My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pay It Forward ... w/ Blood and/or Platelet Donations

This post was kickstarted by a tweet from a virtual friend, Darryl (@lovingthebike). Darryl linked a blog post from his website called "Pay It Forward." (Great read - go get it here.) Two guests write about how they received from others who pay it forward and now try to emulate that in their lives. That got me thinking. How can, and how do, I pay it forward? Below is one way I do....

Ok, time for a plug for the American Red Cross.

As you know, you can do blood donations through the Red Cross - at blood drives like the ones we periodically have at work, or by going to your local Red Cross office.

You can make blood donations every other month (56 days, or 8 weeks to be precise). And the actual donation part only takes a few minutes. (Getting from the reception desk to the table where you actually donate takes a little longer.)

Another way to give is to donate platelets. Platelets are used by patients fighting cancer, have undergone transplants, or otherwise have weakened immune systems. A single donation can provide up to three therapeutic doses. (In contrast, it takes up to six whole blood donations to provide enough platelets for one dose.) Follow this link for more information from the Red Cross.

After donating at the first office blood drive (last June) since I started last February, I was notified by the Red Cross that I am an ideal platelet donor candidate. My count is very high and they need A+ donors. I have made three such donations in the last two months.

My goal for 2012 is to make a donation either platelet and/or whole blood at least once a month. I'd like to do more, but it does take a lot of time.

In addition to the screening process you go through for every donation (which can take up to an hour), it can take up to an additional two hours for the donation. And the preferred method is the double-arm, where blood is drawn from one arm and returned (sans platelets) in the other. Of course, you can't use your arms during that time, so plan on bringing an iPod to listen to tunes, an iPad to watch a flick, or be at the mercy of whatever channel they have on the tube that day.

The Red Cross staff and volunteers are the BEST! while you donate. They will get you anything you need - a blanket, something to drink, adjust your pillow, etc. The ones I have worked with have all be awesome.

A couple of hints:
1) When they go to stick you, if you hate needles (like I do!), wiggle your toes - it focuses your attention on your feet and away from your arm. And do try to relax. When you're tense, your blood vessels constrict and it just makes it harder.
2) Eat something a couple hours before you donate. If your stomach is too emplty, you won't have enough blood sugar in your system and you may feel light headed afterwards. True for either blood or platelet donations.

Giving blood and/or platelets is an easy way to help out in your community. A way to "pay it forward" if you will.

Thanks for reading.

January Draws to an End

Well it is now January 30th. I am happy to report that I have not let the weather put the kibosh on my riding. And while I wish I had more time in the saddle, except for a couple of days, it hasn't been because of the weather.

As of today, I have been in the saddle 16 days, with today and tomorrow to go. Eight days of commuting between work and home; eight days on the trainer in the basement; and one day where I drove part of the way to work and rode the rest of the way. I "lost" some days when I was out of town at a conference, a couple to snowy weather, and a few to being sick. My guess is I rode at least 250 miles this month. Not bad for the middle of winter.

The weather, for the most part, has been very cooperative with bike-commuting. While the morning low temp that I rode in was about 10°F, there were a few afternoons when the temps were in the 40°s and once it was 53°! Is this Wisconsin in January?!?

A great thing about the end of January, in addition to temps getting ever so slightly warmer, is that the RAGBRAI route for the year get announced at the Iowa Bicyle Expo in Des Moines. This year's route is 471 miles from Sioux Center, in the NW corner of the state, to Clinton, just north of the Quad Cities. There are three days (Tue, Wed, Thu) that are each over 75 miles. It's a pretty flat route (11th flattest in the 40 years), with 16,125 feet of climbing over the week.

I would love to be able to ride the full week again. And encourage my readers (both of you) to consider checking it out as well.

Keep your eyes on the prize, your mind on your goals, and the rubber side down!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Goals for 2012

Well, it's been a few months since I last wrote here Things have been pretty quiet on the bicycle front since September. Olivia kept riding into the fall and will still occasionally pull her bike out to ride to a friend's house.

The winter has been very mild so far (*knock on wood*) with very little snow. With a few layers, commuting on my bike has not been a problem. I was averaging probably 3 days/week in Nov and Dec. Days I didn't ride was usually because of appointments or meetings out of the office that necessitated taking the car.

This is the last day of the first week of the year. While it started out nasty (cold and very windy), I made up for it by mounting my road bike on the trainer in the basement and riding that on the 1st and 2nd.
The wind died down and the temps started climbing for the four-day work week. I commuted by bike all four days. Tuesday morning it was 10°F out. The only thing that got cold were my toes for the last couple miles. (It's about a 10.5 mi commute.) Yesterday riding home, it was over 50°! And today is supposed to get into the upper 40s. Hard to believe it's January in Wisconsin.

My cycling goals for the year:
> Ride at least 250 days, either commute rides, road rides, or on the trainer;
> Commute by bike at least 175 days (that's only 2 of every 3 work days, not accounting for days off);
> I would like to complete my second Centruy (100 mi) ride;
> I would LOVE to ride RAGBRAI again this year with Team Livestrong. Hope to make that work;
> Ride a few other organized rides:
>>> "Feed the Need" Ride (late April),
>>> Minnesota Gran Fondo (early May),
>>> Milwaukee Ride for the Arts (Early June),
>>> Ride for Boys & Girls Club of Dane Co (July), and/or
>>> Centurion Ride WI (early August).
(Note: these are rides I am interested in, but don't think I can fit them all into my schedule, especially if I ride RAGBRAI in late July.)

There you have it. My cycle goals for 2012.

I do have goals for Olivia too. She is outgrowing her 20" single speed bike. Looking for a road bike for her. My LBS (local bike store) has a kids road bike by Schwinn that would be a great starter.
Then perhaps she can graduate to this women's GT road bike (it comes in size XS).

If we get her a road bike, we can start doing longer rides together. Then, maybe, be ready to ride RAGBRAI together in 2013!

So, there you have it. What are your goals for the new year?