BP MS Ride 2016: Riding With Purpose

My first MS Ride is in the books. BP MS Ride 2016 was a short one because before we even left Austin, day 2 was canceled due to incoming weather.

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Houston to Austin MS Ride

Houston to Austin MS Ride

A lot of people were not happy, but safety does come first and while I was amongst the unhappy, I was also understanding. Now that I have ridden my first MS Ride I can say without a doubt that my feelings about the ride are mixed.

NOTE: These are my negatives and personal feelings and have nothing to do with the charitable organization. The sole reason for the ride is to raise money to fight this awful disease.

MS Ride Cons

Fund Raising

It’s for a great cause, this is probably the most known charity in the world next to cancer. I personally, however, hate asking people for money no matter how worthy the cause. It makes me feel uncomfortable for reasons I cannot explain. I was stressing over reaching the minimum, but I did and then some. It felt great to hit the mark.

Awkwardness

Most people who know me would think this would be a given, I would like to say that the whole shyness thing kinda melted away, but it didn’t. It wasn’t always easy to figure out what to do or when, but somehow between me and my riding buddy we managed to ask questions of complete strangers and get to where we needed to be when we needed to be.

Uncomfortable

I don’t have MS, but I do know a couple people who do have MS.The clapping and cheering along the way made me uncomfortable because I was not the one with MS. I was the one doing what I love to do — a lot — ride my bike. I don’t see myself as a hero or doing anything spectacular. All I did was ask others to donate to MS in my name so that I could ride my bike from Houston to Austin. The cheering and clapping as we rode by was uncomfortable.

Logistics

The outbound logistics was well organized, but the return logistics failed miserably. Even if they didn’t cancel Day 2, the organizers should have had a contingency plan for cancellations. It was apparent that if there was contingency plan for cancellations that they were either not prepared or they needed a contingency plan to their contingency plan. We waited more than 2 hours for a bus to return us Austin and in the process got soaked just standing there. We didn’t get that wet riding 100 miles. It was the first time during the ride that I was less than thrilled.

MS Ride Pros

Riding

This tops my list of awesomeness. I got to ride 100 miles on FOFL flat ground and small hills. I got the best of both riding worlds, riding in groups and riding alone. With the ebb and flow of the 10,000 riders it was easy to fall between groups and hook up with others. I smiled the entire 100 miles. I loved every minute of being on the bike, even in the 2 light drizzles. It was such a great feeling I’m already trying to figure out how to do another long ride.

Charity

A lot of money was raised for this worthy cause and I am very proud to be a part of it. It was a great accomplishment.

Despite the stresses of raising money, figuring out the logistics, and missing out on riding into Austin, I had a great time riding and hanging out with riders. If I decide to do this again, I know better what to do and what not to do. I think the next ride will be an even better and happier experience.

MS has announced that next year the 2017 BP MS 150 will roll on April 29-30, 2017. So come join a ride.

Accidental 6 Mile Hike

I’ve been working to move in the best direction for me. It’s been full of ups and downs and yesterday threatened to be a down which is how I ended up accidentally hiking 6 miles.

I have tried several things, but now that spring is here I find it easier to do one great thing: Get outside and move.

It’s so easy to sit there and end up rambling through your head. Head rambling is never good — inevitably it is always negative. So I decided my legs needed a biking break and the cool windy day provided me with a great excuse to do something other than biking.

In no short order I found myself at one of my favorite spots in the area: Purgatory.

I was just trying to redirect my focus from the dark side, I didn’t want anything too stressful or overwhelming. So I set off with no water, just a sweatshirt, hiking shoes (thankfully my new ones are coming in this week), and a phone (how else does one cache on the fly?) The normal route was closed due to clean up in the area from the floods last year so I was left with only one ingress by the dam.

Some trails are closed from March to May to protect the rare Golden Cheek Warbler.

GOLDEN CHEEKED WARBLER photo from City of San Marcos

GOLDEN CHEEKED WARBLER photo from City of San Marcos

It was a little rocky and eventually led up to the top. Nothing too significant and there were a couple of caches in that direction. At the top I took in the lay of the land: the top of the dam, the ravine one side and the red rooftops peaking out of the green trees on the other where Texas State University lay.

The day was a little cooler than it had been, but the breeze felt nice and the sun was out which is always a plus. I plugged in my ears and set Spotify to some upbeat music. Before too long I found myself clipping along to the first cache and letting my mind wander where it wanted.

Today I started out with the flaws in my current short story (come back April 1st to read all about it) and even more distressing — no ending. As I wandered in what I thought would be a circle (it was not) the story flushed out in my head. I was almost four miles into Purgatory when the details were solidified enough that I could put pen to paper; however, that was when I discovered (via handy mobile) that I had been walking in pretty much a semi circle. There was no way to really complete the other half.

I was no where near where I needed to be. In this case, my car. As I scrolled along the map to find paths in the trees I realized I was going to be walking more than I intended. I really was not big on just turning around, nor was I anxious to complete 8 miles since I had not brought water with me — not that that made a difference at this point.

Sucking it up, I found a slight diagonal overgrownish path that cut a couple mile off my return route. There were some muddy patches here and there — the only indication that it had rained recently.

It was during the grumbling return trip that I realized that I had forgotten about my funk. In fact, I was eager to get back home so I could finish my short story. Ideas percolating away threatening to drift off into the ether the longer I was away from my computer.

One consistent way to get out of a funk: DO something. Maybe it’s not always the same thing. Clean the house, go to the gym, walk (maybe not 6 miles), kayak, something — just move your body and the mind will follow.

The activity of doing allows you to focus on something external away from the potential negative internal dialog. It’s not a perfect cure, but it does allow one to become more fit and healthy which may just end up on the happy shiny path.

If nothing else, you can enjoy the smell of spring, the dapple or warmth on your arms from the sun, and a lightness in you step.

What do you do to bring yourself out from a funk?

MS 150 – Houston to Austin: 3 Reasons to Ride

I have never ridden in a MS 150 Ride. Like ever. It always sounded like too much for me and truth be told, like a support system I did not have. However, there are 3 really good reasons I chose to ride the BP MS 150 Houston to Austin ride this year.  MSRIDE_LOGO

The main 2 reasons I had for not riding before are that I’m a shy person and trying to find a team, a good supportive team, was always overwhelming for me. Not to mention the funding aspect. I’m not very good at asking people for money — I have no problem donating money, but asking people for money makes me feel awkward.

However, late last year when I was talking to a biking buddy of mine I decided to throw caution to the wind and push outside my comfort zone, physically and mentally. So on April 15-16, 2016 I will officially be riding in my first MS Ride.

There are a lot of reasons people ride. Some are very personal and their stories hard to hear; for me, the following 3 are what made me decided to give this a go.

  1. For those who Suffer: I now personally know a handful of people who have this illness. There are a lot of unhealthy catastrophes out there, but this is the only one that I know to hit home so closely. A few years ago after suffering with a variety of symptoms I reached my limit and saw a doctor. While I do not, at this time, have MS I do have quite a few symptoms that fall into the autoimmune category, of which MS is one. My doctors and I have discovered that I have a couple autoimmune diseases already and the indications of a few more as I get older. MS is on the list of possibilities. So while I ride for my friends with this debilitating disease, I am also riding to help find a cure for a disease which may impact me directly later in life. Which also leads me to my number two reason for riding.
  1. To Get Healthy: There is not better way to deal with health issues that to be healthy mentally and physically.

             Mentally: I started with meditation. I take time every day (well almost every day) to sit still, forget the pressures and stresses of my life. Mediation is truly me time and while I can only sit still for 30 minutes, it is 30 minutes of pure relaxation and focus. Yoga also is a great way to combine both the mental and the physical (if you think yoga is easy, think again).

            Physically: This ride is a great reason to keep up my training through the winter months, something I’ve always struggled with. It isn’t something you can just hop on your bike and go with no prep work. That would be disastrous. I have spent the last couple of months not only biking longer and longer miles with each ride, but training my body how to endure what will be hours on the bike. I have to watch what I eat as well, not only because my thyroid is pretty non-existent, but also so I can trim down and excel on my ride. I have ridden 75 miles a few times in my biking life, but never twice in two days. In getting healthy both physically and mentally I will be optimizing my complete self to tackle any more autoimmune diseases that are likely to come my way in the future.

  1. Support of the MS Community: It is a way to personally give something of myself versus just giving money. I know I will be funding raising for this worthy event, but there is something to be said to combine what I love to do with giving back to a community, to help not only those I know, but help thousands that I don’t know.

There are lots of worthy causes out there, but I hope that you decided to support me and my team in efforts to raise money and awareness for this particular disease. Thank you for taking your time for reading this post and if you are so inclined, please donate or ride with us.

Donate and support my ride

If you want to donate, please click here: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/cjspurr

Join our MS Team: ALPS

If  you want to join our team and ride with us, please click here: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/…/Bike/TXHBikeEvents…

10  Facts about MS

  1. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system.
  2. More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
  3. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
  4. Women are much more likely to develop MS than men.
  5. There is no evidence MS is directly inherited.
  6. It is challenging to diagnose MS.
  7. No two people have exactly the same symptoms.
  8. MS symptoms can be invisible.
  9. The majority of people with MS do not become severely disabled.
  10. MS has no cure.

 If you want to know more about MS or find resources, please click here: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS

For all of you who have donated to me or anyone else riding in the MS ride, thank you.

Moving On

There are several moments in life where you must decide to move on or grow stagnant. I think it is a rare person who is ok with not moving or growing or dreaming. Time to Leave Now describes 5 reasons and times you must move in your life and not only have I moved for all these reasons in my life (more than once), but I have moved for all these reasons in the last 12 months:

  1. To get away from what you know
  2. To find new experiences
  3. To chase love
  4. To escape that love
  5. To begin all over again

When I was twenty a life changing event was thrust upon me (to be truthful it was the second one in my short life, I just didn’t recognize the first one until years and years later). While I was indignant at the time, in hindsight (the perfect vision that it is) it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

The event in my twenties not only fulfilled my desires at the time, but made me the person I am today. While I’m not overly forceful in life, I do know what I want and I usually know how to go get it. I take responsibilities for my actions and reactions, and do my best to be a better person.

My current journey has sent me down a path I never saw even a few years back. I was neither happy nor unhappy. Some people call this content, but that is (in my opinion) stagnant. There are people who recognize stagnation at the time it occurs and go and do something about it, but there are more of us (myself included) that ruminate, think about it, over think it and then realize the time has come to move on.

I either missed the signs that I was to take the other fork in the road or maybe I was content in my sedentary lifestyle. To this day I’m not sure of the answer, but what I am sure of is that if I made the decision to move on sooner a few very good things would not have occurred for me.

I don’t know if it is the Blue Moon or because it is the eve of another round of travels that I sit and reflect on the events of the last few years, but the past keeps poking around inside my head. I found a list I wrote a couple years back as I was parting with my past to bring about what I wanted the future to be. It contains descriptions and the qualities of people I want in my world.

It didn’t matter which area of my life I wanted to change, two things are ever present in each section: Biking and traveling and flying — I guess that’s really three. You may have noticed that I write about those three elements a lot. A friend of mine told me the other night that it was silly, but it was important for her partner to be a biker. I laughed. I didn’t explain why I laughed, but if you look at my writing, my desires, my lists, you will see a common theme: biking (well flying and traveling too).

When I parted ways with my past, one big reason — one important reason to me — was that my partner was not a biker. It is important to me. Several factors are, but number one on the list, okay maybe second, she must be as into biking as I am. I want to be outside and moving and experiencing life on a bike with someone.

I identified with the 5 times in your life you must move on, but the tricky part is not only knowing when to move on, but what you want to move towards. I have notes and lists and ideas of what my life should be, could be, will be. In the last year I moved to get away from what I knew. I moved to a new place half way across the country in order to find new experiences. I was extremely uncomfortable, as I could count on one hand how many people I knew in this area. It was to chase love, even though I don’t know who that is; just instinctually knowing she is where I moved to, while also moving to escape the love that I thought I had for a long time. Most importantly, I moved to begin all over again. I needed to move to find me and return to who I was, which may seem like an oxymoron, but to step back in a place where I knew relatively no one, was the only way to move on.

It was a painful, hard, journey to move on, but I am happier and more fulfilled by doing so.

Road Trip

There are few things that are wonderful from beginning to end. A road trip is one of those things.  It starts with going through the express lane in the airport and being upgraded to first class.  It’s the quick walk through a non-busy airport to a nice auto with a sunroof. The feel of the cool 72 degree air and the sun beaming down from the clear blue cloudless sky.

A time for thinking of nothing and everything. A time for being.

Sitting by the ocean, meditating to the soft music and feeling the possibilities of life open before you. The sense that for this brief wonderful warm moment everything is perfect.

Pacific OceanIt is with the rhythmic surf and the call of seagulls,the distant lifeguard whistle that I find that all is as it should be. I am happy, I am learning to return to my roots, my desires, and my dreams. I had thought I was forever lost in a sense of physical and mental fog, things were just there beyond my reach.

A couple weeks backs a small slight change made all the difference. This difference led me to change an existing routine to include a small road trip. You could say I took the scenic route to the office. Everything was beautiful and lined up in better ways than I could imagine. I followed the surf side road to the Pacific Ocean, stopping briefly in a small town to pick up local fare at a cafe tucked in amongst dark wood beam shops and a active farmers market.

There was no schedule, no time table, no one waiting for me. It was time to read and write whatever came to mind. When my imagination could think no more and my body craved the sun cool breeze, I packed up my few belongings and headed further south and west. The Pacific ocean came into view just over a small hill and I followed the parallel road north. It didn’t take long to find a public access where I could sit and watch the waves.  I walked along a bit until I found the perfect set of rocks that bordered the cool damp sand where I could meditate.

It was my first outdoor meditation and it was beautiful. Soft music playing, rolling waves, sun and ocean breeze, a perfect combination for relaxation.

Everything seemed brighter, calmer, and happier when I opened my eyes and I continued to linger watching the boats and surfers in the water. I embraced this feeling and tucked it away to remember during the long week ahead. I wanted to keep this new found sense of peace and calmness that had eluded me for so long.Pelican

I decided on a whim to follow the shore line north and made a small trip into Hollywood — see that is the best thing about road trips with no deadline or true itinerary. You get to make it up and go where ever your desire takes you. I wanted to make one last stop before heading to the hotel.

Hollywood, was a perfect midpoint stop. I swung through the hills to a cache location that sounded nice. (http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC3WF8B_hollywoods-tb-hotel?guid=831f7893-7d02-4c7d-9698-592d93061abd)

The little hut that sat there boasted of long ago artists that lived in the gated section beyond. I stood and took in the view and the odd shaped too close houses. I wonder what it was like for the artists back then. Did they enjoy what they did? Were they appreciated for their talent? Did they like living in these small homes built in the hills of Hollywood?

I drove slowly out of the hills as my impromptu road trip came to an end. I still ponder the little houses tucked away in the hills of Hollywood. It makes me smile and wonder: where, when will the next road trip be.