Friday, July 3, 2015

The Bike to the Bay may have come and gone, but the pictures will live on forever!

     It's hard to believe the Bike To The Bay is merely a memory until next year, but I have many photos to remind me of this amazing experience.  And I'm hoping to get even more from riders to add to our album.

     This isn't all of Team leapfrog, but if you go to the picture page up at the top of this blog you can see most of the riders at some point during this exciting ride.

     Robert, Kelly and I are the ones with MS, though over 30 friends rode for us and their loved ones  to put an end to this ruthless disease.  

Click here> Team Leapfrog 2015 Photo album for 2015 photos.

     You can also find pictures from past years from the ride as well.  So Enjoy the walk down memory lane and send more photos of the ride if you have them.

     Until next year... lets find more trails!!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

That storm did a number on my trails; this is Wabash.

     Last Saturday sure was a washout for out door activities; It was raining cats and dogs.  But I had high hopes for a bike ride on Sunday and I woke up to crystal clear skies, so I knew it would be perfect.

     A few of us were going riding and we needed to pick a centralized trail, so the Wabash Cannon-ball it was. I wasn't expecting anything new on this trail because I've been on it several times before.  But Starting at Oak Openings State park, working our way back and doing the north fork would be a  change of pace.

          As we headed out into the park we came upon Mallard Lake. I've never seen this Lake so high.  All of the rain from the day before had almost brought it to it's breaking point.  Anymore rain and it would surely overflow.  But the roads we drove on to get here were perfectly dry, and I knew the  the trails surely must be as well.

     We started down the trail inside the park, leading to the Wabash when we were stopped by two park trail patrolman.  They warned us that the trail was flooded ahead and we would need to try a different route.  So we turned around and began down a country road that would also take us to the bike trail.

          From a distance there appeared to be a huge puddle on the right side of the road. That was okay, we could just veer to the left and go around it.  As we got closer we noticed the water was gushing across the road as though someone had just emptied their above ground swimming pool.

     If it was a damp street I would be fine with riding very slowly through it.  But since it was more like white water rapids I decided this wasn't happening.

     We back tracked to take yet another road to the trail and when we finally made it to the trail it appeared it would now be smooth sailing...

     But this tree said otherwise...

          This tree didn't look that big; I don't know why a couple strong guys couldn't hoist it to the side of the trail... but you guessed it... we turned around and looked for yet another route.

          Before long we had made it to that same trail, only further down, past the fallen tree.

     But it wasn't long before we found one more wrench in the fire... There was a huge viney tree blocking the entire width of the trail.  I was getting tired of looking for a different route so I said "I bet a couple strong men could move this thing with no problem..."  And of course Robert and Gary tackled the tree for the sake of all other riders who passed.

     As we were getting ready to get back on our bikes a group of four cyclists were riding up.  I told them these fine gentleman cleared the tree off the trail for them ( I had to boost their ego in case there was another tree in our future...).  Of course they thanked them.

     Though our ride was soon brought to one more pause as we rode up on this monstrous tree blocking the trail, AGAIN!
     I suggested to the other group of riders, the ones who had thanked us for clearing the path a ways back... that we take turns moving the trees and they were up:) 

    They had a better idea... they walked through the poison ivy laden woods and went around it.  We all looked at each other and unanimously decided we would pass.  Besides, I know I've seen snakes around there before... no thank you...

     By now we were sick of back tracking, and besides I think we had covered every alternate route there was, so we decided to  head back to the park. 

      When we got back to our cars our odometers read just over 10 miles, though we probably didn't even get a mile away from our starting point.

      I'm used to obstacles, and I know by now that just because I have to take an alternate route, it doesn't mean I'll never get to where I'm going...Eventually!!

Have a great day!!


Monday, June 29, 2015

A Critical Mass Ride; How hard could it be...

Like "where's Waldo, can you find the pink frog??

          As you know, a week ago I rode 54.5 miles in the Bike To The Bay.  Well, after that brutal feat of triumph I thought I had topped out my "personal best".  How could anything ever compare to that...

     Then after I had a couple days to go back to normal I got an invitation from Tom (seen above) who is on team Leapfrog, to do a Critical Mass ride a week after the BTTB. He mentioned he had about three definites and several maybes. 

     Of course after committing, I hadn't the faintest idea what that was, but I told him I had planned on finding some new routes after the Bike To The Bay, so I was in; and then I went home and Googled what this actually was.

     I learned that it was an unorganized ride  made up of 500 to upwards of a thousand riders taking over the streets of a big city, in the attempt to raise awareness of cyclists' rights to share the streets with motorists.  This one happened to be in downtown Detroit; yikes!

     It's not in my nature to bail, but I decided to give Tom a chance to admit I might just be too high maintenance for this ride.  After all; I needed someone to keep on me like flies on fly paper; someone to make a path, warn me of any sudden stops and lend a shoulder if my crazy leg becomes worthless after hours of riding.  That didn't phase him, so this was really happening...

     I already had plans to ride on the Greenbelt parkway trail that morning but I could probably handle two rides with several hours in between;  I just can't say no.

     As it turned out, the only ones who weren't scared off were two of his staff members at the University of Toledo, Nanda who is from India and Xiaozhong from China, and me... What did I have to lose?  I knew no one would ever let anything happen to me.

       Being there were four of us in a sea of 5 million riders (give or take...)  we decided to do the buddy system; Nanda and Xiaozhong, and then Tom and I.  The young guys darted out ahead of us so I knew there was no way I could lose track of Tom or I would end up berried among an ocean of strangers; people who don't understand about  my high maintenance.

     I had never seen such a huge swarm of riders at one time.  I had no idea how I was supposed to keep with the flow.

     As you can see the crowd was very tightly packed and very little, or I should say "NO" room for error.  I had learned my lesson in the bike to the bay after not taking long enough brakes to allow my body and brain to reconnect, as well as staying hydrated; of course, I had the buddy system all set.

          But a few things I soon learned would put an interesting spin on my plan... This ride was more or less an anarchy; no one was in charge.  There were no rest stops with bathroom breaks and snacks, no wavers to fill out in case of an injury, and no sag drivers to haul you back if you got tired or worse, a flat tire; there was no backing out.  It was simply hundreds of random people out to make a stand for cyclists' rights. 

      I'm not generally an activist type of person; I never want to make waves, but this was my chance to conquer one more personal best, and appreciate seeing all walks of life helping one another.
     The only chance we had to take a drink of water was the occasional 20 seconds when we paused to close the gaps so motorists couldn't turn in front of us.  Though, if we did catch a rare light we had to haul butt at the speed of over 18 miles an hour just to catch back up with the pack.

     At one point it was so tight that I couldn't maneuver my bike and ran right in to a pot hole.  Now if I was young and spry I could have just popped a wheelie over it, but since that wasn't the case I hit the brakes, dropped my feet, and walked out of it.  Of course, this caused me to fall behind and I had to play some major catch up.
    I have to say the art work or "graffiti" on many of the buildings was amazing!

Is that a cell phone in her hand??

     Above you'll notice a tandem bike with a child attached to the back, as well as a toddler on the front; no one was excluded.

How in the heck was he going to get up there??

          There were bikes so tall that you could get a nose bleed from riding it... 

     And bikes that carted ginormous boom boxes that shook the entire street when they passed by. 

       I mentioned to Tom that my pink jacket definitely stood out in the crowd, and he told me it was perfect for keeping track of me; admitting next time we should put bells on my shoes...

          Notice here, there were times we rode next to busy traffic...

     And then others where we swarmed through neighborhoods with beautifully landscaped homes.

Rosedale Michigan

          By the time the ride was done we had ridden 23 miles and I'm not gonna lie; with no rest stops it felt like 100. 

     The Bike To The Bay was a challenge, however, the difference in this ride was I had no choice but to power on because it was survival of the fittest.  If I stopped because I needed a break I would be riding back all alone next to the uncontrolled traffic.

     When we finally made it safely  back to our cars, I felt such a sense of accomplishment; Tom even commented that I was a very strong rider... It's amazing how desperation will do that... But I was convinced all I need to complete even the toughest ride is an emergency buddy and a voice in my head telling me "you can do it" and "CRAZY GIRL, BE CAREFUL!"

Have a great day!!


Friday, June 26, 2015

I made it to the bay, but some of my friends also rode home the next day.

     You've seen many of the photos documenting my long journey to Port Clinton. I shared with you all of the struggles, mishaps, along with the learning lessons for next year, and proof that team work is what it's all about.  But this is the only photo of me in all my sweat and glory after 7 hours of riding:) I think the camera self destructed shortly after...  Above you see one of my fellow frogs,Tom Garey; the one who lead our practice ride a few days before the Bike to the bay.  He also got me through my meltdown when I had the panic attack as I was stranded in the middle of the busy downtown intersection after my chain got suck.

     Some of us finished the ride early enough to take a shower and change into another frog shirt...  I wonder where he got that...

     And then some of us drove our car home and came to Perrysburg nice and fresh on day two to welcome the two day riders back.  I have to say the ride home was a heck of a lot easier for me.  Every time I drove over a hill in my car I thought to myself "dang lucky I'm in a car this time..."

     I loved seeing all of my team in the cute Team Leapfrog jerseys, but by day two most of the jerseys could stand in a corner by themselves; I was perfectly fine to see they were wearing clean ones.  Lucky for me I had the luxury of washing mine so I could wear it again.

     Below you'll see my teammate, Phil Carrol.  75 miles the first day and he's back doing 75 again with the Plus 5 team; all while still embracing his frog heritage.  I'm not sure how that jersey made it two days but I really didn't care.  I was just glad our frogs were hopping back over that finish line again.

     Young and old; the people who came out to support a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, as well as the thousands of others with this crazy disease, is very humbling.  
      The next time any of us think our day couldn't get any worse; We just need to tell ourselves it isn't "ours alone", and with all our great friends... "our day" can always get better!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I made it to the Bay; just barely!

          After a year of preparing for the Bike To The Bay I knew I had this in the bag.  We had a huge team and we were all raising a lot of money for a really good cause.  I knew I just had to ride for all of my friends who no longer could, and I really felt I was ready.

     However, the best laid plans don't always go off with out a hitch...
  Most importantly, without a doubt, I had to have riding buddies who would be with me through thick and thin and my BFFs Maryann and Dave planned to be with me from start to finish.  If I needed a break, they took a break.
Maryann is on the left and Dave is on the right with their lovely Meghan in the middle.

     Of course I couldn't ride with my brace and nerve zapper so I had to figure out how to get my bionic leg devices to the finish line, making it possible for me to walk freely when I was finished.  I knew I just had to walk very carefully at each rest stop with out them.

     My friend Kelly had her parents, who happen to be one of the team sponsors, take it with them to meet us at the end.  I had that problem solved.

Jim and Kelly Neville; team leapfrog

       Then, when we all showed up at 6:30 AM it was pouring down rain.  A little water wasn't going to stop me; I had to ride!  By 7:30 we were looking at clear skies, so we hit the trail.  

          When we first took off I was really cooking; in fact my friend and general manager of Bob Evans (another team sponsor) Matt, and I were sprinting out ahead of our group in the beginning... until Matt put his battery pack on and was flying like the wind... So Maryann, Dave and I soon became attached at the hips.  


     Those first twenty miles really weren't that bad.  My tunes were playing on my I phone and I was in my zone!  Though my poor riding buddies probably had the song Lean On Me playing in their head for the next three days...  Of course, all of the riders who passed me liked those thirty seconds of jams before they bolted past me. 

      It's true, I had gone twenty miles many times before. But as I rolled into the second rest stop and the clouds opened up again, I wasn't sure how this was all going to end.  There was a subtle fear of my tires slipping on the wet pavement, however, I was on a high and I knew nothing could stop me. 

      Incidentally, this was when I had discovered my cycling glasses were safe and sound in the bag with my bionic leg, waiting for me at the finish line... ugh!  This would have been a great time to wear them...  Later that evening I noticed my eyes looked a little like road maps from the wind in my face.  Next time glasses; a must:)

      By the third rest stop, which was the lunch stop, I began to feel the effects of the constant riding, with the brutal wind in my face taking a real toll on my body, but I didn't think I had room to complain; my friends from team sitting bull were going seventy five miles both days.

       Yes, it was raining and by this point I could feel my leg becoming week, but it wasn't enough to make me quit.

          With all of the crazy things that go on between my brain and my body I have to try my best to improvise; however, the sharp screws on my pedals, which are helpful in keeping my weak leg from falling off, are the same culprits that gauged the back of my calves, causing me to almost bleed out (well, that might be an exaggeration...) when I inadvertently used my pedals to brake... oops... 

     At the time it looked like one small puncture and a chain mark, but when I actually washed all the grease off, this is what I discovered...

     Note to self... stop braking with my calf... :)

     By the last ten miles, my body felt like cement; I have plenty of muscles in my legs, but when my body gets overheated my brain stops telling my nerves to move them, and it feels like riding 54 miles having never trained at all.  

     I began making my own rest stops in between the designated ones.  I was pulling over every two miles to shake the feeling back into my arms and legs.  Before long, each mile took every ounce of strength I had, and I dreaded the next mile ahead of me.  

     But the one thing I feared more than anything, was the huge hill crossing the expressway at the end; I had no idea how I would ever get up it.  All of the strength in my legs was gone, so even walking my bike up was out of the question.

     At one point I began praying for a flat tire so the sag drivers had to haul me in and I wouldn't be a quitter; but no such luck.  

     After I had been riding all day, I could finally see that monstrous hill in the horizon.  I began to feel the fear within me.  But as I took that first half of a turn of the pedal, making my way up, the Police officer standing there directing traffic must have seen the fear in my eyes, because he put his hand on my back and ran with me half way up that hill; and then my buddy Dave pushed me the rest of the way; all while riding his own bike.  See... I knew it would somehow work out:)

     I made it over that finish line, but the only feeling I had left in my body was pain.  Laying flat on my back on the ground was all I could do until my brain and body became friends again.  At that point if you were to ask me about riding next year I would say "ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!"

          But two days later, knowing my crazy body can go back to normal in time... as long as I can, and have a riding buddy who totally gets it, you better believe... I will be back!!

Have a great day!!


Monday, June 22, 2015

We ride with MS.

     For the second year, Team leapfrog leaped across the finish line, and that 54.5 miles I rode took everything I had.  I'm sure I can vouch for the two other team leapfrog riders, Kelly and Robert who also ride with MS.  But we have to prove that anything is possible!
     This is part of team leapfrog.  Last year we had about five pictures of around 7 or 8 team members because we just couldn't round everyone up.  This year we tried extremely hard to get a huge team photo for once.  We all planned to meet at the starting point  at 6:30 and for the most part we were all there.  

     However, we just couldn't get everyone together to take the photo.  Of course, we are frogs, and it was just like trying to get thirty five frogs in a bucket without some of them getting out; so this was the largest group we managed to wrangle up at one time.

      I have a lot of stories of my crazy day, but you'll have to wait until I write it.  For now I'll just say I couldn't have made it without all of my amazing friends who rode for team leap frog; some of them I didn't even know until the ride but I'll never forget them.

     Rob Burkett had his own team in the past.  He was the one who transported our bikes so we could get to a closer starting point, making it possible for us cross the finish line when we only did the 35 mile ride. But unfortunately, he wasn't able to be a team captain this year.  I asked him to join my team, and he must really like us because now he's a leapfrog. 

     I met Mary through Robert and she and her husband Kent joined our team.  Now we're BFFs:)

     My friends Gil and Rene volunteer every year, running  around like chickens with their heads cut off to help things go smoothly.  One day I'll convince them to ride:)
     This is my new BFF Arlene; we met in Dick's sporting goods last summer.  Ironically, we were both looking for pink sox (imagine that!) and I talked her ear off; now she's on my team.  She was also a godsend when my crazy leg was totally dead at the end.

     Then of course, there's Fred; first he lets me monopolize his show, and then he put me in my place every time I whined about being dead and dreading the ten miles until the next rest stop.  I believe his exact words were "quit your whining and ride"... and I did...

     And who could forget my twin bro Reeves, from team Sitting Bull, who rode 75 miles both days and would do it a million times over just because he really cares.

     I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have so many amazing friends to help me on my mission.  And to think it all started with that one simple question... "Why can't you ride??"

Oh... I was also interviewed by Kelly Heidbreder from ABC news the morning of the ride:)

Click Interview to see it!

Have a great day!!