The lost life of a cyclist – Eddie Arguelles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

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Eddie Arguelles 11-19-1975---4-17-2014

Eddie Arguelles 11-19-1975—4-17-2014

It was June 25th, 2013, at about 4:45 in the morning in a dark parking lot on the corner of Jackson Rd and Sprague in Edinburg that I had my first real welcoming to the 5am Wake Up Riders. I had been riding my bike for just a few months prior to that but this was the morning when I had announced to the group that I would be riding up the mountains of Nevada 5,000 feet as a challenge to raise money and awareness for cancer in my mother’s memory.

“Do you have the course and elevation?” one of the riders asked.

“Oh ya sure! Here, it’s on my phone.” I replied and showed them with pride the steep incline and decline on a photo in my phone.

I swear each of them took a step back and gave me the now coined “look”. I knew they thought I was crazy but they NEVER told me that I couldn’t do it nor insinuated that it was impossible with my background (or lack of) or in this timeframe that I had. This group was unique.

Now, not to take away from the other cycling groups around town because there are lots… but the other groups who also had experienced, competitive cyclists never really greeted me with welcomed camaraderie. In fact, I witnessed quite a few noses stuck up in the air when I came around their group rides. Regardless, I always smiled to them when I wasn’t scared to death.

The 5am’ers never left my side. When it got to the point when I needed to reach 60, 70, 80 mile rides… they were always there for me right alongside me regardless of what ever they were personally training for. Tuesdays and Thursdays were for either recovery rides or sprinting intervals and weekend rides were for long distances.

And it was the Tues/Thurs rides that I loved the most… because I knew that fellow coffee addict Eddie would be there and we’d share some coffee and chit chat and laughs afterwards… or during the ride. Now, I’ve NEVER been a morning person. Everyone who knows me KNOWS that… and I’m basically a useless zombie without coffee so when I discovered that there was another cyclist that understood my situation… I knew it was true friendship!!! :)

So by August 20, I had already become coffee buddies with Eddie. I hadn’t had a lot of sleep the night before and was a complete zombie. I just honestly was NOT in the mood to be out riding… but I did it. Before every ride, the gang always asks each other what ride we are all doing so that we can partner up and ride in groups. Some of us, depending on training and events, need longer faster rides, some of us need shorter slower rides and some of us just need the fastest point between “A” and coffee. Eddie and I were in that last group.

This is what was posted on August 20th:

 

"Which ride are you doing? The air port? The long ride? Or the short ride?" I respond "I'm riding to Starbucks" click click — at 5AM Wake-Up Ride.

“Which ride are you doing? The air port? The long ride? Or the short ride?” I respond “I’m riding to Starbucks” click click — at 5AM Wake-Up Ride.

That morning I was so out of it that I forgot my ATM card and Eddie actually bought me my coffee.

We took our time and sipped our coffee in bliss and because of that, it ended up being Eddie and I by ourselves riding back. We returned going North on 10th from Starbucks and turning right on Sprague instead of continuing North to 107 and looping to Jackson because we both needed to get back in time to take the kiddos to school. I’ll never forget that conversation we had in the darkness of Sprague Street.

“So what’s the deal with Billy? Is he seeing that friend of yours? Are they dating?” he asked.

“Yes! And it kind of caught me a little off guard, too!” I replied. *We were always playing cupid.

“How so?” he asked.

“Well, because I had been trying to set up Wally with a friend of mine that I was running with, Laura, but she had just reconnected with an ex-boyfriend, and then I tried to set him up with Alex but then out of the blue.. here comes Billy!!” and during my conversation I had lifted up my arms because I tend to talk with my hands and he started laughing hysterically.

“You just lifted your hands from the handle bars!!!!” he exclaimed with pride!!!

“OMG I did!! Wow!”

“Do it again!!!” he egged me on and let go of his handle bars clapping.

I tried unsuccessfully.

“Well I’m glad that Billy is happy. But what about Wally now?” he said.

“I don’t know. My poor mijito. He’s such a good kid.” I replied.

He let out a little giggle and said, “Wally can be an *** sometimes but when he loves, he loves hard. Who ever the next girl is, he’s going to fall hard for her.”

It was at that moment that I realized we shared a trait that extended beyond coffee and beyond bikes. We shared an extremely protective nature of our friends. We were both mother hens and he saw exactly the same thing that I saw with our dear cycling guru, Wally.

Last Thursday, I sat with Eddie at Starbucks after our ride and beamed with pride as I was able to share with him an instagram photo of two bikes together in the park.

“No way!!!!” He screamed and smiled at the same time. “That’s Wally’s bike! Who’s the other?”

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I coyly showed him the bike owners photo… and sat back for his reaction.

“Dude! You need to set the rest of these kids up now!” he said in a tone that contained approval, disbelief and giggles all at the same time.

On Thursday, April 17th, I could not wait for coffee and chit chat with Eddie as the new couple told me they “made it official” and shared with me a photo of themselves together. I had it ready to show Eddie because he was right. Wally really did fall hard for her. I think she’s the one for him.

Eddie Arguelles was my coffee buddy, my long ride comedian, my chisme comadre. I would not have made my training for my century ride without him always by my side. He taught me how to change gears correctly, how to master the starbucks order and how to pucker for selfies. I am overcome with grief. God be with Monette Escaname-Arguelles and their family. Please know that we all loved him so very much.

I attended the arraignment hearing for the two boys that killed Eddie. It was a packed house filled and overflowing into the hallway and parking lot with supporters and fellow cyclists uniting together for a change in our community streets.

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Eddie lost his uncle just a few years ago in the exact same manner… a drunk driver killed his uncle while he was riding his bike. Three people just this month lost their lives on bicycles in Hidalgo County.

The problem that is blatantly in front of all our eyes is that we have a serious driving problem. Distracted driving, texting and driving, drinking and driving, drunk driving, drugged driving… it goes on and on. Our problem is way beyond sharing the road. Our problem is our own self-centered thinking that because of our safe cars that we drive in every day, we think we are invincible and do whatever we please because… well, what we’re doing at that very moment is more important than what ever anyone else is doing… or who anyone else is.

I CAN SAY THIS BECAUSE I AM GUILTY OF FEELING THIS WAY AND TEXTING AND DRIVING OR PUTTING MAKE UP ON WHILE DRIVING OR DRINKING COFFEE AND DRIVING… but I’ve never done drugs and drove and I’ve never had a DUI or DWI… but I’m not like most people. I have had six automobile accidents in my lifetime. Four of them were caused by drunk drivers. None of the accidents were my fault. But I’m not like most people.

As the news of Eddie’s tragic loss flew across all platforms of social media, I was taken aback by G.J. Reyna’s quote:  “There are two types riders, those that have gone down and those that will.” But I’m not like most people. I have not gone down nor do I want or accept that I will be. It is ridiculous that cyclists, or runners (because when I was a single sport athlete, many runners were hit by cars as well), must not only be out of breath because of their tough workouts but they must also accept that at any random time a distracted driver can get away with taking their life. 

On Saturday morning, I admit that I was not able to get back on my bike. I allowed fear to deter me from the joy that cycling gave me that was once shared with Eddie and the cause that I promised my mother I would not break. After Ramon said his traditional riders prayer, I asked the group to do the biggest “selfie” I’ve ever attempted. It was a comical tradition that Eddie had me start. And I was successful.

Eddie always had me do a 5am "selfie". I couldn't break tradition. Especially for him.  This is by far the LARGEST selfie I have ever done!!!

Eddie always had me do a 5am “selfie”. I couldn’t break tradition. Especially for him.
This is by far the LARGEST selfie I have ever done!!!

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I wrapped the arms of a hundred cyclists with bright yellow bands and the newbie TNT cyclists that Eddie looked over each Tuesday and Thursday morning with yellow roses and I rode in the SAG vehicle that followed the group that eventually broke up into various speeds along Jackson Road. The “short loop” was officially renamed “Eddie’s Coffee loop” that day.

I yelled for the first time to my fellow cyclists to make sure that they kept their lines so that crazy distracted speeding drivers wouldn’t take another cyclist friend of mine away from me. I felt guilty for doing that.

The core group of 5am’ers gathered after the ride and reminisced over our good times. And it was during one of these little interviews around the tables at Starbucks that I remembered Eddie sitting at with me. And it was during one of these little interviews around the tables at Starbucks that Mike Padgett said “He died doing what he loved. I hope I die that way, too.”

And THAT was what hit me hardest… the realization that each of these riders around me do something that they love so much that they know each time they mount their bike, it could be the last time. And they do it anyway. They know the risk is sky high and they do it anyway. They know there is little that can be done in the society that we live in today and they do it anyway.

Well, I CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN ANY LONGER! Eddie was just as much a mother hen as I am and I know he’d back me up. But I cannot allow Mike Padgett or any other of my friends or myself to die on a bike without a fight, without a plea for help from my fellow citizens, without begging to please please please make a change.

Put down the cell phone. Don’t drink as much as you do… and if you can’t stop drinking or drugging, call a cab or a friend who is not under the influence and in the morning, please, seek help. 

I beg you, please, learn the laws of our shared roads. Some of those turning lanes that you’ve been using or parking in are actually bike lanes and if your F-350 is blocking a cyclist from using it, you’re forcing them to go into the major traffic lanes and endanger their lives. Please don’t think that your life is more important than theirs. We are all equal.

And the same goes to cyclists. PLEASE follow road rules.

I’m going to end this long rant with the words from fellow 2-wheeled amigos who at this moment seem to have been able to capture the right thoughts with the right words and not place anger and emotion into them.

G.J. Reyna: This is a serious problem. It makes no difference what you ride, 2 Wheels are 2 Wheels! Motorcycles or Bicycles we ALL need to do more! Public Awareness is our only tool to make this happen. We need radio, print, tv and ALL forms of socialmedia. Myssie Cardenas-Barajas is on the right track. Problem is that this will take “everybody” all the time to stay focused and not just one person and not just when we loose and friend or family member. Are YOU really going to wait until it hits home. Keep in mind people, NO ONE is immune to this. Every time you jump on your type of two wheels, make sure your lives are in order because it may be your last ride. In our motorcycle world we have a saying or a creed and it goes “There are two types riders, those that have gone down and those that will.” If you dont believe this then you really have no business riding. These accidents will never ever stop but we can all do our part to make sure these lost lives are not in vain by limiting them through public awareness.

 

Eddie Arguelles

Ileana Garcia-Spitz
April 19, 2014 at 4:12pm

I found a message today by Dan Santella, one of the local Monitor reporters, asking me about Eddie. I saw his request too late but it made me want to sit down and write about Eddie because so many people have only heard a headline or listened or viewed a sound byte. I have known Eddie since I was a freshman in high school. In these 24 years, I have had a few observations.

 

For those that never had the opportunity to meet Eddie Arguelles, the things they should know about this marvelous man:

 

1. Eddie was ridiculous. He made everyone laugh. Often times at his own expense. That was part of his charm. He wanted people to feel good about themselves even it meant being ridiculous. Once he became a father and a step father, this was taken to a whole different level. Whether it meant having his nails painted or getting down on all fours to play with his son, he did it.

2. Eddie was not always an avid sports enthusiast. Matter of fact, for a long while Eddie hated even the suggestion of exercise. PE was definitely not his favorite subject. But when he began riding and became part of the community, the change was astonishing.

3. Eddie collected hobbies unlike anyone I know. AND there was no in between for him. If he was going to do something, he was going to go all in which meant buying all of the necessities and gadgets he could. Surfing, woodworking, biking, computers, cooking, motorcycling…he was all in. And that ridiculous man was good at it all.

4. Eddie was a musician and a writer. Therefore, Eddie loved and lived life with passion. He embraced tragedy and questioned love like only a musician/poet can. He loved music and books in their purest and rawest form: dirty because of the misplaced emotion and rough like the women the music described. Boleros, ballads, heavy metal, his tastes were as eclectic as his hobbies; his reading ranged from Kant to Herman Hesse. It seemed only fitting that he passed the day Gabriel Garcia Marquez died. I imagine them now discussing philosophy, and music over a coffee and a cigar.

5. Eddie was a photographer. He didn’t advertise this as much as he should have but Eddie would take wonderful photos. He had the eye for the unusual and the beautiful. His favorite subject that shadows all of the beautiful images are the images of roadkill that he collected on riding trips.6. Eddie was a philosopher. His love of philosophy was rooted in music because with music he was able to meet and talk to people in a laid back manner, a perfect setting for a philosopher. We had many late night conversations about the existence of God and man’s search for meaning. He read Nietzsche (for awhile there he was a bit too obsessed with him) and Kant and could argue like the greats. His uncle Juan fed his lust for knowledge and understanding but Eddie never let one person be the source for him. Everyone gave Eddie insight. That was why so many people were drawn to him. He listened and engaged.

7. Eddie should have been a professor though the piece of paper really would not have made a difference. Eddie was already a teacher and a professor. He helped everyone he came in contact with. There are generations of people, young and old who can easily tell you about the great lecturer that Eddie had become. That is why there are so many people who light up when you ask them to talk about Eddie Arguelles.

8. Eddie was the greatest cheerleader you could ever ask for in a friend. Eddie was the type of guy who would ride along side you and make sure you could make the next mile then ride ahead just so he could be there for you at the finish line. He wanted everyone to succeed even if he couldn’t. This applies not only to sports but education and community as well.

9. Eddie’s loyalty was legendary. If you messed with anyone Eddie loved, you messed with him. And he took his friendships seriously. There is nothing Eddie would not do for a friend. He loved like only a strong man can. He cared for his friends to the point of being so angry at their self destruction that he would cut them off hoping they would realize their faults. It worked most of the time because to disappoint Eddie was like making your superhero cry. The thought itself demanded reform. And that is how Eddie saved so many from the dark side.

10. Eddie was not perfect. His was a journey to become the man everyone is now talking about. For years he didn’t see how important he was and, honestly, there were a lot of people who didn’t see it either. He used his hobbies as ways to develop himself. With surfing, he developed his love of nature, with woodworking he developed patience and attention to detail, computers taught him to be analytic, music put him in touch with his roots and allowed him to see love even in the sadness of breakups and death, music also made him a romantic and gave him the confidence to sing in front of a crowd, philosophy honed his intellect and developed his thirst for knowledge, motorcycles fed his lust for living on the edge then, when he took to cruising, he learned art of zen; bicycling gave Eddie more than a philosophy, it gave Eddie desire, it fed his competitive spirit, it gave him a community and a family, and finally, it taught him that with his mind he could surpass his pain and finish the distance.

 

But when he met Monette and gained a Skylar as his step daughter then when they had his son, his life became complete. He always wanted to be the type of father who would always be there for his kids, who would love them so completely that they would never want for anything. And he wanted to love someone with all of his soul, someone who was his intellectual and spiritual equal not his arm candy or someone he felt obligated to be with. Eddie was the father and the husband that he wanted to be and he did both more passionately and perfectly than even he could imagine.

"Which ride are you doing? The air port? The long ride? Or the short ride?" I respond "I'm riding to Starbucks" click click — at 5AM Wake-Up Ride.

“Which ride are you doing? The air port? The long ride? Or the short ride?” I respond “I’m riding to Starbucks” click click — at 5AM Wake-Up Ride.

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And here are the media updates:

http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/charged-after-edinburg-cyclist-killed-in-apparent-drunken-wreck/article_1a4ded6c-c75a-11e3-ade1-001a4bcf6878.html

http://www.krgv.com/news/suspects-await-charges-in-cyclist-s-death

http://www.krgv.com/news/friends-and-family-remember-cyclist-who-was-killed/

http://www.krgv.com/videos/funeral-held-for-bicyclist-struck-in-hit-and-run/

(Texas Monthly used my instagram photo for this!) http://www.texasmonthly.com/daily-post/horrific-cycling-hit-and-run-valley#.U1bHxjAJHLs.facebook

 

 

 

Eddie Arguelles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

There is a serious WRONG in our community. It will either become more acceptable from us and get worse OR our community will rise up and do something about it and minimize it. It’s one or the other. By staying silent and oblivious to the issue makes you part of the problem. Ignorance is no excuse. Our community’s driving behaviors MUST change. Eddie was the biggest cycling safety advocate I knew. But all of his skills and experience was no match for an intoxicated driver. In fact… None of us are a match for an intoxicated driver. Especially if that intoxicated driver is willing to hide the life he took.

Yesterday, I awoke at about 2:30a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I figured I would go a little early to my Thursday morning ride with the 5am Wake Up Riders. I live in McAllen and because I usually have to take the boys to school in the mornings, I take my car with my bike on the rack to the Starbucks in Edinburg (one town away) so that I can return from the ride in time for getting the boys dressed, fed and to school. Lots of the other members ride their bikes to the launch site either because they love to ride and any excuse is good enough, we all live so close by, it’s an easy commute or its a great way to add some more mileage to the morning route.

I arrived at Starbucks at about 4:10 and stayed in the parking lot until the rest of the riders came in.  But I had this ugly feeling. I got out of my car and saw a police car zoom by and went South on Jackson… a couple minutes later.. two more come from another area and go South on 10th… that’s when I knew something awful had happened. But I didn’t know what it was… yet.

The group gathered up right at 5:00 a.m. It was a good sized group, enough for three different groups of speeds and distances. Ramon led us in our safety and grateful prayer and the only thing I remember of it was when he said to keep Eddie Arguelles in our prayers as he was in an accident that morning but didn’t have details.

My head popped up. I knew then something awful had happened to my friend.

Ramon, the fearless leader of the 5am’ers is the type that is super calm, poised and held together in any type of stressful situation so even though he was unusually quiet… he led us all on the ride. But still something told me that he was just as worried as I was.

As usual… I took my place at the back of the pack to check out who was the last rider and who would need that extra help along the way… but something was still telling me that something wasn’t right. At the first light along the course, I had to do anything I could to speed us up and find out what happened to Eddie.

click click

I jumped up to the lead of the group and pulled so that I could increase the pace and speed us up. That worked for a little while but Mel sprinted up to me and told me to slow down the pace because a rider in the back couldn’t keep up. I understood and slowed down the pace… but I was aching so badly to just get back quick.

Once we got to 10th street, most of the gang understands that I do my sprint intervals so I took that opportunity and went as fast as I could. I felt Ronnie behind me so I slowed down a bit to make it seem like this was normal practice and I really wasn’t freaking out… but I was.

When everyone saw that I was sprinting, everyone else followed. We got back to Starbucks pretty fast and gathered around the outside tables and that’s when I saw it…

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Eddie P had posted the above picture with this caption: Eddie Arguelles was hit by a car. Not good cant find him. Pd is out looking for eddie a

What??? What did he mean “can’t find him”???? If he was hit, and his bike was there, why wasn’t he there?

Deep down, I knew what had happened… but I couldn’t think that. Nahhhh. That couldn’t happen.

“Maybe he got hit and is disoriented and walking around.”

“Maybe the person who hit him took him to the hospital.”

“Call the hospitals. Lets find out where he’s at.”

“Call the police departments.”

I called my news media friends to see if anything had come over the wire. Everyone was on alert. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E

I left my cyclists friends that morning with a feeling that was eerily dark. Something very very evil had just happened.

I cannot recount here what happened to Eddie. It is much too disgusting for my heart to bear. I will post links to what the media is announcing though.

Here are a few:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/KRGV_Shelley”>@KRGV_Shelley</a&gt;: Edinburg PD investigating fatal hit-and-run w/bicyclist. 2 in custody, caught dumping body. <a href=”http://t.co/8NWn3qvUut”>pic.twitter.com/8NWn3qvUut</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RGV&amp;src=hash”>#RGV</a></p>&mdash; KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS (@krgv) <a href=”https://twitter.com/krgv/statuses/456784399799812099″>April 17, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

http://www.krgv.com/news/edinburg-police-investigating-hit-and-run

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/KRGV_Shelley”>@KRGV_Shelley</a&gt;: <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Edinburg&amp;src=hash”>#Edinburg</a&gt; PD ID victim of fatal hit &amp; run as 38-year-old <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23cyclist&amp;src=hash”>#cyclist</a&gt; Eduardo Aguelles. <a href=”http://t.co/VCSZcsCcvW”>pic.twitter.com/VCSZcsCcvW</a></p>&mdash; KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS (@krgv) <a href=”https://twitter.com/krgv/statuses/456791174020624384″>April 17, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/krgv_erica”>@krgv_erica</a&gt;: Nelson Cantu (in black) &amp; Emilio Gomez (in blue) are charged in the death of the cyclist, Eddie… <a href=”http://t.co/kk2fKOwZsb”>http://t.co/kk2fKOwZsb</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RGV&amp;src=hash”>#RGV</a></p>&mdash; KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS (@krgv) <a href=”https://twitter.com/krgv/statuses/457246039586910208″>April 18, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Two charged in connection with death of <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Edinburg&amp;src=hash”>#Edinburg</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23cyclist&amp;src=hash”>#cyclist</a&gt;, allegedly went to eat after accident <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RGV&amp;src=hash”>#RGV</a&gt; Link: <a href=”http://t.co/EsG7hJvUGr”>http://t.co/EsG7hJvUGr</a></p>&mdash; KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS (@krgv) <a href=”https://twitter.com/krgv/statuses/457246423130865664″>April 18, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

EDITORIAL: Valley cyclists fatally hit – The Monitor: News.

http://m.themonitor.com/news/local/friends-lament-hit-and-run-that-killed-rd-bicyclist-in/article_72721dd6-c635-11e3-99e6-0017a43b2370.html?mode=jqm

What I WILL do is promise to keep posting the media coverage for my online cycling and triathlon community to witness, swallow and light that fire that DOES SOMETHING ABOUT THIS OUTRAGEOUS SENSELESS COLD ACT.

What I WILL do is tell the story of how Eddie helped me train for the second point of my triple crown without ever riding a road bike before in my life. I will also tell how Eddie helped my hometown create box corners for cyclists and safer designated bike routes all over town and the county. I will also SHOW how Eddie was a great friend and how we always had coffee together after every ride and sometimes even during a ride. I will also tell how Eddie was one of the most experienced cyclists in South Texas, how he was one of the biggest safety advocates in the region regarding cycling, how he loved to bar-b-que, was a hilarious comedian, a brilliant IT nerd, and best of all… a great family man of high morals and ethic.

But that’ll be on my next post. I am way too emotional for that at this moment.

A fellow cyclist, Pete Davila (who gave me permission to repost), posted the following:

Can’t stop thinking about our fellow cyclist who passed away yesterday. Can’t stop thinking of him. your on my constant thoughts. 

I am a cyclist. I get on my bike and go for short rides and long rides out of the Valley and back solo unsupported.. 
” I love distance cycling”.. I do it because it is what I do for exercise, recreation and meditation. like the freedom. I like the rythym. I love everything about it. It’s my Passion… and I’m not the only one who feels the same as I do.. We enjoy everything about it except one thing:
Reckless Motorists.

So ?? what is it about a guy, or gal, on their bike that causes so much aggravation to people who drive cars? Is it because we look different? I wear a helmet. I don’t have a couple of thousand pounds of a metal shell protecting me. I wear tight shorts with padding in the seat. Why? Because it make the activity more comfortable and it’s hard enough to fight through the wind without baggy shorts flapping around. I wear gloves. Ever taken a fall at 20 miles an hour? The first thing that happens is you put your hand out to cushion the impact. Know how long it takes for road rash to heal on the palm of your hand? A long time. And it hurts. I wear sunglasses just like you. You wear them to keep the sun out of your eyes and to look cool. I wear them to keep the sun out of my eyes, to look cool and to keep debris out of my eyes.

The problem is, if I’m not perfect I pay for it with my life. If you aren’t perfect, I pay for it with my life. It doesn’t matter if you are right or I am wrong, or I am right and you are wrong, when it comes to sharing the road, the cyclist always, always, always loses. Always.

And for those drivers who drive by at a reasonable speed and distance, who give a little wave and maybe a little knowing smile: It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

“THANK YOU,” Believe me, we see and notice everything!!..

 

Super Hero

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

I was going back over my memory of CapTexTri from last year and then googled it to see what others had recorded from it just to make sure that I hadn’t missed something that others experienced. I found a news site that had a gallery of photos in a slide show that was pretty much in chronological order from start to finish.

http://www.kvue.com/news/slideshows/Photos-Capital-of-Texas-Triathlon-209357521.html?gallery=y&c=y#/news/slideshows/Photos-Capital-of-Texas-Triathlon-209357521.html?gallery=y&c=y&img=121&c=y

Seriously cool how I burst out into laughter as I saw myself on there!!! I had no clue I was in that slideshow. And it was perfect too because I had just talked to the TEAM about how important it was to me to always be caught smiling no matter how bad my body was hurting because my Momma never showed pain or fear to the world during her treatments – although I’m sure she was plenty scared and in more pain than I could ever imagine.

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This hasn’t been an easy road. Certainly not filled with rainbows and butterflies!!! Each day brings me face to face with people who scoff at my actions and even more who get a sick thrill to stab my back… but all of this has made me stronger. I may not be where I want to be but I’m much further away from where I hated to be.

I pray that this journey will lead me to where it is that I SHOULD be and I have faith that it will. What I do know from experience is that no success that has value was ever earned without sacrifice and hardship.

I shared with you this last weekend’s “hero” reference and what it meant to me. I remember naively saying to myself that nothing could top that… oh boy, was I wrong.

On Monday, shortly after I picked up my little boy from school, we went immediately to Barnes and Noble bookstore to get a book so that he could work on his project. While walking the aisles of the store, he pointed to a journal.

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“Look Mom!” he said.

“Wow! That’s cool! Who do you want to get this for?” I asked.

He looked at me with a puzzled face, “You! You’re Wonder Woman.”

God, please, forgive me. I know lately many times I’ve questioned why I am on this crazy journey and have questioned to what extent it is benefitting me and my family or to anyone for that matter… and why some of those who I care most about in this world have tried desperately to dissuade me from this path…

Thank you. Thank you, God.  Because at that moment in that store holding my hand, he looked at me the exact same way I looked at my Momma.

While I hardly feel like I am a Super Hero, I do feel that if anyone does feel this way about me, it is certainly just as I stated in my farewell speech as Miss Edinburg over twenty years ago, “I was chosen Miss Edinburg not because I was me but because of how my Mother taught me to be. I am a reflection of her. This crown belongs to her.”

She is the real Super Hero. If you feel that I am a hero or hear someone call me one, it is because you can see her in my eyes, in my heart and in my soul. And this is how I know she will always live in me.

Lynda is Dezma's mother.

Lynda is Dezma’s mother.

 

 

 

My good days

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

“I don’t want them to pity me.” Sissy

She didn’t want people to pity her because of all she had been going through. She wanted to give them HOPE. And she’s probably going to be really upset that I’m including this in my blog for every Joe Blow in the whole wide world to read… but what very few people knew was that even after agreeing to go through experimental chemo cocktails with no success, shortly before she passed away, Sissy donated her body to science with hope that she would somehow still be able to help the world find a cure for cancer.

Somewhere out here in our world, right this very minute, there is a scientist out here closer to a cure because his or her medical journal has the results of a test that told the world that her body responded either negatively or positively to and gave that staff more insight because of her selfless choice. To me, that’s a real hero. Somewhere out here in this world, there’s a little bit of Sissy that still looks out for us.

Somewhere out here in our world, there are two precious boys (Nico and Sammy)who are likely going through those awkward growing up phases that boys go through – the time that I remember Donny the most (his awkward stage).  Donny loved those two boys so much, more than anything in the world! Life just dealt Donny too much at one time and he had a bad habit of locking up all his worries inside his head and he never coped with those pressures in a healthy way. With Momma and Sissy at MD Anderson with cancer, losing his pharmaceutical sales job, going through a divorce and dealing with debt growing at an exponential rate because of excessive shopping habits and worst of all… the emotional stress that all this did to him, I’m very happy that he prepared to take care of his boys after his death. To me, with all that he had to endure and still come out with his legacies taken care of, that’s a real hero.

And here… right here, I am challenged to push my body and mind to exceed limits I never knew existed. I am constantly questioning myself with “Is this how Momma would have done this?” It is now my responsibility to make sure I live out the rest of my life the way Momma taught me to. I hear her voice echo in my head over and over “el flojo trabaja doble”, “the early bird gets the worm” and “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. You see, when I was young, I was quiet and shy and very insecure with just a handful of close friends. I was a quirky introvert… just like my dad. But I wanted soooo much to be more like my Momma. She was awesome! She was cool! She was beautiful! She was talented! She was smart! She was popular! She could do anything! Anything!!!

She loved her family. She worked hard. She played harder. And she was involved in EVERYTHING that was cool in this little community! Ok, let me correct that… she MADE everything that she was involved in super cool!!! Because of this, everyone wanted to be around her because she was just so much fun to be around so all the events and organizations she volunteered for were always successful.

So this week as Daddy and I remembered Momma and Donny and Sissy, I was predictably given more signs… and of course… I had to follow. From the flower arrangements I placed at their gravesites, to the Beatles songs that played randomly on the radio, to the movies that popped up on TV, to my two little lovebirds that made it “official” this week, to the contracts that fell through (likely Sissy’s doings since she hated gossip and drama and knew that it would probably blow up in my face later on with them), to the return of peace and love and happiness back into what remains of our little family, to being asked by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to lobby for cancer research funding and easier access to affordable treatment for cancer patients in Washington DC in a few weeks, to the odd number of elephant sightings in just one week (Momma collected elephants)… I knew Momma was here… right here by my side still pushing me and triggering that voice in my head guiding every move I made.

It was right after our TEAM’s open water swim practice, after I successfully did the group’s Mission Moment without crying (even talking about the anniversary of Momma’s and Donny’s death), when Sarah’s mom, Anita, posted countless photos and videos of the ABSOLUTELY STUNNING LAKE and our group doing a phenomenal job at swimming from dock to dock and then called us all “Super heroes”. To her, I am a hero.

Do you have any idea how special that is? To have a little girl who is fighting cancer call you a hero?!?!?!

I don’t have words for this feeling.

If you knew Sarah and Anita… If you were lucky enough to get one of Sarah’s hugs… and she called you a hero… You’d be speechless, too.

I had refrained from posting a lot this week because I didn’t want my blog to have an air of sadness or instigate pity as a result of Momma and Donny’s anniversaries. But the joke’s on me…

These were all pretty good days.

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Two years without Mimi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

It was two years ago today, right this very moment, that I crawled into bed with my Momma, held her hand, smoothed her hair back and whispered into her ear that it was ok to let go of us and stop the pain she was in. I remember hearing what the hospice nurses called the “death rattle”. I was the only one in the room with her in the end.

A few nights before, she had become quite antsy and restless. It was difficult for her to walk but she was adamant about going from her bed to the living room to watch TV on the couch. I lifted her up and walked her over, carefully holding her under her shoulders just incase she fell along the way. It was about 3:00 a.m. This would be the last time that she would have a conversation with me.

“I’m so sorry you have to see me go through this,” she said.

After I gathered my will and a bit of silence passed, I responded “I’m so glad it’s me you allowed to see you go through this.” I laid my head down on her frail bony shoulder as we sat on the couch together and she held me in her arms for the last time that night.

April 8, 2012, Easter Sunday, two years ago today… If you believe in the biblical story of Jesus Christ and know about the time when he began his journey of suffering, of crucifixion and death…it matches exactly the same time frame that Momma followed that day. I truly believe in the deepest part of my heart that she chose that day and that time to join her Lord and Mother Mary for that reason. I wish with all my might I could have faith and strength like hers.

I held her hand as she took her last breath.

No other honor in my life time can ever surpass that honor. I now live my life trying to smile like her no matter how hard it gets. I now live my life reflecting all that she taught me no matter what anyone else tells me. I now live my life like hers so that my children can feel the love that I felt for her.

I love you Momma.

The miles I run for you will always be Mimi’s Miles. Cancer picked the wrong woman.

 

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Play by play of BISD’s Everyone Can TRI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

You don’t just wake up one morning and tell yourself… “ehhhh I think I’m going to do a triathlon today.” You are either inspired to do one by watching the phenomenal results of someone you admire, are injured from another sport and through cross-training have decided to do one, are coerced, double dog dared or bullied into doing one, used to be an athlete at one time and have challenged yourself into becoming that person again, never have been an athlete and are now working on your bucket list, thought that this would be an interesting way to lose weight and get in shape or realized that this is connected to a cause that you are personally passionate about.

Clearly I have chosen the latter and least used… well, up until now.

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Yesterday, 15 members and even our coach of the Team in Training RGV TriTeam competed in the BISD’s Everyone Can Tri as a practice event to better ready us for the Capital of Texas Triathlon the last weekend in May. This would be my 5th triathlon in 13 months but for my teammates, it would for many of them be their first or second.

We all showed up early and set up our transition areas as close to each other as possible. A few of the girls had asked me to french braid their long hair like mine so that we can go from event to event without having to worry about ponytails whipping around or buns falling. Lucky for me and my cupid nature, I had fixed up my bike guru with my fellow Nike Women’s marathoner and CAP5k founder and convinced one to enter so the other followed. While I was inside the aquatic center french braiding her hair, he examined my bike and found that it had a flat back tire!!! Honestly, I don’t know how that could have happened. It was fine in the morning in the garage when I loaded it onto my car. It was fine when I arrived in Brownsville when I unloaded it from the car and into transition area. Again, lucky for me he was there because I would have never known and DNF’d at the first transition! Superstar triathlete Casey donated his tire tube to “Mimi’s” rescue. Together, those two boys were like my own personal NASCAR pit crew!!!

Lesson learned: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GEAR and bring extra of everything and keep it in your car nearby. And make sure you pick your transition area near the nice experienced triathletes incase something like this happens again.

* Transition area – hang bike on rack, lay transition mat or towel under wheel of tire, place bike helmet with sunglasses nearest you with clips nearby (or already attached to bike), place running shoes behind them and on top of race belt with bib attached to it so that it doesn’t blow away in the wind. All other necessities should be in your transition bag placed furthest away from you on the mat just in case.

Knowing that each event for me is done to keep a promise to my mom, I become quite emotional at the start. So, I went for my private time and sat along the resaca’s edge to pray, remember and talk to Momma, Sissy and Donny. This week is afterall Momma’s and Donny’s death anniversary so it meant a lot to me. After I wiped away the tears, I rejoined the TNT group and found Jeanice. We gathered around in a circle as she led us in prayer and finished with an “Amen” and a loud “Go Team!”

After a few silly “before” team pictures, we all ventured into the aquatic center. We were sorted by sex, age group and swim pace and sat in the bleachers until it was our turn to enter the water. When my number was called out, I got really nervous. I was the ONLY female in that group.

“There must be something wrong. I’m the only girl here,” I said aloud unintentionally. The man by me looked me over in agreement and asked me “Do you swim every day?” I could tell what he meant by that and my inner voice (ya, you remember her) came out “No, not every day” and began to do my stretching exercises by the pools edge. But then Karen walked up and filled the space right before me… and that’s when it hit me… oh ya… something is definitely wrong if they’ve place my swim just under Karen “Ironman” Watt!!!! She nonchalantly giggled over her shoulder to me, “Sorry, I had to go to the ladies room.”

I am officially freaking out now. I am NOT this fast!!! I am placed in the wrong line up. I just know it! Please God! Please don’t let me look like a fool and hinder others from doing their best!!!

I tell the next person behind me “I think I’ve been placed in the wrong pace bracket so if you need to pass me, just tap my feet and I’ll move over so you don’t have to waste energy. I’ll let you pass.”

They must have thought I was the biggest goober ever!!!!

So there I was, heart racing a million miles a minute and jumping into the first lane with Karen right next to me. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!?

“Don’t you dare chicken out Myssie!” sarcastic inner voice is back and after me big time! “You’ve done this before a gazillion times in practice!”

“Ready and go!” the timer exclaims with her stop watch.

Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!… and I swim and swim and swim…breathe… swim swim swim breathe… touch the edge… dunk under the lane line… WOW! That’s deep!… come up.. deep breath… sight myself… swim swim swim breathe… pass one guy… oh he’s struggling bad… poor fella… swim swim swim breathe… swim swim.. pass another.. sight. WHOA! this is shallow! Can I touch the bottom of the pool??? Focus you dingbat!!! Touch the edge of the pool and go under the lane line again, deep breath and swim… I end up passing about five swimmers total and passed only once. Yes!!!!! That’s what I’m talking about!!!!

I exit the pool up the ladder and know there is no way I’m looking like Pheobe Cates!!! I whip off my swim cap and favorite orange goggles, feeling confident and run to transition. I hear Vero yell out “GO MYSSIE GO!!!” and I know I’ve got a huge smile on my face. Just behind me is Wally, my bike guru. How did he do that??? He was like three swim groups after me!!! Phenomenal! I slam my helmet on my head with my sunglasses and slip my clips onto my still wet feet. I try my best to get out of transition as fast as possible and I’m right behind Wally. He mounts his bike at the line with ease and grace… I on the other hand have to stop, get my balance, carefully lift my leg… whoa.. whoooaaaa… ok, got it… and place it on the pedal, clip in and now go… ya, Wallito is long gone now. I yell out to my bike “Come on Momma, lets go!!!” and mash it hard. I barely see Wally on the horizon. BUT I can see him and so long as I can keep him in view that means I’m making really good time! So I give it all I got!!!

It feels great to be able to pass up cyclists now! My confidence in myself and my training is growing and is certainly reflected on my time. I don’t even want to lift up my hand to check what Garmin is recording. I mash it harder and harder. The course is a simple circle with all right hand turns so there’s little interaction with traffic however there still ARE a few idiot drivers that take the bike lane and use it as a right hand turning lane. I catch my breath as I see a car almost clip the cyclist before me. Thank goodness nothing happened!!! Wait… where’s Wally???? I don’t see him anymo….

Slumped over on the side of the road with his head bowing in defeat, I see him and his bike laying next to him. “What happened?” I yell out.

“I got a flat,” he responds.

Poor guy… he fixed my flat and then got one himself. I have the feeling someone gave me “ojo” and then went to him for fixing it. My pace goes down. But don’t worry… sarcastic inner voice takes good care of that and my pace comes right back up again. I pass a few more cyclists but one stood out. “Careful! I’m on your right!” I scream out to her. As I pass, she says “That’s a really cool bike you have! I love the orange! My husband’s bomb truck is that same color of orange.”

“Thank you!” I reply as best I can without sounding out of breath. “I race in orange in memory of my mother. It was her favorite color.” The look on her face was identical in respect as mine was when she told me of her husband’s truck.

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This. Is. Awesome.

The bike is my favorite part of the triathlon. There is something so exhilarating about it. The wind, the speed, the control, the freeness of it all… becoming one with a machine that cannot run without you being the engine that runs it… and I am finally comfortably speedy in it. I’m not as fast as I hope to be but I’m getting there and pushing myself more and more each chance I get.

And it’s over way too soon! Off I go and dismount at the line. I’m off to T2 now and I hear the cheers galore!!! The crowd calls my name out and without looking at anyone I hear Wally’s voice scream out “Go Myssie!!!” Seriously??? Again??? How does he do that? He shows up ahead of me at every single part of this race as if he’s been there for hours already and I never once see him pass me!!! He had a freakin flat!!! He must have a space/time continuum transfunctioner in his pocket!!

My feet are still wet and my tri suit is still dripping from the swim but because of time, I choose to slosh my wet feet once again into my Sauconys without socks knowing full well that I will get blisters by the time I enter mile three of the run. I carefully and slowly exit T2 to begin my run with brick legs. I remembered Stanley’s Tri just a month ago and how my legs just wouldn’t move so I was careful to get my bearing straight and do this one right.

Ok, ok… my legs are doing ok. My thighs are hurting a bit but not to the point where they’d stop me because of too much pain. I convince myself that I can push through this. And I do… but something happens in the first tunnel… it’s dark… I can’t see. Where am I going? Am I going to step in a hole and twist my ankle? Am I going to fall? Am I going to run into someone? Is someone going to run into me? Oh look! LIGHT!!! Whew! I’m through the tunnel now! And just as I exit the tunnel I see Ben as he yells out to me “Go Myssie!” and then tries desperately to yell out to Penny who is right behind me “Go Pe…. ” but that’s all the comes out of his mouth. Laura is just behind Ben and I hear her yell out a cheer to me as well. Unfortunately, I’m not as composed as they are and cannot return the cheer…

I. am. out. of. breath…. gotta stop. stop now.

seriously myss… just stop. walk. please. walk..

Now, in hindsight… as I type this out.. I can honestly tell myself that I was not in pain. My body could have continued to run. It was not hurt. I was simply out of energy. I lost my WILL. I lost my ganas in that tunnel. I stopped. I gave up.

Penny passed me. Cat passed me. I gave up on myself and I had no good reason to do so.

I could feel the blisters forming on both my feet but even then, the pain of the blisters weren’t enough to stop me. It was me… my core self that stopped me. I allowed my negative self to defeat all my hard work.

I knew Karen was ahead of me because she’s super fast and was ahead of me in line up. I knew Laura had passed me in the swim and was the only one that had passed me. No one in my age group passed me on the bike. I was in third place up to this point and I gave up. How could I do this to myself?

This is what I need to conquer quickly before CapTex. I need to find out why I let myself down and never allow that to happen again.

It was at the water stop that I gathered my senses again but by then it was too late. I grabbed two paper cups. I drank one and poured the other over me. BOOM! There! That’s what I needed. A wake up call!!!

In the anger of my self defeat, my feet challenged my head and heart and took matters into their own toes.  They led the way and never stopped after that moment. Once I passed under the bridge and heard the crowd, my feet would NOT allow me to stop no matter what. In fact, they went faster and faster and faster. I turned the last corner and hear Vero yell out one last time “Go Myssie Go!!!” and soon after that the crowd ensued with deafening cheers. You have nooooo idea how much I needed this and it pumped me up just the way I needed it. I finished but knew I had let myself and my training down.

Coach W came over and put her arms around me and asked “How’d you do?”

“I did well. I felt strong in my swim and in my bike but I’m disappointed in my run.” Without any elaboration, the look on her face showed me she understood. My face has a way of showing all my emotion behind it in every wrinkle. She must have known I was beating myself up about it already and she wasn’t going to add fuel to the fire. She gave me a hug.

It was right about then that Alex, my triathlon buddy all this last year had come over to me with the most enormous glow of pride on her face. She reflected on how just a year ago she and I had finished OUR first triathlon (Stanley’s Tri) and this entire group around us that had been cheering us on then had today successfully finished their first triathlon. The both of us stood there with huge smiles on our faces and so proud of the newbie triathletes we inspired.

Some didn’t know how to swim. Some hadn’t ever ridden a bike. But NOTHING stopped them. Not even their fear. 10 weeks later… they are now TRIATHLETES!!!

And then I stood there as the awards were handed out and I knew I missed out on the closest opportunity I had to finally podium… and looked at my teammates of new triathletes and it hit me… courage. They all had courage.

Somewhere along the way… I lost my courage. I must find it.

Tuesday is Momma’s death anniversary. Friday is Donny’s. If any time was the right time to find courage to continue… it’s now and for them.

I was asked a good question yesterday.

“Do you want to do this for cancer and just finish or do you want to do better?”

My response is: Why should it be one or the other? Why can’t I aspire to do both? Do this for cancer AND do better!!!

 

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Everyone Can Tri

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2014 by Myssie Cardenas-Barajas

I don’t really have a lot of time to summarize the event from today (I’ll do that tomorrow) but I do feel compelled to share the most memorable moment of today with you…

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, Alex – my roommate from the Herothon in San Antonio that I coerced into joining the Just Tri It program with me in just one weekend last year, leaned over and quietly whispered into my ear:

“When we did our first Tri last year, all these people were cheering for us and now they did their first Tri!!!”

Two crazy girls on a whim inspired 18 more to do a triathlon with them. Whodathought?!?!?! Anything can happen. And anyone can do it. Well, that is if you have these awesomely crazy positive people around you to push your limits!!!!

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