Friday, June 14, 2013

Ride From Reno- Day 4 "May The Wind Be Always At Your Back"

Over.  Day 4.  Ugh!  What a tough day, physically and mentally.  While the shortest mileage of all five days, this was a tough day from start to finish.

The day begins literally with no warm-up before beginning the ascent of Sacramento Pass.  Those who are familiar with the Ride From Reno know- this is where we pay respect to those who have battled cancer- whether they've lost, won, or are still battling.  I've told myself all week that if I could take the KOM (King of the Mountain for you non-cyclists) on any summit, THIS was the one I wanted (given my own current battle and my desire to show cancer who's in charge!).  Gratefully my legs were strong, and I think Ravell and Larry may have backed off a bit for me (huh, guys?).  Regardless, I had the blessing of being able to summit first and take the KOM- only to immediately be hit with the spirit of the summit, and the tears flowed freely.

We took quite a bit of time to write names on the road- sidewalk chalk, spray chalk, spray paint, etc.  We do this to memorialize all those who are or have battled, and to remind ourselves that there are TOO MANY names there.  We have to find a cure.  And, while we search for that, we have to find better treatment to prolong lives and make living better.  Here's a shot of all my names:

Note all the OTHER names above and to the left of mine.  Then there are those to the right of mine off camera.  Then all the names on the other side of the road.  This has got to end!

So, once we finished at Sacramento Pass, we bombed down the back side (10-11 miles of sheer bliss @ 30-40 MPH).  Then we got his with reality- a lot of it!  Side wind.  Head wind.  Heat.  Lots and lots and lots.  It was tough. At one point B flatted, and four of us stayed with him, and the five of us were struggling so hard that dear Denise motorpaced us back to the group, a good five miles.  Thank you lovely Denise!

After lunch, though, our luck changed, and we got a tailwind (like Monday).  After the final climb, the road into Delta is pretty flat overall.  And, the tailwind for the most part carried us at 20-26 MPH with little work on our part.  Hallelujah.  Which reminded me of an Irish Blessing, a part of which is the title of my post today.  Given that I have Irish blood in me, I think I'm safe to steal this.  It meant a lot in the wind, but as I read it, it means a lot to me regarding the 11 brothers and sister who rode with me, or let me ride with them, from Reno to here.  I hope we'll all stick together and ride all the way in tomorrow, but even then we'll have to go our separate ways until we do this again.  So, to them I dedicate this Irish Blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Jeff Warren, Brian Van Uitert, Jason Bleak, Ravell Call, Larry Peterson, Darcie Strong, Dan Sellers, Mike MacDonald, Joe Plater, Scotty Medine and Rich Linton- much love to all of you.  No finer group of cyclists, or people has ever been assembled.  I'm a better person for knowing each of you, and I hope you'll know I'm there for you any time and any place.

One more day.  140 miles.  But not the end of the journey, just a pause until next year.

Much love,

Some pics:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ride From Reno- Day 3 "Enjoy The Journey"

We have a sign that looks just like this in our kitchen.  Lisa placed it there in 2008-2009 when we WEREN'T enjoying the journey.  Between my cancer diagnosis and some other trials our family was going through, we weren't necessarily enjoying it at all!  In fact, without going into great detail, one of my best friends said that to us one night when we were talking about our trials and how things were going.  We both felt it was a platitude, at best.  "Yeah, right dude.  Enjoy the journey.  Why don't YOU come enjoy OUR journey."

But, with time we learned it's true.  The journey goes on, whether or not we want it to.  And we can choose to enjoy it or not, but on it goes.  That's become a real metaphor for me since my diagnosis.  I could curl up in a ball and stay in bed.  I could kick the dog.  But, when all is said and done, I have a family to support and a life to live.  So, why not "enjoy the journey."  It's made all the difference.

So, what does that have to do with RFR Day 3?  Plenty.

Cycling and cancer battles are replete with metaphors, and "Enjoy the Journey" is one of them.  Take cancer, for example.  Doctors, friends, colleagues, many around the patient can and want to help.  They provide support.  They provide encouragement.  They cook meals and clean homes and do all they can.  But, when it's all said and done, the patient is the one who has to ultimately be the one to go through it.  No matter the love and support around, the one who has to do it is the patient.  I had 17 radiation treatments in November, 2009, and two more in December, 2012.  My family encouraged me, was by my side, made a care package for me, etc.  So did friends.  But, only I put on that hospital gown, laid down on the table, and had them beam radiation into my body in an attempt to arrest the cancer and save my life.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my family and all those who support me.  I'm not sure I could do it without them.  And that's just it- where the cycling metaphor comes in.

Today we enjoyed the journey- good and bad.  We had 5 climbs- they were awesome!  Some enjoyed them, some suffered, our friends and family cheered us on, but only each of us turned the crank over and over and over...and over! We topped each summit, looked back on what we had done, looked forward to what lay ahead, and enjoyed the journey.

We had 45+ MPH gusts- many from the side that threatened to topple each of us- at times riding 15 MPH, at times riding 40+ MPH.  Scary- yes.  Other times we had head wind.  As we departed Ely, we rode 16 miles, the ENTIRE TIME, with a side wind gusting.  And, as we did so, I watched then and other times throughout the day, as our support crews fed us, sheltered us, hugged us, cheered for us, and generally did all they could for us.  We cyclists supported one another.  On the bike and off.  Climbing.  Descending.  Watching from the sidelines.  I watched cyclist after cyclist pull in front of another, or to the side, to shelter a rider who was struggling from the brutal wind.  Over and over and over...and over!  But, even though that was done multiple times, each cyclist had to ultimately be the one to go through it.  You ride.  With others. And support.  But it's still YOU.

So, with that said, I want to state the obvious.  Cancer sucks.  Cycling doesn't.  They're worlds apart.  One many of us look forward to, and often do daily.  One we don't ever want to hear in conjunction with our name, but daily many do.  And that's just it.  In cancer, in cycling, in life, my friend was right.  We MUST "enjoy the journey", because there's no other way to get through it, and not getting through it IS.NOT.AN.OPTION.

So, today I want to give a shout out to all 11 of my fellow cyclists.  Fun day.  Brutal day.  Everything in between.  I respect all of you more than I can possibly say, and I would do ANYTHING for any of you, at any time, to help you enjoy your journey (cycling, cancer, or just life in general).

And, I'd like to give a shout out to all the support crew: Jo Ann (my dear Mom), Denise, Marian, Ray and Karen, Scott, Chandler and Chelsea, Vicki, Jim and Nikki.  Words cannot express my love and gratitude for each of you.  There's not "I support him or her", you all simply support, and that's amazing.  And, it's not just about the food and water. Your shouts.  Your claps.  The bell.  It's all such a great support and encouragement.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- there is no finer group of people assembled anywhere.

Much love.

Now on to a few pictures and an overview of the day:

Today's stats as per Strava (because I forgot to snap a picture of my Garmin before it shut off):

All five passes (in order):

As we wind up the ride, we drop down into a valley with plenty of much so that there are dozens of windmills.  Not the best shot, as it was taken on the fly from the car, but it gives an idea...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ride From Reno 2013- Day 2 "And You Thought WE Had It Hard!"

OK, as always, trying to post before hitting the sack.  A good day today.  Saddle sores got a little worse, but we'll work through that.  Weather was good, until a few miles before Eureka, when the sidewind went nuts (and turned into a headwind on the last climb into the town), and rain started to fall.  But, to be fair, most of the rain really starting coming down after we had arrived and the hotel and were off the road.

Austin Summit was one of our climbs today.  You climb a long, winding road into Austin, where you can stop and have some lunch, or continue with the rest of the climb, that's easily as long if not longer than the first half.  Wow- was good to finally get to the top.  Kudos to Ravell for being KOM on that climb!

While we were having lunch on top of the summit, we were joined by two young men who we had passed on the ascent.  Turns out they are from Montreal, and are riding their bikes from San Diego back to Montreal to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy. They figure it will take them 2 1/2 months, and they're raising $7500.  We visited with them- great young men with cool French accents.  Gave them fruit, cookies, etc. and Darcie and Denise even invited them to camp in their yard when they come through SLC.  We think we're a big deal riding 670 miles in one week to raise money for cancer research, these kids deserve a big round of applause for what they're doing!

For the most part it was a good day. Didn't have the same tailwind we had yesterday, but that was an anomaly and a blessing anyway!  Today we did have some good tailwind that carried us well, but we also had some sidewind that gave us a few problems (especially on the final ascent into Eureka).

Here's what today's route looked like on Google Maps:

Final stats for the day:

Distance- 120 miles
Average MPH- 19.6
Ride Time- 6:05

Hopefully I'll have a bit more time to post tomorrow night and can be a little more detailed.  A good day, all were safe, and we're now 260 miles into our 667.

Much love!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ride From Reno 2013- Day 1 "And So It Begins"

Day 1 is in the books.  Finished (like me!).  It was a GREAT day on the bike- all 137 miles of it.  A quick rundown and then it's past time for bed.  Read on...

First of all, we got into Reno later last night than usual.  Had a missionary farewell in the morning, and then wanted to stop for lunch at Peppermill in Wendover rather than dinner at Circus Circus in Reno.  The food was amazing, Gene.  Oh, and thanks for the hospitality and kindness.  Great food.  Great service.  Great Executive Chef!

This morning came early- up at 5:30 for a 6:30 meeting at the Reno Arch.  13 of us total for today- 12 who are riding all the way to HCI in SLC, one who joined us just for today (Rich, owner of a local Reno bike shop, and a strong rider!).

Riders- Jeff Warren, Jason Bleak, Ravell Call, Brian Van Uitert, Joe Plater, Darcie Strong, Rich Linton, Larry Peterson, Mike McDonald, Scotty Medine, Dan Sellers and me (not including Rich, mentioned above).

Rode the 10 miles from downtown Reno to the base of Geiger Summit.  That's where the fun begins- 8 miles of up, up, up.  It's not a killer climb, but it goes on and on and on.  Had the good fortune of being able to close the gap on everyone but Ravell, so came in second on the climb.

Bombed down the other side to Jeff's Dad's house- which is a veritable museum of old west arts and crafts.  Jim Warren is a great man, and so good to support all of us year after year.

Bombed down 6 Mile Canyon (aptly named), and then connected to Highway 50 ("The Loneliest Highway in America") and rode it all the way in to Fallon.  Once in Fallon, we stopped for lunch at Lattin Farms, hosted by 93 year old Bill Lattin, and his son-in-law and daughter, Rich and Vicki Linton.  THANKS Bill, Rich and Vicki!

The rest of the day was spent with a heavenly tailwind, which had us averaging 25-30 MPH with low heart rates and less-than-normal effort.  3 more climbs, past the "new" Shoe Tree, and the final 12 miles uphill to Cold Springs to end the day.

Stats for the day:
Distance- 137 miles
Average Speed- 21.1 MPH
Ride Time- 6:29

A good day for all of us, and we start tomorrow at 6:30 driving the 50 miles east back out to Cold Springs where we finished today, and picking up from there.  Around 120 miles tomorrow from Cold Springs to Eureka.

Many thanks to my dear Mom for supporting me all the way today (and really, she supports everyone, as all our support drivers take care of all of us).  And, much love to Lisa, Caitlin, Kira and Kodi who are at home doing what they do.  I miss you all tons!  I love you so much.

Handy out.