Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

This "spring" sucks

As I started this post, it was a Saturday afternoon in mid-April, and instead of being out on a ride, I was bundled up in the house as 39 rain degree pelted the house driven by 30+ mph winds.  We went out to dinner and then rented a movie so I left this as a draft to finish today.

As I continue this post, it is a Sunday morning in mid-April, and instead of being out on a ride, I am bundled up in the house as 33 rain degree pelts the house driven by 30+ mph winds.

This weather is driving me absolutely crazy and it's severely limiting my ability to get some much needed miles on my bike.  I was startled to see this post from the RAGBRAI Instagram account on Friday:

A post shared by RAGBRAI (@ragbrai) on

Yeesh - that's a lot closer than it sounds.

On the less than 10% chance that Spring 2018 decided to grace us with a nice day, it always seemed to be a weekday and therefore I'm at work.  I did discover a routine mid-summer last year that I like to ride before work (leaving the house by 6am, driving in, and riding the trails nearby for 10-15 miles), but I also like to enjoy riding before work, and I cannot really enjoy riding in weather below 45 degrees.  Lately it's been in the 20s to mid 30s at 7am.  As a result, it's been 28 days since I have ridden outside now :(

I've also not been feeling very well for some weeks now (follow-up doctor appointment is tomorrow so hopefully I'll have some answers), and this has led to a grand total of 20 miles over two rides on an indoor trainer in April.  Granted, yesterday's 12 mile ride was up a 1500 foot "mountain" using the app/service called Zwift, but I am really lacking in miles the past month or so, and I now have 98 days before the long ride back east.  Zwift is a pretty cool service, and one that has made it possible for me to ride an indoor trainer for more than 20 miles a winter.  In my opinion, riding inside flat out sucks, but having my old bike on a smart trainer, coupled with this app, allows me to ride with other people, ride different routes in a video game setting, and the coolest thing is that when you approach inclines, the trainer automatically adjusts the resistance, making it feel like you are actually climbing that mountain.  

The basement winter riding set-up.

The app runs through an Apple TV connected to my old 61" TV which has a failing DLP chip in it, resulting in white dots on the screen.  For watching TV or movies it was no longer an option, but for this purpose it's absolutely fine. There's three "worlds" - London, Richmond Virginia, and the fictitious island world of Watopia, which features beach roads, tropical jungle roads, a volcano, and several snow-covered mountain climbs.  About the only thing missing is the wind resistance.  Anyway, according to Zwift, since I started with the app on Halloween I've ridden 662 miles.  That's about 600 miles more than I would spend on a bike during the winter on a normal trainer, so I'm definitely thankful I have this, or this "spring" I would be SERIOUSLY behind schedule.

Approaching the top of the mountain.

Here is Strava info of the ride I did yesterday. I'm thinking I may pick a somewhat flatter route if I ride later today. 

 

 

First Things First

I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on in my life in future posts.  This post will focus on something much more important.  I’ll go into detail, but let’s get it out there right away:

I’m going to ride my bicycle across Iowa again this July.  Yes, I’m going to do RAGBRAI for a third time, and the first time in five years.  And as with the other two times, the reason I am going to do it is to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer.  

After 2011 I said I’d never do it again (or at least not for 10 years), and then did it in 2013, at which point I said I'd never do it again, ever... 

I feel that it is time to do it again.   There are so many people in my life and in the lives of those around me that are in a battle for their lives because of this horrible disease, and I feel that this has become “my way” to try and help raise money for a great organization that really is helping fight this horrible disease. 

I donate to SU2C, and rather than just ask people to to do the same, I challenge myself to get across an entire state under my own power in seven days, and ask that people donate a penny, a nickel, a dime, whatever, per mile (of which there is 428 of them in RAGBRAI 2018) to my fundraising page at Stand Up to Cancer.

Stand Up to Cancer is a unique charity in that the corporate sponsors pay for the administration, advertising, and overhead costs, while all donations from the public go directly to research.   You can rest assured that your donation is used towards finding a cure, and not a TV commercial or a CEO's salary.

From the day in 2011 when I came up with the idea of riding RAGBRAI to raise money for SU2C to the day I dipped my front tire in the Mississippi River for a second time after finishing in 2013, your generosity equaled almost $16,000 raised for Stand Up to Cancer.  I'd love to be able to raise the equivalent of $10 for each mile I ride in 2018 RAGBRAI.  That would equal $4,280 and get Team Pedal Another Mile over $20,000!! 

I'll post more details later, and I will continue to clean up (dust off) this website, but I wanted to share this news as soon as I registered for the ride.

Blowing the dust off of Pedal Another Mile

Well, hello :)

So yes, it’s been some time since I have done ANYTHING to this blog other than continue to pay the hosting fees.  Why do I continue to pay them? A few reasons... but most importantly I keep this site up because it can be found by people who it somehow may help.   I have received emails from people all over the world letting me know that somehow the words I typed on this blog helped them in some way get through a similar rough time.  These emails have of course dwindled over time, as dormant blogs do not generate much traffic, but I think that the annual hosting fees are a small price to pay if I can help just one person out of the seven-plus billion on this earth cope with what may be some of the roughest times in their life.

Another reason I keep this website online is that I know there are many family members and friends that go back and read the posts, especially if they pop up on “on this day” reminders in Facebook.  Personally, I have yet, over five years later, gone back to read anything I wrote in the six months surrounding Billy Jo’s death.  Someday I will, but that day has not arrived yet.  People still say that I should write a book, and I don’t know if I ever will, but if I do it may include my reactions of revisiting these blog posts for the first time since writing them.

So what has been going on with my life and what has made me decide to give this site a new coat of paint and new content?   Stay tuned... and I promise it will not be four plus years until my next post. :)

For the first time in a while... something to say

So it's been almost three months since I have written a post. Summer was a busy one.  I did some more traveling, going to back to Iowa a week after RAGBRAI for two Slightly Stoopid concerts and to see them (and visit with family) in Florida a few weeks later. Work has been keeping me very busy (and a bit stressed out) as well.  Due to this and just not having much to write about…  well, it's been a long time between posts.

I started this blog in 2010 to promote my intent to ride RAGBRAI 2011 and raise money for Stand Up to Cancer. Once RAGBRAI ended I pretty much abandoned the site. Last September I started it back up to keep people updated on what was going on with Billy Jo's health. It was simply too stressful for me to give updates over and over and over again, by phone, by email, by text, etc. Having a blog to post the updates made the best sense to me.

Shortly after I began doing that, I opened up about my feelings on the blog, and everything changed. Suddenly there were tens of thousands of unique visits to the site every month. I was receiving emails from people around the world in similar situations, thanking me for helping them.  I never thought of myself as the "writer" type, I never thought of myself as being in the position to help people, and was quite surprised at the response I received. Writing the blog ended up being helpful for me as well as others. Putting an end to bottling up my feelings and emotions has really helped speed up my healing process… I truly believe this.

Having said that… well... I have never been one that is comfortable "in the spotlight", so to speak. I prefer to just do my thing and go about life, not attracting attention to myself. That obviously took a hugely different direction beginning last September. In September I went from a fairly private life to a fairly public one. I found myself receiving a lot of emails, blog comments, and was even accepting Facebook friend requests from people I didn’t know and haven’t met, as long as they were friends with Billy Jo.  Had I just kept the posts to strictly updates about Billy Jo, these things wouldn’t have happened and the blog would have been dormant again by Christmas. But by me posting my feelings, I put myself in the spotlight.  I am not regretting the decision to do so, as I have helped others, and have helped MYSELF by doing it.

These posts I wrote on the blog were raw and organic- from the heart and not the head. Lately I feel like I have writer's block. I feel like I should be posting things, yet struggle to think of things to write about. I never started this blog to make money or run ads or anything. I started it to keep people updated on her condition and then to also share my thoughts and feelings of the situation. As a result, I didn't feel like I should, for lack of a better word, HAVE to post anything, especially if I didn’t have much to say. Additionally, it seemed that if I did such a thing- post for the sake of posting, I would keep myself in the spotlight I am not exactly comfortable in. Maybe that is a self-centered way to think. Maybe I have given myself this air of self-importance, and it doesn't really affect anyone if I do or do not post. I don't know the answer to this but I do feel this blog needs some sort of closure. I don’t feel right having my last post be that of the “I Stand For” pics from the end of RAGBRAI. It’s a great post which means a lot to me - I *did* ride for all those people - but doesn’t feel like a proper final post. 

I just want to "blend back into the background”. That being said, there's been more happening over the past months that I want to briefly mention.

I have a girlfriend :).  I wasn't looking for one, but like a lot in life, things happened, and for the first time in quite a long time, a thing happened in life that makes me very happy.  We are getting along great, spending a lot of time together, etc. I am meeting/have met a lot of her family.  Things are going very very well.  I feel fortunate that my foray back into dating after almost twenty years has been a wonderful experience. She is a genuinely nice, honest, and sweet girl.  Like me, she is not a “spotlight person”, so I won’t go into details (so no... there will be no 4,000 word biography or VH1 documentary film about her ;)  )

She was also was worried about how she would be portrayed by people. I understand this - this can't be an easy position to be in. It's not like I'm divorced.  I wasn't really prepared to say anything either so we kept things quiet, but then I began telling those closest to me about us. This of course still left a lot of people who don't know. 

I didn't like the self-imposed "hiding", but we both felt it was necessary. However, it caused times where I felt like I was cheating, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. I talked about this at length with my bereavement therapist and she agreed that I shouldn't have felt that way. 

We were getting along great and things got to the point where our relationship should be known. I was a little nervous at first at how the people I told would take the news. I considered the possibility of a person or two having an issue with this news, but I also considered that I lived most of my adult life not putting myself first. I was completely okay doing so, yet I also knew I wasn't going to continue doing so the remainder of my life. I am living my life for me now.  As it turns out, everyone I have told so far is happy for me/us, and I have told quite a few people… my family, some friends, and some of Billy Jo's family. 

The first thing Billy Jo said to me when I told her she was likely going into hospice if things didn't improve in that next 24 hours (yes, I was the one who had to tell her - and without any doctor there) was that she didn't want me to live the rest of my life alone, and that I was even young enough to spend twice as long with someone as I did with her. I don't think I ever posted about that on here. I told her to stop talking about these things, that it wasn’t over yet, but she wanted it to be perfectly clear to me that she didn't want me to be alone for the rest of my life after her death. It seemed at times that she was more concerned about me (finances, happiness, this...) than her own rapidly approaching mortality.  She had told me many times over the years to leave her- “I will understand - you didn't sign up for this type of life,” she’d say.  I always replied with a roll of the eyes and a "shut up" and as you know, I didn't leave her. I love her and I miss her. I still talk to her…. maybe not every day, but I still do. However, our relationship has changed, obviously, to a spiritual one. I don't really mean religious either, just spiritual. I have a feeling she is looking down on me and happy at how I have been doing, living my life.

To those of you who have followed this blog, reached out to me, and kept us in your thoughts and prayers, I cannot thank you enough.  To those of you whom I have helped with my blog, to those who may find it at some point down the road (I am not removing the site), let this post be another that brings you some hope. A year ago, I really REALLY did not know if I would be okay after Billy Jo's death. My future was uncertain. Yet nearly 11 months after her death,  I have discovered that as every day passes, life does indeed go on if you allow it to, and believe it or not, it can be a happy experience if you allow it to, as well.

Billy Jo made it very clear she wanted life to go on after she passed away. Not just for me, but for everyone's lives she touched. You have one life on this earth, and no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Go live it.

 

I Stand For...

I had an idea riding during one of the final days of RAGBRAI to go a little farther than just putting the names you provided me on my bicycle. I am peeling those labels off and if they stick I will put them all on a piece of paper and keep them with the other memorabilia from the week.  

I wore my Stand Up to Cancer biking clothes for the last day. The back of the jersey says "I Stand For" and there's a blank white box. Once I finished, I asked Dan to take a picture of my back as I lifted my bicycle on the shore of the Mississippi River.  

I then opened Photoshop and entered every name that was on my bicycle into that blank white box. and saved it as it's own file. This was a bigger and more time-consuming project than I thought it would be, but it's all done, and two weeks after the ride isn't *too* bad :)

Every file in this directory is lastname_firstname. Click the name, and then when the picture comes up, click the three dots in the lower right corner and select download. The resolution is high enough for printing photos if you like, as well. 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6v3e7qfc7x3w78t/dzDD4tRfdZ?lst


Thanks again to Dan for being my photographer the whole week!!