Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Tandems to Spandex: How it All Began

Today, I officially joined the Team CF Cycling team; (that’s a little redundant, so we’ll probably just call ourselves Team CF). For me, the desire to join the team was overwhelming, but the decision to was not so easy. I am a 21 year old college student at Neumann University, with an insane desire to travel. I went to France when I was 17, and lived in London for my first semester of college when I was 18. I was accepted and ready to fly back to London for the spring semester 2010. This time I was going to live with the natives! However, when I was offered the chance to train as a competitive mountain bike cyclist, (mountain biker cycler, mountain bikler?), in the name of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) I had to replan my new plans.

Biking beat London because I can travel to London anytime, but doubt anyone will ever give me the opportunity to wear the Team CF spandex outfit again. London isn’t going anywhere, so I postponed my travels, and sat at my computer. I am going to blog about my experience and transformation. I will update my blog every Wednesday, so stay tuned to see how it is going.

What is Team CF … or just CF?

Team CF is a project dreamed up and brought to life by Dr. James Wilson, a gene therapist with serious go big or go home attitude. The idea behind Team CF is to motivate people with Cystic Fibrosis to get up and moving toward a healthier life. Check out our sweet sight! Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder which I’ve been rocking since 1988. It is not a disease, but is often referred to as one. People with Cystic Fibrosis are constantly clearing their lungs of a thick sticky mucus, which takes up space in the lungs. The mucus can become a permanent resident, if not treated. More mucus = less room for fresh air = less oxygen to the body. The main focus of treatment of the lungs is to get the mucus out. Lots of methods and medicines to assist this process exist, but there is a basic idea that is becoming growing trend; use your lungs! Move, dance, jump around, run, get on a bike, play sports, bounce on a trampoline, anything! The more you use your lungs, the greater the opportunity to reach and remove the mucus. It’s Win-Win for everyone involved. Play more -live longer. I’m in.

The Internship

As a college student, I needed an internship. The fall of 2009 I joined the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Awesome choice! I got to see all of the organization, promotion and execution of every event that Cystic Fibrosis Foundation organizes in order to raise money for CF research. The whole time I worked with an awesome team. They were great to work with, hilarious and the semester ended in a holiday gift exchange that included a disco Christmas dancer, Chanukah celebrations, and a snuggie. I met all of my old doctors at almost every event, and learned A LOT about the people who were dedicated and donated to the CF Foundation. I was having a ball at the Delaware Valley Chapter when the director of the chapter, Eileen Miley, asked me one day to read a packet about Dr. Jim Wilson and the Goguen Brothers and their upcoming project “Team CF“. I did. These guys are pretty impressive. The Goguen Bro’s are still in high school and winning some serious cycling competitions. Eileen then approached me and told me that Dr. James Wilson, was looking for a young athletic person with Cystic Fibrosis to join Team CF. She wanted to know if I knew anyone. Was she playing with me? I’m a CFer, I’m young, and I’ve got some Neumann Knight experience. If my face that was glowing with excitement didn’t give me away enough, I nominated myself (which I think she was getting at, but one can never assume). I called Dr. Wilson to ask about the position.

The offer

“January 3rd, when I call you at 5am, are you going to be ready to cycle?” That was Dr. Wilson’s question that accompanied the offer to join the team. Hmm… on a typical January 3rd at 5am, I am cuddled under 2 or 3 blankets with quite a few more hours left to sleep. Typically on any given day, I am not up at 5 am, and I am certainly not dressed from head to toe in spandex. But, such is life, and here I am, typing at a computer head to toe in argyle spandex.

Just so you know, I have no biking experience. Scratch that, my grandfather had 11 kids and a two seater bike. The kids grew up and the Schwinn Tandem was passed down to our family. I LOVE that bike. My best friend and I took it on picnics. I even rode it to school alone on occasion. It was GREAT! But I don’t think that is what Dr. Wilson would consider training.

Not only have I never ridden competitively, the only thing that can keep me in a seat for more than 15 minutes is my vest! Never the less, I am more than ready to buckle down, challenge myself and push through the early mornings, long rides and muscles aches. On occasion, I might even cut out a bowl of cereal from my diet if need be. Our motivation is to strive to inspire others with CF to become more proactive about their lives. Training begins mid January, and races start in April; wish me luck!