Monday, August 18, 2008

Announcing...

OK, if you know me outside the virtual world, in what we old-timers like to call the real world, then you've heard me brag about the fantastic compliments from my teammates. Well, I think I already bragged about it in the virtual world too.

I think I've said this before too... it's my blog, I can write what I want.

So anyway, one of my super cool teammates, Rob, (don't read me wrong, they're all fantabulous rock stars!)... anyway, Rob, has loaned me his precious Penn State baseball cap. It's to be my daily reminder that one of my top goals right now is to purchase a road bike. Believe me, I don't need a daily reminder, but I certainly enjoy it.


Over to the right... that's Rob and me at the end of RAGBRAI 08 getting our picture taken in front of the Mighty Mississippi, with me wearing the PSU road bike hat.

See that nice hybrid bike that has taken me across the state and more in the last 4 years? It is named Shadowfax. Instead of being redundant again, I'll just point out that the explanation for this bike's name is in a prior post. So let's move on to the main point here... I name my vehicles.

The bike pictured... Shadowfax, so that I could imagine that I'm fast. And we know now how that turned out!!

My car is named Bindi. It's a forest green Subaru Forester with an alligator hanging from the rear view mirror. Not a real one... a ceramic one! If you can't put those that all together, no worries mate! Catch a few key episodes of the Crocodile Hunter, know that I worked as a canoe instructor in Florida briefly... now do the math. Still can't get it? Then you're hopelessly out of the pop culture loop (or at least one that involves the Discovery Channel!) and I can't help you.

Let's not get into the whole history of my vehicle names or the reasoning behind it. It doesn't matter, what matters is that even though I haven't settled on a particular bike, no particular brand. Nothing is yet settled but this one crucial tidbit. I now know the name of my yet to be purchased road bike.

Now, once I reveal the name of the bike, some might accuse me of pandering to my Pennsylvania friends without any thought. Not true. First, the name... drum roll please! My new bike will be dubbed Nittany.

And for the more judgmental in the crowd here's the rationale this time... Nittany is not simply because the hat is a Penn State hat and that is their mascot. There's more to it.

Apparently Nittany derives from a Native American word that means "single mountain." Mount Nittany serves as a Penn State backdrop. I can't say whether I've seen this mountain or not. I have been to PA. But that was a long time ago, back when I was a silly teenager more interested in taking pictures of Porsche's out the window of the tour bus hauling me and the other silly teenagers around on our high school choir trip than in knowing about the geological formations also lurking outside the tour bus.

Anyway, back to Nittany, which not only is it my future bike, it is a mountain which is a symbol of something for a cyclist to conquer. On top of that, one possible meaning of the Native American word is "barrier against the wind." While the good folks who compile the facts at Wikipedia claim that this definition is not likely to be accurate, I don't care. I like the idea of my bike protecting me from the wind.

So there you go. Pandering or not, the new bike will be christened Nittany... now on to the other minor details, saving the dough, doing the research, testing out the choices, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

YAY!

Oh, and stay tuned for the adventures of Linda and the Road Bike Hat!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's about time...

Well... now that it's a little over a week post-RAGBRAI, I can't really use that event as an excuse anymore for not writing. I have new ones, but I won't put them to use. Yet!

RAGBRAI, the incredible adventure it was lingers with me in the form of sleepiness that lasted pretty much until Sunday... 8 days later, not the Sunday after RAGBRAI! And also in the form of missing my teammates. What a group of fantastic people. I'd mention a few by name, but for now, suffice to say that there are some wonderful men and women out there who make up Team LIVESTRONG. And the word love doesn't encompass all that I feel for them.

Here are some examples...

Once again this year one of our teammates (permission to use his name pending!) rode RAGBRAI with us while going through chemo. His goal was to do about 20 miles a day... a few days during the week. He ended up far exceeding his mileage goals, in fact riding on one of the toughest days of the week, Wednesday, which was a nearly 80-mile day with heavy duty headwinds all the way. In fact, our resident aerodynamics guru and bus-provider Steve Hed said that riding that day was akin to riding a century. So top that off with a chemotherapy chaser! I tell you, I couldn't be more proud of anyone than I was of our cancer-fighting teammate!

I wear ribbons on my jersey each day of RAGBRAI in honor of or in memory of people who have had cancer. Prior to the ride and during the week I try to collect one name for every mile we ride. My goal this year... 472 names and so 472 ribbons. I admitted to the team on the last night of RAGBRAI that there's a little part of me that feels a bit selfish about it, because it makes me more visible to the rest of the team, so that when others Team LIVESTRONG members pass by me in town or on the road, they yell out my name, making me feel like a rock star. Which in turn makes me admire them equally for being so caring, friendly and supportive, knowing that we all have some rock solid common goals... ride our bikes across the state of Iowa in one week and kick cancer's ass in our lifetime. What's not to admire?

Many of those wonderful teammates helped me achieve my goal of 472 ribbons/472 names by adding their loved ones to the list. And when I shared with the team my goal and my enjoyment with their "Linda, Linda, Linda" cheering... there was something I failed to mention. Between RAGBRAI 07 and RAGBRAI 08 a large number of major changes have occurred in my life and in the lives of my family; many not so good... some quite possibly within my control to prevent, others not at all, some long-expected, some sudden events and some of them directly related to cancer. Let me put it this way, when you take an online stress quiz, the top 10 list sounds like my last year and a half. No wait... let me put it this way... if my life was a cheesy country song, people would be sobbing in their beers and patting each other on the shoulders.

But I'm not complaining. Somehow despite everything, in 2007 I could still say what I say pretty much every year of my life, "this was the best year of my life!"

As soon as I joined Team LIVESTRONG in 2007 I could feel my life changing. Not in obvious surface ways... I still have the same car, the same house and for a while had the same job. It was more of a fundamental shift. Opening myself to new feelings, new friends, new perspectives. Believing in things I didn't realize I had stopped believing. Being bolder, more authentic.

And somehow all this came from joining a team of strangers (we weren't strangers for very long!), riding together across Iowa during the infamous ride fondly known as a Spring Break/Summer Camp for the 40-something (plus?) crowd. Just like life though, RAGBRAI is what you make of it. It may be a moving party of bikes and beer, but you can get so much more out of it.

I think I lost my point a while back. Regardless... I'm back in the saddle (writing... not riding!) with some stories to tell. Happy Trails!

Peace & Love to all my Super Friends!