Friday, August 1, 2014

day 6

Tomorrow is our last day, it is a sad day and a happy day. I will miss my bike family,  but I miss my boys so much more. I have learned alot on this ride, about wisconsin and about myself. I have learned its okay to ask for help. Its okay to take a detour in the day and just have fun.  Wisconsins terrain is just like home and it has made me miss my boys and familiar sites. Your bumm and legs and knees and back and your entire body hurt after being on your bike for six days. We all can make a difference one tree at a time and one community at a time. I learned that you really need to train for a six day biking marathon.  I have learned that when you send out positive energy, it all comes back to you and then more. Today we rode thru towns that were gorgeous and the community sponsored gardens on the bike trails. When communities work together beautiful things spring up.  So many towns had festivals this week, I am just sorry I couldn't visit them all. But for the last night on the tour I did hang out with friends and enjoy a band. I danced, I sang along I had fun. I cant tell you the last time I did that. Sometimes things come along your way and you just have to do it. Embrace life my friends,  its a journey you wont soon forget and its over before you know it. Embrace the detours and the adventures, when you step out of your bubble, great things can happen; and they will. I promise.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

day 4 adventures

Did you know that Seymour wisconsin was the birth place of the hamburger? A local lady told me how it all began when a gentlemen at the fair in the 1800's was selling meatballs and cut his meatball in half and put it between two pieces of bread so his patrons could walk and eat. Thus the birth of the hamburger.  Every year the town celebrates with a hamburger festival. There are ketchup slides, bun runs and hot air balloons.  They take a lot of pride in being the original home of the hamburger.

Worlds largest hamburger.

Why do I tell you about this? To prove a point and a lesson I learned a long time ago. If you stop and take a moment you can learn alot about an area and its citizens. Its not unusual for me to stop and just talk to someone,  we all have a story. We live in a world that is very busy, we have to go here, we have to do this or that. But truly its not the destination its the journey and how you experience it. We can all put our heads down and grind through the day, but how many  of us lift our heads and truly look around?
This year there is a common theme among the veteran riders," I'm taking a page out of jims book and relaxing. " it would appear that more ice cream shops are being visited, more scenes are being admired, and friendships are being forged stronger.
Today we saw guinea hens and some large cranes up close. But we also saw a hop farm, beautiful vistas,  corn fields, an oversized hamburger and the home of the green bay packers. We met a family that is giving joy to others in the face of their own tragedy.  We planted a katsura today and dedicated it to courage. Courage for this family to keep fighting their battles and courage to everyone else that is fighting their battles.
This is what stihl tour des trees is about in my opinion; bringing the communities together through trees. From the little kids learning from professor pricklethorn to tree dedications for communities and families. We may only visit an area for a few moments, but we leave a legacy for everyone to enjoy. I am glad I am riding this year and I look forward to florida next year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day three

What a wonderful day it has been. A nice FLAT terraine with only a small wind in places. A very nice break from the last two days.  Today was going to be my day to do the entire route.  But fate had something else in mind. In the middle of nowhere my seat/saddle decided it wanted to dance with a good wiggle waggle.  This was not so good for my bum nor my balance, so we had to put a stop to the dance party. Unfortunately this meant a ride in the truck to the mechanics mobile office.
At the same time though two riders both experienced even worse problems. They both had a tire rubbing and both had an accident. They were able to walk away but blood was spilled. It made my seats dance party seem minuscule in the big picture, when to my little picture it as huge.
We go through life with this perception all the time. Ohmmy it's the end of the world my shirt is dirty that I want to wear. Someone didn't shut the freezer door. Meanwhile somewhere someone just found out they don't have long to live. Or someone just found out they lost their job and cant make the mortgage payment.  Sometimes we need to just step back, take a deep breathe and just take a second look at a situation.  Yes it may be bad, but can you find a solution? Can you ask for help? Can you accept help? Even the biggest strongest person needs help, but sometimes we just need to be patient and wait for the right solution, because somewhere someone else may need more help or maybe they are waiting for you to help. Who will you help today? As for me, I will try and motivate at least five people tomorrow plus myself, together we are a team and together we can conquer anything; big or small.

Monday, July 28, 2014

conquering challenges

I learned yesterday that my biggest challenge was me, and today I looked at that challenge and said bring it. And the best thing is,  I conquered it. Not only did I conquer it, I demolished it.
I started the day a little tired and very scared of my clips, okay I was petrified.  I wisely decided after hearing about the terrain to take the support truck to the first rest area. I am very grateful I did because I was able to find out why my clips were challenging me and get them fixed. Now I am un clipping like a champ. But truly the best part was sharing a tree dedication with thom and his family for his dad that passed away this past year. To hear his stories and to learn more about the area was incredible. I was honored to share that moment with him and his family.
After the dedication I headed out on my bike for a nice long ride.  I went through some very impressive farms where the corn flanked me on both sides and their leaves rustled in the wind. It was beautiful to hear and it was very peaceful. Thankfully someone turned down the wind setting today and it made the riding all the more enjoyable. It was still windy, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday.  We rode by beautiful lakes and streams all day and even went on a ferry ride.  The best part of the ferry ride was the moose tracks ice cream at the end, that was partly funded by a dear friend. Thats what this ride is about, helping each other when we can.
Then there was devils lake state park and the hills that surround it.  Jimminy crickets they were steep and twisting and never ending. But I only walked a smidgen when I did a switchback and lost all my momentum.  But as soon as I could I was back on and riding with a great sense of accomplishment.  The devil tried to bring me down, but I did not let him.
At the next rest area I knew I was done, it was 5:00 and the hotel was still 25 miles away. No way was I going to do 25 miles in the 1 hour that was recommended.  So I rode the truck back to the hotel. I am glad I did, I learned all about the language of wisconsin and more about the dells.  Did you know they call a sofa a davenpot. A water fountain is a bubbler.  They use the words crick and pop appropriately and when you say wisconsin the first three letters sound like whiz, as in cheese whiz.
I am glad that I did face my biggest challenge today and that I conquered it. Without it I would have lost out on some great conversations, fixed my clip ons and I pushed myself just enough to be happy but not too much that I hurt myself. It always amazes me how much I learn on the tour des trees , not necessarily about trees but about myself. If you were peddaling for eight or ten hours what could you learn? Just imagine it, to be free of stress of work or life and have the opportunity to just be free.  Its an incredible feeling, I recommend it to everyone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Ahh wisconsin,, you are a beautiful state with rolling farm fields filled with corn and soy beans. But you really should come with a warning label about your wind. Good golly the wind was brutal today. It was so strong it almost pushed me over a few times. I would work my way up over a hill for the great anticipated  treat of going downhill to coast, but no not in wisconsin.  In wisconson you keep pedaling downhill because the wind pushes you back up the hill. 
What a great adventure today was.  I did have a minor fall today at a red light. I came to a sudden stop and I could not get my clips out fast enough, so over I went turtle style. I no longer can favor my one good knee now because both are now equally injured.  But like the trooper I am, I got back up and kept on pedaling. I hurt but I kept going. Until my friend frazer told me to stop and get in the van, it was time to rest, oh and he was so right on that one even if I put up a little fight not to ride in the van. But after lunch I got back on the bike and pedaled again,  that is till the storm hit and we had to seek shelter in a tree line.   There is nothing more bonding  with good friends then huddling together in a tree line as you watch the rain fall sideways and the thunder and lightning is all around you.  Then I prayed for my favorite support vehicle to come to my rescue, and just like prince charming, along came thom and saved the day. I was so very thankful mentally and my poor knees were thankful physically.
I learned alot today about the difference between a challenge and just trying to be tough or as some people I know put it, being a stubborn swede . Challenges come before us to make us wiser after they pass.  Its how we approach it and solve the challenge that defines us. My biggest challenge this week is not the wind  nor the road,  its me. I set my own challenges and only I can solve those challenges because they are meant to teach me something.   I need to learn that its okay if a challenge is not solved or sent packing on its way back home, I did not fail, it was my approach that failed.  Its okay to  ask for help and to accept that help to get through the challenge. Maybe tomorrow I can learn that lesson before I am in the middle of the challenge, there is a 1000 foot climb tomorrow. ...hmmm I wonder if I am up for the challenge?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

day 1

Today I came home to my bike family, and I was welcomed with lots of open arms and hugs galore.  The bike tour is one big family vacation where no one fights or very little fighting occurs. We come together because of the trees, but we return each year because we are family.
I had the wonderful opportunity to go through milwaukee and see it up close and personal and I am happy to say I did not crash nor did I make anyone else crash.
We rode along lake michigan and I was surprised by the amount of beach front that there is. There was a beach volleyball tournament going on with well over 3 dozen nets set up.  I never pegged milwaukee as a destination for beach volleyball, but hey I learned something new today.  The lakefront is beautiful and flanked by beautiful homes with emmaculate gardens and landscapes. And best of all lots of great lanes for bicyclist.
I have decided that on this trip I am going to enjoy the scenery more than I did last year. Last year was all about riding and proving to me that I could do this. This year its about stopping and enjoying the uniqueness that is called wisconsin.  On the short ride today I begged to ride by the miller beer factory. The buildings were incredible,  they are made of stone and brick and they flank both sides of the road for about four blocks. There was even one large building that was the stables. The stables have stained glass windows and they were beautiful.
After our nice little 26 mile ride we started the evening with a german fest extravaganza.  I have never seen so many lederhosen in my life and these huge hats with mile long feathers in them, alright maybe I am exaggerating a little but they were huge. There was lots of beer flowing but best of all was the food. I had a brat with saurakrat and lots of mustard. And a yummy cherry strudel, I could have eaten at every stand and been very content. There was roasted pig on a stick too, and if you wanted you could order either pig head or feet in one special line, there was no one in that line. After the fest instead of taking the bus back a group of us walked to the hotel, it was only 1.7 miles.  I am so glad that we did, it was a wonderful way to see the river walk and  all the wonderful restaurants along the way. Somehow I lost my headband on the route, a small casuality but the walk chased away the sorrow.
The only thing I worry about during this ride is my knee and the stubborn swede that I am. I hurt it on monday during a ride and it is not healing very fast. I am stubborn enough that I wont let it slow me down,  and thats what worries me. I have always looked at challenges as just that, challenges, and they are meant to be conquered. What I am trying to do now or what I should be doing is looking at a challenge and saying .....alright so you want me to stop and look at this situation and find a reasonable solution. Yeah right thats not going to happen.  What I say is bring it on challenge, I am ready, and I will laugh in your face as I overcome you and pedal on. For behind me and in front of me I am supported by my bike family and we can survive anything you throw at us.  I look forward to this week and the adventures that await me, I hope you will join me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

a new day

Today is the day I have been waiting for since January when I signed up to do the ride again. I have trained smarter this year by eating better,  exercising more and detoxing my body, mind and soul.  That is until eab came into my life again. Every year eab pops up and takes me away from my bike and my boys, but this year the work has made me stronger. There are the squat challenges through different groups I tried to stick with this spring, but I never could stay committed. Well eab made we commit to the squat challenge, for example on average I need to squat or bend over 10 sites on a tree, multiply that by 900 trees and you have 9,000 squats. Thats right in the last six weeks I have done 9,000 squats, and my legs peddle like it too.  I went for a nice ride on wednesday night with the cycle shops women on wheels, the weather was perfect and the companionship even better. They helped me with my new clip ons and made me confident that I could master them. You see I had a bad fall on monday and I was really scared to get back on, but with their kind words I did it.  I did not fall all night and I did not make anyone else fall.  But more than anything I had fun and it gave me time to reflect on the past few weeks.
As I coasted down a hill surrounded by corn fields with the wind rustling the long leaves of the stalks, I stopped thinking and I listened. I listened to the leaves rustling, the birds chirping and to my wheels rolling over the pavement.  It was peaceful and serene. I have allowed my life to get cluttered lately and this one moment told me to just breathe and enjoy, and I did. Life is not meant to be filled with things, its meant to be filled with tranquility.  We all make a choice every day and every moment as to how people will either affect us or help us grow.  My family on the stihl tour des trees helps me to grow. They give words of wisdom throughout the year and encouragement when its needed.  We are not out to be the fastest or the strongest,  we are here to change the world, one tree at a time.  Through our fundraising for the tree fund and the many events planned for this coming week, we are all making a change. We will be leaving wisconsin greener when we pass through it, but it will also be making us stronger as a family.  There will be some new riders we will welcome into our family and some riders that will be missed that dont return this year, but just like any family no matter where you are we are all connected and their presence will be felt through the stories we tell of years past.  
As I embark on this adventure I want to thank a few people. Dan thomas thank you for being my beach body coach, I could not have stayed committed without your words of wisdom and encouragement.  My parents for taking care of my boys while I am away and on my adventure.  To Forecon for supporting me and my fund raising.  My tree family at releaf and isa, thank you for your words of encouragement and financial support to the tree fund. And thank you jeff for making me get on the bike to train even when I was so tired I didnt think I could do it; for picking me up when my chain broke and when I broke myself.

I wont be on this adventure alone, I take with me everyone that has supported and encouraged me. I am excited to begin today and to share with you throughout the week all the events and people I meet.  A new adventure begins,  Wisconsin here I come :)