MisAdventure Racing's Bonnie Moebeck

Image Credit:  Bonnie Moebeck
Bonnie Moebeck is an avid cyclist and triathlete with quite a story to tell.  Bonnie has faced some tough obstacles along the way, including a brush with death, to get where she is at today.  Her spirit and her drive is what makes her so unique, she is not intimidated by even the toughest of challenges.  I wanted to share Bonnie's story because she is such an inspiration to others.  MisAdventure Racing is Bonnie's blog where she can share her racing stories and her life's adventures as an ultra athlete in her unique writing style.

To see what Bonnie has overcome and what inspires her meet the challenges ahead, watch the short video below.

I had a chance to talk with Bonnie about her love of adventure, the MisAdventure Racing blog, her cycling background and the obstacles she has overcome.  She answered them with such character that I had to quote her to best show her unique personality. 

Can you briefly explain the illness that almost took your life?

In 2010 I was rushed into emergency surgery after months of being misdiagnosed with only severe pneumonia. A bacteria that had spread throughout my body called Fusobacterium Necrophorum was killing me. It started in my lungs, forming a deadly blot clot, which subsequently burst and sent the bacteria spreading through my body faster than cancer. I had been suffering from not only extreme pneumonia but also from the bacteria eating through my insides. As a result of the bacteria I developed Lemierre’s Syndrome, one of the rarest diseases in the U.S.  After several surgeries, massive amounts of antibiotics and a grim prognosis, I was sent home to see if I would live. The doctors told me to go and do whatever I wanted to do as they were unable to assure me that they had healed me. When I got home I was unable to walk twenty feet on my own.

What is your cycling background and what inspired you to take on racing?

It all started in 2008. I hadn’t ridden a bike in 20 years but while preparing for my first triathlon, I learned that those maniacs also rode bikes for the second leg of the triathlon races and so I drug an old Schwinn bike down from the garage rafters and tried to put a random amount of air in the tires. Satisfied, I rode around town for a few weeks and then raced the Buffalo Triathlon on it. To this day, I regret not oiling the chain. Two years later I rode that same bike in Lebanon Hills and realized something that changed my thinking, blood is hard to get off of old paint. It also looks kind of cool so I just left it there and that gives me something to talk about when I realize people are avoiding me.
In 2010 I became deathly ill through a bacterium called Fusobacterium Necrophorum. This bacterium formed a blood clot in my lungs that burst and as result of a story much too long to write in this sentence, I ended up in the ICU unit with Lemierre’s Syndrome. This disease is not very friendly and likes to kill people but I wanted no part of that and so I prayed God would heal me and let me ride my blood stained bike one more time. When I finally left the hospital in a wheel chair, the doctors told me they were not sure if I would live and to go and do whatever I wanted to do. I took that to heart. I had desperately longed to run, ride and eat massive amounts of chocolate. I tried to run but tore the fascia in my feet so badly that I haven’t been able to successfully rehab my feet in the two years since, but I’m still trying. I also started to mountain bike and found that I am horrible at it but that it provides me with an odd source of personal entertainment and torture and can’t seem to break the horrific hold it has on me. As a result, I went out and purchased a fleet of bikes. I found that racing allows me to get in a good workout, discover the wonders of hyperventilation and also meet cool people who would otherwise avoid me. 

What types of racing do you do? 

I don’t consider anything I do true racing. I just show up, hoping to survive, and I always end up having a great time. One of the results of my illness is being prone to getting pneumonia quite often. This takes a heavy toll on my lungs and it always feels like I'm starting over with biking because my lungs don’t ever seem to become any stronger, or become more efficient, especially if I am forced to take actual time off. This makes racing tough but I don’t want to miss out on the unique atmosphere that only comes at a race, as well as meet new people and see all of the cool bikes and gear.

What was the toughest race you competed in?

Tough is relative and I am adopted. I have done shorter races, ultras, dirt, single track, and gravel and they are all tough. The toughest is probably the Mall of America during Christmas because anything that demands quick changing of gears is hard. If I am shifting a lot, that means there are a lot of changes in the terrain. Single track is notorious for this. The quick changes do not give my heart and lungs a chance to really recover before I am already into the next interval and my breathing is usually quite labored. That is very tough for me. Riding my bike in the dead of winter with forty pounds of gear added to the bike, all the while trying to out-bike a snow storm is also tough, but so is racing at ten thousand feet with lungs that are damaged. I would have to venture to say that there are two races that are neck and neck for being the toughest. The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race in Leadville, Colorado was the toughest race I have ever done up until last year. It is a pure sufferfest of many sorts with tons of climbing, single track, terrifying descents and then more climbing, but the toughest thing about it is trying to race with diminished lung capacity at that altitude. There is around twelve thousand feet of climbing and it is a brutally hard race in every way, but the damage to my lungs from Lemierre’s makes it even worse. The other toughest race is the Arrowhead 135. Try stuffing sixty hours of racing into one stretch while carrying forty extra pounds of gear on your bike, all while riding in the dead of winter through the snow and trying to out-bike the wolves. Actually, the wolves give me an adrenaline rush from fear and that can be helpful when climbing hills. 

What races have you competed in?

I have done quite a few to include triathlon and running races, but since getting out of the hospital and starting back in early 2011, I have completed a twelve hour mountain bike race, the MS150 (Which is a road bike race cleverly disguised as a fund raiser. I saw this in jest.), a twenty four hour adventure race called END-AR that involved lots of mountain biking, the Frozen Otter ultra trek, the Lutsen 99er, the Leadville 100 Mtn Bike Race, Penn Cycle’s Get Phat With Pat, the Arrowhead 135, and the Fatbike Frozen Forty.  

What races are you doing in 2013?

This year’s calendar includes Penn Cycle’s Get Phat With Pat, the Arrowhead 135, Fatbike Frozen Forty, the Almanzo 100, Lutsen 99er, the Leadville 100 Mtn Bike Race. I am sure I will throw some others in the mix when something fun comes up but that’s it for now.   

What roles do your sponsors play in supporting your racing career?

My sponsors are mostly event specific, meaning they have come on board for just one race, or a specific season. Silverman Ankle & Foot sponsored me for a couple of events to include Ironman Wisconsin, which I raced right before I became deathly ill in 2010 and the MS150 in 2011. Dr. Silverman also reconstructed both of my ankles as I had destroyed them playing ultimate Frisbee and training for a triathlon. He’s picky that way- wanting to piece people back together who have broken themselves in the name of fun.
Penn Cycle is my first stop for biking needs. I love my Superfly 100 that I purchased from their Eagan store last year.  This year, they made sure I was well taken care of at the Arrowhead 135, sponsoring me with a 9:ZERO:7 fat bike and additional gear I needed to take on the race. I couldn’t have done it without them. The 9:ZERO:7 is definitely my favorite fat bike.
Talus Industries is a new sponsor and has graciously come on board this year. Their ColdAvenger product is unsurpassed in keeping my lungs safer in the frigid temperatures. For anyone who trains or races in the winter, you need to check out their products.

What bike advocacy or groups are you a member of or involved with?

I am currently a member of MORC. I really appreciate their trail work and all they do to give us mountain bikers a place to play. And, I apologize for the time I nearly ran one of the volunteers over while biking haphazardly through Lebanon Hills with my eyes closed.  I am also a member of the online Spinervals group, and I like to randomly spy on the Leadville 100 Yahoo group…. Do those count?

What inspired you to start the MisAdventure Racing blog?

I have had an affinity for writing since high school; probably because I didn’t have much else to do other than try to look cool. My writing style changes on occasion but typically I enjoy writing in self deprecating, dark humor. Usually I send my bizarre thoughts, highly exaggerated stories and race recaps to the Minnesota Tri News editors for consideration on their site and they are kind enough to pretend it does not adversely affect their readership base. Bribery helps. As I branched out from triathlon, they encouraged me to also start my own blog and share my stories in a broader sense, but I was reluctant (lazy) and just kept dragging my feet.  After I began preparing for the Arrowhead 135, one of my friends urged me to start a blog so they could follow my journey at a safer distance. I reluctantly decided it may be fun after all and thus the journey began to terrify readers on a larger scale with my tails from the trails and other such nonsense. Hopefully not too many readers have blocked me after hearing what I have to say.  

What are your plans for upcoming content on MisAdventure Racing?

I am thinking that I should probably update my blog on occasion so people know I am still alive. I have a vast reader group that consists of spam and my mom and I know they get worried if I wait too long between updates. I plan to include a write up about a couple of my sponsors because I think others will benefit from some of the great gear I use. I also will be writing from a motivational perspective on occasion in hopes of encouraging others to do the things they have always hoped to do, in spite of setbacks they may be encountering. 

Please add anything else you would like to let the readers know about your site.

My site is mostly dark humor so be prepared for truisms co-mingled with exaggerated humorous truths, generously sprinkled with bizarre imagery. Sort of like weight gain.   

Image Credit:  Bonnie Moebeck

Keep up to date on all of Bonnie's posts at MisAdventure Racing, subscribe via RSS Feed or follow her on Twitter @TriGirlMN.
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