Shelby Madden

Exploring my limits with a bike and big (potentially dumb) ideas!


Doesn't it look like that's what I'm saying?! Never in a million years would I think to make that picture public but it's irresistible. Wait, here's another one:

DRRRRR! My sister would have a field day with these pictures and my mom would be horrified I even posted them which is why she will hopefully never discover this blog. I won't hear the end of it. I once told her I was going to audition for Big Brother and I thought she was going to have a heart attack. Two years later, she was still making me promise I wouldn't do it. She fears what I will say, or worse, do, in that type of forum; I have no idea where this comes from.

Those pictures are from my first sprint distance triathlon. God bless Phaedra for capturing it on film as I've gotten a lot of mileage out of those shots. Clearly I was stoked and in full geek form. But to understand what it meant personally, I have to go back nine months before the picture was taken to the very first time I saw this guy:

Rudy Tolsen Garcia

He's cool. Well, truthfully, I don't actually know him personally but he inspired me and for that I offered to buy him a shot of tequila when he turned 21. Which I believe has happened so I'm sure I'll have to pony up one of these days.

In 2006, Rudy was competing in an Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in Florida. I had flown out to see Phaedra do this race and I had no idea how life changing it would be for me. At the time, I was physically "a lot messed up" and was in a cycle of inactivity because of it. A year or so prior to this event, I had been told I needed a hip replacement. bad. like yesterday. For those that don't know, I was born with a bone malformation called spondylometaphyseal dysplasia or SMD-K. (It affects 1 in a million births. I'd let you take me to Vegas if I didn't hate the place so much!) This genetic condition has caused me many issues over the years but never once did it stop me from participating in sporty stuff; it only benches me every now and then.

So anyway, to be honest, at that time I was liking the idea of a hip replacement. I thought, not only would I be able to snowboard and play again but I even thought I might cash in and upgrade to a narrower pair of hips while I was at it. I'm serious, I actually inquired about it. The doctor just sighed one of those sighs that said, "I can't believe you're a teacher," and pulled out a poster to "educate" me. The crummy part was, after going to several more surgeons, it was clear that I was definitely not getting narrower, "fast-play," hips. Instead, I was given some tough to swallow advice from a very well respected guy who plays with sharp toys.

I was informed I should not let anyone operate on me until I was unable to walk on my own because my bone structure was so unusual, the body balance I was fortunate enough to strike, was a fragile one. In his opinion, there was a strong enough possibility the surgery would leave me impaired in my ability to walk or possibly unable to walk at all; there simply aren't any surgeons experienced enough with my condition to have any expertise in operating on me. He wanted me to be in a position where the inability to walk after surgery was no worse than what I was already experiencing. I remember feeling like I had the wind knocked out of me. No new snowboarding legs for this little and to be honest, I was a little more than scared. So I was benched and I thought it was just going to be that way forever.

That was until I saw Rudy coming up the beach once upon a race in Florida and I swear the clouds parted in my mind. I realized I'm just not meant to be a spectator entirely and like Rudy, I was going to figure out a way to get this little body in the game; even if I had to settle for the triathlon version of T-ball the rest of my life, I was going to play. Initially, I turned to these girls:
...and this guy for help

I had, oh, an obstacle or two in front of me. I knew I had to be very careful about not doing too much because I didn't want to end up toting the crutches again and I was also a complete freaker outer when it came to swimming. I used to call my dad and Phaedra for a pep talk while I sat outside the Y every night, too scared to go in. THEN, I would call them elated that I had managed to swim 200 meters! ( 40 minutes, not kidding. That example was a breakthrough moment.) I had a looong way to go but in about 9 months time, at the end of that first race, I looked like this:

Just super stoked that I got to play again.
I'm still playing and not a day goes by where I don't feel the affects SMD has on my body but I also know, with a little bit of patience and hard work, I've managed to get this train back on the tracks for a little more "I think I can" time. Woohoo!

Since Haley and P nailed me down and committed me to that first race, I've done many more sprint distance triathlons and have been drawn to cycling as a result. It gives me an adreneline rush I haven't felt since my days of skydiving in college and I think it's helping me stay bipedal. With the help of CAF, the Triathlon Club of San Diego and Bill Holland, I have a whip made just for me and it's going to help me get down the coast next year.

Through all of this, I feel like I've had a small army of people encouraging me. I've met some incredible athletes, many of whom have had their own physical issues to overcome over the years or even more recently. This weekend, these world-class challenged athletes and many other professional and able bodied athletes will be competing in the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in La Jolla. I sincerely hope some of you can make it out to support this awesome cause by cheering these athletes on and maybe, ya never know, you may even find your own inspiration. No matter what, I can guarantee you'll leave smiling (hopefully not from gas pains-stay away from any fair food vendors...just sayin'...)

K, that's all. I feel like this little one here after all that:

Hear the resemblance?! Thanks for reading. OR skimming. Or jumping in...then out!

I Hope My Parents Don't Find This

Oh man, so here I go, I'm committing myself to a huge challenge but not without a lot of thought put into it and time ahead for preparation. In October of 2010, I'm going to participate in the Qualcomm Million Dollar Challenge to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

For the last couple of months, I've had the privilege of mooching off training rides for the 2009 QMDC participants. I've met some great people with quick wits and a love of riding that have inspired me to give this goal a go. (For the record, I think anyone who gets my humor must have a quick wit as the alternative would be far too humbling.)

This "challenge" involves a 7 day bike ride covering about 620 miles from San Francisco to San Diego. The course will involve some long days of back to back centuries and anywhere from 56-89 miles of riding on every other day. The furthest I've ever ridden is 85 miles and I felt every bit of it after 50! I'm secretly hoping for a strong tailwind. In addition to attempting to cover these miles, I will also be raising $10,000 to benefit CAF. Short of working El Cajon Blvd. after hours, I'll need some help with the creativity on how to make that happen. I'm hoping this won't be as challenging as the ride itself!

I know for many of my friends this ride would be a walk in the park but I have to admit, I'm scared. I don’t know if my body can handle this distance but I’m hoping a year of training will get me there. I’ve overcome a lot of physical issues over the years and know I will need to be smart about how I approach this so I don't completely destroy myself in the process; it's not my intention to make this the ride that ends all my riding. Misquoting the Beastie Boys, "Slow and low will be my tempo!"

So there, I've said it. I'm doing it. I can't resist the challenge; I tried to resist but my will is greater than common sense and I would truly rather try and fail than let this opportunity to do something challenging for a kick ass cause, pass me by. With that said, if I was with this year's group in San Francisco right now, getting ready to start the ride, I think I would puke. It makes my stomach flip.

If you have stumbled upon this and I don’t bore you to tears with what’s to come, I’ll keep you posted on the progress and probably make fun of myself and anyone who dares to claim me in the process. Since blogs are better with pictures, I ripped these pictures off from my friend Diane’s page. These were taken during this year’s Million Dollar Challenge training rides. I’m hoping some of these foolios will return for the ride next year:

This is Anne Fleming and I climbing up some long hill on our way out to Ramona. Anne works for CAF and is the one who invited me to join her on these training rides. She's an awesome riding buddy.

Tina on the left is responsible for the incredible SAG support we get on these rides and Vikki in the middle is the coordinator of this event. I have NO idea how she does it; she's amazing!

Diane, ride leader extraordinaire. Words cannot describe the beauty of the sarcasm that comes out of this woman's mouth.

This is our other ride leader, "Hooter," taking a spin on my sled. He makes my bike look like a Christmas tree ornament.

Anne, Vikki, David and I. David is my buddy but he was super crabby this day so I turned on the charm (or rather turned up the "annoying") a bit.

Birds on a wire. How we stay cool in the middle of WheretheHellAreWe. I'm in there.

Why I will never pay for a boob job and why I will never have a secret love child with Fire Marshal Bill. The genetics would be unforgiving.

I'm only putting this one in because I think I look fabulous. I don't tell lies.

Alright, more to come. Holy crud that was time consuming. This blogging concept may actually be harder than the ride and fundraising!