Shifting Gears

 

Cycling has been a recreational passion of mine since I was a child. I vividly remember the day I got my training wheels off and I biked as fast as my little legs would peddle with a great sense of freedom! This past July, Nicole from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in serving my community as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador. I instantly said yes! … and then um, could you please tell me what I just agreed to? 😉 She explained to me that the Bicycle Ambassador position is for one year and entails:

  • teaching and promoting cycling safety to Fairfax County residents in a fun way
  • giving presentations upon request on a variety of bike topics (ex. Bike to Work Day) at local businesses and organizations
  • handing out materials and assisting residents with basic bike maintenance issues if needed at local events

Things quickly got rolling! I enthusiastically shifted gears into my new position and became certified in First Aid. In August, I took part in a fun photo shoot in which the images will be used in various bike safety print collateral and on the coming soon website bikefairfax bikesafe.bikesmart. On September 20, I completed the required Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador Program Orientation course with two other representatives. They gave us official ambassador T-shirts donated by Ben & Jerry’s that we must wear to all county activities we work.

In October, I attended my first local outreach event at the Providence Community Center in Vienna. I had a great time handing out the informative and detailed Fairfax County Bike Maps, safety literature and bike lights. The kids there were open to learning and very excited about riding the trails with their parents. My next appearance will be on December 4 at an outreach event in Tysons. I cannot wait to share my bicycle safety knowledge and spread the word about current resources available to bike riders and the awesome new county bike services on the horizon!

I just found out that one of the photos they took of me made the cover of the Fairfax County Bicycle outreach brochure! It’s been a great experience serving as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador and promoting the safety of a sport that has nostalgic meaning to me.

Until their new website is ready, check out Fairfax County’s current bicycle resources web page.

Independent Ride

13 Colonies Ride (part of the 50 States Ride, 62 miles), Washington, DC
15 Miles
700 Cyclists (Sold Out)

I heard about this fun annual cycling event last year, but before I could sign up, it had sold out. It’s hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), which I am proud to be a member. This year, I noted the registration timing of the event and entered The 13 Colonies portion before it sold out! The 13 Colonies is a 15-mile hilly ride through every Ward of the District and on every avenue named for the original 13 Colonies. Roads are open to traffic as usual and there are a lot of stops along the city blocks, which is probably why it’s an event rather than a race. The lunch pit stop took place under a tented area next to Eastern Market, located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. The lively marketplace has been around since 1873 and features a variety of produce, handmade crafts and more. A bonus, there are also many delicious mom and pop restaurants and coffee shops in the neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite non-touristy places to wander around in DC.

FUN FACT: Can you name all 13 Colonies?
(Answer: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) They are significant because these Colonies coming together formed the United States.

Back in the Saddle Again

40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour, New York City
40 Miles
5 Boros [Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island]
4 Bridges [The Madison Avenue Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Pulaski Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge]
1 Day
0 Cars
32,000 Cyclists From 43 Countries
Bib #10492

For the past 40 years on the first Sunday in May, riders from every state in the nation and around the world descend upon NYC for a bicycling experience unlike any other, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. I found out about the event through my friend Marisa’s Facebook post. Intrigued, I looked it up online and immediately registered for the event after reading the description!

I completed some Spartan challenges, 5K, and 10K races, but never a bike race. This event went beyond the first-time aspect for me. Last summer, on June 29, I flipped off my bicycle and was pinned under it when I hit a camouflaged raised gravel section on a path. I got major road rash down the entire right side of my body and broke my right wrist. A kind-hearted stranger named Gigi picked me up and took me to an Urgent Care. In July, I was put back together by Dr. Daniel Laino, who permanently screwed a titanium plate to my wrist. I then attended regular Occupational Therapy sessions with Karen Popovich, an amazing certified hand specialist at Ortho Virginia.

In February of that same year, I had half of my body cut open for another surgery. I was determined to make a comeback from these two surgeries instead of allowing them to bring me down. I set three major fitness goals for 2017. It seemed fitting that the first event involved cycling. My family and friends were not thrilled by this news, but they supported me none the less because THEY ARE AWESOME. I trained the best I could leading up to the race, fitting short and long bike rides in whenever possible. I also kept up on all the Bike New York Facebook posts and email updates.

I was very nervous going into the event. I had just passed the one-year mark for the first surgery and it had only been 10 months since my wrist surgery. Was I in over my head? Would it be painful? Would I be able to successfully complete all 40 miles?

No. A little. Yes!

I was placed in the first wave of cyclists, which was ideal. I could feel my body shaking as I approached the starting location. I asked a stranger in front of me named Alyssa to take a photo of me for posterity because I’m horrible at selfies. We started sharing brief background stories and the conversation helped to put me at ease. It was Alyssa’s second time doing the bike event. She turned out to be one the coolest people I have ever met! We stuck with each other throughout the race and she would give me heads-ups about what was coming. Aware of my health journey, the fact that it was my first bike race, and my first visit to NYC outside of the Times Square area, Alyssa insisted that I stop at a few key points to take photos for my Instagram collection.

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour was my first big healthy comeback goal for 2017 and my first bike event ever. My aim was just to complete the event, although, in my mind, I hoped to finish it in four to five hours. I am proud to share that I completed it in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Event Fun Facts:

  • You are required by law to use a bike bell when riding in NYC.
  • Whenever we crossed into a borough people from that area would shout with pride,”What up Brooklyn!”, etc.  Alyssa is from Queens, so when we approached her borough I joined her in an enthusiastic shout-out.
  • People would yell and point “water bottle”, “bike chain” “pothole” in an effort to save someone from getting into an accident. Surprisingly, there were a lot of random water bottles scattered along the route. A seasoned racer told me that it’s common for people to knock their water bottles out of the holders.

The second big healthy comeback goal I set for the year is fast approaching. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first Tough Mudder Full taking place at one of the top toughest venues, Whistler, BC, on June 17!

No one is truly an island unto themselves on the path to success. These names may not resonate with you, but I could not achieve my goals without the emotional and financial support of Alicia, Jenny, Rita, Gigi, Aunt Linda, Gina, Chad, Beverly, Lito, Angela, Marisa, Tonya, Linda, Robert, John, Melissa, Kim and my first-ever business sponsors OrthoVirginia, Westfields Dental and Flyte Fitness. THANK YOU for believing in me!

OrthoVirginia

Westfields Dental

Determination and Gratitude

2016, to say the least, was a year filled with medical drama for me. I underwent major surgery in February and was looking forward to recovery so that I could stay on track with my goal to participate in the Spartan Hawaii Trifecta in August. Six months later I was nearing recovery and got into a bicycle accident. I broke my wrist, along with major road rash and bruises. My years of training for and participating in the Spartan Hawaii Trifecta in August were officially dashed.

Through my bicycle accident, I was connected with Dr. Laino, an accomplished hand surgeon at OrthoVirginia. He implanted a permanent titanium plate and five screws in my wrist. Then, like the passing of an Olympic baton, Karen Popovich, an amazing physical therapist, took over my care in thrice-weekly PT sessions. She provided me with consistent mental and physical support that resulted in me thriving at a positive rate.

Recovering from two significant surgeries within months of each other can take an emotional toll on a person. I went through a brief period of self-pity until my friend Jenny gave me some tough love reminding me that my situation wasn’t permanent, and for that reason, I should feel lucky. I quickly adjusted my defeatism mentality and set new goals for 2017. I became fueled with a desire to reasonably beat the recovery periods for the surgeries and come out on the other end equally strong, if not, stronger. I read an email that Spartan was holding a once-in-a-lifetime race event in Cuba on March 18, 2017, open to only 1,000 participants. The opportunity intrigued me for many reasons. The March date seemed like a reasonable amount of time for me to prepare and aim to get back in challenge race mode. I submitted my application for the sprint and I am happy to share that I made the cut as one of the 1,000 racers! I shared my good news with Dr. Laino and Karen and asked for their medical approval, which they provided.

Next, I have to secure benefactors to cover the more than $3,500 in race expenses (race registration, airfare, hotel, etc.). I started a GoFundMe account and my friends have been very supportive (special shout-outs to Rita, Jenny and Alicia). I also need the help of business-level sponsors. I thought about how OrthoVirginia had a key role in building me back up after my accident and what a great sponsor they would make, so I reached out to them for support. Their director of marketing just notified me that they will be making a contribution! I am very grateful to OrthoVirginia and I look forward to them being part of my race experience in Cuba.

I have reached about $1,000 of my fundraising goal so far. If you or a business you know of are willing to join OrthoVirginia in sponsoring me, please contact me at galOTgo or you can make a direct donation through my GoFundMe account https://www.gofundme.com/galotgo.

I hope to make my friends and sponsors proud in March. More importantly, I am determined to show that when life presents you with challenge after challenge, you may need to keep readjusting your goals, BUT never give up on them!

SPONSORS: Contact me to have your company’s name and logo added!

OrthoVa_horizontal copy

Cast of Characters

I was riding along carefree on my bicycle, when suddenly an expansion joint caused by a tree root appeared. Next thing I knew, I was catapulted in the air and came crashing down on gravel. I couldn’t move. Eric and Justin, two college kids who witnessed the incident, came to my rescue. They scooped me up, and put me and my mangled bike into a woman’s van. Gigi, the woman, drove me to an urgent care facility nearby and signed me in. The nurse tended to the bloody road rash that covered the right side of my body from shoulder to knee. She gave me a shot for pain, cleaned me up, put my right arm in a brace, gave me a list of orthopedic doctors to contact, and turned me over to my friend and emergency contact Jenny.

Eric and Justin sent a joint text. “Good luck, Kimberly! Eric and Justin are here for you. We’ll be thinking of you and hope you get well soon!”

Gigi sent a text also. “Stay strong and cycle on (once you can!).” When I told her that I had broken a bone, she said she wasn’t surprised because she saw that my arm was maimed, but she didn’t want to freak me out and tell me since I was in shock at the time.

I was very fortunate to come across amazing strangers with big hearts. I will never forget their acts of kindness. Gigi even texted me the following day and offered to drive me to my doctor appointments. Truly remarkable people!

The next afternoon I went to an orthopedist at Reston Hospital, had X-rays taken and after the July 4 holiday had a CAT scan. All the results conclusively confirmed that I broke off the corner of my right wrist! The nurse wrapped my wrist and lower arm in a waterproof cast (I chose Wonder Woman red of course).

My friend Melissa asked if she could sign my cast in an effort to cheer me up. At that point, the cast graffiti tour began! Members of my community all got in on it — from my friends, to the local Starbucks crew, employees at my favorite bank branch, running group buddies and more.

Here are some of the fun messages that people wrote:

  • Oops. – Melissa (*this one will always be extra special to me because it’s the first signature on my first, and hopefully last, cast)
  • Chewy on the inside. – Brett
  • Love the fashion statement. – Arthur
  • Feel better – Starbucks family (the morning crew at my neighborhood Starbucks)
  • APC (the initials of my 83-years-young Starbucks bud Art)
  • Get better soon! + latte cup drawing – Cheryl
  • Feel better – Mehreen (my fav lead teller at CapitalOne)
  • 💛 – Jhanira (branch manager at my CapitalOne)
  • You’re hard core! – Erika (from my Pacers fun run crew)
  • #foreveryrun (guy from my Pacers fun run crew)
  • Heal fast! – Loretta (from my Pacers fun run crew)
  • Get well Spartan. – KB aka Katrena
  • 🙂 – Marcia
  • Love ya – Jane
  • More burpees – Leia
  • Get well soon! – Michael
  • Love ya – Jenny (one of my BFFs)
  • Stay strong! – Colin (my trainer)

I am having surgery tomorrow to get six screws and a metal plate attached to my right wrist to properly repair it. Whenever I start to feel nervous about the procedure, I look at the messages and drawings on the cast. They bring me comfort that everything is going to be alright.