Birthday Bike

Well, no, it’s not my birthday. But, I have owned my fancy road bike for 5 years as of today, August 14th 2018.  This bike has been a wonderful gift that I bought for myself 5 years ago, with a little bit of money that I inherited when my mom passed. My thinking was, she’d approve, after all, she had been a physical education professor.  

I’m not one to own much stuff, tending towards minimalism. And, I’m certainly not one to think of buying much for myself. But this has been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I bought this bike in

Tahoe ride – almost done, ended with Emerald Bay climb.

preparation for what has still been my longest and highest elevation gain ride.  A `few weeks after I bought this bike, I rode around Lake Tahoe, 73 miles and 4,800 feet of gain on one ride.

 

On this bike, I’ve put in more than 12,000 miles. Most have been great, taking me to places I never thought I’d see from a bike and down many a road that formed new memories.  Some of these miles pushed my mental fortitude. This year alone, I’ve climbed up over 100,000 feet of elevation.

Wind, snow, hail, rain – epic ride up McKenzie Pass, Oregon Never been so cold.

I’ve learned that I don’t mind gravel and dirt roads. I’ve determined fire roads and single track trails are not my thing. In an ideal world, all roads would be smooth with a negative grade. I’m clearly a “roadie” and not a mountain biker like everyone else in my immediate family.  I’ve given it an honest try several times. 

From the saddle, I’ve learned it’s not about the speed I travel but the path I travel.  It’s what’s in-between that fills my soul with renewed energy. It’s the conversations with family and friends on shared rides that build stronger relationships and new friendships. The mountain passes, summits, vista’s, wildlife, sunsets, and rainstorms that fill my heart with hope. 

I’ve met many, many riders over these few years of riding.  Some have really made an impression on me. Those that have overcome injury, diseases, cancer or great losses have inspiring stories to share. Being a very slow rider myself, I’ve ridden many miles with a few men that are quite my senior.  I’ve often inquired if they have any wisdom to share about aging well. Mind you, these are men that I’ve ridden with that are well into their 80’s.  In

Then 83 years young, still riding now 87.

every case, their advice is “keep moving”. They often don’t just bike, but hike, golf, play tennis or swim.  They are movers.  And the interesting and encouraging news is, that they haven’t necessarily been active their entire life.  One gentleman that I have ridden with over several years is now 87 years young and still riding. He tells me he didn’t start riding until he was in his 60’s. One of the first rides I did with him was a two-day tour of the Sacramento River Delta, a ride of more than 120 miles.

 

I’d add that I’ve also learned from these individuals that the secret to aging well also includes eating well, spending time with friends/socializing, volunteering, reading and learning new things.

We’ve volunteered for local team road races, The Mt. Diablo Challenge Road Race to  the professional cycling race Amgen Tour Of California.

Happy birthday, bike.

August 2018 trip to the summit of “my” mountain.

It will be a hard day to ever give you up. But rumor has it, there may be an epic new ride in my future.

Head Injuries

My brothers and I have recently been discussing head injuries. Here’s a modified story that I shared with them.  I thought others might find this story entertaining. I’m fortunate in that I have not experienced significant head trauma, well, at least not that I can remember.

I can only remember hitting my head hard once and that was last summer (2017).  I had my first “real” bike crash.  A bee flew down my jersey.  I screamed and my husband who was in front of me, locked up his new disk brakes.  I clipped the back of the bike trailer and slid out, staying with the bike as they say to do.  As my helmet and head was sliding across the asphalt with my eyes inches from the ground, I actually was thinking, “wow, my helmet is doing its job, I’m not passing out!”

I had lots of road rash, and you could say my bike did too, but my carbon fiber frame was ok.  My helmet was cracked all the way through.  I laid on the asphalt for some time mentally assessing my situation with my legs entangled with my bike and my feet still clipped in.  My husband removed my bike and I continued to lay on the bike trail for a moment and then slowly moved up to assess the damage.
We were 15 miles from home.  We road slowly to a drug store to buy Neosporin, Motrin and bandages.  Then we road home, slowly. Which was probably the best thing I could do for my muscles.
My daughter brought me her race helmet the next day.
I was wearing a fairly high-end Specialized bike helmet.  Now I wear an even higher end race helmet.  I credit my helmet with absorbing the shock and preventing blackout or more.
It is also remarkable that I did not fracture anything, because up to about 2 years ago, any fall or trip and I would fracture.  I credit my celiac diagnosis to my improved bone health which for a woman at my age is truly remarkable.   As I’ve said, I have had more bone fractures then I can remember. Close to one a year.
After the crash, I had some serious contusions, a really swollen knee and a very painful sore area on my ribcage opposite the crash side.  I was told that when a racer impacts at that force a shock wave travels across the chest and can cause pain on the opposite side.  Since it did start to feel better after many days, I did not seek medical attention for a rib fracture which I had by then ruled out.
I healed and got on my bike once again.