Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome to Wonderland

I told them readers would love this shot! Ha
I spend 2 days last week in Fruita for Trek Demo Days. It was pretty sweet, definitely a destination to go to ride. The day before we got there one of our trek reps was riding and fell and cracked the ball of his hip bone so I wasn't really sure what I'd be getting into. At the trailhead I turned to my roommate and said "I'm a little nervous, I don't want to crash." He replied, "you don't have to crash." Logic wins again. It was amusing because I did more riding in those 2 days than I have the past 3 months. It was a good nurturing environment to get back out there. I tried the Lush 29 which has larger sizing than the standard Lush and larger wheels. I definitely fit better on it than the Lush but still felt a little upright and didn't feel that it was aggressive enough but maybe that's because I wasn't being aggressive enough. I'm definitely still passive on descents but I don't think my mother is complaining. I also went on a road ride with the two Trek Demo Drivers, Josh and Erin and my roommate. I tried the new road bike the Domane which was a little bit more comfortable than the Madone line but still stiff and responsive. We only went about 90 minutes but I poked Erin's brain for a good portion on all things bikes and her job (she drives around the country teaching women to ride mountain bikes). I also got a flat which I'm glad it was only a flat because as it was happening I thought my front wheel had come lose and I was about to become roadkill. I tried 2 other mountain bikes, the Rumblefish Elite and the Superfly 100. I wasn't a fan of the Rumblefish, it seemed a little sluggish and I couldn't do a wheelie on it (which is a very important element in being able to show off to boys). The Superfly 100 is like the older brother to my bike and I didn't want to ride it because I didn't want to like it but boy oh boy did I. It was super light and super responsive and super fun. The only problem is that it's full suspension and I'm too young to be on one. I didn't crash the whole time I was there but I was climbing through a fence with barbed wire on it and my hips were sooo tight from riding my leg got stuck when I was halfway through and I jabbed it into one of the barbs, luckily someone was there to pick it off, otherwise I might have been stuck for a while. I got a nice cut and some bruising to go with it. If it's not one thing, it's another.

I got the best coffee of my life in St. Louis
I decided when I was in Fruita to go back and see my doctor. I just want to get checked out and make sure I'm still on the path to recovery. See the other day I was driving to work and missed my exit, because I couldn't remember where I needed to get off. I only drive that route almost everyday. I went to St. Louis for the weekend before Fruita and it was only when my mom called to let me know to check my debit card because there had been purchases made in Kansas and Missouri did I realize I forgot to tell her. I went to Redbox to rent a movie and forgot the movie. Now I know that these can all be chalked up to old age. The one that gets me though is I have a hard time remembering the past year. It's like I woke up thinking it was July 15, 2011 and have continued on from that date. I can't seem to get to 2012. It's like everything from July 15, 2011 to July 31, 2012 has been cut out and the time has been squished together. I do remember certain events especially when I read about them or someone mentions something but I can't place them on the time table without it feeling like it's in a dream. Wayne thinks I should just get more concussions that way I keep getting younger. I'm not expecting anything bad on the report just want to make sure it's relatively normal, maybe it's not a bad thing I forgot the past year. Ha 

Molly and Abe had a Halloween party on Friday night and they dressed up as the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter, so it was only fitting when they found a costume at the thrift store for 7 dollars for me to go as Alice. Molly and Abe go all out, it's actually really impressive and if you can make it to one of their parties you should definitely put it on your list of things to do before you die. All the big shots were there, Fred and Wilma; Mt. Dew; Breaking Amish; a Pumpkin; a Pirate; and a Gorilla (or one of the Beehlers, not Kathy or Heidi though). Saturday night my work was having a Halloween cruiser ride and the theme was Vikings (not the football team, although I did consider going as a Vikings Cheerleader). I decided it would be funny to go as a Viking Lego so spent on and off that day working on my costume but had a back up of an 80s prom queen outfit. I told one of my coworkers I wanted to be an 80s prom queen and he asked "for Halloween or just in life" I said both. I couldn't quite get the lego box to work and didn't want to half-ass it so decided to scratch it and rock the 80s so I did my hair but it just didn't feel right so I went as Alice again. I figured it was fitting because in the weeks leading up to Halloween I've been watching Alice in Wonderland and have found most days I feel like Alice. 

See in the movie the characters argue if it's "the right Alice" that has come to Wonderland, if she is after all the one that will fight the Jabberwocky. She goes through all these changes that causes discomfort and frustration she finds herself either too big or too small and struggles to maintain a normal size. She can't find logic or meaning in some of the situations she encounters and has do all these puzzles that prove to be rather meaningless or have no purpose. Most of the story takes place in Alice's dream where real world elements mix with her unconscious state. She faces pressures to conform to society's expectations but instead grows into a strong-willed, empowered heroine who decides her own fate. 

I think most 20-somethings can relate to Alice, here we are trying to figure out life and the curve balls it has thrown us which we might not ever know the logical reason for getting thrown them. Not to mention trying to figure out just what we want to do with our lives without succumbing to what we think others want us to be. I wrote down a list of all the careers I have ever thought of doing, even if just briefly and realize they only have one thing in common: Me. I'm not sure where that leads me but I'm not worried about it, since the accident I get a whole extra year of life. I also like the element of the dream state in Alice especially because it reminds me of the time when I was knocked out, minus the cat and queens, I haven't gotten quiet the same answers that Alice got...well at least not yet. So you can see why I thought it was fitting to be Alice both nights, well that and the bloomers were super comfy and when else can I get away with wearing them (except for next year when I'm Little Bo Peep).

One of the greatest pleasures of life is searching after one's own heart

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thy Will Be Done

My mom says that this is the hardest prayer to pray. It's not about what you want it's about what you need. Which when it comes to Leadville and life in general it can be a hard one. 

Two weeks ago my mom sent me an email to say my grandfather was going to be in surgery, a pretty routine surgery to remove plague from his artery. He had it done a few times before. I didn't think much of it and had a day off coming up so starting planning my first mountain bike ride. My mom called that night to tell me that surgery didn't exactly go as planned, instead of one piece of plague there were two and instead of taking an hour it took three. When he got out of surgery he suffered a stroke. It still didn't really hit me that it was bad, I've interned in hospitals and spent time in surgery wards and I have a lot of faith in the medical community. Especially because he was in a hospital when it happened so they could respond to it right away. Tuesday night I finished writing and painting my nails and had the next day off, I figured I would go ride up at Leadville because it might be the last week of nice weather. I got a call from my mom saying that they were making him comfortable, which is never what you want to hear. She said they were going to stop his dialysis, and that I should start praying that "thy will be done" because he's had a long good life and it's okay if it's his time to go. I asked her if I should come home, and she said she would never tell me not to but it was up to me. The decision weighed heavily on me to go back, I finally decided that I didn't want my last memory of him to be in the hospital, instead I would leave it with him sitting in his living room chair talking about Leadville with him. I decided to stick with my plan to go back to Leadville. 

Even with the back flexibility of Shawn Johnson this was still not comfortable
I went to ride the same route that I did the day I crashed, I knew if I didn't do it this season it would be harder to get back up there this spring, or on a bike for that matter. It's interesting though how this crash compares to the car crash, I really don't have any PTSD symptoms related to this one and I really think that it's because I have no memory of it so I'm not having to relive it every time a similar scenario happens like sometimes it does with cars. I knew I needed to tell someone where I was going but didn't want to add stress to my parents fretting about me being out there alone. I texted my roommate to tell him "I'm riding up at Columbine, if you haven't heard from me by 3 something bad happened." I rode without my Garmin and heart rate monitor and only a watch so I would know to check in by 3 but I don't want to get obsessive about numbers so figured I could do without the other things. Because my stem was bent I swapped it out but the only one I could find was a 75mm instead of my 90mm. It created quiet the neck-breaker geometry but I figured I would lower my seat on the way down this time. 

This is what did me in.....yah
"X" marks the spot!
I started riding and passed the campsite that I took shelter at on the day of the crash when it had started raining. Around the bend from that is actually where I crashed, it's embarrassing how uneventful the place is where I crashed. I didn't want to stop on the way up because it had only been about a mile so decided I would stop on the way down, this time by choice. I rode up to the top and stopped to walk around and lower my seat. I also ate a banana in case the crash was from diabetic shock (not that I'm diabetic but I've always been overly cautious of developing it, like one week in college I would wake up 2 or 3 times to pee at night and thought that I had it, I told Molly but she said to call her when I went into diabetic shock, I later realized I was just drinking an obnoxious amount of water, but still better to be safe). I started the way back down and was a little disappointed I didn't really have any flash back moments like they do in the movies (if only my life was scripted too...sigh) I stopped at the area of the crash and got off to walk around like I did in my dream. It was weirdly familiar, I sat on the log I did in my dream. I would have thought it really did happen that day but for the fact that some of the people that were in my dream have already died and some of the other people live miles away. (Kidding about the dead people being there, there was only one, but I don't think I'm crazy and I don't think I had an afterlife experience- I think my subconscious took note of my surroundings and then relayed them into my dream.

When I got done I checked in with my roommate he asked how it went, and I said good, pretty uneventful but it was good. He then asked, "Where is Columbine?" I said, "You know the place I crashed up at Leadville." Yah it's a good thing I survived- here I was trying to be responsible, next time I'll just leave GPS coordinates.

The next morning my mom was on the way to the hospital when she called to tell me my grandpa had passed on. I hadn't left for work yet so took some time to get somewhat composed (mainly wipe the makeup that had gone all over my face off) and then went off to work. My mom called me again when I was driving and told me there was a miscommunication and he wasn't dead (I'm really not sure how that gets lost in translation) by then she was at the hospital and was able to put the phone up to his ear so I could tell him I loved him. He passed on about an hour later, however, it was about another hour after that before they told me. I think they wanted to make sure it was for real this time, that's not exactly news you want to mess up....again...

I flew home 2 days later and stayed for about 5, which as horrible as it was it was nice to be with family and friends and spend some time up there. During the funeral I was sitting there thinking of all the things he had accomplished, he crammed a lot into 90 years, probably what it would take most to do in two or three lifetimes. The span of lives he touched is enormous and the legacy he leaves behind is what legends are made of. I sat there thinking I want to be like that, so I came to the conclusion that I should stop doing reckless things, so I at least have a shot at reaching 90, mainly just take up knitting, reading and the occasional crossword, nothing too crazy like Sudoku. It's one thing to die and leave your family when you're 90, but another to go when you're 23 because you crash riding your bike. I was all ready to hang up my helmets, retire from racing (haha) find a nice boy, finish my masters, and lay stake on a house with a white picket fence and call it good. After the burial we were loitering around and close to the last to leave I started walking back to the car with my mom when she put her arm around me and said "he loved hearing about all your adventures, even the ones that drove me crazy." Game on.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Leadville 2013 is on his birthday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Everyone Has Their Own Destiny, but Not Everyone Chooses To Follow it

The circus is calling!
I haven't written in a while because I keep thinking I'm going to get back on my bike so I should wait till that happens. Well it's not so the least I can do is update you on my life now that the glitter has worn off from Disneyland. I thought I would ride when I went back to my parents last week, as H-town is pretty safe traffic wise and nothing really technical mountain. But I didn't want to go out by myself, it's not that I'm worried about crashing so much I'm worried about crashing by myself again and taking another 6 years off my parents lives as a result. So the only bikes I have been on at this point is my baby bike, which I ride around at work (it compliments the tall bike well) and helps to keep my hips loose (nothing like Mary Clair's "birthing hips" but pretty good for me). And my cruiser, well actually my roommates cruiser, mostly. I have the same one but mine is pink (although I'm sure Ross from Friends would argue it's "salmon") and his is silver and has black pegs so I usually take it so people think I'm a badass even when I wear a skirt (which I've actually found why they make women's bike with slopping toptubes, so do you don't flash someone when wearing a skirt and getting off your bike, those little life lessons that are rather important). He's not riding it much so I figure why not, all I need is a fake tattoo arm sleeve to give me real street credit. 
The most BAs you've ever seen right?

I know that I'm ready to bike though, like last time when I was sitting in Russian class and heard cmertb (death) and knew it was time to get back on the bike. Only this time it was a UPS guy who set me off. See I finally ordered a helmet specifically for mountain biking, it's black and I think it will serve me well. When he walked into the store with my box I was immediately overcome with excitement, so much so that I could not contain it and skipped up to meet him. I professed "I get to ride my bike now!" he didn't exactly share my enthusiasm. I figured that was a good sign. I also switched out my stem because it was bent, which threw the handlebars off. It made me feel better that there was some damage to the bike (I'm glad it wasn't a lot) like maybe I didn't sacrifice my body to save my bike but we were in the crash together. (Is it problematic how much I humanize my bikes?) Now I just have to ride. Stay tuned...

Let me fill you in on what has happened, and then hasn't. 
I bought a new computer...and then returned it.
I started class at DU...and then dropped it. 
See I bought the new computer because with going back to school Apple had a student promo. Nothing was terribly wrong with my computer, it's a little old and it's nickname in college was Terry, because if it's not plugged into a power outsource it dies...I know sooo inappropriate (but a little funny?). But nothing really wrong. And I returned it after I dropped my class, because I felt bad getting a discount and not being a student anymore....I really can't afford to do anything that compromises my karma these days. 
The class at DU was Global Health Affairs, which I'm really interested in but it didn't sit too well that it was in the International School and I would be required to get a masters in that field while only getting the certificate in GH. After having a lack-luster major in college I want to be excited about my Masters. I actually found a program at CU in the Public Health School that I'm really excited about and applied into that to start in the spring. 

I was also a little anxious about starting class as I still have some memory lapses and have some issues speaking that I'm hoping are the result of the concussion and not the fact that I'm getting old (I'm 2 years away from being a quarter done with my life). It takes me a little longer to formulate sentences that are fluid and I put abnormally awkward pauses in that would make Mrs. Rowley cringe. The only other repercussion that has seemed to linger, well not so much linger but more enhance a problem that was already there is my complete lack of direction. I still have no idea what streets run parallel and which are perpendicular to my house. I've had to dismiss phone calls to get on google maps and then only to find out I'm 2 blocks from my house. I'm not sure that will get better, but I wouldn't be upset if it did. 

I've also been running and swimming more. I really like swimming, well more like I like it after I'm done swimming but I would recommend it to everyone. Running is good I usually stick to 30-45 minutes but I'm not really time obsessive about anything these days so I just run until I don't want to anymore. Hopefully I don't end up like Forrest Gump. I was thinking the other night when I was running how when I couldn't run, biking was there for me and when biking is on pause, running is there. Maybe one day they'll both be on and I'll do a triathlon- HA! Because we all know how well I train for running events...

You will not regret this decision.
I've also been reading more (I don't know if anything can beat a book in a park). Recently I've read "How to be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran (pronounced Cat-lin, she misread a name when she was a kid and has kept it up for 27 years, as her real name is Catherine) and while I don't think I'm much closer to landing a date after finishing it, one thing she said stuck with me. She lives her life like there is no Heaven. Not that she doesn't believe in a higher being but rather she argues we get complacent because we believe there will be another chance waiting in Heaven. To make amends with someone, to tell them how you really feel, to have a second chance. We take life more like a waiting room for the bountiful feast that awaits on the other side. What if it's not waiting wouldn't that change how you lived? If we don't do it right this time, well have a chance to fix it on the other side. I was reminded of this when I was flipping through my photos when I was backing up Terry, and I saw all the pictures from my training rides, I rode in some beautiful scenery, but I'm not sure I ever really saw it. And then I realized I get to do it all again, better this time and I didn't have to die to get my second chance. I'm a pretty lucky girl.
And I can't wait.