Awareness

The Cambridge Dictionary defines awareness as:

nounUK /əˈweə.nəs/ US /əˈwer.nəs/

Knowledge that something exists, or understanding of a situation or subject at the present time based on information or experience.

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Great Cycle Challenge

Today I am taking a short break from my quest to bring awareness to the needs of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) patients and research to raise it for a variety of other causes. Most of these have crossed paths with my life in one way or another. What is daunting is there are so many that create unwanted change and heartache for too many. What is daunting is that God uses so many opportunities to show us how to have faith, love for one another, and to grow.

Today starts the sign up for The Great Cycle Challenge 2017. I participated in this event for the first time last year, and as a promise to someone who has inspired me, I will be riding to raise funds for cancer research, specifically for children, once again in 2017. This will actually run concurrently with my ride across America in June (this one’s a virtual ride), so I am pretty sure I will meet the mileage goal. Molly Widner is someone who left this earth way too early but in her short time here, she was a huge model of faith and courage and has left an indelible mark.  This one’s for her!Molly

If MS or pediatric cancer aren’t your thing, there are so many other organizations who need your help. About 8 months ago, I rode my bike 10 miles every hour for 24 hours and called out one every hour. If you missed it, here are some of my favorites.

Great Cycle Challenge 2017 – for Molly

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – for Danielle

American Heart Association – For Dad

American Cancer Society – For Mom

Pink Heals – Napa Valley – For Jennie

Neurofibramatosis Network – For Tom and Laura

The Pathway Home

Wounded Warrior Project

Lutheran Church Charities – Comfort Dogs

Make a Wish

Compassion International

Napa Humane Society

Samaritan’s Purse

American Diabetes Association

Lutheran World Relief

Fisher House Foundation

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Of course there’s always… Bike the US for MS

 

And another option to make a difference…other folks raising funds for good causes:

Napa Valley Community Connections – Mentorship program for at-risk youth – Go April!

Milan’s Medical Fund – Feel better Milan!

Organ Donation Awareness Run – Go Penni!

American Heart Association Cycle Nation Event – Go KP and Andi!

Best Buddies Challenge – Go Shaully!

Avon 39 – Walk to End Breast Cancer – Go Cathleen!

 

After all the heavy heartedness of looking into these, you can relax or feel comfy by connecting to any one or all of these if it moves you:

Victoria Bartelt, Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant – Pamper yourself

Lucky Guy Bakery – Yummy post ride (or anytime) snacks.

LuLa Roe – Comfy clothes

One Beaded Sister – Good looking jewelry

Irwin Family Vineyards – My new favorite…The Bull

And save the date…April 18. I will be partnering with the Hop Creek Pub to host a dine and donate benefitting Bike the Us for MS.

Thank you for being good humans!

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!

 

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

Good Humans #1

One of the things that has fueled my love of cycling over the years is having experiences that remind me that there is a lot of good in humanity. I was intending/hoping to write about them as I cross America later this year but last week this notion was jump started for me and I have to share it!

While I was riding my half century through the back roads of Fairfield, Vacaville and Dixon, somehow, I lost my Fitbit when the band apparently broke.  Mind you, I was not one to readily jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon in the first place so I might not have cared that it was gone. Last year though, Fitbit issued their Blaze model. I liked the look of it (I have to be somewhat stylish, after all) and I needed a replacement watch so on the bandwagon I jumped. It has helped me increase my activity throughout the day, keeps me on time for things, gives me alerts from my phone and gives me information about my fitness level that I never knew I’d be interested in. So when I lost it, I was actually sad. I figured it was gone forever. Even if someone found it, they would have a nice, fairly new, fitness tracker to use. Here’s where the story gets good…

Earlier in the day, my nephew needed my help with something and he texted me. His phone number was not programmed in my phone to show his name, so it just came through as a number. Jump to that evening when he texted me again saying that someone texted him that a Fitbit was found with that number in the alert history. I then texted the number explaining that I had lost a Fitbit earlier in the day while riding over in Solano County. The person who found it and texted us was more than happy to return it to me, saying that it was still in great condition (minus half a band). We exchanged information and it turned out that we both work in healthcare. Tom J. is a pharmacist in Fairfield, where I happen to work a few times a week (for a different organization). We met up and the Fitbit is back on my wrist!

I’ve seen some of the best and some of the worst of humanity out there and Tom J. definitely goes in the column with the best. My heart is full.

Ride on!