Saturday, October 24, 2015


What is family?  Is family only those that you share your lineage with or is it more?  I have learned over the past two years that it is so much more than just that.  Family to me is defined as those that come into your life and shape it in ways you never imagined.  Three years ago I did something that I did not think was possible, I biked around Lake Ontario.  Me, when in the prime of my youth I would ride around Lake Chautauqua and come in last place during the Cummins Bike Race, but I would always receive a plaque stating I came in first place... in my age group.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could bike for over 500 miles in a week.  But I did it, and the most important thing is I did it again the following year where I had the privilege to bike throughout Wisconsin.  This week I get to bike through a state in which I hope to call my Winter home in the future, Florida.  I ask myself still to  this day why do I do this... the answer is simple, because of my family. 
I have two important families in my life.  My family that is stuck with me because we are related and secondly my bike family.  My first family supports me through this crazy endeavor by being there for my boys when I can not be, this is  truly the hardest part for me during this ride.  Every day if not every hour I will think to myself, John would like to see this or Mathew would love to learn about this and so forth.  I want to share with them this great adventure and I hope I can bring them back someday and share with them everything that I experience.  But school is important and taking them away from that is just not feasible at the moment. 
Then there is my second family, my bike family.  The bike tour is our reunion and our time to share our joys and sometimes our sorrows that we have experienced over the past year.  Most of us keep in touch through Facebook but seeing each other is soooo much better.  There are hugs and smiles being exchanged all the time and the areas around us is always filled with laughter.    There is learning and teaching  being exchanged, ranging from bike trinkets to industry knowledge.  In this family  there is not one black sheep in the family, everyone here is the black sheep and your uniqueness is embraced. 
In the coming week there will be an outpouring of support, knowledge and hugs.   
They have helped me see myself in a new way in the past few years.  My first year they let me see that I am stronger than I ever could imagine.  My second year they let me see that it is okay to stop and admire the flowers and to ask for help when I needed it.  I don't know what  I will learn this year; but I am sure it will be something amazing.  This past year has been a year of changes for me and I contribute it to my family and their way of helping me grow. 
 This family is the crowning example of how every family should be in an ideal world.  I am very privileged to have found this family and even more privileged they allow me to be part of their family.  My only wish for this week is that we all ride safe so we can go home to our first family and to change the world one tree at a time for future families to enjoy. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015


This year has been a year full of changes.  Changes I did not anticipate and that have shaped me in ways I never could imagine.  Never would I have imagined I would be where I am today one year ago.  I will not say it has been an easy journey, but it was a journey that proved to me I am stronger than I give myself credit for.  Many of my friends have come to me and said they admire me for what I have done and they wish they could have the same journey.  Be careful what you wish for my friends.  Yes it is wonderful to own your dream barn, I mean home, and to have the land you never thought you could play with; don't get me wrong I am very grateful. But there are times when you sit back and look at your surroundings and just say WOW.  Wow I get to play with all of this, wow I have to do all of this and wow you want me to do WHAT?  It can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.  But then I stop and sit in my back field under the light of the full moon and just say wow I am blessed.  I could never ever ever do this without the help of my dad, and I wonder some days who loves the property more, him or I.  Together we are bringing new life to the  property and making it shine like the jewel it is; but I often wonder if we are making it shine or if it is making us shine.   I am doing things I never thought I could do.  Such as conquer my fear of heights on a ladder, crawling into a crawl space in the middle of the winter, replacing an exterior wall and snowblowing a huge driveway at the end of the day.  My dad has been there through it all with me, even those late night calls when the basement is flooding or the furnace has stopped working and it -20 outside. 
My boys are learning along side of me too.  They are learning that on the weekends an old property needs love and attention and there is always a project to be done.  They may put up a small fight with me, but in the end they surprise me and jump right on the lawnmower and take care of the yard for me or work along side grandpa and surprise me when I get home with a completed project. 
As I go through the process of buying this home I stop and wonder if its worth all the tears, aggravation and stress.   As I sit under the glow of the full moon in my back field and look at my surroundings, I realize I already know the answer.  Yes it is all worth it, oh so very much worth it.  So many people have loved the property and I am so very grateful that I can now share with them the love and leave a story or two behind of our time spent on the property.
This past year has taught me that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and have faith that you are on a journey that you are meant to take.  You wouldn't be on this journey if it wasn't meant for you, and the time for it was now.  It may not be an easy journey, but if all journeys were easy life would be a tad boring don't you think? On the hardest days it is hard to remember to keep an eye on the prize, so to speak, but yet I do.  And for me that prize is my barn and the amazing property with it.  Looking back one year ago, if you would have told me I would be where I am today, I would have told you that you are delusional, I could never do that.  But I did it and I am doing it still, I may want to give up some days; but I will never give up completely, never. 
 So if you are ever in the area, look for the big red barn and stop by for a visit.  Share a story of the property or make a  new story with us, we always have a project or two you can help us with and we always love giving tours of the barn.   

10 Mitchell St, Sinclairville, NY 14782

Friday, August 1, 2014

day 6

Tomorrow is our last day, it is a sad day and a happy day. I will miss my bike family,  but I miss my boys so much more. I have learned alot on this ride, about wisconsin and about myself. I have learned its okay to ask for help. Its okay to take a detour in the day and just have fun.  Wisconsins terrain is just like home and it has made me miss my boys and familiar sites. Your bumm and legs and knees and back and your entire body hurt after being on your bike for six days. We all can make a difference one tree at a time and one community at a time. I learned that you really need to train for a six day biking marathon.  I have learned that when you send out positive energy, it all comes back to you and then more. Today we rode thru towns that were gorgeous and the community sponsored gardens on the bike trails. When communities work together beautiful things spring up.  So many towns had festivals this week, I am just sorry I couldn't visit them all. But for the last night on the tour I did hang out with friends and enjoy a band. I danced, I sang along I had fun. I cant tell you the last time I did that. Sometimes things come along your way and you just have to do it. Embrace life my friends,  its a journey you wont soon forget and its over before you know it. Embrace the detours and the adventures, when you step out of your bubble, great things can happen; and they will. I promise.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

day 4 adventures

Did you know that Seymour wisconsin was the birth place of the hamburger? A local lady told me how it all began when a gentlemen at the fair in the 1800's was selling meatballs and cut his meatball in half and put it between two pieces of bread so his patrons could walk and eat. Thus the birth of the hamburger.  Every year the town celebrates with a hamburger festival. There are ketchup slides, bun runs and hot air balloons.  They take a lot of pride in being the original home of the hamburger.

Worlds largest hamburger.

Why do I tell you about this? To prove a point and a lesson I learned a long time ago. If you stop and take a moment you can learn alot about an area and its citizens. Its not unusual for me to stop and just talk to someone,  we all have a story. We live in a world that is very busy, we have to go here, we have to do this or that. But truly its not the destination its the journey and how you experience it. We can all put our heads down and grind through the day, but how many  of us lift our heads and truly look around?
This year there is a common theme among the veteran riders," I'm taking a page out of jims book and relaxing. " it would appear that more ice cream shops are being visited, more scenes are being admired, and friendships are being forged stronger.
Today we saw guinea hens and some large cranes up close. But we also saw a hop farm, beautiful vistas,  corn fields, an oversized hamburger and the home of the green bay packers. We met a family that is giving joy to others in the face of their own tragedy.  We planted a katsura today and dedicated it to courage. Courage for this family to keep fighting their battles and courage to everyone else that is fighting their battles.
This is what stihl tour des trees is about in my opinion; bringing the communities together through trees. From the little kids learning from professor pricklethorn to tree dedications for communities and families. We may only visit an area for a few moments, but we leave a legacy for everyone to enjoy. I am glad I am riding this year and I look forward to florida next year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day three

What a wonderful day it has been. A nice FLAT terraine with only a small wind in places. A very nice break from the last two days.  Today was going to be my day to do the entire route.  But fate had something else in mind. In the middle of nowhere my seat/saddle decided it wanted to dance with a good wiggle waggle.  This was not so good for my bum nor my balance, so we had to put a stop to the dance party. Unfortunately this meant a ride in the truck to the mechanics mobile office.
At the same time though two riders both experienced even worse problems. They both had a tire rubbing and both had an accident. They were able to walk away but blood was spilled. It made my seats dance party seem minuscule in the big picture, when to my little picture it as huge.
We go through life with this perception all the time. Ohmmy it's the end of the world my shirt is dirty that I want to wear. Someone didn't shut the freezer door. Meanwhile somewhere someone just found out they don't have long to live. Or someone just found out they lost their job and cant make the mortgage payment.  Sometimes we need to just step back, take a deep breathe and just take a second look at a situation.  Yes it may be bad, but can you find a solution? Can you ask for help? Can you accept help? Even the biggest strongest person needs help, but sometimes we just need to be patient and wait for the right solution, because somewhere someone else may need more help or maybe they are waiting for you to help. Who will you help today? As for me, I will try and motivate at least five people tomorrow plus myself, together we are a team and together we can conquer anything; big or small.

Monday, July 28, 2014

conquering challenges

I learned yesterday that my biggest challenge was me, and today I looked at that challenge and said bring it. And the best thing is,  I conquered it. Not only did I conquer it, I demolished it.
I started the day a little tired and very scared of my clips, okay I was petrified.  I wisely decided after hearing about the terrain to take the support truck to the first rest area. I am very grateful I did because I was able to find out why my clips were challenging me and get them fixed. Now I am un clipping like a champ. But truly the best part was sharing a tree dedication with thom and his family for his dad that passed away this past year. To hear his stories and to learn more about the area was incredible. I was honored to share that moment with him and his family.
After the dedication I headed out on my bike for a nice long ride.  I went through some very impressive farms where the corn flanked me on both sides and their leaves rustled in the wind. It was beautiful to hear and it was very peaceful. Thankfully someone turned down the wind setting today and it made the riding all the more enjoyable. It was still windy, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday.  We rode by beautiful lakes and streams all day and even went on a ferry ride.  The best part of the ferry ride was the moose tracks ice cream at the end, that was partly funded by a dear friend. Thats what this ride is about, helping each other when we can.
Then there was devils lake state park and the hills that surround it.  Jimminy crickets they were steep and twisting and never ending. But I only walked a smidgen when I did a switchback and lost all my momentum.  But as soon as I could I was back on and riding with a great sense of accomplishment.  The devil tried to bring me down, but I did not let him.
At the next rest area I knew I was done, it was 5:00 and the hotel was still 25 miles away. No way was I going to do 25 miles in the 1 hour that was recommended.  So I rode the truck back to the hotel. I am glad I did, I learned all about the language of wisconsin and more about the dells.  Did you know they call a sofa a davenpot. A water fountain is a bubbler.  They use the words crick and pop appropriately and when you say wisconsin the first three letters sound like whiz, as in cheese whiz.
I am glad that I did face my biggest challenge today and that I conquered it. Without it I would have lost out on some great conversations, fixed my clip ons and I pushed myself just enough to be happy but not too much that I hurt myself. It always amazes me how much I learn on the tour des trees , not necessarily about trees but about myself. If you were peddaling for eight or ten hours what could you learn? Just imagine it, to be free of stress of work or life and have the opportunity to just be free.  Its an incredible feeling, I recommend it to everyone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Ahh wisconsin,, you are a beautiful state with rolling farm fields filled with corn and soy beans. But you really should come with a warning label about your wind. Good golly the wind was brutal today. It was so strong it almost pushed me over a few times. I would work my way up over a hill for the great anticipated  treat of going downhill to coast, but no not in wisconsin.  In wisconson you keep pedaling downhill because the wind pushes you back up the hill. 
What a great adventure today was.  I did have a minor fall today at a red light. I came to a sudden stop and I could not get my clips out fast enough, so over I went turtle style. I no longer can favor my one good knee now because both are now equally injured.  But like the trooper I am, I got back up and kept on pedaling. I hurt but I kept going. Until my friend frazer told me to stop and get in the van, it was time to rest, oh and he was so right on that one even if I put up a little fight not to ride in the van. But after lunch I got back on the bike and pedaled again,  that is till the storm hit and we had to seek shelter in a tree line.   There is nothing more bonding  with good friends then huddling together in a tree line as you watch the rain fall sideways and the thunder and lightning is all around you.  Then I prayed for my favorite support vehicle to come to my rescue, and just like prince charming, along came thom and saved the day. I was so very thankful mentally and my poor knees were thankful physically.
I learned alot today about the difference between a challenge and just trying to be tough or as some people I know put it, being a stubborn swede . Challenges come before us to make us wiser after they pass.  Its how we approach it and solve the challenge that defines us. My biggest challenge this week is not the wind  nor the road,  its me. I set my own challenges and only I can solve those challenges because they are meant to teach me something.   I need to learn that its okay if a challenge is not solved or sent packing on its way back home, I did not fail, it was my approach that failed.  Its okay to  ask for help and to accept that help to get through the challenge. Maybe tomorrow I can learn that lesson before I am in the middle of the challenge, there is a 1000 foot climb tomorrow. ...hmmm I wonder if I am up for the challenge?