I wouldn’t exactly say it was a mistake

There is nothing that I regret about the last few weeks of my life.  That my time went to my girl and her wedding, that my energy went in that direction? A good choice, my knitters. A good choice. The shawl, the arrangements…it was all fine, but the whole time there was a twitchy little voice in the back of my head … a voice that said “What about the Rally?” and in true Stephanie form, I replied that I would worry about that later.

Blog.  It is later, and despite the fact that I am in my late forties, for some impossible magic reason I thought that procrastination would work better for me now than it has in the past.  (I suppose I procrastinated on figuring out that procrastination is a bad plan.) Last night I looked at my fundraising (way behind) at my work on the Steering Committee (barely up to date, thanks for covering me  Cam) and then my Blog, I looked at my arse, and I realized that on no level am I ready.

helmet 2016-06-24

Departure is in 4 weeks and 1 day.  This weekend marks the back-to-back deadline. By now, I’m supposed to have ridden two long rides, 90km or more, on two consecutive days.  I haven’t been on my bike in (ahem, I was doing a wedding) more than a week. (It’s longer than that, but there’s only so much panic I can engage in at once.) Last night I made a vow. I looked at the date of the rally, I realized that If I don’t get on my bike in a really, really big way in the next couple of weeks, riding my bike to Montreal is going to hurt like you wouldn’t believe, and I made a commitment to ride every day between now and then.

Then I lay in my bed, cried and coughed, because Blog, I have a terrible cold.  I caught it right before the wedding, and thanks to the miracle of modern medicine and the ancient tactic of whiskey, I made it through the whole thing, but I’m still wheezing and coughing and blowing my nose, and this morning I realized that I’m still too sick to ride, and I felt just horrible. Every minute I am not on my bike fills me with panic, but today I realized that I just wasn’t going to win the day, and I lay down.

Tomorrow I’m going to ride 100km, cold be damned. I might do it slowly, and I will likely be sorry the whole time, but I’m going to ride it. On Sunday I have to sweep a ride in the car with my Co-Lead, and so that day is out.  On Monday though, if I get up and get it together, I can ride another 100km, and on Tuesday, I can do the same thing… and then… If I can somehow repeat that over and over for the next month, there’s a chance that my middle aged self can somehow get myself to Montreal without crying the whole way.

I sometimes forget, because I’ve done it a few times now, that riding your bike 660km is… well, it’s really, really hard.  It’s easy to blow off the preparation, to say “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” but the truth is, I am neither young, nor beautiful, and it is a long way, and I am not ready.  I’ll do Karmic Balancing gifts on Monday.  If you want to encourage me, most of my weekend will be spent serving a cause I think is important, and I’ve set up my phone so that it dings every time I get a donation. It’s motivating.  If you’re thinking about sending a little encouragement my way… this weekend would be a great time.  (Cough.)

May the force be with me.

(PS. You are the force.)





101 thoughts on “I wouldn’t exactly say it was a mistake

  1. You will have to keep the wedding images in your head as your cough and sniff your way on you bike ride – sending you hugs and strength – take care.

  2. I haven’t donated yet (procrastination runs true to form here, too) and I will do so right now because I think you deserve all the encouragement I can send. Great work on the wedding, and all the best energy I can send you guard you in the next month!

  3. You can make yourself glide to Montreal with thoughts of how amazing the wedding and shawl were! Nose to the grindstone with the training….you got this.

  4. You are an inspiration! You can do it! And yes, you made the right decision to focus on the wedding. Such beautiful memories. Loved the shawl on your lovely girl.

  5. No matter how ugly that cold makes you feel, you are beautiful. Just do the best you can this year. I hope to make my contribution this weekend.

  6. No one will fault you for putting the Bike Rally behind your daughter’s wedding. Catching up is hard. Riding 660 km is hard too. And organizing a bike rally is a lot of work. Perhaps it’s time to let the blog sponsor you for your work on the rally as your contribution. And save your middle-aged backside for sitting and knitting.

      • I second that! If you want to ride, then go Team Harlot. But if you decide not to ride, I fully support that too. See? A win/win, you can’t lose, cuz The Blog is with you.

        • I am voting with this group. Even if it is summer, I am not sure that MA self is going to conquer a bad cold by extensive physical workouts. Give your rides a shot…but listen to your body if it is telling you that this year, you might best serve in the Sag Wagon!

  7. I’m going to leave a word of caution here.

    I pushed a ‘cold’, didn’t listen to what my body was telling me. I ended up with pneumonia. I have scar tissue in my lungs and diminished lung capacity. I learned the hard way, taking another breath is a privilege; not a given.

    • Thank you for adding this caution to our beloved Stephanie. I wanted to post a warning based on my knowledge but your first hand experience is far more powerful. Be careful, Steph, and kind to yourself. Push a bit but please don’t overdo!

    • Yes, this–it happened to me, too, and the pneumonia lasted four months. Stephanie, if you need to cheer on the others this year so that you can still ride next year, that’s okay and we’re right with you and them.

      • I had a co-worker who had to make an emergency trip to Barcelona because his daughter couldn’t throw a cold while in Spain on a work/study and ended up in the hospital with mono.

        Please listen to how your body responds to the physical exertion. Know when to say when.

  8. Steph, it all reminded me of my daughter’s long-ago beautiful wedding in a time of multiple stresses, she welcomed my participation, but did most of the work herself. Thanks for sharing. Now I confess, I forget how to donate from the USA with a credit card.

  9. There’s a tiny problem. When one clicks on the “fundraising” link in the blog, one is taken to Cam’s page. Perhaps you could put in a link to your own? (And run it every blogday?)
    Feel better, take it as easy as you can. We love you.

  10. Sending a “ding” from a fan in Colorado. Take care of yourself…and if you have to see someone medical about that cold, do it. Please.

  11. I’ve been reading this blog since at least 2007, and have never commented or given to the bike rally. Spending money on other people seemed strange when I had so many pent up things I wanted to buy for myself. Today I gave a donation. I finally realized something that you have obviously known for as long as I’ve been reading this blog, that supporting the good people in the world is as important as being a good person yourself. Please consider my donation a representation of my gratitude to you and your constant effort to make the world around you kinder, more generous, and more engaged.

  12. I will say this in my long, but not too glorious, athletic career. There is a point in a cold where some amount of deep breath inducing cardio in a warm environment helps clear the crud out. Before that point, it can be detrimental to do too much. Keep that in mind when you get on the two-wheeled steed tomorrow. You’re in for the long haul, or a month and 660km, so be wise. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a blessed amount of power training.

    • The general rule is as long as symptoms are above the neck only, exercise is great. Below the neck (fever, shortness of breath, deep cough — not from the crud that ran down the back of your throat but originating deep in the lungs) means it is time to take it easier, light exercise only.

  13. I have a suggestion. For now, why don’t you just concentrate on getting well and riding. Save the Karmic balancing gifts for later. I feel pretty confident in saying that all of us who follow you both on this blog and the rally love you and will understand. Besides, all though it is fun to get gifts it’s not like anyone here is dying of yarn deprivation. If we have to wait a bit to find out if we got anything we will not perish. We would much rather have you preserve your sanity so you can continue to inspire and entertain us.

  14. THE FORCE IS WITH YOU. I will “ding” tomorrow. Now get some sleep (a shot of whiskey might help with that).

  15. I agree that you should concentrate on getting better as making it worse will only prolong the stress of not “getting it done”…..

    You do however, have my utmost respect. Having gotten back from an almost 22k bike ride today, I collapsed on the grass and commented to my partner that I didn’t have a clue how you manage 100k. I just don’t see yet how I could even manage it – and that’s on the rail trail with no large hills (if you don’t include the last minute hill on the road just before our driveway).

  16. I hope you feel better!
    lots of fluids and rest.
    I know this sounds wierd but when I’m sick I always take an airborne even though I am sick lol but the extra vitamins help fight the cold.

  17. I know you can do it! I was just thinking about the year my son got married – I did the Breast Cancer 3 day walk – 20 miles -3 days in a row. Yep, I walked 60 miles in 3 days – quite an accomplishment for me. The walk, the wedding, and a cross country move all within a month!

    I was in Montreal a couple weeks ago and saw lots of bikers and thought of you, made a donation, and now I’m on the sidelines cheering you on.

    I thought the shawl you made for your daughter was exquisite. Loved seeing the photos in progress and then her wearing it. Thanks for sharing.

  18. We’ve started using elderberry syrup for colds and respiratory ailments…..that and the hot toddies.

    Feel better

  19. You do A Lot. You have had an intense, exhausting, wonderful recent month or so. You are constantly on the go. If you can do the rally, that would be beyond great. But you must be honest with yourself and careful about your own health. That is essential and will serve you well in the future. Please take care of yourself first. Then, if necessary, knock the s*#$ out of the race next year. xo

  20. Today’s blog entry was just the gentle push I needed to stop procrastinating–donation made! And as others have said, be gentle with yourself until you’re back to full strength. Better to go slowly now than to have a setback later. And yes, the shawl is exquisite!

  21. You are made of awesome! Enjoy your memories of the wedding while you pedal. You can do it! I’m going to send a donation your way, too.

  22. I know how you feel, I’ve been off the bike for a while due to various health issues, got on it on Wednesday full of cold and really regretted it, a 10 minute bike ride almost did me in! Admittedly it’s winter here which doesn’t help, but still, I need to get back on it.

  23. A word from a wiser-the-hard-way older athlete (I started running at 54 and did 3 half marathons at 57, 58 and 59…. ). Sometimes all the will in the world and good intentions get slowed or stopped by a nasty bug. Rest. It is usually nature’s way of hinting that you need to slow down. There is no shame if you can’t make the rally this year. But it would be a huge shame and disservice to yourself if you overdo things and affect your health and/or ability to ride by pushing through when you should take it easy. Older athletes get injured much more easily, especially when they try to make up for lost time by doubling up on training frequency and distance. Happens to younger ones too but it sometimes makes sense to listen to your body and acknowledge that it needs TLC rather than mind-over-matter stubbornness. You are made of very strong stuff but please remember that nobody will lose respect for you if you don’t manage to “catch up” your training and have to step back this year. There will be many more bike rallies but presumably only two more daughter’s weddings if that. You made the right choice and you give in so many ways. Please look after yourself.

    • I’m totally in agreement, speaking as an older woman (sixties, and surprised by it!) — your body is telling you something you must listen to; pushing it too much can cost you long-term, and that’s something you’ll regret more than you can imagine now. So do listen to your body, your lungs, your muscles, please, for the love of all that’s woolly! Also, it’s a beautiful shawl, and the woman your daughter has become, who wore it for her wedding, is beautiful too! So this — your family — is all the more reason to make yourself last and to be well! I too have followed your blog, well, forever it seems! Take care of yourself! I wish I could afford to donate, but sadly, my finances just can’t allow it. Thoughts are with you, though — lovingly, in awe of all you do!

    • Yep, agree completely. As a long-time blog reader I can vouch for the fact that you, Steph, are totally made of compassion and hard work (and,frankly, some stubborn too). I know you want to give the rally a gazillion percent, but please don’t kill yourself. You are beautiful to us because of your utterly breath-taking love and generosity to others. That will still be part of you regardless of whether bike rally is possible this year or not.

      I also think you deserve donation-support for your steering committee efforts even if you don’t ride. And we’ll still support the rest of ‘team knit’, plus Ken. They’re all fabulous eggs too, and a very worthy cause.

  24. Wisdom. Lots of wisdom in the above comment. There really isn’t a moral obligation to risk your health by pushing yourself beyond reason physically. At the very least, give yourself a week to recover from the bug and from the effort–absolutely necessary, absolutely loving effort, but effort–you put into the wedding.

  25. Oops. “The above Comment” referred to Jan’s June 25th comment. A couple of other comments slipped in while I was “thinking.”

  26. I am coughing right along with you and since going to the gym and walking (slowly) for four miles is all the exercise I can manage right now, the idea of biking 400+ miles is just — I have no words. However. You are a lot younger than I am, and you can do it. Don’t kill yourself, but just one step at a time will get you through this. Now I’ll go make your phone ding. And I agree: karma balancing can certainly wait. Thanks for taking the time to give us that glorious post about the wedding, too.

  27. I’m another long time reader – from your pre-blog days even! – and have never donated here. Today I will. And can I repeat what others have said – take care of yourself please. Perhaps you can support the rally in ways other than the bike ride this year?

  28. Thank you for sharing the pictures from the wedding with us. The shawl is beautiful! The picture of Megan and Alex with the gorgeous, happy smiles is wonderful! Thank you for including us in your family’s very special day! Take good care of that cold.

  29. Steph,

    You made the right choice, no question. The shawl is beautiful, and sure to be a treasured heirloom. But, now comes the work for the rally. But we, the blog, have faith that you will amaze and astound us, as always. We are with you in this, as in everything.

    Blessings and good weather!

  30. The best choices by far, and with the bike rally happening, these 2 months memory’s will be worth at least a years.

    Do it in as controlled way as possible. Enjoy every moment, what you are doing can be taken away!

    Go to it with enjoyment and self compassion.

  31. I’m supposed to help with the Sunday BBQ, but if I can make sure they’re covered, I’ll take your place in the sweep car so you can ride.

    (I’ve done my back to backs- twice now- and can’t ride tomorrow for another reason.)

    • I just scrolled through comments on my lunch break to make sure someone was telling Steph to take it easy if needed, which definitely happened.
      Then I saw this, laughed, snorted just a tiny bit, and inhaled a bit of rice. So now, as I cough all afternoon, trying to relieve the irritation, I’m going to be laughing every time.
      Thank you for that.
      And thank you, Steph, for really being such a strong advocate and example of taking care of strangers as well as you’d take care of your loved ones. Please take care of yourself that well, too, and take whatever breaks you need while you’re sick.

  32. I hope you’re heading lots of dings today.
    Do what you can but don’t push yourself too hard. Nothing good ever comes from that!

  33. Oh my gosh, after reading for years, my impression is that you are always under tight timelines and crazy pressure to complete one commitment after another. And you always persevere and succeed! And we love to read about your pressures as we deal with your own. Thank you for all you do – for so many!! Bike on – Knit on – Rock on, Stephanie!

  34. Um, this is beginning to sound like the Christmas saga… but I presume your spreadsheet is all set up! Better health and stamina to you (and if not, whiskey.)

  35. I do hope you understand that we support you no matter if you ride or not.
    We know your commitment to this cause and as you tell us. Do what you can.

  36. I know that you can do this but please listen to everyone and be careful with your health. Your family will be upset if anything permanently bad happens to you and so will we! Black elderberry syrup, echinacea, and fenugreek tea will help a lot.

  37. A beautiful bride who looked so incredibly happy. Pure testament to the loving family that surrounds her. These are the moments that matter. The ride will happen, the dollars will come, the cold will recover but, moments such as this wedding, are what truly matters.
    Ride well for all of us who have been on this journey, in such a small way, with you, through the blog.

  38. So Ive just read your last two posts. My friend (and you are my friend-you’ve never met me but I feel Youve been in my life for the last 10 years) you are the force. You can do anything, and when I started reading your blog on a computer in my lunch breaks at school at 16 years old I just thought you were cool for talking about knitting on the Internet. Since then I have realised that you are so much more. You are a force to be reckoned with and a woman who can do anything.
    I hope everyday that I get to turn out something like you.
    I have laughed and cried along with this blog for 10 years and now when I read about Meg’s wedding I couldn’t help cry like a baby. Maybe it’s the hormones, I’m now pregnant with my first and a little nutty, but wowee you should be proud of yourself.
    I can’t wait to teach my baby to knit and show it your beautiful blog, when I’m up at 2am with morning sickness your archives are what keep me from tearing my hair out.
    If you ever ever feel that something might not be possible, remember that you are amazing, and that there are crowds of people behind you that feel like me. That have never met you. But who feel like you’re one of our best mates!!
    You cannot fathom what you give us. Rock on 😀

    • Well said, Laura. Congrats on bubs, and I cried myself silly over the wedding post too. No hormones to blame here, though, my ‘babies’ now walk into the room and ask why i’m crying at the computer. All health to both of you. Bindy.

  39. Stephanie, thank you for all you do. You are amazing! So glad to be a part of this amazing community of knitters who support you and to be able to contribute to this cause.

  40. How much money has been raised because of your efforts over the years? How has it affected the members of not just your team but everyone else’s? How many people have taken up the chance to be generous towards people they don’t even know? How many times has that reverberated through their own lives to create more acts of generosity, and how many ways have the recipients of those funds been blessed by all this? None of us can ever know the full trajectories of the good we choose to do because it is greater than what we could ever see. What you’ve done re the rally has been huge. Ride or not, we are grateful. And if need be for this year, it is enough.

  41. Cheering you along very long distance!
    You are encouraging me, also. I really should not complain about the 20 minutes I need to ride to keep my legs working…especially when it is a comfortable recommend in my basement!

  42. I beg to differ, you ARE beautiful where it counts…in your self. Not that the outside of your inside isn’t attractive in a
    “here’s someone real” kind of way, which is gorgeous. We who are surrounded by redheaded family members and are at best mousey blond even love your hair, which you are not prone to brag about. At any rate, the important thing is to take care of yourself by taking care of your cold so it doesn’t progress. And, remember that for those of us who do NOT as a general rule put our knitting down to climb on a bike and try to kill ourselves on order to save the lives of strangers on a regular basis have sooooooooo much respect for you. Ergo, you are beautiful. I am amazed you do not actually glow in the dark. Get well, ride safe and know we are all behind you.

  43. I meant to make the donation yesterday during your ride. I hope, while you ease your sore muscles, it will encourage you. Thank you, thank your team, from me. Ride (and knit) On.

  44. Totally value you and the magnificent contribution you’ve made to my knitting world. Thank you. You rock. Times 100. And we all need you. Rest, rest and then prioritize. Family and your health should come first, followed by knitting. We will love you even if you just can’t ride this year. Because we know in your heart you really really want to. Organizing the ride is already huge. Be good to yourself because only then you can give to others. Being sick means your body’s setting a limit. xoxo your conscience.

  45. try not to give in to the lure of overdoing things in order to catch up on training; you could end up hurt and setting yourself back even more (ask my ankle about the races we missed because of just this behavior—no, wait; ask my hip!)

    it might be a good strategy to stick to a reasonable distance for just the first few outings, til your legs are back in the habit. and try to rest well in between; recovery is the real secret to improvement.

  46. You are plenty young, plenty beautiful and totally capable of doing this thing again! I know it sounds dorky, but you are my inspiration for joining this crazy ride and, although it is definitely daunting, you still have time. Go Steph! You rock!

  47. Deep breath, and just keep swimming. Don’t wallow in regret, you had reasons for all of this (not like you were just being lazy!), but as others have pointed out, you are already contributing on the Steering Committee and if you’re not ready to ride, don’t ride. Now I have to go check the bank balance and see if I can make your phone ping (though I might make Ken or someone else’s phone ping, just for balance).

  48. Congratulations to you and your family.

    And man, I have been reading this blog a long time. I totally remember that post about Meg knitting the fingerless gloves!

  49. Speaking as both a long-distance cyclist and a knitter – yes, you have not been on the bike much in the immediate past, but you have your riding base from before that. You will be fine. Keep up the drinking and eating along the way, don’t try to race it (rides have been saved by a “burst of slow”), and you’ll get there. Some folks say to focus on getting to the next rest stop. Then the next one. Then the next one.

  50. I read 40 miles (63 km) for you yesterday. Wait, I don’t think it works like that… Well, I tried! Hope your Saturday ride went well (cold be damned) and your ride today is lovely!

  51. Are you kidding?!!!! You are so beautiful, on the inside and the outside. It shows in all you do. It will all work out in the end. Breathe (if you can with your head cold).

  52. Donation: done. I thought of you all weekend and hope you got feeling a little more human and weren’t having to ride in the weather we had this past weekend…over 6″ of rain along with terrific wind, hail and cold. Ah life in Manitoba! Hope the ding made you feel better 🙂

  53. I’m sure The Blog will agree: we think your arse is amazing (in a not-creepy way). So many miles on it! (Under it?)
    The wedding shawl and Megan were both stunning.
    Get well soon.

  54. So next year when you don’t have a cold or a wedding, apply for the RideTheRockies.com event. Not only is is like 650km, but it’s in the Colorado Rockies over 6 days riding 3500 meter passes. It would make a great warm up for your Friends for Life Rally!! (just kidding…maybe not. Husband had the time of his life riding it this month).

  55. Two things:
    1. You are beautiful.
    2. You don’t need to be beautiful to ride you’re bike that distance. You just need to be bad ass. And I suspect that you, my dear, are pretty bad ass. Or as you say, arse.

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