On this particularly warm Christmas Day in 2017, our family went on a mountain bike ride. I believe it was fate when timing lined out perfectly for us to meet a man named Dale with the chronic disease, ALS. Even though we only spoke for a few moments, he left a big impact in our hearts and Dale taught us an important lesson.
For Christmas this year we decided not to get our kids toys. Instead we wanted to spend money on things that will go along with our active lifestyle and help us create experiences together. For our older 3 boys we got them mountain bikes. They were eager to get out there so we picked a trail that would accommodate us all. My husband has a bike but I did not, so my father in law came to the rescue and so kindly gave up his bike so I could ride along. They didn’t tell me until we were leaving, of course, that the bike had no brakes. So, this trail was called the trail of death for me! But that is beside the point.
We rode one of the most ridden paths in Southern Utah, Bear Claw Poppy up the Green Valley Loop. A great choice for beginners or experts and is a blast! It is only 2.5 miles of uphill, enough to make me work hard and sweat but not want to die. Then the downhill is full of fun! We only had one crash this time around the loop by Kobe. As you can see in the video he was pretty tough even after riding off a ledge and getting a full mouth of dirt. When we finished off the loop, the sun had just gone down behind the mountain and as we were getting our bikes loaded I noticed a man had also just finished his ride and pulled up to the fence. As he got off the bike, he slipped and fell. I didn’t want to embarrass him and stare but then I noticed he was trying to pull himself up but couldn’t. He was staggering and my first thought was, “How did that dude just ride being so drunk?” I looked at my husband and motioned to him to go help that man up. The man knew my husband was a little unsure of how to help him. He introduced himself as Dale and said, “I promise I am not on drugs, I have ALS.” My draw dropped and I knew what a feat it is for a healthy person to ride a bike is, let alone a man with a disease that greatly impacts his physical ability. My husband helped get his bike over the fence and Dale got up and staggered towards his bike, almost as if he needed it to steady himself. I could have let him ride off and that be the end of that, but I was so blown away by this man and his efforts. I mean, I believe he is an avid mountain biker despite his illness. What excuse do we have? I wish I could have talked to him all day but this is what I know about Mr. Dale
-He was diagnosed with ALS around the young age of 20(I would guess Dale is currently around 50 years old)
-After he was diagnosed he was walking out of the hospital with a stack of papers and a book which had the title, “Die With Dignity”. He looked at them in his hand and threw them right in the trash on his way out of the hospital
-The doctors gave Dale 4-5 years to live at the most
-Dale pointed at his brain as he told me, “It was all a mental thing for me, I had to carry on as if I had nothing wrong with me”
-I am sure being active can’t be all that easy for Dale but he said he has to and it is what keeps him going
-Dales famous words to us were, “You know what they say, if you fall 7 times, get up 8!” That is what he lives by
As our conversation was ending Dale said to me, well you know I think we met for a reason, and I agreed with him. I started walking back to my truck fighting back tears from how amazing that man was that I just had the pleasure to meet, when I heard a big crash. Dale had fallen again, ouch. He said, “Ugh, Again!” We didn’t help him up this time. Instead I watched knowing he was strong enough and had the will to do it himself. I videoed him as he straightened out his seat to get back on his bike and ride away because that is what he does. If he falls 7 times, he will get up 8! Thank you Mr. Dale, our ALS warrior and champion. Thanks for teaching my boys how its done!