The way I see it

The following are words I used to describe this ride and how it relates to MS on February 9, 2010.

Mom circa 1970

Mom 2009

This 2 day ride, which starts at the highest point in Florida –BOK Tower Gardens and traverses the hilly citrus groves of Central Florida into Disney World and back to the highest point is a lot like the way I have seen MS. It is full of challenges and unexpected climbs, it goes through little known parts of Central Florida where you need the help of the team to find your way and pedal through the pain.  As the ride progresses into day two fatigue sets in and your body starts to fade.  The challenges mount as you must climb once again to the highest point where you began. After you have endured the pain of the final hour, you reach the beauty of the gardens and can look back on the arduous path you have traversed. You wonder how you found your way, where the strength came from. But after it is over, you realize what you have learned about yourself, you have learned a great deal about the disease and how it affects it’s victims and you are with the friends that you started with, those you have met along the way and you realize the gift….. as look across Florida

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True.

Rear wheel with 12 spokes

My new bike, by the way (new frame)

I just learned that my front wheel has 10 spokes and my back wheel has 12.  Spokes on the wheels of a bicycle help hold the “truth” of the circles that are the wheels we ride on.  I swear, I have had my bike for three years and learned a lot of lessons from it.  It has been a reason to be around people that teach a lot of lessons too.  Last week, I was lucky to have an encounter with a person who knows far more about bikes than I will ever know.  He pointed out, that my rear wheel needed truing.

Wheel Truing:  Having all the spokes tight with fairly even tension makes the wheel true and strong. Changes to spoke tension will pull on the rim and affect its true.  http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/wheel-and-rim-truing  The truing process examine the later alignment as well as the radial alignment to ensure there is an even circle and there is minimal lateral wobble in the wheel.

Much like our bikes, our lives have to be trued.  I know there are several times a day that my life is straightened, aligned or trued.  It is a constantly evolving part of the lives we lead.  There are bumps in the road, influences, injuries and injustices which can lead us off of our truth.  If you can imagine a diagram that looks like a bicycle tire and apply the following 12 spokes of your life:

1. Family 2. Spiritual  3. Career 4. Health 5. Financial 6. Education 7. Recreation 8. Charity 9. Adventure 10. Travel 11. Romance 12. Relationships

Now check your wheel.  Give each spoke a 1-10 rating and see where you need to add at(tension) to get your life true.  I have the quote by Albert Einstein on my facebook, my twitter, my vision board that says, “Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.”  I bet the guy who came up with theory of relativity could explain the dynamics of the whole truing of wheels far better than I.  As far as, staying in motion, I give a little credit to Newton.  The aforementioned 12 spokes of life are part of a moving wheel, constantly changing and influenced by the motion of others.  Hold on your truth.  Your True North.  Keep moving and check for wobbles. Have people in your life that point out the truth to you.  Spend time and at(tension) balancing them and enjoy the ride.

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Food Power! (and my big bonk)

The BEST salad ever! Frenchy's Tropical Chicken Salad w. Banana Walnut Bread

Denny's Birthday Dessert

I bonked pretty severely today.  I woke up at 6:08, burned approximately 200 calories then had coffee and protein shake for breakfast, approximately 350 calories, 9 protein.  My next bite came at 2:40 p.m.  BONK!!!!  I was literally shaking as I grabbed for anything in my refrigerator.  Chugged milk, grabbed a MIX 1 shake, had PB&J on sandwich thins and a greek yogurt.  BUZZ… and crash.  Luckily, I pulled it together for my Wed. night ride and was able to enjoy that.  I was then pleasantly surprised by my neighbor with a healthy buffalo chicken sandwich and whole grain rice.  Throw in some of my spinach salad and I feel like Popeye The Sailor Man, or Courtney the Biker Chic again.  Aww, BALANCE!

The noise from the over saturation of our culture and food is enough to confuse a person.  It makes me crazy sometimes.  Fast food commercials with millions spent in research and food presentation to push our buttons.  The news with the latest data linking food to some ailment.  The Doctors on TV who preach a different do or don’t everyday.  ENOUGH!  Tune it out, turn it off and start listening to your body.  Not your mind or maybe a broken heart, but your body.  My evolution as an athlete, beginning with gymnastics at age four, has been closely related to my nutrition.  This is largely a result of my Mom’s dedication when I was living at home.  I am realizing what a drastic correlation my relationship with food has with my current sport cycling.  The lessons from my past are relevant too.

You should know, by nature, I am NOT a morning person.  I make Oscar the Grouch look like a ray of sunshine if I haven’t had my coffee.  But I need breakfast.  My Mom knew I needed it, no matter how resistant or belligerent (high school year) I was in the morning, she made me breakfast.  There was a phase, the Instant Breakfast phase, where it was on the verge of force feeding when I had basketball practice before school.  I am thankful for that act of nurturing now.  I crave breakfast, even if I don’t have an appetite.

I would be doing a huge disservice to my team, my riding partners and my sport if I didn’t balance my nutrition as part of my riding.  I have been eating “clean”, partially organic for the past week.  I am eating every three hours from 7am to 10pm or five meals a day.  My testing suggests I burn 1700-2000 calories just living my life.  Throw in a 1,200 calorie ride and that is a wildfire.  Now I know where the 13 pounds went.  I feel great.  I feel balanced.  I have a specific plan for the ride this weekend.  Food for the night before, my shake and coffee to start the day, Hammer gels** (100 calorie packs of readily absorbable carbohydrates), Perpetuem powder**, a mix of protein carbs and fat, Clif Bars, and Recoverite** shakes to restore the glutamine, the potent antioxidant l-carnosine, and a full-spectrum electrolyte profile.  There is a very fine balance to it.  Too much and I get really severe stomach cramps.  Too little, or forgetting to eat for the first two hours of the ride (2009) and BONK!

There is my lesson on the power of food and how I will be converting calories into energy to run the Trek 150 miles this weekend.  When all is said and done, I will have burned about 5,000 calories and will be ready for another round of Salad and Brownie Blast sundae at Frenchy’s.  Stand back, people.

Listen to your body, think of it as a fine-tuned machine and don’t let it BONK on you!

**All Hammer Products can be purchased at Chainwheel Drive.  See link!

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No “ME” in TEAM!

Some Teammates Ready to Start the Ride

Fun times with friends

My friends at the beach

My Tampa Jayhawk Family

Yes, if you rearranged the letters, there would be a me in team.  It is a play on the phrase “No I in team”.  This post is missing countless friends, most of whom have at least one photo, safely stored in a box, not this computer.  Today, is a day off the bike.  This post is to recognize the friends, the family and the team who make “me” possible.

The teams who make this ride possible are:  Bike MS150 team of Central Florida NMSS, Suncoast Cycling Club, Chainwheel Drive, riding partners, the Barry group, Bayside peeps, beach girls, work girls, friends from Gainesville, Charlotte, KU, Lex and beyond. You all are literally spread across 42 states, three decades and yet each of you valuable individually.  This blog has a heading: Just Me, On My Bike.  The truth is there are always reminders of an old friend or thoughts about close friend who is struggling.

Today, this blog is dedicated to you all.  This blog is also a tribute to the teams, and teams of people who went above and beyond to help my Mom and our family as we struggled with Multiple Sclerosis.  Merely beginning to recall some the extraordinary acts of kindness and support that were given to my Mom and our family by friends, health care providers and even strangers brings tears to my eyes.  We were lucky.  People with MS, can’t take a pill, don’t have much hope for a cure, but when a team pulls together there are usually great strides made in accomplishing a goal.  Our team is close to the goal of $40.000.  The monies raised will fund teams of researchers and support staff for people who may be stuck on the island of “I” with MS.

Thank YOU friends.  Go Team Go!!!  

**Every effort was made to omit the words I/me in this post.  If there are strange grammatical twists, that’s part of the reason.

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Time as the coefficient

I love to get on these signs. I got 26, but the pic was taken at 23 (had to be careful)

Wind was a significant factor in the equation

Mid-climb up the Clearwater Memorial Causeway

The view from the top isn't bad!

Monday was gut-check day.  I had a rematch with the bridges of Clearwater Beach(9%, 11% and 10% grade) .  It was good.  To roughly quote a line from Talladega Nights, “You made that bridge your b*, Court”.

Why would I turn around the day after a very tough ride and punish myself like that? 1.  Rain check from Friday 2. I wanted to build the muscles that I felt weakness in on Sunday, my muscle memory was fresh 3. I wanted to have the confidence of riding them well going into the MS150, it’s got some stretches of rolling hills.   I had a busy day yesterday, so time was scarce and I wanted to go a certain distance.  Time Trial!  DISTANCE = TIME x SPEED  There is a reason time trials are important training tools for cyclists, part of big races like the Tour de France and one of my training tools.  They force you to focus on your performance instead of your final result, challenge you to push harder to reach your goal and wake up fast-twitch muscle fiber.  I finished my circuit with two minutes to spare.  The bridges were different than yesterday.  I was alone, focused and I even said “Hi” to people as I was climbing.  I was in a much better place mentally.  Great ride.

In the formula of life, we have a certain amount of control over  the D (distance) we travel, the S (speed) we keep.  Our variable is T(time).  MS really put a limit on the amount of T (time) my Mom had here with us.  It eventually, dropped the speed of her youth and days as a P.E. teacher to a slow roll.  She kept going the distance.  The distance to see her grandchildren, the distance to teach reading (even after her disability forced her into volunteerism), the distance to see her friends and family.

Set your goals for D high.

Keep your S  steady, and push yourself to go faster sometimes.  Coast downhill when needed.

Always remember, while you think you control the amount of T you have in this life,  it is really a coefficient chosen by someone much bigger than physics teacher.  Make the most of your T!

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Mother’s Day… No, Angels Day.

My Helmet and Sweatband

You can barely see, but there's Boji's pink tongue as he barked at me for leaving this morning

I don’t write this to appease an audience.  I write what comes to mind when I’m riding or how I feel about a certain event or day.  I had a great ride today!  It was, unbeknownst to some, exactly what I wanted it to be.  I rode with a group for about 20 miles, then separated and ended up solo.  Ok, the truth is I was riding above my usual level and I kept up just fine in the flats, but I lagged about 200 yards behind after a bridge and I didn’t try to catch up.  I was in my neighborhood near Clearwater Beach and I was planning some time alone on the bike anyway.  (I remembered my phone this time)  So I took the opportunity to do the rest of the ride my way.  Guess what, I get to do Mother’s Day my way now too.

I heard on the news that Mother’s Day has surpassed Valentines as the busiest flower holiday.  I don’t remember ever giving my mom flowers.  Maybe a corsage for Mother’s Day?  I do remember picking flowers for her.  We usually had a few in our yard by May.  I’m not a big fan of card and flower holidays.   I did find a few of the cards that I sent to Mom from Charlotte and KU.  I guess they were a big deal to her.  So now, I have this day and I want to spend in a way that I think honors and connects me to Mom.  I challenged myself to ride faster.  I climbed three bridges, and added on three repeats of the Curlew overpass standing.  I rode solo, and didn’t feel alone.  I met a new friend, I learned more about biking.  I went to church and learned about the Book of Ruth and Hesed.  I took a short nap.  Spent time with friends.  I have seen about five of the seven “Moms” that have come into my life around here this week.  I was a good, no great, mom to Boji today.  These are all things that “I” did, but really I wasn’t alone.

Hallmark can make up behave a certain way by promoting a holiday.  The truth is, I like to celebrate in unconventional ways.  If MS has given me anything, it was another angel.  So I celebrated Angels Day today and nobody could have told me how it was supposed to be done… except an angel.

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Life Lines and Rain Checks

Clouds rollin' in

I set out for my ride at 7:25 this morning, I don’t know where the people I was supposed to meet were?  Maybe I got confused on the starting location.  Anyway, I headed out on the regular beach and bridges route that I love(hate) to do.  This route is about 30 miles around the beach(love), including up to three bridges between 9-11% climbs(hate).  As I proceeded solo, I was doing my usually acclimation activities and realized I didn’t have my cell phone, some of you call yours Blackberry.  I know the route well.  I know people and businesses along the route ,but… I had this terrible feeling of uneasiness as I rode toward the beach.  What if?  Terrible mindset, I know.  When it is accompanied by a “gut” feeling, I usually listen.  I can’t change my own tire, my hands are not strong enough to get the wheel off/on my rims.  What if I got hit, hurt, lost, dog…  ????!@#$%^&

In life the “what ifs” can be very self-defeating and hold people back from moving forward.  This is the way I saw it relate to MS in my Mom’s life.  She carried her little flip cell phone in her bra strap.  What if she fell?  What if she had trouble breathing?  What if she needed something while she was laying down?  It was her life line.  It became a what if line for my Dad too.  For the past five years or more, my Dad had his cell and picked up quickly all the time.  Even when the number of calls exceeded reasonable.  I have actually smiled a few times when my Dad left his cell phone behind in the car or didn’t answer when I called.  I think he is enjoying being off “call”.  We can all relate to ways that we use our mobile devices as life lines.  I’m glad I went back to get mine.

As I headed out for Round 2, it seemed like a gorgeous overcast day.  Four miles later, the storm arrived and I have a rain check for Sunday with the bridges.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society provides life lines to people diagnosed with MS.  There are support groups, chat rooms, call in centers, medical referral support lines and more. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx

This is a critical part to helping MS patients, caregivers, families and friends deal with the disease.  I have my life line, so long as I remember it, to family and friends.  MS survivors need life lines too.  That’s why I accept the challenge to ride the MS150… with my Blackberry, so I can Tweet.

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