Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Filtering by Category: Cycling

Three weeks. THREE WEEKS?!?!?

RAGBRAI starts in three weeks already??!??  WTF!!!!

Okay, okay... my last post was two and a half months ago and it was complaining about the horrendous "spring" weather we were experiencing.  I really meant to make some more posts between then and now, but life, work, and training for RAGBRAI had other thoughts about that, and that's okay.  This post will catch up.

The weather obviously improved, somewhat.  I had many very cold rides early on. Weekday rides are exclusively before work, starting at about 6:30 am. it wasn't too uncommon to start my ride in temps in the low 40s.  There's been quite a bit more rain than normal, sometimes resulting in flooded, impassable trails.  There's been days with temps in the upper 90s and heat indices in the 110-115 degree range.  Despite all of this, since the day of my last post, I have ridden 53 times totaling 1,332 miles.  Not too bad, considering I have a full time job with a 2-3 hour daily round trip commute. 

Highlight of these 53 rides include three metric centuries (100km or greater), riding down a trail for a few hundred yards with deer on either side of me not more than 20 feet ahead (I wish I had the GoPro on for that!), and...

a pretty nasty crash three weeks ago, to which I am still bearing damage.  I was two miles from the end of a 31 mile ride on Sunday June 10th.  The pavement was damp the entire ride due to overnight rain, and I thought I was being cautious enough.  Apparently not.  I approached a 90 degree left turn, slowed considerably (not enough) and entered the turn.  The next thing I know I'm on the ground, bleeding, and my left hip/thigh is screaming in pain.  The bike seemed okay, except the front brake hood/lever was knocked out of alignment.  I determined it was ridable and finished the last two miles on adrenaline.  I had road rash on my shoulder, elbow, and knee, but none of these were too bad.  The elbow bled a LOT, but no stitches were required.  My big worry was going to be my left thigh.  Before I even left the parking lot, I knew I was in for a long period of discomfort.  I only hoped that I'd be able to resume riding quickly, as RAGBRAI was a mere six weeks away.  I went home and immediately began ice and tylenol treatment.  The following week was pretty uncomfortable, especially sleeping.  I am a left side sleeper most of the time, and the size of the hematoma on my leg was not going to permit left-side sleeping anytime soon.  Oddly enough, the only activity that did not hurt on Monday was the three minutes I spent on the indoor bike trainer.  I reluctantly decided to not ride Tuesday morning, but by that afternoon decided I'd give it a go on Wednesday.  Everything went well on that ride, and each one since has been fine as well.  95% of the bruising is gone, but a sizable swollen lump remains.  A doctor visit resulted in assurances it was normal and would recede with time. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a pic of my leg at it's worst, about 10 days after the crash:

The bruised area was about 12 by 6 inches.

Like I mentioned, most of the color is gone now, and I'm patiently waiting for the swelling to recede.  There's no pain rmaining and I can sleep on my left side again.

So that's what has been going on, cycling related, since my last post.  I'll be making an effort to update more in the next three weeks, and then, if there's a cell signal, I'll be posting daily from the trip.

In much more important news, I'd like to thank everyone who has already donated to team Pedal Another Mile at Stand Up to Cancer, as I am attempting to raise $10 donated for every mile ridden on RAGBRAI.  This would bring the total raised since 2010 over $20,000.  There has been over $1,000 raised since March - so over $2.50 per mile has already been donated!! Thank you all SO much!  If you haven't donated and would like to, I thank you!  Just follow this link.  Even the minimum donation amount, $5, means a little over a penny a mile, and every penny counts!! 



Crunch Time!!

Oh my. Just nine days from now I will be whisked away to the western side of Iowa by Dan, Tanya, and CJ. Ten days from now I'll be headed back east across the hills of Iowa on my bicycle.  Wow is this year really flying by! Here's the route I will be taking:

I wanted to get more miles in, but a crazy (and believe it or not, stressful - zen hasn't been my co-worker lately) three months at work plus finicky weather didn't help me do so. Still, I've got over 1,200 miles in so far this year, and only the 2nd day is going to be mileage-heavy. It's 83 miles with an option for an extra 24.4. Whether or not I will do that extra part is still up in the air. The weather will have a big say in it. I also don't like that it's on day two and I also don't like that I have 14 miles to decide if I'm doing the extra or not. In 2011 I had at least 50 miles to make up my mind. Day two also has the most hills of any day that week. But hey, if you do it you get a fancy patch! This is a huge deal! So huge that I will have to try and remember where my patch from 2011 is ;) .Here's a pic of it. Please contain your excitement :)


I woke up the morning of July 4th, checked my phone for the weather, saw it was going to be awesome, and within 15 minutes I was on my way to ride the Joliet Bicycle Club's Fourth of July Metric Century (100km- 62.1 miles)). I rode to the start from home, so it was actually 66 and change for me. It was the fastest average I have ever had in my life. In fact, my average was 20.1 through 100km - it was only the last few miles where I was completely exhausted and finished at 19.8. Much of the ride I spent with three people I had just met. Turns out they will be doing RAGBRAI as well. I'll look for them, but with 10,000 other people it's not going to be easy! Here's the ride info for July 4th:


The labels were shipped to me yesterday. I'll have to check for duplicates, and I have seen some on there, but there are 150 entries. Wow! I'll be getting those all printed up and put on my bike next week after work.

I am proud to report that we are only about $250 from my goal of $15,000 total raised by Team Pedal Another Mile. That's $15,000 in less than three years and #18 in terms of amount raised!  Thanks go out to all of you who have donated in the past. I really really appreciate your generosity.

As some of you know, I run an app while riding called Charity Miles. They donate ten cents for every mile I ride. I usually pick SU2C. July 4th I selected Wounded Warrior Project.  For this RAGBRAI ride, I am going to be doing SU2C on Days 1, 2, and 7. Day 3 is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Days 4, 5, and 6 I will leave up to you. The top three is who I ride for those days. Vote here:

Time flies when you're having fun

And I am :).

I cannot believe RAGBRAI is less than six weeks away. The weather this "spring" has been, well... shit. Way too wet, way too cool most days, way too windy. It had been two weeks since I even got on my bike, until Sunday the 3rd, when I did about about 24 miles, enough to put me over 1,000 miles for 2013. Saturday I did 44+. Add another 425ish for RAGBRAI and this means I'm just over 1,000 away from my goal of 2,500 for the year. That should be fairly easy unless winter starts in August this year.

What the majority of my rides look like. Wide open, nothing to block the wind, boring sometimes, but most traffic





Getting back to RAGBRAI, I received my packet from them late last week:

I like the jersey quite a bit. I was afraid the pig from this year's logo would take up the whole front. It's quite subtle, though. Why a pig? Well, Iowa may be known for corn but it is the country's leading pork producer as well.

 I am keeping VERY busy at work. This week will likely be the busiest of the entire year. Things should hopefully slow down in another 3-4 weeks. I don't mind how busy I am - it makes the work day fly by. 

Outside of work things are going very well. I have settled into this new life fairly comfortably. I am stil going to the therapist at the hospice home, but I am only going once every four weeks. She doesn't see a reason for me to come any more often.  

I'm still enjoying cooking. I seem to be getting better at it too. I even went to a sushi class on Sunday the 3rd. I think I did okay - what I made looked good and tasted great! 

That's it for now!! I will try to not wait three weeks before my next post :) 

Thanks for sticking around and reading it! 

A trigger date, but the firing pin is missing.

Today would have been Billy Jo and my 15th wedding anniversary. In early March I was beginning to worry a bit about it. Would that be a meltdown day? After all, the last time I had a meltdown (or really, any type of sadness) was her birthday, and it was not pretty. I was fine the next day, so I knew even if it were bad on 4/25 I'd be fine 4/26. It didn't stop my concern in early March though.

What did stop it was the speaker at one of the bereavement workshops. He talked, as if reading my mind that night, about how many people tell him that they spent 6-8 weeks worrying about a milestone date only to have it come and go without incident. They said they felt bad for giving it so much attention and emotion leading up to it, and for it to be okay once it was upon them. Wasted emotions, wasted worry. It was that moment I stopped all thought about it, and I've been that way since.

As this week started, I knew today was coming. I'm still doing well...I didn't anticipate any issues. Regardless, I decided I wanted to do something nice for someone on this day. It would make me feel good and as a bonus to feeling good I was "hedging my bets" that I'd be ok. I can't be miserable if I do something that makes someone happy, right? 

While in Florida I had sent Billy Jo's doctor offices and staff thank you notes.  I feel that wasn't satisfactory enough. I've been home long enough, enough time has passed, I wanted to really show my appreciation.

Yesterday I picked up gift cards for Panera and delivered them to the Palliative Care office, the chemo infusion center nurses, and the oncologist office. I wrote in the cards how thankful I was for everything they did and that I wanted them to have breakfast or lunch (or both) on me, with the stipulation that they do it today. While no one I knew was available in the Palliative Care office, I spoke at great lengths with one of the oncologist nurses whom I knew well, and two of the infusion center nurses. They were so happy and thankful, and this in turn made my day :)

Yesterday was also the first time I was back at Central DuPage Hospital since the day we left there to transition Billy Jo into hospice care, seven months ago. There were so many bad days filled with bad news over the years in this place. Too many to count.

But guess what? I had zero issues. Zero. I could have been walking into a place I've never been before. That's how little effect it had on me. I knew right then that I'd be fine today. If a building full of those kind of memories doesn't trigger anything, a day on a calendar sure as shit isn't going to.

Today consisted of work, leaving a bit early so ComEd could pick up my energy sucking garage refrigerator ($50!), the first yard work of the year, and in a few hours I will meet friends for dinner. It's a good day. A normal day. I'm typing this at 3:30 pm because I am confident the rest of the day will be just fine.

I am pretty certain I am totally past the grief stage now. There still might be a pang of it now and then in my future... who knows. If there is I'll deal with it. I miss her, but I can do so without grieving. I just miss her, nothing else. Being depressed about it isn't going to bring her back, it would just hurt me. I don't want that. She certainly didn't want that.

That being said, I will keep working with my therapist and see what lies ahead for me. There's plenty to talk about, and I like how our sessions are not totally about bereavement, grief, death, etc. I really am glad I decided to go. I no doubt still have challenges facing me - continuing to see her can only help me in all aspects of my life from here on out.

I rode my bike Monday 26 miles. Tuesday it rained AGAIN. Yesterday I decided it was time to really start training - I did a ride solely for the hills. Yes, there are two hills in NE Illinois, and as luck would have it they're a little over a mile apart. This allowed me to go up each five times. I froze my ass off (it was about 45 and windy) but I felt great afterwards. I needed some no-thinking, leg-murdering, heart rate rocketing bicycle riding, and it delivered. No, my max HR was not 221 as the data shows... the wind sometimes causes the monitor to malfunction. At the 221 point I was going downhill at 35mph into the wind. Looking at the data, 202 seems like it was the max on that ride. Still crazy, but not "my heart is going to explode out of my chest" crazy. It was only for a few seconds. I can do 185 for an hour. 202 for a few minutes ain't shit.

It feels so strange to not be concerned about wind at all and actively seeking out hills that I dreaded doing (even once) two years ago. Unless there's lightning and tornados the entire week of RAGBRAI, it will likely be much easier than last time. I am in a much different frame of mind. "I can't" is losing it's grip on me really really fucking quick.

Completely Cycling related post

Nothing but about today's ride here.

Windy as hell, I didn't want to ride the farm roads. Strong crosswinds from the south means a good chance of a gust pushing me into traffic on Caton Farm Rd. 230 on a 22 pound bike? Maybe not. 175 on a 15 pound bike? Maybe.

So I decided to drive to a trail and ride there. Safer. Why I decided to ride today I don't know. I despise wind. But you know what? Not as much as I used to. It was going to be 74 and these days are far and few in between this "spring". Plus, I can just use wind as my hills. And if it's windy on RAGBRAI I still need to get my ass to the next overnight town 50-100 miles away each day. Wind is no longer a reason for me to not ride. 

My car had other ideas than going to that trail though. I was approaching the exit and thought to myself... how many weekday mornings have you sat on this expressway wishing you were going to ride on the lakefront rather than go to work?? Go. Screw the wind. 

So I did.

I forgot a little crucial piece of info- the strong winds were ESE today... coming in directly off cold Lake Michigan. A high of 74 was for home. When I parked at the lakefront it was 48. When I ended it was 48. Oops. Oh well, you're here, it's sunny... GO.

Go I did. It was a terrific ride and I am glad my car had other ideas for me than a boring (for this leafless time of year) forest preserve trail ride I had originally planned. I did 30 miles. The last 5 I got with two guys hauling ass. Let me tell you- nothing prepares you for the levels of stupidity seen on RAGBRAI like a sunny Sunday afternoon on the lakefront. Reflexes are an absolute must. It was thrilling but my goodness people just have no clue at all. You wouldn't blindly walk into a street, why would you do it on the lakefront path?? My brakes work better than I could have ever imagined :)

Here's what I felt like the last 5 miles today. Just in terms of nerves. Exciting? Hell yeah! Nerve wracking? You bet. No matter how dumb people are I don't want to hit them at 22+ mph. For their sake AND mine.

The minute I got back to the car I thought of this video I saw a few years ago. The 36 second mark of this video was DOZENS of people on the path today. :)

I turned around at 71st Street. I've never gone past the Science & Industry Museum at 57th Street until today. The neighborhood didn't seem too bad but I was on a very pricey bike going deeper into the south side of Chicago so I turned around.  The great thing about Soldier Field south to there was very little traffic on the paths. Between Lincoln Park and Navy Pier was like a parade.

I had a great ride and I'm glad "my car" had other plans for me today :)

A week's worth of posts in one easy package

:) I can't think of a better title since I'll be all over the place in this one :)

Last Thursday was the final of the weekly bereavement workshops. It goes back to third Thursday of the month now. The speaker was Rachel, and she shared her story with us. Her and her husband David were expecting their second child and discovered that he had a rare genetic defect called Trisomy 13, also called Patau syndrome as well as many heart defects. 80% of children born with this do not live to see their first birthday, and Jason was one of them. The NICU at the hospital was not very supportive, and the family felt rather alone as a result. Thankfully, friends, family, and their church helped them, giving them gifts, books, and support they needed. Joliet Area Hospice was there for them as they brought their son home. Counseling and therapy helped some, but something was still missing.

This is where she decided to have their son live on by doing something for parents that find themselves in similar situations, and began a foundation called Heavenly Brothers. This foundation creates boxes to help parents get through what is no doubt a ridiculously difficult time in their lives. It has taken nearly three years, but in January the foundation received 501(c)(3) status - quite an accomplishment. If you are interested in donating or for more information, the website is here. Note: It has auto playing music so if you're at work you may want to make sure your speakers are lowered. 

Rachael had a choice... let this ruin the rest of her life (and her husband's and young son's in the process) or as she put it, forge a new path. She chose to forge a new path and now not only does her son's memory live on, it thrives every time a new box is delivered and helps a family that needs it. The hospital is also making changes so no parents have to deal with what they did, and she is a vital part of those changes. A giant bureaucratic-filled hospital is taking direct input from someone they wronged. Amazing.

I am telling you about this to reiterate the fact that we all can choose the path we will take. If you come to a fork in life and don't like the way either path looks, forge a new one. It's up to you. No one can make you choose or forge paths - it's up to you.

Before the workshop, I had a doctor appointment to discuss the blood tests I mentioned a few weeks ago as well as some other items. The doctor told me that the stress and depression I was under was literally going to kill me if it had not stopped. I had heart attack or stroke making a beeline straight for me. I would have been lucky to see 50.

Quite scary. I wish I had been able to discover the new me a lot sooner. I know the stress would have been there... it was so total and enveloping that I had no chance of escaping it, but I likely could have lessened its control over me by seeking help, by letting my feelings out, by doing anything other than what I did - hold it all in. I know I sound like a broken record now, but do not think you can handle things on your own. You may be able to, but if your feelings don't change, if your mood doesn't improve, if your health begins to slide, you are NOT capable of handling it on your own. If you don't feel comfortable talking to anyone, professional or not, then at least write stuff down to release the pressure valve a bit. 

Being told that you were heading down a path of doom is a bit hard to take, however, I have reversed all the serious issues I had. I truly feel as good physically and mentally as I have at all in the past 20 years. As a result, I am now either off most of my prescription drugs or tapering down for a month before stopping them. The only one left is Linosipril for high blood pressure, but he thinks I may be off that later this year. If we get to that point, I will be medication-free. I am unsure when the last time was that I could say such a thing.  As if on cue, tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of me quitting smoking.

I was told by a friend that I needed to watch a show that just started this year, a sitcom starring Matthew Perry (Friends) called Go On, on NBC. He is a 40-something guy who loses his wife and joins a support group in order to keep his job. He doesn't want to go, he just wants his paperwork filled out. That changes. Weird topic for a sitcom but it works, and I can relate to things going on in this show. Some are downright eerie. It's like they are in my head.

Here's a clip from the pilot. No, this isn't what I was talking about when I said relating... and the group I am in is not anything like this, but it will give you an idea of the premise

I love it, and hope it gets picked up for another season. 

Finally, last Saturday I got to ride my bike! Outside!! It wasn't too windy, it was about 43 and sunny, and I said screw it - I'm not waiting for spring any longer. Felt great to be back on the road :) - it was a little cold but not too bad:

I also am in week 3 of Couch to 5K and ran it outside with Wrigley yesterday, as opposed to on a treadmill. I still friggin' hate running, but I am determined to try and run that entire National Ovarian Cancer Coalition 5K in May... no walking. After that I can start really getting ready for the big goal of the year - RAGBRAI in late July.