RUN THE RACE: Local Bike Shop Owner & Widower Takes on Suicides, Extreme Sports

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:52 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The holiday season can be difficult for those dealing with loss. That includes local bike shop owner Jason McKenzie, who shared on our “Run The Race” podcast the sad, but powerful story of losing his wife to suicide more than a decade ago, day that still haunts him.

He now is spreading kindness and his passion for cycling around Georgia and beyond. He also finds symbolism for life and dealing with trauma in the extreme sports he jumps into.

McKenzie - who’s been in charge of “Ride on Bikes” in Columbus GA since 2009 - is a motivated man who wakes up at 5am to work out and finds balance as a busy business owner.

On our podcast, Jason tells his love story with Natalie. Recently, it would’ve been their 12th wedding anniversary. He opens up about her taking her own life nearly 11 years ago – from his last encounter with a frantic car ride back being a suspect....and coping with the loss a decade later.

After his wife’s suicide, Jason was mad at God, couldn’t be in church anymore, but had an important chat with a pastor who gave him permission to go to God in anger.

This bike shop owner says we need to be more open about suicide, forgive ourselves, and be kind to others! That’s his main message in a viral video he put out, telling the story of his tragic loss:

Jason tells an inspiring story on our pod - for the first time - about a friend and business party that stole a lot of money from him, then how a fight turned into a hug, thanks to a vision involved his wife who was gone. It’s about giving grace to yourself and others, a Christian principle.

His love for dirt bikes started at an early age, and since then, he’s added skydiving, motorcycles, flying planes, motorbike races. He said the key to these extreme sports is you have to be “all in” or it’s dangerous, so hyper focused you’re not thinking about anything else.

Jason, who now realizes depression is real, also talks about how exercise can improve your mental health.

We also talk about his true passion on “Run The Race” - helping people with their cycling needs, whether they’re new on a bike or very experienced. And there are a lot of different kinds of bikes. His shop rents, sells, services them.

Our chat closes with what you can do to help prevent suicides, because he had no warning with Natalie. Jason, who’s now on the board for “Love Like Lexi” in East Alabama, says we all have negative thoughts and we all need to work on ourselves.

You can listen to any of the 133 episodes of the #RunTheRace podcast, focused on fitness and faith, at Share it with your friends, and write us a review on the Apple podcasts app.