Friday, October 31, 2014

It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

     I think mother nature is as fickle any typical woman, because as soon as you think she's gonna move on to winter, she drops another nice day on you.

     Remember last week when I went to Wildwood Park and the place was a ghost town??  My car was the only one in the parking lot.   What a difference a week can make,  look at the lot now.  Motorists are waiting for a spot.

      I planned on checking out the completion of the bike trail as one of my two last bucket list items for the summer.  But the other day it was freezing and starting to rain, so it didn't happen. The other item on my list is Sterling Park in Monroe, Michigan (which I still plan to make it there, even if I have to put snow blades on my bike).

     Last Monday started out 34 degrees and I was dressed in long sleeves, long pants and a fleece vest. I was ready for winter.  But by mid afternoon the temperature shot up to 78. I was dressed entirely too warm for the outdoors but I couldn't pass up this great weather.  

     I already made plans to hit my last park later this week and I had my winter gear ready for that.  It looked like my plans would change because I was going on a bike ride today...

     I didn't have time for the Sterling Park trail, which would have completed my list, but this was my chance to cross off the last trip to check for the completion of the University Parks Trail; and if you know me I don't give up on any goals. 

     But when I got to the park leading to the trail I changed my mind, because I was also curious about the bridge inside the park.  After being under construction all summer I wondered if it was completed as well.

     As you can see this park is ready to pack it up for the season; the leaves are all dried up and the once vibrant colors have left them.

     When I made my way to the bridge I was amazed to see it was completed.  I had never been on this before and I was thinking it was merely a little covered bridge. 

 To my surprise it was like a boardwalk going over the Ottawa River.

     The bridge went on for what seemed like miles, and it was soon obvious why it took all summer to complete.

     It turned out to be a great day for a bike ride, though I saw a lot more people walking than riding.  They must have retired their bikes for the winter.

     Remember, I never give up on anything and I knew I just had to check out the bike trail one last time to cross it off my list, so I left the park and headed to the trail.

     As you can see I actually found some leaves that still had color after all.

     Would you believe the trail still wasn't completed??  I guess the line painters changed their mind too.  Looks like it'll have to wait until spring...

     Mother nature may change her mind from day to day, but when I set goals, the only thing that might change is the route.  Sterling Park here I come...

Have a great weekend!!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What did I do!?!?! Let me tell you...

     It's funny that I've been walking around with a limp for years and for the most part onlookers put on their spandex and become "captain obvious".  A common comment would be "HEY, you're limping!!" 

     With my new brace the questions become just that; questions.  People seem to be more interested in my war story than being informants that something is wrong. Of course "captain obvious" still lurks in the wings because now a comment I hear quite often is " That can't be comfortable..."

     When I first went into work with my new bionic leg one of my co workers, Dan, took one look and said "WHAT HAPPENED?!?!"  Seven years of working there and he now asks what happened??  he knows I have MS but I guess he thought I was really down on my luck because I was also run over by a truck...

     I told you I wanted to bling up my bionic leg in pink, and maybe the pink distraction will take away from people asking me what happened, and revert the question after seeing my creative art work to "WHAT DID YOU DO?!?"

    Hey, people get tattoos all the time and those are permanent.  I actually considered getting a pink frog tattoo, but then I reconsidered.  This is less radical;) (of course I haven't totally written off the frog tattoo...)

     After a little more thinking I decided what I needed to do was brand it like designers do.  If I was going to have a label it would certainly be pink and definitely be a frog, so I need to brand it with a pink frog.  Think of it as a tattoo without the needles; lord knows, I have plenty of those already.  

     I'm not gonna lie... this double combo of the nerve zapper and bionic leg is by no means comfortable in any way shape or form, and in the beginning the two together caused a gigantic dark purple bruise, and I had no idea what the outcome of this was going to be, or if my leg would even live...(okay, maybe a little too much drama...). 

     After some adjustments the bruising is finally almost gone, though the discomfort lingers on...  but I'm up right and stable and I'll pay any price for that! Of course, I need a distraction to take my mind off of the pain and a visual distraction seemed to be the best kind.

     The great thing about knowing a lot of people is you have a lot of talent to choose from. So I have a friend creating a stencil of my pink frog right now, and when that is done I can paint the pink frog on my bionic leg.  

     If you know me you can imagine I want it now.  But if you know me you also know I want to do it right.  I'll let you know how it's going soon.  But for now just know, this thing's a keeper;)

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Pearson Park; It's a park, so it must have bike trails...

    So it was actually a very nice Saturday afternoon in late October, which doesn't happen very often, and I just had to get out and ride.  However, the rest of the world seems to be in automobile mode by now, so if I wanted to ride, I was on my own.  

     I wanted to explore someplace I haven't been to before, and Pearson Park is one I haven't been to in "forever"; at least before the days I cared about bike trails.  Now, I certainly didn't remember what it was like, or if there were even any bike trails in that park.  In fact I was told it isn't really a bike friendly park at all; but what exactly do they mean by "bike friendly"??  I can make friends with anyone, so it should be easy to make friends with the park.

     It was a bit of a drive just to get there, but I needed new blood, so I was up for the road trip.

     When I got to the park I noticed all of the roads were one way, and the opposite side was the bike lane.  

This was interesting that they reserved half of the road for bikes.  I soon figured out why they did this...

     This was the bike trail, and it does not look bike friendly at all.  There was no way I was going on that , especially on a "road bike", and I'll bet not many others wanted to either.

     I'm sure the park administration figured it was a lot less work to put up "one way" and "bike lane" signs, then it was to pave the awful gravel trail.

     I didn't have a problem sharing the street with the motorists, but the problem came in when the wind from the vehicles blew the leaves into the bike lane.  If the leaves weren't challenging enough, buried beneath them were a million acorns.  Blindly running over random acorns with thin tires and feeling the pop was enough to give a person a mild heart attack.

  However, it wasn't enough to make me end my ride, because it was a beautiful day and gorgeous park.

  I did get off my bike and admire the breathtaking view of the  pond for a while; I sometimes forget my bike's not attached to me...

     But soon I was back on my bike and exploring a park I had forgotten all about.  I came across a playground I had played on as a child, and while the rickety old swings I remembered were still intact, they had added some space age equipment, including our team mascot; Mr. frog:)

     While I was taking a picture of the cute little (or huge) frog, I noticed there was a man sitting on a bench watching his grandsons play.  I asked him if he would snap a quick picture for me and then I had to follow it with some idle chit chat telling him what I'm doing so he didn't think I was a total nut case (of course I may have just confirmed it...). We briefly reminisced about the park in it's early years and I was back on my way.

     It's funny, my mom and I were just talking about how the leaves haven't started to fall yet, and it's almost November.  Suddenly I feel like I'm in a blizzard of falling leaves.

     On my ride I think I saw leaves in every color of the rainbow, but my favorite was when I got back to my car and noticed these pink leaves.  Pink is not what leaves are supposed to turn, but I really think they were put there just for me;)

     To the person who said Pearson Park isn't bike friendly, I say "well, I just made it my new friend that day!"

Have a great day!


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!!