Friday, July 29, 2016

Ever wonder what it's like to ride your bike on the interstate? I sure came close!

     Well, I found a new trail in my area, which wasn't easy.  I've been on every trail within a sixty mile radius (or so I thought).  This trail, I discovered on my way up to IKEA, with my daughter and the grandbabies.  However, as a passenger, and due to idle chit chat, I lost track of how far we had been driving when I spotted it out the passenger side window, while we were traveling on Interstate 275.  Ironically, when I researched it later, I found the name to be "I 275 trail". Go figure... who came up with that clever name?!  It actually begins at Heinz Park, In Michigan, and that was where I hoped to find the starting point.

     When I ventured back up with my riding buddy, Robert, looking for the trail, what I remembered as being a quick jaunt over the state line, ended up being about an hour drive... oops...

     We never found signs for Heinz Park, but we did see the the bike trail as it ran through a rest stop off the highway; and that would be where we would begin our ride.

     As a kid, I used to love these rest stops!  All I remember was, there were usually snack machines inside, and of course, one could only hope one day my parents would cave and let us actually put coins in them... at least we were able to pick up all the "free" brochures, advertising the area attractions, our little hearts desired!! 
     Well, I wasn't looking for any free brochures, or snack machines, so I never made it inside this day...

     This bike rack would indicate that there must be someplace locally to pick up this trail, other than riding down the highway.  Maybe we'll find it eventually...

     When I researched this trail it was noted that parts of it were extremely noisy, due to the adjacent freeway traffic.  They were absolutely right! 
     The noise surely had to go down as soon as we found Heinz Park...
     But not before riding under the highway...
     It looks like somebody had a little time on their hands...

     YES!! Pink flowers! You know I live for them:)
Finally!  This looks more like it!  We were soon going to be riding in a park, rather than next to the freeway!

     Maybe not... Come on!!  A gravel trail!?!?!  Not with my road bike!!  Not in a million years would I ride on that with my skinny tires.  Sky dive, yes...  but gravel trails absolutely freak me out!

     So it was back to the noisy freeway for us.  Yes, it was loud, but at least I wouldn't be picking little pieces of gravel out of my "road rash" covered body, which was certain to be the case if I wiped out on that freaky gravel trail!  I wasn't in the mood for that!! Not today...

     Now I have one more trail to add to my list of "probably not again".  But I did learn that just because you see a bike trail from the highway doesn't mean you want to ride on it.

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 22, 2016

I thought it was a family bike ride; turns out we were chasing Pokemon!

     Last weekend I actually went on three bike rides, though one trail was new to me, so I took many pictures and planned to share them with you.

     However, the third ride absolutely blew my mind, and I just had to tell you why.

     My collage age daughter, Lindsay, was in town for a few days and the night before, she and her brother, Matt, were out "catching Pokemon".  I know by now everyone has heard of this new fad, and I am at a huge loss as to why this crazy obsession is so big.  But at least they were getting out, and spending quality family time, so I didn't ask questions.

     The next morning Lindsay asked me if I wanted to go on a roller blade/ bike ride at the park with her and Matt.  How cool was this!?!  Not only are two of my "20 something" kids hanging out together, but they wanted to invite me along!

     So we piled in the car and started heading to Maumee Bay State Park.  I really enjoy riding my bike there and it was a bonus to be spending time riding with my kids.  It wasn't long before Lindsay said "Mom, slow down here!" I was wondering if I was being a lead foot, and she was looking out for our safety.  The two then began to stare into their phones while one says "there's one right by that hotel!".  Are you kidding me!?!?  I jokingly asked Lindsay if they only invited me along so I could drive while they catch Pokemon.  She replied "No, but it is a perk!!"

     So a short while later, after capturing several of these make believe creatures, we arrived at the park.  And I'll admit, it was a great day for a ride! 
     The park was packed with people flying kites for some kind of event, obviously having to do with kites:)

     As we ventured out, I began soaking up the amazing beauty right in front of us.  I asked Matt and Lindsay which way they wanted to go, and Matt pointed and said "this way...".  Okay, I didn't care where we rode, it was just nice to be spending time with my family.  But it wasn't long before we found ourselves parked at a picnic table.  Can you guess why...?

     Yep, it turns out this park was infested with those sneaky little varmints.  So I waited for them to finish whatever it is they were doing... and said "okay, why don't we start riding:)".  Matt says "lets go down this hill".  Of course, I love a good down hill ride!  We soon made or way to the bottom of this hill, were we found ourselves in front of an amphitheater.
     Matt informs Lindsay that this is a "Pokemon station".  (a what?!?!?)  So then the two of them plant themselves on a bench, noses buried in their phones...

     Isn't this nice!? My two kids sitting on a park bench "together"!

     They eventually got a little closer, but I was here for a bike ride, and I told them I was going to ride by the lake and they could catch up with me as soon as their creatures "hatched", "finished working out at the "gym" or whatever it is they do...
     Seriously!?!?!  Look what I found down by the lake!!  It was like something straight out of the twilight zone.  grown adult, "twenty somethings", everywhere, with their faces planted in their phones.  I know these young adults were living the whole Pokemon craze as kids, and maybe it's just a happy walk down memory lane.  But I still don't get it.

          Look at this gorgeous sky!!  Why were they looking at their phones!?  Ya know how you usually say "on your  left" as you pass others on a bike trail... Well, these people were so oblivious, that I found myself saying "heads up, pick a side, or hello... coming through!!"  Oddly enough, I did actually see one guy "talking" on his Phone.  I was tempted to say " What are you doing wasting your battery on a phone call!?!? Don't you know there are Pokemon everywhere, just waiting to be caught!?!"

     Matt and Lindsay finally met up with me, but those little caricatures were right there with us.  I asked Lindsay what the prize was for this "game", she replied "Bragging rights!!".  Well, now it all makes sense!!!  At the end of the day, at least we got to spend some time together.  

      It was kind of comical to see this picture Lindsay posted on Facebook, with the caption "At Maumee Bay State Park with Christine and Matt, rollerblading and biking!"  I guess if we all fit in one picture, then it must have been true:)  Of course, I'm not sure, but I might have been in a different time zone...

     I guess I still consider myself lucky to have spent some "quality" time with my kids, in the great out doors... even if Pokemon had to join us:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 15, 2016

I only talk when I'm not sleeping:)

     My mother taught me if I had nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. I must be full of nice things to say:)

     Okay, I spent the first half of my adult life pretending I'm normal, and now I'm trying convince you that I'm anything but... One thing is for sure, it's a whole lot easier being who I am, even if it's not the norm.

     Most would look at all of the things they can no longer do and feel cheated.  I look at all the things I never thought to do, but now I'm anxious to give them a try.  

      I was getting my oil changed last weekend and a random gentleman asked me about my brace (nothing new there...), when I told him all the things I've forced myself to try because of it, he commented that I won't have anything left for my bucket list.  Isn't that the point??  And besides, I'll just make the list longer!!

     But the one thing I haven't lost is my voice!  I mean, my motivation to tell my story to every single person who asks.  My poor friends must be sick of it, but to someone new, somehow my story seems to give us both power.  

     I write my life story as I see it in my head, and it changes daily.  Ironically, I'm not a writer; I'm a talker!  So I write how I talk and think.  

         My story has been shared a few times; for one, the National MS society's Denim and Diamonds...

     And Team CSX used it at their Spaghetti dinner and fundraiser, which raised around ten grand for the MS bike to the bay.

     Eventually my buddy Reeves convinced me to actually ride, and prove different isn't a bad thing. For the record, my legs might disagree... but that's okay! I'm stubborn:)

        My bike is merely a platform for my words.

        Incidentally, some of of those people who shared my story were soon on my team:)
          And besides, how am I supposed to get on Fred's show if I'm not riding??  We could talk about the weather, but bike trails just seem more interesting.

     But then a few of my big brother riders agreed that  telling my story ten times a day to every individual I make eye contact with probably isn't the best way to get my story out (not to mention they probably heard it in their sleep). I needed to first get someone who actually writes, to tell it.  

     So I was interviewed by Laurence Mitchel, who then wrote my back story, the way he perceived it.  I must be an open book, because he was spot on! Check it out!!
On - line:

     And then Mary Helen Darah, who is a free lance writer saw this photo (the one on the top) I posted on facebook from the Bike to the Bay, and asked if she could put it in the Sylvania Advantage Newspaper (it looks like we were within inches of one of us being decapitated to fit in the photo...).  Incidentally, she also asked to interview me, and now she is writing my story as well!!  I'll gladly let them write it; my hope is that one day I will be a public/motivational speaker!  And just as I ride, because right now I can... I talk for that same reason.

     So I guess the moral to my story is... If life presents us with a "story", it's up to us to tell it!!  

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 8, 2016

I didn't "bike to the bay"; I flew!!

     So by now you're well aware that I rode my bike all 55 miles, and crossed that finish line in Port Clinton.  But I have a confession to make... I didn't do it on my own.  Sure, my feet never left those pedals, but there were times I seriously wondered who was making them move.

     Like last year, the beginning of the ride seemed to go rather smoothly. But after my huge struggle to finish last year, my riding buddies, Keith, Maryann and Dave were there to make sure I did things different this time. I knew all too well that as my body got over heated and dehydrated was when everything would start to fall apart.
     Right out of the gate I knew this wasn't a race, and when I began to see a big gap between my peeps, myself, and the group ahead of us, it didn't bother me one bit.

     At first, I was a little confused, because these two white motorcycles appeared at every intersection.  The nice ladies riding them made sure the traffic waited for us to cross and then we continued on.
     It wasn't long before I noticed the same two ladies had become our "motorcade" for the entire ride.  There were only four of us in a group of around seven hundred, yet they hung with us like flies on fly paper.  One of the motorcycles had a pink wheel, no less!! Co incidence... I think not...

     This year I planned to take my time at the rest stops as well as hydrate, so my body could go back to "normal" (my normal).
    And every time the four of us left the rest stop to journey on, I would look in my helmet mirror and see Renee or Karen, our guardian angels, one behind us and one at the next intersection, waiting to stop traffic.
     Ironically, at first I thought there were several ladies that all looked alike...

     As the day went on, I noticed my body was beginning to feel heavier and heavier, but I knew If I just paced myself I would eventually see that finish line.  Not a stop went buy that I didn't get off, but I'm not gonna lie... I was wishing it was the finish line every time.  In fact, several times I jokingly asked if it was:)

    As we left one particular rest stop, just as I was starting to regret riding again, I noticed my gaggle of peeps had gone from 4 to 5 of us.  

     A random rider had decided to join us and asked me If I minded.  Of course my answer as always was "the more the merrier!!"
     My thoughts of "why did I ride again this year" were soon faded when my new riding buddy and I began to have a random  conversation about why we ride.  When I told him I ride because I have MS and right now I can, his eyes lit up!  He  said "wait until I post on facebook that I rode with someone who actually has MS!" Almost as if I was a rare breed:) But it was that moment when my 300 pound body (metaphorically speaking) seemed to go from cement to "Iron Woman".  Now I had to make it!

     However, at one point my random friend and I had to part ways, because his 75 mile route took a different path.  But not without leaving me with a natural high that would see me clear until the next rest stop.  And believe me, it did not look close; but I knew somehow I would make it.

          People always rave about the rolling hills going through the beautiful farm country of Northwest Ohio.  I'll admit It is absolutely beautiful... by car... but on a bike, I could sure do without those hills.  Luckily, one of my teammates, Dave, had every intention of being my power pack when my right leg quit working.  Oh, don't get me wrong; he made sure I pedaled, but his arm just replaced my week leg.
     This picture below was a very bitter sweet moment for me.  I could see that last hill going over the turnpike, which would be the very last hill I would climb before I would glide that last mile to the finish line. This was very sweet indeed.  But I also remembered last year it was brutal and it wasn't without help that I made it to the top.

     But the real panic set in as I felt my leg at this point was numb, and my "power pack" buddy was what seemed like miles ahead of me.  I could either speed up and hope that he would be next to me when I needed that push, or pray he eventually slowed down to wait for me.  My body said pray...

     Of course, right as I approached that worst hill of the ride, Dave was right there ready to rocket me to the top.
     So we practically glided that last mile, and I finally did it!  I crossed that finish line!

     I know this may not be what a super hero looks like; instead of a cape, I have my brace and nerve zapper.  But that day, along with all of my side kicks, I sure felt like one:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 1, 2016

The frogs Leaped over that finish line!! And we made a great team!!

     Well the day of the bike to the bay was finally here. And my cousin, Keith, from Florida had flown all the way up here to ride on my team.  (His arms had to be very tired...) No, of course, he went by plane:)  His kindness was overwhelming;  and he was only the first of many of kind friends to go above and beyond to help raise money for MS.  We live in a very kind world:)

      Though I had been anticipating this ride for an entire year, I'm not gonna lie, the memories of the brutal pain and physical exhaustion from last year's ride were beginning to come back to me.  I remember my body felt like cement. Yes, I was smiling on the outside, though, inside I was really praying this year would be less painful then the last.

     But Last year I did it all wrong.  This year I had a plan.  On my last ride I just wanted to get to the finish line fast and be done; so I didn't take the time my body needed to get back in the game.

     My hands, last year, were completely numb for the last ten miles of the ride.  I had to stop and shake the feeling back into them about every mile.  My poor riding buddies were forced to stop as well.  But they were true saints; they didn't mind one bit. And a friend had suggested gloves with more padding for the ride this year and I gladly took his advise.

     And another thing, last year my brain had long stopped communicating with my poor little legs, giving me the feeling of pushing the pedal around with a twenty pound bag of potatoes. Of course, that was my own fault.  I should know by now when my body gets over heated the two go to war.

     So here we are; Team leapfrog!  We managed to wrangle up quite a group for the photo this year:)

       It's very humbling to know all these awesome people are riding for me, and all of those who want to see that MS monster kicked to the curb.
       When I first arrived, Jennifer, from the National MS Society asked me if I minded being interviewed by Channel 13 local news.  Hello!!! She had to know what the answer would be.  I have a good story to tell, and all I need is a platform to tell it.
     As you can see in the background, the local station: I Heart Radio, was there as well.  I just love how the community comes together for this cause. 

     I'm sure you have to know wasn't lacking for words!

These are two of my peeps, Maryann and Dave, who were by my side every step of the way last year; and along with my cousin, Keith, I knew this year we would do just fine.
You'll notice there were a lot of riders anxiously waiting to start this ride.
I knew better to get in front of them; I waited until the speed demons took off before we would file in behind them. 
     Now all we needed was the official start, and we were on our way to another great ride.

      A few words from Kelly Hiedbreder at ABC news, and we would be off.

     This is just the start of my story.  I have too many pictures to share and more to say than you have time to read right now, I'm sure.  So check back next week to see how we did on our journey to the bay!!

Have a great day!!