Happy Birthday Freya!

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Happy Birthday, Freya!

Yesterday was Freya’s birthday. It was Soooo HOT that she refused to move from the basement after our initial early morning walk. I gave her a frozen raw bone from the butcher, and that was her birthday treat. She seemed to make the most of it, even in the basement.

 

 

It was an eventful day. Nikki and Tom and Alec and Lia left our house for their Calgary, Alberta adventure. After a delightful four-day visit, it was TOUGH to see them go.

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Lia and Freya

 

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So, after waving them out the driveway and drying my eyes, I got in touch with my friend Paul and saddled up for a 43 mile bike ride. Best way to avoid the blues that I know! It was, however, in the 90s and HUMID, so we were dripping wet by ten miles in. The heat made a bit of a challenge, but cycling moves the air, so I never notice the heat as much on my bike as off. Paul and I had much fun, as always.

Paul and me 8.10.1613886467_1081043135276460_1618886200407948600_n

 

Got some other work done, and then saddled up again to go on the Nicollet Bike Women’s Ice Cream ride. I figured that’s usually a leisurely paced, no-drop ride, so I could do it in spite of an earlier ride. Well, we moved right along and split into a couple groups, and I dropped a sweaty water bottle–fell right through my fingers–but Emma retrieved it, and all was good. Mom and Pop’s Ice Cream is, as always, a delightful way to end a hot, fun ride. . Good friends, good fun. https://www.facebook.com/nicolletbikeshop/photos/a.495357077178405.1073741826.139081836139266/1081043135276460/?type=3

 

Then, last night, I was sorting boxes from my basement in the Rapidan house. I found pictures of Nikki and me as toddlers. Here’s a rather delightful comparison:

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baby Nik and LiaI’m on the left. Nikki’s in the middle, and Lia’s on the right (taken two days ago). I guess there’s a little resemblance. It’s fun to see three generations carrying on. Nikki in the middle, by the way, is also playing with a tea set. Ha.

 

All said and done, what a good life.

This morning I went to the eye doctor, and the only problems are normal problems with aging. Nothing concerning. And with a new appreciation for life, I’m happy to have eye aging problems. It’s so much better than the alternative, which could have been mine!

 

Chasing AllieCat Screenplay, recovering, Freya, and Medical Leave

Kitchen w FreyaThe good things about being on medical leave this semester:

1. Not grading papers

2. Getting to visit my kids and grandkids on my own schedule instead of the school schedule

3. Spending tons of time with Freya

4. I get more time to WRITE than I do during the school year. Even with rest time built into every day, I can write at least some time, which doesn’t happen during the busy school year. This year that’s more important than ever because Steph Borklund and the SFI (Stephens Film Institute) at Stephens College in Columbia, MO are indeed working on the short film of Chasing AllieCat. My time away from school allowed me to:

1. Write the screenplay

2. Work with Steph and her students to edit, edit, edit, and tweak the screenplay

3. Be available so Steph and I can brainstorm about details (wardrobe, bike race, location, PR, and tons more) for the film. She’s doing all that work, of course. I just find out what’s happening and I’m lucky that she asks me for my opinion on lots of decisions. Many authors whose books become films don’t get that opportunity.

4. Get to go to Missouri for the week of actual shooting. I’m taking my bikes, too!

5. Meet her students–online, at least–and through a Facetime classroom visit! They students are awesome, and these young women are full of passion for this project. I’m so excited, I feel like a little kid!

I’m also editing another novel, but the film project is front and center right now. It’s much FUN!

 

A very long blog about Aging and about Happiness

A very long blog about aging. And life. And happiness.My age is no secret. It’s public knowledge on Facebook that I turned 59 last week. People ask me how old I am (seems that it’s not impolite to ask on one’s birthday), and at first, I can’t remember! I suppose it’s possible that I am experiencing early-onset dementia. I don’t want to believe that, and I don’t really think so, but I do forget stuff…Well, that aside, what I mean is that I can’t remember how old I am because I can’t flippin’ believe that I’m almost 60. WTF? How did this happen? 59 years old? What?zeroWhen I turned fifty, I started the tradition of riding my bike the number of miles of my years on my birthday. I needed to do something that felt good about being in charge of my life, my birthday. I didn’t want to wait for other people to make a big deal out of my birthday. I wanted to celebrate my own life in my own way, ‘cause after all, I’m the one living it. Turning 50 mattered more to me than to anybody else, right? I liked getting 50 miles in, just for myself. On my 50th birthday, I rode the whole way all by myself. It was good. So I kept it up, every year.Riding 50-something miles isn’t really a huge deal for me if I’m riding a lot during the year. A couple times, my birthday ride on June 22 has been the second longest ride of the year, but not usually. This year, my birthday dawned—or rather grew lighter in the darkness—there was no “dawn”—in a crackling, pounding thunderstorm. When the rain went away, the day continued howlingly windy, but not too tough to complete 59 miles.

Rachael and me

I met my writing and riding buddy Rachael Hanel in Madison Lake, and she joined me for the middle 32 miles, including a delightful lunch at Jocko’s in Cleveland. We also saved this turtle from the middle of the road.

 

turtle

In the last ten miles of the 59, I ran into Mike (aka Michaelmas) Busch who was getting a few extra miles on his way home from work—twice. I had to double back on my route to complete 59 and saw him for the second time. Best part of this: Mike gave me the delightful birthday present of the news that he’ll be joining the SCC faculty in the Mechatronics program! I almost jumped off my bike in delight when he told me.

59

After the 59, I took a little break and fed Freya, and rode back to town to join the Nicollet Bike Shop women’s ice cream ride organized by my buddy Emily Flynn, so I ended up with 92 miles for the day.

Almost (but not quite, as Mark Skarpohl was quick to point out) 159 kilometers. I could have ridden a few more and clocked 159K, but opted to stop in time to go out for birthday dinner. Food—and a margarita—won.

Maybe next year. Maybe I’ll have to ride 160 K instead of only 60 miles—just to keep the maestro of mileage Mark Skarpohli happy. And let it be known that Skarpohli always rides 100+ his birthday years in miles on his birthday. This July, he’ll be riding 157, I believe.

IMG_3272 Birthday flowers. 🙂

I do think that this much biking is one reason I don’t feel 59—and consequently forget how old I am. But I know I’m not alone in my disbelief. Saturday night, I joined five friends from Ballard High School for dinner in Ames, Iowa. We were all from the class of ’74 or ’73, and none of us can figure out how the heck we got to be this old. For crying out loud, I remember my Aunt Ruby going to her 30th class reunion, and thinking she was so old, and that I’d never be that old. Now I’m past my 40th Reunion year. What?

The reality of aging is a strange twist of logic in the minds of the young. Old people have a fictional past where they were once children in an age so long ago that it’s like a fairy tale. Old people are innately always old; they were never children, never young and beautiful, sexy and vibrant; thrumming with the expectancies of life. Old people are and always were, simply old. Now, it seems, I am entering that group of folks.

Even, as youngsters, if we understand the concept that old folks were once young, and we will, inevitably do one of the other: we will either die young, or we will age—ageing still doesn’t seem like reality for us. I won’t get old. I am me in this reality today, and I’m in this young body, and I won’t really, not really get old. Somehow, I am exempt because here I am. Now. Today. Look at me. Alive.

It’s very much like the student who does her research project on the dangers of tanning, but continues to cultivate a rich dark tan ‘cause cancer can’t really happen to me. Same thing, isn’t it?

Well, let me tell you, all you teens, twenty-somethings, and thirty-somethings, and even forty-somethings (!). It ain’t so, and it happens to the best of us. Weirdly, I’m happier—or definitely as happy at age 59 as ever. I have always loved my life, except for a few years in there when guilt and remorse clouded my entire perception, and I really needed to get a divorce and quit being a pastor’s wife—long story, which I can tell you sometime if you ask—and better yet, I’ll write it—which I’ve actually done—but I emerged from all that guilt and sadness happier than ever. I love my life. I truly love my life.

I have spectacular kids and grandkids. Yup, that’s bragging. I earned it, and they deserve it. Their spectacularness is, of course, a huge factor in my life, yes, but being happy isn’t dependent on anyone else, not even my own kids. Being happy is a decision inside of each of our own situations, and that is a freeing realization. All I can control is me. I make me happy. Or not. Or I do.

I have to say that a huge part of this freedom came from not depending on GOD to make me happy, which, for the first many years of my life, I thought I had to do. I was trying hard, and I mean really trying hard to trust God for my happiness. It just didn’t quite work—all part of that story I can tell you if you ask—and when I realized it was up to me, well, that’s when I started getting happier and happier. And yeah, I have some crappy downtimes, and yeah, I’ve been depressed, and yeah, publishers reject me, and I fall flat on my face, and I crash on my bike, and I break bones in bike crashes, and I got hit by a car, and I screw things up irreparably sometimes, and life sucks, but generally, generally, give me a bike so I can go meditate in motion, and I can reach my happy place.

I remember going for a run on Christmas Day afternoon, back in my glorious running days, when my knees were still in mint condition. A girlfriend pulled up beside me, opened her window in the frigid Christmas air and said, “Becky, you must really like yourself.” That set me in a whirl. What? Was I being selfish to go running on Christmas? I had to think long and hard about her question before I settled on an answer. Raised as a die-hard Christian, “liking myself” wasn’t a good thing. We were bludgeoned with the idea that we must love Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last—the only recipe for JOY. So to be confronted on Jesus’ “birthday” of all days, with “Really lik[ing]” myself was a jolt.

But I guess I do. I do like myself. I like this life I’ve built, and worked so hard to build. And I don’t want to depend on other people to be good to me. I need to do that myself.

I tell my composition students that nobody hands them the life they want on a silver platter. Even if they win the lottery, they’re still living their life, just with more money. Nobody gives you the life you want—not Prince Charming, not the perfect boss—nobody.

And I feel good about being an example to my students about building the life you want to live.

So back to aging. It sucks to get old and to lose perfect control of perfect knees and lose the ability to run. It sucks to forget names of people or things, but it also brings a peace. A recognition that yeah, I’ve actually done some really cool stuff in my life. And my kids know how to love and how to give and how to care about people and society and making the world a better place. If I can give that to the world? I’m happy as shit, and I’m happy to say that to anybody.

Yesterday, Freya and I spent the day with my dear friends Roger and Gwen Hart and their Newfy Buster Brown. We took the goofy Newfies to Petco Pet Store and swimming, and we talked and talked and talked—about life, what we’re doing, what we’re writing, and just what we’re doing in life. It solidified all I think about this: about how a happy life is what we make it, how we live every hour.

Not everybody wants to bike or own a 158-pound dog like I do. Not everyone can. Not everyone runs or bikes. But we each get to determine what makes us happy, and we are the only ones with the power to pursue that. And hopefully, the things that make us happy also make us healthy.

I have some more thoughts about this regarding crap life hands us like cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and other terminal illnesses…but I don’t have room to talk about all of it here, and nope, those are NOT happy-makers. But no matter what we get dealt, we’re still in charge of what we do with it. We’re in charge of every day of our own lives.

It’s up to each and every one of us to make our own lives the place where we want to live. THAT is what happiness is all about. That’s what real joy is.

Amen.

MnDOT Seeks input for statewide bicycle system plan

Subject: MnDOT seeks public input for statewide bicycle system plan in Mankato on Feb. 24

Minnesota Department of Transportation

395 John Ireland Boulevard

Saint Paul, MN 55155

News Release

Jan. 29, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                       Contact:  Sue Roe

651-366-4268

MnDOT seeks public input for statewide bicycle system plan

  1. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is seeking public input on its Statewide Bicycle System Plan during a series of statewide meetings in February and March. The plan will identify a statewide system of bicycle routes, improve existing facilities and refine MnDOT’s bicycle planning process.

During the meetings, participants will provide specific input at activity stations and get the latest project news and updates. The information will help guide MnDOT in its next steps for the plan.

Meetings will be held at these locations:

  • Feb. 9 in Fergus Falls – West Central Initiative Conference Room, 1000 Western Ave.
  • Feb. 11 in Minneapolis – University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center, Room 105, 2001 Plymouth Ave N.
  • Feb. 18 in Bemidji – Hampton Inn and Suites, Sunken Island Room, 1019 Paul Bunyan Dr. SE
  • Feb. 19 in Granite Falls – Kilowatt Community Center, 600 Kilowatt Dr.
  • Feb. 24 in Mankato – Blue Earth County Library Auditorium, 100 E. Main St.
  • Feb. 25 in St. Paul – Neighborhood House at Wellstone Center, Westside Room, 179 Robie St. E
  • Feb. 26 in Duluth – City Hall, room 303, 411 W. First St.
  • March 11 in Rochester – University Center Rochester, Heintz Center Classroom, HA 104. Park in the east lot of Heintz Center, enter door H-9, 1926 College View Road E.
  • March 12 in St. Cloud – Whitney Senior Center, Kelly/Voltuck/Nikle Rooms, 1527 Northway Dr.

All meetings will be from 5 to 7 p.m.

Project team members and planning partners will be available for questions. Kids’ activities and snacks will be provided.

Interested persons also may submit comments on the project website at www.mndot.gov/bike, by email to greta.alquist@nullstate.mn.us or by mail to Greta Alquist, MnDOT Office of Transit MS 315, 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN, 55155.

A first round of statewide meetings was held in spring 2014. MnDOT received more than 3,000 comments on routes for the statewide network, ideas for the kinds of facilities that should be developed and locations where MnDOT should invest.

“Minnesota has a great bicycling culture. Throughout our process people from across the state were active in letting us know where and how we can make good bicycle-related investments,” said Tim Mitchell, MnDOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “We hope anyone interested in bicycling will help us with our next steps as we continue to work towards improving bicycling throughout the state.”

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, or other reasonable accommodation during the meeting, call Janet Miller at 651-366-4720 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). Alternatively, email janet.rae.miller@nullstate.mn.us. Please request at least one week in advance.

For more information on the project, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/study.html.

www.mndot.gov

Sue Roe

Communications Office

Public Affairs Program Administrator

651-366-4268

Cell: 651-503-2467

susan.roe@nullstate.mn.us
Minnesota Department of Transportation

395 John Ireland Blvd.

St. Paul, MN

www.mndot.gov

 

The Loyal Lieutenant

href=”http://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hincapie.jpg” class=”lightbox” >Hincapie

George Hincapie’s book is not just another cycling memoir. It’s not an apology or an accusation. It’s certainly not a ploy for pity. It’s the true story of the life of a great man, on and off the bike.
As a cycling fan for the last few decades, I have made no secret of the fact that Big George Hincapie has been my hero. Hincapie’s memoir confirmed everything I thought he was and hoped he would be: a gifted, driven, and passionate athlete; a generous and gracious human being; and a humble and honest man.

I’ve read quite a few cycling memoirs. Some come across as tell-all stories, some cocky, some accusatory, some whiny, some looking for pity as victims of circumstance. George Hincapie’s story is none of these. He explains honestly what his life was like as a professional cyclist. The work, the pain, the sacrifice (even something as tiny as foregoing the mints on a hotel pillow because it wouldn’t make him a better cyclist), the love of speed, the drive and single-mindedness it takes not to give up, and the discipline all year, year after year, to pull it all together.

Some critics of this book have said that it’s disjointed and doesn’t flow because of the number of quotes from other people inserted into the narrative of George’s life. I was never a big fan of Craig Hummer as a commentator on the Tour de France, and I have to admit surprise when I saw his name as co-author on the book. When I read the first couple comments inserted about George, I was concerned about the flow Hummer was orchestrating. But I got caught up in the honest arc of Hincapie’s story, and I see why Hummer chose this approach. I think it was brilliant. It mirrors George’s cycling career: he rode for everybody else. George Hincapie endured the pain and the training to so his teammates would win most of the glory. Why not let other people speak for George and sing his praises in his story? Why not let other people be the domestiques with words to convey the truth about the rider and the man George Hincapie? George exudes—in life and in his story—a humility in spite of his confident ability—that means he won’t say about himself what others could say about him.

For example, Mark Cavendish says “[George Hincapie] should be known as the most famous domestique ever. Here’s no one in his league. He helped all types of riders win—GC, climbers, classics, sprinters, TT…It didn’t matter the situation.” Who else can claim that kind of continued success for the better part of two decades? It’s only fitting that other people’s words could act as domestiques for the George’s story.

When we look at the arc of a cycling career, George Hincapie’s may have been one of the most brilliant—while rarely putting himself on the podium. After all, he rode the Tour de France seventeen times. Nine of those times, he piloted the Tour champion—not just for Lance, but Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador, too; and he was lead-out man for Mark Cavendish for numerous stage wins. A great rider? Without question.

Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile, shows his appreciation for George loud and clear:
“We don’t win like that without George. He made it impossible to lose…I often referred to him as ‘the Guarantee.’ He could put anyone in the best position at any time.’” (231)…And when told George was leaving HTC Columbia, Mark said, “I love him to bits. He’s very much a big brother. On a personal level, I didn’t want him to leave, and on a professional level, I freaked out a bit. I didn’t know if I could win without him.”

Some critics have said that Hincapie glosses over the doping dilemma; others have said that he should have slam-dunked Lance Armstrong. Others have said that he excuses himself. I disagree. By nature of being the “Loyal Lieutenant,” George is part of the whole Lance scandal. He doesn’t gloss it over. He simply doesn’t place blame anywhere except in his own decisions. And, why is it that we want heroes who are supermen (and even on Wheaties Boxes) but we cannot accept that the same men who are capable of unbelievably great accomplishments might also be capable of great mistakes?

We have enough tell-all stories to inform us about what happened in the courts and who felt harried by the media and by the USADA. That wasn’t the purpose of this memoir. Hincapie doesn’t trash Lance; he’s honest about their relationship, their team and their mistakes. It’s a story about what it takes to be a pro cyclist, including that choice: to ride with the big boys or go home. Let him among us “without sin” be the one to cast the stones. We haven’t ridden in those slipstreams and we certainly haven’t pulled those pacelines. George made the choice, and then later made the choice to ride clean and still be at the top. I think it’s a story that needs to be read by cycling fans around the world.

Lance Armstrong said, “He’s the greatest, bar none, teammate the world of sport has ever seen, the one guy who made my success possible. My wins do not happen without George Hincapie. Anyone who thinks differently is kidding themselves.”
If we don’t want to hear what Lance said because he’s a “cheat and a liar,” then we need to rethink such a black-and-white view of the world where rights and wrongs are never as clearcut as we might like.

George’s own words say it best, perhaps. In the epilogue, he addresses his children: “While I would never want you […] to make the same decision I made, I would want you to dedicate yourself to something the way I did. Also, know that even though you can make wrong decisions along the way, you always have the chance to right them.”

Ultimately, Big George’s story proves that he does indeed deserve our continued love and respect.

Riding, writing

Yesterday, my friend’s dog peed on my living room carpet–quite out of character, but enough to push me over the edge: YES, I need to rip up the carpet NOW, and have a nice wooden floor–or at least a clean wooden floor–with rug(s) before Alec comes to visit and crawl around on it.

So, in the next days: I need to mow (before the next rains come), finish second and third drafts of Slider’s Son (the pen and paper version is second, translated into computer for third), rip up carpet (doesn’t that sound fun?), do a reading/signing at the New Ulm Public Library (5:15 Friday the 15th if you’re interested and that will be fun), ride every day (finally feeling almost like my old self on the bike–why does it take half the summer!?), and watch the Tour (cause I’m addicted). Good news: I can watch the Tour and rip up carpet at the same time!
Oh, I have been riding in the mornings or mid-day most of the summer. Yesterday, I stole a 20-mile ride right before dusk, and saw two deer (in my path on the downhill–had to brake to avoid them) and a raccoon (on my path on an uphill so he saw me in plenty of time). Might need to ride later in the day more often to check the wildlife! Not sure if the raccoon’s extra time to get out of the way was an indication of his speed or mine uphill. Ha.
Oh, and my man Voeckler is still riding in the yellow jersey today. Haven’t seen the results today yet.
Back to work.

Okoboji

Great ride yesterday–“University of Okoboji Cycling Classic.” Rode the 50-mile route around the lakes, and after the jammed-10-mile-an-hour start on a clogged bike trail, we broke into the open and flew along the roads and trails–gently rolling hills and curves. It rained for awhile, but still, the route was beautiful.

Then this morning, I volunteered for the North Mankato Triathlon. That’s a great, well-organized event. Several of my friends had a great race–and everybody seemed to have fun. YAY!

Tour de Suisse…once again, almost famous!


So I’ve been out of the loop for two days, helping Josh and Emily work on their house. Tonight, I checked on the Tour de Suisse, only to find out that Cancellera (one of my favorite riders) won the prologue in Lugano, Switzerland! We (students and Kurt and I) were in Lugano just a couple weeks ago. I took this photo from Lugano, looking across the bay–look! It’s the same mountain in this photo of Cancellera’s winning ride! But wait. Eek.


Blogger cuts off the photo; Cancellera’s not even in the picture the way blogger crops it! So check it out here if you’re interested. Here’s a youtube of most of the ride–the crazy fast turns on a downhill ride. Scaryfast.