Part 3: The Long Summer of 2017

today i will

Can you believe we are in holiday mode already? It seems like just yesterday I was chasing national champion riders and dinosaur tracks in Moab and winding up colossal climbs in Colorado. Good times for sure. Many more adventures are in store ahead. Starting with Nov 23rd when bicibits closes for Black Friday and will OptOutside and hope you will join me in celebrating life outdoors! In case your stuck to the couch waiting for all that holiday yumminess to digest, the website is on auto. But there will not be a human behind the screen.

Blog Part 3: The Long Summer of 2017
A lot has happened since spring. After an incredible 6 week tour of the west spreading ride smiles, hanging with great friends and making new ones, visiting partner shops and galleries, and just riding my heart out in wide open spaces, I returned to the big city. Not that that’s a bad thing, just different. It’s hectic, and slightly overwhelming, also filled with great triumphs and beautiful days. But life happens. The planet heaps obstacles as well as bounty; There were donations to gather and deliver, then there was the hit and run. Yes! Yikes indeed! Rear-ended by a pickup who’s driver left me dazed, concussed and injured sitting alone in my car. Thankfully I was not on my bike this time.Thankfully my bike was not on my bike rack either. Surprising it’s one of the 1st things I remembered after the trip to the ER. I’m not going to whine and give you all the sordid details, merely letting you know what has been going on since we last connected joyously on here. When I celebrated 7 years of becoming a TBI warrior, overcoming many of the daily challenges of life with a brain injury. That said, the accident in August really raised havoc on my brain. I lost September in the memory bank, October was spent in outpatient rehab trying to get my balance back, cognitive skills realigned and injuries to calm down, November has begun with neuro testing and more rehab. Bleh! And no bike riding! I know, right! How incredibly insensitive of those folks in white coats. But I’m fighting back. Each day working diligently on basic skills and pushing through the brain fog to keep bringing you loads of happy bike radness. “Wheels Down Soon!” is my mantra of the month.

Before that mucked-up day at the end of August and today, so much has happened Awesomeness and tragedy and more awesomeness.

Hurricanes, floods and fires, and everyday heroes showing up and helping out those in need. Thank you good peoples!

The Happy Brain Auction Gala for theBIND.org went bombastically! Thanks to all the wonderful donors, sponsors, guests and crew of the BIND. I missed the party but heard it was full of lively fun, grace and celebration.

Dallas Bike Ride happened. It was a day of closed off streets and miles of ride smiles with an after party downtown. We are slowly getting there in our city, recognizing the need to share the roads and expand our conscious effort to become bike friendly.

My friend Shannonigans (much deserved new nick-name) rode her bike from the Canadian border to Mexico along the Pacific roadways to benefit MS and to expand her horizons physically and in mind & spirit. (Really wanted to join her on that adventure)

One of the local womens cycling teams I sponsor DSS, is making dirt look sassy, riding easy with their group social rides and clinics, and notably growing our mtb community here in TX.

bicibits showed up well represented in Tucson at Catalina Brewing Co. for Bike Art Night benefit.

The list goes on, but I’m out of words for today. So let me leave you with one more brief note and a few photos of the endless season of bicycling…Along With a Bit of November BikesGiving!

I have designed new jewelry for the bicibits line of cycling gifts and managed to do an outdoor artisan/farm market with the help of aforementioned friend Shannonigans. More of those to come, so if you’re in the neighborhood, roll on out and say hi. They are posted ahead of time on bicibits social media.

Wishing you a Spintacular Thanksgiving!
GET YOUR RIDE SMILE ON…
~ Silvana

 

WildHeart_bicibits_Nov_2017 denver moab bind bike ride dallas ntxgday along the trail i want to ride

Part 2: Pedaling forward in reflection:

Sil Bike July 23 2017

Part 2:  From Rags to Bikes -With a Beach and Classroom In betwixt

Pedaling forward in reflection:

Today is Sunday July 23. Why should that matter amidst all that is going on in the world? Well, because in my psyche it is a day of collective mourning and celebration. A day where I spend the 3 days prior in a funk and the couple after trying to keep my game face on. It is the 7th anniversary of the day I did not die. The day life changed forever.

This day; is a day of scrambled emotions, and for a few hours it is glorious. Those hours where the cross winds carry heart and mind through the pain and grief into a space of agelessness abandon and pure joy. Where others I encounter along the road greet my smile in reflection of infinite permission to shine with child like abundance of wondrous freedom. Where the miles disappear under the whir of my wheels along the asphalt and the sun’s rays squeeze through the morning clouds. Where everything is golden and tossed in late summer heat with a mischievous inkling of anticipation of autumn approaching. For those hours of many miles, it is an opening as well as a detour from the daily reminder that life is a colossal challenge of heart and brainpower to maintain purpose and strength that propels life forward.

July 23rd is a reminder that I survived what should have been a deadly or outright physically disabling event. It is also a reminder of all that I have lost and all that I have found in the invisible cosmos of life with a brain injury. These days each year serve as a hard earned trophy inscribed with “I am more than a victim or survivor. I am a warrior!”

That is why “Get your ride smile on….” has become my talisman, my mantra, my inspiration, my wish to all: “Ride with fear ground out beneath your wheels, with fierceness and inspirited determination as your tail wind.

For more info on TBI & where I volunteer  look here  Hope you’ll comeback and join bicibits’ journey here on the website, FB, Instagram & Twitter.

Until our paths meet again, get outside, spread love and the stoke of getting your ride smile on…

~ Silvana

Part I: From Rags to Bikes – With a Beach and Classroom In-Betwixt

birds wire bike tweet

I have been working hard on my communication skills and now that I have your undivided attention I would like to practice a little. As you might know I am a Traumatic Brain Injury Warrior. I decided to change “survivor” to “warrior” because it embraces my “live, love, laugh, ride” philosophy befittingly. Living with a brain injury is a constant daily battle of endurance for millions of people; I choose to engage the challenge and toss down with all my spunky might. Telling my story is a big step in this often silent war. I won’t get into all the details and symptoms here that tag along for the ride, suffice to say there are many. The story intertwines with life from many years ago (more than I rather admit), with the day I did not die.

Communicating: Let me just say… It’s wheelie hard!

From somewhere in the middle of this tale…

I use to be a teacher. A linguist, multicultural, multi language speaker; I started out teaching Adult ED and Spanish then morphed into 3rd grade dual language and bilingual all inclusive classroom teacher. Purely and joyfully by accident, some of the most amazing days of my life were the days spent with those children. Oh, the stories they could tell… and in several languages at that! Most of those kiddos are now in middle school and high school, some have graduated and are in college or out living adult lives. I know so many of them are making me proud. But I digress, as I often do these days. Therein lies part of the communication issue. I know, we all do it; ramble away, off topic, forgetting what we intended to say… However, for many of us with TBI it’s a torment. Usually for the other person J Made you smile? Hope so! That’s the reason I do this. The reason I ride. The reason I get up each day and greet the day with fierce determination. So if by chance or by design, we meet along this journey, I hope you understand that there is all this passion, purpose, frustration, confusion, goofiness, aspiration and much more, trying to get out all at once, and that sometimes, well, it just gets a little gnarled up in the processing and verbalizing department. Just part of the fallout when a speeding ton of metal hit this girl on a bike.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month -Therefore I thought I would start my story in the middle and give voice to a silent epidemic. Silent because often the full impact and long term consequences that result from mild to moderate brain injuryare not visible.

For more info on TBI look here. Hope you’ll comeback and join bicibits’ journey here on the website, FB, Instagram & Twitter. Also I have a mini blog post on TheBIND.org page “Color Me Rad”

In the mean time, get outside, carry out random acts of kindness & get your ride smile on…

Looking forward to the next installment & all the bike love

Gratefully yours ~Silvana

 

Biking, Brain Injury, and the Road to Recovery: Why I Love to Ride.

Woman riding bike

 

I love to ride my bike because…

I can fly.

I’ve been in love with riding since I was a kid, standing on the back of my brother’s bicycle with arms spread wide open, feeling like I was soaring through the air. That sensation has stayed with me into adulthood, evolving into a passion for road bikes, mountain bikes—anything with two wheels brings back that same experience of freedom and joy.

My passion for cycling is also how bicibits was born. It began with a line of cycling apparel I began working on while I was a school teacher, which grew into a concept for a non-profit bicycle program that would reach out to women and girls in Central and South America, improving access to schools, supporting sustainability projects, and connecting and supporting modest entrepreneurs. I wanted to inspire others, to contribute, to help educate children around the world and to share the experience of freedom that cycling had given to me.

However, in the summer of 2010, I was run over by a car, while out riding and everything changed.

There was not much severe, outward crippling physical damage. But I incurred a traumatic brain injury -TBI. The invisible damage was one that impaired me, and still affects me, in a multitude of ways I could never have imagined. For over two years, I had no memory, and growing cognitive and neurological issues. I couldn’t return to teaching or launch my business, could hardly remember conversations from one moment to the next. I couldn’t even ride my bike.

So, not straying from my true self, I turned my dreams of a new business into an outlet for my abundant energy. I re-learned skills I once had pat, like stringing beads or drawing, as part of my recovery. I learned, slowly, how to coordinate my brain with my muscle memory. It was challenging, but eventually I rediscovered old aptitudes and artistry, like making the sun catchers I used to design back in my 20’s. This time, I started to work in bicycle designs, dreaming of the day I could start riding again.

Each day, with each sun catcher, I got a little better at coordinating my vision with my hand movements. Most importantly, those sun catchers represented hope. Throughout my early stages of recovery, I was focused on returning to teaching, and my big beautiful life and all my plans for the future. I wanted it so badly, but then I’d have setbacks and reality would catch up.

Some of the biggest challenges are mostly due to brain fatigue and stimulus sensitivity. Things that other people find easy can be mentally exhausting and debilitating. Bright lights and loud sounds can overwhelm my senses. My brain injury has had a big impact on my life, my career, and my family. It can be difficult to communicate at times, especially in crowded gatherings, restaurants and retail outlets, anywhere there is a lot of noise and bright lights.

Yes, it’s been a tough, long bumpy ride. Nevertheless, some wonderful things have come out of this experience.

My accident has opened up new opportunities and connections. I have met some amazing people and fellow survivors. I volunteer at the BIND.org and participate in events of BIA USA. I’ve heard inconceivable stories of setbacks and witnessed extraordinary survival. I am one of the lucky ones. It could have been so much worse.

I have gained a greater appreciation now for the fragile and complex wonder that is the brain, and how much we depend on it for every aspect of life. I have grander empathy for others and enormous respect for each moment in time, and I’m acquiring new ways to live my life and reach my goals daily.

All these new challenges and perspectives have led to a new future. This vision for bicibits is simple:

I want to inspire people to “get their ride smile on.” I want to enthuse people to get up and get outdoors, to be active, and to be happy doing it. My wish is for this business to succeed so that I can provide for myself, continue to learn, explore, and grow. To encourage and expand the connection of cycling and a life well lived.

The dream for bicibits is to inspire, to learn, to give hope, and to continue to give back. I want to share my message.

And yes, I was able to get back on my bike. Yes, I still love it.

I love to ride my bike because, after everything, I can still feel those moments where I am flying, free, with the boundless journey before me. My bike, my brain, my body, my company, my new world—they are interconnected for me now, and together they propel me forward.

Pedal on!

~ Silvana