Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cycling with cancer (this is not a depressing post)

Cancer. Feh. Big deal, right?
Calm down. It's OK. I'm just entering the numerous ranks of 'future breast-cancer survivor'.  Not long after the start of this year's Coffeeneuring Challenge, at the ripe old age of 44, I was diagnosed.

I won't let it stop me, I continued working, cycling and doing all the things I normally do, but interspersed with lots of cancer research on the Interwebs, medical tests and trying to figure out the least-traumatic way of letting family members, loved ones and co-workers know I know had cancer.
No offense to my readers, but you're the last to know. I debated much with slapping this out there in the blogosphere.

I rode my bike to my appointment for a routine mammogram and that's when the diagnosis hammer dropped and my life as a cancer patient began. Biopsy, MRI, another biopsy, CT scan, bone scan, x-rays, bloodwork, talking to a surgeon, oncologist, etc...

Laughter is the best medicine.

I have wonderful emotional support. I'm distracted from the negative mindset that this diagnosis would otherwise bring. I have someone who laughs at my cancer with me, finds humor in all the weird things that are/will happen to my body with cancer treatments. How awesome is that?
Kudos to my caregiver, he's sacrificing so much and giving so much time. All caregivers deserve a big pat on the back.

Mocking Death
I have a stuffed toy vulture that looms above my desk. It's been a grim reminder of my mortality, but it makes cute noises when you push on it's belly... so perhaps it's not all that grim. I can smile at this cute, fuzzy, squeaky metaphor for death. Illness and death are a part of life, deciding that I should laugh as much as possible throughout life and resign fear and sadness to the backseat brings me solace.
I have no plans on letting this beat me.

Buzz off, Death.

Oh, the Irony
The day of my surgery was Friday the 13th. I find humor in this as well.
Some time ago, I found myself gravitating towards wearing hi-viz pink while riding. I chose it because of it's visibility, not because of any affiliation with breast cancer. I began choosing pink accessories for the Kona Rove I bought just before my diagnosis and named the bike after a friend who had passed from cancer. Kinda funny, yes?

Surgery will keep me off the bike and in a hug-free zone for some time, but I'll get back in the saddle as soon as they'll let me.

Women: regardless of age, if you have tissue categorized as very dense or extremely dense, get a 3D mammogram. Pay extra for it. Lobby your insurance company to cover them. A regular mammogram is virtually useless in women who have dense tissue. If you're high risk and/or have dense tissue, lobby your insurance company to cover mammograms under age 45.

When/if you see me out and about on the bike, don't fear asking me about my surgery or treatments, I'm not uncomfortable about them. If you aren't comfortable talking about it, that's cool too... even if you say to me: "it's good to see you out and about." that would mean a lot because it *is* very good to get out and be seen. Living, breathing and laughing is an awesome thing and I plan on doing a lot of it in the future.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The storm before the calm before the storm

On Election Day, Marko and I rode into town. On Penn Ave, a motorist behind us was honking at us as we rode in the right lane. As he passed in the left lane, he yells at us and then quickly cuts in front of us. Then, when Marko confronted him at the light, the motorist, an old guy with a thick European accent, tried to punch Marko through the window and then got out and tried to yank the bike away from him. It was frightening, I made a point of letting him know his actions were being recorded, that the police were on the way and that his plate was recorded.... I wonder if that prevented him from causing serious harm to us.
The police arrived and even with the video evidence of the altercation, the police didn't want to issue a citation. Ridiculous.
They were polite however and did school the aggressive driver in the right cyclists have and that he "Can't go around scaring the hell out of cyclists!"
The concern passing cyclists and motorists showed for us as we waited for the police was overwhelming.

A BMW, plate # PA EVL-2353

Locking up on Pitt's campus, I noticed this bike with a "Bicycle Permit"


Changes are coming to the indoor bike rack area at my employer's building. I can't wait to see what they have planned!

Bicycles, park over there!
On the morning of my last commute to work for a while (I'm going to be out of commission for a few weeks while I recover from some surgery) the rivers were serene, there was no wind and the water was like glass. I stopped to take a photo and took my time riding to the office. I was in no hurry, this would be my last day on the bike for a while and a wanted to savor this.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Costume ride, Dia de los Muertos ride and final Coffeeneuring

In October, the Underwear Ride morphs into the Costume Ride and we ride around the city in Halloween style.
We had the incorrect time for the start and arrived 45 minutes LATE. We raced into town to see if we could catch up with the group and successfully found them after we asked some people strolling around Market Square if they'd seen 'a few hundred people on bikes in costume.'
"Yeah, they went thataway..."

Bread Cat (brilliant costume, Virginia)

Nyan Cat, Paul in drag, Geoffrey as Shaggy and some fool

Elliot and ET rode in
The next day, we had the day off and went out for eggs and coffee,  I tried to convince Marko this would count as his final Coffeeneuring trip, but he, being a stickler for rules, said that since this was a Friday, it wouldn't count. Harumph.

Bikespreading onto the table next to us.
We rode out to McKeesport and along the way, I found another Clohn Art at the Roundhouse, which was being boarded up to keep squatters and kids out.

Our ride's destination was Minerva's bakery in McKeesport to find eclairs. Unfortunately, they'd sold out of them, so we got pepperoni rolls, apple strudel, blueberry danish and a few other things too. Nah, I didn't go overboard or anything.


Marko rode with Dino on Saturday and was able to get his official, by-the-rules final trip in. We agreed that his theme was Coffeeneuring Noob.

On Sunday, we rode up to Fineview and took one of the Dirty Dozen hills back down.

The roads were desolate because everyone was indoors watching the Steelers. During these few hours, these are the times to ride... unmolested by angry, impatient motorists. The whole city is nearly serene, it is quiet. I like it.

Marko pointed out one of the protractors, this one on a disintegrating, fallen post in Schenley Park.

On CMU's campus, I saw these "Don't be a jerk to pedestrians" flyers attached to bikes on the racks.

Later in the evening, 412FLock hosted a Day of the Dead ride, many arrived in calavaras makeup. Awesome.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Coffeeneuring #7, no goat and 'Bikespreading' is a Thing

 We rode to Lawrenceville for some coffee and decided on Caffe D'Amore. We locked up, placed our bags and helmets near a table and then sat at the bar. Our bike stuff took up two spots. I love the coined term 'bikespreading' for this thing that we cyclists do: our stuff takes up almost as much room as we do in a restaurant. Such an awesome word.

It appears this is my final required Coffeeneuring trip. I understand that a change in the rules asks us for a theme. It seems that Marko was my theme... he accompanied me on every trip and had coffee each time except for the Crazy Mocha trip to Brentwood. I somehow encouraged/suckered him into participating in Coffeeneuring for the first time. Yaaaa! Even if he was Coffeeneuring by proxy, so what?
We have just one more trip to complete his challenge.

Later we needed some food and we meandered around until we rode past Salim's in the Strip and I dragged Marko in for falafel, I changed my mind and decided on goat but we were told "Goat is only on the weekend." Confused, because this was Sunday. Marko later told me Friday and Saturday are the Muslim weekend.
So, chicken tandoori and saag paneer instead. No goat for us!
Marko deliberately photobombed my food photo.

Well, that's attractive.

Yes, our stuff takes up a second table. Bikespreading!
 Noticed the Poet Tree is dressed for Halloween. Awesome.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coffeeneuring #6, new infra, GOATS! and another damned ghost bike.

The Christmas trees are going up BEFORE Halloween. There is something very wrong with this.

I noticed this tree at Heinz Field on October 23rd. OCTOBER_TWENTY_THIRD.

On Saturday, we rode to Big Dog Cafe on the South Side (Pronounced 'SAH-sahd' by the locals) for some late-morning caffeine.

Your cup is so big, Marko!

Yes, mine is smaller.
We rode into town and found city workers working on the extension to the Penn Ave cycletrack, the asphalt was still warm. I love the smell of new infra in the morning!

Riding back through the Strip, we found the petting zoo set up again.



Marko pets dinner
Later that evening we attended a vigil for a cyclist, Susan Hicks killed in Oakland, just 24 hours prior and not far from the start of many of our group rides.

Marko and I are holding the sign in this Post-Gazette photo