Christmas 1 Year Later 11



“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
Shannon L. Alder

If you read my post last year, Christmas S24O, you would have never guessed that I was battling depression. Or that I was still grieving the loss of my father even after one year had passed. Not to mention that I broke off a 2 year engagement and left a 9 year relationship with the same person. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit.

It was the aftermath of that trip that my road to recovery began. Here is what really happened Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2013.
In the dark


I was going to therapy at Westwood to help me treat my depression for a good 8 months prior to Christmas Eve. I had the day off from my full-time job. My spontaneous decision to pack up my bike and ride off for a few days set off multiple alarms for my therapist.

He discouraged me from going through with this trip. He voiced his concerns that I was going to be away during this time of year when I should be with family. We spent the entire session on why I was going and ease his mind that I wasn’t going to do anything irrational or stupid. His negative reaction to my 4 day excursion convinced me to just make it a quick overnighter. He even had me text him to let him know that I was fine. So I did.

Going through therapy was one of those negative stigma that society puts on people, but in actuality, it’s not a bad thing. I would highly encourage others to attend therapy as much as they could. If it wasn’t for insurance issues, I would still be seeing my therapist today.
Bicycle at Point Mugu

On the Road

Looking back, I was definitely running away from my life. I just found an excuse to leave because I’ve never traveled alone before, but that was not the main reason of what I was really trying to do. I was simply running away from my problems. I was running away from my sadness and loneliness. It was the only way I knew how to deal with negative feelings.

As I pedaled my way up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway, I kept on replaying my session with the therapist. I remembered how his mood shifted, and he showed that he really cared for my well-being.

When I got to the campsite, it was pitch dark and I had to wander around until I found the hiker biker site. I unpacked and set up camp. The silence and darkness were comforting. It was a surreal feeling to be out in the elements on my own for the first time. I was familiar with the process of setting up camp and preparing food, so my body was on autopilot, while my mind was somewhere else. I dozed off into the night as the winds howled through the trees above.


Christmas Day

I woke up and saw I was covered in dust and sand. The wind did not let up the entire night, so I didn’t have the best sleep. Like the previous night, I was on autopilot again with my morning routine of brushing my teeth, preparing breakfast, and breaking down my camp before I pointed my bike down the coast towards Santa Monica.

It was a beautiful day. The morning was brisk, but warmed up fabulously towards the later part of the morning. My mood improved and became better as I added the miles. I saw a transformation and felt things I haven’t felt in a while. I was feeling joy and dare I say, happy. I even called my sister and brother-in-law to see if they wanted to have dinner that night. The three of us enjoyed a nice dinner at the only kind of restaurants opened on Christmas Day, Chinese restaurants.


Point Mugu 2014

Getting Away Vs. Running Away

I learned a valuable lesson that day. There is a huge difference between getting away versus running away. When I first started, I thought I was getting away, but in reality, I was just running away from my life at the time. Living in a miserable state where I felt like I was stuck and uninspired, I just needed to get off my butt and change my environment to get away from my world and just ride off for indefinite amount of time. It just took coercing from my therapist and an overnight bike trip to realize that running away wasn’t the proper way to deal with things.

365 days later, many things have happened. I am at a much better place in life. I am actually enjoying my time with family this year. Maybe we’re not back at celebrating Christmas like we once did when my father was alive, but we are planning to be together as a family.

The only thing that still holds true is that my mood always gets better after a long bike ride or bicycle tour to anywhere. The bicycle has been a constant in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Unfortunately, even if I wanted to go on that same trip to Point Mugu this year, Mother Nature had other plans in mind because the campsite was destroyed by a mudslide a few weeks ago. Goes to show that the only thing you can expect from lives are changes.

Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for reading.

About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

11 thoughts on “Christmas 1 Year Later

  • Jude

    Thanks for sharing your story Johnny. Cycling is so good for one’s soul especially when times are tough and confusing. I hope 2015 holds a balance of adventure and tranquility for you.

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      @Jude – Thank you again for your thoughts. 2015 will certainly be a marque year for me. I just know it with all the things I’ve got planned. Thank you for keeping up with my journey and contributing to the conversation. It helps me stay motivated to keep on producing good content for my readers.

  • mk4524

    Thanks for sharing, that was amazing insight into what you were trying to do then. Also, every now and then I think we hit these points where everything seems to crash together and it sounds like therapy was a good thing for you, it has helped me.

    BTW, my therapist told me that when I ride the way I do, I’m obviously generating dopa mine and I’m probably addicted to it. It’s pretty natural and maybe putting in your kind of miles was a good thing. I’m pretty upset that nature did me in too, Sycamore Canyon is my favorite mountain biking place. Last summer the fires destroyed it and this fall the rain and mud slides have destroyed it.

    I know I missed my father after he had passed away even though he was in is 90’s. My mother had passed away some ten years earlier and it was that sudden realization that at my age, I was an orphan so to speak. I realized at that point that there were times I wanted to share the good points of my life with my parents and now, they were no longer there for me.

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      @mk4524 – Thank you for sharing your thoughts on therapy. Yes dopamine was probably one of the factors to my road to recovery. Don’t worry Sycamore Canyon will be back but it’ll take some time. I believe things happen for a reason so this might be a new opportunity to try a different trail. As for your parents being there for you to share the good points in your life, even though you may not be able to share physically you can still share it with them spiritually. The fact that you can self-reflect and be aware is good for your soul. Keep those good times rolling knowing that they’re still part of you.

  • Bunny

    This is definitely your road to inner peace by sharing your most vulnerable and intimate feelings. More important, you recognized and realized that you needed professional help and embraced it rather than walking away because “therapy” has a “stigma” that most people don’t dare talk about.
    Keep it up!

  • Brad

    This was a bold, brave post and I really applaud you, Johnny. I know it couldn’t have been easy to share this part of you because of that stigma that exists when people start talking about mental health, but I also know all too well that it is so important to be able to discuss it freely. It’s quite inspiring to read your post. I’m so glad that you’ve made progress and are in a better place now. I’m glad I got to know you a bit in 2014 and I look forward to seeing you – and riding with you – in 2015! Hope you’re having a great holiday season!

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      @Brad – Thank you for your kind words. It’s been great seeing you in 2014. I look forward to more rides with you as well in 2015 and beyond. Happy New Year!

  • Miriam

    I was really moved by your personal story. I am so glad that you found a good and compatible therapist. Life has so many ups and downs and sometimes you need an outsider / therapist to help you sort things out. You write so beautifully and honestly. Life is a journey so stay on that bike.

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