In the spirit of a No Opportunity Wasted life, which I fully embraced because of the occasion of my birthday last year, I planned to celebrate my 49th birthday riding with some friends – who are also challenged athletes – in a little cycling event called the Hotter N’ Hell Hundred in Wichita, Texas.  And by little, I mean about 13,000 riders.

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Heat exacerbates my MS symptoms, so I knew better than to plan on the 100-mile route, but the 50-miler seemed do-able.  I figured if the heat got to be too much for me, I’d just do the shorter route of 25 miles, or, worse case scenario, avail myself of SAG.  What I didn’t plan on was never making it to the Start Line.  Especially distressing when the drive each way is over 8 hours and you’ve got a body that responds to driving with increased pain & fatigue, and you’ve spent money you don’t really have on gasoline to get there & lodging to stay there.

I won’t go into all of the frustrating & disheartening details here, right now, because I’m still too upset to revisit everything.  The short story is that a combination of mechanical & technical difficulties + challenges served up by my MS’d body + being supercalifragi-fracked by Expedia & Comfort Inn + poor communication with good people = not getting to the starting line on a ridable trike in time.  Which resulted in whining, cursing & that kind of covert crying you do when you cannot help crying but desperately need anyone who might be around not to notice/realize that you’re crying.  It’s a good thing that fluffy golden service dogs make for good camouflage, and even better shoulders-to-cry-on.

Luckily, the trip wasn’t a total waste of time.  I scored some phenomenally awesome socks at the cycling expo/consumer show.  I’m pretty sure these are going to make me go superhero-fast during the San Diego Tri Challenge. (in 56 days!) ((aaaAAAhhhHHHH!!!))

BAM!sox

I got to visit with some friends, eat some yummy Tex Mex, and meet new people.  Luke & I had a lovely morning exploring Lucy Park with a walk along the Wichita River to see the Falls.

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I love seeing the world through his eyes, his obvious, unbridled wonder.

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Though Luke also experienced some upset on this trip when, not 50 yards into the park, his brand new tennis ball slipped from his jaws, fell on the uneven ground of the trailside & immediately rolled down a ravine, landing in the mud-banks of the river.

LukeLostBallRiverBank

See his ball in upper right of the frame?  That river bank is both muddier & steeper than it looks, so retrieving his ball was not an option.  Poor Luke 😦

I’m still in a tremendous amount of physical pain from all of the driving (and from having to hurriedly haul all of my belongings out of my room when Comfort Inn kicked me out (because Expedia messed up my reservation, not once but twice).  Yep, the manager of the Comfort Inn kicked out a disabled woman & her service dog (knowing the closest available room was in Oklahoma, over 100 miles away).  Then he stood by, along with his staff, while I made 5 or 6 trips to the car, never once offering to help.  The ineptitude of Expedia, the callousness & cruelty of the Comfort Inn, will not soon be forgotten.  I will have to recover physcilaly & summon the mental energy to deal with them properly, through official channels, in the next few days.

The bright side of the trip – other than the gorgeous morning spent exploring with my best buddy Luke – was the successful rides of my dear friends, my challenged athlete comrades in recumbent trike “arms.”  David, Justin & Emily (and Emily’s mom Alexis) had the joint goal of finishing that 50-mile route, and they triumphed over hills, winds & ferocious heat to summit that Everest!  I am so proud of each of them, so awed by their  fortitude & endurance, by their ever-conquering spirits.  Go Team Ride Ataxia!!!

I really wish I could have shared that experience with them, been there to support them & to see their faces as they crossed that Finish Line.  But this

HotterNHellTeamRideAtaxia

 

is truly the best birthday present of all.

I’m immensely fortunate to have so many extraordinary, inspiration-worthy people in my life.  I’m blessed to have a multitude of friends who motivate & WOW me, day-in & day-out.  If that old saying – that you can tell a lot about someone by the people around them – is true, then I have absolutely no doubt that my reputation is being outrageously, exponentially enhanced by the talented, audacious, abiding, gracious, joyful, never-give-up, No Opportunity Wasted folks I get to call my friends & family.

PS!

I’m training for the SanDiego Tri Challenge!  Can you believe it?  This will be my first triathlon since MS came-a-vistin’ to my life.  I’m raising funds & awareness for Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization devoted to making a difference in the lives of folks with illness & disability who need our help to enjoy a more active, independent, wild-&-wonderful life.  Like this guy, JJ.

CAFkiddo

Wanna make a difference?  You could pass on my story & donation page:  email, Tweet, Facebook post – anything you can think of to spread the word would be an enormous to help to me.  And, more importantly, to CAF :0)

Here’s where you can donate to my San Diego Tri Challenge adventure.  And you may read more about my motivation for this ride & the marvelous Challenged Athletes Foundation in my previous blog post.

As always, thanks for reading.  It’s nice to you’re out there, on “my team.”  And, btw, if you ride a recumbent trike – or hope to someday soon – you need to know about the marvelous resource & community that is BROL.  If not for Bent Rider Online, I wouldn’t be the rider I am today, that’s for darn sure.

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