Monday, June 18, 2012

"The G'Knight Ride is a celebration of cycling, and is meant for cyclists of all ages, sizes, and abilities.  The Ride is a great excuse to dust off that old 10-speed, mountain bike, or cruiser and hop on with 1,500+ other riders on a great evening tour."

Really, it's all about getting people out of their homes, and on bikes!

I like this ride not because it is fast or intense - it is neither. In fact, it's not even much of a workout. A slow, meandering 16 mile loop, with much of it spent dodging young children and trying to pedal up hills at 5mph behind ten speeds that have been tucked in the back of garages for decades prior. But that's the point. The point is to make cycling accessible for everyone, to inspire a love of bikes and a sense of community, and to entertain the notion that the time spent on a bicycle is time well spent, generally.

I had to put in a little time promoting the CO Tour de Cure with my friends from the ADA. Unfortunately, Dennis was at the office on Saturday afternoon...which meant that I had a couple of helpers in tow. 

Midori busied herself making a paper bag puppet in the kids area. Henry was running around, making havoc. Good enough.
People of all ages and abilities...even the very young.

The kids get a turn to race a one mile course. This is really more of a workout for the parents who, as you might imagine, are forced to run alongside their cycling tots. Ever chased a kid on a bike going about eight miles per hour? While wearing flip-flops? Hardest part of my night.

It is funny to see aid stations every three or four miles but, in the spirit of accessibility and making the ride possible for anyone - and for the sake of fun...

Silliness aside, I spotted a young woman - maybe about 15 - in a Title Nine jersey! I stopped to ask her if she rode with the team. "No," she replied, "I just got in to cycling, and my coach used to ride with them. She gave me the kit."

I told her a bit about my time with Title Nine, and spent a good amount of the ride chatting with her and her father about the need to get women involved in the take women who simply ride bikes and make them women who race. It was a good conversation, and I hope I persuaded her to get out there and give it a go!

I also managed to run into a few good friends, and several of my patients at the office.

My own daughter, on the other hand, was all too pleased to spend a night racing her bike and riding around with the sounds or a million tiny bike bells.

Building healthy communities isn't about eliminating advertising from the Disney Channel or taxing soda. It's about giving people the opportunity to commune, to get together, and to do it in a manner that is meaningful and fun and promotes living well in spheres both physical and social. There's nothing preachy or cajoling about getting on a bike with 2000 of your closest friends and neighbors, and going for a spin. No arm-twisting or heavy handed public health measures needed. Making a community livable is about finding ways to tap into the energy that brings people into a space for a common purpose, and making that matter for the health of all who live there.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day

Long before any notion of Father's Day, Dennis was my safe spot in the world. I remember the days when we didn't have children...when I was finishing my thesis and worried about a career and money and building my future...and falling in to his arms at night and knowing that, so long as he was at my side, all would be right in the world. He was all I needed to make it through.

And then we had Henry. Laying in the back of an ambulance during a blizzard, bleeding and terrified and hearing the paramedics say that they could not find my son's heartbeat, I reached for my husband. And I knew that we would all be okay.

And then, in Henry's infancy, we spent countless nights in hospitals. My husband held our boy in the back of an ambulance as he was transferred from one ER to another Pediatric Care Unit miles away, watching his chest rise and fall and Henry struggled to take in air. He sat with him through chest x-rays and blood draws and nebulizer treatments and oxygen tents. And, through it all, I looked at my husband, and knew we would survive.

And then I was diagnosed with diabetes. Dennis - not my doctor - was the one to break the news. Tentatively, because he knew I would flip out, he held my hand and told me that it would all be okay. (I did flip out, by the way.) He was right. It ended up more than okay.

And then when our daughter was born, and they suspected a genetic disorder, he held his little girl...looked at her...and with tears in his eyes, promised Midori that she would be okay. He held her tiny fingers all the way to Children's Hospital. He sat through the procedure to diagnose her, because he knew I would break under the weight of holding down my newborn daughter as she was poked and prodded. And, when it was over, we all held on to him.

He was there the day Midori had her first seizure, stopped breathing, and was taken to the Critical Care Unit at the hospital. He held her in the ambulance, rocking his seizing daughter, promising her that she would be fine. She was.

And then there was the night he spent awake at her side, watching her breath...watching the chest retractions...trying not to wake me as he knew that she, too, had Reactive Airway Disease and that we would be back in a hospital by morning. Finally, he woke me. I stayed home with Henry, while he sat in the ER with our daughter at four in the morning, and called me every hour to let me know that she was alright.

Of course, he has been there through the wonderful moments, too: The moments our children came in to the world...the graduations and celebrations and birthdays and vacations. He chased both kids on their bikes as they learned to ride without training wheels, and caught them before they fell. He has watched them run races and receive awards and play concerts. He's made small talk at about a hundred preschool birthday parties. He's played, "Pretty, Pretty Princess" more than once, and both kids know how to kick a ball thanks to his diligence.

At the end of the day, however, the thing about Dennis is that, good or bad, he remains my safest place in this world. It is true: as long as he is there, with us, we are okay. We'll find a way. We'll get through. It has been a long - and sometimes hard - seven years of living and marriage and parenthood...but I wouldn't trade it. If you asked Dennis or I about our life, we would tell you it is "perfect." Truly, we wouldn't change a day.

And the best day? The day I decided to spend forever with him.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway
During the warmer months, we are rarely indoors. My kids spend most of their time running about the neighborhood and, since they have become proficient cyclists in their own right, hopping on bikes and pedaling to the nearby park or pool. The new found freedom that accompanies a set of wheels has made for some small-scale panic attacks on the part of Dennis and I (like the time that Henry took $5 from his father's wallet and pedaled without consent to the Dairy Queen down the street, or the time Midori took off with her friend, Luna, absent any permission). Without question, however, t he bicycle is the preferred mode of transportation in our home...and with good reason:

According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.

Bike commuting is an ideal solution to the need for moderate physical activity, which can be practiced five times a week. A 130-pound cyclist burns 402 calories while pedaling 14 miles in an hour. A 180-pound cyclist burns 540 calories while pedaling 14 miles in an hour. (That is assuming you are not trailing two kids, two backpacks, a violin, four dolls, a toy car, a box of figs and some acorns. Adjust your burn accordingly.)

With that in mind, a day of Furuta Family Bike Commuting:

Never let your four year old set up the bike trailer. Spatial reasoning.

Your friends can help ready you. >>>>

The standard Saturday Morning fare: A vegan Tamale from the Boulder County Farmer's Market, followed by a snack on the ride home. Handfuls of Palisade Cherries.

A quick trip to the bread store, and a warm slice of honey wheat.

Tight quarters. 

Quick dip at the pool.

Ready to head home.

One last errand and a long ride with Dad.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marquise du DeffandThe distance is nothing; it's only the first step that is difficult

I usually devote this space to a detailed description of a race or ride...but sometimes, I think it is better to reflect less on the play-by-play of events, and more on the motivation that moves a person to start. After all, that is the battle right? Getting started.

The North Carolina Tour de Cure is the only tour in the country that lasts two days. It kicks off with a 109 mile ride bypassing rolling hills and fields filled with strawberries and tobacco plants, along picturesque farms and through tiny southern towns. It is the idyllic image of the South at every turn, over every hill and down every stretch of pavement. At the finish, you find a lovely farm-to-table dinner, good friends old and new, and lots of reminiscing about tired legs and fast turns. Sunday morning, the riders get up and re-trace the same route, arriving back where they started only day prior with more than 200 miles of riding behind them.

It's an impressive undertaking. 

There was a time when I could not have imagined cycling 200 miles in a weekend. Even now, my husband chuckles when I tell him that I am going out for a "quick fifty," or when I suggest that a race is "only" 64 miles. And after I was diagnosed with diabetes? It seemed more daunting still.

That's what makes the picture above so absurdly inspiring to me. Every single person in that picture has some form of diabetes. Each of them woke up on Saturday, determined to ride 200 miles. More importantly, each of them put in the hard work to make that goal after day after day.

My teammate Erin Cutrell and I - alongside Tour director Katie-Rose Darby - kicked off the event. I had spoken with many of the cyclists in advance of sending them down the road, and all seemed confident in their ability to complete the full route. Most made it the full 200. Some availed themselves of the SAG wagon after the fifty mile mark, unable to push on to the finish. But every one of them got started.

Growing up, we lived in an old, Victorian house with a small farm. There was a hand pump just outside the back door, which we used to irrigate fruit trees. You would take a bucket and you had to pour a little of the water in the cup beside the pump into the hole at the top, and then pump like crazy before you got any water. After that, it would flow nicely until the next priming was required.

That's how it is with most things in life - you start with a drop of expectation, with the idea that something is possible, and then you work like crazy until the results begin to multiply. To carry that analogy one step further, we now live in a world of faucets. My son wants a cup of water, and he can simply hold his glass under the tap. Likewise, for many of us the ease of modern convenience makes it hard to put in the work - to get to the gym or dust off the bike or lace up the shoes - and because we never put in the work, we never find the free flowing rewards.

I spent Saturday night enjoying good food and wonderful company, sitting at a table next to Tony Cervati.  Tony's story is as amazing as is he. He was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of eight, and has spent most of his adult years as an accomplished mountain biker and endurance athlete. Last year, he decided that he would show that anything is possible with diabetes, and wanted to take on the Tour of the Divide. The race itself is craziness, running along the entire continental divide between Baanf, Albert, Canada and the border to Mexico. As he would later go on to tell the riders as the keynote speaker of the evening, Tony encountered a grizzly bear after only 50 miles. He fell into a raging river, was swept away, and nearly died. He crawled from the river to a farm house, and was taken to the hospital with some broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a dislocated shoulder. He's about to give it a second try this year:

So much of success is simply finding the will to begin. It was wonderful to see these amazing athletes cross the finish line...but it was more amazing to hear them talk about getting to the start line. One woman told me that she began with two minutes - two minutes! - of cycling every other day because that was all she could manage. From two minutes to 200 miles.