This past week I rode in the Tour de Cure to raise funds for research for diabetes. As you know, it's a cause dear to my heart, especially now that my daughter suffers with T1D.
The bike ride was annoying. But then I realized that having T1D was probably more annoying, and therefore a good use of my time. Here's what I mean.
1. I Hate People
Whoops, that's probably too broad a statement. Allow me to refine. I hate exercising with people. When I run, I don't have enough breath to carry on a conversation AND use my asthma-strangled lungs to take in oxygen. So leave me alone and stay out of my zone. I'm focused on what I'm doing.
Speaking of my zone, riding my bike is a tenuous thing. I am not confident enough in my balance to ensure that I won't fall over and land on you. So stay away. And don't put me in a "pack" of other people.
(It should be noted, though, that playing sports does not count here. That's not exercise. That's fun, and more fun with people.)
1. High Blood Sugars Make You Feel Terrible
I only know this from watching my daughter. When her blood sugar is too high, she is a monster. And why wouldn't she be? Chemicals that work themselves through in a normal person are pooling in her stomach and blood supply and making her whole body feel sick. When it gets really bad, it is literally killing her.
So, those with diabetes probably hate people too, when their disease is getting to them.
2. There's So Much To Do to Get Ready
I'm a little bit into cycling now. Yes, I wear bike shorts and even the tight jerseys. Gotta have at least two water bottles and something to consume. I need my gloves and helmet, special shoes and sunglasses. Must have my cycling computer to know how fast I'm going. Then there's sunscreen, lip balm, phone, iPod, inhaler, & tissues. Let's not forget that fix-a-flat kit that I don't know how to use. Then, since it's not just a ride from home, I need to have my waiver, number, donations, I.D., toll money, directions… is that it? I hope so. So much stuff. (What a first world problem.)
2. In order to EAT - eat anything-, my daughter needs to first check her blood sugar.
This involves, cleaning her fingers, "priming" them to get the blood flowing, getting out a test strip and prepping the meter, lancing her finger, squeezing out the blood, hoping it's enough for the strip (which isn't always, in our case), dipping the test strip, waiting for a reading, cleaning up the blood and supplies. THEN we have to count the carbs in what she's eating, enter the blood sugar reading into the pump (or algorithm), enter the carbs, praying that she will eat and be satisfied with what was chosen, push all the rest of the needed buttons on the pump to get the calculation, decide if the amount of insulin the pump recommends is really appropriate, and then administer the insulin. Wait a few minutes, if possible, and THEN she can eat.
That's for every meal, every snack, pretty much every time she opens her mouth. Yeah. That's annoying.
3. It's Early in the Morning
Not a convenient time for me. I prefer exercising later in the day, and ideally late at night. Now, my ride started later, but my husband rode the 63 mile ride that I wanted to do before I broke my wrist. He woke up at 4 am for his ride. Umm, no thanks.
3. There's never a convenient time for your pancreas to stop working.
I can give my daughter insulin, but it will only work when it wants to. When my she eats pizza, we still have not found the exact time when the insulin and the carbs will intersect. That's not convenient.
It's also not convenient for her blood sugar to drop during school, so she misses class to go to the nurse. It's not convenient when her blood sugar goes high in the middle of the night and she is up sick in the bathroom.
4. I Have to Ask People for Money.
I HAAAATE asking people for anything, especially money. Fundraisers, even for a good cause, bring out the fear in me. I can't even bring myself to ask people to buy the books I've written - and that's my job! I'm a lousy marketer. This time around, for the first time ever, I didn't have as much trouble asking people to save my daughter.
4. I also hate PAYING money for things I shouldn't have to.
Like, bank fees, parking tickets, and medication to replace a hormone your body should already be producing. Recently, I picked up my inhaler from the pharmacy to find it was covered by insurance 100%. I told the pharmacist, "Hey, nice that I get to breathe for free!" She answered, "Well, I don't pay for air. Why should you?" Now, some of my daughter's medications and supplies are covered by insurance, but not all. What is not covered adds up. And heaven forbid we make a mistake (or the pump makes a mistake) and we need to pay for the insulin before the time the insurance company has allotted for us. It's really enough to make me want to suction insulin out of my own body to give to her. If only…
I am always telling my children that life is not a competition. Fair is not always equal, and all those clichés. But in this case, we can call a winner, and it's not me. So, I will ride as many bike rides as it takes until they find a cure for my daughter and others who suffer with diabetes. Thank you to all of those who make it possible by raising support money and arranging for it get to the right hands. May it only be a few more until we ride for something else.
Which means it is about one of two things... and sorry to disappoint you, but it's about cycling.
Lately, in my rebellion against running, and my desire to keep up the metabolism, I have taken to riding my bike. It's a lot easier on my body than running, so I can stay at it longer (keeping the benefits of the run). And it just so happens that I married a man who knows a lot about cycling. (For example, those who ride the 2-wheeled machines without motors are "cyclists," not bikers.)
I call him "Coach" because he can be a different guy when he talks about riding. But I'm starting to get it. He laughs at me when I complain about motorists not following the laws.
He's been trying to teach me other things too, about how to get the most out of a ride. The outcome of your ride can depend greatly on the gear in which you ride. Until recently, I never switched gears. (Shh. Don't tell Jeremy.)
Another factor, though, that affects your ride is the weather. This one is interesting, because you have no control over it. You can only react to it. The biggest factor when riding?
When you ride your bike, your 1** lb. body is suspended on a machine that probably weighs less than one-tenth your own body weight. And the only parts of that machine that are touching the ground are on either side of you, not directly under you. There's a lot of room for the wind to play around in.
Switching gears back to gear switching. (he he!) I have noticed there are two kinds of riders. I call them the pushers and the spinners:
1. Pushers ride with a smaller gear. It requires more effort - you need to add more work to go, but you get a stronger output, and therefore, go faster. I like that. I'm a pusher.
2. Spinners use a bigger gear and let the bike do most of the work. You don't have to do much, and the bike will still go. But since the bike doesn't have the muscles you do, you don't go as fast. My husband encourages me to "spin" more, because it's a better aerobic workout. But I don't like doing work that gets me nowhere.
Now, combine what we just talked about - gears and wind. Although I try to avoid riding on windy days, one day the other week, I had no choice. I picked the LEAST windy day of the week, but still had to deal with about 11 mph wind and gusts. Pushing into the wind is hard, and there are times that it feels like the wind might push you backwards. And since it is already hard to push on a small gear, you might be tempted to switch to a bigger, easier gear to make it easier to pedal.
But, if you try to go up to an easier gear, you are more susceptible to the forces around you. The bike isn't heavy enough to fight the wind for you. The more reliance you put on your bike (in that easy gear), the more the bike will decide to go with the wind, the less control you have. You are really going to wind up being tossed in the direction the wind puts you.
Your life is the bike. The wind is the forces around you. Like it or not, it's a windy day. You have thrown yourself into the forces around you, which are other people. You have a choice. You can put yourself in an easy gear and go with the flow of the people around you, letting them decide where you should go and what your path will be, or you can fight it in a smaller gear. You can take control and go where you choose to go. It's hard. But the more you do it, the more muscle you build and the easier it will come.
We have no control over the wind or the windbags. But when we put the effort into it, we can choose what's right for us.
Passion Under Grace,