Today, Sue and I went for our final long ride before Pedal to the Point next weekend. We have several rides planned this week, but this was the end of the long training rides. After Pedal to the Point there will be fun long rides, but without a goal event.
As we were in our final miles in the rain today, I started reminiscing on the year, and actually became sad that this ride is almost here, and the training is almost over. Why would it make me sad? Because the summer has been so much fun! The year, really has been so much fun.
I have promised myself that this blog would not turn into a blog about my MS, but it wouldn't be appropriate to tell this story without mentioning what MS can do to the mind. This year has been a struggle, I learned what my new normal is for my body, and it isn't quite what I was hoping for. I run and bike, but it is harder than it used to be. Needless to say, the emotions run high when you are learning something new about your limitations. One of my friends was posting on a challenge on FB about the word can't, and how no one should ever use that word, but when you learn that that word has become your reality with certain things, it is disheartening.
This summer, I haven't given up running, but I have certainly done less of it, not because I can't run, but rather because I can't walk very well after a very hot run. That is my new reality... Again disheartening. So, I picked up cycling. Sue and I have logged over 1,600 miles, now that I have done all the math, and that riding has been the gift that has turned my 'can't' with running into a can with cycling.
The twists and turns of life, and training are the most exciting moments. If you have ever gone on a long bike ride, you have inevitably encountered a turn where you can't see all the way around the bend, and once you get to a point in which you can see, you have to make a new decision. In those moments the adrenaline runs high. It is the same with MS. I'm not kidding here... You wake up in the morning and something new is numb, twitching, burning... And you are met with the same adrenaline. How you focus that adrenaline basically defines you. I would like to say that I always have a positive attitude, but I would be lying! I will say, that everything I have learned has been exhilarating though. You turn that corner, and you recognize something new you can do. What is not fun about that? I would actually say, and have said, thank you MS for opening my eyes.
I have been granted this opportunity to participate in this 175 mile ride with some of my greatest supporters this summer. They have taken this journey with me because they believe in me and don't want me to have to find more situations in which I have to say I can't. I am thankful. We have all taken this journey together, albeit we have taken different roads to get to the week before the ride, but they are all the correct paths for each of us as individuals. The moments and stories that have been shared through facebook and texting and phone calls are amazing, and sometimes unsharable in public forums. They are stories of our journey for which we should all be proud.
These moments are etched into my steal trap mind, and will be cherished and carried with me forever. I'm a horrible blogger and did not take a lot of pictures while riding this summer, because the moments with my friends and family were too precious to look through camera lens; they deserved my undivided attention, even if I was plotting our next adventure in the moment, but the moments incuded the following:: beautiful rivers, that reminded me of A River Runs Through It; the tears that were shed because of raw honesty with myself; the laughter that was shared because of a stupid things that came out of my mouth; the 1600 miles that were ridden through Ohio and Illinois; the cookies and coke at a small concession stand; the rural and urban graffiti; the corn that mysteriously appeared in my back pocket; the majestic blue birds; the hoho's and blizzards (although I recently learned these are not appropriate as training food); the flowers and cows; the falls off the bike... I really could go on forever. Most importantly is this, I shared these moments with very special people who have taken time out of their lives to share the training experience with me.
So what? It has been a long and winding road (not in the Beatles definition), and no picture could replace these memories. So when I go back to the bench above in several years, on my newer bicycle, and sit there again with my friend Sue, we will be able to reflect on the memories that were made this summer.