ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – Mountain biking is a sport you learn to love. It can be fast, bumpy and it can quickly conquer you, if you don’t conquer it.
Sally Marchand-Collins of Zionsville can call herself a conqueror of mountain biking.
“It energizes your soul. It just puts joy back in,” said Sally.
To feel joy through mountain biking is quite an accomplishment for Sally. A few years ago, she was feeling anything but joy. After a long ride, she discovered that her husband, Pete, was seriously ill.
“We started doing a lot of long rides, road bikes. I noticed when he got done, he was getting really fatigued to the point where he was sweating profusely,” said Sally.
After pain and numerous trips to the hospital, tests finally turned up the cause.
“We found out he had a tumor in his spine that was cutting off circulation, causing paralysis. And they said he was scheduled for surgery the next day," said Sally. "And the doctor said there was a possibility he might be paralyzed. And his response was ‘can I still ride a bike with my arms?’”
Final tests showed Pete Collins had a form of leukemia. That’s where the battle began for about a year. He never gave up on his goal to ride again, but it was a goal Sally ended up taking over.
“I said ‘I’m going to do that 100 mile bike ride in June, but I need one request. I need your help on the hills.’ It was going to be my first 100 mile ride and he said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’”
Pete passed away in February of 2001. Sally did that 100 mile ride that June with the help of her dad.
“While I was out there racing, I found that I could help other people in the race, you know, somebody who had a broken chain or a flat tire,” said Sally. “It was just a way for me to move on with my life or maybe forget about my life.”
Sally began to heal though mountain biking. Today she wants women to experience the same healing power and confidence she’s found. She holds camps and workshops teaching the sport, showing men and women they can conquer fear by grabbing hold of handlebars.
Sally raced for 14 years and she’s raised close to $150,000 globally for leukemia and lymphoma research.
“I want people to be strong. And when we teach people mountain biking, it really allows people to get a hold of the bars and live life.”
She does it for the love of a man and a sport that carried her through her grief.