And the Winners Are...
Congratulations to Craig Hewitt and Wendel Gill, our two winners of the recent drawing at our Commuter Club Smart Cookie event at DST!
Your DST Commute Coordinator will be contacting you with the Fandango codes to claim your passes on-line!
And thanks for registering for the Commuter Club!
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There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills…
The route we traveled that summer was filled with history; we visited Hangtown and toured other historical sites, traversed the trail of the 49’ers, panned for gold, camped on the American River, hiked through the trees on the summit and drove around Lake Tahoe. And I was totally captivated not only by the rich history of the area, but by the breathtaking scenery as well.
Today, I am still charmed by the treasures along the 50 Corridor and since that very first trip so many years ago, during subsequent sojourns from the golden foothills to the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, I have made even more discoveries – the pleasures of warm apple pie and cold clear apple cider at Apple Hill, shopping for antiques, and camping at and hiking the paths overlooking one of my favorite places in the world, Gold Discovery Park in Coloma.
During a recent tour of the Gold Country for this magazine, I told Jody Franklin, Director of Tourism in El Dorado County that “I love Coloma as much as Paris.” And then I laughed and told her that she couldn’t quote me because probably no one would believe it.
So I am quoting it here; because it’s true. I have learned during my travels both here and abroad that appreciation of any place is relative –and in this case it is truly relative remembering that wonderful vacation with my family and my first journey on the 50 Corridor so many years ago.
Now, when I see the beauty of the winter snow in the Sierras, the wild flowers growing along the side of the road on the way into El Dorado as the hills turn to green in the spring and the golden brown of the foothills in the summer, I am in awe of the riches that the 50 Corridor has to offer. From the Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova, to the American River Bike Trail, old town Folsom, historic Placerville and all the way up to beautiful Lake Tahoe, Highway 50 is a wonderful route to explore.
At the 50 Corridor Transportation Management Association, supporting commuters as we do, we have always touted the 50 Corridor as being a great place to work and to live; but it is also a wonderful place to experience and to play. I hope that you will take some time for yourself soon and enjoy all the Corridor has to offer! And so that I am not remiss in my ongoing duties to remind you to share the ride – invite someone to come along with you, drive safely and get out there and discover the gold that is the 50 Corridor.
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Agents of Change
“So...what do you do for a living?” When asked this dreaded social question I’ve often been tempted to provide an easy answer and just make something up, like: I’m a stand-up comedienne, a secret agent or George Clooney’s personal assistant; instead, being brave, I always launch into the difficult often convoluted commentary of just exactly what it is we do at the 50 Corridor Transportation Management Association.
These explanations often fall flat, leaving me feeling dissatisfied and the listener confused. Frustrated by this ongoing inability to give a succinct answer and realizing that after twenty years I should be able to offer a simple explanation, I have to stop, yet again, and ask myself just what is it that we truly do at the TMA?
In general terms the TMA’s task is to improve mobility and air quality along the Highway 50 Corridor. We support businesses by providing commute benefits to employees, and in doing so, on a regular basis we inspire, cajole, inform, entertain, advocate, educate, encourage and motivate folks; through our Commuter Club we connect people and show them ways to save money and reduce stress; we plan events for 50 Corridor businesses and surrounding communities, providing materials and information to help them with their commute choices. Overall, we increase awareness regarding the impact of traffic on our roadways, on our mobility, on the environment and on our quality of life.
So, the real question isn’t what do we do, but how to integrate all of the components of what we do into a concise understandable one or two word description. While pondering this conundrum a friend said to me, “You are change agents…”
To which I cleverly responded “What?”
“Change agents.” she repeated “You facilitate behavior change.”
I looked it up to find an elegant and simple definition: “A person or group of persons whose presence causes change from the traditional way of handling or thinking about a problem.” I mulled it over… change agents? Hmmm… agents of change. YES! That’s what we are – but not just as it relates to changes in human behavior, and not just those of us who work at the TMA – but all of us who work together tirelessly to make improvements along the 50 Corridor – businesses large and small, Counties, engineers, carpoolers, vanpoolers, cyclists, and commute coordinators – each of them are agents for change.
As a team we are the catalysts to improve and enhance the 50 Corridor communities – from vast improvements like beautiful new bridges, light rail extensions, housing developments and business parks, bike paths and diamond lanes to smaller but equally important – vibrant vanpool programs, convenient, affordable shuttle and bus transportation, dynamic Bike User Groups and effective walk and bike to school programs.
By partnering with other groups as well, like the California Highway Patrol, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Air Quality Management District and local school districts, we are also able to promote safer driving practices, speak out about the environment and be the champions for healthier kids. I am pleased to be, even on the periphery, a part of such an incredible group of people and I am amazed by what has been accomplished on Highway 50 over the past few years; and as part of the TMA team, I look forward to our role in the exciting future changes and improvements that will make this region an even better place to live, to work and to be...
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There have been so many changes lately for us at the 50 Corridor…
Marie Wheeler, good friend and loyal carpooler, has retired. For the last 21 years Marie faithfully shared her 85 mile commute to Health Net in Rancho Cordova. And another Health Net employee, AND our very own TMA board prez, Brian Carvalho, has left Health Net to become the Security Director at Blue Shield in El Dorado Hills; Principal Denise Burns at Navigator Elementary, proponent of Walk to School Wednesdays and avid supporter of Smart Routes to School has also retired; Patti Lum, Employee Transportation Coordinator at SMUD and vanpool queen is off to travel the world; and finally, most wonderfully, we have a brand new future cyclist, Devland Christopher Janus, born to Sarah Janus of North Natomas TMA fame and her terrific husband Chris.
We wish them all the best of luck, whatever their new endeavor, but all these changes and happening all at once…it’s enough to make a girl hyperventilate. And enough to make me a bit nostalgic…
Years ago there was an ad in the Sacramento Bee showing rush hour traffic announcers on a local television station urging people to “put them out of a job” by commuting smarter by ridesharing and using transit. It was then that I realized that like the morning and evening traffic folks, congested roadways was keeping me in this job and if everybody would just make changes to their commute behavior, (like they should gosh darn it!) I could be doing other things -- like becoming a famous star of stage and screen.
In those days, the changes just couldn’t come fast enough and it was pretty frustrating at times; however, in spite of the initial frustrations, the incremental changes along the 50 Corridor over the years indicate that there have been some positive shifts: new vanpools and carpools have been organized, we have more cyclists than ever before, and commuters are more conscious about their impact on the environment and safety along our roadways.
But still, even with our progress there is much more that needs to be done. Recently as I was pulling into my bank’s parking lot I noticed the old carpool spaces, their faded teeny tiny letters whispered 'carpool' hundreds of feet from the entrance of any business. Obviously they were installed to satisfy a condition of the original plan to build the shopping center, but which no one EVER intended to be used. Sighing to myself as I parked, I realized while change as they say is inevitable, there are some things in the world both large and small, without our taking a stand, which will never change.
The Broadway stage and my Oscar will just have to wait I guess.
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Meeting myself halfway...
We’re halfway through May is Bike Month and as we move forward into the second half I am musing over the first two weeks:
By May 1st after our very first energizer station, I realized I was already tired and wondered how on earth I was going to make it through the next 30 days and 23 events. On May 2nd I received an e-mail from a colleague who said she was “exhausted” and by day three it dawned on me I was already out of t-shirts.
I dreamed of escaping. One day as I packed up after an early morning event I thought to myself, ‘Just drive away – get in your car right now and drive to wherever you want to…to Sonoma, the Gold Country or San Francisco. Just escape!’ Of course reality set in immediately… ‘It’s May is Bike Month, crazy girl.’ my saner voice whispered, ‘May is Bike Month.’
Obviously, if I was indeed going to make it through the rest of the month, it was time for some major regrouping. In speaking to my friend Tara (well, actually whining: ‘I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to ride my pledged miles…!’), she said, “Ya know Hazel you could think of MIBM as job security.” I felt a bit ashamed because it occurred to me that I didn’t need to escape or have MIBM disappear, I just needed to adjust my attitude, because all things considered, I have it pretty darned good.
Every day these days while so many people struggle to find jobs, I have a job doing work that I love with an extra added bonus: I get to work with people like Ken Walker and Charles McCann, cyclists at Intel and two of the greatest guys in the world, my friend and ongoing inspiration Tony Powers at DOKKEN Engineering; the amazing Ted Lenzie at BAR, Maryann Hazel at Cal Tech, Andy Gee at VSP; and all of my Commute Coordinators like Julie, Diana, Garrett (with a special shout-out to Phyllis!) Michael, Jarek, Philip, Susan, Christina and Ana; and of course my buddies -- the “Jim Ks.” all the guys at the bike shops and ALL of our incredible member cyclists, as well as my wonderful colleagues at SACOG and fellow TMAs.
I get to go to the American River Bike Trail early in the morning, see turkeys, geese, ducks and deer while serving and visiting with wonderful grateful people who also just happen to ride their bikes. I have the pleasure of providing breakfasts, lunches (and the infamous t-shirts!) to both new and experienced cyclists, giving them safety tips and arranging training courses to encourage, support and empower them.
I am one lucky girl with an absolutely joyful job…and yes, we are only halfway through and yes I am tired, and yes, I still dream of escape…but the difference now is when I think of that escape in June, I see myself driving away with my bike on my bike rack headed out to ride through Coloma or through the wine country in Lodi where I can finally really have some time to ride and, even though I can’t log them, time to count my miles. Every one of them. Because as my pal, and now I can finally, honestly say, ‘fellow cyclist’ Tony says, “Every month is bike month.”
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Steppin' Up to the Plate
The other day I went to the Otis Spunkmeyer warehouse to pick up cookies for our Commuter Club Smart Cookie events;* at Otis Spunkmeyer there is a looooooong staircase that leads to the office. I walked up that staircase counting the stairs, each one all the way to the top. There were 30 of them. And I made it, at a steady pace,without stopping, without losing my breath.
For a lot of folks that may not sound like much, but for me it was a little victory. See, I have been on that staircase before -- more than once, and each time wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the top and when I did was so winded that I’d stand outside to catch my breath before I went in, too embarrassed to let anyone know how hard it was for me to make the climb..
Victory or not, though, the process of getting in shape is a slow one; however, the incident with the staircase shows that things are moving forward.
I had a tough time with cycling at first too but I actually LIKE riding my bike now, (of course it helped when Nadine pointed out that my seat needed to be moved up about 4 inches so that I didn’t feel like my legs were two feet long and I was riding a kiddy bike) I love lemon in my water, I am eating healthier and have discovered Greek yogurt. And I am truly looking forward to May is Bike Month 2012 and even smiled when the dreaded tee-shirts arrived. (They are very cool this year! Want one? Sign-up and join me in logging some miles at Mayisbikemonth.com!)
No one has said anything about me losing any weight yet because I am in that “I’m the only one who notices stage” and I just feel better. And then of course there are “those days” -- week-ends when I have events to attend -- like this past week-end when I had not just one, but TWO. I made it through the baby shower no sweat, but at the tea party immediately following devoured two cookies, a scone and a cucumber sandwich with cream cheese…
I tried not to beat myself up, didn’t bemoan my indulgences and stopped when I began to berate myself. When I got home, I caught my breath and thought once again, “Hazel you can do this, just step up to the plate, or better yet, AWAY from the plate. And remember, like that staircase, to take it one step at a time.”
*If you are a member of the 50 Corridor TMA and would like to have a Smart Cookie event at your worksite, just let us know! We will provide the free freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, prize drawings and Commuter Club information to save employees money during their commute. And I promise I won’t eat the cookies.
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You know that scene in the movie Rocky when Rocky Balboa is training, training, training and running through the streets of Philadelphia with a crowd of young supporters gathering in numbers behind him? The inspirational music swells in the background, backup singers voices ring out “Flying now! Feeling strong now, won’t be long now. Gonna fly now! Flying high now!” As the music reaches a fevered pitch and the crowd behind him grows in numbers he dashes to the top of the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raising his arms in triumph, the crowd chants in unison, “Rocky! Rocky!”
I want that…
Well, not exactly that, a large group of people following me would certainly be weird and Nadine might get startled and fall off her bike; but I want to bask in the glow of the inspiration of my friends and colleagues. It’s just the actress in me I guess and it does keep me going. And most importantly I want to inspire others, because it is SO true, if I can see this through, ANYONE can!
A special shout out to Ken Walker, Tony Powers, and Merv Hayes…your comments and support keep me motivated!
My overall goal is to pledge and ride at least 50 miles this year during May is Bike Month, (actually hoping during this next couple of months to increase that number) some of that on a real trail like the American River Trail or in an organized ride; And I want to be able to walk the wonderful Miner’s Ravine in Roseville or up a flight of stairs for that matter without getting winded. I KNOW I can do these things…
So instead of running through the biting cold of Philly, I walk through the chilly morning neighborhoods in Roseville and take bike rides with Nadine on warm spring-like California afternoons; and sometimes, I even hear the Rocky Balboa theme playing in my head.
No wait. That’s my IPOD.
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Weighing All the Options
Starting the New Year I consciously set aside resolutions and decided to look for the appropriate method of pursuing my goal of 50 on 50 without resorting to super diets, fads and promises I wouldn’t or couldn’t keep. I didn’t want to make it a “New Year’s resolution,” a diet or even willpower, but a life style change.
In listening to those around me and doing some research, I realized for each of us a healthy lifestyle is a choice and a very personal one at that. Most importantly it’s changing your thinking and being able to wrap your mind around a different way of doing things.
After reviewing everything, including all the desserts and glorious foods over the holidays, a natural inclination for comfort foods as winter sets in and my friends’ dieting suggestions, I have opted for a simple mindset: I am in training for May is Bike Month. My exercise of choice: my bike and walking; my dietary plan: healthy vegetarian foods, smaller portions, lots of lemon water, a piece of See’s candy once a week (yep, See’s that’s what I said.) and an occasional glass of red wine; inspirational reading material: French Women Don’t Get Fat, Stikky Weight Management; and my bike buddy and Commuter Club co-worker: Nadine Martinez.
Recently I heard a report that said people had a difficult time sticking to a healthy eating plan because they didn’t want to be deprived. And I thought deprived of what???! That extra piece of cheesecake? The super sized meal at McDonald’s? The Snickers bar? The way I see it, I am currently depriving myself of longevity, mobility and personal freedom.
The 50 Corridor Commuter Club offers commute mode alternatives along the 50 Corridor to help folks make their commutes easier and cheaper. For years I have tried every alternative mode BUT cycling: I’ve vanpooled, carpooled, currently I telecommute. Now, this is my new choice: I want to ride my bike; if not to work, then to do errands, attend local meetings and for recreation.
So here we go -- four months until May; during that time I would like to share my journey with YOU my seven loyal readers through this BLOG, with pictures and maybe even some videos.
And I hope you will comment; I want to hear your stories too. Let me know how you did this. A little cheering me on now and again would be appreciated too…
Time to get moving…
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There are a million stories along the 50 Corridor…this is just one of them…
In starting my adventure to weight loss I have spoken with several colleagues and friends to tell them about my new venture – “50 on the 50”; I have discovered that everyone is more than willing to offer their opinions, advice, comments, and ideas. My friends Bev and Diana love their spin classes, another co-worker said nothing would ever work for her but Weight Watchers, for my friend Larry it was counting calories. One gal at a recent meeting nodded at me knowingly and whispered conspiratorially “It’s the water, Hazel. It’s all about the water.” I realized listening to what each had to say about their own personal journeys to getting fit that everyone has a story pure and simple.
And then I began to wonder, just what is my story? What do I want out of this journey? Because it’s more than a size 12 dress. It’s more about nurturing myself and feeling comfortable in social and professional situations and events. It is in essence about being healthy and literally feeling comfortable in my own skin.
Just as important to me, my exercise of choice will be to use my bike so when I succeed, I can personally and honestly encourage others to ride. And during May is Bike Month 2012 I want to set a new “50 on 50” goal by being able to ride at least 50 miles during May without thinking about it or dreading the commitment.
My friend Larry, a recent weight loss champion who looks simply wunderbar these days said, “It’s hard for people like us Haze, ‘cause we just love good food.” And boy is that true! But I have to keep in mind that I have “loved” some pretty lousy food in my time and unless you count its attaching itself to my backside as true love and affection, it simply hasn’t loved me back.
And so loyal readers, (all 6 of you now, my friend Merv of “Corridor Talk” fame contacted me and said “HEY, what about me?”) I made it through my birthday celebrations, and even as I stared out across the veritable ocean of food which I served to 10 people gathered around my table, through Thanksgiving.
So now it is onward and upward to the rest of the holidays and all the way through Twelfth Night on January 6th! Well, at least that’s the plan.
And I need to stick to that plan because some day soon when I am fit and trim I can lean over in my size 12 pants and whisper to someone who is on their own weight loss journey “It’s the bike; remember, it’s all about the bike.”
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To Mine Own Self Be True…
I am in a theatre company…it’s what I do when I am not working along the 50 Corridor communing with Commuter Club members or handing out May is Bike Month tees.
A few days ago the artistic director of said company sent out an e-mail to the cast members of the current play asking us to submit our sizes to him for costuming.
The request stopped me cold.
Now please know that I will discuss anything with anyone at any time. I will discuss the most mundane of topics from the weather to my daily schedule and tasks. I am ready to converse on a myriad of world events, a plethora of fascinating subjects (just ask my friend and beleaguered co-worker Nadine, I am just a constant font of vast amounts of unsolicited information and wisdom.) I will tell you my age, discuss money or sex and orate on politics and religion; in short, I tend to have an opinion about everything and will, much to the chagrin of many of my friends, opine openly and with frequency, at the drop of the proverbial hat. But my weight, my SIZE? Nope. Uh-huh, I don’t think so.
Like most people, I consider myself an honest person but even the DMV doesn’t know how much I weigh: eyes? HZL, check; hair? BRN, check; height? 5’8” check; weight? None of your damned business… oh I can’t put that? Well, Ms. DMV person, how much do you think I weigh? Less than Oprah? Good put that down. It’s not that I wanted to lie; it’s just that I didn’t want to TELL.
So loyal readers, (and at this point I know there are at least 5 of you including my boss, the wonderful Laura Thornberry at Verizon Wireless, and my dear friends and colleagues Lucy, Larry and Tony) this is it. My birthday is next week, the day before Thanksgiving. I will be 59 years of age (told you I would tell you that) and although I won’t say my dress size out loud I am thinking…not for the sake of vanity, but for the sake of my health, it’s time. Now. So how about 50 pounds for the 50 Corridor? I know I can do this and 50 for 50? There’s some symmetry in that, I like it.
Oh, and just so you know, I DID write back to the artistic director to tell him I purchased my own costume so he needn’t worry about it. Now, the only problem is, if I lose some of the weight in the next couple of months, my costume won’t fit. But that’s a problem I think I can live with. Literally.
So okay guys –on my mark…get set…
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A couple of months ago I was here, right here, writing each and every week. I shared my erstwhile non-cycling cycling adventures and wrote about people and experiences along the 50 Corridor. And then I noticed that although I received comments from a few friends and colleagues, mostly all I heard or read in the comments section was silence. Nada. Zip. In a word, NOTHING (in a big whispery voice.)
Discouraged, I decided to take a break and re-group. I went to my boss, Rebecca (who had actually e-mailed me after one of my more brilliant pieces. “Good job! Keep it up!”) She listened sympathetically and then said, “Well there is a lot of competition. There are a lot of BLOGS out there.”
And she’s right: there are. But none of them, not one is this one. And while I know the 50 Corridor isn’t a new-age self-improvement guide, a reference for décor or art, or a year-long journey to re-creating the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook, it IS and can be of interest to anyone ever stuck in traffic anywhere, to cyclists region-wide and for that matter, to anyone who has ever had an issue with sticking to a diet or exercise program.
And as they say, if you want to write something interesting, write about what you know. Well I know the 50 Corridor. For years it has sustained me through my work at the Commuter Club; it has provided me with wonderful friends, introduced me to cycling and to cyclists and provided me an outlet for my natural tendency for altruism and good works by allowing me to promote healthier air and safer roadways.
Okay so I’m back and I hope you will be too. Onward and upwards -- time for better marketing, more outreach, funnier stories and bigger ideas. I am going to give it another shot.
Besides, “Streamlines” is just way too good of a title to waste.
In part of her effort to “re-vamp” (and get much more attention!) Hazel will be back with “Streamlines” in a new bi-weekly format.
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The Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome
Recently on 50Corridor.com we posted a Goofy cartoon made in 1950 called “Motormania.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a trip to You Tube.
It’s about a mild-mannered, courteous citizen by the name of Mr. Walker, who when he gets behind the wheel of his car, turns into a shouting and angry maniac by the name of Mr. Wheeler.
Cursing, yelling and waving his fist ( of course I can imagine, if it weren’t a 1950 Disney cartoon what he would be waving today!) he commutes to work where upon arrival he gets out of his vehicle to become once again gentle Mr. Walker.
Funny how much things change and yet we barely do. This 50 year old cartoon illustrates that fact.
I was in traffic the other day and called someone who committed a very minor infraction an idiot. I said it out loud, “You idiot!”
In that moment I became Mr. Wheeler, aka outraged driver; aka and bottom line: Goofy.
I thought to myself, if I had been walking instead of driving, and another person strolled by who inadvertently got in my way, would I shout “You stupid idiot!”? No, I would probably smile and say excuse me or just step out of his way.
When we get into our cars, we act as if we are in our own private worlds treating people in other vehicles like they aren’t real feeling human beings.
I read an article once in the Los Angeles Times that said when we step behind the wheel and drive out onto the freeway we suddenly become involved in a “mini war” of sorts attempting to battle for our places in some kind of invisible highway hierarchy.
We don’t know those other people and so does that make it okay to misbehave? Of course it doesn’t. And when we say negative things out loud in the privacy of our own cars and the other people on the road can’t hear us does that make it right? Nope. And we always need to remember too that sometimes those mean-spirited things are heard and can escalate to road rage incidents that may lead to violence.
But even if it doesn’t go that far, and you only have words or gestures with another driver, after that brief flush of anger don’t you often feel disturbed even foolish for a long time afterwards?
And consider that this is fighting, something you wouldn’t dream of doing if you passed that person cycling or walking. Yes, fighting, because that’s what it is. With a total stranger. And we are just kidding ourselves if we think in this peculiar little war “to the victor go the spoils” because in this scenario whether the words are kept private or not, no one wins.
I am making a vow: from now on I will pretend I know the people I may perceive have made a driving error; I’ll pretend that they’re someone I love -- like my friends Jane and Don, my neighbors Susie and Brad, or my co-workers Rebecca and Nadine. Someone to whom I wouldn’t dream of saying ridiculous, unkind and meaningless things.
And I’ll remember too, that in my life I may have made a mistake or two myself… because if you think about it, we really do know the other drivers and they are us.
Back to the Streets: a Journey to Health,(and a size 12 dress!) One Pedal at a Time.
I took out my bike today; not only out of the garage, off the back patio or the front porch. But out. I took my brand new helmet off the shelf in the closet, tucked my purple travel mug into the holder on the handlebars and rode.
I rode down the street, around the cul de sac and then out onto the neighboring streets past houses where people were waking up, past cars in driveways being readied to leave and past neighbors greeting the day.
And I felt good. I felt alive. And happier than I have in months.
As I rode, I looked back over this summer, one of the most difficult of my life and remembered elevating my leg and my friend’s sister Sarah saying “Oh Hazel, you poor thing, your knee is so swollen!”
I glanced down at my painful, injured knee and then back at her, “It’s not swollen.” I told her.
Sarah looked at me like I had hit my head instead of hurting my leg. “Yes,” she insisted, “it is – look.”
I looked again. “It’s not swollen.” I reiterated.
She called in the troops, aka her formidable sister-in-law, “Heidi look how swollen Hazel’s knee is.”
Heidi looked and gasped, “Oh, you poor thing.”
I pulled my left leg up onto the footstool and put it next to my right, “See,” I said “same size. It’s not swollen, they’re just fat.” Comedy School 101: shocking people with honesty, especially if they are embarassed, is always good for a laugh. Sometimes even two.
So I thought of this conversation as I was riding through my neighborhood this morning; I thought about being healthier and feeling better; and about taking better care of myself. And I thought about wanting to wear the same dress size I wore to my 20th year high school reunion twenty years ago...
It’s going to take a lot of riding.
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Changing it up...
My brother Walter calls me from the road the other day, “Hey Haze! Thought you were going to do something about all these cars!”
He and his co-worker are stuck in traffic and I can barely hear him over the highway noise and the nearly dysfunctional hands-off speaker on his cell phone.
“You know Walt,” I start to admonish him, “it’s just as distracting to talk while driving using hands-free…”
I stand there for a moment without responding; it occurs to me my younger sibling believes that like all the jams I’ve pulled him out of in his life, I should somehow magically free him from this traffic jam as well.
But then I think why haven’t I made a bigger impact after all these years? Oh, I know there are more vanpools, more carpools and more cyclists thanks to our work along the 50 Corridor. But there’s still so much traffic.
I want to tell my brother that it’s difficult to change the behaviors of others; and that’s what it’s all about – getting people to change their behavior. But why isn’t it easier?
I had a co-worker tell me once that she lived right across the street from where we worked. (A matter of feet not miles!) She said without any shame at all that every week day, rain or shine, she started her car and drove from her parking space to our company’s heavily impacted parking lot.
And recently when looking for videos to post on the 50 Corridor Face Book page I found one made by two very creative students brilliant in its simplicity that features two neighbors who walk out their doors and greet one another as they are leaving for work; they then get into their separate vehicles and drive to their common work-site where they both get out and walk into work together.
I pondered this a moment more…we’ve been told that Californians “have a love affair with their cars” and won’t give them up, or “are just too independent” to ever rideshare. And suddenly it dawns on me, I’m not just trying to change behaviors, but trying to get people to overcome fear. Fear of losing their independence, of doing something different and even of their very own versions of stranger danger. I almost laugh out loud, giddy with the thought that after all this time in the commute biz I may be onto a new marketing strategy.
“Hey Haze, you still there?” I hear my brother ask, over the irritating fading in and out of his phone’s speaker.
Yep, I’m still here, I think to myself. And as long as traffic isn’t moving, I’m not going anywhere.
“So when are you going to make all this traffic disappear?” he inquires teasingly.
I finally find my voice to answer him “I’m trying Walter; believe me, I’m trying.”
A Woman and Her Bike…I think I can. I think, I can.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed concern regarding my leg injury…it is on the mend. The pain has diminished to a dull ache localized around my knee, I am limping less and I can finally drive without screaming.
When I injured myself, I was surrounded by dear friends who immediately sprang into action – elevating my leg, getting ice and dispensing Ibuprofen. I remembering thinking, “My gosh, I literally cannot walk right now.”
The irony has not been lost on me that after so many years of having worked to try to improve mobility on the 50 Corridor, I suddenly found my own personal mobility restricted. I have to say, suffering an injury that limits one’s mobility really offers a superb opportunity to thank one’s lucky stars for so many things.
And it also made me think: I thought about the “what ifs” -- what if I could never walk properly again? Or would never be able to ride a bike, whether I wanted to or not? Or even drive my car?
I thought about the courageous people I know – like one of our cyclists who after healing from a heart attack made a commitment to himself, to his company and to us by getting back on his bike and riding over 1000 miles in May this year; about the beautiful young woman, a paraplegic, who joined us for her first Great Ride and pedaled her specially equipped bike with her hands; about the Commuter Club member who was diagnosed with diabetes and lost 90 pounds by riding his bike, starting with a few miles one May and then everyday for a year until he became a role model who now encourages others; about the folks who just get up every day and decide to do the right thing by using light rail or carpooling, because it just makes sense for everyone.
But most importantly, my injury has made me think with even more compassion about those who live with chronic pain or whose loss of mobility is somehow for any reason permanent. For all these things that I have become mindful of as result of my leg injury I am thankful…
And, I am getting closer to actually, finally moving toward my goal –to start riding my bicycle one block at a time. I did have stop and ask myself though, why are you really going to ride Hazel? The pressure of others? Guilt perhaps?
No, I thought, I am going to ride finally and at last… because I can.
A Woman and Her Bicycle...or Confessions of a Non-riding Cyclist
One Christmas morning, when I was 11 years old, my mother called to me from the kitchen and asked me to run to the neighbor’s to borrow some butter.
I bounded to the front door, as only an 11 year old can, and dashed outside where I stopped dead in my tracks. There on the walkway, standing on its kick-stand was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I approached it almost shyly, tentatively reaching out to touch its turquoise and white seat, admiring its aqua marine blue fenders and its delicate spokes. An English three-speed.
Even as a child, I had an affinity for all things British; to this day, I consider 2nd only to San Francisco, London to be the most wonderful city on earth, cry at Harry Potter movies and believe that the ultimate rideshare experience would be taking a spin in the Tardis with Dr. Who.
“An English racer,”* I whispered reverently.
I turned to see my entire family crowded in the open doorway, all of them grinning like fools.
Oh how I loved that bike! I rode it everywhere, to school, the store, downtown, to my friends’ houses and on solitary rides around my neighborhood. I took a few spills; I learned pretty quickly to stay away from that groove between the gutter and the street pavement and I even had a serious fall once that damaged my front teeth. But nothing kept me off my 3 –speed and like the proverbial fall from a horse, I just kept getting back on.
This past week, I’ve done a lot of thinking about my old beloved bicycle and about the kind, encouraging words from my 50 Corridor cyclists after last week’s blog. One of my cyclists offered to ride my miles for me in May, another said he would donate some of his miles, while still others sent gifts of words that inspired me to tears and finally another told me it didn’t matter when I rode, because in reality, “every month is bike month.”
Then I noticed that my son had discreetly and without fanfare taken my bike off the patio and put it back into the garage, probably thinking that with my injured leg I wouldn’t even pretend I was going to ride this summer.
But the last few days, I’ve come to some conclusions about cycling in reference to taking care of myself and I’m bringing my bike back inside while my leg heals; after all, summer isn’t over yet and every month is bike month.
It’s certainly something to think about.
* For those purists out there, I know that English three-speeds weren’t technically “racers” but that’s what we erroneously called them back in the 60’s!
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A Woman and Her Bicycle…or Why I Don’t Ride My Bike in May…
May is long past now and August with its dog-days of summer is upon us…and I still haven’t gotten on my bike to ride. Not a mile. Not an inch.
In May I pledged to ride 25 miles for Bike Month and for the first time I didn’t keep my word to ride. I broke my promise. This from the gal who is notorious for creatively figuring out how she can manage to fit her pledged miles in every year.
One year, many years ago, I pledged a grand total of 10 miles rode 6 and paid the teenager across the street to do my last 4. And then last year I pledged 30 and while I actually rode every one of them -- the last two were on May 31st, riding circles in my cul-de-sac in the dark.
I have a wonderful bike; every year I take it out of the rafters and put it on the back patio, and there it sits, forlorn and alone. And every year, my friends, Matt and Keith at Bicycle Planet check the 7 year old bike that they sold me and that has been ridden probably a total of 45 miles and tell me it is good to go.
Keith even gave me a cup holder for my handle bars, another colleague gave me a basket for the front and this year I purchased a beautiful new helmet that Matt selected for me and personally made sure it was properly fitted.
So just WHAT is wrong with me? I am no busier in May than my colleagues and they ride; Nadine Martinez, my co-worker at 50 Corridor rides all the time.In fact, Nadine is the most non-materialistic person I know, but next to her family and pets, she loves her little light green Bianchi more than anything!
Becky Heieck and Sarah Janus from the North Natomas TMA ride, Marilyn Bryant from the Sacramento TMA is now a Licensed Certified Instructor.
And Sue Schooley AKA Silver Dollar Sue from the City of Roseville rides every year at the Breathe California Bike Trek in September raising money for a worthy cause.
For three years I volunteered at that same event, encouraging cyclists on my team, cheering them at the finish line, bringing them water, schlepping bags (bags that sometimes weighed 150 lbs I swear it!) tents and other equipment the length of 4 football fields to set up camp and serve them all snacks and even martinis upon their arrival, but ride? Nope not me.
I love the 50 Corridor cyclists and I love supporting them. I refer to them as “my cyclists’ and I have been on the bike trail every May, arranged every kind of bike class, served bike breakfasts and lunch and cheered them on. I have listened to incredible stories of healing and weight loss and advocated for them whenever possible.
And they in turn have tried their hardest to inspire me, telling me “YES Hazel! You can ride! You can meet the challenge! YOU can do it, we’re rooting for you!”
So why didn’t I ride in May? I told everyone I was too busy, but the truth of the matter is that I simply didn’t carve out the time to do it. But now, not only did I not ride my pledged miles, nor do something that would benefit my health, but I feel like I am letting my cyclists down. And that for me, bottom line, won’t do. It cannot do.
In June, right after we wrapped up May is Bike Month; I injured my knee in a rather freakish accident. When I sought medical care, I thought of that old joke about the person who never having played the piano in her life asked the doctor if she would be able to play when her injured hand was healed.
I asked, “But Doctor will I be able to ride my bike?” The doctor didn’t get it. “No, Hazel” he said,” I’m afraid you’ll have to stay off the bike for awhile.”
Oh good. Another month, and a happy accident that finally gives me a real excuse not to ride. Lucky me. Foolish me.
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