Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 in Review

Reflecting on 2013, it's satisfying to see that the year was most rich in opportunities for gratitude and the deepening of relationships, all made possible by the gift of years and time, which are not necessarily one and the same.

The gift of years comes from living long enough to have finished climbing the ladder of acquisition and reached the age when I am at peace with my readiness to divest the yoke of rank, title, and the clutter of possessions beyond what I need for living a simple life.

The gift of time is the blessing that comes from having an abundance of discretionary time to invest in cultivating my relationship with myself, those I deeply care about and who give meaning to my daily life, and with the God of my understanding. Nurturing all of those relationships is not always blessed with warm sun, a level grade, and a tailwind; but the gift of making it through the rain, up the grade, and to, once again, a quiet breeze is often better expressed in the deep chant of OMMMMM than a paragraph of words.

2013 gratitudes? I often find it hard to separate gratitude and joy so they might blend a bit here.

Let's see:

Despite the fact that Tucson, in January and February 2013, amassed 200 degrees below normal, I still averaged 1,000 miles of riding/month outdoors. By Chicago standards, it just wasn't cold! And, I completed 10 consecutive years of riding 10-13,000 miles per year.

I took a much needed week off the bike in February to spend time in Chicago with Katie, Mya, Jet, and Hattie while Aaron was in Africa. Late February/early March (still off the bike) Kirk and I  experienced deep snow and cold in NH helping my friend Barb Cleveland celebrate her retirement and her 34 years in recovery, and my brother's new marriage to Linda Harding.

March was a big month on the bike, touring Nogales, AZ, Patagonia, and Tombstone with Wayne Cullop, President of GABA, and hosting my "bent" friend, Michelle Williams, from Mississippi. While we did day-rides around Tucson, we finalized our plans preparing for our shared bike trip to Alaska in July, which was, in itself, a grand joy rich in gratitude and adventure. (Many previous blog posts on the Alaska adventure.)

And then there was a week of PAC Tour Desert Camp.

In my old Chicago days I simply had to get away to Southern AZ to break the back of winter and thaw my fingers and toes. Thawing is not so important now, living in Tucson, but PAC Tour is still about friendships built over the more than 10,000 miles ridden with them these last 8 years. Kirk and Michelle were there with me on Day 1 of Desert Camp 2013 when I received my PAC Tour Hall of Fame jersey for having ridden 10,000+ miles with them.

PAC will forever hold a special spot in my heart as the wise guide who helped me discover that there is a world behind 2 houses to the north and 3 houses to the south of my growing up home in Indianapolis, the extent of my world through high school, thanks to fear-based parents. Two transcons and 10,000+ miles with PAC, and 13,000+ miles again in 2013 has expanded my self-efficacy, joy of adventure, belief and knowledge that, with the help of others, I can problem solve just about anything that comes at me.

2013 did, indeed, provide me with a couple of challenges and disappointments, which were paired with their own gratitudes. The big one was the unexpected arrival of my first-ever seizure the end of August. (More on that is available in other posts.) Five months later I am still not able to drive (must be seizure free for 3 months in AZ before getting behind the wheel again). After a lot of dancing with medication dosage, we have reason to believe I may be at a therapeutic dose for the type of seizures I'm currently having. If that is true, I should be able to drive again the middle of March. Easy to be grateful here: a treatment team I respect, living in Tucson where I can bike commute and train 365, and being at a life stage where dependence on a car is not what it was when I was in my 30's-50's.

That I was unsuccessful riding 200 miles in 12 hrs at the 24 hr World Championships Time Trials in Coachella, CA in November falls more into the disappointment than the challenge category. All the conditions were perfectly set for a PR, but it was not to be that day. It didn't help that I was having seizure activity a good part of the day and finally just had to call it quits with 153 miles done.

While still in California after the Time Trial I was hit by a car traveling at 55 mph while I was riding in a 5' bike lane (not seizure related). Blessedly, the car hit me at such an angle with his side view mirror that I was able to stay upright, no injuries, and minimal post traumatic stress response.

On the heels of my epilepsy diagnosis and my sub-performance at the 12-hr Time Trial, I had wondering thoughts whether I was reaching/had reached the point of diminishing returns performance-wise on the bike. My performance on Mt. Lemmon gave me hope, indeed, that I was not completely used up. I turned in a 3:04 performance for a summit to Summerhaven, elapsed time, 2:59 ride time. Made me smile.

At about the same time I summitted Mt. Lemmon, I started riding with Team Soul, a Women's Cycling Development team. What a joy--a place to challenge and be challenge. Brings another smile to my face.

Two amazing gifts I was given shortly after moving to Tucson was the warm welcoming Wayne Cullop, President of GABA, a large Southern AZ bicycle Club, gave me along with the invitation to participate at the Board level. My involvement there has afforded many, many connections with riders, advocacy groups, city and county leaders who focus on bike/pedestrian issues, etc. At about the same time, Jim Harms, a fellow GABA Board member, offered me the opportunity to be trained by the League of American Bicyclists, which would allow me to teach bicycle safety and skills classes in the County. While those doors, connections, and opportunities have been there in 2013, I feel I have not delivered at the level I am capable of. In part, my travel schedule has been full, and will be fuller in 2014, in part because of my epilepsy and its management. I hope I can make a more significant impact in these areas in 2014.

One of the Bike Ambassador activities this year has been delivering library books to shut-ins by bike. Once a month I pick up books from the main, downtown library, deliver them to two elderly women shut-ins and spend an hour or so visiting with them. Pure delight.

The other has been the connections that I have made with individuals who have joined GABA's MeetUp group. We now have well over 400 members. Three of the lasting relationships have been with "winter visitors", cyclists who have come to Tucson to escape the winter chill. In three instances not only have I shared some great rides with them while they were in town, but in each case we have found ways to grow the relationship into the future: Spencer and Sheila are returning to Tucson this February and will be staying at our house; Barb and Jerry and I are planning a Czech Republic bike Tour in 2015 (we'll meet Kirk in Vienna after he completes his Rick Steves' Tour), and Laure will be joining me at Desert Camp this March.

To summarize it all, I thoroughly enjoyed 2013!

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