Monday, September 26, 2011

6 gap

I love to climb.  It didn't come naturally for me and it hasn't come easy.  But climbing is an aspect of cycling that I have fully embraced.  Climbing is like math, it's simple - power, weight, the willingness to suffer - not much else.  I believe that most of my cycling fitness that I have now can be traced to the fact that I love to climb and continually seek out opportunities to climb.

The first time I did the 6 gap century was in 2005.  That was the year that I got back into cycling after a 4 year excursion into motorsports (and getting fat).  I remember some things about the ride, but I don't remember why I signed up for it.  Half of the 6 major climbs I had never been on before and it was only the third century I had ever done.  Needless to say, it was not an easy day.  But I finished, and the next day and the following weeks and months, I looked back with pride that I had accomplished something that at the time, wasn't very easy for me.

Since then I haven't missed an edition of 6 gap save for the year that I crashed and broke a few bones the week before the event.  None were easy physically, but they did get easier mentally. Each year added another year of 'training age' which made me better prepared for a good day in the saddle.

Yesterday when the riders rolled out of the high school in Dahlonega, I wasn't there.  It's kind of hard to explain why.  I still love climbing.  I still love riding in N. GA.  I still have a number in my head that I want to crack on that century.

This year I just didn't have the hunger to do this ride.  My weight is good, fitness is good, equipment ready to go, but...  Maybe my big event for the year was the Crusher.  Maybe it's the fact that work has been a bit crazy for the last month or so.  Maybe getting my head wrapped around an annual training plan and fundraising for RAAM is using up too much bandwidth.  Maybe I'm banking time with the family to help offset said training and the 10 days or so I'll be out of pocket next June.

I don't know.

I do know that I skipped 6 gap this year and I feel fine about it.  I guess that means it's OK.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

big nut to crack

We had our first 'official' team meeting for the GA Chain Gang yesterday.  Good to meet more of the team and start getting some of the fundraising ideas vetted.  I got into this with my eyes open, but still it's a little intimidating to have what seems to be a really big number preceded by a dollar sign next to my name.

Simultaneously terrifying and exciting... kind of like life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

be decent

I did my first Team in Training event in 1999.  My wife got a flyer in the mail, basically a cold call.  She was interested in a marathon and it seemed like a good cause.  The info meeting was just around the corner from my office, so I tagged along to just to check it out.  Ended up signing up for a century, first one I ever did.  

At the time I had no connection to leukemia or lymphoma.  No family members, no friends, nobody I knew was affected by blood diseases.  

That changed.

Because of my involvement with TNT, I've met many patients, survivors, and those that lost loved ones to these diseases.  These people are one of the reasons that I've been involved with TNT for so long.  The money raised by TNT directly effects these peoples live's, kind of makes it easy to stay involved.  The people I've been training with over these years have become like an extended family.  It also doesn't hurt that I love riding bikes.

You might say that since I'd likely be riding bikes anyway, this is not too much of a sacrifice for me to be making.  Kind of like recycling, how hard is it to put the magazine in the bin instead of the garbage can, right?  That's a valid argument, and might have been pretty close to the truth a couple years ago.  

But now I know people, not numbers or statistics, actual people.  

Because of these people I'm going to do something this week that I've never done before, I'm going to donate blood platelets.  Why?  Because people going through chemo for blood cancers need them.  Because people I know can benefit.  Because I'm blessed with a healthy body and can do it.  Because it's the decent thing to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This last week turned out to be a recovery week for me.  Wasn't really planned, life just got in the way.  Between work, kids sport practices, birthday parties, honey do lists, and sleep, trying to carve out even 4 to 6 hours for riding sometimes just doesn't happen.

Cycling, like many sports/hobbies, is a selfish past time.  Time spent on the bike is usually time that has no other redeeming qualities for anyone other than to the person riding the bike.  Time on the bike is time your not kicking a soccer ball with your kids, or getting the weeds out of the flowers, or listening to your spouse unwinding from a hard day at work.

So you get to really appreciate time on the bike.  Time alone with just yourself and your suffering becomes your therapy, your cleansing.  Pushing the poison out for a couple of hours makes everything a little more rosy.

No time on the bike this week was OK.  Life was full, and I got what I need to get done, done.  And there's always this week...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Hope This Doesn't Suck

Been kicking around the idea of starting a blog since Jul 30th of this year.  That’s the day I got an email asking if I would be a rider in the 8 person Georgia Chain Gang for RAAM 2012.  Not to sound elitist, but the thought of sharing 1/8th of the load on a 3000 mile bike race across the US doesn’t really worry me much.  Two 4 person squads working on 12 hour shifts, yields about 3 hours or so of riding every 24 hours.  The 3 hours will be hard hours, but it should be manageable.  

I consider myself a cyclist.  I ride pretty much year round, follow a regular training schedule, and hold my own, most of the time.  If I actually did any racing, I like to think I’d be able to not embarrass myself in Cat 5, maybe...  Last year I crewed for the GA Chain Gang, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ve gotten myself into from an athletic point of view.  I said it then and I still believe that it’s easier to ride on a team in RAAM than to crew.

So.. what worries me about this endeavour?  

The GA Chain Gang completed RAAM as a 4 person team in both 2010 and 2011 and in the process raised almost $250,000 total for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This was how much they were actually able to turn over to LLS, after expenses.  A pretty impressive number.  The goal for 2012 is $250,000 more, just this event, not two years combined.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this.  I’m not a very social person, even for a guy.  Put me in a room full of people milling around and talking, and I’ll be the guy in the corner looking for the one other non-social person that I can talk to about bikes or cars or anything...  But, in order to get out in the world and spread some word about my involvement with the GA Chain Gang, and to help crack this fund-raising nut, I figured I could talk to my keyboard instead of a room full of people.  

I’ve followed a number of really good blogs over the years.  Some written by people that I’ve met and would have had no idea that they could do such a good job of putting ‘ink to paper’.  Some of those blogs are still around and I still read them.  This one, we’ll see.  Like a lot of things in life I’m starting something without really knowing what I’m doing.  Stuff like all the widgets and hot links and wiz-bang things that make the user interface fun are likely going to be missing for a while.  I’m going to have to rely on interesting content and clever delivery.  I hope it doesn’t suck.