Monday, October 18, 2010

Portland Transcontinental--The Movie

Portland Transcon: The Movie
Click on the link to view the movie.

My first back injury occurred in the early 1960‘s as a young teenager. My back disease seemed to be a debilitating combination of genetics, running for 13 years, complicated child births, a major auto accident, and the Western World life style characterized by a lot of sitting.

In 1990 I re-injured my back and began an eleven-year recovery process including multiple back surgeries and complicated physical rehabilitation.

My eventual recovery was also about my surrendering my years-of-practice modus operandi of, not being willing or able to ask for help or accept help. Back disease taught me about building a team of professionals family and friends who could partner with me on my journey , not in an enabling or abusive way, but in a way of lending their experience, strength, and hope in ways that would allow me to find my own freedom in recovery.

There was no single magic pill, intervention, or therapist. Some professional team members were traditional health care providers, e.g. neurosurgeons and physical therapists. Others were practitioners specializing in holistic, complementary, and non-traditional modalities.

In March, 2001, after 11 years of being on the cusp of disability, my physical therapist and I thought maybe I was well enough to begin some kind of physical activity.

My goal was to ride the 550-mile AIDS Ride from Minneapolis to Chicago in 2002, on a recumbent bike. On my maiden ride, the day after I bought my first recumbent bike, I crashed breaking my jaw, my wrist, and several teeth. I had facial lacerations, severe road rash and internal bleeding. I was back on the bike training in earnest for the AIDS Ride in two weeks.

What is it about the bike? Riding, for me, is an expression of who I am, about freedom, gratitude, and humility. It’s about pushing the envelope, chasing the demon that lives in thin air, challenging my self to stretch, excelling, asking for help, and giving God all the glory for anything that I accomplish.

Twenty years later I continue to receive integrated manual therapy and nutritional counseling, and practice Bikram YOGA and Pilates. I have added other professionals to my health care team as needed.

Since 2002 I have averaged more than 10,000 miles each year on the bike. The highlight of 2006 was a 3,000 mile, 26-day transcontinental ride from San Diego to Tybee Island, GA with PAC Tour.

In 2008 I did two solo, unsupported rides, each about 1,000 miles--one from Chicago to Columbus, GA, the other from Chicago to Stoddard, NH.

I rode a second transcontinental in 2009 (Portland, OR to Tybee Island, GA), again with PAC Tour. Even though I was nearly 64, I struggled not with my age but with nutritional issues that resulted in my getting only about 1/3 of the calories I needed to fuel thirty (30) back-to-back, 116 mile days (3,500 miles).

The Portland Transcon taught me more about asking for help, accepting help, accepting my limitations, and remaining grateful for the gift of being out there.

2 comments:

Keith Watkins said...

Susan, I have just read your blog and viewed the video. You tell an inspiring story. I rode PAC Tour's Grand Canyon Tour this September--shorter distance and easier all around than your trans con. I turn 79 Sunday and am struggling with redefinitions much as you were doing. Cycling and PAC Tour events are useful in the process of redefinition. My blogs before and during the tour express some of my efforts to learn to grow old gracefully and with gratitude. Roger and Terry were on this ride and we remembered riding the Chiacahua Challenge with you. Keith

Susan said...

Thanks, Keith for watching the movie, sharing your experience with living in "The Third Age". I look forward to settling down to read your blog from the Grand Canyon Tour.