Thursday, May 19, 2011





As the old song goes “There’s a dark and a troubled side of life, but there’s a bright and a sunny side too”…
Cycling has kept me on the sunny side.
My first hand me down red tricycle was the best to weave up and down the
driveway on. That is when I learned to smile with the wind in my hair. 
I was the little girl with training wheels until I was 9 years old.  When the
training wheels completely wore out someone finally removed them and surprise… I could ride.  Self esteem boost and instant freedom.
In junior high I rode a used stingray bike with a sparkling blue banana seat
and a 3 foot tall metal sissy bar.  Ugly, but it got me where I needed to go and it was a bargain.
In high school I would ride to school on an old 10 speed when riding to school was not cool.  I learned that boys who like outdoorsy but girly girls were the kind of boys I liked.
I married my best friend and had 2 beautiful daughters. We purchased our first bike trailer and I would pull the little ones.  Pulling the youngest with an 85 pound family dog by her side or her favorite doll while she napped built my fitness level.  People would smile as they passed which kept me on the sunny side.
Other things I learned from cycling…
When your thyroid is irradiated cycling will help you lose the 50 pounds you need to lose.
When diagnosed with heart problems climb those hills and make that muscle even stronger.
When diagnosed with skin cancer cycling is good for the mind and sunscreen is an awesome product. 
When you are a patient at Huntsman Cancer Clinic for possible lymphoma don’t give up hope.  After several months of all results leaning towards lymphoma I recovered.  When you have energy get on that bike and ride because you can.
My first century was LRRH in my mid 40’s.  At the finish I called to tell my
husband I finished and burst into tears.  Just one year after being a patient
at Huntsman Cancer Clinic I rode 100 miles for their charity.  Immense

Now in my 50’s …
I ride my used bicycle to work each day I can.  Last year from March to
November I only drove my car to work twice.
I use that old bike trailer that toted kids and dogs to tote groceries now.
I cycle 11 miles to spin class, spin, then hitch a ride home with my hubby.
I ride centuries with those 2 little girls I toted in the trailer.
Whenever I am able to cycle I do. 
Whether we ride a short or long distance or our life has been troubled or
sunny, cycling can help keep us on the sunny side.
Best wishes to all riders and let’s be grateful we are able to ride!
Keep on the sunny side.


This story is not easy for me to tell. Even these few words have caused tears to stream down my face.  Two years, 3 months and 5 days ago (January 18th, 09) my only daughter died at age 9 in a sledding accident. Patia (Pay-sha) was my baby girl. She was and still is so precious to me. I would love to just go on and on about her but since there is a 500 word limit I had better tell how cycling and physical activity in general have been the one thing that allowed me to survive this. 

Just 5 months after her death my best friend invited me to ride the LLRH (09). She had been biking for about a year but I had never been on a road bike and I had not ridden any other bike for several years. At that time I was agreeing to anything just to get through my day. It was a struggle just to get out of bed every morning. I felt like everything about me and everyone around me had changed. I was in a downhill spiral and had no idea how to stop. I knew one of the owners of Racer Cycle in Provo; I asked her if I could rent a bike from them. She was so gracious and offered to let me borrow a bike of hers. A few weeks before LLRH I took it for the first ride, I was hooked. I got on that bike and there was no one but me and my thoughts. I peddled with all my might and worked out so much frustration. I let go of anger and hurt I had been bottling up inside. It was a truly amazing, life changing or should I say life saving experience. I rode over 17 miles that first ride I could not believe I was able to ride that distance. When I completed my ride I felt renewed. A few weeks later I rode the 38 mile leg of LLRH and loved it. I had to give the bike back of course, but from that point on I stayed active, walking nightly, attending yoga and kick boxing classes. I just craved the peace and uplifted feeling I got from that first ride. It made me feel alive and in control of emotion again, if only for little while. I had to wait an entire year before I purchased a bike of my own. Since that time I have ridden as much as I can, l love to ride more than anything else. 

Since Patia death I have been actively involved in starting The Compassionate Friends Chapter in Utah County. The Compassionate Friends assist families to find a positive resolution to grief following the death of a child of any age.  We held the first annual Patia Lynn Christensen 5K last August. There is still a huge void in my life but through cycling I have found happiness again.


The accident, April 2006: It happened so suddenly that I wasn’t even sure what had happened, other than I was thrown backward some 6 feet, striking the back of my head on the ground. I knew something was wrong. What felt like being thrown from a car, was actually a collision between my Seagway (motorized scooter), and another rider who’d lost control of his machine.  It was the moment that changed everything. I sustained a concussion and serious neck injury, which affected my balance. 
Recovery from a head injury is always complicated, with no defined answers as to when you might get back to normal, which is never what you were before such an injury. Yet, if you have desire and want something bad enough, you can find the drive within you to succeed.  Question is, how bad do you want it, and are you willing to do the work to make your dreams come true.
My first ride back on a bike came a year later. I rode only 20 feet before I felt tippy and had to stop.  My heart sank as I realized I still couldn’t ride. Discouraged because progress was slow, and longing for the days when I used to ride whenever I wanted, made me realize how much I loved biking. That feeling of freedom, the wind in your face, and the sun on your back, suddenly wasn’t a part of my life anymore, and I missed it. I wanted it back. 

I decided to dedicate myself to a long-term rehabilitation to get back the mechanics I was missing. Though it wasn’t easy, I committed myself to at least try. When I began to notice changes, even as small as they were, I gained courage to work harder.  

Over time, I learned that sometimes what we want doesn’t always happen within our timeframe, rather some undefined timeline driven by a power greater than our own. I learned to have patience in myself, and trust that the work I was going would pay off. It did.

Two years later, after that dreadful 20 footer ride, I was able to ride for a mile. You’d think I’d just learned to ride a bike again. Just like when I tried those first wobbly strokes while my Dad pushed me along, I began shouting that I did it. I was back.

Last year, I rode my first Century ride. I think I said “hello, how ya’ doing” to almost every rider I came across. I was so happy to riding that I wanted to share it with everyone. Gratitude reached deep into my soul that day as I thought “what if” I’d given in to injury. “What if”, I’d given up hope? It’s the journey of our lives that drives us to pedal to destinations unknown, to experience the open road, and know that you can get there one pedal stroke at a time. Bikers have passion for riding, and I’m proud to be one of them.


I weigh 400 lbs which deters me from riding a standard bike because of the excessive weight on top of little wedgie of a seat. Running – ya, right. Walking – not fun enough. Swimming – my skin hates chlorine.
Last year I went to the LRRH, but as moral support for a friend. I sat in the car and watched others push themselves and having fun being part of something great. Sitting there it didn’t take long for me to decide I had to do something and I couldn’t use my weight as an excuse.

This began my research where I found my perfect solution, the TerraTrike Rover. I did everything I could to buy that trike and get riding. A couple of months later I rode the Idaho Falls (Quarter) Century. By mile 18 I thought I couldn’t go further, but I finished and I never felt better about myself.  It is now easy for me to pretend I’m not exercising because riding is FUN !
You will see me at the LRRH Ride, not just this year, but from here on out. I’ll be the one laying back in my recumbent trike, pedaling hard and having fun. I won’t be the first to finish, but I will finish.
If I didn’t ride my trike, what else could I do?


“Cancer made me stronger and more determined than ever not to merely survive, but to flourish and thrive and to truly live life.”

In my life, it actually IS about the bike… When I first battled ovarian cancer in 1999, cycling was the driving force behind my return to a stronger, healthy body and a positive outlook on the future. By 2004, I had trained exhaustively and won a place on the USAF Cycling Team and the chance to ride across the state of Iowa in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). I completed the nearly 500 mile journey with the team in 7 days. RAGBRAI tests a cyclist’s endurance and spirit; the rider faces the elements, thousands of other cyclists, and ice cold showers at the end of the day. I loved the ride so much that I signed up again the next year to do it all over again! In 2006, following a recurrence of cancer and the nightmare of surgery and chemotherapy, my passion for cycling motivated me to get back on the bike. During the months of chemo, while I was weak and listless, my bike waited patiently in the corner. No conditions, no ultimatums, just quietly waiting for the day when the sun would shine and we would test my strength and gradually build my endurance. The first five-mile ride was exhausting, but I gradually regained my strength and enjoyed regular training rides of up to 65 miles. Six weeks after completing chemo, I was on the road in Cache Valley riding Little Red Riding Hood. Another six weeks later, I found myself back in Iowa, riding alongside Lance Armstrong as he enjoyed RAGBRAI one year after winning his last Tour de France. I even beat Lance on the road to some of the pass-through and overnight towns! I completed every inch of the 444 mile, Missouri to Mississippi River ride, less than 4 months after finishing chemotherapy. At the end of RAGBRAI 2006, I received an Inspiration Award from the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for my determination to complete the ride and inspire others to do the same. In 2009, cancer struck for a third time. The battled raged on, and again, my beautiful blue Trek faithfully watched and waited for the day that we’d enjoy the road.  Looking back, not even 6 surgeries and 9 rounds of chemo could stop my bike and me from participating in our favorites rides. We have ridden nearly every Little Red Riding Hood ride since 1997. Family, friends, and co-workers have been inspired to take up cycling, proving that a commitment to positive thinking and a passion for cycling enabled me to rewrite the challenges of life and turn them into steppingstones for beautiful adventures.