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.

Tote-Worthy

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Get your very own limited edition #galOTgo reusable tote bag for only $10 (+shipping for out-of-state)! It’s the hottest accessory this spring/summer!  😉  I am selling the bags to raise funds for big races I am participating in as part of my healthy comeback, and to promote women to live fearless lives through my galOTgo brand!

I was training for a Spartan Trifecta weekend, then, in 2016, things took a turn and I underwent two major surgeries that caused me limited mobility. I felt helpless and depressed. My best friend Jenny encouraged me to turn my mindset around by setting new physical goals. I picked three major races to focus on and have worked very hard to rebuild my strength and mobility through occupational therapy and yoga classes. I found mental strength along the way through my community who are pillars of support and keep me motivated.

The classic black tote has the hashtag on one side and makes for a fun conversation piece as people try to decode it like a personalized license plate. The bag is 12×12.75×8 with an 18″ carry strap and removable plastic bottom insert. The bag is great for:

  • workout clothes
  • beach gear
  • diaper bag items
  • shoes
  • groceries
  • and more!

I keep reusable bags in the trunk of my car and on my coat rack at home for use on the go!

NOTE: If you are local I will deliver bags to you directly; if you live outside of the Northern Virginia area I will ship bags to you. To place an order, please email me at galOTgo@gmail.com

Thank you!

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!

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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.