Success or Failure?

I set out a few days ago to attempt an Everesting (Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. I did not succeed – this time. Mark my word, though, I will be back! This was one of my chosen personal challenges. It’s a challenge because it isn’t easy. This one, I found out, is freaking hard and I’ve got more work to do! I’ve given myself challenges before that took several attempts before I achieved them and so too it will be with this one.

As my daughter, “the girl” pointed out, I may not have conquered Everest, but I did climb the height of Mt. Whitney (the mountain in the photo), so I’ve now ridden the Continental US both horizontally and vertically! I’ll take that for now. Thanks to her always positive perspective, I’m reminded that success and failure are relative terms.IMG_3443

My many successes from the ride:

  1. Elevation gained: 14,567 feet
  2. Distance: 122.29 miles (another century in the books!)
  3. Burned almost 9700 calories.
  4. Rode 115 repeats of the same hill and did not get bored.
  5. Kept my current expected pace of about 1000 feet/hour – just had too much unexpected down time.
  6. Brought new awareness to the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry
  7. Raised $1200.+ for the Comfort Dogs
  8. Made some new friends
  9. Provided a good connecting activity for Team Aaron Comfort Dog
  10. Was able to keep my recording equipment charged.
  11. Had lots of love and support from near and far.
  12. Got a really cool custom jersey.Comfort Dog Jersey

What I learned:

  1. My husband is still THE BEST. He even earned a new title: SAG-E (Support and Gear- Elevated) for his always superior and unquestioning support. Who else would get up at 4:00 am to cook a hot breakfast and bring it to me at the base of the hill?SAG1.jpg
  2. I can do this, I just need much more work on my quads/gluts and climbing speed. (More HIITs and weights, here I come).
  3. When you injure your hip and foot in a crash on July 4, it might not be a good idea to commit to a major challenge two months later.
  4. There is a lot of crap in the air that we don’t necessarily see! Check out what my headlight picked up. I didn’t notice any of it (except the biting bugs!)

     

My hats off with so much respect for all those who have successfully Everested!  I still hope to join you some day. 🙂

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

 

All In

Everesting – Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.

That is my next challenge. Looking to attempt it Labor Day weekend.

Why? That’s the first question people typically ask. Well, I’ve always been someone to do things all or none, all in or not at all, and to test and push my limits. If you can hold your breath under water for 30 seconds, see if you can do it for a minute, then for however long (Good test for other things if you know what I mean, DR-O!) If you can make 25 baskets (basketball) in a row, go for 50, then 100, then more. If you can ride 25 miles, go for 50, then 100, then 200, then ride across America! And the beat goes on.

I didn’t have a “challenge ride” planned this year. I decided I wouldn’t ask Mr. SAG to support me on any out of town, long rides.  After all, he gave up half his summer last year to do just that.  I figured this year was for him to decide on vacation preferences, and I didn’t think it would involve an RV or a bike! But, alas, me being me, I suppose the challenge idea was always there in the back of my mind. And once I heard about Everesting a few years ago, it has been calling my name.

I’ve also learned that the fitness benefit of cycling alone, does not motivate me. I’ve ridden substantially fewer miles this year since I had no pressing goal out there driving me – until the last 2 months. It turns out I need to have a challenge in mind and commit to it and it really helps if I tie it to a specific cause or need (purpose). I fit nice and neatly into what research says about motivation.

So, Everesting it is. This weekend! I’ve picked a relatively small hill to ride (average 5% grade, half mile long/mile lap). I picked it because it is fairly close to home so Mr. SAG won’t need to hang out there all day (he’ll want to), it doesn’t have a lot of traffic, and the grade is reasonable enough where even I may be able to sustain multiple repeats (about 250). I’m not a climber, so this is definitely going to be a challenge! Mentally too, I suppose.

Henry Hill

For the cause part, I decided that since the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs were there for me with encouragement, food, shelter, and comfort/comic relief across the country last year, that I would support them this year. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is near and dear to my heart. I am a handler on team Aaron Comfort Dog who is on staff at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Napa, CA. He is one of over 120 Affiliate Comfort Dogs deployed by Lutheran Church Charities out of Northbrook, IL. They bring comfort to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, first responders, and families in need on a regular basis. And they deploy to areas having suffered tragic events whenever requested. They have been present after horrific school and other shootings, floods, fires, hurricanes, etc. They are often able to bring just a moment of happiness/normalcy to those who are hurting and it is a blessing to be a part of that. They never charge to go anywhere, but they do incur travel and living expenses, so I dedicate this ride to them and am raising funds to help them continue their good work. If you would like to help out, you can give directly through LCC, a church with a Comfort Dog on staff, or through this link to my Facebook fund raiser. 

320D76C5-00F1-4A4C-AB9A-123A9C4916B5

Check out Aaron and friends at work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hilary

Say a prayer or two for me this weekend! Whether I succeed or fall short, you can bet the farm that I will do it ALL IN!

Ride on!

 

Days of Service

img_2985

Taking a break from my fitness adventures to tell you about a special trip and a different cause that is near and dear to me.

Just ahead of Martin Luther King Junior Day – a day of service, I had a great opportunity to deploy to So Cal with my friends Aaron Comfort Dog and Jennie. We were able to visit with so many people, bringing comfort and joy through this wonderful ministry.

IMG_7892

Aaron is one of many Lutheran Church Charities’ LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, who are stationed and deploy all around the country to bring comfort in times of need. I am blessed to be one of his photographers and soon to be handler.

On the way down south, we met Andy, who moved to Bakersfield, but previously worked with Aaron’s friend Katie Comfort Dog and team. I met them in Nebraska when I cycled across America. Talk about connections!

IMG_7799

We even got to visit Concordia University – Irvine where the girl has returned to study after her semester around the world (#CUIATW).

IMG_7818

 

CUI

IMG_8009

The visit to Southern California was requested by Maeson, who is student teaching at Christ Lutheran School in Costa Mesa. We visited kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. Maeson was teaching about how to be loving and compassionate to others so they even role played with Aaron, which was a lot of fun and very heart warming.

IMG_7874

IMG_7888

IMG_8085

IMG_8022

Serendipitously, we met people who were celebrating birthdays, and who wouldn’t want hugs from Aaron Comfort Dog on their special day? Happy Birthday RuthE!

img_7944

As a special treat, we visited the ocean at Huntington Beach – a fabulous reprieve from the fog and gloom we’ve been experiencing this week (normal this time of year in my neck of the woods). Of course we got to run around and play too!

IMG_7965

IMG_7917

IMG_7925

IMG_8026

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and motivating to get myself back out into God’s country to run and ride and soak it all in!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

MAA – Epilogue – Reflections on a Month of Cycling Across America

 

 

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.

TRIP STATS

  • Start – Finish: San Francisco, California to Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Days Riding – 32.5 plus prologue
  • Rest days – 0
  • Miles – 3569IMG_5704
  • 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 – 8288IMG_4236
  • 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)IMG_5837
  • Dogs giving chase – 36
    • Dog deterrent air horn used – 4xIMG_5428
  • 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!IMG_5827
  • 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 – dailyIMG_5306
  • Times caught in rain – 3
  • Highest temperature on road – 104.6 degrees (according to Garmin)
  • Weight lost – 12 lbs.

OBSERVATIONS/LEARNINGS

  • I have a GREAT SAG Team!DSC01816
  • The sweet spot for riding is between 6 and 10 am.DSC01655
  • I don’t like riding in the wind (especially head wind)!
  • I don’t like rumble strips!IMG_4364
  • I am directionally challenged.
  • Biggest Surprise – that I liked Nebraska
  • I have the best supportive friends ever!IMG_5834IMG_5836
  • Best ride – day 15 – Gothenburg to Grand Island, NE – nice smooth road, flat, slight tail wind, moderate temperature (100 miles in under 6 hours).DSC01407
  • 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.IMG_4298DSC01738
  • Best barns – IowaDSC01552
  • 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 DSC01174Wendover, 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.DSC01133
  • 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!IMG_4345
  • Reconnecting with friends and family is great! Don’t wait to do it.IMG_5711
  • Downshift before you stop. No, really. Downshift BEFORE you stop!
  • America is not flat (except for parts of Nebraska)DSC01206
  • 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!IMG_5344
  • 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…)Checklist
  • Respect the SAG team! They have a different vantage point and are extremely helpful!IMG_5051
  • Cycling gets you a great tan. LOLIMG_5726

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. 😉IMG_5080

God is good! Ride on!

 

 

MAA – Day 32 – Solo Ride?

Day 32 – a ride across Massachusetts – pretty, but HUMID! I found it as tough to climb in the humidity as it was at higher altitudes. I even dipped my toe, so to speak, in Connecticut and Rhode Island. CT was for about two minutes – literally. It was only for about a half mile. Rhode Island was a little longer – maybe an hour! But, I rode into them, so they are part of the history of this journey. 🙂 Rhode Island didn’t have a welcome sign, or any sign for that matter. When I entered, the sign was covered because of road construction. And when I left, there were no signs. I’ll improvise.

 

When we got into the campground – which is FULL for July 4th weekend – we had a great visit from Lydia Comfort Dog and her team of which I am now an honorary member!

 

This adventure is almost done. So has it been a solo ride? I may be the only one out on the road on a bike, but I certainly haven’t been riding alone!

Out there with me:

God – Soli Deo Gloria! – I’m pretty sure He intervened a few times (or at least one of His angels did)!

The SAG Team – I absolutely could not have done this without them! If I had tried, it would have been really, really, really, really hard! And it would not have been nearly as enjoyable!

SAG Base – Christy K back at home who connected us with all of the Comfort Dog Teams along the way and made sure we had shelter everywhere and kept the SAG Team sane.

LCC Comfort Dog Teams – Aaron, Cubby, Moses, Eddie, Joy, Katie, Barnabas, Gracie*, Shami*, Anna, Lydia, and soon to meet, Obadiah. You were there at the right time, every time providing comfort, shelter, food and friendship!

Tom J – The one who kick started my journey by pulling me back into good health and inspiring me with stories of his own adventures trekking through the Sierras.

Jena T – Always there with a smile, positive attitude, encouragement and interest.

My St. John’s Lutheran family who supported, encouraged and prayed every step of the way.

My KP staff, Sharon and Theresa who made me laugh and held down the fort.

Andrea, Aka. East Coast Support Crew Leader – and my sister who happens to have MS and inspired this ride to be so much more than just a bucket list check off.

Penni and Jennie – My cross training buds who motivate me to get across those state lines. It’s all about the bling – and so much more!

Felix who makes me feel like a lucky guy!

Kathy W, who tried desperately to implant songs in my head.

Everyone following along and commenting/liking posts or just sending good vibes.

All of the Good Humans I’ve met along the way.

Everyone who has donated to the cause.

Everyone following who has MS (or other). I ride because they can’t.

So thanks for coming along! It has helped me more than you know!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

* 7/6/17- Addendum – I almost forgot Shami and Gracie! How could I?  😦  Shami drove an hour to greet me at 7 am to make sure I had a great day! Thanks Shami! Love you and Toni! 🙂 And Gracie got us through the hail storm in Iowa!

MAA – Day 24 – Wetness Abounds

I’ve always been one to not start riding if it’s raining, but if I get caught in it, it’s OK, I just keep going. When I started out this morning, it was not raining, but within five minutes it was a different story. So, I dug out my rain jacket, and onward! It stayed with a pretty mild to moderate rainfall for about four hours. And then off and on for the rest of the day. Mr. SAG was happy when I asked him to use the shoe dryers again tonight. 🙂

One of the benefits of riding a bike across the country is that you don’t miss much. You don’t have to do Batman turns when you see a roadside stand. You just slow down and coast right in. Many that I’ve seen are like this one – honor system. I got some honey and maple syrup today (love a little in oatmeal). IMG_5171

I even made it to the destination a little early today. The SAG Team was happy – they got to make an unexpected side trip to check out Fort Meigs. It is the largest reconstructed wooden-walled fort in the nation and helped secure the Great Lakes region during the War of 1812.

Anna Comfort Dog came by the campsite tonight. Well her team did. Anna was actually working – providing comfort to a needing family. Linda and Charn represented, though, and they made me an honorary team member just like Katie Comfort Dog did. Anna is Katie’s sister after all. This really is becoming a Comfort Dog tour. The network is incredible!

Scoobert thought he would step in but it didn’t quite work out. He was very distracted.

Other pics of the day:

I did reach Ohio today. And if you haven’t noticed, some good friends gave me a lanyard with a #micheleacrossamerica medal and state pins to add every time I reach a new one. Well, when I got to the Ohio sign, it was raining and windy, so I just did a quick pic and moved on. About ten miles down the road, I noticed I still had the lanyard on! All I could picture was some old athlete riding around with his/her medals on and this tune popped in my head…

So, song of the day lol:

MAA – Day 22 – Comfort from Dawn ‘Till Dusk

Short post today…

I made it to Indiana! This is the area where I really cut my teeth on long distance cycling. I can’t tell you how many times I rode from Hammond to South Bend and back. It was our century training ride (with Dave N). We would ride it nearly every Saturday and Sunday – March/April to October (depended on when the snow hit). We would push to make the time shorter and shorter, or race certain segments. We got the hundred miles down to under four hours at one point! Not happening today! 🙂IMG_5088

This post is short because I also got to hang out with my college roomie again last night. She told all kinds of stories about our college days. I told Ms. SAG that most of them must have been made up – it couldn’t have been me she was referring to! lol! Fun times, though! She even made/brought us dinner! How cool was that! Thanks Deb!!DSC01611

Aside from getting to city traffic yesterday which was more nerve wracking than any day I’ve ridden thus far, I had Comfort Dog visits to see me off, and welcome me to camp! Sure was great seeing Shami and Barnabas! They calm the nerves so well! Scoobert thinks he’s a comfort dog in training! Ha!

Other pics of the day:

Song of the day (since I’m back in John Cougar territory):

Ride on!