Tavian Bryant – The Journey to 40 and BeyondTavian Bryant
This whole journey started about 5 years ago. I had been in a wheelchair for 18 years at this point. I was out of shape and needed to do something about it. I also wanted to get out there and feel myself in the wind as I did before, riding bikes and motorcycles in my youth. I bought a handcycle shortly after my injury, and I rode it from time to time. However, it mostly sat in my garage collecting dust. I even tried a marathon early on, but it didn’t pull me in at that point. The timing just wasn’t right. I was figuring out too many things at the time to give my attention to the bike. I was learning how to live with a spinal cord injury, and going to college. Not long after that I was starting a family and becoming a high school teacher. With all of that going on I just didn’t really think much about riding the bike. Well as I said, about 5 years ago life started to slow down a little bit and I rediscovered the bike. As time went on I found myself riding more and more. I noticed I was becoming faster, and feeling stronger. I decided to enter a few more marathons, and it became fun as I was able to test my mental and physical limits as well as compete against other handcyclists. The physical activity and competition was definitely something that I needed. I decided to set a goal to complete 40 marathons to challenge myself. I really don’t know where the number came from. It just seemed like a number that would be a challenge, but also something I could realistically achieve in time. I shared my goal to complete 40 marathons with my family, friends, co-workers, and my students as I started to move through the journey. As time went on, more and more people were asking about my progress, and the next marathon on my schedule. Along the way I’ve had so many people tell me that my journey to 40 has inspired them. I never really planned it that way. I was just out there trying to get in shape and challenge myself. I had the desire to live an extraordinary life and not let the injury define me. The fact that I’ve been able to have an impact on the lives of others through this process has in turn inspired me to do more in so many areas of my own life. You never know what something can turn into until you get started. This whole process has changed my life. I’m healthier, I’ve met a bunch of great people, and traveled to places I most likely wouldn’t have if the bike hadn’t taken me there. I have completed 36 marathons to date. The bike has taken me to 10 states so far. I’ve competed in a road race, completed a marathon or just rode my bike in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah. Honestly, I hope to ride my bike in all 50 states before my final turn of the crank. The highlights of the journey are the Boston Marathon, The New York Marathon, and the Los Angeles Marathon. For the final 4 marathons I hope to get to: Houston Marathon – Texas Marine Corps Marathon – Virginia Air Force Marathon – Ohio The Miami Marathon – Florida. But it won’t stop when I hit the goal. I’ll just keep going, and going, and going. If you have been following my journey from the beginning you may have noticed that the pace at which I’m completing marathons has slowed down a bit. There’s a reason for that. I’ve found a new challenge. While competing in marathons, I discovered a handcycle racing circuit that hosts races all over the country. I competed in my first handcycle road racing series a few years back and have been hooked ever since. These road racing series usually consist of 3 or 4 individual racing events over a 3 or 4 day period. So for the last couple years I’ve been splitting the time between road racing series and marathons, which has slowed my marathon completion pace. I still intend to complete my goal of 40 marathons, but the pace will be a little slower. As I pursue new goals, my focus and priorities have shifted more toward the road racing series than the marathons, here’s why. The United States has a handcycle team that races at events all over the world. Members of that same team also have the opportunity to race in the Paralympics, which happens on the back end of the Olympics. I have no idea if I’ll ever improve enough to earn a spot on that team, but I’m going after it. As you can see I’ve found something bigger. It has become my next challenge, and a new journey has started. I found out about a handcycle team, (TeamPossAbilities) applied, and was selected to be a member of the team. Being a member of TeamPossabilities has allowed me to take handcycle racing to another level. The support and encouragement of TeamPossAbilities administration has given me the opportunity to race a full season and access professional coaching (Rick Babington). In addition to that, the competitiveness and assistance of my PossAbilities teammates has helped me gain valuable race experience and make real progress over the last 18 months. As I said before I’m not sure where I will end up, and I have a long way to go, but I’m up for the challenge. I suffered a spinal cord injured 23 years ago. If you would have asked me what my life would look like today I would have never imagined in a 1000 years that I would be in this position and would have been there and done that, and have this story to tell. I thank God for every part of this experience, the easy parts and the tough ones too. I’m better and stronger because of it. I also want thank everyone who has supported me throughout this incredible journey. It seems as though it is just getting started and there are exciting things to come.