What I Learned Biking 480 Miles With CF

Michael Burke bicycled 480 miles in six days to raise money for cystic fibrosis — an unprecedented challenge that he used to think was impossible until advances in CF care helped him live boldly.

| 5 min read
A professional headshot of Michael Burke
Michael Burke
Michael Burke wearing a helmet and sunglasses, and smiling with his wife outside

Audentes Fortuna Juvat  

“Fortune favors the bold,” a Latin phrase that has been a guiding principle of my adult life with cystic fibrosis and the driving motivation to bicycle 480 miles in six days. It helps me to be successful, healthy, and happy amidst the daily challenges of CF. I will share more about this principle below and how it drives results, but first: 

Why 480 miles in six days?

This distance became important because just a few years ago, before Trikafta®, it was impossible for me. Between lung capacity in the low 60s and experiencing multiple exacerbations each year, I could not get beyond 40 miles in a single effort (much less 80 miles a day for six days). Since Trikafta has reversed the symptoms of CF in my body, my vision grew bigger. The other important reason for this ride is because I didn’t want the past dictating what I thought was possible. The imperative was GO BIG!

What does it mean to be bold?

My life, like many of yours, has been a struggle at times. Mental, emotional, spiritual, and most certainly physical challenges have been a part of my life journey. At times, I felt stuck and powerless facing the progression of CF. Even in those tough times, I knew deep in my being there was a better way to fight CF other than anger, sadness, frustration, or disappointment. That better way became being BOLD. I have discovered four characteristics of boldness that helps me conquer challenges:

  1. Courage in the face of adversity is the antidote to fear. Fear is life’s great limitation and keeps you stuck. Courage is the ability to act even if something frightens you. If you think about courage in this manner, it is the fuel for moving forward when faced with daily challenges or low expectations.
  2. Daring to stand out and do hard things. Life with CF requires the use of unique gifts and strengths. My biggest gift (and strength) is a zest for life. I want to get the very most of my time on Earth. It compels me to do fun, adventurous, and very challenging things that push my abilities. I relish giving these challenges my very best effort, even if I may come up short. By daring to embrace this zest for life, I helped beat the long odds associated with CF.  
  3. Confidence in the future is this: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it. I think about Hope with a capital H and lowercase h. The capital H is an unapologetic Hope that simply believes greater things are possible even when the odds are against you. Lowercase hope represents the smallest, daily actions that create the greater outcomes. It looks like taking pills daily, doing therapy daily, going to doctors’ visits and taking care of my body as a routine. It looks like asking for donations from friends, family, and businesses. It looks like putting in thousands of miles over many months for a six-day bike ride. 
  4. Unwavering belief in the capacity of yourself and others.  Deep down, I believed I could do something extraordinary. Although I had never ridden a bike that far for consecutive days, I believed I could. When friends joined me, I held the same belief in them, and they rode farther than they thought possible. Because we were raising money for cystic fibrosis, I believed in the charitable nature of others, and they came through with donations. Together this unwavering belief has built a solid support system and raised significant money for cystic fibrosis.


Over the years of pushing the limits of mental and physical abilities, I’ve been asked the question of all questions.

Why? The answer is simple. To live life to the fullest. To prove numbers aren’t always right. To show that many limitations are self-imposed. To give strength by being an example. Ultimately, to rise to each challenge with focus, ambition, strength, and love.

Here’s my ultimate question for you. What would it feel like to surprise yourself with an effort you might think impossible? Life will present challenges and roadblocks, but those difficult times can be full of hidden gifts and opportunities. Use these gifts, seize the opportunity, kick some butt, and BE BOLD.

Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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A professional headshot of Michael Burke

Michael’s motivation to live to the fullest keeps him active. He’s competed in nine full marathons, 20 half marathons, triathlons including a 70.3 Ironman, and cycling adventures. He also owns an executive coaching and keynote speaking business serving clients throughout the U.S. and Canada. Michael is most proud of his 20-year effort combining his love of endurance sports with raising money for cystic fibrosis. He has advocated in Jefferson City, Mo. and sits on the Rare Disease Advisory Council for Missouri.

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