THE WOMAN WHO RACED 4,200 MILES IN 18 DAYS AND WON MEET CYCLING LEGEND LAEL WILCOX
Picture the distance between Oregon and Virginia on a U.S. map. Now, picture crossing that distance on a bicycle. Odds are you either can’t imagine it or you conjured up a monthslong slog, but in 2016, ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox crossed that distance in just 18 days and 10 minutes — the second- fastest time in the history of the Trans Am Bike Race. As hard as it is to believe, the 4,200 mile stretch from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, is actually a racecourse. Every June, roughly 50–100 cyclists undertake the journey, pedaling through a total of 10 states. It’s an insane obstacle course of cars, mountains, and weather events that riders go through alone, without required checkpoints or designated rest periods.
When Wilcox won the Trans Am in 2016, she became the first woman and the first American ever to do so. According to NPR, the victory came down to a combination of endurance and luck. In the final days of the race, she was in second place behind Steffan Streich when exhaustion sent him pedaling out of Bumpass, Virginia, in the wrong direction. When the two met on the road at 3 a.m., a panicked Streich turned around and sprinted neck and neck with Wilcox toward the finish. After a few miles, she pulled ahead and won. In response to those who said a woman could never win the Trans Am, Wilcox told NPR, “If you beat 'em, you beat 'em. That's what happens. And then everybody has to change the way they think." Perhaps the most impressive thing about Wilcox, even more than her 2016 win, is that she didn’t start cycling until she was 20 years old, when her boyfriend at the time gave her a bike. Since then, she’s competed all over the world, logging a total of 100,000 miles in 35 countries. When she’s isn’t racing, Wilcox encourages teenage girls to try cycling with scholarships and group events. In November 2019, she even starred in “I Just Want to Ride,” a 38-minute film following her quest to win the 2019 Tour Divide Race. To learn more about the film and what makes Wilcox tick, visit LaelWilcox.com.
MEDICARE NOW COVERS ACUPUNCTURE A NEW OPTION TO TREAT LOWER BACK PAIN
Good news for Medicare beneficiaries! In a landmark decision, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has opted to cover acupuncture treatments for those suffering from chronic lower back pain. This new treatment option opens more possibilities for those seeking pain relief and hints at more choices becoming available to beneficiaries in the future. If you’ve been wanting to try acupuncture for your chronic lower back pain, then there are some things you should know before seeking treatment. CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP? Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine, with roots as far back as 100 B.C. Today, many patients in the United States have found the treatment effective — though clinical trials have proven inconclusive. However, in 2017, guidelines published by the American
College of Physicians found moderate evidence that acupuncture is effective at treating lower back pain and may be a viable option for you if other methods of pain relief aren’t working. WHAT WILL MEDICARE COVER? For those with Original Medicare (parts A and B), your plan will cover up to 12 acupuncture treatments over 90 days. These have to be administered by a licensed acupuncturist to treat chronic lower back pain. If you see noticeable improvements in your condition after your treatment, an additional eight sessions may be covered. WHAT’S THE BIG PICTURE? The CMS’ decision to cover acupuncture marks the first time Medicare has expanded to an area of alternative medicine. The decision came in response to the opioid crisis, which
has unfortunately highlighted the extremely harmful effects of painkillers on individuals and families. As more alternative medicine treatments are studied, Medicare beneficiaries faced with other forms of chronic pain may have new treatment options opened to them. If you feel that your chronic pain isn’t responding well to physical therapy alone, don’t be afraid to incorporate treatments like acupuncture in conjunction with exercises like yoga. These typically work well as a supplement to physical therapy. If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain and would like an alternative to opioids or surgery, talk to your physical therapist and see what options work with your current treatment.
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