Monday, June 18, 2012

Ride From Reno- Day 5/6

Well, it's time to post my last post on the Ride From Reno/Huntsman 140, and go back to real life- family (which I missed), work (which I didn't miss, but which I love and need to get back to), and all the other things in my life that stood still and patiently awaited me to spend a week on my bike focusing on riding, cancer, renewing and building friendships, etc.

Let me start by saying- my family is the VERY best!  Not only did Lisa support me in doing this, she stayed home, took care of the house and the kids, and sent our oldest daughter off to Taiwan for a month, but she was there at the finish line waiting when we arrived.  Thanks Lisa- I love you more than I can say!

Thanks to Caitlin and Kira and Kodi- my three wonderful daughters, all of whom at one time or another during the week e-mailed, texted, or phoned with me.  I love you all, and am so glad to have you as my daughters and in my corner.

And, finally, thanks to my dear Mother.  She and I share a special bond given the unique nature of our family (single mother, only child)- and I was reminded this week why I love her so much.  She's so caring, so giving, and so willing to help others.  As Denise said in one of her posts on Jeff Warrren's Ride From Reno Blog- my Mom came for me, but ended up supporting, loving and caring for 11 riders.  She's gone back home today, but I want to remind her how much fun I had, how great it was to have her there, and how I've probably not spent that much 1:1 time with her since before I graduated, served a mission and got married.  I love you Mom!

So, now to wrap this all up.

Friday- rest day.  NICE to relax.  Massage by Margaret- AWESOME!  Lunch at the diner- TASTY!  Dinner with friends- PRICELESS!  Oh, and the idea that I should run 6 miles to give my legs somewhat different of a workout, in the heat, with the wind, and uphill- bad idea!  So, I only did 3 miles- but that's OK!

Saturday- this was the 5th time I've done what's become the "Huntsman 140". Maybe 6th.  My first 2 (or 3) were just as part of the Bountiful Mazda Club.  The last three have been as part of the Huntsman 140, and the last two years I've been blessed to be part of the planning committee.  A perfect time for me to say that Lori Kun, Jen Murano and Brooke Hathaway of Huntsman Cancer Foundation are each three WONDERFUL ladies- but three friends whom I cherish.  Not only do they care about ALL cancer patients, and survivors, but they've shown me how much they care about this cancer patient and survivor.  THANKS LADIES!

My thanks also to my friends from the Bountiful Mazda Cycling club.  It was so good to see so many there, and to ride with you all.  I'm grateful to have all of you as friends, and to have ridden so many miles with you over the years.

The day was good, we got to lunch (mile 101) with a 19.8 MPH average speed, which is way good normally, but on top of four prior hard days of riding, downright awesome!

Support along the way was well needed- and very appreciated.

Finally, as we approached Huntsman, with Echo along with her new bike, as always my emotions took over.  But, for the last three years, it's been more personal.  It's not just been "I'm here supporting my club and my friend(s)", it's become "I love the facility, the staff, and everyone associated with Huntsman, as they've most likely saved my life, and are probably extending it!"  Cancer sucks, no doubt about it.  But, these folks are there for us- and they're the best in the world.  I'm proud to say that they care for me, and I'm open enough to say I rely on and trust them immensely.  To Dr. Martha Glenn, who cares for me every 6 months- THANKS!  Lisa and I hang on your every word, and trust you implicitly.  To Dr. Million, who oversaw my radiation, and then went on to another facility- THANK YOU, and good luck!

So, as I close the book on this year's Ride From Reno, and Huntsman 140, know that I now begin my fundraising in earnest (tied to my LOTOJA race in September), and that right now my plan is to do the ENTIRE RFR next year, as well.

Much love,


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ride From Reno- Day 4

Ouch.  No, really.  OUCH!  Not to get too personal, or anything, but when one rides a bike for this many miles, and one's butt is on a teeny tiny little seat for all those hours, and one's legs churn around and around and can develop what cyclists call "saddle sores."  I call them #%@#%^@%^@(  Or, at least that's what I'm calling them this week.  Monday started with a "soreness". Today was a downright "owie" all day long. I spent so much time out of the saddle trying not to exacerbate the problem- argh!  That said, tomorrow is rest day, I'll get it all taken care of, and we'll be off on Saturday.

I don't have my pictures to post quite yet, so I'll tell today's story and post those at a later time.  Today was our day to pause at the top of Sacramento Pass, where we take the time to reflect on and honor those in our lives who have been touched by cancer- whether they've lost the battle, are still fighting it, or have supported others who have done either or both.

It was emotional for me.  On that very mountaintop were 5 very close people in my life- all of whom have been diagnosed, four of whom are "clean", one who's in "watchful waiting" status.  To Mom, 'Zo, Jeff, Steve and Larry- simply this- I love all of you.  You are family, friends, but most of all, you're part of the brotherhood.  Unwilling members of the club, yes, but members nevertheless.

To name just a few of the names I wrote on the road today on Sacramento Pass:

Mom- my Mother is a quiet, strong woman who was diagnosed with uterine cancer four years ago.  I still remember when she called to tell me the news.  I simply talke to her, hung up, and drived to her home where I spent the next few days with her- supporting her, crying with her, and becoming educated on the specific cancer she had.  She's since beaten it, is clean, and next year will be the magic 5 year mark. I love you, Mom!

Mary Burgess- my Granny, and my Mom's Mom.  Much of who I am I owe to the teaching of my dear Granny.  She passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, was an example to all, and spent a wonderful life, while beating breast cancer and many skin cancers.  We believe she had rectal cancer at the time she passed, and were grateful to see her pain relieved, even though we miss her greatly.

Andrea Burgess- my cousin Bob's wife, and my cancer buddy.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer not long before me, and did her treatments at Huntsman in SLC, even though she lives in the St George area.  She, Bob and the boys have been an example to me of the way loved ones pull together to support one another when times get tough, and I love them all very much.

Gene Redmond- my Mom's cousin, and a good friend.  Gene lives in Wendover, and was diagnosed with colon cancer almost 10 years ago.  He drove himself to and from Huntsman from Wendover daily for 6 weeks, and then weekly for 12-13 weeks for chemo.  He's clean now, and a great example to me of strength.

Dad- my Dad didn't pass from cancer.  He never was diagnosed with cancer.  But, he had a son who has cancer, and more importantly, he was my cycling support driver.  He drove for my first 6 LOTOJAs, as well as many other events.  If he were still alive, he'd have been driving for us this year, there's no question about that, so I wanted to honor him while being so grateful that my Mom would step in and drive for us.  I miss you Dad!  You're with me when I ride, and no event like this comes and goes that I don't think of you, and wish you could see me ride yet again.  I love you!

All the other names I wrote had meaning, but I'm not sharing all of them.  These above are my select highlights, and people whom I love greatly.

The rest of the day was long, hot and windy.  We made it, all together, and supporting one another as we do every day.

Tomorrow is rest day.  Most likely a 40 mile ride to spin the legs out and stay fresh, then we wrap it all up with the Huntsman 140 on Saturday.

What an incredible week...

Much love,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ride From Reno- Day 3

Ever ride 670 miles in 5 days?  Me, neither!  We ride daily about the same distances the professional cyclists in the Grand Tours ride, only just a bit slower than them!  But, there's something the pros have in common with us- SUPPORT.  If it weren't for our support drivers, most of us, if not all, simply couldn't get this done.  We ride, they do ALL the rest.

In my case, my Dad used to drive support for me- he did my first 6 LOTOJAs, the first Huntsman 140, and has done many other important rides.  I lost my Dad in February, 2011, and it's difficult to think of a race (especially LOTOJA) without him in my truck having my back. LOTOJA last year was especially difficult, as it was the first one without him.

Well, in my case, I'm blessed to have my dear Mother supporting me this week.  Due to some circumstances, she ended up coming with us on Sunday, and will be with us the entire week!  My Dad's no longer with us, but my Mom is here, and I think she's caught the support bug!  I can't think of a better place for the two of us to be this week than together in this ride.  And, since she's a cancer survivor, as well, it's even more poignant.

But, that's not all.  EVERY one of us has someone here driving support, filling water bottles, doing anything they can to help us get up and over mountains, across the valleys, etc.

So, a HUGE shout out to all the support drivers here (all of whom support not only their own riders, but each one of us).  Please know how much I appreciate you personally, and am grateful for you being here!  It'll be great for us to all roll into HCI together.

Big thanks to...

Chandler, Denise, Holly, Jim, Kelly, Lori, Marian, Sarah

Day 3 is in the books!  Bring on day 4...

Much love,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ride From Reno- Day 2

255 miles down, 415 to go!  Day 2 is officially in the books.

When asked at dinner "What will you write about today?", the first thing that came to my mind was "the tailwind."  Then "the climb into Austin."  But, as I was walking back to the hotel after dinner, it hit me that it's all about "the people."  That said, I'll quickly detail the first two, and then touch on the last one.

So, today's ride was from Cold Springs Station to Eureka.  120 miles.  And, my little friend Madison Van Uitert had posted the following on Facebook yesterday, "Hey friends! Want some inspiration? Read this blog. Any prayers for Todd would be appreciated as he embarks on a ride from Reno to SLC. He will be riding 670 miles over 5 days...crazy, right? Any happy thoughts and/or prayers I'm sure will be appreciated and help him on this incredible race for an incredible cause! Love you Todd!! #handybestrong  Well, THANKS Madi!  Those prayers were answered, because approximately 35 of the last 40 miles today were an amazing tailwind!  At one point we had gone about 15 miles at a 25 MPH average and most of us hadn't gone over 100 BPM heartrate.  Wahoo!  MORE PRAYERS MADI, MORE PRAYERS!

Second, today we had a VERY LARGE climb. Up to the city of Austin (where we had lunch), and then on to the top- lots of switchbacks, lots of climbing, and lots of sweat!  But, it was awesome to get over the top, and then drop down at almost 50 MPH.  Then, DO IT AGAIN (more climb). And, drop again at almost 50 MPH.  Tomorrow I'm told we have five climbs...and I'll probably not sleep a wink tonight.  No, I lie- I'LL DEFINITELY SLEEP TONIGHT!

Finally, let me just say something about the people [those who are riding. I'll share about support drivers at a later time].  Jeff Warren, Loren (Zo) Roundy, Steve Kelly, Larry Peterson, Jason Bleak, Darcie Strong, Joe Plater, Ravell Call, Scott Westfall and Dan Sellers- I can't think of riding with a more incredible group of riders anywhere.  Mike Petroff- you are missed!  Feel better!  This group is an incredible group.  Everyone is as competitive as can be, but when another rider is hurting, I've seen folks pull for twice as long as normal, drop back to pull a rider to the group, slide over to the side to shield someone from the wind, and then TEAR EACH OTHERS' LEGS OFF on an upcoming climb!  I'm honored to be part of this group, and honored to ride with each one of you.  I want you to know of my utmost respect for each of you, and I hope that I can be there to help any and all when you're feeling a little rough- I'm sure you'll do the same for me.

So, to wrap up- two days down, two to go to Delta. Then, the final day will be Saturday and the Huntsman 140, culminating in the final climb up the hill to Huntsman- the place where I received my treatment from the doctors who I'm certain saved my life.  Now, as I continue to fight cancer, and continue to go to Huntsman, I'm continually reminded of the war so many are waging against cancer, and I'm grateful for such a fine institution in our backyard- Huntsman Cancer Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

On to Day 3...

Much love!


Ride From Reno- Day 1

Ride From Reno- Day 1

I had no idea what to expect!  LOTOJA I've done 7 times- I know the route like the back of my hand.  Our daily rides all around Layton, out West, up North, etc.-  I know them all well.  This ride- the first four days, at least, is completely new to me.  I don't know the terrain.  I don't know the elevations.  I don't know when the descents will come and I'll get a reprieve.  Nope. Nothing.  Bupkis.  By the way, what the heck IS bupkis?  Dunno- but that's what I know about this ride.

So, today we departed Reno at 7:00 AM.  After the obligatory pics in front of the "Welcome to Reno" arch, we headed south out of town.  The first order of the day was to climb Geiger Grade. File this under "I don't know the route."  Not a terrible climb- the pitch wasn't out of control the entire way. Lots of switchbacks. Lots of narrow road.  6 or 7 (I lost count) false summits.  6 or 7!  By the time the actual summit came, I was so freaked out about getting pumped that we were finally at the top that I wasn't pumped that we were finally at the top.  But, it was awesome! They're doing road work on the back side, so we weren't able to bomb down and into Virginia City.

Virginia City- wow!  Reminded me so muh of Park City.  Former gold and silver mining town.  Narrow Main Street.  Buildings on both side that look like they came straight out of a western.  Jeff's Dad lives there, in a beautiful home, surrounded by a few others he built.  GREAT place.

From there we bombed down 6 Mile Canyon.  I've heard it's 10 miles to the bottom, but that doesn't make sense.  It's CALLED 6 Mile Canyon!  Regardless, it was nothing but downhill, some of it VERY downhill.  Again, file this under "I don't know the route."  I'm a good descender- but when it's very twisty, and I don't know the route, and there are a good number of oncoming cars climbing the canyon- nope.  I'm not gonna bomb like I can.  Still, it was great, and we didn't have to pedal much on the descent.

The ride from the bottom all the way to Fallon was unremarkable.  Long, straight, hot, desolate- but still fun.  There are 12 of us riding, and it's a great group.  When someone is hurting, someone else steps up- takes a longer pulls, puts a hand on their back to help guide them up a hill, etc.

We arrived in Fallon (mile 70), and had lunch at Lattin Farms.  The owner, Bill, is 92, and paid for the meal for us to show his support for Huntsman Cancer Institute.  What a cute little man!  92, still gets around well (albeit with a cane), and has a great sense of humor.  His daughter and son-in-law were riding with us, and they are also great folks.  Thanks Bill and the Lintons for your kindness and hospitality!

The rest of the journey (65 more miles) was again unremarkable- all the things indicated above, but a lot of ups and downs.  A few good descents, was able to get to 47 MPH on one of them (still had headwind, which makes it tough to get into the 50 MPH range).

We ended up at mile 135 at Cold Springs Station.  Drove back 65 miles to Fallon, where we're staying the night.  Up tomorrow and out at 7:00. Drive back to Cold Springs Station, and from there a 120 mile day traveling to Eureka, NV.

Felt good today.  Good nutrition.  Good hydration.  Little sunburn (lots o' sunscreen).  Looking forward to day two and to see how I do back to back.

Oh, yeah- and cancer will not win the war. It may win a few battles, but this group, and many more across the nation (LiveSTRONG, etc.) will continue to push and fight and do all possible to ensure cancer DOES NOT WIN.

Until tomorrow night...much love,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

As I sit here in the hotel room at Circus Circus, having just gorged on all kinds of carbs at the buffet, I'm pondering what the next six days will bring.  The last 8 years have been filled with some incredible opportunities as I've taken up the sport of cycling, and have participated in so many amazing rides.  However, three years ago this very ride became VERY PERSONAL to me.

Rewind to June, 2009.  I was riding with the Bountiful Mazda cycling club, and one of our members, and my good friend, Jeff Warren, was doing his annual ride from Reno to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the club would join him on the last day of the ride in Delta, UT, and bring him home to HCI.  That year was my 3rd time doing the ride with the club, and as we finished the ride and ended up at HCI, I was touched by what we had done, and overcome with emotion.  My Dad was these supporting us (he normally wasn't far when there was a ride to be supported!), and I remember vividly just taking in the sights, sounds, emotions, etc.  Little did I know that three weeks later I would be hit by a car while on my bike, which would set in motion a turn of events that would see me returning to Huntsman- only this time to the hospital, to not only receive a cancer diagnosis, but to receive 17 radiation treatments.

My journey to the point I'm at today, at least cancer-wise, began that day that I was hit by the car.  However, if I stop to think about it, it really began earlier- driving down to Delta, UT VERY EARLY in the morning, and working with my club mates to bring back several riders who had ridden from Reno in an attempt to raise not only funds for cancer research, but the profile of cancer treatment in general.  In many ways you might say I "trained" for this.

So, as I sit here now, I reflect on that, and look forward wondering what the next six days will bring.  670 miles of riding over 5 days (Friday will be a rest day).  I've never ridden that many miles in that many days.  I'm fit, I have the mental stamina, and I HATE CANCER, so it shouldn't be hard, but the butterflies are there.  At this point I just want morning to come so I can get on the bike and get going!

Check back daily if you'd like to have updates on how the ride is going.  The ups, the downs, the learnings, the fun stuff.

Oh, and while you're at it- thank the Lord for your health, your strength, your family, all that you love.  Cancer has taken much from many, and it may take some of these from me or others of us, as well, but it can't take our will to fight, our will to beat this thing, and the love and support of the Lord and our families.

Much love,