Friday, August 12, 2011

One Year, an inventory of sorts

It was a year ago today i rode my bike to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and had my right foot amputated to stop the spread of that nasty, little beast cancer. On some levels, i don't really know what to say about the last year, so instead, i figured i'd provide a photo inventory of some of the things i've lost and some of the things i've gained. With the intent of ending on the positive, i'll start with losses and move to gains.

Some of the things i lost over the past year:

My sister-in-law Bunny who was killed after being struck by a truck while riding her bike.

My mom, who passed away after a long battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

My dog Hannah, who passed away of old age.

My right foot, removed to rid my body of cancer.

Two of my dearest colleagues, who left Utah to move back to their respective hometowns.

My best friend.

My training partner.

And a few of the year's gains:

An invigorated appreciation and respect for life.

An invigorated appreciation and respect for my health and all that my body and mind are capable of.

An appreciation and deep gratitude for technology.

Qualification for the US National Paracycling team.

Two bronze medals.

New motivation to ride and train.

Some new feet.

A couple of teaching awards.

New friends, communities, and inspirations.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

getting some form back

Well, first of all, i have to say "Wow!!" i did not expect that the voting would overwhelmingly favor wearing the "Amputees need love too!" T-shirt on a first date, but you, the people, have spoken, so as soon as i get that first date, i will in fact wear the T-shirt. I'll let you know how it goes (and i'll also hold you all accountable if it ends miserably)!

Photo: Chris See

Alright, having addressed that, time to move on to other more interesting stuff, like bike racing. It's been almost a year since my amputation, and i'm starting to feel like i'm getting some form back and can actually be competitive in a race rather than just getting shelled out the back as soon as the racing really starts. In fact, this last weekend i took 6th overall in the Bikes4kids stage race, with a 3rd place in the TT. And last weekend i didn't let the hill pictured below take me out of the race.

I know it doesn't look like much from this angle (hills never look as steep in pictures or on TV), but the last little kicker is 8-9% and goes on just long enough to really hurt. At the state championship Road Race we did 5 laps of this course, with a rollout starting across the street from the hill to make for a total of 6 times up the hill. Since climbing is definitely a weakness since losing my right calf, i was afraid i was going to get dropped on the hill when the inevitable attacks started. But lap after lap i was able to hang on. On the 3rd time up the hill i made a strategic attack about a mile before the hill to get a head start. This worked out perfectly as the rest of the group caught me just as i was cresting the top, but this was also the time they took the hill the hardest and dropped half a dozen other riders. Fortunately my strategy paid off and i jumped back in the group for the rest of the race. Of course the last time up the hill the field splintered since the finish line was just past the crest of the hill and the attacks were furious. i got passed by most of the other racers, but overall i was happy to have stayed with the lead group for the whole race. At the beginning of the season i was unceremoniously dropped from every race as soon as we hit any incline, so it's gratifying to be able to stay in till the finish now.

I'm looking forward to Worlds in three weeks, and then after Denmark time to gear up for the 2011 CX season (is it ok to say i may even be a little more excited for CX then worlds). And i'm just going to put this out there. It may be pie in the sky, but i'm starting to entertain the idea that i may have it in me to upgrade to a cat 2. I've never thought this possible, even before the amputation, but with some hard work and dedication i think i can get there. I know i'm not there now, but am sure going to give it my all going into the 2012 road season. By making it public, that puts the pressure on to follow through, right?!?