Every mile, every dollar, every prayer


The summer season is just a few weeks away, and in our house, that means the "biking season" is upon us. I've caught the biking bug lately, and people's reactions have been interesting, from surprise (since I've never been much of an athlete), to concern (Don't overdo it now! Watch out for those crazy drivers!), to cheerleading (Way to go, girl!). They've also been curious, and often ask what brought this on.

Tom and I have always loved biking, and rode often in the early years of our marriage. I simply took about 25 years off to have and raise my children. Now that they are nearly all grown and gone, I find myself with time to bike again. And, since Tom has recently become obsessed with biking, I figured it was the only way I could continue to spend time with my husband. Besides that, he encourages me to come along, knowing that a little exercise might keep me on this earth with him a little longer. As for safety, we wear our helmets and bright clothes, and turn on our flashing taillights.

For those who can't believe I'm putting in 25-, 35-, and even the occasional 50-mile rides, I tell them my secret: Take. It. Slow.

Last year, I started out with a couple of 5 mile rides in April. Yep. That's it. 5 miles. They took me about a half-hour each.  In May, I was up to 10 miles, but only rode about 5 times (it was a busy month with graduation and wedding prep!). By June, my average ride was around 14 miles, so by the time we went on vacation to Minnesota I was able to tackle my first longer rides, completing 24- and 52-milers. The rest of the summer and fall was a combination of shorter and longer jaunts, as time and energy allowed. Those shorts and longs eventually added up to 49 rides and 684 miles for 2015. Not bad for a newbie.

In August of the previous summer (2014), while I was healing from rotator cuff surgery necessitated by a pretty bad fall off my bike, if someone had told me I'd ride 684 miles the following summer, I would have said "yeah, right...ha!" Well, not only did I do it, I lived to blog about it!

Don't get me wrong. It's not always "as easy as riding a bike."  Like earlier this spring, when I forgot my secret of TAKING. IT. SLOW. For our 28th anniversary in April, I wanted to ride 28 meaningful miles with Tom. It was torture! (UNlike our marriage, I might add.) My body was not yet ready...my legs, hips and back were cramping up, and my butt...well it wasn't too happy either. I learned my own lesson the hard way, and went back to 7-, 12-, and 15-mile rides for a few weeks. Then today, I rode 28 miles for the South Bend "Mayor's Ride" without much trouble. What a difference a little conditioning makes!

But this blog post is not just about the miles. It's also about feeling good. Having more energy. Not getting winded by climbing the stairs when I go to bed at night, and sometimes actually feeling like I have a little spring in my step. And desiring (yes, I said desiring) to exercise, rather than dreading it.

I wish I could also say this post is about losing weight, but so far that has eluded me. I'm convinced it's because muscle weighs more than fat and I guess I'm still gaining muscle! But hopefully the weight loss will come eventually. Even if it doesn't, as long as I'm enjoying it, feeling good, and putting in my time (recent studies say we should all get 150 minutes a week) for that dreaded "E-word,"...I'll keep it up!

I would challenge any of you to find a healthy passion, and do the same. And speaking of challenge, let me get to the real point of this post. I've signed up for the "Great Cycle Challenge" and will be riding to fight kids' cancer in June! My goal is 200 miles for the month (as part of my 1000-mile annual goal for 2016).

So now, this blog post is not just about the miles and the good feeling. And it's not just about biking anymore. It's about a terrible disease that comes in many different forms, and is the #1 killer of children in the United States. 38 kids die each week from childhood cancer. I just can't wrap my head around that number. And although we hear so often about cancer research, the disparity between the National Cancer Institute's adult cancer research budget (96%) and childhood cancer research budget (4%) is terribly sad. If you are into shocking numbers, check out these sobering statistics. 

I'm taking on this challenge, and riding to fight kids' cancer, because I know one of these kids. Okay, he's a young adult, but since Morgan grew up with my boys, he'll always be a "kid" to me. And he's got an evil pediatric cancer with a big name that I only know as DSRCT, that, because it's a pediatric cancer, falls into the minuscule-research-dollars category. This beast is robbing him and his young wife of ordinary life. He's got dreams. His wife has dreams. His parents have always had dreams for him too. Just like the parents of the 38 kids who died this week.

So will you help me fight? There are several ways you can.

Encourage me in my riding. Although I'm loving it, there are still days when I don't feel like getting out of my comfy chair and into the saddle.

Give a donation to the Great Cycle Challenge. (Click the link to go to my fundraising page.) Give hope to a child. Give hope to a family. Give hope to Morgan, to his wife, Christina, and his parents, Marv and Linda. (Note: Feel free to donate to Tom, Korynne, or anyone else on the Mojobo team...it all goes to the same great cause!)

And pray. Please, please pray for a cure for childhood cancers. Pray that Morgan's recent round of radiation and next round of chemo will get every last cell of DSRCT out of his body...AND that it won't find its way back in.

With every mile, for every dollar, and for every prayer...I thank you.