It is October 23, 2016 at 2:00 am in the morning. I wake up drenched in sweat with the side effects of the pain medication and ice melting on my chest. Seeking relief in the house, oh, the pain is intolerable. Going on my 3rd night sleeping at home away from the hospital, I find some relief. At home, I am able to update my dosage of the pain medication, replace the ice bladder and find comfort on the keyboard of my computer. For the first time, my fingers are able to talk and share with you the pain and agony I've encountered during the past few months.
It was July 15, 2016 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer In Situ - roughly the size of a golf ball with many other calcifications surrounding the area. Here I found myself out of my knowledge base with no clue of what I was facing in the next year or the remainder of my life. My breast cancer surgeon did the best she could to explain to me what "Breast Cancer In Situ" meant which for other women DCIS was a loose term they could understand. For me, it was a tremendous weight that was dropped on me. I felt as if a truck load of sand was just poured onto my petite frame.
I started writing this blog post in October, saved the draft. Continued writing it on July 12, almost a year after. This is very unusual for me as I enjoy writing and sharing immediately. However, cancer has dictated my life this past year. Months after the double mastectomy, I finally received some relief of the pain. Leakage from the stitches that will never heal have confined me to home. Yoga provides some sense of mental/muscle relief, but I feel I have been damaged mentally and physically. The surgeries and chemo have left me with side effects of lymphedema and neorapathy. Both are extremely painful with no relief in sight.
What is Lymphedema?
As defined in WebMD: Lymphodema is a big issue for anyone at all who has had lymph nodes removed, and that could be from breast cancer treatment, it could be from cancer that might be in the groin for instance or near the groin, it can be from head and neck cancers and you can get lymphodema in the face, so there's a lot of times that the lymph fluid doesn't flow well when the lymph nodes are taken out and that fluid builds up and needs to be treated.
What is neurapathy?
As defined by Google: Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to your peripheral nerves, often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in your hands and feet. It can also affect other areas of your body. Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body.
According to my doctors, it was caused by 6 months of chemo therapy while treating my cancer. I also have it on my fingers causing difficulty on the keyboard when I am typing. Medications are not helping.
Yoga has been one of the best medicines I have found. I go to the cancer wellness center 3 times a week for the classes. The sessions are specifically designed for cancer patients and they are wonderful.
There are days when the pain is so severe I don't want to go. Somehow I find the strength and drag myself to the center to take my yoga class. After an hour of breathing properly and stretching my muscles, I feel amazing. I even smile.
I will continue my yoga sessions for as long as possible or for the rest of my life because the medications have horrific side effects and don't work. What will happen to my dreams? How will I be able to perform in a job? How will I be able to ride my motorcycle? I think time will answer these questions, stay tuned with my progress.
On July 9, 2017 I found myself participating at MotoVermont's Off-Road, Dual-Sport Adventure Riding School in Jay Peak Vermont. I met this incredible young man named Eric Milano who owns the company and rider-instructor. There he is on the photo above left to me, coaching me, giving me encouragement that I can do the hard drills and learn the techniques to keep me alive during the world tour.
My favorite Google search engine revealed a gem in the east coast of the United States of America called Pine Barrens Adventure Camp Riding School in Nesco, New Jersey. Preparations for the world tour requires that I gain certain skills to handle my bike in remote places with unforgiving terrain.
An invitation to get dirty was extended to Missrider by Rachel, also known known as Fuzzy Galore to participate in her favorite yearly ride. Ecstatic Missrider loaded Young Fred onto the trailer with her son Miguel as her guardian angel. The ride to the campground was only an hour drive from their home.
During the winter months I modified my bike extensively with many little things that will enable me to tour the world. I've shared many blog posts that included videos. During the process, I challenged myself to do some of the electrical work myself as the budget is quite low. I succeeded extremely well on all challenges. However, one very complicated 4 way switch required the use of an electrician due to its complexity. I took Fred (my Yamaha XT250) to my favorite Ducati shop in Derry NH called Seacoast Sport Cycle. Kyle, the best mechanic in the world was quite proud of my work. He fixed the horrible heated hang grips installation performed by the Yamaha shop when I purchased the bike. The mechanics there installed the heated grips using the feed for the front and signals. That work would have caused major problems down the road by putting too much drain on the alternator and battery. Eventually, my signal and front lights would have stopped working. Kyle rerouted the wiring to connect it all to use the wonderful PDM switch I installed as there were a few available slots. Now the bike draws 14 volts when all accessories are running. I feel that the bike is now ready for any challenge it is given.
On May 17, 2017, I witnessed Motoress blue decorated scooters, trikes, choppers, cruisers and sport bikes in downtown Toronto, Canada. The Toronto City Hall was engulfed with the excitement of 60+ women and their motorcycles getting ready to "Just Ride" in the 10th Annual International Female Ride event founded by Vicki Gray. The press eagerly waiting the arrival of Vicki as she rode in on her Kawasaki decorated with a bright blue star to announce the ride to Toronto's 2.8 million residents via the news that evening.
I have been collecting videos of my progress while doing my own electrical work on Young Fred. Young Fred is the bike that is going to take me around the world. He is a 20105 Yamaha XT250. So far I've added Denali LED lights, replaced the front fender with a Yamaha YZ250 , PDM60 to help me connect all wiring without using the little fuse that comes with each component, a 10 volt connector, replaced the handlebars with stronger ones and connected my GPS. The videos below share the wiring cleanup job.
Success, I did it!!! Installed a set of Denali DM Single Intensity LED lights by myself. Purchased the offset mount and that was the hardest to do. They provide every possible bolt available to human kind, except the one that fits on their own bracket. Not sure how that works for them, but I got it done with spare bolts from older motorcycle projects. However, Denali does a fantastic job with the high quality of the wires and large schematic helping with the installation.
My attempt to install emergency blinkers on my Yamaha XT250 turned out to be a tremendous challenge. My mind could not wrap itself around the many cables required for the installation. The local Yamaha service shop suggested using a Custom Dynamics 4-Way Hazard Kit. I started my day early and after studying, watching videos, reading on how to do it, the overwhelming task became obvious that I need help for this installation. I've been seeking someone that will guide me through the electrical procedure so that I can learn how to fix it during my world tour if something were to go wrong. Or, if I had to replace it again or the blinker relay.
I received an email from my dear friend Bob the other day sharing a magazine for Women Adventure Riders called Traction Erag. I was intrigued, read some of the articles posted by the women and decided to send them an email to see if I could post an article. Lo and behold, they responded very interested in my story. I was ecstatic. The editor named Dallas sent me their requirements, super nice guy and wonderful attitude, very inspiring. He asked if I could submit an article answering these questions versus the topic I suggested.
I pondered at the questions. Spent a few days excited about the opportunity to share my story in such a wonderful magazine. Sat down and drew up my little chart as I was taught many moons ago in high school.
My incredible wonderful dear friend Pat from 2RideTheGlobe shared these tips with me. The instructions are for a Yamaha XT250. As of writing this blog post (March 10, 2016) the bike has only 200 miles. Everything should be clean. This procedure will be performed at the end of the summer once I complete the Labrador Highway ride. Until then, I will keep it posted here as a training reminder and/or help anyone else that can benefit from his work.
Young Fred is getting a ton of love. Below are more videos of my progress. Wonderful work while I learn how to upgrade the electrical system and replace the handlebars. This phase of the world tour is extremely important because it will help me in the future if things go wrong with the bike. Currently trying to figure out how to install the emergency blinkers. Stay tuned for that setup........ For now, check out my videos.
This is my first feedback and opinion of a product. I have been asked by hundreds of companies to review their products. I always say "NO". Why you ask? Simply because I prefer to keep my website clean from product adverts and any other material. I only like to share products from the companies that sponsor me along the way.
February 28, 2016 - my nephew helped me with the scooter. After all attempts as noted in my previous blog http://www.missrider.com/blog/broken-scooter
it became obvious that special tools were required for the job. My nephew brought an impact wrench to loosen and tighten the bolts afterwards. Take a look at our video.....
The work continues preparing my Yamaha XT250 for the big ride. This weekend I installed the handlebars. A few videos to keep you posted.
My dear friend Pat who is currently riding around the world on his Yamaha XT250 suggested that I lube the from steering rack. My Triumph Bonneville and Ducati Monster both suffered from this illness. Both bikes needed the entire front end taken apart to lube the joints. When my Ducati had about 15,000 miles, the front end was very sticky and hard to turn. Then, while I was taking a small slow turn near my home, I felt it locking to the left. Once the lubrication was applied, it was like riding a new bike. I really want to perform the work myself but as you will note below, the job is bigger than my skill level, tools and resources. While the bike is taken apart, I might as well replace the handlebars because Pat said the factory ones are very soft and bend easily. Here are a few videos with my progress.
Autumn of 2015, sometime around October. While I was riding to work, I felt a pop under the seat of my scooter. The bike slows down, no acceleration, engine was fine. Immediately I knew that the transmission was busted. Stuck on the side of the road, I called my friend Carleen and her husband who came to my rescue. A few weeks later my sweet friend, Robert Bendix came by and opened the transmission cover, sure enough, exactly what I expected, the belt popped, it was in pieces.
On September 10, 2015, I drove to State College Pennsylvania and purchased my 2015 Yamaha XT250. I named him Fred. The bike was finally home after an exhaustive search for the right price. What is the right price? That I will not share, but needless to say, I saved around $1,500 US dollars by driving to Pennsylvania from Worcester Massachusetts. Saving that amount of money enabled me to include a new set of luggage from Happy Trails Products in Boise Idaho. During my summer ride (2015) from Alaska, I made it a point to stop and meet the owner, staff and view the panniers. The racks and panniers are designed and manufactured in the United States. It is very important to support a family operated business, thus the interest to invest in Happy Trails Products. I think I will be very happy with my investment decision.
The morning dew blanketed the Alaska Highway with dense fog as I departed that morning riding my beloved Triumph Bonneville motorcycle (Bonnie). The true beauty of the mountain snow peaks (Glaciers) embracing the snake like highway covered with potholes, fresh clean cool crisp air, sand and roller coaster permafrost damaged straightaways kept my senses alert.
Story written by "Bonnie" (the motorcycle) 2009 Triumph Bonneville SE. On June 19, 2015, 12:00 pm, I was laden with weight and electrical problems. My Mom always pushes me to the limit. One summer she made me take her to the Panama Canal and back with an oil leak and old chain. I brought her back to safety despite my conditions.
Bloated panniers filled with necessary stuff to survive on the road, 50 days. Tiny budget requires more camping. Hilleberg The Tent Maker provided a tremendous discount towards a Staika tent. The little boy from Georgia (USA) sent his Flat Stanley character with the request to share the adventure for his school assignment.
August 6, 2014 -- My heroes, Ara and Spirit. They found me on a lonely dark highway 287 North West, near Ennis Montana. Late, around 10pm under a beautiful clear full moon with millions of stars. That moon was our saviour by lighting our path through 4 miles of gravel road to the campsite. Oh, how much I love that moon as it is a wonderful resource during night motorcycle riding.