Mike Samuelson, 67, doesn’t “fear the force of the wind, the slash of the rain.” He “[faces] them and [fights] them ... to walk like a man.”
These are the words of Samuelson’s favorite childhood poem, “Do you fear the wind?” by Hamlin Garland, that are inspiring him to bike 3,000 miles on the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to New Mexico.
Samuelson grew up in South Africa. He was a very active boy and teenager, always playing sports. In 1970, at the age of 20, he made aliyah, after volunteering during the Six Day War.
He moved to Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev and became a farmer; Samuelson stopped playing sports. Some years later, he became involved with the Kibbutz’s industry, producing automotive fuel valves and molds production. His new job led him to a less active lifestyle. Add smoking and poor eating habits and Samuelson was no longer the healthy youngster he used to be.
In 2002, Samuelson had a heart attack.
“It was a huge wake up call. It was a knock on the head,” he reveals.
While in the intensive care unit, he had what he describes as his first lucky break.
“The intensive care manager came to me one morning and he said ‘you don’t have a heart illness, you just had an accident and you have a mechanical failure. If you take care of yourself, you can be healthier than 90% of the population who haven’t had a heart attack. It’s up to you.’
“He didn’t wave his finger, he didn’t stamp his foot,” said Samuelson.
Samuelson believes that this non-accusatory attitude helped him change his lifestyle. When he was moved to the semi-intensive care unit, he heard many moaners and groaners. The dying sounds were not for him and he decided he wouldn’t let himself get to the point of those around him.
Three days after the heart attack, he was sent home from the hospital. He immediately quit smoking.