Days of Service

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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.

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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!

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

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CUI

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

A Day in the Life

It doesn’t matter how many miles I ride or how fast I go. Just being out there is exhilarating. I usually ride on my own, solo, for hours on end. So, some of the most common questions I get are; “What goes through your head while you are riding?” “What do you think about?” “Don’t you get bored?”

I really don’t get bored. I’ve even ridden the same 4-mile or 9-mile loops over and over and it doesn’t bore me. I notice small changes happening throughout the day and think about how remarkable it is.

To give you a sense of what goes through my head, I tried to capture some thoughts as I was attempting my latest 24-hour challenge. Here goes…

6:20 am.

  • Here we go!
  • Wow, it’s still pretty dark!
  • It’s pretty cold. Glad I wore my long tights.
  • I’m kinda liking this tail wind! Oh, wait. I’ll be going into the wind in about 10 minutes. Ugh!

7:00 am.

  • I love watching the sun rise.
  • Why would you be laying on a bike/walking path, in dark clothing, doing yoga?!
  • Squirrel!
  • Oh good, the organized century riders are out on the road, not on this bike path!

8:00 am.

  • Hmm. I’m getting a little hungry.
  • Good morning! (Said to another rider.)
  • 32 miles. Not too bad.
  • Squirrel!

9:00 am.

  • There go more riders. Must be the metric century start.
  • This is like deja vu!
  • This banana tastes really good!

10:00 am.

  • Nice to see some friends out!
  • Hi Kathy.
  • Hi Penni.
  • Well crud. They are having the family fun ride of 12 miles go right along the bike path with me.
  • Should I jump out onto the road for a couple of hours?
  • This head wind out of the North is going to wear me down today!

11:00 am.

  • I think I’ll have a PBJ.
  • Ahh! Water. Time for re-fills.
  • It’s getting warm. Maybe I’ll dump my jacket after this lap.
  • No. You know if you’re thinking of taking your jacket off, go another hour.
  • On your left! No, your OTHER left! OMG!

12:00 pm.

  • OK – dumping the jacket.
  • Can’t wait for this “organized” ride to be done.
  • I think I’ve seen that person before. They must be doing some laps too.

1:00 pm.

  • I shouldn’t be riding by that restaurant all day. It smells really good.
  • Squirrel!
  • It’s a beautiful day, except for the wind!
  • I hate the wind!
  • How should I set up my activity tracker (for work).
  • Hey! That’s Aaron Comfort Dog! Hi Aaron!

2:00 pm

  • At least the wind is calming down.
  • On your left!
  • People need to pay attention while they are riding!
  • I wonder how many bottles of wine that vineyard produces.
  • I love the smell of crush!
  • Really? That restaurant is smoking meat? Yum!

3:00 pm

  • 100 miles down. I’ve got to stop stopping and chatting!

4:00 pm.

  • I can do this. My bottom isn’t even sore.
  • My quads are a bit tight. I think I’ll stop and stretch after this lap.

5:00 pm.

  • Hi Andie! Thanks for riding with me!
  • Wow! I can’t believe she’s doing this, and she’s 7 months pregnant! I don’t think I could have done this.
  • I miss Miss A. I hope she’s enjoying Rwanda.

6:00 pm.

  • This pizza tastes really good. Thanks Andie! Better not eat a lot. I’ve got many miles to go.

7:00 pm.

  • Getting Dark!
  • Time to put my high vis on.
  • Pick up the speed!
  • Hey! Yo! (Yelled at truck speeding into my path from across the road)

8:00 pm.

  • It gets chilly when the sun goes down.
  • Maybe I need my over gloves again – hands are a little cold.
  • Squirrel!

9:00 pm.

  • Huh! Not a soul out here, but me.
  • I kinda like this solitude.

You get the idea. I think about what’s out there visually. I think about what other people are doing and why they are in my way (LOL). I think about things I need to do at work. I think about my family. I think about how I feel in the moment. And, all day long, different songs go through my head. For me, things I see, smell, hear, or think about, trigger songs – mostly oldies (My goodness! When did songs from the 80’s become oldies!) or ones I listen to on K-Love.

With that said, my song of the day:

Ride on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAA – Days 11 and 12 – So Comforting

Day 11 we left Wyoming and headed into Colorado. What a great ride! Beautiful vistas and nice smooth road (a little hairy with the semis at times). I was making great time too. It looked like I would make it to Fort Collins by 2:30 pm. A nice early day (rest day)! The only problem was, we had no campsite reservation and couldn’t find anywhere with an open spot. Mr. SAG had started calling as soon as we changed routes heading into CO.

Back home, we are part of a Comfort Dog ministry team through Lutheran Church Charities. Mr. SAG is a handler for Aaron Comfort Dog and I am one of his photographers. Aaron is one of about 150 Comfort Dogs deployed around the country through LCC. Luckily for us, Cubby Comfort Dog is in Fort Collins! So our “Top Dog” helped reach out to Cubby’s “Top Dog”. We connected and were able to set up camp in their church (Redeemer Lutheran) parking lot. What a great group of people too! We met several from Cubby’s team, were able to worship with them, and went out for a wonderful dinner. It turns out that a couple of people have MS and were excited that I am raising funds for MS research and assistance through this ride.

Speaking of dinner, we nearly had a huge catastrophe! We followed Cubby’s handlers to the restaurant in the RV. About five miles out, a car pulled up beside us honking away. As soon as we heard them, we knew what it was about! My bike had just been bungee corded to the bike rack on the back so it wouldn’t fall over in the wind. It wasn’t secured for driving! Mr. SAG and I were sick all of a sudden. We stopped the RV and ran around the back to survey the damage. Nothing! The bungee cord had held the bike up enough to where it never actually touched the ground/dragged. Wow! God surely was looking out for us! Of course He was shaking His head thinking “Seriously? What’s next?” We needed Cubby Comfort Dog after that! Thank you Kathy, Denny and everyone at Redeemer Lutheran for your hospitality! God is good!

Pics of the day:

Songs of the day:

Day 12 – Onward! Nothing much exciting today except lots of rolling hills and more wind! I dealt with a 10 mph straight on headwind for most of the day. One of the toughest centuries I’ve ever ridden! And according to Mr. SAG, we were on “alien abduction highway!

Pics of the day:

And for Janice – Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

The Prologue

We are readers in my family. My daughter (the girl) is the voracious one. She reads one to two books daily and can smell a book store from miles away! Books/stories usually have a prologue. It is an opening of a story that establishes the setting and gives background details. It can also be an introductory act or event like in the Tour de France. So…fittingly, today was my prologue.

The big adventure began today. Baker Beach in San Francisco to Napa. 72.8 miles in the bag! Only 3500 more to go. Plymouth, here we come. Look out America!

The plan was changed too, of course. Most cycling mapping aps navigate from San Fran to Napa via Vallejo. To get to Vallejo, you have to take a ferry across the bay. I decided that I just couldn’t take the ferry. I had to ride! Therefore, new route.IMG_4072

Most of the route was new to me as you’ll see from the quick little backtracks at times but it was really nice when I hit Sonoma and the roads were the ones I ride all the time. I usually try to stay away from Sonoma, though, because the roads feel like you are riding the Paris-Roubaix.

The ride:

I even got a welcome home from Aaron Comfort Dog and Team Aaron!

Song of the day:

I grew up, musically speaking, in the 70’s and 80’s. My favorite band was Journey. I knew they were from San Francisco, but I didn’t know anything about that city by the bay. When I first got to California (1990), I even met Neal Schon (lead guitar)! He was just hanging out at the Sweetwater Saloon in Mill Valley. Some friends and I had gone there to listen to some local band. He chatted with us for over an hour. Cool guy!

So when I was dropped off at Baker Beach to begin the ride across America, Journey songs started going through my head. Journey. How appropriate!

Ride on!

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!

Weekend Warrior #1

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SATURDAY

It was finally dry and a bit warmer this weekend, so I was able to set out on a longer ride. California has had a lot of really cold and rainy days since Christmas. Not really whining…I am from upstate New York after all, but it has been tough to commit to longer, endurance type rides. This weekend, I set out to test the route I’ll take to head out of town in June (unless I decide to go South). It ended up being a half century that ended in Dixon, CA. I definitely could have ridden farther/longer, but I had a dinner date to get back for. You might wonder how I got back home since it was 50 miles one way. Well, I also tested my sag wagon, AKA, Ken. It worked beautifully too! He followed my progress on my tracker and knew exactly when and where I stopped. Since he went shopping for new shoes at the factory stores nearby, he picked me up with no trouble at all. More ride details can be found at 01/14/17 Ride.

People often ask if I ever enjoy the rides and stop to smell the roses so to speak. I always do! How can you not enjoy riding through the Napa Valley and surrounding areas? That’s why you’ll see plenty of photos to follow along with me. Besides, photography is one of my other hobbies. Most of the photos on my rides are just taken on my iPhone. It does a pretty decent job and they’re easy to upload. These are from my ride today…

The prison pic is for my running buddies since allegedly, I was contributing to the delinquency of a runner (since I chose to ride). CSP (California State Prison) was serendipitously on my route. The first pic is one of those that just fits in the WTF category.

SUNDAY

I rode to church this morning – a mere 8 miles – but it was cold by California standards! It was right around 40 degrees F so had to bundle up. I ran into my bud Aaron Comfort Dog . Not sure what he thought of my face mask, but I stayed warm!

Ride on!