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Shawn, originally New Yorker, transported to Tennessee for a few years, chased the love of his life in Iowa, only to move her back to Tennessee. Rachael, small town Iowa girl that traveled the globe to find her love in Tennessee. Little did we know how much our lives would change when Little Miss Magdalyn Joy entered the world. Join our journey through the unknown of Maggie's medical issues, known truths of God, and the nuts and bolts of life.


RAGBRAI-every mile

For those of you that may not know, RAGBRAI stands for Register's Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  It's an annual ride from the Missouri River across the state of Iowa to the Mississippi River.  When looking at the route mileage this year, the thought crossed my mind, if any year, this could be a good year to try to ride every mile again.  The last time I rode every mile was my very first year, 15 years ago.  Any given year, I may have to miss a couple of days here or there for other commitments, or we may just be 20 miles shy because we got off early for any number of reasons (hills, headwinds, mechanical trouble, heat, accident, etc...the reasons are endless--especially with our crew).  At the beginning of the week, I mentioned the aspiration to try for every mile, knowing, the big hurdle would be the 83 mile day on Monday.  Grandpa Kevin thought I was crazy.  I wasn't holding my breath, but, I figured if we could make it through Monday, there was a strong possibility we could aim to complete all the rest of the days that were just around 50 miles each.
So...Amelia (Shawn's niece) and I mounted up on the old blue tandem.  We like to call it vintage.  Within the first 5 miles, I was beginning to question my capabilities.  I've had this happen before.  I knew I was not in the best of shape, but we just felt we were not that efficient.  Now, if I had trained much, I would have for sure known whether it was me, or the bike, or my stoker but I could not confidently say it was any of the above.  We wheeled up to a bike shop in the first town, and low and behold, our front brake had been rubbing.  Talk about a little extra effort being exerted for Amelia and me.  From there we started rolling quite well.  Throughout the week we did have to tinker with the vintage baby quite a bit though.  Chain coming off, derailer needing tweeked because it would rub on chain or on the pedal, rear brake having to be manually released every so often.

Regardless, we kept pedaling away.  And, of course, refueling...eating all the way across the state.  With the limited diet I am on, I was slightly concerned about being able to consume enough to keep me going strong AND providing the right nutrients for the Magsters.  However, meat and veggies were readily available and overall, I didn't seem to have much trouble at all.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Of course, breakfast burritos bowls were a must have every morning!

Throughout the week, to help raise funds for "Working in Tandem"  (Both Uncle Steve's "Get Steve Moooving" and "Miracle for Maggie"), we sold raffle tickets for a RAGBRAI quilt.  (If anyone would still like to buy tickets, let us know)  With the mention of a GOAL to do every mile, Uncle Steve had called KWWL, the local TV station, to inform them of our story and proclaim that Maggie's mom WAS doing every mile. Not so sure how I would be concise with explaining everything, I was relieved they never tracked me down to interview me.  However, I felt I had to do every mile, just in case!  And really, there wasn't much consideration of doing anything else.  Thursday afternoon/evening, after a day of hills and some headwind, I was about in tears from my right knee.  I was a little unsure of the next 2 days, but luckily Grandma Carla came to my rescue and I was careful to nurse it along the next couple of days.  I came to realize the knee trouble was actually probably coming from my seat being so uncomfortable.  Never have I gone all week with my butt in pain.  (it usually goes numb after the 2nd day.)  If only Amelia and I would have known that our butts would never going numb, we would have traded the seats out earlier in the week.  Oh well, lesson learned.  We kept going.  Finally Friday was a sweet treat with tailwind and smooth sailing.  Then on Saturday, about halfway through the day, we were once again a little unsure of the vintage bike.  After the pedal caught the derailer, bent it some more, and caused us to lose our chain, Dad was able to help get us back in action.  Where the chain was placed, nothing was rubbing, which is quite the feat with the limited clearance between rubbing one way or the other.  Amelia and I made the decision that we wanted to make it to the river, so we decided, if at all possible for those last 20 some miles, we would just crank it harder up the hills, and hopefully not have to change gears at all.  So, we got our momentum down the hills and kept sailing to get up the hills.  The gear we were in was about 12-17 mph of comfortable pedaling, which served us quite well on the terrain for the rest of that day.  My knee held out fine too.  Still unsure that the bike would make it, I had visions of the tires both going either direction and all the components just flying off.  We started discussing how many miles out could we be before we would just run to the river to accomplish every mile as we wanted.  Finally we got to the 2 miles out and knew it was straight down hill to the river, so we knew we could just coast the rest of the way if something happened.  We were going to make it!  And, we did.  We got down to the river, took all the dipping tires pictures, and then...dum dum dum...We went to get back on the bikes to find Shawn and the bus, and the chain between the front and back pedals split in half and broke right there!  412 miles all the way across the state, and it waited to fall apart until just after we made it. As Joy was quick to point out...that's a God thing!  Crazy!
It was 15 years ago that I rode every single mile.  That was the last time I had done that.  It was also the last time my bottom was on the same seat all the way across the state.  At 30, Amelia was 15, and the two of us made every single mile together on the tandem.  Unfortunately, in 15 years, when I am 45, Amelia is 30, Maggie would be 16 and I am not so sure I'll be able to captain a triplet across the state!  Grandpa Kevin, our great friend Joy, and Uncle Tyler's good friend Brent also did every single mile with us!  Impressive for our group!

Support crew sleeping in!
The entire week was quite smooth.  Shawn and Cousin Quin managed to be an excellent support crew for us bikers, while keeping track of Maggie and her needs.  Earlier this summer, I had debated whether or not it was worth us going on RAGBRAI this year.  With all we've been doing, I thought it was selfish of Mommy to try to add one more big thing to the mix, but again this week, I realized why the dynamics are so beneficial for our family.  I have spent all year supporting and caring for Maggie and her every need.  This was Momma's week of vacation, kind of.  It's a week for me to let go of intently tracking the details of everything she does.  Also, the situation cannot otherwise be replicated.  Daddy and Maggie have their time to figure out one another's rhythms and dynamics, but Mommy is still accessible and around.  I get to be more hands off, and Daddy gets to be the primary provider.  For Daddy, he wasn't completely being abandoned though. I would still try to feed her a portion of her meals when I was around (everyone claims she eats so much better for Momma) and of course, we would still have snuggle time for nursing in the morning, at the midday stop, and in the evening (or middle of the night)  So, by no means was Momma not still actively caring for the Magster, but I wasn't around to micro-manage Dad's care.  They were somewhat forced to figure each other out a little more.  Last year after RAGBRAI, I had noticed that Daddy was much more confident caring for her and anticipating her needs.  I presume the same will be true this year.  The other fun part, is that all 3 of us get to just hang with Momma's family as well as those sweet cousins on Daddy's side and of course Joy.  The relaxed atmosphere allows Maggie to build stronger relationships with all these important people.  The benefit I didn't quite think through is that all the exercise provides a great cleanse for Mommy's body, and is motivating to make this a priority in the busy schedule that we will soon be implementing.  Many times throughout the week, I reminded Maggie to enjoy her last week of chaos, because the new therapy regiment will soon be implemented!
Daddy being Daddy because Mags was fussin'

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