In 2019, a group of six friends from the Boston area—all women, all mothers—signed up for the third annual Ride for Mental Health. That first year, it was all about a ‘women’s weekend’ and getting away from the responsibilities of daily life. They decided to tackle the 25-mile route—some with more trepidation than others.
The experience was transformative. Spectacular weather, extraordinary vistas and an expertly organized event made them eager to do it again.
When the pandemic hit, Ride Founder Mac Dorris pivoted, rebranding the 2020 event to Together…Apart and launching a club on the popular app Strava. The six friends masked up and did their rides virtually, this time completing 50 miles and raising funds as part of Team McLean.
“It started as a lark. I didn’t even have a decent bike. But I wanted to challenge myself and support my friend who works at McLean,” explained Christine. “This will be our fourth year participating and now it’s personal for me. A loved one had a crisis and needed emergency psychiatric care last year. It was terrifying and hit home how critical it is to have access to good treatment. I have a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for this event now.”
Monitoring the pandemic carefully, Dorris brought back a hybrid version of the Ride in 2021, inviting cyclists to join him in person in New Paltz, New York.
Some opted to stick with the virtual effort, but the group of friends were determined to make a weekend of it. And, like Christine, the others were finding their own personal answers to “why we ride.”
In the months between Rides, there were intense conversations about the prevalence of mental illness and an increasing awareness that each one of them had a story to tell and a motivation to keep on riding.