How One Question Changed My Life

Have you ever tried to ride your bike from Canada to Mexico?



Me neither.

So how did I end up on trying to climb Big Sur?

Eric’s “Plan”

A few years ago, Eric and I we’re completing a personal training session. We worked through major back issues. He didn’t have a bulged disk, something far worse: 2 shattered discs. Eric experienced chronic back pain for over 20 years. Fortunately, I had a plan for his back pain.

Three Main Back Issues:

  1. Little to No Flexibility
  2. Weak Core
  3. No Glute Activation

If he stuck with the program, we would see incredible results. The results blew my mind, his back pain became a distant memory.


Eric’s back pain became a distant memory

He felt as strong as a bull. The strongest 57 y/o around. He asked me a question that changed my life.


“Would you ride your bike from San Francisco to Irvine?”


I obviously thought he was joking.

I replied like any normal person. “Sure, no big deal. Let’s keep working, three more reps.” We finished the session and I thought nothing more of the proposal.


Things Got Real Quick

The next session, Eric showed up with a map and possible dates. I pooped my pants. This guy is serious? I didn’t think it was possible, but I reluctantly agreed.

PictureOur first long training ride went…awful.

My butt cried. Every hill destroyed us. We found ourselves laying on the side of the road. It took a monumental effort just make it through the scheduled ride. I just didn’t think it was possible. I would have a tough time. And I knew it would be even harder for him. I had doubts, big doubts. 


Our Secret Weapon

We had a secret weapon, we each possessed a Bigger Burn. A powerful Bigger Burn. Eric was a cancer survivor. He beat the odds, coming back from near-death made him almost invincible. He wasn’t supposed to do any of this, not anymore. I had a starkly different experience with cancer. My friend Amadu fought bravely against the horrid disease. Sadly, cancer won.Picture



We knew what we needed to do. Make the mission bigger than us. Eliminate failure as an option. We would raise money for the fight against cancer.


Fighting For Cancer

Armed with the motivation, we began our first ride. The target ride from San Francisco to Irvine. 6 days, 500 miles and 45+ hours of cycling (my butt still hurts.) Our navigation was less than stellar. The days were endless. 

Eric Was Ready to Quit

On the beginning on Day 3, a ride from to San Luis Obispo, we started the day in horrible pain. We each carried a backpack filled with all our equipment. The backpacks were taking a toll. We took a break so Eric could jump on a conference call. I could see the pain in him. As we sat in the gas station, I calmly took Eric’s backpack and threw it over mine. 


Eric said “No” to me with two backpacks. He shook his head. I told him to pedal. He didn’t fight back after that. We biked the next 45 miles through rolling hills, heat and narrow lanes.


I screamed as my front tire punctured. My body flew over the handle bars. I ricocheted off the asphalt. Sprawled on the ground, Eric came to my help. He removed the extra backpack, and we managed to complete the day. I tore up my shoulder and hip, but I could still ride.


Armed with the right motivation, anything is possible.

And Ride We Did

We recently completed our 7th bike trip. The bike trek from Oregon to San Francisco. Eric the machine performed like a beast. He isn’t slowing down one bit. He pushes me to work harder. And honestly, I need to. I need to be ready for whatever loony adventure pops in his head.



Tony Arreola

NASM Master Trainer

Author, “Get Me Medals”


PS: For serious cyclists (or crazy ones) make sure you follow our 3 Quick Tips for Speed. Or for more epic inspiration, you can read my New York Marathon journey.

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