Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mustang Corners 200k Perm Description

This icon is now closed, but the building still stands at the NE intersection of AZ 90 and AZ 82

Route name- Mustang Corners 206k

RUSA Route number- 2442
Distance (km)- 206k 127.7
Format- Loop--currently ridable only clockwise
Climbing (ft)-4,856
Location- starts/ends in-Tucson
Dates available-all year
Contact- Susan Reed
Date approved- 2014/9/16
Route in RWGPS

This route starts at the intersection of 22nd St. and Kolb Rd. There are many service options there, including a McDonalds on the SW corner.

The route heads South, crosses Valencia and then turns East onto the Julian Wash Multi-use Path to Rita Rd. Continue by heading Southeast on Mary Ann Cleveland Way to Vail; head South on Colossal Cave Rd to "Old" E. Benson Hwy which is also the I-10 Frontage road on the East side of I-10. E. Benson Hwy becomes Marsh Station Rd. Marsh Station Rd. dead ends at exit 291 on I-10. Merge onto Eastbound I-10 shoulder to Exit 302 for AZ 90 South toward Ft. Huachuca and Sierra Vista. Continue South on AZ Rt 90 to AZ Rt 82. Head West on AZ Rt 82 to Sonoita; head south on AZ Rt 83 to Old Sonoita Hwy. Follow Old Sonoita Hwy to Colossal Cave Rd and backtrack to the Finish at 22nd St./Kolb Rd.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

El Tour de Tucson Was Golden

Sunset on our Golden El Tour Day
The 32nd El Tour de Tucson has been planned as a Family event for 4-5 months. Our son, Daniel, lives here in Tucson with his family and our son, Bryan, lives in Eugene, OR home of the mighty Ducks, except they have been dunked two years in a row by our Cats. Our daughter, Katie, is not a cyclist but would cheer for all of us from her home in chilly Chicago. 

Both Bryan and Daniel are full-time bike commuters in the regional extremes their towns offer with not much time in their late-thirty-something lives to get more training beyond their commutes.

For Bryan his last century was 27 years ago at age 13. The 32nd El Tour, at 104 miles, would be a stretch. His longest training ride this Fall was 70 miles. He didn’t feel very good physically after that ride and his confidence was shaken.

Early August Kirk had his nasty bike crash breaking 8 ribs and his clavicle, the latter requiring major surgery and reconstruction with a titanium plate. No one knew at that time if he would be able to ride El Tour at all.

In the beginning the plan had been that Daniel and I would ride the 104 together for Gold; Kirk and Bryan would ride the 104 together to finish. 

Kirk, in his methodical, persevering, masterful way was back on his bike within 3 months  post injury and was committed to riding El Tour, but the 55 mile distance, not the 104.

The Reed Team reconstituted itself with the new plan of Bryan and me riding the 104 together to finish, Kirk riding the 55 mile alone, and Daniel riding the 104 alone for Gold. 

Bryan’s flight from Eugene to Tucson Thursday evening before El Tour on Saturday was the flight from hell; he was in transit 16 hours.  We had rented a bike for him from Cycle Tucson which arrived  Friday morning before he did. 

It was good fun riding with Bryan to the Tucson Convention Center to pick up our rider packets and enjoying a Starbucks bev of choice on the UA campus. Starbucks is a Bryan and mom ritual, but it most often happens on the Ducks campus in Eugene.

Not surprising, each year I am a year older, a little no brainer, but each year I find that my biggest cycling performance challenge is tweaking my nutrition: fluids, fuel, and electrolytes. At least for this year I think I have that one nailed for me. But Bryan’s 70 mile training ride that left him feeling bad was about just that: fuel, fluids, and electrolytes  and he was asking me to coach him through the 104 miles how much and what to eat, drink, and supplement with electrolytes. 

I felt honored that he would ask and trust me and I felt the pressure of his El Tour success riding on my shoulders. 

He had received some advice from a friend of his, I believe a runner, who had cautioned him about not going out too hard and fast at the beginning and then not having enough in the tank to finish. Sage advice, but in the case of 3,000+ 104 mile riders having a mass start and all the platinum and gold riders bunched up at the start, it’s pretty hard to go out too hard and fast. Plus, at about the 10-15 mile mark is the first wash crossing. So, probably 200 riders are bunched up to walk down the steep slope into the wash, walk or carry their bikes across 150 yards of wash and then walk back up the steep slope on the other side. 

There’s a SAG stop, replete with Mariachi band/music on the far side of the wash so people are bunched up there taking care of bio needs etc. So, the first time the space opened up to ride at a pace of one’s choosing was about mile 15.

We lined up at 6:30 for a 7:00 a.m. start (sunrise was 6:59). It was in the low 40’s at the time of waiting for the start. Our fingers didn’t warm till well after the first wash. Bryan was in cargo shorts with lycra bike shorts underneath. He felt the cold big time even though Eugene had already had a serious cold snap. 

I think it was a huge help to him, I know it would have been to me had I been riding a course for the first time, to know what to expect: when we’d be turning out of the wind, where a convenience store was that would offer a Red Bull or a bathroom that didn’t have an endless port-a-potty line; where the hills started, when we’d be done climbing for the day, etc. To that end, the lines for the port-a-potties at the start were 20+ deep and the first few SAG stops the lines were similarly deep. So, we stopped at a Shell station about maybe mile 25 (Wilmot/I-10 for those of you who know the area) and took care of many needs.

Here’s a link to the course, only 104 miles this year. At about mile 50 Bryan had an unexpected behind-the-knee, sharp tendon pain that really scared him. We lowered his seat about 1/8 of an inch and I suggested he stretch. The climbing would be over after another couple of miles and we’d have gentle rollers for about 10 miles before the final hills up Pusch View off of Oracle and then up La Canada to Tangerine. Then the climbing would be done for the day. That intervention "held" for the duration of the ride.

We had been successfully ahead of the merge of the 75 mile riders who joined the main course and enough behind the 52 milers that when we reached the intersection where they joined the main course they did not swell the ranks of the riders to a disabling degree. Not the case with the 40 mile riders. They and we reached their merger with the main course at the same time and what a swell it was, more like a swarm, I would say. These 40 mile riders are oft your least experienced riders, thrilled to be a part of a large event, many don’t have the best of bike handling skills, and there are often a bunch of children/pre-teen-types. Tangerine Rd, which we shared with truck traffic, and which has an adequate shoulder for a few bikes but not hundreds of bikes, was packed with all of us. 

Just before we reached the 6 mile descent on Tangerine we had to stop for a traffic light. Although there were cops patrolling all the intersections, at some major intersections the cars do need to have an opportunity to move through. It was our turn to stop and now we had another HUGE bolus of riders who began the 6 mile descent down Tangerine to I-10. Usually you can take that stretch at 30 mph, but not 5 abreast with that many or more in front and behind you. That was a bit of a disappointment. Lost some time there. 

But at the bottom of Tangerine, before hitting the frontage road all the way to the finish line, Bryan was feeling good and had surrendered his “lets go this at a conservative pace” mode. We busted it as fast as we could back to the finish.

He was absolutely ecstatic!!! We finished at 7:35. He really didn’t think he could make it the whole way. I'm confident his awesome success will open all kinds of possibilities for him: maybe a new, more performancy bike sometime, maybe more bike events (he’s eyeing the 2-day Seattle-to-Portland (STP) in 2015), etc. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to be a part of his success and soooo grateful, my nutritional strategies worked for him.
Bryan chose to wear one of Kirk’s jerseys which turned out to be a UA jersey with a big wildcat on it. Coming from the home of the Ducks, Bryan has disallowed me from posting any pix of him in a UA jersey. He forgot to think about the impact of his friends seeing him in a UA jersey. Pretty funny.

Kirk did AWESOME, did 52 miles in 3:33, right in the middle of the pack.

Daniel smashed GOLD coming in at 5:06  (6:00 was the Gold cut-off). He was able to hook on to a train of riders for the last 40 miles and they pace lined it on in. He is totally pumped. Platinum is definitely in his future.

When parents are nearly 70 (that would be us) and your kids are nearly 40 (that would be Bryan, and Daniel is close behind him),  their day-to-day tangible needs are fewer and that’s how it should be. But it feels real good to be asked for help from time to time and it feels extra specially good when the help they asked for is actually helpful.

We had an awesome Mom and son bonding day; Kirk and Daniel each exceeded their expectations.

And besides all of those good things the UA Wildcats beat the Utah Utes, and the Oregon Ducks beat the the Colorado Buffalos. 

Oh, and if you hadn’t already heard, the high was in the low 70’s, sunny skies all day and winds no greater than 6 mph. The 2013, 31st El Tour was fully redeemed in 2014.

A Golden day all around. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mustang Corners: The Ride

As many of you know I set a goal for myself of earning an R-12 award which means that  a rider must complete a route approved by RUSA (Randonneurs USA) that is a minimum of 200km (125mi). The rider must ride at least one RUSA approved ride each month for 12 consecutive months. 

My first ride for my R-12 was in August, following the Arivaca route with 3 other Randonneurs. 

My September 200k was the day after the Skull Valley Loop Challenge from Phoenix to Tucson. I arrived home from the September 200k seriously depleted. Won’t ever know definitively why, but likely a combination of having put so much of myself out on the road for a respectable finish at Skull Valley; some nutritional deficits having been away from home for about a week; the temperature hovered around 99 for the duration of my 125+ mile ride; and I was carrying panniers full of gear I had been using for the preceding 5+ days in Prescott for the Skull Valley ride. And then, of course, there is always epilepsy and the anti-seizure medications both of which have played havoc with my ability to predict what I’ll be able to do day-by-day.

Whatever the influencers were that contributed to a less than enjoyable September 200k, it raised doubts in my mind that my R-12 would be possible. Maybe between turning 69 in mid-October and trying to cope with epilepsy was heralding a diminishment of my cycling goals and abilities?

I had targeted October 18th, my 69th birthday as the day I’d ride my 200k following the route I had designed and had had approved by RUSA: Mustang Corners. October 18th came and the combo of seizures and medications left me depleted and unable to even fathom a 125 mile ride 10 miles of which would be shared with 18-wheelers on  I-10.

Kirk and I had planned a 4-5 day bike trip in South East Arizona leaving Tucson on October 26th returning on October 30. There would be no time left in October for me to ride my October 200k. I sadly surrendered my R-12 goal.

Thursday, October 23rd a miracle happened. I had some body/cranial work done. Friday I awoke feeling focused, energized, and raring to go. First time I had felt that good since before my first seizure the end of August, 2013. With such a reprieve I cleared my calendar and set out Saturday, October, 25th to ride my October 200k.

Mustang Corners was a glorious ride completed with energy to spare!

Kirk drove me to the start, 11 miles from home. I’ve ridden all the segments of Mustang Corners a couple of times to many times but today would be the first time that I put it all together. Routes have always been my friends. I ride my routes, short ones and long ones, to spend time with my route friend(s). Mustang Corners has it all:

  • A local segment from the start (22nd St/Kolb Rd) to Vail, including a few miles on the Julian Wash, part of the 55 mile multi-use path that circumferences Tucson
  • A 10 mile stretch on Marsh Station Road through exquisite desert, even though the road surface leaves much to be desired
  • A 10 mile stretch on I-10
  • About 70 miles on AZ Rts 90, 82, 83, and Old Sonoita Hwy which I’ve ridden so many times with PAC Tour and so many PAC friends
  • And finally, a return on the route from Vail to the start/finish

Loved the familiarity of knowing the roads and having such rich memories of previous rides on these same roads alone or with other riders.

Loved waving to the rest stops where PAC Tour had SAG stops waiting for us

Loved not having the nagging pre-occupation of dread waiting for the next seizure shoe to drop.

Always have loved the expanse of open ranch surrounded by mountains where I believe I can see Apaches mounted on their horses, war bonnets waving in the breeze.

Loved finishing the 200k with energy in my tank, my hope rekindled that an R-12 just might be possible in this my 70th year. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Skull Valley: Double Entendre

Thirteen months ago, mid-August, 2013, I drove from Tucson to Prescott, about 250 miles, to ride the Skull Valley Loop with my cycling friend, Dan Fallon. Ours was not an organized invitational, just a Dan and me ride.

It’s an amazing 54 miles through the Prescott National Forest at an elevation ranging from a mile high to 6,100’; the roads are pristine, almost glimmer glass; traffic is minimal, a sweet descent on Ironwood Springs into Kirkland Junction, a 10 mile climb replete with switch backs, and rolling hills up the White Spars, AZ 84, and back down into Prescott. 

I never anticipated that The Valley Of The Skull would return with with me to Tucson and  take up residence in my skull for the rest of my life. But that’s exactly what happened. 

Two weeks after riding the Skull with Dan, I had my first-ever seizure; I have had, on average, at least one seizure a month since then, and I have not driven a car since driving to Prescott 13 months ago.

This summer, 2014, with temperatures consistently in the triple digits in Tucson and Phoenix, the call of cooler climes for Prescott’s Skull Valley Loop Challenge in mid September, sounded delicious. But Prescott is 250 miles from Tucson and I can’t drive.

One of the many things I have learned this past year living with epilepsy is that some of the spontaneity of my previous life must be moderated because to say “yes” to something often means asking someone else to say “yes” too.

And so, Kirk and I would spend a couple of days in Sedona (not a hard thing for either of us to say “yes” to) and he would drop me off in Prescott which was sort of, but really, on his way home to Tucson. Another recumbent friend, David Brake, who lives in Phoenix, would also be riding the Skull Valley Loop Challenge (SVLC). David would drive me from Prescott to Phoenix after the ride and I would ride my bike from Phoenix to Tucson (128 miles) following the Randonneur’s Permanent Route which would give me credit for my September 200k (125 miles). (One of my riding goals is to ride at least one 200k route approved by the Randonneur USA organization each month for 12 consecutive months.) 

There are racers and riders at the Skull Valley Loop Challenge (SVLC) who tow the start line with a range of hopes and expectations. Being less than a month away from turning 69, I had a strong desire to punch out a great time. But, another thing I have learned living with epilepsy is that I never really know who will show up each day, who I will be each day. I can plan, but I can’t plan the outcome.

Anti-seizure medications are central nervous system depressants replete with many side effects including depression and absence of energy. If I’ve had a break through seizure, even though I’m medicated, I can expect at least 12-36 hours of post-seizure energy depletion and struggle to function with any kind of normalcy. 

I really, really hoped I would tow the start line with a full tank of energy, no medication side effects, and be seizure-free when the Court House Clock gonged 7:30 for the start of the SVLC on Sunday, September 21st. But, if someone else showed up to ride my bike, well, that’s who would ride it that day. Weather or mechanicals can reek havoc with personal goals for all racers and riders; those are equal opportunity adversaries. Epilepsy, however, is my personal travel companion whose narcissistic needs will always pre-empt my own. 

As it turned out, a healthy me showed up Sunday morning ready to race. Rode from Dan’s house to Starbucks for a pre-race grande, medium-dry soy cappuccino. Life is good.

There were 204 racer/riders; I finished 99th with a time of 3:22 for 53.9 miles and about 4,000’ of climbing, depending upon whose GPS tracking device you use. 

But, life would have been good, too, if those numbers had been different, or even if I hadn’t been able to put my wheel on the line. If there is not joy, and gratitude, and community in the process of getting to the start line, well, the numbers are pretty meaningless. Life is, indeed, good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Targets: R-12

Mark Pondering Ben's attempted crossing

Storm cloud over Baboquivari Peak
My 50-State goal is in the books which begs the question: What's next?

I love long rides, but I can't string so many of them back-to-back any more being nearly the ripe age of 69 in October. 200k Brevets are perfect for me, distance-wise. Longer than that I can't fuel since my food allergies/intolerance preclude eating out of fast food and convenience stores. 

My freedom to, at will, do Brevets with the AZ Randonneur Club is a bit challenging since I currently am not able to drive to remote starts, my recurring seizures put my driving privileges on ice.

Next best thing? RUSA Permanents originating in Tucson! There are currently four I can choose from and I plan to develop a couple more which will hopefully be approved by the national RUSA Permanent Coordinator. 

The R-12 is great, too, since I can start the 12-month cycle at anytime and I chose August, 2014 having returned from the 50-State quest in July. 

Mark Doumas, Ben Andrews, Margaret O'Kelley and I had a gloriously hot (mid-upper 90's), humid (it's monsoon season) 205k ride following the clockwise Arivaca route.

Ben the bandit

After lunch in Arivaca
The monsoon rains have been generous south of Tucson; none of us can ever remember seeing the desert being so lush and green. Truly, we could easily have been in Arkansas. The only giveaway that we weren't were the mountains and the type of vegetation. But green, green, green it was.

A very long, hot 44 miles with no services between Arivaca and Three Points
The 44 mile stretch with no services between Arivaca and the grocery store at Three points was a bit too long for the water supplies we had with us. We shared what we had with each other until some construction workers topped off our bottles. Hindsight, we should have topped off at the Border Patrol station at about the halfway mark. 

I was beyond grateful to Mark, Margaret, and Ben for adjusting their preferred start time of 1700 to 0500 for me! They prefer to ride through the night when we're in these dog days. But I didn't want to risk messing up my stretch of no seizure days by going into sleep dep and/or totally confusing my sleep cycles. 

I opted out of dinner with the crowd at Don's Bayou since Kirk was only 5 days post-op from his clavicle reconstruction after his bike crash on the preceding Sunday.

Next 200k should be mid-September from Phoenix to Tucson following the Skull Valley Loop Challenge out of Prescott the day before.

I should add that Roger Peskett, our AZ Rando Perm Coordinator, is my inspiration having completed 32 consecutive RUSA rides of at least 200k. Can't catch him, but I'll try to stay on his wheel.

All 50 States


I don't rightly know when I decided upon the goal of riding in all 50 states. I'm sure it was a focused goal after my first transcontinental with PAC Tour in 2006, the southern tier from San Diego to Tybee Island, GA. I knew that when I achieved that goal I would get another tattoo of our country, featuring some key routes, and, of course, my faithful recumbent.

Turns out I rode exactly 25 states on a tour, either a transcon with PAC or a solo tour I designed, and the other 25 by just grabbing a state here and there as it came to me or as I went to it.

An ambler in Yellowstone too close to our new car for comfort
Turns out Kirk and I went to four states I needed this July: Montana, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska. 

Little did we know when we planned this 6,000 mile driving car trip from Tucson to Eugene, OR, by way of Nevada, California, up through Washington, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, and northern AZ before coming back home, that Kirk would get to do ALL the driving. 

Yep, I'm still not driving because I can't seem to string together 90 seizure-free days to earn back my driving privileges. 

It was a special trip in so many ways:
  • completion of a bucket list goal--riding in all the states (see caveat below)
  • having a new car with a bike rack on the back so Kirk could bring his bike, too, and we could ride some miles together
  • visiting Pompey's Pillar in Billings, Yellowstone NP, Zion NP, Grand Canyon North Rim NP, Mt. Rushmore, Great Basin NP
  • spending a day with our good friend from Mt. Prospect, IL, Jack Verhasselt, who was visiting family in Billings the same time we were there
  • a surprise visit in our son's father-in-law's office in Billings where he is the school superintendent
  • a visit with a new friend in Cheney, WA who also lives with epilepsy daily
  • soaking in with awe the expanse of our amazing country
I wondered how I would feel having completed this bucket list goal: would it be exhilaration, kind of a "yep, got it done", sort of a let down that the target was not ahead of me and what would the next target be?

I was pleased that what I felt, mostly, was gratitude to Kirk, for Kirk, who participated in my attaining my goal with as much energy as I have invested in it. Behind that gratitude was more gratitude that at nearly age 69 I have been able to pursue and achieve my 50-State goal. And, behind that gratitude was just a most pleasant exhale of a job well done.

An unexpected joy along the way was discovering that my good friend, Barbara Cleveland from NH, had basically grown up in all the states we were traveling through. She's exactly my age; her Dad had been an executive with the Union Pacific Railroad which meant that she rode the rails with him most summers as a wee child, sleeping in UP bunk cars, getting separated from her Dad and ending up in some distant town and having to be shuttled back by train to wherever Dad was.

Didn't know any of this about Barbara until I happened to send her some pix by email early in our trip and her remarkable childhood stories just poured out of her. Day-by-day, I sent her more pix; day-by-day she shared more stories, and we both learned a lot about how we had become the adults that we have become. A treasured gift for both of us.
Leaving Yellowstone, heading east

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Badlands in the distance

Yep, you're right, Mt. Rushmore

Barbara Cleveland's bunk car, Ely, NV

Bristlecone tree in Great Basin NP in NV. Some of these trees are nearly 5,000 years old and still thriving

More UP cars for repairing tracks

Zion NP, UT

A little secret here: I am actually still 2 states short: Delaware and South Carolina. We could have gotten SC in 2011 when we were on our 12,400 mile, 99 Day Trek from Chicago to Tucson, but alas I broke my foot and was off the bike when we were traveling through SC. We thought I'd get Delaware this July when we took our son, Bryan, and his 11 y.o. daughter, Ayva, to Williamsburg and D.C. But alas, the tail of the state we thought was Delaware turned out to be Maryland. So, SC will have to be "gotten" in July 2015 and Delaware in the summer of 2016. But as long as we are both still alive, they will be "gotten" in the next two years.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

E Within Me: 12 Months Post Diagnosis Of Epilepsy

I’ve been planning to write this post about E, my E, for a few weeks, and what better day to do so than on the occasion of Kirk’s and my 45th anniversary, August 2nd.

It’s been almost a year since E became a part of me and a part of Kirk’s and my life together. E’s coming was totally unexpected. Unexpecteds bring with them a very real sense of vulnerability, loss of control, fear, and, often, changes in one’s life course or life style. We are naive, indeed, if we expect that we will never experience unexpecteds.

Acceptance and gratitude can be gifts from the unexpecteds, but most of the time those gifts come only after some grieving, gnashing of teeth, 2 steps forward and 1 step back; maybe even sometimes only 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

And so it was August 27th, 2013 I ended up in the ER for more than 20 hours with the good folks there trying to figure out what had unexpectedly gone wrong with me.

Over the course of the next week or so the unexpected had a name: Epilepsy.

Even though I have a Masters in Nursing, my knowledge of epilepsy was really only quite topside. The next 12 months I was on a steep learning curve regarding triggers, medications, traditional and holistic methods of treatment and their respective practitioners, how to recognize auras, what it feels like to be totally wasted for up to 36 hours after a seizure, (post-ictal states) and all the myriad sensory, motor, and cognitive experiences of central nervous system misfirings happening within. YIKES.

You can do your own reading, if you choose, on E; plenty out there including some quite useful “coping with epilepsy” forums on the internet.

What I want to share with you is what it has been like to have E within me.

Without question the most significant and externally noticeable impact has been my inability to drive. Each state has its own laws about when a person can drive again after having had a seizure, regardless of what type of seizure, and there are many types. Arizona’s law says one must be seizure-free for 90 days. I had no idea that would be a hard number to achieve.

I was naive. I thought all I had to do was be given a diagnosis, be given a prescription, comply with the medication regime, and go on with life.

Not that easy.

Seizures happened with enough regularity that it took eight months to achieve those 90 days. I had driving rights for about 6 weeks and then lost them again because of more seizures. My vision is enough impaired now, (cause the effect or effect the cause? I don’t know.) that even if I were seizure free I would not feel safe driving further than Trader Joes which is only a mile away.

Early in my new life with E I was on a solo 90 mile ride, had a seizure, and had to call Kirk to come pick me up. We agreed that until I was 90 days seizure free that, in addition to not driving, I would also not ride a route alone that was more than 50 miles. At its apex I would then only be 25 miles out if I needed a pick-up.

Not driving didn’t hurt. That’s one of the beauties, joys, gratitudes of living in Tucson. I can ride 52/365 and I can ride everywhere to do everything. But not being able to ride long distance, now that one hurt. There are 100-200 mile routes around Tucson I would love to do; but I can’t right now without a riding buddy. Such buddies are hard to find. There are some around but they are either too slow for me or I am too slow for them. Neither is a good mix.

Not being able to drive also has meant I can’t, at will, get myself to rides with a remote start, like Northern Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, Southern Utah. Kirk has been remarkable in his open giving, giving of his patience and tolerance of the new me, including my inability to drive. He’s oh so willing to drive me to a 5:00 a.m. start to a local ride; and he drove all 6,000 car miles this July as we traveled through MT, ND, SD,  and NE so I could come closer to my goal of riding in all 50 states. (Only 2 to go, SC and DE). But to ask him to give up a weekend so I can ride 130 or 185 miles in an adjoining state---well that’s too much to ask of anyone who is not riding the event.

Rides with remote starts need to be well worth the needed logistical planning. Here’s an example of such: mid-September I want to test my mettle (and metal) on the Skull Valley Loop Challenge (SVLC) out of Prescott, AZ which is about 200 miles northwest of Tucson. Kirk and I will spend a couple of days hiking and riding in Sedona; he’ll drive me to Prescott; I’ll stay with a friend for a day or so; ride the SVLC; a Phoenix friend, who will also be doing the SVLC, will drive me to Phoenix after the event; and I will ride home from Phoenix the day after the event by bike. Doable, all of it, but full of logistics that previously didn’t need to be considered.

One of my better qualities, I think, although it can have its thorns as well, is my steady, predictable persistence. That quality has served me well getting to all kinds of “finish lines” in life, most of which have not had the word “race” in them. Epilepsy is giving me a new set of rules to live by. Seems I can do all the right things and have a seizure or all the wrong things and have a seizure and with every seizure comes a post-ictal period when life seems to be sucked out of me. I have come to call it my Life Switch: no physical energy, no emotional energy, no relational energy for 6-36 hours depending upon the severity of the seizure. That makes planning difficult; that makes being responsible and accountable difficult. I’m having trouble accepting that part of this disease, that part of who I am in relationship to my world.

I have always experienced myself as being one with lots of energy, a lot of rah-rah, go-get-’em, anything’s possible with a plan and the needed preparation. It’s hard for me to rightfully use those words to describe myself now, since E. Subdued is a word that fits much better today. That’s not a word I like to use to describe myself. Not only have I lost some freedoms, but I have also lost my ability to predict what my energy resources will be from day to day.

I’m embarrassed to own those realities about myself when it’s just epilepsy, for goodness sake. Many people my age (69 this October) are dealing with life and life-style show stoppers: joint replacements, organ replacements, cancer, end-stage diabetes, mental illness, crippling PTSD, addictions, loss of spouses or partners, and so much more.

For now my joys and gratitudes include: Kirk, some dear friends and family who are unwavering in their support of both Kirk and me, some health care professionals who are committed to hanging in there with me, and my continued ability to ride.

I truly believe that more joys and gratitudes will be revealed from living with epilepsy, but I’m still in the early stages of grieving the losses, accepting the newness of my life, and finding new ways of offering experience, strength and hope to others who have found themselves being smacked with an unexpected.

Guess I’ve just committed myself to a new post a year from now to see what new gifts and gratitudes have been revealed in my 2nd year of living with E.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Arid Desolation

Kingman, AZ is not much, although it still stands tall and proud in its Route 66 heritage. Today, it is however, a crossroads for car trekkers heading to the Grand Canyon, to Death Valley, or Las Vegas. We would be one of those trekkers heading through Las Vegas en route to Hawthorne, NV.

Lunch would be in Tonopah, NV, a town with a rich history in silver mining but now currently used for nuclear weapons stockpile reliability testing, research and development of fusing and firing systems, and testing nuclear weapon delivery systems. Chatting with our server at lunch, who has lived in Tonopah for 4 years, she travels 3 hours to Las Vegas once a month to shop at Wal-Mart. No local options for her. So, she takes her young daughter, overnights in Vegas, takes her swimming at a hotel, and stocks up for the month.

Kirk off-loaded me and my bike in Tonopah after lunch; he read at the local Burger King and visited the Tonopah Museum while I busted it 47 miles West on US 95. It was a glorious ride descending about 1,500' from the Tonopah summit of about 6,000'. Road was good, often not much shoulder, and what traffic there was flew at or above the posted 75 mph speed limit. 

I laughed out loud riding through this arid desolation (8% humidity, 95 degree heat) with not the first hint of any living fauna for my 47 miles. After I reloaded in the car we passed through two ghost towns, Mina and Luning. I don't know, maybe they weren't true ghost towns since they are reported to have 50 and 150 people respectively depending upon your source. I laughed because a friend who came to ride with me in southern AZ was quite concerned about the desolation between Sonoita and Mustang Corners. Had to wonder what she would have thought about this stretch of aridity.

Overnighting in Hawthorne tonight, home to 2,700 Naval Ammunitions Depot Bunkers. Erie landscape, all these underground bunkers with only a little roof mound.

Pix will have to follow.