Two weeks ago, DP and I flew up to Connecticut to participate in the Tri-State Trek, an annual bike ride and fundraiser for the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). It was a powerful weekend filled with more than a few learning experiences – a few of them painful, many of them humbling, all of them inspiring. As always, I returned grateful for the opportunity to sprout new limbs off of our extended ALS family tree.

Here are my 4 takeaway lessons. Too long for one blog post, so tune in tomorrow.

  1. 270 miles is not too far.

I didn’t push Team Drea to join DP and me at the Trek this year because…well, honestly, I thought 270 miles of biking would be out of reach for most of our group. While we do have a handful of hard-core cyclists and Ironmans, I dismissed it thinking that they probably already had full schedules.

What I didn’t realize is how flexible, fully supported, and NOT A RACE the Trek is (even though all the literature says so). You want to ride just Day 3 (79 miles) and crew the other two? Sure. You set out to do Day 1 (100 miles) and feel done at mile 70? No problem, someone will pick you & your bike up and shuttle you to the next stop. Not a cyclist, but want to volunteer and cheer on the riders? OH. YEAH.

Photo cred: Heather Carlson

Plenty of people do ride all 270 miles over 3 days, of course. To a person, they will tell you that their butts hurt from sitting, their arms ache, they can’t feel their hands…but they know their discomfort is temporary and therefore easier than living with ALS. They GET this disease, mostly because they’ve seen it up close in a friend or loved one who suffered/is suffering with it. They ride harder and longer because they know it’s a privilege to do so, and it feels good to physically pump strength into something productive that will one day end ALS for good.

So next year, Team Drea, you’re on notice – I would love to have a big team in 2018. Put June 22-24 on your calendars. Trust me on this one :)…have I ever steered you wrong??

 

  1. You CAN fly with a trike.

Ever since I read Sylvia Halpern’s blog, travelsbytrike, I’ve been itching to do some exotic marathon or explore another country on my trike. Especially given all her reassurances:

“I’ve been doing this for 7 years and it couldn’t be easier.”

“Amazingly, check-in was a breeze. They took the trike no questions asked or extra fees.”

“I have never had any damage to my trike on a flight and the luggage guys do a really great job.”

Well, strike that last one. Everything was fine on the way to CT (the important direction!), but on the way back, the trike came off the plane upside down with a broken shifter.

Photo credit: Me…freaking out from the window of the plane

Which sucks, but kudos to Delta for making it right. We went to the bag claim office to complain and the guy gave us a form, told us to get it fixed, tuned up, and send them the bill.

So a few technical lessons learned here: we’re going to improve over the bubble wrap, add signs that say ‘Fragile!’ and ‘This End Up’ (since apparently wheels are not a clear enough indication).

Several of my friends with ALS commented, “that’s why I don’t fly with my power wheelchair,” which makes me kind of sad. I mean, I get it – it’s not like luggage. If it breaks in transit, you are quite literally stuck at the airport with no easy fixes. But I hate to think that entire continents are off limits to me forever. At least not yet.

Next post tomorrow (I promise, it’s written). Don’t forget to sign up at the bottom of TeamDrea.org if you want to receive an email when I put up a new post!

Never miss a post