Friday, June 19, 2015

RFR 2015 Day 4 (Ely to Delta, 112 miles)- The Ministry of Angels

For me, this is always the toughest day.  Sit bones are sore.  Feet are sore.  Legs are sore.  Hands are sore.  Get the picture?  But, we know that the worst day on the bike is still better than the best day of chemo. And, that's why we do this.  So we can help raise funds to relieve pain and suffering and help find a cure to this disease.  So, the soreness will go away, the battle will not.  At least not for now.

Many who know me know that I have cancer.  Not had.  Have.  I was first diagnosed and treated in 2009.  It went away for about a year and a half.  In November, 2011 we learned it had come back.  It's been with me ever since.  Probably always will be.  But, it's "indolent" (medical term for slow growing), and until/unless it transforms to "aggressive" (medical term for aggressive), we just wait.  And watch.

So, for the last two years, I've made it my goal to be the first one up the first pass- Sacramento Pass. The climb itself is a metaphor for life, but also for one's battle with cancer.  No one else can ride my bike up the pass.  No one else can suffer for me. I have to do it on my own, even with people around, cheering me on during the climb, and more waiting for me at the top.  So, I've made it my goal to be the first one up, to show cancer and myself who's in charge, who's ultimately going to win, and who's not backing down.

Well, this year I knew I wouldn't be the first one up.  Pulled it off the last two years, but I'm not as strong this year due to more training for a marathon than in past years.  I knew it.  I owned it.  But, I still left as quickly as I could, hoping I could at least try.  But, I knew it wasn't gonna happen.  And, as I heard my friends closing in on me, I was happy for them they were riding well, but a little bummed that I couldn't pull it off.  Again, it's not about being FASTEST up the hill (though that matters), it's really not even about being first up the hill (though that plays into my metaphor better), it's about me doing all I can to own this summit, and not the other way around.

So, as I'm pedaling my guts out, Ravell pulls up next to me.  I'm not listening to any music, because I want this to be as spiritual of an experience as it can be.  So, I'm focused, and listening to the road and myself breathe.  Ravell gets by me and says, "You're the survivor here, we're going to escort you to the top."  HUH?  I immediately am overcome by emotion.  I say "Ravell, no, you guys are riding strong, go on to the top and crush it."  He says, "No.  I want this."  And that was it.  He dropped back to let Zo, Rich and Larry know, and it was end of story.  So, I turned myself inside out pushing to the top, knowing these four strong riders, and even stronger men were right behind me.  Talk about even more of a metaphor!?!? As I approached the summit and finally could see the sign, I got out of the saddle and sprinted as fast as I could- but at the same time I was beginning to be overcome with emotion and to sob.  Uncontrollably.  Here's the best way anyone who wasn't on that part of the ride right then can visualize it- and this is a perfect memorialization of the moment.

Now that you know the story, this picture comes better into focus.  That's not exertion on my face, it's sheer emotion.  Those aren't cyclists behind me, they're angels.  Four of my best friends, and four angels who were carrying me to the top of a metaphor that means more to me than many might understand.

LDS apostle Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk entitled "The Ministry of Angels" a few years ago.  It's probably my all-time favorite talk from my all-time favorite apostle.  I now quote him, "And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal."  These four angels were seen, known, and mortal. They were my angels, and they are my friends.  Ravell, Zo, Rich and Larry- I love you all, brothers.  I will never be able to repay you for the kindness you showed me, but I hope each of you felt in my embrace and my words my love and gratitude for each of you.

The rest of the story yesterday just doesn't matter as much.  My wheel got out of true again, we trued it back up.  I suspect it will go out again Saturday until I can get it into the shop.  But, for a ride that's all about raising awareness for cancer, and driving fundraising, the real life example of cancer support and love was witnessed on the road yesterday.

Much love.

RFR 2015 Day 3 (Austin to Ely, 121 miles)

Day 3 is always a rude awakening (no pun intended) when we start.  We LITERALLY leave the hotel, turn left, and start climbing Pinto.  So, no warm up time, no stretch the sore legs, just ride, ride, ride.

Somehow I forgot that day 3 is FIVE climbs, not FOUR.  So, I was posting photos of each summit and counting the four off...then realized I wasn't including Robinson Pass, which is the longest of all the climbs.  Maybe I blocked that out?  Actually, I don't mind Robinson, just forgot about it.

Here's the problem.  Somewhere between the bottom and the top of the climb to Robinson, something went haywire with my bike.  I was sprinting the last portion of the climb and hearing some squeaking from my bike.  I thought it was one of the pulleys in my rear derailleur.  Given my new chain and new cassette, that wouldn't have surprised me.  But, when I stopped at the top, my rear wheel was out of true.  REALLY out of true.  It was actually rubbing against the seat stay, hence the squeaking.

So, I took some time to inspect it, and found one spoke that had come completely loose.  Long story short, got the spoke tightened and the wheel fairly trued.  But, here's the issue- now it's a long descent, and a worry about a spoke that might go out and a spill that might occur.  But, I've got a whole group waiting patiently for me, and I want to get them and me on the road.  So, let's do this!

Jeff had told me he thought there was a "bona fide" bike shop in Ely.  So, I planned to find it.  When we hit the bottom of the descent and dropped into Ely, I started scanning all the shops as we passed them at speed.  Jeff pointed it out- a sporting goods store!  I had my doubts, but needed the help, so in I went.  Jeff and Zo, two my best friends, stayed with me to make sure all was well.  The young guy in the bike shop in the back truly did know how to true a wheel, and after an incident where he stuck an opened ended wrench in a vice to size it down (no kidding!), and then broke it off, he was able to get the wheel very trued and all good to go.  Keep this all in mind, it will play in to what happens tomorrow (day 4).

We ate at McDonald's, which I know isn't healthy, and sounds weird for a bunch of cyclists. But, the burger and fries are heaven, and since they didn't have milkshakes for some reason, I made do with a hot fudge sundae.  Yeah, it was a chore, but someone had to do it!

As we left Ely in a pace line, we were stopped by a highway patrolman.  For real!  Some people had called NHP saying we were riding five abreast. He waited for us and as we pulled along side he hit his lights. He was very low key.  A very cool guy.  And, as he talked to us he said, "Look, I'm a cyclist, I get it. In fact, I'm riding the Huntsman 140 on Saturday." Can you believe it?  We get stopped by a guy who's coming to do the very ride we're leading up to on Saturday. 

From there we had a slog out to the bottom of the final pass, Conor Summit.  It's always a west wind, which slows us down, and it just goes and goes and goes.  But, we got to the bottom, watered up, and made the final climb of the day.  This is a climb we all love, because the descent means LITERALLY 10-12 miles of coasting with very little pedaling if you descend right, stay tucked, and let gravity do it's thing.  And, as you make the last left hand turn into the valley, you see literally dozens of windmills turning, giving it all a very "alien" vibe to the valley.

We all gathered together at the bottom, rode the last 8 miles on the rollers (not fun!), racked the bikes and drove back to Ely.

Mexican food for dinner, good company for discussion, and an end to yet another great day to be alive and on the bike!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

RFR 2015 Day 2 (Cold Springs to Austin, 120 miles)

Ouch.  Yeah, for sure- OUCH!  Mid-90s today.  I was on top of my game with my nutrition, and drinking water as fast as I could get to it. Still, I think I got dehydrated.  It was crazy out there!  The first climb of the day went really well, as did the descent.  Topped out at 51.5 MPH!  Showed my Mom on my Garmin- not impressed!  She doesn't like when I go more than 20! :-) Then Austin came, and the climb ate my lunch.  Yeah, it owned me.  Bad!

The descent from Austin also went well.  Then the climb- ugh!  We did eat lunch in a little campground with some shade, which helped a bit. But, one we got rolling again, I simply couldn't drink enough water to keep myself hydrated and not bonking.  The food- nailed it.  The liquid, tried, but couldn't get it done.

At one point we were stopped on the side of the road and here comes an RV towing a trailer with a car on it.  Except there's this terrible screeching noise, and the right tire of the trailer is gone.  GONE!  The rim is riding on the asphalt, and it literally was leaving a groove in the road.  I would have loved to have seen the dude's face when he pulled in to get some gas, went back to check on the trailer, and saw the tire gone and the rim toast.  I'm thinking UHaul isn't giving that dude his security deposit back.  As we got about 5 miles from Eureka we saw a fire truck putting out a fire on the side of the road, and some folks were suspecting that the wheel of the trailer sparked and caused a fire on the side of the road.  Who knows, but it plays well for a story.

Western bacon burger with fries for dinner.  Drank water all night.  Still feel like I can't get enough.

The big deal was that my right foot has been "burning" with a hot spot.  So bad that at lunch I put a band aid on it just to try to keep the friction of my shoe from rubbing the spot.  Well, I get to the hotel tonight and pull off my shoe- yeah, that looks like a bunion.  Ugh! That ain't gonna go over well for the next 3 days and 420 miles of riding.  We'll see how this goes.

Well, that's it, I'm gonna call it a night.

Much love!


RFR 2015 Day 1 (Reno to Cold Springs, 137 miles)

Well, we closed out day 1 of RFR.  A few interesting things happened along the way...

First was my cassette.  It had been skipping a bit as we rolled out of Reno. As we began Geiger Grade climb, it started revolting.  It's an 11 speed cassette, and I wasn't able to access my three biggest gears- the most important ones for climbing!  Yeah, no big deal.  Fortunately we had Rich Staley with us, and he owns Great Basin Bicycles.  After we consulted and he found out what I wanted for a replacement, he made a few calls and got the part and necessary tools ready, and my dear Mom went to pick them all up.  By lunch time Mom had caught back up to us, Rich had replaced the cassette, and I was golden.  Thanks Rich!

Second, on the way to Fallon we had an RV in oncoming traffic throw a hubcap.  It came spinning at us and then actually started to float- right into our path!  Now, here's the thing.  Most inexperienced cyclists would swerve all around, putting the rest of the pace line in jeopardy.  We had 17 people in the pace line, someone should have gone down.  But, no.  Scotty hit it first, and then Ravell, and back through the left side of the pace line.  NO ONE WENT DOWN!  No one was hurt.  No doubt we had some extra protection from above on that, as well as some serious skilled cyclists in the group!

Many thanks to Vicki Linton and her Dad, Bill, for hosting us for lunch at Lattin Farms.

We rode without further mishap or issue all the way to Cold Springs, and then racked our bikes, hopped back in the cars and drove the 60 miles back to Fallon for the night.

We had dinner at Jerry's as usual.  Although their service is/was rather slow, their food is good. And, a burger, fries and milkshake never seems better than after you've ridden 137 miles!

So, Day 1 down.  4 to go. Love this group and this experience, and love spending the week with my dear Mom!

Much love!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

670 miles and many reasons to ride...

Let's do this!  The Ride From Reno 2015 kicks off tomorrow morning at 7:00 from the Reno arch.  We'll have 17 riders who will pedal every stroke from Reno tomorrow to Huntsman Cancer Hospital on Saturday.  670 miles.  2 states.  25K+ of vertical climb.  Lots and lots and LOTS of carbs. And, one big focus on kicking cancer to the curb.

You see, it's personal for me.  I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009.  My Mom was diagnosed in 2008.  My Grandma fought cancer a couple of times, and ultimately it's what took her life (that, and she was 99 years old!).  So, yeah, I'm a cyclist.  This is an incredible training ride.  Many of those I ride with are lifelong friends, and others are new but will become friends, as well.  But, this isn't about the ride (well, not JUST about it).  It's about the opportunity to raise awareness of cancer treatment, statistics and funding.  It's about the opportunity to raise funds to help fight this disease.  To seek out more tolerable, humane treatment and find a way to fund and find hope.

So, follow along as we travel from Reno to SLC.  I'll be posting, blogging and sharing via social media.  And, if you feel you could make a donation, no matter the size, please feel free to do so at

We're $1K into my $5K goal for fundraising this year, so anything you can do will be appreciated.

Much love...