I have decided to ride in the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this year. I know for some that really isn’t a big deal, but for me it is. I will give you just a small bit of my background, not much as it is only what is behind me not what is sitting here in the present with me.
In 1991 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I also had Optical Neuritis and had no vision in my left eye. My balance was non-existent and I had to hold on to something to walk without falling over. I was numb from the waist down and I wore splints on both of my wrists as I had severe weaknesses there and dropped things rather often. I went on a very aggressive treatment plan to get the disease slowed down, aggressive treatment plans tend to also bring more than a few “side effects”. Now let’s fast forward to the present moment.
I haven’t taken any pharmaceuticals for MS since December 17, 2013. That was when I decided to have a talk with my Neurologist and ask him if I could go on a trial run without any medications. He said yes. I knew that I would do fine without the medication anymore as I had been working very hard at getting myself better. I did more than just get myself better, as of February, 2014 when I had my last MRI, there were no lesions present in my brain, a very big reason to celebrate! In 1991, I could see three of the lesions in my brain with my naked eye, they were that large. There were a total of seven at that time. Now you might begin to see why riding the STP this year is a very big deal to me and to those around me.
I have pushed myself to get into better shape. I have taken a 200 hour yoga teaching class and I love yoga. I know that it has helped me in both my balance and core strength. Yoga makes me a better biker. It’s as simple as that. I no longer take any pharmaceuticals, prescription or over the counter (other than vitamin D) and rely on my doTERRA essential oils to keep me healthy and to act as my medicine cabinet. This from a person that took Ibuprofen four at a time (800 mg) for pain on a daily basis. I am healthier than I have ever been and I must admit that it feels really good!
So much for my back story, now for the ongoing story of “let’s get ready to ride”! My husband, Brad, is an excellent bicycler, he has ridden the STP in two days and he’s ridden it in one day. He is riding it with me this year. He is a hill climbing bike rider and he is now getting me out on the hills as well. Today was a ride that he had mapped out for me as I plan on riding Tuesdays and Thursdays by myself during the week and then on the weekends we will ride together on our “long” rides.
The route he mapped out for me was a beautiful ride, it wasn’t a flat ride, but I made it up every hill. At this point he has told me not to worry so much about mileage, but to go by time because of the terrain that I will be riding. This advice made more sense to me after I finished the ride.
I did discover today that it takes more than a dog treat to get a beagle to go home! At Brad’s advice I carry dog treats with me to help with the dog at large problem. Coming through one stretch I saw a beagle waiting at the side of the road. This is a road that is not very long and has very little traffic on it, so he wasn’t in much danger of getting hit by a car. He ran out when he saw me, tail wagging, and began running beside the bike. I tried to explain to him that he should go home, he didn’t listen so I threw him a treat. He didn’t even slow down. He was having fun, running with what must have seemed to him his new best friend. He switched sides of the bike and I began to see that this might become a problem as he crossed IN FRONT of the bike and I almost hit him. I threw him another treat and once again, he ran right past it. He was really cute, I must admit, but he really needed to go home! I was coming to the end of this short road and I knew that I would be turning onto a slightly busier road so I tried the treats once more, no response at all. I guess though, in the end, he did have his limits on how far he would follow and play as he turned around just before I made it to my turn and headed home. He should have had a nice trot home, eating his treats as he went.
It was a good ride, I made it up every hill and I know that with each ride, I am getting stronger and more confident. I was bit surprised when I checked the speedometer on my bike and realized that I averaged 11 MPH on the ride, that was including the hills! Of course though, I DID have a top speed of 30 MPH and I know that was on a downhill. I am going to have to watch that I don’t get too confident on those downhills.
This is something that no one, not even myself, thought that I would be able to do, ride a bike and ride it well. It feels good to beat the odds and turn something around that was at one time treated almost like a death sentence and make it into an inspiring story of hope. If I can do it, others can do it as well. I will gladly continue to tell my story because the more people that I can inspire to work harder at getting better, to find the mindset that will allow them to push and not give up, the happier I am.
Life is too short to accept the limitations that are placed on us by the diagnosis that we receive. There are so many stories out there of those that have beaten the odds and showed such strength in all that they do. You can do and be anything you want, the catch is, you have to want it bad enough to not give up when it begins to hurt and the going gets hard. It’s not easy, I know. I don’t say any of that lightly, but I do say it with my full heart. I have faith in you and I know that if you have faith in yourself you will have a beautiful life.