July 12,2009; Livestrong Challenge
I signed up for the Livestrong ride back in March because of a challenge set forth to me by the fatcyclist Elden Nelson. I've been following his blog at www.fatcyclist.com for 3 years. At first it was just a really fun blog to read about a once fat guy who loves cycling. Then he found out his wife, Susan, had a relapse of breast cancer. Then his blog became inspirational. Little did I know that between March and July I would find out that my good friend Jen would find out she has ovarian cancer and I would be putting my Godfather who was in everything that counts my father in hospice care.
I woke up at 5AM on the day of the ride thinking...I can't believe I'm about to ride 100 miles. I'd rather just stay in this comfy bed. I new that Sue and Jay were about to come pick me up so I dragged out of bed and had my normal pre-race food of a bagel with an egg, cheese, and ham. Way too soon Sue was at the door and we were on our way to San Jose. On the way we heard a loud pop and hiss. We all knew that sound. Who's tire was that? Of course it was mine. We got there about 45 minutes before the start of the ride which was plenty of time to change my flat and get to the start of the ride. This is when I found out that I was able to start in the very front due to the fact that team Fat Cyclist raised more than any other team at Livestrong. I met a bunch of really cool people who were all pulling for Susan and who all were here to cure cancer. After hearing an amazing speech from the X CEO of HP Carly Fiorina who is currently undergoing treatments for breast cancer the air horn blew.
The police were going to lead us at a pace of 20mph for the first 9 miles. I was able to hang with the front for the first couple of miles but then I realized that I would be out there for 100 miles and my heart rate was up way too high and I was working way too hard for this so I dropped back and began to enjoy myself chit chatting with the other Fat Cyclists. The first stop was at mile 11 which was way too soon to be stopping. I new I had told Sue and Jay that I would wait for them but I have ridden with Sue enough to know that there was no way she would stop. At this point I caught up to the team wearing the US Navy kits and jumped on the back of their pace group. I continued with them until we hit our first climb of the day, Shannon rd,which is a 400 ft climb that got steep towards the end. At the top of the climb there was a guy dressed up as a devil. The guy next to me said "I've been trying to stay away from that guy all my life" After passing the devil, I kept going to the second stop.
When I got there I saw a ton of people I knew including Jen Yen, Sean, Berend, Danny, Phil, Bennet, Josie, I know I'm missing a bunch. I called Sue and she said she was a couple minutes back so I chose to wait and visit with my friends. Once Sue and Jay caught up and had a chance to do what they had to do at the stop we took off with Danny, Phil, Bennet, and their friend. We enjoyed riding together for about 15 miles before the 65/100 mile cutoff. They were doing 65 and Sue, Jay and I were doing the 100. We separated for a bit due to the fact that there were a series of hills and the three of us climb at different paces. I started thinking I should stop and wait for Sue and Jay when my chain dropped. I pulled over and fixed it just in time to see them cresting the hill. After a while we got separated again and I caught the tire of some guy in a Liquigas kit. I let him pull for a while and then commented on how pretty the ride was and said that I'd pull since I'd been on his tire for a while. We exchanged pulls until we hit the 3rd stop at Uvas reservoir. As soon as I got there a volunteer with a Fatcyclist T-Shirt took my bike and had someone take my bottles to fill. I ran over to the food tent and grabbed some nutrition. By then Sue and Jay were at the stop.
We then rode through some beautiful wineries. We went through some uphill followed by a nice fast long downhill. I noted that I was going 30MPH then POP! I thought Sue had gotten a flat then I realized it was me. I pulled over and started taking off my tire when SAG came by and offered assistance. I asked if they had a pump and they pulled over and assisted me with the tire change. I got the new tube in and then realized I had a faulty valve so had to take the tire off and start over. Sigh...at least we had a real pump and weren't dealing with CO2 or anything. After the change we continued on our way. We then started down this long straight road with some good headwinds. Jay being the strongest cyclist (by FAR) pulled us for the whole road. I can't thank him enough!
After our next water stop, in which I exchanged hi fives with several other Fatties doing the full century, we were warned that the stop before Metcalf was only 5 miles away. The entire ride I'd been dreading Metcalf road. After crossing 101 there was this climb which I thought was Metcalf. I thought ok...it's hard but I don't see what the big deal is. Then I realized that wasn't Metcalf. I then hit the stop before Metcalf which was at the base. OMG! Metcalf is steep. 1000 ft of climbing in 1.8 miles. I looked up and shuttered in fear. Sue was in the restroom but I told Jay that Sue is a much better climber than me when it comes to really steep stuff so I was going to go ahead. I was tempted to grab one of the SAG wagons who were picking people up (who didn't want to climb Metcalf) at that stop and taking them to the next but I didn't. WAY too quickly I was walking my bike. I looked up and saw about 10 people...8 of whom were also walking. I walked for a while then my calves started cramping, then I tried to get on my bike but fell over. Then I saw a guy cross the street ahead and take a running start. I did the same and quickly ran out of steam. I started walking again and cramping again. At this point a SAG vehicle passed and asked if I was ok. It took my all but I asked her to take me to the top. I felt bad but I wasn't really riding I was walking and I was cramping and starting to get overheated so I let Metcalf beat me. On the way to the next stop I saw Jay waiting for Sue and I at the top. I knew that Sue hadn't passed me so I assumed she would realize I had SAGGED up. Once I got to the top, I was let out in front of my friends Jen Yen and Sandy M. I was embarrassed but they were cool about it. We talked a bit then they took off and I went to the shade to wait for Sue and Jay. Sue soon came by also in the SAG wagon. Apparently, she had thrown up. Fortunately, a motorcyclist went back to tell Jay that we were both up top (did I mention how amazingly supported this ride was).
Once Jay got to us we started on what I thought was going to be a screaming fun downhill. WAY too soon we hit another 400 ft climb. Typically this climb would be tough but not too hard for me but I left everything on Metcalf. I struggled but made it. I noticed I was pretty grumpy so tried to get some nutrition in me to take me to the end. The rest of the ride I was just ready for it to be over. I guess I got a little careless with nutrition and started bonking a bit. Despite the fact that I knew this I just didn't want to eat. Eventually, I succumbed and forced down a Gu. I felt much better and happily rode the last 15 miles. Sooner than I expected we hit the finish line. The people cheering were incredible and the announcer calling my name made me emotional (you would think as many races and rides as I've done I'd stop getting choked up at the end). Sue Jay in line got in line for the food, grabbed our free beers and happily sat eating our food contemplating our next event. This was a great ride and I can't wait to do it again next year!
We had put my Godfather in hospice the previous Monday. It was a tough decision but with cancer in his lungs, kidneys, bones, and brain it was time to just be sure he was comfortable. He's been confused a lot and we haven't been sure that he knows what's going on. After my shower I went to see him. He looked at me and in a moment of clarity he said "Did you win anything?" I thought about that. I did win...just having him present for me at that moment was more than any prize or medal that anyone could have given me.
Win Susan, Win Jen, Win Padrinho!