Friday, January 13, 2017

2016: Making Friends With Fuego

Atop Sunset Road, Tucson

Fuego’s sister, Hielo, was stolen just about a year after she came to live with me. In Spanish Hielo means Ice, the make of my trike. While Fuego was Hielo’s twin, he has his own name, Fuego, meaning Fire. Fire seemed like an appropriate name representing my passion and tenacity to continue to find ways to keep riding and achieve my annual mileage tradition of 12,000 miles.

Both Hielo and Fuego were ICE trikes, a transition I made in March 2015, after falling off my dearly beloved Bacchetta Ti Aero named Tibee. She and I crashed in the Mosaic Park on the Santa Cruz River Path in Tucson during a seizure. Neither she nor I was hurt but the event heralded that I would forever after ride on three wheels, and likely would never drive a car ever again. I am a vulnerable road user as a cyclist at the mercy of motorized vehicles. I could not live with myself if I, as a potentially impaired driver, was responsible for injuring or killing a pedestrian or cyclist.

A cycling friend, Wayne, pointed out that riding on three wheels would not prevent me from drifting into traffic were I to have a seizure. True that, but at least it would likely only be I who was injured or worse.

Our insurance company covered the loss of Hielo 100% minus the deductible. My trike was as expensive as most high-end carbon road bikes which weigh only 13-16 pounds, at least 3 times less than Fuego’s weight. USAA expedited the reimbursement when they learned the trike was my primary means of transportation. Similarly my bike shop, Ajo Bikes, was beyond supportive expediting the replacement within 2 weeks even though the trike was made and shipped from the UK.

Fuego’s Is made of both steel and aluminum because he needs the strength to be able to fold for easy air transportation. Add a rack for hanging panniers so I can be independent to go grocery shopping, add a bag of tools including tires for wheels of two sizes, add a fluid hydration system capable of carrying 70+ ounces for riding distance in the Sonoran Desert summers where temps are frequently 100-110 degrees, etc.; Fuego is a heavy and wide load.

Many people think that a trike will be as fast or faster than a traditional road bike because it is more aero. Not true. Despite running road tires (28’s), having a third wheel and no two wheels in direct alignment with one another (406 front and 700 rear) the third wheel adds a drag requiring 20-30% more effort one the flats.

(L) Amy Acosta--Tucson, (C) Me, (R) Margaret O'Kelley--El Paso
Most days I’m rich with gratitude for still being able to ride for joy, to clear my head, and for transportation. I continue to be amazed that many of my cycling friends are willing to ride with me despite my inability to perform at the speeds I rode on my Bacchetta. Some of my Randonneuring friends have even come from El Paso, Chicago, Phoenix, and of course Tucson to ride distances of 200 and 300 kilometers (125-190 miles) with me.

Some days, though, I find myself whining and pining for my good ‘ole days.

I’m getting better at being able to move more quickly from whine and pine back to gratitude. After all, no matter what bike I ride at age 71, I should expect decrements in my performance.

Several things have contributed to my growth in acceptance and peace:
  • Even professional athletes “age out”. Some leave with grace, dignity and find new ways to contribute to the development of young athletes with potential, or they find other ways to make a difference in their community.
  • I have accomplished nearly all, if not all, of my personal cycling goals: riding two transcontinentals each under 30 days, riding in all 50 states, riding 200 miles in 12 hours, riding 10,000-12,000 miles each year for the last 10 years. Some of those years I was still working full time, two of those years I was riding the trike, three of those I was learning how to manage my epilepsy. I know it is time to give back. I am finding ways to do that through GABA, my Tucson cycling club.
  • I recently read a book, “On Fire” by John O'Leary, a young man now in his mid 30’s. At age 9 he accidentally caught his house on fire and sustained 3rd degree burns on 100% of his body save the top of his head. Miraculously he lived. All of his fingers had to be amputated and yet he plays Mozart on the piano! I hope you read his story.
  • And I'm whining and pining about losing 2-3 mph of speed one my trike? Susan! Get a grip!!!!!!

I've learned much in 2016 about acceptance, gratitude, giving back, friends who have sustained me and who I hope they can say the same about me.

I have learned much about epilepsy in general and how to manage my own, although that remains a work in progress, as is living with any chronic condition.

And, I have learned a lot about trikes, their wonders and limitations, but that can be said about each of us as well.

San Xavier on Near Christmas Eve
My 2017 journey will not be taking me to exotic countries or even to new places in the US. I am, however, looking forward to what I'll learn and how I will grow in 2017.

Enjoy you own journey.