Hi, my name is Chase Aman and I am one of the three ambassadors for this year’s Ride Don’t Hide in Calgary Alberta. My journey riding began not too long ago. It was last summer when my Dad decided that he was going to run from the top of Alberta to the bottom. When he proposed this to me he asked me if I wanted to ride it with him giving him aid, company as well as support along the way. I agreed not knowing how it would go but was excited to start nonetheless. This journey began July 1st, 2016 – Canada Day. We had started our great journey at the Northwest Territory border. At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The entire journey was 62 days long. I would bike behind my dad as he ran 30-35 km a day for 5-6 days per week. This trip was nothing close to anything I had done before, so everything was a new experience. It was very, very physically challenging but at the same time very mentally challenging. Every day we would get up at 6 to go do our thing and be back in the afternoon. The entire trip was a grand total of 1,600 km.
The run/ride was very physically demanding on my body. Sitting on a bike for 3-4 hours a day for almost 2 months straight took its toll. There was constant leg, back and arm pain. After each day my dad and I would both take an ice bath then graduate to heat therapy, ultrasound gel and massage therapy.
As much as the ride was a physical challenge, it was also a very hard mental challenge on me. Each day I would wake up and tell myself “you can do this, just make it to tomorrow,” reminding myself why I’m doing all this in the first place – to support my dad and tell people with mental issues that you could do anything you want to do and you can always go to people and talk to them and get help with what they are dealing with.
Every day was a new experience, whether it was seeing a new animal I had never seen before or getting hit in the head by flying rocks from semi-trucks. I remember one day we were going along as normal when we past this house and I had noticed that there was this big German Shepherd sitting on a deck outside. As I was telling my dad what I had seen, all of the sudden this dog came running towards us and we were scared for our lives. So my dad decides to jump the guardrail and I was using the bike as protection, trying to prepare for the worst. Luckily for us, the dog happened to be friendly. About 10 minutes after that experience, we passed a different house and another dog came running at us from the other side of the road and almost got hit. I took it back to the house and to get it to stay and not follow us.
Overall, the scariest experience that we had the whole trip was when we encountered a wild black bear. It was the beginning of the day and we were 10 minutes in when I saw some ears poking out of the grass , I said to my dad “what are those ears poking out?.” As soon as I said that, this big black bear poked its whole head out of the ditch. “Holy cow, it’s a bear!”
I then booked it back to the trail car as I was supposed to do. We knew that bear encounters could be a potential risk, but I was convinced it wouldn’t happen… I was wrong.
The best days for me through the entire trip was the day that we came into Airdrie and was an experience that I will remember for my entire life. Cars were backed up on Veterans Boulevard, we had a police escort with people all over the streets clapping and cheering as came into town. At that point in the run/ride it was a really big boost. Knowing that people cared enough to come out to see us and cheer us into town and the fact that we had a police escort made everything worthwhile to me.
I, myself, have experienced mental illnesses in my life including anxiety and depression. During the run/ride, I was experiencing depression. I thought that life was terrible and that I was worthless. Along with that, I was dealing with thinking about my future and what I want to do when I get older, and as a teenager, that is a very stressful thing to go through. I had the thought in my mind that I had to please everyone and had to be the perfect person for everyone else but then realized something. I realized that I didn’t have to please everyone because that’s impossible. I decided that I want to make myself happy and do what I wanted to do in life and not what other expected of me. I needed to do what I wanted to do with my life.
Mental health is something that’s either been in your life or will be in the future. I have it in my life, family and friends. I won’t lie and say that I know everything there is to know about mental health, but what I do know is that it is such a big and important thing in this world and it’s not spoken about as much as it should be. To me, mental health is such an important thing because, yes I have been through it myself and my best advice for people who have or have had mental health issues, is to talk to someone. I know that it is a hard thing to do but as soon as you do it takes a big load off your shoulders. There are many outlets for you to tell people whether it’s to a family member, a close friend or a co-worker. It is very important that you tell someone. To me nothing good comes out of bottling up those emotions it’s better to tell someone to get it off your chest.
When I got asked to be an ambassador for Ride don’t hide I was ecstatic and to hear that I would be doing it alongside a retired Calgary firefighter and former District Chief [Mark Weatherly] and an Olympic athlete [Anastasia Bucsis] made me even more excited to be a part of this initiative. But I am most excited about the fact that with this event, there will be more and more exposure and awareness for mental health and to me that is something that I think can change the way we, as Canadians, think and that is Why I Ride.