perceiving life from a vastly different lens.
Cycling became my gateway drug to a better life.
Join me by becoming part of CycleNation! Together we will ignite a health revolution to stop the cycle of stroke and heart disease.
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