Liz joins Banana Slugs, conquers mountains

First-time Courage rider - Liz Goodwin

Imagine hopping on a mountain bike and pedaling 100+ miles over a mountain pass in two days. Impossible? That’s exactly what Mary Bridge Children’s Occupational Therapist, Liz Goodwin, did.

What’s even more remarkable about this accomplishment for Liz is that she has not always had a great relationship with cycling.

“I have this very strong memory of my dad buying me a bike for my 13th birthday and refusing to get on it because I was always scared of hurting myself as a kid, “ Liz laughs.

Ten years later, Liz discovered a passion for the outdoors. She took up cycling again at the age of 23 as a form of transportation while she was studying abroad. Fast forward to a few years later and her newfound love for cycling only continued to grow – thanks to her coworkers at Good Samaritan Mary Bridge Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU).

As an occupational therapist, Liz works with a variety of patients on fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and more.

“I love the work I do,” Liz says. “I love how active the job is and how free, creative and unfiltered the kids I work with are.”

Prompted by her coworker Brett Nirider, who is a physical therapist at CTU, and a few other colleagues, Liz extended her support of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital past her day job and accepted the challenge of riding Mary Bridge Children’s Courage with the Banana Slugs team in 2019.

Courage is a two-day cycling event that benefits patients and families served at Mary Bridge Children’s. Team Banana Slugs is primarily made up of physical and occupational therapists like Liz. They view Courage as an activity that combines their shared interest of  physical challenge, the outdoors and – most importantly – helping kids with lots of fun along the way.

Liz remembers that it was the encouragement from her team, silly singalongs, delicious rest stop snacks and sheer will that helped her cross the finish line for the first time.

“That second day was a lot, lot harder. Especially like the last 10 miles, we had a lot of headwind. At one point, we all pulled over because I was far behind,” Liz says. “Brett was like ‘You can do this, you just gotta push through.’”

Liz says she’s proof that you don’t have to be an expert cyclist to enjoy Courage weekend. Her advice for first-timers is:

“Don't be too serious. I would say you don't need the perfect bike setup because I definitely didn’t have that, but make sure your clothing is comfortable. Make sure your perspective and intentions are set and if you can, find a person or a community to ride with.”

 Liz will be back for round two in August 2020 with a lot more experience and the same motivation.

“I ride because Courage combines some of my favorite things: mountains, fun physical challenges, lots of food, community and service to others,” Liz says. “It is amazing to be part of such a diverse and energetic community that unites each year for the shared purpose of supporting children and families in our area. Children inspire hope, growth and change. I ride for them.”