Chances are you’ve been watching the news like the rest of us and wondered more than a few times, what in the world is going on? Mother Nature is roaring, and I’ve also been praying for our species. For me it is impossible not to feel heaviness in my heart for all the natural disasters occurring so close to home.
I have lived through a few hurricanes in my life, and I know the helplessness one can feel when sudden large volumes of water flood your home. I have lived through the inconveniences of having no electricity for months, and the days are scorching hot. Hurricane Mitch (second deadliest category 5 Atlantic hurricane per record in 1998) was the first hurricane I ever knew to exist in my life, and living in Honduras while this Cat 5 monster destroyed our country was something that’s embedded in me forever. I recall my entire family sitting infront of a radio listening to the news being broadcasted about what was going on directly outside the four walls of our home. My mother was a young widow with 3 young kids, a parrot and a dog, and in her house she had sheltered about 30 other people along with their pets. Some were close family members and some were neighbors of our family. All these people had evacuated their homes because they were in a flood zone, and my mom’s house had the highest possibility of being a safe place for all of us. Under all the concrete walls, all of us hunkered down for days while Mitch tore through the country. Nearly 11,000 people were killed, and over 7,000 of those deaths occurred in Honduras alone. Our beautiful country sure still hasn’t recovered from that, there were bridges and highways that were destroyed and have never been rebuilt to the same they were before. The farmland and rivers that I grew up in are not the same places. All around devastating, to say the least.
When my family migrated to the USA in early 2000’s, I learned about Hurricane Andrew’s (category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1992) affect in South Florida, which had become our home place. Though I did not live through Andrew, knowing the fear that it had imposed on my neighbors made my skin crawl every time I took part in a conversation in which someone remarks about such tragic storm. Up until this day, I have heard so many stories from people where they recount literally being blown around their house by the strong winds that destroyed their homes. Scary, so scary.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina kissed Florida as a Tropical Storm on its way to destroy New Orleans, so when Hurricane Rita & Wilma headed to Florida soon after, they sure had my family and I freaking out about how to secure our home, what to buy for food, etc. It was our first experience with a bad storm here in the US, so having so many people around us with a lot of experience on preparing for hurricanes made for a much better option. We were ready to head to local shelters, but were fortunate to stay in our house during these times. Funny (not so funny) story: that’s when we found out that my little brother was allergic to shrimp! YES, SHRIMP! LOL. My mother fed us food from the only restaurant open soon before the storm hit, our local Chinese joint. Ever since, anytime we had Chinese fried rice, we had to request the shrimp on the side. LOL.
This year my home in South Florida has been entirely too close to three major hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, Jose & Maria, which developed as Category 3-5 hurricanes in the period of 4 weeks. The damage we have suffered in South Florida has been pretty bad; there have been many deaths and many people have lost everything they own, the power outages and flooding in some sectors has reached the attention of the nation as we gather together to bring the southernmost part of our Sunshine State and its people back on their feet. I have neighbors and friends whom have yet to hear from their family members in the Caribbean Islands, and all we can do is pray for them. That feeling of helplessness is something I recognize and my heart feels so heavy. I continue to pray for all of those countries in the Caribbean that have been swept away by these angry storms, and for those who have lost their family members and pets.
I am grateful to live in South Florida, where the community of mountain bikers absolutely ROCKS! These individuals truly do know how to come together and GET TO WORK. These rainy days hadn’t even approached our trails yet, when many groups of organized volunteers were planning on getting together to clean up the trails from all the fallen trees and debris. I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR ALL THE HARD WORK. I know some of you hand’t yet even cleaned up your own homes, but stepped outside into mosquito infested woods to clean up for all of us. Your selfless efforts are recognized and so highly appreciated.
Taking a few days to deal with these storms has put me just a tad bit behind on my training, and I’ve had to make the hard decision to end my 2017 race season right here! Unfortunately I will not be able to complete the 2017 Southeastern Endurance Cup Series, which I was very excited about and was the Overall Leading Female 30-34 AG for the 3 Hr Category. I feel confident that I could have done very well at the remaining events, but timing and unforeseen expenses force me to change my racing goals for the rest of this year.
I have, however, started to once again follow a cycling training program that requires a lot of discipline and structure on my part, and I’m digging it! I am super motivated to see how my body, fitness and skills transform in preparation for some epic racing in 2018. Now to stay FOCUSED and embrace the PAIN that comes with it, and continue praying for Mother Nature to spare us a little more. Though I don’t have any races until January 2018, it is during this period that I’ll be more engaged with my bike and my training. I hope to ride our local trails more and find the chance to get to ride with my fellow MTB Chicks of SoFla.