My Last Bad Day

July 11, 2001

It felt like my alarm clock went off too early. I was jet-lagged, but I managed to crawl out of bed, and with sleep still in my eyes, I got my bike ready for a few early morning miles before my company’s meeting in New Mexico.

Less than an hour later, my life changed forever.

It was a perfect desert morning. The sun rose over the Sandia Mountains, and the fresh air woke me up. I thought I created an ideal little cycling loop, but I was hit head-on by an S.U.V. traveling around 40 miles per hour on my fourth lap. To this day, I vividly remember the sound of me slamming into his front grill and flying into the windshield.

When I regained consciousness, I asked the E.M.T.s the question that only a fellow cyclist can appreciate, “How’s my bike?” It was my pitiful attempt to cut the tension with some humor. It’s what I did back in the day. I was uncomfortable with the unwanted. And that moment was beyond uncomfortable and without a doubt, unwanted.

Reality Wins

They told me my bike was fine. Yeah, it wasn’t. 

They told me to breathe, but I was having trouble staying calm.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had a meeting to get to and my wife and two daughters to support. This was not in the script. 

But it was. I later discovered that reality wins 100% of its arguments.

I didn’t think I was going to make it. So, I tried to bargain with whoever would listen. I promised to stop chasing happiness if I survived, but it was all I knew. I was so scared.

My doctors aren’t sure how I survived. They told my wife had I been ten years older or not healthy, I would have died before they could help me.

When I came out of the I.C.U., they predicted that I would have a lifetime of limitations and most likely never ride again. When they shared this with me, I went dark. I didn’t have to worry about chasing happiness because I couldn’t see anything to be happy about.


I made a commitment to handle my challenging moments with grace and never label a full day as a bad one because I have people I love and who love me. 

I eventually left the hospital, got out of my wheelchair and back on my feet, but I still had more surgeries in front of me to get back on the bike.
My journey, like yours, has peaks and valleys. But every step, or should I say pedal stroke, has made me stronger. I live by Thich Nhat Hahn’s quote: No Mud, No Lotus. As you might have gathered by now, I’ve had to pedal through plenty of mud. I like to think I make an awesome sauce lotus – as do you.

To celebrate my journey and the ripple love, kindness, and gratitude to those who have supported me, I’ll be riding across America with my wife, Lynn, and our dogs, Jester, and Hope. I’m pedaling and they are rockin’ the RV. We will leave Astoria, Oregon and travel through ten states, and arrive forty-five days and 4,200-ish miles later (if I don’t get lost) in Yorktown, VA.


That SUV broke more than my body; it shattered my identity. 

But over time, I discovered that all the events in life are neutral until they are labeled. We have the power to give meaning to our moments and how we see them will influence where we go in life. 

In essence, where our focus goes, our energy flows. With this knowledge, I decided to label July 11, 2001, My Last Bad Day. Now, this label doesn’t come with rainbows or unicorns. It’s a statement of gratitude and having perspective. I know that if I have my wife, daughters, and a strong peloton of others when I go to sleep each night, then I can’t call the whole day a bad one. Sure, I’ve had challenging moments since, but I don’t want to give them more fuel than they deserve.


Rise represents resilience


2 represents connection and a bridge to a better tomorrow


Ripple is all about our energy because we are all energy


Challenge, well, that's easy - this is going to be a challenge

Michael O'Brien Cycling
Dots Pattern
Dots Pattern

Giving Back to the Community

During my ride, I'm raising money for the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City and 45 other charities. HSS has been essential in my helping me get back on the bike and put me in the position to do something as epic as this.

This ride is about mindfulness, gratitude, generosity, resilience, grit, tenacity, community, love, kindness, and a bunch of goodness. I hope it inspires and helps you see the goodness in America as we try to form a more perfect union.

I dream that this ride can help America heal.

We are hurting. We are divided. We are suffering.

But I believe that we can heal and ease the suffering when we find a way to come together despite our differences.

Are you ready to join me?

If so, watch and share the video, follow me on social and share with your friend.

Join the Challenge!

Michael O'Brien Cycling
African Proverb