My Life. Well lets see. I grew up in London. I did the obligatory dishwashing tour of Europe as a kid. Travelled to Israel where I met the woman who would one day become my wife. Moved to the States. Moved away and traveled the world. Ended up back where we started. Had a kid. Went to nursing school. Had more kids. Went to midwifery school. Got a real job. Bought a house. Settled down and turned into my parents.
OK, so there’s probably a little more to it than that.
I was born in London. After apprenticing as a jeweler, I did the obligatory dish-washing tour of Europe as a teenager. In 1980. I traveled to Israel as a volunteer on a kibbutz. In a bomb shelter I met Rae, the woman who would later become my wife. In late ’82 I arrived in Urbana (Rae’s home town). Worked as a jeweler and then later worked at the Physics department of the university (I helped to build a particle detection array for Fermilab). During my time in Urbana, I took up karate and became a black-belt in Shōrei-ryū karate. That’s also about the time that I took up cycling. Rae commuted everywhere by bike and if I wanted to keep up I had to get my own. So I bought a second hand Raleigh at a university police auction.
After 3 1/2 years in Urbana, Rae and I set off and traveled the world for 3 years looking for the perfect place to live (we traveled around America, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Greece, Israel, and England). When in England, I got another secondhand bike and commuted to work in downtown London. By riding my bike, I saw London from a new perspective (overground as opposed to underground). This new experience led to my first long-distance bike ride going up through the Lake District to Scotland. Shortly after the birth of our first daughter, Lisa, Rae and I returned to Urbana. I then went to nursing school, riding my bike six miles to Parkland College every day, rain or shine.
At Parkland I earned my Associate Degree in nursing. I then got a job as a labor and delivery nurse, and continued my education at the University of Illinois to get my Bachelors with high honors. While working at Carle Hospital I commuted–not by bike–to get my Masters in Nurse Midwifery at UIC in Chicago. During this time most of my exercise was confined to studying on a stationary bike at IMPE (now the ARC).
While going to school, Rae and I had two more children, Manu and Sophia. Upon graduating, I started working at Planned Parenthood as a prenatal provider, and bought my first ever NEW bike. Through the years, I would ride all 3 kids on my bike and drop them at school. Around this time, they were re-paving US 45 between Urbana and Tolono. I used this as my personal training route. It was perfect; a blacktop with no cars on it. Over time, I rode further and further until I rode my first century.
In the early 2000’s I started riding long distances to raise money for charity. In May 2004, a close friend and I dipped our back bike tires in Yellowstone River in Montana and rode home via the Lewis and Clark Trail. This ride raised money for two local charities. On the ride the weather was not kind to us and I think some of the money donated came in after the fact because people felt so sorry for us.
I continued to do 100-mile bike rides weekly (yes I have a very understanding spouse). In 2012, I started competing in 24-hour bike-rides. In my first ride, in Minnesota with my brother- and sister-in-law, I got first place. Since then I have ridden in several 24-hour competitions.
After a bike ride back from Minneapolis in the summer of 2014, I noticed that I was having difficulty playing guitar. At first it was thought to be nerve compression from excessive cycling (excessive cycling? Me?). But several months later, a diagnosis of ALS was suggested. After delivering 2,095 babies and with this new diagnosis, I chose to stop delivering babies and focus on gyn and prenatal care.
At a January 2015 doctor’s appointment, the neurologist suggested that it was time to check off things on my bucket list. Rae and I had already traveled the world. So there were only 3 things on my list: spending time with family, becoming a Bar Mitzvah, and riding my bike coast-to-coast across the US. Rae and I are now using this time to see family as much as possible. The Bar Mitzvah was in July, and the bike ride across the southern United States was planned for Spring 2016 but our neurologist smiled politely and said this year might be better. So October it was. The goal was to complete the ride in three weeks. It took a tad longer and didn’t exactly go as planned. This blog contains that story.
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