By Randy Boyd — On June 18, 2017, I am embarking on a Ride Across America to Stomp Out Shame, a 2,825-mile bicycle ride from Indio, CA to Beach Lake, PA. However this ride was set in motion fifty years ago when I was just ten years old by forces unforeseen by myself or any other human being.
It was the summer of 1967 and my mother, brother and myself went on a family vacation to visit my mother’s relatives in Indiana. We were told that my father was staying at home because he had to work. Events happened while in Indiana and all I wanted was my father, so when I arrived home, I ran from the car to the house to see dad, only he was not there. In fact I was told he had moved out and that he and my mother were getting a divorce.
My father remained a big part of my life for the next couple of years. As a way of making up for not always being there for me, he bought me a metallic blue Schwinn 10 speed. As a kid I loved riding my bike and would race it around my block without a helmet, shoes or a care in the world. I remember one time coming around the corner and running square into the back of a parked car. I was fearless as a child.
About a year after my parents divorced my father became ill and I went from seeing him every other weekend to seeing him once a month. We had to postpone a backpacking trip we had planned and were reassured that as soon as dad was well we would go on the trip.
At the same time my mother met a man named Jack and in a short time he had become a surrogate father to my brother and I. He was there when my father was not. He would take us to the beach, picnics, out to dinner and to the Colorado River. He had earned my trust, my brother’s trust, my mothers trust and to some degree my fathers trust.
On Sunday January 12, 1969 after spending the weekend at Jack’s Laguna Beach house, we returned home around ten o’clock at night after driving two-hours through a severe rainstorm. As soon as we walked through the door our phone rang. Within minutes my mother met our neighbor at the front door and as they both walked back into the house I could tell something was wrong. My mother sat my brother and me on the couch and preceded to tell us our father had passed away from cancer. Needless to say I was confused, devastated and broken hearted, and no one could give me an answer to why my father had died.
Right about now you might be wondering what any of this has to do with cycling. Remember I said my Ride Across America started when I was 10 years old? So breathe in the good and breathe out the bad and see if you can relate to any part of this story.
It was a warm sunny spring day about a month after my father passed away. Like any other school day I walked myself home from school and let myself in the front door. As I walked into my house much to my surprise Jack was sitting on the living room couch. I thought to myself – cool, we are going to go out back and play catch. – Instead Jack stood up, put his hand on my shoulder and walked me into my bedroom. He sat me down on the edge of my bed and told me that he knew how hard it was going to be not having a father. He reassured me that he would be there for me. As he was talking with me his hand made it’s way to my crotch and what would be a five-year period of sexual abuse began. Oh, and as he walked me out of my room he told me this was our little secret. Understand I was a twelve–year old boy craving a father figure and a father’s love. And to top it off I was a member of a secret club. I thought he was giving me everything a loving father was supposed to give a son. Instead, for the next five years he would emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually abuse me.
I still had that Schwinn 10 speed I got when I was ten years old, and after moving to Dana Point, CA I would often ride my trusty ten-speed to and from my baseball practices. However, eventually the bike riding was replaced with surfing. Surfing was my safe place, just Mother Nature and myself; no one could hurt me when I was surfing. However, eventually I turned to drugs and alcohol to quiet the pain and shame and I walked away from the very thing that gave me true peace – surfing.
I graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1975 and for the next thirty-one years, as a result of my abuse, I struggled with alcohol and drugs because they were the only things that would numb the pain of my abuse. I had let myself go physically gaining sixty pounds and I was absolutely no fun to be around. As a result of my drinking and the fact I carried the secret of my sexual abuse into my first marriage, after six years that marriage fell apart.
After the divorce I started taking care of myself physically. I went to the gym and became an avid runner. As a result I lost the sixty pounds I had gained and started feeling better about myself. I had my drinking and drugging under “control” and had fallen in love with a beautiful blond haired angel. Eventually I would marry this angel and my life would change in ways I had no idea were possible.
Cycling had never left my blood and eventually I began cycling again. First it was just riding my bike to the park with my son and slowly it became a way of life for me. I joined a club and would ride one hundred and fifty to two hundreds miles a week. I rode every chance I could. In many ways it became my new drug as I could escape from life’s realities while I was on the bike. I would often talk with my wife about one day doing the RAAM. However, life happens and with kids coming into our lives, I had to walk away from cycling yet again.
Raising a family and being there for my children was my number one priority in my life, so making the decision to walk away from cycling was not a hard decision. Without my cycling however, I had lost my means of escape and from 1990 – 2006; I fell deeper into my addictions. The unresolved issues of my childhood abuse constantly haunted me. In fact, it seemed to get worse. I am proud to say that I was a very successful businessman, father and husband. In fact my abuse drove me to success, but I could never fill that hole that was in my soul.
February 5, 2006 I had had enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I sought help for my addictions and entered into a treatment facility. One of the key elements in recovery is self-care and since I was going to the gym already and hiking a lot, I utilized those forms of exercise for my physical care. However, cycling was still in my blood and in 2007 a friend talked me into buying a bike. I have been riding now for the past ten years and while riding I have my greatest spiritual breakthroughs. Today I have twelve years of recovery from my abuse and eleven years of sobriety.
This brings us back to the Ride Across America to Stomp Out Shame. Sexual abuse of boys is of epidemic proportions not only here, but also in the entire world. Statistically 1:4 boys who become men are sexually abused. Yet America and the world want to act like it does not happen. After all boys “just get over it.” Wrong! For many survivors it destroys their self–esteem and self–confidence. The lasting effects are carried into all of their relationships, yet people believe it’s just the way they were born, if you don’t like it, too bad.
So on June 18, 2017 I will be embarking on a 2,825 mile bicycle ride from Indio, CA to Beach Lake, PA bringing awareness and educating as much of America about the prevalence of sexual abuse of boys, who the perpetrators are (93% are family members or friends,) and the correlation between chemical dependency and sexual abuse (80% of sexual abuse victims struggle with chemical dependency.) I will also deliver a message of hope, healing and a life of freedom and happiness beyond anyone’s imagination.
To learn more about the Courageous Healers Foundation and the Ride Across America to Stomp Out Shame go to www.courageoushealers.org If you are interested in joining Randy on a leg of the ride you can register at https://rideacrossamerica.eventbrite.com