Athlete Spotlight is a series that highlights Big Sky Biggie participants.
In this spotlight, we get to know Heidi Dohse, from Stanley, Idaho.
BIGGIE: WHO ARE YOU, IN A NUTSHELL?
HEIDI: I wake up every day grateful that I have the opportunity to ask the questions, “Who do I want to be?” and “What do I want to accomplish?”. As someone who works hard to be alive, I try not to take any day I am not in a hospital for granted. I choose to live where I play and not where I work. I have learned that it takes courage to dream big, and I don’t want to be limited by my heart-related issues. I want to inspire others to overcome the challenges that keep them from accomplishing their goals.
BIGGIE: WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BIKE?
HEIDI: The bike got me from the hospital bed to the finish line. Riding my bike gave me purpose and taught me not to be a heart disease victim.
Racing my bike allowed me to become fearless and live life unlimited.
I was diagnosed with a rare heart arrhythmia and had an experimental surgery that left me 100% pacemaker dependent. After six pacemakers, I had complications that led to open heart and lung surgeries in 2010. Preparing for the open heart surgery, I decided that I did not want just to survive and recover. Instead, I decided that I wanted to become a competitive cyclist. I set the goal of racing the 2010 LOTOJA Classic 200-mile road race, and with the help of three friends, I crossed the finish line as a relay five months after surgery. The following year, I completed the entire 200-mile single-day race. At that moment, collecting my finisher medal, I realized that I was not a broken person. If I am willing to do the work, I can realize my dreams and accomplish my goals. Over the last 12 years, I have raced road, gravel, and mountain bike endurance races worldwide.
The bike has been my partner in becoming a strong, healthy person and provided an awareness of what is possible. Now I help athletes diagnosed with heart issues create a plan to get their active lives back on track.
BIGGIE: HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE BIG SKY BIGGIE?
HEIDI: Meeting Natalie Osborne at 24 hours of Old Pueblo.
BIGGIE: THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR FIRST BIGGIE EVENT. WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
HEIDI: I am excited to ride in Big Sky! The course looks like so much fun and I am looking forward to the riding new trails and seeing new and old friends at the event.
BIGGIE: THE BIG SKY BIGGIE FOUNDERS TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE BIKE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD AND CHANGE PEOPLE’S LIVES. WE BELIEVE THAT THE BIKE IS POWERFUL. WITH THAT IN MIND – WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD CHANGE IN THIS WORLD, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE BIKE? WHAT BIG THING ARE YOU TACKLING RIGHT NOW, THAT THE BIKE INSPIRES YOU TO DO?
HEIDI: Today there are so many types of bikes that a person of any ability can enjoy. As a kid growing up, riding a bike was freedom. As someone living with chronic health issues or recovering from an injury, riding a bike means hope and a better future. A bike can empower a person to take back control of their life. If I could inspire people to stop thinking, “I can’t do that,” and instead, “I can do that.” Then watch the progression from tentative to confident as a person improves their fitness, skills, and mental health. The world needs more happy people on bikes!