Friday, December 31, 2010

Speed Bumps on the Road of Life

After retirement, I was just living my life without any direction. Just enjoy my retirement.

Then came along a 6 month illness that ended with a stroke caused by a failed heart valve. My doctors tell me they almost lost me. I don't even remember preparation for open heart surgery. But the ticking of the valve in my chest is a constant reminder. The first time I had to decide if I really wanted to live, and what quality of life.

Through that experience and cardiac rehab, I realized I have something to live for. I took up riding a bicycle for exercise. A year after onset of health problems, I was pedaling a bicycle. Soon, cycling was my life.

During this time, I was diagnosed with PTSD, believed to be from my service in Viet Nam. I was put on an anti-depressant.

My life refocused. With cycling, photography, and computers as the focal points, I started racking up the miles pedaling my bicycles. I started carrying a camera in the pocket of my cycling jersey. Soon, I was a fixture in the local cycling community.

Folks comment that I am an inspiration. I just want to be a better cyclist. My love for riding my bikes, brought me to giving back to the cycling community. As I found myself immersed into volunteering for the local trail groups. Started a cycling blog and added a cycling section of my web site. My cycling allowed me to kick the depression. Even started a photography business.

That brings us to 2010. At the end of 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer - Extraskelatal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma. 2010 started with a lung biopsy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. I believe the miles I spend on the bicycles last year made me stronger and better able to fight the cancer. My greatest achievement of 2010 was riding over 2000 miles, it was the 340 miles ridden during cancer treatments.

My doctors have been giving me good reports. The cancer is still there, but I can't let it drive my life. At the end of 2010, I believe I have given another lease on life. What do I do with it in 2011?

I think there are larger contributions that I can make for the cycling community and the area in general. It is in my photography arts? Spreading the word of cycling as a life style? Getting involved with wellness programs?

Since the stroke, I have been apprehensive about my public speaking. And at times, my writing can get difficult (the right words just don't pop up). This morning I caught the Charlie Rose show on PBS. He was interviewing Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen. He is battling cancer and recovering from a stroke – in the same year! Gave me the incentive to carry on, and do more.

Bring it on 2011...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of theYear

Well, I will have to settle with 2028 miles on the bikes for the year. I should have braved the wind today, but just did not have the drive. Yes, it was in the 50s here. I know others were out riding, but I called it a year.

No chance to ride tomorrow (New Year's Eve) as the weather is heading South as I am writing this (sleet and snow on the way). Forecast is for bitter cold on New Year Day.

Don't get me wrong, I am pleased with my efforts this year. After the worst winter weather in decades, a week in the hospital for biopsy, 7 1/2 weeks of radiation treatments, and 11 weeks of chemotherapy, I was able to ride 340 miles during the period.

To celebrate getting though the treatments, I treated myself with a new bike - my first road bike. Ended up with logging over 1000 miles on the new bike this year. Not much dirt riding at home, Lake Manawa trails were under water most of the year. Enjoyed some awesome dirt riding in Wisconsin and S. Carolina.

So, I am ready to close the book on 2010...

2011, bring it on!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Photo Blog

Tom's new Photo Blog. Photos, equipment, locations, processes.

Check it out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Snow Ride of the Season

I was getting antsy yesterday. Some of my cycling friends were riding in the snow at Manawa. My "snow bike" was in the shop for new chain and cassette, changing tires to studs, and swapping pedals (clipless to combo), so I was not able to ride with them. The bike was done late in the afternoon, a bit envious that I had not been able to ride with them. (OK, I could have, it meant a full suspension bike but no studs.)

After Sunday Coffee, I was ready for a ride. Put together a winter, snow riding kit and headed to Lake Manawa with the Hardtail.

Once again, it was like learning to ride again! Took it easy to get used to the snow trail. Started with West Sidewinder. Then both trails on the West side. Finally, ended up with East Sidewinder. That was enough for the first snow ride of the season.

It may sound like it was a wimpy ride (4+ miles in about 50 minutes) but that was enough for today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Miles Not Accumulating Very Fast

Its December. Living in Iowa, we are happy for any decent riding weather we get. Have to take advantage of days like yesterday - mid 40s, mostly sunny, and a slight breeze from the West.

I headed into town for a bike ride. Parked near Xtreme Wheels. Rode my "Tour de Bluffs" route. Logged another 22.6 miles.

The Missouri River seems to continue dropping. Good news, we don't want more flooded trails. I need to air the tires in the Fuel EX7 to checkout the trail at Lake Manawa.

Along Veterans Memorial Highway (Iowa Rt 92), the trail blocked. Construction company boring a horizontal hole under the roadway. Looks they may be at this for a while. Take care when riding this short section off trail.

Stopped in at the Trails Center - restroom, sign guest book, mid-ride refreshments. Restrooms are few and far between in the winter. On the "Tour" the portable facilities are removed for the winter at the Wabash Trace Trailhead Park and Big Lake. That leaves me the Trails Center (but don't count on it on Mondays and holidays) and the bike shop.

Over the last week, I finished writing my Christmas Letter. It is starting to show up in e-mails. Over the weekend snail mail. Normal breakfasts and coffees. And the first Christmas Party of the season - Thanks Roxzanne and Ryan.

See if my legs want to ride this afternoon. Then its Second Friday Art Tour in Council Bluffs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Made it - 2000 Miles

The last 2 1/2 weeks has been rough for me --- no bike rides. Yesterday, I finally broke the streak.

Sunny day, temperature in the low 40s, but a bit windy from the North. Forecast is that the weather will be going down the tubes over the next week. Had to ride.

Headed out from Xtreme Wheels North to Big Lake. The photo above is my road bike on the marshland observation bridge at Big Lake. Continued riding Iowa Riverfront Trail to the Western Historic Trails Center.

Being it Thursday, Jam and Bread was in full swing. I stopped for a granola bar and bottle of G2.

The new paving on the Western Historic Trail is completed. When I got to Indian Creek Trail, I had a decision - South to Lake Manawa or North back into town. Since I needed 22 miles to make my 2000 miles for the year, I opted for the ride down to Manawa.

The Missouri River level has continued to drop - great to see that.

By now, the wind seemed to pick up. Just in time for my ride into the wind. I grabbed a shot block to suck on, and headed North. Since I had forgot to bring the heart monitor, I took it easy. The climb up the bridge on Harry Langdon was brutal. Once I dropped down to South Ave, I know I had it without bonking, with some legs left (but not much).

Relaxed a little at the bike shop and headed home. Mission Accomplished - 2002 miles for the year! Nothing like the 3355 miles I ended up last year, but a good effort with the weather, floods, and treatments.