January--Training with Bart Bowen of CDC Coaching
February--Christening of my new Volae in the AZ Tour, 500 solo miles from Tucson-->Wickenburg and back
April--GA Tour on the Volae, just under 1,000 solo miles from home to south Georgia
May--Broken Fork on the Lightning , no injury
June--TOMRV with Dave;
our 5th grandchild, Jet Daniel was born;
Meet-up Group in Wilton, WI (Elroy-Sparta) with Mark and Jeff; 17.2 moving ave for 100 miles
July--Blue Mounds, WI (HHH route) with Mark and Jeff
Lightning headset bearings died; riding in Sisters, OR with Elizabeth and friends;
110 mile Sisters-->Eugene solo ride; multiple Sedona and Cottonwood, AZ rides
August--RUSA 10 year anniversary 200k completed in 8 hrs 5 minutes; began NH Tour on the Lightning
September--Completed NH Tour just over 1,000 semi-solo miles from home to Stoddard, NH
It was a landmark season, I'd say, defining and refining my riding style and meaning, while exploring and expanding my riding opportunities and potential.
How It Was
It was March, 2001 when I asked my physical therapist, Deb, when she thought I might be able to do something physical again. The past 11 years my back disease had defined my life, teetering me on the cusp of disability, racked with pain. Her response? "What did you have in mind? May I remind you your current goal is to be able to roll over in bed." I said I thought maybe I could ride a recumbent bike. "You get the bike and we'll figure out a way for you to ride it."
I got my first recumbent, a Vision R40, on May 4th, 2001 and crashed it May 5th breaking my jaw, my wrist, 4 teeth, internal bleeding, and deep facial and hand lacerations and lots of road rash. It took a couple of weeks for my hands to heal up enough for me to grasp the handle bars once again, but when I could, I was back on the bike. My route was no more than maybe 3 miles around the blocks that surrounded my house in Mount Prospect, IL. It would take several months before I had the courage to cross Route 83, "a busy street." It would be several more months before I had the courage to install clipless pedals.
I had a successful mettle-testing ride that October, 2001 riding the Hilly Hundred in Bloomington, IN. My joy and success encouraged me to set my sights beyond the 4 blocks square that served as the perimeter of my house.
2002 I rode the AIDS Ride from Minneapolis to Chicago. Our son, Daniel, postponed his honeymoon to share the 500-mile ride with me.
2003 I rode my first double century from Seattle to Portland, my husband and physical therapist were at the finish to help me celebrate.
2004 I rode The Cochise, an unsupported 157-mile ride in the desert of southeast Arizona. I ended up in the hospital overnight with hyponatremia and have been a Hammer Nutrition devotee since, having learned from the desert how to manage my fuel, fluids, and electrolytes.
2005 I did the Seattle to Portland double century again, in under 14 hours, and rode with PAC Tour for the first time at their Wisconsin Training Camp in Beloit.
2006 I rode with PAC Tour at Desert Camp in Arizona in the early spring, and then rode with them again in the fall, completing my first transcontinental from San Diego to Savannah, GA in 26 days.
2007 I rode my first 200k brevets under the auspices of RUSA; attended Desert Camp with PAC Tour again in the early spring; created my own 500-mile "tour" from my house to a family reunion in western NY; and attempted Cochise's 252-mile, unsupported ride in southeast AZ, but only made it 27 miles. I had to abort after only 27 miles because of a medical issue.
This journey, my journey, from calloused knees from crawling because I couldn't walk, to riding across the country at will, is a testament of my faith in God as the "cure giver," borrowing hope from my legion of care givers when I had no hope of my own, and dogged, disciplined commitment to do my part to stretch beyond my then-shrinking horizon. My back disease taught me to ask for help, accept help, and surrender my life-ending arrogance that "I can do it myself".
At the center of this, my journey, has always been Kirk's unfaltering love, support, and belief that healing is always spiritual and may sometimes be physical; that my riding is a gift from God and that who I am becoming as a person of faith is someone he still really, really wants to have by his side for our shared life together which began in marriage in 1969. It is he who has somehow found and continues to find a way to finance my efforts, both the physical rehab ones and the bike and travel-related ones, and it is he who never, ever complains about having to take care of Fletcher, the cat, sometimes for days at a time when I'm on the road.
How It Is Today
I am fully aware that I will be 63 in less than a month and that my years are surely numbered for open-ended assaults on ultra-distance climbs. So, I must choose wisely the where, the why, the with whom, and the for whom I ride.
The why and the for whom is easy. It is a celebration of gratitude for my physical and spiritual healing as well as a means to maintaining my recovery in a way that allows me to embrace life fully. If my story, my riding gives hope to someone else whose knees are calloused and whose spirit is broken, then my journey through suffering and the joy of being back have been doubly blessed.
The where is part of each year's end: fun, dreaming, planning for the next. I'd love to be able to put a gold star in each of the 50 United States on my wall map. 31 states are already starred, 19 to go. It would be fun to add a few countries as well. Canada, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and France are top on my list.
2009 will include another spring PAC Tour Desert Camp in Arizona, kicking off my training for my second transcontinental with PAC Tour from Portland, OR to Savannah, GA in July. I want to ride this transcon as a fund raiser giving hope to the women residents in this remarkable home in Woodstock, IL, Rebekah's House. Rebekah's House, founded in 2003 by Shari Shaver, is a sober house for women recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.