I live in Napa, CA. On Sunday, October 8, 2017, some of the fiercest wildfires in history broke out on one of our mountainsides. It quickly spread due to unprecedented winds gusting to 60-70 mph. Napa and several surrounding counties, Sonoma, Solano, Lake, and Mendocino have suffered unimaginable losses of human life, animal life, property, and livelihood. Luckily, my family was spared. Sadly, many whom we know, were not.
In the face of this devastation, I have also seen incomparable kindness, love, compassion, volunteerism and generosity. Napa will survive!
I had the opportunity, due to a work commitment, at the end of this week of fire, to visit one of my favorite places. I fell in love with Pacific Grove when I arrived in California 27 years ago. It is all together beautiful, energizing and peaceful. After a week filled with smoke, anxiety, and unknowing, it proved to be all that and more. I had thrown my bike in the back of my SUV before leaving home, just in case. It turns out that we had almost a full free day on Saturday, so of course, I rode. I was off before most of the tourists were even awake. I took in the sunrise, and I rode along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline one can imagine. 50 miles and 4 hours later, I felt renewed.
And just as the lone cypress is resilient against the odds, so too will be Napa. We will recover. We will love and help each other. We will move forward. We are #Napastrong!
Song of the day:
Does it take courage for me to cycle 100 miles? No. It does not. Does it take courage to cycle 200 miles? No. It does not. Does it take courage to cycle 3500 miles? No. It does not. All it really takes is a bit of fitness and mental
It takes courage to stand up and fight against cancer.
It takes courage to live with and fight against MS.
It takes courage to fight and win against leukemia.
It takes courage to stare down Parkinson’s Disease and keep riding.
It takes courage to fight diabetes, heart disease, ALS, chronic pain, depression and so many more of life’s medical challenges.
Since I can ride, and enjoy doing so, I feel privileged to be able to help others fight by raising awareness and funding for their causes. Yesterday, I had a special opportunity to bring awareness to Pediatric Cancer research. I challenged myself to ride for 24 hours to highlight the need and raise some funds. I didn’t quite make the 24 hours due to a flat that I didn’t have the courage to change in the cold and dark, but we were able to raise over $1000.00 in honor of a special person who lost her battle with cancer 3 years ago, while starting a full on war. Molly W. had way more courage than I could ever hope to have. The ride wasn’t a total loss either. I rode over 200 miles (35 after fixing the flat in the morning), and I had fun with friends who came out in support to run or ride for a bit.
Pics of the day:
Song of the day:
I was blessed this week to be part of an ‘IncredibLLS’ team that walked to light the night to raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma research. We raised our lanterns to honor those we have lost and to celebrate those who have survived.
I walked because I lost a dear friend to leukemia several years ago. Gail was a PT I worked with in the first clinic I worked at in California. We were in a small space and our office and treatment areas were cramped, but if you ask any one of us who worked there, it was the best place we ever practiced, because of the people. Gail was part of that team and she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.
I walked because Danielle fought bravely and survived her battle with leukemia. She taught us all what true faith is and how to face struggles head on with no holds barred.
I walked because I could. And I’m proud to be part of a team that raised over $5000.00 for leukemia and lymphoma research.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Song of the day:
Next up: I’ll be riding for 24 hours next Saturday (September 23) to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. You are welcome to donate by going to this site: https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/MicheleArnold
What is courage?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Ernest Hemingway defined courage as “grace under pressure”.
Winston Churchill stated, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”
And according to Maya Angelou, “Courage is the most important of the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
I learned what courage is from a seventeen year old girl. Molly Widner lived life to the fullest and without fear despite having a diagnosis of cancer at such a young age. She fought bravely and showed us all what courage looks like in the flesh. Molly died three years ago but not before showing the rest of us how to live.
Molly died in part because she had a rare cancer and there just wasn’t enough research that told her doctors how to treat it in a young patient. Only 4% of research dollars is directed toward pediatric cancer research. It’s time to change that. Don’t get me wrong. All cancer research is important. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and on September 16, I’ll be walking with Team IncredibLLS in the Light the Night Walk
to support blood cancer research. I know plenty of people who have survived various forms of cancer and many who have not, including my mom. I know how impactful a diagnosis and treatment can be. And I know we are all hopeful for a cure. But when cancer strikes a child, it absolutely breaks my heart.
September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. One of the things I’ll be doing to help raise awareness and funds is a 24-hour cycling challenge in Molly’s name. On September 23, I will be riding a nine mile loop along the upper part of Napa’s Vine Trail for 24 hours to see just how many miles I can ride. You can join me too. Come and ride a loop or two and I will try and keep up! If you would like to donate and have your dollars directed specifically toward pediatric cancer research, my link for The Great Cycle Challenge
is live. Great Cycle Challenge USA is a national Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF)
fundraising initiative. I participated in this event in 2016 and 2017. Rides are uploaded throughout June, but donations are accepted any time. They are a great organization with one goal: end childhood cancer. I’m giving a dollar for every mile I ride on the 23rd. I am hoping to do a triple century – I’ve never done that before. I hope I have the courage!
I had a great time riding in the Tour de Fox – Wine Country event this weekend! I rode the “petite” 10-mile route. For me, that’s usually a warm up. After all, I’ve ridden 36 centuries this year. Those 10-miles were some of the most gratifying I’ve ridden, though.
The Tour de Fox is a ride to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Disease research and I was privileged to ride along side a friend who has early onset of the disease. She has been riding for a few months now to prep for this ride which had a couple of pretty good hills in it. Her goal at first was to just finish alive. Check! Once she gained confidence, the goal changed to finishing in an hour. She actually finished with a personal best on the route of just over 53 minutes! Check! So proud of her!
As usually is around these parts, it was a perfect morning to ride. It started out chilly, made it to the mid seventies by ride time and hit the high eighties by the end. Good thing we finished when we did too. The temperature rose to over 100 degrees F by mid-afternoon. Ugh!
The event raised over $600,000 for Parkinson’s research! Happy to play a small part.
Next up? I am planning to do a now annual, 24-hour challenge. I guess 2 years in a row makes it annual. Right? I participated in the Great Cycle Challenge 2017, which targets pediatric cancer, when I did my cross-country ride in June. It ran concurrently with my Bike the US for MS efforts since it is a virtual ride that automatically tracks your miles. I didn’t talk about it too much because my main cause was MS research. I did raise $1000. for GCC, though. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month so in 3 weeks, I will be continuing with GCC and co-sponsoring the first ever Molly Widner Courage Ride to raise funds and awareness for Pediatric Cancer Research. Only 4% of all cancer research dollars are directed towards pediatric cancers and it’s my hope to increase that. You’ll hear more about the ride coming up.
Today, though, we celebrate Pam and her team P-Cubed…Pamela’s Parkinson Pack!
Song of the day:
Hi again – I get to relax in the RV on the way back to California, so I am taking some time to reflect on my month of cycling across our great country. I hope you had fun tagging along and getting a glimpse into what it was like. The following are some retrospective thoughts about the experience.
- Start – Finish: San Francisco, California to Plymouth, Massachusetts
- Days Riding – 32.5 plus prologue
- Rest days – 0
- Miles – 3569
- Most miles in one day – 146.5 (Austin, NV to Ely, NV)
- Feet climbed – 102,450
- Highest point – 8062 feet (Colorado)
- Most feet elevation gained in one day – 8288
- Number of states touched – 16
- CA, NV, UT, WY, CO, NE, IA, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, MA, CT, RI (ended back in MA)
- Dogs giving chase – 36
- Dog deterrent air horn used – 4x
- Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Comfort Dogs met – 12
- Aaron (send off from home), Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Gracie, Shami (early morning send off in Illinois), Barnabas, Anna, Lydia, Obadiah – And they are all looking out for us on the way home!
- Mechanical Issues – SAG Actual got really good at fixing/maintain things!
- Flat Tires – 5 (I had one the day before the last ride – slow leak found at camp)
- Brake pads replaced – 1 set
- Rearview mirror replaced – 1
- Chain dirt and grime cleaned – daily
- Times caught in rain – 3
- Highest temperature on road – 104.6 degrees (according to Garmin)
- Weight lost – 12 lbs.
- I have a GREAT SAG Team!
- The sweet spot for riding is between 6 and 10 am.
- I don’t like riding in the wind (especially head wind)!
- I don’t like rumble strips!
- I am directionally challenged.
- Biggest Surprise – that I liked Nebraska
- I have the best supportive friends ever!
- Best ride – day 15 – Gothenburg to Grand Island, NE – nice smooth road, flat, slight tail wind, moderate temperature (100 miles in under 6 hours).
- Hardest ride – day 12 – Fort Collins, CO to Sterling, CO (103 miles) – lots of wind!
- Prettiest scenery – California for awe inspiring, dramatic views and New York for absolute, serene beauty.
- Best barns – Iowa
- Friendliest state – Nebraska
- Best RV Park – Streetsboro, OH KOA (and then Dayton Ohio KOA after the ride)
- Best bike path – Des Moines, IA
- Best road – Route 6 in IL from Marseilles to Joliet
- Worst road – Service and frontage road along Union Pacific Railway West Wendover, NV to Salt Lake City, UT
- Coolest experience – riding along prancing Antelope on the way to Laramie, WY
- Dogs love to chase bikes.
- This was a one and done adventure.
- The vastness of this country is incredible.
- Riding across the country 100 miles at a time was easier than I thought and harder than I imagined (hard to explain).
- When I asked for a sign along the way…
- You get to take a new road/go in a new direction only at the top of a hill – never happens at the bottom – you must climb first!
- Descents are the best!!! (This is what it was like coming down from Spooner Pass)
- Scoobert is a dog that is too big for an RV!
- Reconnecting with friends and family is great! Don’t wait to do it.
- Downshift before you stop. No, really. Downshift BEFORE you stop!
- America is not flat (except for parts of Nebraska)
- Even Iowa has hills, lot’s of hills!
- My faith in humanity has been made stronger.
- There are a lot of good people out there!
- Respect the checklist! We learned early on that I needed a checklist to make sure I remembered everything. I forgot things every day! (Things forgotten: tail light, Camelbak, sunglasses, food, sunscreen, helmet, more…)
- Respect the SAG team! They have a different vantage point and are extremely helpful!
- Cycling gets you a great tan. LOL
This is likely my last post for a while. There will be more adventures/goals coming up and I may write about them as well, but I’m pretty sure nothing will be as epic as this one was! Apparently, this is the end of the path for now. 😉
God is good! Ride on!
It started as a dream about 30 years ago and after a nice 32 mile ride this morning, I made it across the country to dip my tires in the Atlantic Ocean! My sisters, SAG Actual, and SAG1 (their preferred names now) were there to greet me and record it for the history books! So cool!
I did get within site of the ocean first on a bike path, so I stopped to have a personal moment and take a few selfies. 🙂
Then it was on to Plymouth Rock and the dip in the Atlantic!
Obadiah Comfort Dog caught up to us to extend congratulations too!
Back in Latham, NY, my sister hosted a congratulatory cook out. I was so fortunate to re-connect with another high school pal, Terri!
And our cousins who read about the adventure in the Times Telegram came too! And they brought home made half moons too so they are definitely OK in my book!
The SAG team is just happy they no longer have to move in 20-50 mile increments!
Other pics of the day:
Song of the day:
Stay tuned for a few reflections on the month of riding, and then it will be on to the next adventure! 🙂