If my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d forget that too!

Head On

It’s a weird thing. I am very absent minded. Once something gets to my long term memory banks, though, I never forget it. Ask anyone who really knows me. I never forget birthdays, obscure anniversary dates, phone numbers, names, words that were spoken, treatments rendered, etc. I can still see doodles on pages of my Anatomy class notes. The problem is, it has to get there because my short term memory seems to be for naught. I can’t remember five things I was supposed to pick up at the store. I can’t remember to bring a book to a friend. I can’t remember my purse when we leave a restaurant. A year from now though, I’ll be able to tell you what was on my shopping list, or what page I read something interesting on, or what I ordered in the restaurant.

It’s funny. When I rode my bike in the eighty’s I never worried about remembering anything. We didn’t have cell phones. I had a small, first generation cycle computer that told me my speed and distance and started automatically. I didn’t really think about safety (I was in my twenties after all) so I didn’t have lights or safety vests or reflectors and what not. I did wear a helmet. Today though, is a totally different story. I have a satellite tracker (to keep my husband and friends happy). I have a fancy Garmin cycle computer that has info about everything, including maps. I have lights on the front and back of the bike. I have reflective bands. I have multiple water bottles. I have repair tools/kits. I have a cell phone and ear buds – yes I do occasionally like to listen to low volume music in one ear. I probably have other things that I’m forgetting.

That brings me to checklists. Checklists are great. And I’ve decided I pretty much need one (or two) for my bike. Otherwise, I forget to charge the aforementioned equipment. I forget to bring one thing or another. I forget to turn the lights on or I forget to turn them off when I’m done for the day.  And it goes on. Checklists are part of my life too, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before now. I am a private pilot and you use checklists before/during every flight. I help my husband who teaches CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and checklists are a big part of being prepared for and responding to disasters. I work in healthcare where checklists are used routinely to make sure the right patients are receiving the right treatments. I even make out a weekly grocery list these days.

And so, for peace of mind, I have created my bicycling checklists. I have one (would you believe it) for take off and landing (start up/shut down of various electronics). And I have one of things I should bring along when I’m planning to be 50 or more miles away from home base.

Now if only I could remember to check the checklist!

Ride on!

Spring at Last, Spring at Last, Spring at Last!

Well, the days are finally showing more consistent signs of Spring and I was able to get a nice leisurely 40-miler in this morning. It’s hard though. I want to stop everywhere and take pictures. I did manage to get a few in.

I hope this is a good sign for nice weather in the upcoming weeks. Getting soggy isn’t bad but it is getting a bit old. It’s been good training though. I’m pretty sure I will run into some rain somewhere this June.

Link to more detail on today’s ride – if you’re interested.

Cheers to higher mileage weeks!  Ride on!



First Day of Spring…Ha!

Today marked the first day of Spring. I’ve been living in California for 27 years now and I don’t ever remember a year when it rained so much in March, much less the first day of Spring. Mind you, I grew up in upstate New York where this weather would be welcomed. I went to college in Buffalo where we seemed to have precipitation 300 days/year (actual average is 93 days). And I worked in the Chicago area where the wind chilled you to the bone – so I’m not exactly a weather weenie. But come on! I have to get my mileage up. Counting today, I figure I have about 72 days left to get my act together if I’m going to make it across America.

So, I went out and rode. Got a quick 20 in after work. A bit soggy, but not nearly as cold as it was in December! An added plus was that it was at least still light out. Looks like this week will bring more of the same. Good thing I won’t likely melt!IMG_3667

Ride on!

Why do we fall?

I recently saw the The Lego Batman Movie. I have to say, it’s my new favorite! If you haven’t seen it, go. You will have fun! It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes too (even though it’s from a different Batman movie):

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” (Thomas Wayne – Batman Begins).

We all fall at times. It’s what we do about it that builds our character. I tried to instill this notion in my daughter as she was growing up. Hopefully it had something to do with the wonderful person she has become. She turns 20 this week – officially an adult – even though she rails against that thought most of the time. Has she ever fallen? Sure. She has fallen both literally and figuratively. She fell when I toppled her from the snow sled when she was two. She toppled when I had her take the training wheels off her bike when she was five. And she fell many more times that had nothing to do with me. Every time she did, though, she bounced up and yelled “I’m OK!” She “fell” when she wasn’t put in the game, or wasn’t given a part in the play or didn’t get the A or didn’t get to go Around the World. Every time, though, she bounced back and tried again.

She got put in the game and helped seal the win.Cheers

She got to be the main character in one of her favorite stories.15980420955_9574afa4df_z

She got many A’s and received a presidential scholarship for college.

And she applied again, and next year will be participating in the Concordia University – Irvine’s Around the World semester program.IMG_2323

Unknowingly, my daughter has taught me a lot about what you do when you fall. She has been one of my main supporters and motivators along my journey back to me and moving forward to achieve a long held goal of riding across the country on my bike.

It took a while, but for me, it was about not staying down in the pit of poor health habits. I had to climb out little by little, step by step to recover who I wanted to be. I learned to enjoy exercise and in particular, cycling again. I learned to have a healthy relationship with food and lost the weight that plagued me for years. I learned that I could trust people in the dental profession and allowed them to recapture my smile. I learned to practice what I preached – you have to pick yourself up after you fall. And it feels good!

Ready to ride on!



Progress. You’ve got to love it! When I was born, titanium dental implants didn’t even exist. When I was in elementary school, CT scans weren’t available. When I was in high school, MRI’s were just starting to be used. And coronary stents weren’t deployed until after I became a physical therapist. Heck, even personal computers and the internet weren’t around until a few decades ago. I had to use a typewriter to write my research thesis in college! Progress. I do love progress.

Progress is defined as forward or onward movement toward a destination. Synonyms include advance, breakthrough, growth, headway, improvement, and journey. I hope that progress defines my year.

I hope to advance toward my goals. Later this year, June to be exact, I hope to ride my bike across America. I even hope to ride at least 100 miles per day (about 40 consecutive centuries). I will be raising funds to help end multiple sclerosis (MS) along the way through Bike the US for MS.

I hope to breakthrough the wind. Headwind has always been my nemesis. I curse it as I ride. Some days the wind can be so strong, it feels like you are standing still. I’ve learned to pedal at a higher cadence (about 90 RPM) and ride in the drops which really do help you cut through the wind easier.

I hope to make headway with many things and show some growth. I happen to be on vacation in San Diego this week. A little spring break with our daughter. I’ve learned here that I have made some headway in terms of fitness improvement and that makes me happy. The leading photo for this blog is of the screen on a treadmill at the Worldmark where we are staying. Anyone looking at it might think it’s a great slow/average run. I think progress! When we were here a year ago, I had trouble maintaining a 4-mile per hour pace. Now that feels like a fast walk. When we were here a year ago, I watched from the cliff top while others discovered what was in the tide pools. This year, I had my own adventure.

I hope that I improve as a cyclist and as a person. And I hope to discover many exciting things yet to be revealed on my journey.

Ride on!

Dentistry and Cycling

What does dentistry have to do with cycling? For some, maybe nothing. For me, everything!

My journey essentially began a few years ago with a trip to the dentist. I’m convinced that God led me there.

Have your ever heard the story/joke about the very religious man who once was caught in rising floodwaters? He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbor came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in, and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God, and I’m sure he will save me.”

A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in, and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God, and I’m sure he will save me.”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder, and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God, and I’m sure he will save me.”

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise until soon they reached above the roof, and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven, he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. But you never got in.”  Source: unknown.

I think that’s how it was with my dental health. I had a very negative experience with a dentist as a child, and I could never go back – for forty plus years. I knew I should see a dentist but couldn’t go. I knew I had cavities, but couldn’t go. I knew I had rampant periodontitis, but I couldn’t go. I knew I had loose teeth, but couldn’t go. I could deal with my teeth myself, and God would keep me healthy. I had pain and other issues over the years that would come and go. When the problems resolved on their own, I decided I didn’t need treatment. My friends referred me to their dentists, and my husband tried to introduce me to his (and my daughter’s). I couldn’t go. I even tossed Christmas cards into the trash that were from “the dentist” so I wouldn’t have to know anything about him.  I didn’t go until my dog accidentally head butted me and knocked a tooth nearly out of my mouth. I think that was God’s way of telling me “See, my child, I sent you a dentist. Thankfully, you finally accepted!” I was led to the kindest, most professional and to me, most talented person who would end up turning my life around.

I’ve learned recently from my friends and pastoral leaders at St. John’s Lutheran that we have Kairos moments (times that God is at work in us) throughout our life’s journey. They are opportunities to think about what God is saying to us and then decide what we are going to do about them – how are we going to move forward?

In this case, I decided He wanted me to reclaim the health and fitness levels of my 25-year-old self and then start to share stories so others might benefit as well. For people to be interested in your stories, you have to do something interesting – like ride across America on your bike. So here I am.

It turns out that cycling is linked more to dentistry than I ever imagined. If left unchecked, prolonged bacterial build up in your mouth will negatively impact how your whole body functions and performs. Advanced dental erosion has been implicated in many diseases, such as osteoporosis, pneumonia, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Long, hard training for days, weeks and years can leave your immune system stressed. Add to this an increased bacterial load in the mouth and your immune system struggles to keep up with demand.

There are two big reasons why endurance athletes are at increased risk for dental erosion: consuming sugary sports drinks and foods, and heavy mouth breathing. Frequent small sips of sports drink or other sugars while training spares muscle glycogen, but negatively impacts your teeth.  Luckily, I don’t usually consume sports drinks – never have. Sugar consumption increases acid producing bacteria that begins the cascade of potential problems.  Most sports drinks also contain phosphoric or citric acid which further erodes tooth enamel. Heavy mouth breathing (now that’s me) during endurance training leads to dry mouth that reduces saliva flow giving bacteria a bigger opportunity to grow and thrive. Dry mouth combined with sugary sports nutrition exacerbates the potential harm.

So, don’t follow my path on this one. I encourage you to take care of your teeth. You will improve your training, health, and performance. And be mindful of your Kairos moments. What is God saying to you? And what are you going to do about it?

Ride on!


*photo credit: unknown