May isn’t just 30 days of blogging month. It’s also training month for the upcoming 150-mile Lake Tour Bike Trek benefiting the American Lung Association. It will be my second year participating, and I’ll do it with the memories of both of my grandmothers tucked in my fanny pack.
Lung disease isn’t pretty. Growing up, I remember my listening to my grandmother, Mimi, suffer through debilitating coughing fits. Each time her chest heaved, you could see the visceral pain it caused her and my family members. Every time she struggled to catch her breath, you could feel the anxiety in the room. As her lung capacity decreased, I remember the sounds of the machine that she relied on to help her breathe. She’d become a shadow of the woman she’d been just years earlier, cooking up a mean mac and cheese and helping us build sandcastles on the Florida beach.
Mimi wasn’t the only grandmother who smoked. Gran did, too, and as she grew older, her coughing would steadily grow worse, until, like Mimi, we would hold out breaths, wishing she could just breathe easily. With Gran, each coughing fit would take away from her insatiable reading time, or distract her from listening to the news radio that always kept her company.
Watching the addiction of my grandmothers, followed by my parents’ seeming never ending quest to quit smoking, I still somehow managed to pick up the habit, myself. Six years ago I quit, and haven’t picked up a cigarette since.
With the Lake Tour Bike Trek, I join the American Lung Association and raise funds to fight the kind of suffering that I saw in my grandmothers, Helen Silver (Mimi) and Helen Gannon (Gran). Now that my lungs are clean and healthy, I’m happy to be able to flex my cilia and ride through 150 miles of Midwest farmland to Lake Geneva, as a way of keeping my family’s memories alive.
Last year was my first time to participate in this ride. Admittedly, it took a toll. In part, that’s because I was riding a bike I’ve named Old Heifer, a clunky Trojan of a bicycle, which I can generally outrun. On foot.The cow must have weighed 50 pounds, at least.
This year, I got a new bike. It’s a Specialized Sirrus hybrid bike, and while I won’t be at the head of the pack, I hope to not be passed quite so often as last year. In the next month, I’ll be alternating between biking and running every day to prepare for the ride. I’m also going to be raising funds, so if anyone reading this would like to make a donation, click here. Thanks so much!