Today my cousin-in-law, Sandy, is sitting in an infusion room going through her 4th round of chemo. It has been just over 8 weeks since her stage 3 lymphoma diagnosis. It has only been 2 days since her 40th birthday. It was just 8 hours ago that she “felt pretty good”. In 24 hours she will likely feel like crap! If this round is like the past 3, in 3 days she will be wondering if the disease might be better than the treatment. Hopefully next week she will be back to feeling better again. In 21 days she has to do it all over again.
As I ride this week in Iowa, Sandy will be behind me all the way. If this year is anything like last year, at least 5 people will ask me about my flag every day. I will be able to tell them a little bit about her story and her battle. Part of that story is that Sandy was born 175 years too late. She has always matched to the beat of her own drum. If she had lived in the 1800’s she absolutely would have been a “privateer”. (For those who are not history buffs, a “Privateer” works for the good guys while a “Pirate” works for the bad guys.) if Sandy had lived back then she would work for the good guys and help them do what others would not.
In fine Privateer fashion Sandy took control of what she could just days after her first chemo treatment. Her hair was “thinking” of falling out so she cut it all off. Over the 4th of July she could be found on Torch Lake in Northern Michigan terrorizing paddle borders on a Waverunner going 70mph. On her head – a black bandanna with a red Skull and Cross Bones. (This first bandanna was lost when she was capsized by a “rogue wave”.)
I could not find a Privateer flag but wanted to dedicate the rest of my rides this year to Sandy. So along with my usual yellow flag I have also attached a small Pirate flag. I will give the yellow flag to Sandy after RAGBRAI and the Pirate flag to her after my last outdoor ride of 2013. Even in 2013 she’s a good “Pirate” as she fights like hell for the good guys.
PS We can wish Sandy luck by following this link: http://bit.ly/12Yf28t
On Friday I leave for the strangest bicycling adventure I have ever done. I am headed for RAGBRAI. Yes, I have ridden across the country from San Dieago to St Augistine. Yes, I hauled my bicycle to Hawaii and road UP Haleakala. Yes, I road across Michigan (152 miles) in one day. And Yes, I did RAGBRAI last year. Why will this trip be strangest? Because I do not know why I doing it.
Last year I did RAGBRAI because it was on my bucket list. I road across the country because my Dad wanted to. I road up Haleakala because everyone said it was crazy. I road across Michigan because a bunch of co-workers set it up. I bicycle in general because I hate running and love Oreo cookies. There really is no reason for me to do RAGBRAI again.
I do 99% of my bike riding alone. I like this alone time. Next week I will be riding with 20,000 others. I like sleeping in a bed and never go camping. Next week I will be sleeping in a tent with no hope of air conditioning in Iowa in July. I actually like to eat vegetables at every meal. The only green vegetable I found over the 7 days last year was iceberg lettuce in a taco salad. (Plenty of corn!) As stated above, I bike so I can eat junk food. Despite riding 470 miles last year I gained 4lbs. On top of all this, riding again this year does not allow me to cross anything off my list. Why do it if I cannot cross it off my list?
Next week I will be going to RAGBRAI because I have been “called” to do it. Yep, this sounds very strange and it is. I made commitments to do other bike events this summer. I specifically made the commitment to my wife that I would not abandoned her for a week in July again. I told everyone that I was not doing it again. Starting in January, however, I started feeling this pull. I would go to bed every week with the conclusion that I was NOT going to do it. Two days later my resolve would falter for some reason or another. Sometime in April Jeri was getting ready for a date (with me!) and I said, “I have something weird to bring up.” She said to me, “I think you should do RAGBRAI this year.” What the heck? Where did that come from? How did she know? Very weird!
So in a couple days I am off to ride with 20,000 people I do not know, sleep on the ground, eat horribly, and not be able to cross anything off my list. Here is the strangest part. I feel perfectly comfortable doing it. I am going for a purpose. I just don’t know what it is. Maybe it is to ride with someone who needs a partner. Maybe it is to lug bags for others who need help. Maybe it is to just ride and take in the beauty. Maybe the purpose of me going has already been accomplished and I will never know it. I am just going with the flow and working to be in the moment. Very Very Strange, but I am going to give it a shot