Just a friendly reminder that our very first RIDE ABOVE DEPRESSION PLANNING MEETING is tonight!

The time of the meeting is 7:00pm.

The location is at the Elizabethtown Social Center.

We will have refreshments.

Thanks for all your support along the way.

Elise and Jeremiah look forward to seeing everyone tonight.

For those that can’t attend we will be posting the major happenings on our website.

So check back soon.


Jeremiah and Elise

R.A.D. Community Program Planning Meeting! 8/20/2014

imageR.A.D. Friends and Family, the time has come to take action on all we have envisioned and dreamed up on our long bike tour.

The loss of Robin Williams is a heavy reminder that there is not sufficient support for those who struggle with depression. It is often those who shine the brightest that cover their struggles within, and find it hardest to reach out for help.

As mentioned before, we have decided to make our program home in the beautiful Adirondacks of upstate New York. We see this as just the beginning to programs across the country.

Community Planning Events (info on Events page on our website as well)

Our first Community Planning Meeting will be held Wednesday, August 20th 7:00pm! 

Elizabethtown Social Center, 7626 Route 9, Elizabethtown, NY (all meetings held in upstairs conference room)

We welcome all community members who are passionate about seeing programs be offered for those that are suffering with depression, or have been impacted by loved ones suffering and would like to be strong advocates. At our planning meetings we will brainstorm ways that the community and its organizations can come together to create a strong support network and funding to ensure that we can take action to enable therapeutic programs to be easily accessible to all who need it. We will present our ideas and vision, and make a plan for actualizing the most pressing needs first.

We plan to focus strongly on providing support for teens and adults, as there are already programs in place for younger youth. All ideas and backgrounds of experience are encouraged to attend!

Planning Meeting 2 – Wednesday, August 27

Planning Meeting 3 – Wednesday, September 3

Please email us at if you wish to provide support but cannot attend the scheduled meetings.

You can also reach us by phone at 518-873-6834

We look forward to seeing you there!

Elise and Jeremiah

Nonprofit Creation and Website Renovation

sunset ride in the Adirondacks

Hello Friends!

I’m sure you all have been on the edge of your seats and saddles wondering what comes next when you end a big ride like ours. There’s no question that is a huge task to figure out how to start a nonprofit.

Well, after brainstorming and spending countless hours pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to best put into words and clarify what we would like to do…and trying not to get overwhelmed by attempting to put together a budget for something that has yet to exist…we think we have developed a bit of a plan.

A little over a week ago we met with all the staff members of Essex County Mental Health in Elizabethtown, NY. They were excited to hear about our big adventure and what we are now motivated to do. It was very refreshing and inspiring for all parties involved and we left with an extra charge of energy to continue our mission.

They encouraged us to hold a presentation here, as well as a community discussion to give everyone the opportunity to hear ideas and input from others. We were also given a number of great professional contacts who may also want to be involved.

This is all VERY EXCITING! To see our next planned event and community meeting check out our new events page at:

To see our new and exciting vision and add your ideas and comments go to:

Happy riding!

Elise and Jeremiah

The End is Just the Beginning

We write you from back in New York. Yep, its not Seattle. Money ran out and it is extremely stressful to try and live like a panhandler on a bike while starting a nonprofit. Especially when you are already dealing with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. We have invested everything into our mission; financially, emotionally, and physically. We are SPENT in all meanings of the word.

Our ride has brought us over 2,600 miles. 4,500 for Elise. We have navigated through seven states, given six presentations, talked to over 1,000 people in person about our vision for RAD and gained thousands of followers around the world. Our journey has brought us to tears on numerous occasions, both of joy, and frustration. We have pedaled and pushed through days that we’d rather forget. We have helped each other learn coping mechanisms, and strategies of navigating changing moods. We also tested the Whole30 diet and its effect on mood disorders, as well as trying out some awesome life coaching curriculum we hope to use in our future programs. Phew! We have made many accomplishments in a very short amount of time.


Lessons learned:

Our vision is a breath of fresh air for people battling mood disorders.

As we already knew, statistics are way off. Way more than 20 million people suffer from depression. We have created the space for people to come forward and not hide behind the stigma

Trying to create a non-profit on while on a bike tour is extremely difficult.

Our passion for helping people gives us a warm fuzzy feeling.

More financial support would help dissolve stress. It’s difficult enough to not know where we are going to stay on a daily basis, without the added anxiety about whether we can afford the next meal.

Cycling long distances gives you a new appreciation of the landscape and cultures that a region has to offer. A renewed sense of love for humanity, and the diversity and generosity of our nation

No conversation is EVER a waste of time. Some of our greatest support along the way came from our willingness to talk to a nearby stranger.

We have gained much clarity on our vision and how we can make the most impact serving those in need of our support.

So now, we are lucky to be in New York, in the beautiful landscape of the Adirondacks. Jeremiah grew up here and his parents have welcomed us into their home while we recoup and plan the next part of the journey. We won’t lie, it was a hard decision to decide to fly out of Austin and end the ride. Hard not to end the journey where we thought we would, back in Seattle. We must remind ourselves of all the amazing triumphs that we had during our trip that we could have never planned for. It is very true that the best things in life are never what we planned for. We accomplished SO much more than we could have ever even dreamed, and now we can focus in on the next steps for making our biggest dream, a reality. RAD part II.


Most importantly of all, we want to thank all of YOU. The wonderful people that have supported us along the way. There is no way we could have ever made it this far without the generous new friends, family and Warmshowers hosts( who provided comfortable places for us to stay and fed our starving bellies. Thanks to all the people who have helped us have a place to do our presentations, and even showed up for them! ; ) Thank you to friends back home who helped take care of stuff left behind. Thank you to those that were brave enough to speak out about living with a mood disorder, and those close to people suffering who are trying to help. You are the fuel that keeps us going!

In our next blog we are excited to share what comes next with RAD. We will continue to catch up on downloading and sharing photos as well. Thanks for staying tuned and sharing our story with others in your life.

Warm hugs from New York;

Jeremiah and Elise



I Define Depression Part III

By Elise Porter

Looking back at Seattle from the ferry

Looking back at Seattle from the ferry

I can’t say I know exactly when my depression first began, but I know exactly when it became unbearable…a couple of times. What began as seasonal depression started leaking even into the sunny days of summer, and by my 6th year in the gray winters of Seattle, I couldn’t bear it anymore. I woke up every morning so full of anxiety and adrenaline that I wanted to jump out of my own skin.

I had been laid off 2 years prior and was struggling to find my way in my new career as a personal trainer. I was excited to be able to be working in a field that is one of my greatest passions, but working in a corporate gym both wasn’t even close to paying the bills and I found I didn’t fit in at all with the other trainers who seemed far more interested in big muscles and selling supplements. I lasted all of 8 months before I quit and took some time off to visit family and do some soul searching. I knew fall was on the horizon and that I had better figure something out before dreary winter let on. Over the next year and a half I struggled to try running my own private training business, and working for other less corporate gyms, and sunk lower and lower. My depression became unbearable. Its hard to talk about but I didn’t want to live anymore. The only reason I chose to stay alive was to not let down my friends and family…but in the meantime I was struggling to find a way out. I did endless research looking for affordable remedies without just getting on medication. I knew positive thinking and trying to get myself to be active just wasn’t working anymore. I found waiting lists(most 2-3 years) or extremely expensive support groups. I finally got desperate enough after getting 6 referrals from psychologists to the next (all who were too busy to take me) to give in to taking medication.

I was lucky I found an amazing psychiatrist who got me set up with a decent medication with only night sweats and slain libido as side effects. Most go through much much worse. Like visits to the ER from going manic. It still took nearly six months before I started to feel almost normal and I finally realized I needed something extra for my anxiety. I feel it is important to point out that during this time every day was merely a game of survival. I felt so awful and full of despair, anxiety, helplessness, no energy, unable to be myself, that every day was just a matter of hour by hour figuring out how best to distract myself. Going on a bike ride, a run, doing yoga, eating well (though all treats seemed to be a temporary joy, but made me fatter and fatter) and going to support groups that weren’t even meant to be for depression, but they helped. These were they key ingredients that pulled me through the most awful days.

This year I prepared myself in every way possible for another winter. I had been on meds for almost a year, I took an easy fun job at a Montessori school that I knew I would be really good at (and kids are always a reminder to play and be joyful, and make you feel like a hero everyday) and I planned a trip somewhere sunny almost every month. I started sinking again despite it all. It was around this time that I was planning a trip to Hawaii. This is when I got invited by my friend to go on a bike tour…from Austin, TX to Jacksonville,FL. What began as a 4 week trip, turned into a more than 4 MONTH trip of over 4,000 miles! I have dedicated myself to being a person who will stand for all people that have suffered with mood disorders and have been disabled by them. I will boldly admit to having an illness that I was previously ashamed of and hid as long as possible. Myself and my partner Jeremiah are working hard to create programs and places of refuge and revitalization. We want the world to know that medication is simply not enough! Being able to mask symptoms and survive rather than thrive are not enough!

photo courtesy of our very talented friend Blake Crosby of Savannah,GA


I Define Depression Part II


Depression is hard and emotionally taxing. That is a given. Something that makes our emotions even more complicated is trying to describe it to friends and loved ones who simply can’t seem to understand. How do you break the stigma that is attached with depression and other mood disorders? I have given this topic much thought. During the first year of my diagnosis I was ashamed to tell people that I was depressed, and hid it from everyone. By the second year I started to tell everyone and anyone. Now, seven years later, I realize that both were ways of using the stigma as an excuse. To put it simply depression had become my identity. I had withdrawn from college and adventure racing. These had been my two previous identities for more than three years.

What is it about the words Depression, Bipolar, or Mental Illness that makes many people cringe inside and out? Why does our culture look down upon people with mood disorders? These are lofty questions that I could only attempt to answer. Yet I would rather create a new stigma around mood disorders.



Elise gave me a pep talk because I was getting depressed and was unable to remind myself of what I stood for. It took some tears and emotional support to remember. Here are the words that led me to want to embark on this tour and help her create this nonprofit.

I, Jeremiah, stand for helping others(including myself) have joy and vitality in their lives.

The truth for me is that depression is a gift and blessing in disguise. The emotions accompanying it should not be repressed. The only thing that needs to be repressed is any stigma aimed towards people with mood disorders. It’s hard enough for us to bring joy to our lives, let alone others. This is why we decided to call our non for profit Ride Above Depression. In addition to assisting people with their depression, we are also helping put a stop to the stigma that exists.

The reality is that everyone stands for something more than their mood disorder label.

I Define Depression Part I

I define depression, depression will not define me!


b (1) : a state of feeling sad : dejection (2) : a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.
c (1) : a reduction in activity, amount, quality, or force (2) : a lowering of vitality or functional activity(


This is all true. The one major distinction which I would like to add is that depression affects everything that you come in contact with. It works its way into every facet of your life. Depression affects your relationship with life partners, family, friends, co workers and even people who you meet only once in your life. Depression also affects your ability to enjoy the activities that bring happiness and purpose to your beautiful life. Nothing is out of its devastating reach, but everything that depression throws at you can be overcome.

Our coast to coast bike tour is living proof that depression does not have to trap and shackle you down. You can ride above it all and live a life that you truly love.


Taking a Chance and Saying Yes



I thought it was high time I share my beginning of this amazing journey we are on. Although the idea for our nonprofit started as ideas in our separate imaginations over a year ago, it was my taking a chance and saying yes to an invite for a long distance bike tour that brought everything together for us.

Since January 10, 2014 I have been riding my bike…starting from Austin,TX to Jacksonville, FL. (Well, that was the original plan) 1,400 miles! When I made the decision to attempt this ride I had no idea if I could do it. I’m not a cyclist. I’ve been a runner all my life, with periodic spurts of fitting in a bike ride whenever I could, and a little commuting around Seattle in mostly my immediate neighborhood. I knew I would be in good hands riding with my friend who had invited me on the tour. David is an ex pro-racer, recent professional cycling tour guide all over Europe, and a genius when it comes to applying his engineering degree to bike mechanics. image


That’s all good and dandy, but could I keep up? I’ve done some remarkable things physically in the last year; hiking 6 peaks in 6 weeks, 1/2 marathon, Tough Mudder… But this wouldn’t just be a one day event. I didn’t know if I could make it, but I did know one thing for sure, taking on the challenge and grueling long days on a bike, no matter how difficult the weather or terrain, was easier to face than waking up to more gray rainy days in Seattle. Easier than waking up to another day of unbearable anxiety and depression.


At least I would have the distraction of just making it from point A to B. David made promises that we would start off with “short” 50 mile days, and after a surprisingly easy conversation with my boss and clients, I bought my ticket. I had just three weekends to prepare for my trip. Thank goodness Jeremiah happens to have raced on mountain bikes and worked in a bike shop in the past. I learned everything I could from him in those weekends, especially bike maintenance. I snuck in a few rides to test out my legs, the longest being 47 miles. I was whooped and my knee hurt, but I was already committed.

That was only the first of many challenges over the coming weeks. Putting my bike back together at the airport, food poisoning my first night in Austin, followed by my first days being 75, 87, and 80 miles long. I’m not gonna lie, David pushed me up almost every hill! Learning to trust and follow someone else when I am used to being the personal trainer, is especially hard when you aren’t sure if your body might shut down at any time.


Well, I made it! I guess it worked out pretty darn well because after just two weeks into the trip I started to realize I was feeling much better. My anxiety was almost completely gone, and I was more than happy to hop on my bike and take on the challenge and adventure of each new day. Now, 7 weeks later, I’m back in Florida on a completely new adventure. I canceled my ticket out of  Jacksonville and am riding my bike all the way back to Seattle. I also rode my bike solo 350 miles down to Fort Meyers. Jeremiah was easily talked into joining me, and I am fundraising to be able to afford the ride as well as starting my very own non-profit to help others with depression. I am on a mission!

Please check out our Facebook page:  as well as my own for all the fun pictures and details…and if you support what we are all about, please make a donation so we can continue to make it all happen!

With Love and Sunshine,
Elise & Jeremiah








Inspirational Story of the Week: Mathias Emsi

Each week we are going to post an inspirational story about an individual or group who has used some combination of cycling, wholesome nutrition and community to assist in riding above their depression. You may have used one or all of these tools. In either case we would love to hear your stories!
Please email them to and please attach a pic of you that we can display on our posts.
This weeks story made Elise and I smile cheek to cheek 🙂 It’s a story of a young man from germany. His name is Mathias and his story is sure to help many in need of some inspiration in their own life.
Hi there,
I’ve read about R.A.D in Facebook so I wanted to thank you for your dedication against Depression.
My Name is Matthias, i’m from germany and i hope my englisch grammar is ok.
I was in a psychological hospital for 6 months cause i contracted in Depressions many years ago, so i can’t go on with life on my own, everything was so hard to go on. I was bullied in shool, by my father, at work, i was tired all day and got no will for anything, so i was introverted and got no self-respect.
But i’m a happy Guy, i like to laugh very much, so i can forget my problem for a moment.
In hospital i learned how to defeat Depression on multible ways, but there was only one way that makes me feel to be a live.
They asked me to leave all things thats keeping me down and to do things i like to do. For me, my dog and my bike were my life, so i left everything else behind and kept focused on both these things. I reduced my circle of friends, so there will be the only good ones left, they know about my Past and my problems and help where they can.
So i started to bike more than ever so my Health begins to improve. Now i’m a downhill biker. It’s not to get the Adrenaline flash, for me its about to be focused, controll myself, being proud for good riding and improved skills. In these moments, every foreign thought can bring me to hospital.
I’m also a very careful rider, you see, it’s not about the flash, its about mastering difficult Sections. Everything is possible, but doesn’t have to. Smaller steps can generate small successes, too.
I think, its to early to say i’m recovered, but i think i’ve chosen my way, the right way for me.Thats my story, i’m very happy about your project and i wish you strenght, power of will, dedication and lots of hope for your fights against Depression. Good luck for your way!
Mathias Emsi
Thanks for sharing Mathias!

Uh-oh! We’ve gone Palee-Oh!


That’s right folks. We’ve done the unthinkable on a bike tour, we’ve gone Paleo. Not just Paleo, but full-on first 30 days of Whole30. Now before you think we’ve gone crazy from too many miles on the bike, or think, what the heck is all this weird jargon?…hold your horses people. I’ll get to answer both of those questions!

First off, what is Paleo? Here is an excerpt from one of my most favorite and easy to read books, “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and. Melissa Hartwig:


Paleo Demystified

“Before we go any further, let’s debunk some myths about the Paleo diet. First, it’s not about recreating the existence of cavemen. No one wants you to go without electricity, hot showers, or your beloved iPhone. And yes, cavemen didn’t always have a long life span, but that’s not because of their food choices—it was more likely the lack of antibiotics, the abundance of predators, and harsh living conditions. Second, it’s not a carnivorous diet—the moderate amount of high-quality meat is balanced with tons of plant matter (vegetables and fruit). Third, the fat you eat as part of a Paleo diet will not clog your arteries because fat all by itself is not the culprit in that scenario. (Really. More on that later.) Finally, the diet is not carb-phobic; it’s 100 percent sustainable from day one, and it’s really not that radical—unless you consider eating nutrient-dense, unprocessed food radical. Which, in today’s microwave-dinner-fast-food-low-fat era, might very well be the case.”

Now I bet you are thinking, “Okay, okay, I think I remember hearing about the whole Paleo thing, but what the heck is Whole30?” I told you to calm down. Are you drinking too much coffee again? I’m getting to that next already geez! Okay, here are the rules of Whole30. Keep in mind that this refers to the first 30 days.

NO: Do not consume any of the following foods or beverages for the duration of your Whole30 program.”


Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because food manufacturers sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize or even imagine.

Alcohol. In any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)

Grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains, and quinoa. This also includes all the forms in which wheat, corn, and rice are added to our foods: bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.

Legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy—soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame—and all the ways soy is sneaked into foods (like lecithin).
Dairy. This includes cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream, with the exception of clarified butter and ghee. (Keep reading for details.)

White potatoes. If we are trying to change your habits, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerling potatoes off your plate. There’s a world of new veggies waiting for you to make room for them!”

You are probably wondering at this point, “So what the heck CAN you eat?” Just one last excerpt from that same wonderful book:

“YES: Feel free to include these foods as part of your varied healthy-eating plan.


Clarified butter and ghee. Clarified butter and ghee are the only dairy products allowed. Plain old butter is not, as it contains milk proteins.
Fruit juice as a sweetener. Some products use orange or apple juice as a sweetener. We have to draw the line somewhere, so we’re OK with a small amount of fruit juice as an added ingredient.
Certain legumes. Specifically, green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.
Vinegar. Most varieties of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed. But vinegars with added sugar or sulfites, and malt vinegar (which generally contains gluten), are not.
Processed foods. Minimally processed foods like canned coconut milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, chicken broth, or canned olives are all acceptable—but avoid anything with MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan: these additives all have potentially nasty side effects.”

Now you really think we’ve lost our minds right? Nope. There’s a few really great reasons we are doing this. It’s part health, part performance, part aesthetics and part experiment. The health part is based on extensive research on processed foods causing depression, amongst other mental health disorders. I also have hypoglycemia and this type of diet keeps my blood sugar balanced and therefore I have loads more energy throughout the day. The performance part is based on reading articles about cyclists who have gone Paleo, which is a very new concept, and have had great success. This is really also part of the experiment because it is such a new idea. It does take a little while for your body to adapt to using fat as fuel, rather than carbs, but once it does, you are burning strong all day long! Aesthetics. I have leaned out big time in the past as well as put on muscle from this type of diet. It works. I was quite displeased during my first 5 weeks of bike touring to see my body putting on some weight and my body fat increasing. How many cyclists or endurance racers out there have always wondered why men seem to barely be able to keep on the weight while women remain…well, a bit chubby? I’ll debunk that for you more adequately later in another blog, but for now we will stick to my solution and some important details. I ate whatever I wanted in the beginning. Lots of carbs for fuel. I felt crappy. I finally got myself back off gluten 11 days ago and I have already lost 4-5 lbs and I feel way better. The biggest reason though, is the proof that this type of diet can help or completely take away depression and anxiety symptoms. Another good read is Grain Brain. We are doing this in hopes to be another successful case study. Our plan is to include this type of healthy eating in our future non profit programs.


We are on day 14 of our Whole30, and we will continue to give updates on how it’s going. It’s not easy in any way. Cravings are raging, but we are holding strong. We both have terrible sweet tooths and this will take care of that, eventually. This is the best time on our tour to get this done. Most of our days will be shorter, and we can take more rest days when needed. Wish us luck!

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