traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Inspired to be healthy!

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Abagail sure would like to assist me in the kitchen

 

If you don’t want to read about another injury, you might want to skip this blog post. A week ago Friday morning, I was running at 5:00 a.m. under the street lights of downtown Dodge City. I was feeling pretty good about my clavicle/shoulder injury and had gotten dismissed from my Ortho doctor five days earlier. My bruised ribs were still sore but I categorized the pain as an annoyance only; and nothing that would worsen by running. I was shaving five or ten seconds off every run and thinking about finding a couple more 5K races to participate in this fall. I was back to having sweaty workout clothes to wash most every day and life was returning to normal.

One misstep off a curb that I had been navigating for several weeks and my weak ankle rolled painfully sideways causing my toe to catch on the pavement which then hyperextended the top of my foot and I fell awkwardly to the street. Although I was in pain, it was not unbearable. My shoulder and ribs were not re-injured so I bucked it up and hobbled the mile back to where my vehicle was parked and waited for John to finish his run (because he was way ahead and had no idea I had fallen). Because I could walk, it gave me a false sense of security and well-being and we went ahead and left town for the weekend as we were previously planning to do.

John raced his first cyclocross race of the season on Saturday morning in Kansas City and I stayed pretty close to the Yukon as my ankle was swollen pretty badly. Unfortunately, John crashed and went down extremely hard on his hip and knee and because he wasn’t able to put any weight on his knee, we made the decision to go the ER for precautionary X-rays. John insisted that since we were there anyway, that I may as well have my foot X-rayed. We took a picture of our matching hospital wrist bands and some silly selfies while waiting.

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Two patients

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Passing the time in the ER

We chuckled as we had to explain a half dozen times why this husband and wife were both injured and a car wreck was not the cause. The results came back and John was very bruised but PTL nothing was fractured. I, was not given such good news in that my fifth metatarsal was fractured in two places. This, of course was devastating news to me but I tried not to bawl and John tried to be upbeat and positive even though the poor guy was suffering from his own painful injuries. They placed a rigid splint on my foot going all the way to my knee and was given crutches and told not to put any weight on my foot until I saw an orthopedic doctor.

I worried from the first mention of crutches that they would be a problem with my sore ribs and sure enough after only about 10 steps using them, my ribs were on fire and they became my true debilitating injury. We found a drug store in Lawrence that sold a knee cart and that became my transportation for Sunday and Monday until I could get in to see the Orthopedist. Can you imagine that phone call and having to admit that I had another injury? Ugh! There was good news from my appointment though as the doctor said I could walk on it with a special boot. So the expensive knee cart is sitting in my closet while I walk with the equally expensive boot.

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My ribs are healing again and I can get through most of the day on only two ibuprofen. My bone break doesn’t hurt at all when I’m in the boot and the boot also protects my ankle from rolling again. In the mornings my ankle size is near normal but my whole foot is black and blue. By the end of the day it is swollen to twice its size. I have a feeling the ankle will give me fits long after the foot bone is healed. That dang ankle has been weak since I was a child; spraining it about every summer. You might remember I severely sprained it in 2013 and was still dealing with its pain this past summer on the Great Divide when pushing Justice up steep hills.

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Anyway, if John had not had his bicycle crash, I probably would have not gotten an X-ray and the foot and ankle would have taken much longer to heal without the boot. Once again I amazed at how God orchestrates healing.

My inspiration comes from women my age and older who have embraced their age and who actively and intentionally ride this train we call life. I am one of those women! I will not allow this injury to depress me. I can’t bicycle. I certainly can’t run or even walk for fitness. I can’t work my core or lift weights to strengthen my upper body due to the rib pain. BUT, I can drive and am getting ready each morning and hobbling into work. Our daughter Angie has accompanied me twice to buy groceries as I ride in the Walmart electric cart (hey, they are pretty handy!).  I’m juicing up a storm and I attribute my good spirits to juicing. It’s something I can do that is good for my body when everything else is off limits for perhaps another five weeks.

When I can’t bicycle, I will run
When I can run, I will walk
When I can’t walk, I will lift weights to gain strength
When I can’t lift, I will juice!

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I’m not kidding, it really is delicious and filling!

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Inspired to juice!

So…I hinted that I was dabbling in “juicing” in my last post. I will admit that I have jumped in full throttle. YES I was inspired!
I already had this old Oster juicer from the early 90’s when I had decided to give it a go way back then. I had probably used the thing a half dozen times when I abandoned the process because it was way more trouble and work than I had time for back in those days. But also, back then I was only juicing carrots or oranges and apples and I decided why bother when picking up a jar or carton at the grocery store was extraordinarily less trouble. Thus the juicer was put away deep deep into an upper cabinet. It survived several garage sales and made the move with us in 1997 to the house we live in now. Fast forward to one month ago when I read an advertisement on Facebook about the health benefits of juicing and it just made sense to me. I was prepared to buy a juicer when I remembered I had one somewhere 😎

So I’m going to skip all the trial and error and tell you what I’m doing now and loving it! I go to the grocery store sometime over the weekend and buy enough produce to last me the entire week. First to Dillons to see what they have by way of organics and then to Walmart to see what they’ve got. I usually buy something at both places. This weekend, we were in Wichita so I took an ice chest and bought some really fresh organic produce at Whole Foods. I sometimes don’t find any organic produce that looks fresh enough to buy and will purchase traditional instead. Either way I bring it home and wash it all up with organic veggie wash. I’m sure the purists among you are scowling at the thought of consuming non-organic produce, so I’m also going to admit that I eat red meat too.

Anyway, the washing of the produce is time consuming but necessary to remove not only dirt but the pesticides and other unmentionables that I have eliminated even having to think about. I had to be an Indian-giver (and obviously I am not politically correct when I use that term) when I asked my daughter Angie if she still had the salad spinner that I had given her a long time ago. A clean white bath towel is laid out on the cabinet and all the washed and rinsed produce is laid out to dry. This week I bought yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, red cabbage, red leaved romaine, bok choy, yellow squash, and carrots. I have gotten into the habit of adding either carrots or green apples for added sweetness to every recipe.

Every morning, I juice up a mason jar full which gives me three glasses of goodness to drink throughout the day. I always keep on hand ginger root and juice about an inch to every jar full. I am really not following any true recipe but rather making it up with whatever I found by way of good looking produce that week. I just keep throwing veggies and fruit in the juicer until my jar is full. I have to say that I don’t always love what I juiced but I know it’s good for me, I know I spent a wad of money on the ingredients, and I know the whole process was very time consuming, so I’m not about to waste a drop. But…90 percent of the time, I have really enjoyed the flavor. My first week of juicing I fasted for four days (meaning I ate nothing other than my juice). That meant I drank more than three glasses to fill full enough that I wouldn’t cheat. I don’t plan on doing that again anytime soon, but I know it was incredibly good for me. My weight is down; my craving for sugar is gone; and I have control over what I eat during the day. Good stuff Maynard!


Oh yes, one more thing…the cleanup of the juicer is NOT my favorite part of the process 😉

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Inspiration Day

 

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On Tuesday I was driving home from Colorado and listening to the music on my iPad.  There was lots of time to think…

It occurred to me that I should give an update of my health situation and at the same time I was inspired to change up this blog a bit.  In the past I’ve only blogged when I was on one of my adventures.  After all, what do I do or have to say day-to-day that would interest anyone other than perhaps my aunties and even they would bore from it eventually.  BUT…God gave me an inspirational spark that is the genesis to today’s blog as well as continuing with it in this different direction.

Those who know me well know that I, first and foremost am a follower of Jesus, but this blog is not solely about spiritual life.  Secondly, I have a good life with a great husband and grown kids with grandchildren and godchildren, but this blog is not solely about family.  Thirdly, I am passionate about fitness, but this blog is not solely about fitness.

I want you to have someplace to go to find something happy to read.  The goodness of humanity is not shared often enough but this is where you will find it.  This will be a happy place that doesn’t discuss the challenges of life and especially will avoid politics, negativity and judgment.  You can go to just about any other blog, to Facebook, or any newspaper to get a dose of those.   I will make every effort to shine light on what is good in this world.  You will never read a swear word on this blog and I hope that those who choose to read and respond will take that to heart when choosing their words too.

I might make fun of myself though.  This is easy to do with some of my stunts.  Speaking of…my clavicle and shoulder are healing enough that I’m walking and jogging and even rode 10 miles on my bike “Justice” this morning.  It is a beautiful fall-like day here in Dodge City, Kansas with cloud cover, light winds and cool temperatures.  My kittens are at my side.  It’s quiet in the house.  I got my workout in this morning.  I am juicing veggies as an experiment for improved health.  More on that another day.

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I will leave you today with my favorite scripture which is also the base of my worldview.  Finding everyday that there is inspiration to be felt deep in my bones.

Paul’s words in Philippians 4: 4-9

Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters let me say one more thing as I close this letter.  Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

New Living Translation

 

 

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Day 3 – Part 2

My front tire hit the second culvert and I flew over the handlebars landing first on my left shoulder and with my head banging into the ground with whiplash effect. I never lost consciousness and sat up immediately to yell a warning to Sue to slow down. It wasn’t until I sat up that I felt my clavicle separate. Sue came running up to me to ask if I was all right and I heard myself tell her “my collar bone is broken”. Sue went into “best friend/mother-like mode” and dug out four ibuprofen for me to swallow to get on top of the pain. Within a few minutes, the other girls came back and they all worked together to get my emergency SOS button pushed on my spot tracker. Mayumi texted back and forth with the emergency responders to tell them the details of my predicament. Meanwhile, Sue made the decision to move us to the edge of the forest and away from the massive power line poles we were sitting under as the thunder and lightening was rolling in (just to give the situation a little more added drama).  The rain started to fall and the girls found my rain gear to put on me and Carrie set up my tent for shelter. I was snug as a bug in a rug while they were all out in the elements fighting off the massive mosquito swarm.

Sue sat outside my tent contemplating what she was going to do. Her first instinct was to stay with me, but we both knew that was not going to be practical even if it was what we both wanted. It took about an hour and a half and a conservation ranger arrived in a pickup. She (Donna) leaned into the tent and wrapped my arm to me with gauze. The mummification stabilized my broken bone. She told us a helicopter was on its way but she was not sure it would be able to land because of the marshy terrain and proximity to the high-line poles and forest. She warned me that if I had to ride in the pickup, it was going to be a painful and the worst ride possible for someone with a broken bone. I could hear the helicopter was overhead and circling and finally found a place they would try to land about 150 feet away. They got it accomplished and I felt like such a heel with five professional men and women on a mission to get me out of the wilderness and to a hospital. They were all extremely nice and I told them I could walk myself to the helicopter so they would not have to carry me on a stretcher. I assured them that I had no injuries to my legs but they were worried about other fractures as well as possible head injury.

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Justice loaded for the bumpy ride to the ranger station

My newest friends and my best friend loaded my bike and gear into the pickup to be held indefinitely. Not enough hugs and not enough thank you’s could be given in the next few seconds as I was eased out of the tent and walked to helicopter. Someone snapped these shots for posterity.

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The helicopter ride was only about 10 minutes long as I was delivered in a clearing to a waiting ambulance where I met CJ and Ronya who meticulously cared for me during the 1.5 hour ride to the hospital. As CJ took my pulse and Ronya took my blood pressure I had to reassure them that the rates were normal for me and I wouldn’t be needing the defibrillator. Safely delivered to the hospital where I had to pay in advance before being Xrayed and looked at by a doctor. I was thankful that I had asked the girls to retrieve my trunk bag that carried my electronics and wallet with credit cards. A super nice ER staff then took care of me for a few hours. It was the questions they asked that brought me to tears for the second time that day. Who in town did I know that could come pick me up? Who was I going to stay with after I got dismissed? What was my backup plan? BACKUP PLAN!?!  I did not have a backup plan. I had no one to pick me up. I didn’t even have any clothes to wear (they had cut mine off). At this point, I did not even know if John knew what had happened.

Two hospital social workers appeared from behind the emergency room curtain. I was told that the Delorme SOS folks had notified John and Angie as my emergency contacts. They brought with them some donated leggings and a shirt for me to wear. They found me a hotel to stay at for the low low price of $200 per night. They called a taxi to come pick me up, take me to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions for pain meds, and then delivery me to said motel. Not one person all day had said a cross word to me or chastised me for being so careless, that is until the taxi driver mentioned that he had never had to pick up a crazy woman mountain biker before.

Before I left the hospital they let me use their phone to call John who was already on his way to Canada to bring me and my bike home. I could barely breathe from the heaving of my heart to hear his reassuring and always loving voice say he was on his way. He always has the words to soothe my soul as he said to just get to the motel and try to sleep as much as possible because it would make the time pass faster. On a regimen of codeine and prescription Tylenol, I fell into bed with my still filthy body which had not seen a shower for now going on three days. I woke up every once in awhile to eat a bit of my Payday anniversary gift before swallowing some more meds. I called the front desk to ask them to bring me a toothbrush but even after it was delivered, I did not find the gumption to awkwardly brush my teeth with my right hand until thirty minutes before John arrived 27 hours later.

The instant John stepped onto the room, the healing process began for my broken bone, my wounded pride, and my emotions surrounding the disappointment of abandoning my adventure and even more importantly abandoning my sister-friends. The three month life of a wanderer and adventure thrill seeker was replaced by the warm familiar comfort of a husband so devoted to me that he allows me to leave him temporarily, but welcomes me back to his arms with the understanding of a saint.

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Justice’s wounds

The next day it took several hours to track down the location of my bike and to load its wounded body with heavy gear into the back of the Yukon. More tears all the way home partially due to the pain associated with the bumps of travel, but also of general depression. My ever loving man begins to talk to me about what we will do differently to help me prepare to begin again next summer. Then he also gives me some fun ideas of what we might do this summer since I’m going to be home. I am blessed beyond measure for this man who has loved me all these many years.

As we cross the border from Canada to Montana, my Verizon cell coverage begins to work on my iPad and I read the sweet words of our daughter asking for prayers and for generally just keeping you apprised of my condition. I read all the awesome words of encouragement from you, my friends and church family and even words from the APES who continue on the amazing journey without me. I will end this post with the words of Mike Lowden who posted on Facebook, “if you wanted John to come visit you on your anniversary, you probably could have just asked him.”  Made me smile.

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Day 3 – Part 1

Today is our 40th wedding anniversary.  John and I were married during wheat harvest on a hot July afternoon 40 years ago. The last 10 years or so, we have only spent the day together every other year because of my adventures. This one is tougher being away from him mostly because it is a truly notable momentous number. I wonder where I’ll be on our 50th 😎

This picture is for John. Daisies are his favorite flower because he believes them to be “happy”. I agree.

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Meadow of happiness!

While breaking camp, I teased two of the women that from now on they were required to “sleep in” an extra 30 minutes every morning because they are so darn efficient in getting ready to ride. They have to stand around and twiddle their fingers while the rest of us are still strapping on our panniers. They take the round-about compliment well and patiently continue to wait.

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Bikes wait while we shop at the Boulton Trading Post

Our first stop of the day was a great one. We took a paved bike path to the Boulton Trading Post. I didn’t really need any supplies, but I thought I might buy a Payday or two for snacks. I started eating Payday’s on bike rides years ago when one of our very best friends and mentor, Orland Crooks turned us onto them calling them “energy bars”. Never referred to again as a candy bar, but as a nourishing totally legit alternative to less tasty alternatives.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ANYWAY, the Boulton Trading Post in Canada did not carry them. Coming to terms with knowing that perhaps they are not sold in Canada at all, I was back to my bike checking my many straps when Mayumi and Erika came up to me and handed me their last Payday and wished me a Happy Anniversary. Tears came easily, not because I was being given the bar, but because of the gesture of these wonderful ladies to recognize my anniversary. Friendship cemented! In retrospect, I am super glad I snapped this photo to help me remember SOMETHING that day that brought on happy tears.

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Another mile of pavement and we were back to the reality of steep rocky sections that I absolutely did not have the power to get me and my bike to the top.

If it came to it, I could always I remove my gear, push Justice to the top. Walk back down however many times it required to retrieve said gear, haul it up, strap it all back on…all the while the other ladies would most likely patiently wait.

For these two and a half days, I have been plotting in my head where and when and what it was going to take to make this adventure more than a sufferfest. First, I knew I would eventually get acclimated to the altitude and that would take care of the constant low grade headaches as well as give me back my power. Secondly, I’m mentally going through my panniers to eliminate all but essentials in order to lighten my load. I was carrying way more food than I needed and once I ate it down, that would be simple and effective. I was carrying my camp chair. It’s not heavy, but it takes up space that could be used to transfer items from my orange bags to my regular panniers. I go back and forth with this tough elimination decision because this is one item that I actually use every single night. What else? My mallet. I can use a rock like everybody else. Less electronics perhaps? Garmin 1000, iPad, solar charger, telephone, and Delorme SE spot tracker. A couple of small stand alone chargers. Which can I eliminate for weight and volume?

I’m carrying three pair of riding socks, my bug socks and a pair of warm ones to wear to bed. Surely I don’t need five pairs of socks. Shoes? I’m wearing my riding shoes, plus I brought my light-weight Brooks running tennis shoes and a pair of water sandals. Either the tennis shoes or the water sandals have got to go home. Neither weigh much, but the volume they take is substantial. Got to do it. Got to shrink my gear weight and volume to make climbing easier. I’ve also discovered that I’m the only member of this team using the original gears that came on the bike. Two of the gals are on mountain bikes and four are on Salsa Fargo’s with modified gearing for easier climbing. Is it enough of a difference for the expense, time and trouble? These are the things running through my head at any given time.  You may laugh at the absurdly sounding conflict of too many socks vs comfortable toes at anytime of the day or night, but I’m here to tell you that when you are depending on others to get you up the first three days of mountains and with a three month journey ahead of us, tough decisions have to be made.

MEANWHILE..the strong girls come to my rescue (I refer to them as the National Guard) as they come walking down the rocky slope to push from behind to get me to the top. Finally, we were at a place to descend for while. It wasn’t a particularly steep descent, but I got my speed up and was enjoying the ease for awhile and perhaps letting my mind wander about the things discussed above, when I come up on two large culverts spaced about two feet between them. My front tire rolled over the first one but I didn’t notice the second one until it was too late to pull up.

To be continued…

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Day 2 – APES

We have decided to name our group the Alpha Pack Explorers or APES for short.  Ha! Sue says this not an Adventure, this is an Exploration!

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The APES.

As horrid as instant coffee tastes at home, it tastes pretty good in camp. It’s all about location, location, location we have decided.

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Sue and I waiting for water to boil for coffee

We got word this morning through the Delorme spot tracker that Betty is riding with a man pulling a bob trailer and they are trying to catch us. I hope they can do it, but given the terrain, I can’t imagine riding the extra miles to make that happen.

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Posing on one of many bridge crossings the past two days. We entered into Peter Loughheed Provincial Park today and met up with lots of day hikers on the trail. We had some challenges with a rocky trail and incredible climbs that I had to hike a bike. My right ankle that I sprained in 2013 does not like the angle that is required to push on the big grades but as soon as I’m up, the pain is over.

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Working together to lift bikes over downed tree

Lunch break. Day two of pbj sandwich for lunch. I am carrying a jar of orange marmalade so I’m still liking them 😎

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Girls gotta eat!

After lunch, we turned onto a real road that had mucho traffic on it. The next 20 miles or so were, let me just say…dusty. This day was another repeat of the fast girls pulling ahead immediately and then waiting for Sue and I at significant places along the trail. I can imagine the frustration they must feel about that, but they are very gracious women and would never tell us so. In fact, each and everyone of them are pretty laid back and seem happy to be a part of this experience.

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A little fun easy single track

We pulled into Canyon Campsite and found a spot pretty much immediately, but as we were walking around picking out the best places for our tents, the camp host drove up and told us that only two tents were allowed per site. Sue and I, with our best negotiating skills talked him into letting us all stay here. I may have had to use my weepy eyes, exhausted expression to seal the deal. It didn’t take much for me to conjure the look. It all worked out and we have access to bear proof boxes so we don’t have to hang our food tonight. Potable water so we don’t have to filter. And…an outhouse so we don’t have to (well you know). No showers again tonight, no electricity to charge electronics.

Suppertime consisted of another MRE. You just can’t beat them for convenience. It takes about 1.5 minutes to boil two cups of water, add the water to the package and then wait approximately 10 minutes to let it hydrate. There is always something to do while I wait.

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Some like to actually cook

Everyone is in their tents early tonight. Time for me to join the ranks of the sleepers. Tomorrow is a big big BIG day! Can you guess why?

Resting comfortably in my two man tent surrounded by my gear. Good decision!

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Day 1 – And….we’re off!

 

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Night before we set off

Front row:  Mayumi from California, Erika from California

Back row:  Carrie from New Mexico, Suzanne from New Jersey, Traci from Kansas, Sue from Washington, Jane from Colorado

We are suppose to be a group of eight. Betty from Texas got in about midnight but her bike didn’t make it (the airline claims they don’t even know where it is) so we had to leave her behind this morning. She is hoping that it might arrive later today or early tomorrow and if it does, she will try to catch us.

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Taken in front of the historic Fairmont Hotel in Banff

Sue and I are struggling with lack of oxygen, technical mountain biking, and heavy bikes. The other women are already acclimated to the altitude and are great riders anyway so they ride ahead and then wait on us at various intervals. At one point today, as I tried to pedal through a pretty deep puddle, my front tire slipped and splash! Thankfully, all my bags are water proof, and other than having to endure some laughing at my expense, there was no harm nor foul. Sue suffered from mechanical issues with her bike but she never fell. Nope, Traci is the weak link for now.

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Sue riding beside Spray Lake

Within 10 miles of Banff there were a lot of riders on the trail. They were locals or visitors in the area for Canada Day so they were not carrying any gear. At one point two men came towards us and saw that we were all women and asked how far we were going. After we told them, one guy got off his bike and gave each one of us an individual hug and wished us good luck. I have to say I’ve never had THAT happen before!

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A meadow of Indian Paint Brush near camp

We got a late start and only rode about 25 miles today getting to camp about 4:00. We are gorilla camping on the edge of Spray Lake Reservoir in a beautiful spot that we just stumbled upon. Sue worked on her bike issues. We filtered a gallon of water. Ate MRE’s for supper and then hung our bear bags.

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Bear bag properly hung with Sue’s Rock throwing and knot tying skills

We’re going to get an earlier start tomorrow and try to go a little further. For now, I sit in my tent and it’s quite chilly outside. Carrie spotted a black bear walking along the beach on the other side of the lake and we all came out to see him lumbering along and grateful he’s so far away that we could barely even tell he was a bear.

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Now you know…what keeps me going 😎

 

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June 30

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The Bow River in Banff

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Bow Falls walking distance from Banff

Such unwanted excitement with United Airlines. Flight cancellations, rebooking and rebooking again left me with three hours of layover at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Texting conversations with Sue kept her informed of my new arrival time. What is it about me and airports? I’m always hungry.

A small world encounter happened on the plane from Wichita to Chicago when a young man sitting right across the isle from me asked where I was headed to bicycle. He said he saw me at the ticket counter with the unusual sized box and wondered if it might contain a bicycle but then saw my tee shirt with a bicycle drawing on it. Safe to assume I was off to cycle somewhere. Turns out he races gravel in the Wichita area and since the bicycling community is fairly small, we know many of the same local cycling icons like Marty Johnson and David Ham. We frequent the same bike shops. I just had to laugh when he told me that Mark Moerner of Apostle Bikeworks told him that a woman had returned a Brooks Cambium saddle. That woman was me as I struggle with saddle issues. Anyway, visiting with him made the flight “fly” by 😎

Once I finally got on the plane to Calgary, the co-pilot announced something that I had a feeling was important, yet I couldn’t quite make out his words due to the muffle of the intercom combined with his strong oriental accent. About that time, the steward began passing out something which turned out to be a Declaration Card. I got hung up with the question of whether I was bringing in various foods. “meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruits or veggies, seeds or nuts”.  Did my unopened jar of Skippy Extraordinarily Crunchy Peanut Butter fall into one of those categories? What about the various unopened MRE’s? I finally decided that yes, they meant those things too. Gosh I hoped they didn’t confiscate them! Or perhaps even worse, decide I was an international smuggler and warrant that I could not enter Canada by any means.  But then another question, am I “carrying weapons such as pepper spray, guns or switchblades”. The first thing that came to mind was a gun. No, don’t have one with me (yet). Bear spray? Nope, will buy it in Banff. So I mark “no” but then remembered, I have a pocket knife buried deep in one pannier. I would not consider it a weapon though as I expect to cut rope, or a juicy Fuji Apple at some point, but a weapon? I don’t think so, and yet, I scratched out my no and marked yes instead. I wonder if my scratches indicating that I changed my mind might trigger extra scrutiny?

A painfully slow process at Canadian Customs left me constantly watching my watch but when my time finally arrived, it was a few quick questions about which foods and what weapons I was carrying and I was waived off as ho hum another crazy bicyclist.  I was finally on my way to pick up my box and duffles at the luggage carousel but the porter had already gathered my gear and was patiently waiting for me. After casually mentioning to the shuttle driver that I get motion sickness, I was offered shotgun seating for the 1.5 hour trip to Banff.

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Two peas in a pod

 

How absolutely thrilled I was to walk into the YWCA and see Sue coming towards me. I think we may have actually screamed our delight! After spending an absurdly large amount of time putting our bikes back together and sorting our gear last night and again today, we feel we are ready to set out tomorrow.

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YWCA where we are staying

We briefly met most of our ride-mates in front of the YWCA last night and are planning on having supper together tonight and one last sit down breakfast in the morning before taking off. One more gal is arriving late tonight. All is well as we anticipate our official start tomorrow. Please stay tuned!

 

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An Unusual Shakedown Ride

On Friday I rode to Offerle to my brother, Mitch’s home for my shakedown ride. This wasn’t so much about the riding as it was about setting up my new one-man tent, sleeping in it and then determining if I have everything I need in my panniers.

The night before we had a good soaking rain so I decided to stay on the pavement for the day (I’m just not ready to get my bike and gear muddy). I did venture North over to Eagle Road to ride some great hills which added a few extra miles. It was a TAILWIND all the way to Offerle and therefore had a nice push up those hills. Nothing like the wind at your back to feel invincible.

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Stopped to test out my mosquito repellent at Hain Lake

Upon arriving, I found a nice spot to pitch my tent on some lush grass that would be in the shade later in the afternoon. That was about the only thing normal for what you would call a shakedown ride. Mitch’s wife and I laughed the day away in the air-conditioned house and we worked together to whip Mitch up a baked cheesecake for dessert. Later in the day I found out that everyone was planning a going away party for me. John rode over on his Harley. Jason and Angie and our granddaughters showed up with a couple buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. My nephew and his wife and kids joined in and we had a pool party almost till dark. After everyone went home, we broke out the cheesecake 😎

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Too small one-man tent!

It was dark by the time I crawled into my tent to spend the very first night within. Oh my…it was so tight compared to my two-man tent that I have spent the equivalent of nine months in over the past three adventures. You’re probably wondering why, if I was used to a two-man tent, why did I buy a smaller one. The reason is mostly because of my bike. My new bike (Justice) does not have the capability of carrying a traditional front rack. Less bags to carry my gear means I need to go smaller. So here I am, claustrophobic anyway, working to be comfortable laying on my blowup pad and pillow. Nope, not comfortable. In fact I don’t think I slept a wink. I kept looking at my phone to see what time it was and listened to several trains go by and other small town noises. Mercifully, the birds finally began singing and I felt like it was late enough that I could crawl out and start packing up. The wind was still blowing just has hard as the day before (this time it would be a headwind home) and decided to execute executive privilege and hit speed dial to ICE#1 and asked John if he would come get me 💙

On the way home I decided to pull my old tent out of retirement and find a way to make it fit in my panniers. Yep, I squished and huffed and puffed and my old roomier tent is going with me to Canada!

John helped me breakdown Justice and place it in the bike caddy. Panniers are packed and in a huge duffle bag. My plane ticket is confirmed for Wednesday morning. I’m really doing this! It’s really real! That’s a lot of “really’s” and I’m REALLY excited! Woot Woot!

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A Time of Preparation

“Uh oh” I announce to my aunties who love me like a daughter…I’m going on another adventure! It doesn’t officially begin until July 1st, but the preparation and training are well under way. Why you ask? Why in March am I writing about a ride that begins three months from now? Because dear readers, it will be the most physical, the most remote, the most dangerous adventure of my life. Truly EPIC!

I’ve been thinking about this ride for years but it was really just a dream until two years ago after finishing my ride to Alaska. This year’s adventure will take me from Banff, Alberta Canada all the way across the U.S. (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico) following the Continental Divide (called the Great Divide in Canada). 2,770 miles on a bicycle with no vehicle support. That means carrying all my gear and enough food to last sometimes five days.

I would need a new bike. And, according to my beloved husband, I would need companions. No solo adventure for me on THIS route. So, I placed a “Companions Wanted” ad in Adventure Cycling Association’s magazine and website and have seven or eight women who will at least begin this adventure with me. Ages range from 29 to 69. It’s very hard to find women who can dedicate a whole summer away from work, school and family. At this point almost all of us plan to ride the whole distance. One gal plans to venture off to see friends before finishing up the trip so we will lose her somewhere in Montana. The youngest, who says she is joining us, isn’t very vocal so I’m not sure if she will really be there when we leave Banff. Another woman plans to ride about three weeks with us then has other obligations so will also be leaving us somewhere in Montana. I think it’s possible that the physical aspect of this adventure might also have a few more dropping here and there, but for now most are in preparation to ride the whole distance.

I will be writing my blog as I go, knowing full well that I will only find wifi when the route takes us through some civilized areas. There maybe a week of no blogs and then BOOM, they will all come through the same time. I suspect my blogs will be shorter, with perhaps less stories. I don’t know how much energy I will have at the end of the day to write. But, write I will! For one thing, it is an ORDER from John 😎

I’ll share more in other blogs between now and July 1st, but for now…planning and training is in the works and excitement builds with each passing day. The preparation continues…

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