A Winter Training Program Helps a Cyclist’s Mental Health

By Amanda Choudhary – “I Ride Louder to feel strong!” 

I signed up for Ride Louder at the JCC right after my third pregnancy loss. I was a mess. There were days I couldn't remember what it felt like to feel strong, which was a huge change for me after years of triathlons. I just wanted to feel strong again—both physically and mentally. 

So I started to Ride Louder. And it worked! Feeling strong again was just like riding a bike—literally! My husband signed up for Ride Louder with me too. It gave us a way to connect over something other than grief.

Left to right: Madan, Kavish, and Amanda Choudhary. Photo courtesy Amanda Choudhary

Then, in the middle of the winter, I got pregnant again. My doctor said to stay active and healthy, but I was terrified. I kept going to Ride Louder to keep some sort of routine and sanity. The coaches were always encouraging, but never pushed me out of my comfort zone. I felt comfortable and safe meeting my fitness goal- which at that point was just to do something active. 

At the start of Ride Louder, before I was pregnant, I loved pushing myself. I learned so much about my heart rate zones and what it felt like to manage my heart rate between the different zones. I also learned how to be best positioned on my bike, to be efficient and prevent injury. I could see the results of working hard and getting back into shape. On an off day, I always appreciated the coaches walking around and checking to hold me accountable. Once I got pregnant though, I was terrified of the coaches walking around. I worried to myself — Would they try to push me harder? Would I break down crying in class if they pointed out or asked why I wasn’t working as hard as I used to?” But that never happened once. The coaches pushed us as a class but trusted us as individuals to do what we needed to do.

By the end of Ride Louder I was 17 weeks pregnant, and now I have a happy healthy little guy. I can't imagine getting through all that without my amazing husband and our Ride Louder experience.

My husband was not into cycling when we started the class.  He had been a runner for years, and had done some casual mountain biking. Ride Louder was a new challenge for him, and something we could do together. But he caught the cycling bug! He purchased a road bike, and has kept in touch with some of the Ride Louder folks. He goes out for a ride 2-3 times a week. As he has adapted to being a new dad, I know he would say cycling has become his source of sanity these days! 

I am forever grateful for Ride Louder. I hope sharing my story helps others to know how it important it is to ride, both for physical and mental health.

The 2019-2020 Ride Louder Winter Cycling Program will take place from November 4, 2019 to March 28, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For details, visit slcjcc.org/louder

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