Friday, October 24, 2014

How do I get through the freezing cold winter...

     I've managed to make my way to almost every bike trail within a 50 mile radius over this past summer, and while there are a couple I'm trying very hard to get in yet, the days are getting shorter and colder so it looks like I have to find another way to stay focused until I'm in warm weather again.

     Blogging about the Bike To The Bay has been a great past time for me, and all of the amazing bike trails have certainly made life interesting.  

     However, before long I'll be taking a sabbatical from the trails, and blogging about my journey for next year's Bike To The Bay is how I plan to get through these cold winter months.

     My computer desk as you can see is surrounded by all of the things that keep me motivated, from my cute frogs and anything pink, to pictures of many of the important people in my life.  The wedding photo is of my parents and almost 60 years old.  My father has since passed but he's always there in spirit;)

   This is also the view from my treadmill and where my bike will be as well. I've discovered that my eyes are a very important tool for keeping positive:) 

     I hope you'll follow me on my journey as I continue to grow team leapfrog for the next bike to the bay in June, and mark your calendar because sign-ups start in January, which is only a couple months away:) I know next year will be huge!!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Even the camel had a last straw

          I'm sorry, I refuse to believe the riding season is over already.  If I was in a warm climate this would be just the beginning.  People in middle america often say they love the four seasons.  Let's see... there's almost Winter... Winter... still Winter... and August...  

     I had my mind set that I was going to finally put my friend, the University Parks Trail to sleep for the winter, but not before checking to see that the construction site was one hundred percent finished and ready for me, come spring.

     However, the weatherman said it was going to be about 52 degrees and 15 mile an hour winds.  I ride my bike 15 miles an hour; that's not so fast.  I was game, I have warm gear, but I couldn't find anyone else crazy enough to join me.

     I had things to do early in the day, but I would give the sun a chance to warm the air, and go home and change into my bike gear in the afternoon.  

     Sadly, the sun decided to hide for the day and all I was left with was the wind, clouds, and 47 degrees.  Okay, change of plans...  But who knows if the I'll ever get another chance to ride before the snow comes.  Remember the expression "if you've got the time we've got the beer"??  I had the time...  

     Instead of going home to change, I just drove straight to the park so I couldn't talk myself out of it, and had every intention of just riding to the construction area two miles in and then turn around; no bike gear, just me, my bike and helmet.

     You have to admit this was beautiful.  It looked rather lonely though.  All the others were probably home drinking coffee (maybe even Irish...) 

          then came the straw that broke the camel's back...  I felt the ice cold drops of rain begin to fall on my head and that was the deal breaker.  I might be crazy, but I'm no fool.

          Yes, this is just as easy on the eyes from the parking lot as it is on the trail, and telling you what I almost did is a heck of a lot more comfortable warm and indoors, than actually doing it.  

     Who knows, maybe it will still warm up one of these days:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 20, 2014

It took me all season, but I finally made it to the south fork of the Wabash Cannonball trail!!

          Remember a million years ago (or maybe last spring), when I rode the north fork of the Wabash Cannonball Trail??  I took that north fork several times, but never wanted to venture on to the south fork, because Fred Lefevbre told me when I was on his radio show that the south fork was brutally hot, since most of it was open farm land. Now that it's cool, this was my chance to finally try it out.  

     This was the path leading up to the Wabash trail and I have to admit it looked very different than it did in the spring.

     As you turn the corner behind these colorful trees...

 this is what I would see last spring. Green trees everywhere, and totally shaded.

     Fast forward to fall and ride up to the fork that separates the north and south, and this is what you see now.

     Dried up corn fields surround the south fork, and in the heat of summer I bet with it being wide open and the sun beating down, this was brutal.  However, now that it's chilly fall weather one thing I didn't consider, the wind was also able to whip right through your bones like a spring day in Kansas.

     Once again I had another instrument to place in my cabinet of double edged swords,  because it was absolutely beautiful and by no means scorching, but turn the sword over and feel the wind soaring right through you.

     As luck would have it, I doubled up on almost every article of clothing I owned and there was no way I would end up with frost bite.

     So my bucket list of trails is almost completed (until I broaden my horizon next year), and behind this smile I have my fingers crossed that the weather and daylight hold out for me to cross my final trail off my list for the year;)

Have a great day!!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Bike To the Bay; not quite 25 K, but check this out!!!

     I can't believe this time last year I began my recruiting for Team Leapfrog.  I had some pretty high expectations.  I decided I would shoot for 25 team members because it was the 25th anniversary of the Bike To The Bay.  

     Twenty five riders seemed like a huge number for a first year team, but I didn't want an easy goal; I wanted one to work hard at.

     Then, when we flew past that goal with plenty of time until the ride I knew it was too small, so I changed it to 50.  As far as the fundraising goal, I figured why not shoot for the moon and make it 25,000 for the 25th Anniversary as well.

     I heard a lot of comments like "Hmm... good luck with that, or well okay then..." but I had some awesome friends that were as determined as I, so I wasn't backing down.

     When I was on Fred Lefevbre's radio talk show and mentioned my goal he laughed as though I was totally crazy.  I am, but that's beside the point, so now I had some proving to do.  We ended up with 44 team members and I was thrilled by that number for the first year.

    Our fundraising number by the day of the ride was higher than most people expected, but nowhere near the 25,000 goal I was shooting for.  We had the whole summer following the ride to continue to raise money, so I continued to hold out hope.

     Before I knew it, there were only two weeks left until all of the fundraising money had to be in, and I went to the Bike MS website to see how close we came.

     I bet this is where people would expect me to say miraculously we hit that 25 K... nope, no miracles here, just a lot of dedicated people ( that would have been a cool story though, huh?!).  We did however, raise 21,989.00 with every penny counted, and that number felt like a million.

     But the thing that was super cool was when Team Sitting Bull donated eleven bucks (actually 12...) to Team Leapfrog to round us up to that even more impressive goal of 22,000.  It's not 25 thousand, but for our first year I'd say we did all right:)

How'd team sitting bull get everyone together for that photo??

     I've already started recruiting more riders for next year and  my new goal will be 30,000 to represent my 30 years of living with MS. And maybe next year we can figure out how to get our whole team in one picture too!!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Walbridge Park; A beautiful park, but what were they thinking...

     So last Saturday afternoon I decided to take a ride through Walbridge Park in South Toledo. It was a little warmer than the previous weekend so I had to sneak another ride in while I had the chance.

      This park runs between the Maumee River and the Toledo Zoo.  I haven't been here since I was a child and it sure did look different from how I remembered it.

     I know this observation deck wasn't here way back when.  The wood looks too new; if it was from my childhood it would have probably been decayed by now:)

     The view from this angle is very scenic, and from here it looks as though you could walk right into the river.  When I was a small child, my parents took my three brothers and me to this park on independence day to see the fireworks that were shot off from across the river.  It was awesome, even if my younger brother was terrified.  

     Here's what I'm a little baffled about though, being an adult and mother I can't figure out two things;  What were they thinking "A" when they built this brick stair stepped wall with no railing going across, and "B": could you imagine that passing code if the safety laws they have in place today were around back then??  This is an accident waiting to happen.

     It's hard to see from this angle, but between every five foot tall brick wall there was a grass landing about twelve feet in depth.  Families with small children would lay out blankets and perch on the landings as they watched the fireworks.  (Oh, and there were no concession stands, it was homemade popcorn popped in bacon grease and kool-aid...) 

     Walbridge Park was a beautiful park, and I'm glad I was able to get out and ride again before the cold weather sets in for the winter, but I'll continue to wonder when I see that wall... What were they thinking??

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 13, 2014

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

    I've discovered that going to Physical Therapy is like going to an AA meeting.  Everyone has something visibly going on and we all have many war stories.

     We tend to become experts at diagnosing  the others based on their walk or their form of transport.  A cast is a no brainer; obviously someone fell and they'll be fine eventually.  
     A cane, walker or wheel chair could mean a number of things, based on youth or old age and the variables are endless.  But a brace tends to be rather intriguing.

     On my first day at Physical Therapy after getting my new "bionic leg"  people felt a sudden green light to start diagnosing (or speculating) my problem.  One man asked me if I was getting a new knee (which I'm not because my brain wouldn't know what to do with that one either), I told him no, I had hyper-extension in my knee.  He looked as though he needed more details and since I was early I figured what the heck...

     I told him I have MS which caused the footdrop and the nerve zapper to take care of the footdrop, then the brace to stop the hyper-extension caused by the compensation from lack of balance from the footdrop.

     He said "wow, you definitely have some things going on; I'm getting a new knee next week and then surgery on my shoulder next month". 

     I smiled and said "breast cancer survivor, bi-lateral mastectomy and three reconstructive surgeries..."  He then replied "I can't top that, you win".  Right!?!? 

     After I finished my boxing match it was finally time for my PT and I really figured My Therapist  would ask me to walk a straight line, like you would for a sobriety test, say it isn't perfect but better, and then send me on my way.  That's not what happened.  We spent the next hour trying to teach me how to use muscles I hadn't used in years.  It was like teaching a baby to walk, only they don't think about it; they just do it and fall a million times.  It's not fun falling when you're older so I needed to think about every step I took as I moved my legs and feet in a way I had forgotten to.

     She sent me on my way, armed with many great exercises and different types of steps.  My next visit will be the last one for a while because it's now up to me to use the tools she gave  me.  Back to the drawing board...

Have a great day!!


Friday, October 10, 2014

If it's gonna stand out, it's gonna stand out! Let's make it pink:)

  So I've decided to embrace my new leg.. or maybe that's get a leg up on my new Brace;) If I have to display it then I may as well make it "ME".

    This thing is black and I am totally pink if I'm anything. Don't think we haven't been brainstorming on how to make it pink.  People get to choose their hair color why not my leg color?! Mike B., my Orthotist actually did research to find my new Bionic leg in pink.  To his credit he found it, but though the color was right, it wasn't the right brace for what I needed.  It was like getting hair clips for a bald man... What's the point!?

     The funny thing is, anyone who really knows me already asked if it comes in pink.  Am I that predictable?!  I discussed with Mike B. the possibility of painting it and he looked at it and said "why not?! but it would have to be done strategically so we don't ruin the hinges and turn it into a worthless piece of metal, even if it is pink:)"

     First things first... the one we tried on had to be reordered for a different size to accommodate going over my nerve zapper.  By the end of the day I'm gonna be one big heap of random parts...

     While I was waiting for my correct bionic leg to come in I started my scavenger hunt for the pink paint.  I was giving this some serious thought... what if I ever have something on that would clash with the pink??  Wait... that was a stupid question:)

     The paint needed to be industrial strength, like the paint for kitchen appliances, but there didn't seem to be a big market for people painting their stoves pink.  I don't get it... Why not!?!

     Then I remembered seeing a display of pink items last week at Dick's Sporting Goods for breast cancer awareness month, and I remember pink sports tape was on that rack, Hmmm...  I might be way off but for ten bucks what did I have to lose?  

     The next day I had my appointment to pick up my newly adopted leg  and I went in armed with my "brilliant idea" to add to Mike's "brilliant creation".  Lets see if he laughs me right out of the office.

     Well when I showed him my pink tape he did what I expected; he laughed:)  Of course I'm not sure if he was laughing with me or at me...  I didn't care because we all know I'm crazy!

     Then he smiled and said "what ever floats your boat; I say go for it!"  He did think the painting option was a good one too.  I'm always a plan B kinda girl so I decided I would bling it up with the pink tape for now, and when I'm ready for something seriously permanent I'll get it painted the right way...

     So now that we have that major detail figured out we tried the new one on for size.  It was a blessing in disguise that the other one was cutting into my leg, because now I feel lucky to only have it be a slight inconvenience.  However, I think my days of slipping right through a metal detector are over;)

     But the most important thing is, it's doing exactly what we were hoping for, and now my poor leg feels strong again!  

    Here's one last picture where I look like a powerful kick boxer; but the next time you see it with my girly pink bling I may have to change my story;)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Time to get a trainer.

     I don't know why they call this thing a "trainer", I have to do everything myself... :)  Yes, I know they mean something to put my bike on so I can continue to train in doors through the snowy weather, but it sure doesn't sound like it.

     Justin, my best bud at Performance Bike in Ann Arbor Mi., assures me I can still get a good two more months of out-door riding in before the in-climate weather gets here.

     He and I may have a different idea of what "in-climate" is, but I would rather be prepared, because I'm sure I'll know it when I see it, and when it comes, I'll be ready;).

     This bike wasn't mine, and it was way too big, but it was set up on the style of trainer I bought, and I just had to test it out.  This is a fluid trainer as opposed to a magnetic style, and the fluid resistance is supposed to make the pedaling feel like riding out doors.  The reviews all raved about this model so l'm confident it will be just what I need.

     Justin told me if it was going on carpet I could end up getting pokes from static electricity, which doesn't sound fun, so I also got this black rubber mat to prevent that.  

     The good news is, I can put my yoga mat on top of it and give it double duty when my bike isn't on it.

     I won't be taking the trainer out of the box for a while, because it will be too easy to decide my bike is in for the winter.  But I have to tell you, I'm really anxious to unbox  my new toy, so lets see how long I last;)

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Swan Creek Metro Park; it might be cold, but I'm not done yet!!

     Now that I finally discovered my new love of cycling I wasn't about to let it come to an end so fast.  However, cold weather and I aren't best friends and it was totally knocking at my door.  In a perfect world I would live where it's warm year round, but right now I'm facing cold.  

     Though we still have a few weeks of mild temps, this past weekend it was blustery; the wind chill as about 37.  The weather forecast was predicting rain, but they've been wrong in the past.  Lucky for me, I learned from my ride at Centennial Quarry that being unprepared makes for a less than optimal riding experience.  I went out and picked up some warmer gear.

     I had knee sox to cover my bare legs where my knickers stopped, and winter gloves, then my thermal riding jacket was a much better option than the two jackets I had on the last time. 

     I was told Swan Creek Metro Park had a nice trail, the thing was, while part of it was paved, part of it was more of a sandy gravel.  That was okay, I just wanted to see the park, and there was no way I planned to ride on an unstable trail.  I planned to only travel the solid path.

          This too was a very pretty park, and the fall colors were gorgeous.  Yes, it was a little chilly, even with my warm clothing, but I just loved being outside, which is something I hid from in the past. I've found out life is full of double edge swards; in fact, I've considered getting a cabinet to display all of mine; I have many:/

     We began our journey and came upon a fork in the road.  I chose to go to the right.  It wasn't long, about a city block, before I discovered that infamous gravel trail.  My first thought was "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!"  Looks like my ride was over already.

   I wasn't about to ride on this... Not with my skinny road bike tires...

     Of course, there was always the left side of the fork... maybe that trail was fully paved...

     Boy was I glad to find out the other trail was completed, and the ride through the park, while hilly like a lot of my past rides, was marvelous.  Sure it was a little chilly, but at least I was dry.

        Keeping with the cold theme I saw this interesting tree that was peppered with red leaves almost as if it was a lit Christmas tree or even a Poinsettia.

          The winter gear, the paved trail... I finally figured out how to enjoy the great out doors, even if it is kind of cold.  That was until it started to rain... ugh!  Cold rain on a beautiful chilly fall day... Priceless!!

Have a great day!!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Fix what you can and improvise what you can't.

     You know being a Scorpio and German makes me one stubborn girl, and I won't give up for anything.  Well, over the past 30 years this crazy MS monster has given me a run for my money, but there was no way I was throwing in the towel.  

     When I got the foot drop I found my nerve zapper (AKA my turbo leg), when I started getting spasticity in my leg I chased it away with muscle relaxers, and lets not forget the three injections a week I do just to stop this thing from having a party in my body.

      I've got this; nothing's gonna stop me now.  But when my leg started fighting back I needed to find something to "one up" it.  I was already riding my bike and walking on my treadmill along with strength training. Then I started doing yoga and even went to a Physical Therapist to try to retrain my leg to work perfect again.  

     Unfortunately, life isn't perfect, and my therapist discovered that while my body was trying diligently  to compensate from the foot drop, it started to take a toll on my tendons in my knee, causing hyper-extension.  Left unattended to, it can be brutal.

     Knowing I wasn't willing to accept defeat, my PT called my Orthotist, Mike B. so we could brainstorm and jump this next hurdle.  We all got together and decided we needed to find a hybrid to utilize the nerve zapper which is still doing it's job, but  come up with something to tame my knee, which is not.  Now it was off to Mike's office again.

     When Mike showed me his brilliant solution, which would stop my knee from snapping back; the kicker was that it's a brace that goes more than halfway up my leg, and I'm not gonna lie, it wasn't pretty. I felt like I was finally defeated.  In fact, my Orthotist and I shed a tear or two... Okay, maybe the tears were all mine, but Mike B. was right by my side convincing me that I was one of the strongest people he knows, and we can do this.  In fact, he's even on Team Leapfrog!

     Then when I found out it went on the outside of my pants for all of the world to see, I was a little depressed, because now I was going to be showing the world that I needed help.  

     A friend told me I shouldn't worry what everyone else thinks, and in theory that makes total sense, but I think it's human nature to want to appear powerful.  Most people are proud when they do something impressive, from something as elaborate as a brain surgeon or rocket scientist, or simply a fat bank roll to show that you're a success.  I just want to be successful in preserving the only thing I can't replace, and that is my body.  

     Ask any mother what she hopes for her child and she'll almost always say "only that they're happy and healthy".  Then I started thinking, being happy is a huge part of being healthy, and doing the best you can is all you can hope for.

My new Bionic leg

     As cumbersome as it may be, we're gonna give this contraption a try and if it helps me to be as healthy as I can then I've beat this monster once again:) 

     I'll let you know how it goes;)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Riding with my eyes wide open.

     When I was riding my bike at Secor Park the other day, the smooth pavement got me thinking about the construction that has been going on all summer with the University Parks bike trail.  It was time for me to re-visit it again.

     I always enter the trail by way of Wild Wood Park, and as I was anxious to check out the status of the construction on the trail, I thought I would never make it out of the park.

     First, the park was swarming with people; I'm guessing because they figured it might be the last nice weekend they have for a super long time.  There were literally no parking spaces to be found, so I was forced to wait for someone to walk to their car and stalk them until they left.

     Then, I was getting my bike out of my car and I just happened to be wearing a bright pink shirt (shocker!  Right!?!?), a couple of cyclists who were putting their bikes away asked me if I ran in the breast cancer race that happened to be that morning in downtown Toledo.  I told them running isn't my strong suit these days, but I ride in the MS bike to the bay.  A few random questions and a dose of idle chit chat eventually turned into me working my magic on them; hoping to convince them to ride next year:)

          When I finally managed to make my way out of the parking lot and into the park, that too became a huge challenge.  I hadn't been to Wild Wood Park in a few weeks and the colors of the leaves were breathtaking.  I found myself stopping about every 500 feet to take some pictures.  I must have taken a million pictures... Here... I posted all of them for you to see... Just kidding!!!  But don't tempt me;) Now the handful I do have for you won't seem so bad:)

          About an hour later I managed to make my way to the construction point of the trail.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the trail was completed; for all intents and purposes.  There were still a few minor details left.

     Coming back in the other direction you can see how nice the new pavement is.  Now they need to add the yellow lane  lines, otherwise when riders pass each other it becomes "every man for himself".

       I never ended up completing the entire trail because I wanted to make it home that same day,  but I did get my share of the great outdoors.

          As I meandered back into the park I was looking at the fluffy white clouds over head, and I couldn't help but wonder if they've always been that white, or if I just never noticed them before.

     The time leading up to my past year of riding I had a tendency of going outside basically to get from point "A" to point "B", and I was usually looking straight ahead.  Or I may have been in a golf cart chasing a silly little ball.  Of course, even then, I was too stressed out about the game to notice what was around me.

     I'm so glad I was pushed into this riding thing last year; If I hadn't, I may have never discovered all of the world I've been missing:)

     Oh, incidentally... this picture of me in front of the beautiful red foliage was taken by a very sweet lady who was just out for a leisurely walk; her name was Sister Nancy.  Ironically, she resides at the Franciscan Center along with Sister Karen; a very well known name in the local community that also happens to have MS.  Small world huh!?  It's amazing what you discover when you ride with your eyes wide open.

Have a great day!!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Lets see if Secor Park is anything special.

     Just another case of not a "real' bike trail, but a very nice ride.  Secor Park was my next mission and it was very exciting to see the trees in the beginning stages of color morphing.

I'm not exactly sure what the criteria of a park is, but this park interestingly enough, has a cemetery right in the middle of it.

     It was fascinating to see some of the unique names and very old dates.  But there was one thing I was a little curious about, which came first; the cemetery or the park (I still can't figure out that chicken or egg thing...)  One thing I do know is people are dying to go there:)  But I've been told that there are no longer vacancies in this cemetery so this is for transients only.

     This ginormous tree was at the other end of the of the cemetery, which I'm sure was a mere accent when they began their landscaping hundreds of years ago. 

     One thing I tend to notice is, even though the parks aren't actual bike routes, the pavement sure seems to be smoother.  I'm guessing  the state budget  pays for upkeep of the parks, but it must be a never ending process to replace the miles and miles of pavement on the bike routes; remember the tiny little patch of construction on the University parks trail... ugh! I just may have to check that out again...

     Though I'm somewhat new to the bike trails around the city, there is such a great sense of nostalgia when revisiting some of my favorite parks from years past, and this whole bike riding experience has reminded me that no matter what life throws at us, we have to hold onto all of the things that give us hope.

Have a great day!!