Sorry for not updating for two days but they have been pretty busy! On Monday, I rode an even 100 miles and we ended up in York, NE. Wind was against me mostly, resulting in a 12.9 mph average. It is extremely frustrating. It is the difference between finishing the day at 5:00 and having time to laundry, shower, shave, send pictures, write a blog. Versus finishing at 7:00 and having much less time to do all of those things. There was also a feeling of “should have done more today” at the end of Monday, because we had a time commitment the next day.
Rather than riding to a city, then sleeping overnight, enjoying a day off, and going to a ballgame; this ride has me riding to the actual ballpark at the end of the day, with a day off usually following. So in order to do the meet and greet, we had to be ride 89 miles and arrive by 5:30 at Werner Park, the home of the Omaha Storm Chasers.
It was brutal at first, because the wind shifted even more east, and I was only going 11 mph for a long time. I had to forgo my usual 30-40 minute breaks to make it happen. Instead of doing 4 sets of 25 miles, I did a 40 and a 35, which is really pushing it when it comes to water consumption. I had Sarah hand off a water bottle and a sandwich and lock the car doors so I was not tempted to relax at all! But when I finally got a real rest break at 75 miles in, we were heading more north at that point than east, so the wind was mitigated. It was so nice to be relieved of the time pressure, knowing I only had 14 miles and to go and an hour 15 minutes to complete it. It got indeed hilly during the last five miles though, lots of straight ups and downs.
The game was great, and we spent the night with Amy and Stephen, the parents of Davy and Josie. Davy was the first child implanted from the ride in 2013, and it was the first time I’ve been able to meet them. The joy in Davy’s face as he played on the field was precious.
I spent today at Boys Town, a leading hearing aid and implant research center. Marc Brennan, Terri Alberhasky, and Jeff Simmons gave me a tour of the facilities, and I got to meet with parents and children. Boys Town is also a place to receive audiological services, and they have a preschool for children. They primarily serve as a facilitator for hard of hearing or deaf children to become mainstreamed in public schools, but they also have hearing students there who are called “neighborhood friends.”
It was such a juxtaposition to have the hearing children be more “different” than the deaf ones! I thought the meeting with the parents went great. Meeting the children is fun, but when they’re as young as 2-4 years old, I’m not so sure what they receive from meeting me. Meeting the parents in those settings, however, is always rewarding. I mean, I’m one of the first 5,000 individuals to receive an implant, and now the number is more than 200,000, with much of the growth being at the younger end of the age spectrum. It’s important for the parents to know that they did the right thing in getting an implant for their child! The parents get to meet someone who went through adolescence with an implant, and talk about specific challenges.
The number one thing I can say is that it is important to be your own self advocate. It is not just for deaf people, but it is critically important for someone with any additional challenges. When the children go into school, they are removed from the eyes of their parents, who would usually be the ones to advocate for them. The children have to learn at a young age to sit themselves in a seat where they hear the best, even if that means talking to the teacher and telling them that an assigned seating chart will not work for them.
I remember that I had a teacher in middle school that would give great lectures, and would make students put their hands down until he had finished speaking. One time I was note-taking, and missed a key date. He hushed me when I raised my hand. I went to him after class and we devised a special “one finger” method, where if I raised one finger, he would ask me what I missed rather than tell me to put my hand down. In more discussion-based classes, it was important for me to tell the teachers to please rephrase the students’ questions and answers, because while a teacher is taught how to speak up, most students speak quietly.
Being forced to become your own self-advocate is extremely beneficial in the long run, no matter who you are. I think our next generation of leaders will all be wearing implants. I also got to talk about social skills with the parents. Wearing an implant should be no different than wearing glasses. I know when I was in elementary school, it seemed like someone new got glasses every other month. They were teased for one day, and then life went on. Wearing an implant should be the same.
I thought it was great for all involved and I cannot thank all of the members of Boys Town for having me. We even got some media footage that we will post in the next few days. I rode my bike around with all the kids, and capped everything off with some amazing tacos with Marc, Amy, Stephen, and the two children. We had to say good-bye, and I ended up riding about 45 miles to Nebraska City. Supposed to be a day off today, but the fact that my sister is leaving the driver’s seat, and the airport stuff regarding that, has caused this. Tomorrow, I’ll do 120 miles or something, and get a day off on Friday.
Sarah is a trooper. Every day she has been here (except for the evening she flew in) has been a riding day. Katie and Marlei got a total of two days off, one in Vegas and one in Salt Lake. Sarah has had none. She had to get the van and the bike serviced today while I was at Boys Town, so while she had fun at the game, she didn’t get to partake in any of the great activities today.
Sorry the post is getting long. I just love this stuff. It’s definitely better than the straight riding. I’m gonna see what’s left of the baseball game on the radio and head to bed. The wind has shifted to the south again which will hinder me, but I now accept the fact that the wind will be against me 19 days out of 20, just like 2013. Harden up, Jake. Rule number five, I should wear my Adventure Cycling Jersey tomorrow that says “Rule #5” on the collar… Tropical depression is promising rain but I’ll love it. Thanks Davy, Amy, Stephen, Terri, Marc, and Jeff for helping to make all of this worth it.