Stories make up all of our lives, they are proof of the existence our past, present and future. The stories that we tell have taken root within our hearts, proof of an existence and our heart can continue on through a story.
My Mom reminded me of one such story at Christmas. When the Martinez children were very young, my Grandpa Fred hid our Christmas presents in a shed and apparently being the naughty children we were…the presents were found early and unwrapped. The four older siblings received bicycles from our Grandpa and my two younger siblings received a wagon, all were very cool (the last two of our siblings were not yet conceived )…anyway, that left me, #5 child…I was given a stupid doll and her name was Deedee…ugh. Apparently, Grandpa felt I was too small and it was unsafe for me to have a bicycle. I am still upset about not getting that bicycle and was not a big fan of DeeDee. My next memorable story occurred as a passenger riding on the handlebars of my brother Ronnie’s bike. Ronnie was supposed head to the ranch to milk the cows and I wanted to go with him. For whatever reason Mom would not let me go with him…Ronnie of course did not want to disappoint me and he scooped me up, placed me in front of him on the handlebars of his bike and we were off. As we set off down the hill to the ranch my little foot got caught in the bike wheel/spokes. We knew we would be in trouble and so Ronnie took me all the way to the ranch and our Aunt Melva would bandage my right ankle. Because we were young my brother Ronnie and I thought we were safe and out of trouble, my Mom would never know that I had disobeyed her…of course Aunt Melva would call Mom to tell her I had been hurt and of course we were in trouble. I still carry that large scar on my right ankle, it is about the size of a silver dollar, but it is also a constant reminder of a great story I share with my brother Ronnie who is no longer with us.
These stories are just two examples of my exposure to bicycles at an early age. Now, I would like to say that this sparked something in me at a young age and that I’ve been an avid bike rider since childhood, sadly this is not the case. Like most people we learn to ride a bike and then play with riding a bike when we are kids. As adults bike riding for some becomes just a fun thing we do sometimes. And now this non-bike riding self thinks she’s going to compete in a 2745 mile race, unsupported, up and down mountains for 50 days.
- Yes, I’ve committed to ride in the Tour Divide. I’m gonna do that…
- why…because it’s there…
- why…because it’s hard-but not impossible…
- why…because it will hurt, but it will never hurt the same way I’m hurting now
- why…because being alone on a bike and being alone on a road in my head may be the thing that can help (not fix) , but help my pain.
- why…because maybe I can use Pain to Heal Pain.
Medicine is the name of my bicycle…my very special bicycle. The process began with the search for the perfect place to purchase a bicycle. After viewing the site for Circa Cycles, I was convinced I had found the place that would create my bicycle. My first meeting with Rich and Demetri was a good fit…which is funny because they spent that first meeting taking so many measurements of my body in order to start the build for my custom fitted bicycle. I talked and they listened. They committed themselves as my bicycle makers and trainers/mentors and friends. The bicycle for me has become this emotional connection and a hope of healing. My vision of the bicycle started with a photo and words that I carry with me. The name Medicine happened because the bicycle and the ride will be medicine for my body and soul. Medicine because a bicycle wheel can have 28 spokes and so does the BigHorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel was constructed by the Plains Natives some 500 plus years ago and it is considered a place for healing and a historical/archeological wonder…in my current head space all of this is significant. I would also name my second bicycle Dirty Medicine. Dirty Medicine, because it is the bicycle that will actually be doing the dirty work on the road challenge. Dirty Medicine will carry me miles and miles down the path of the Tour Divide challenge and my path of self prescribed healing.
[I think that in these times especially, but probably for all times, in the stories we tell or share we can only be guided by the heart – we cannot dictate or predict which stories will be “the ones.” All we can do is to remember and to tell with all our hearts, not hold anything back, because anything held back or not told cannot continue on with others.]
Leslie Marmon Silko & James Wright The Delicacy and Strength of Lace (1986)
While William, Keith and Kirsten explained exactly what the Tour Divide challenge entailed…2745 miles down the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. The Great Divide (Continental Divide) is an underground race that follows the divide drainage from Banff, Canada and down the divide of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The journey ends in Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the Mexican border. Knowing the geography of Montana, Wyoming and northern Colorado and listening to the stories of the riders shared by Kirsten and my sons I was hooked. Their stories included following the riders via “Spot” and also, being able to meet and interact with the racers…these stories were inspiring and something I could not stop thinking about. You see, Kirsten meets and helps many of the riders in the TD because they must ride past her famous (maybe a little infamous) Brush Mountain Ranch in Colorado, just over the Wyoming border. This area in Wyoming and just over the border into Colorado is one of the main reasons for my infatuation. This area and to those people in the know…this is the Little Snake River Valley and my home. Home to my family and my two older sons and their families.
The decision for the journey began in Wyoming. I was having dinner and cocktails with two of my sons, their families and a good friend of theirs. With my sons there is always silliness and laughter, even in the most difficult of times, add alcohol and Ms. Kirsten to the mixture…I’ve committed myself to this thing that is so much bigger than anything I have ever done (with one exception). The journey begins with a little known underground race called the Tour Divide challenge. My new friend Kirsten tells me that the night I heard about the race, I blurted out, “Oh, I’m gonna DO THAT!” She called me a “nutter” and exclaimed most people would just say “wow”! So, here I am…Ive sent in my Letter of Intent and I’m training.
Yes, I am in training and I have purchased a bike. My bike is a very special training bike. It was created with the help and encouragement of many people. I was advised that it would be best to have a bike custom measured and built for my specific body size. The actual measurements, drawings, graphics and final construction were done by two men. Two unique and amazing men who have become friends/trainers. I had no idea what was about to happen the day I walked into Circa Cycles. The course that was laid out for me and my current journey had been set into motion a few months earlier.
The first week of January had snow, wind, rain and extreme cold…perfect conditions to start my outdoor training. Sister runs one mile and I must ride three. My total miles for the week were 115 and I missed my mark by 35 miles. I’m not disappointed, but I am surprised I made the 115 mark, given the new difficulties that I am confronting in my 20 digits and the general area of my bottom.