Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Latest Challenge – Update #3

This is my third update about my latest challenge. For those of you new to receiving these updates – here’s the deal: I’ve taken on the challenge of completing an epic endurance event with the purpose of raising money to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. I decided to take up this challenge in honor of my mother-in-law, Margie Griffin, who passed away from leukemia last August, and my friend Stacy Bowman, who is a leukemia survivor. My goal is to raise $7,500 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society through the Team in Training program. My personal challenge is to complete the Tour of the California Alps, also known as the Death Ride – a one day, 130 mile ride, climbing 15,000 feet, over 5 mountain passes.

If you’re interested in sponsoring me or learning what it’s all about, check out my fundraising site at Steve’s Team in Training Page Steve's Team in Training Page


Why Quit Now…
Thanks to the generous contributions of so many of you, I’ve reached my original goal of $5,000. So of course, with a few months to go before the ride, I’ve raised my goal by 50% to $7,500. After meeting so many cancer survivors and patients, I know it’s going to a great cause.

They shouldn’t call it the Death Ride, they should call it Death Training…
We’re one month into the training regimen and we’re piling on the miles. We’re routinely doing 60 miles every Saturday and will be up to 100 miles by April. The coaches make it a point to find the hilliest routes they can. We also learned that bikes work just fine in the rain. On one ride through the Oakland hills, we had to navigate around patches of ice lest we go sliding off the road. With the recent snow in the bay area, we had an even colder and wetter ride. It’s bad enough that bike shorts are akin to riding in your underwear, but when the water from the rear tire sprays up your back and on your shorts, that just adds insult to the misery. Not to mention the fashion faux pas of having a brown strip running down your spine, making you look like an enormous spandex clad chipmunk.

There’s a reason why the best riders are so small…
Our coaches are on the smallish side, tipping the scales at a buck fifty. I and some of my teammates tip the scales on the north side of 200 pounds. We are quick to point out to them, that because we weigh more, we’re doing much more work than they are – (a point that I proved with a lengthy physics discussion on one ride) It did not deter them from prodding us up another hill. They refer to us as “Clydesdales”. I’m beginning to think there’s a little bit of sadist in some of the coaches. If they make us pull a wagon as part of the training, I’m going to put my hoof…er…foot down.

What’s the hardest part of riding?
Some people may talk about the long hours in the saddle or the agony of leg cramps, but those are minor irritants. Come spring and summer the country roads, particularly on Mount Diablo and the Alameda Creek trail, will be besieged by the bane of many cyclists…kamikaze squirrels. I have ridden countless times down a road, approaching a squirrel that’s sitting up on the side of the pavement. As soon as you are within a couple feet, he darts right in front of you. Usually a quick swerve avoids disaster. I’ve had a couple occasions where the squirrels run between the front and rear tire. I’m just thankful that one hasn’t tried to jump through the spokes. I’ve heard riders tell their tales of broken spokes while tactfully avoiding the distasteful description of what befell the poor squirrel. I’m thankful that my lunch time rides to MC Hammer’s old house is not a squirrel-riddled route – yet.

If you want to know more about why I’m doing this and some of the tips picked up along the way, you can visit It's Not About the Back

If you want to be removed from this email, just drop me an email. I know you get lots of email, so I won’t take it personally.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Thank you to everyone that has sponsored me for my challenge of raising $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and for my personal challenge of cycling 130 miles, 5 mountain passes, and climbing 15,000 feet. I am raising money in tribute to my mother-in-law, Margie Griffin, who passed away from leukemia last year and for my friend Stacy Bowman who is in remission from leukemia.

Instead of repeating the previous emails, I'll answer a few questions that people have sent:

What about the back?
Many of you know that I had back surgery to repair a herniated disk in December 2004. This prevented me from doing this ride last year. In November of last year, two lower disks in my back decided to degenerate further. My doctor, who happens to be a cyclist, has committed to keeping me together until the ride. (Much to his better judgment, of course.) So every week I get shots of ozone in my back to relieve the swelling - I'll skip the details. We'll keep it together until July. After all, to paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it's not about the back.

Is that ride you're doing called "The Death Ride"?
Actually, yes. I preferred not to use that terminology because it seemed less than politically correct. Regardless, it is known as "The Death Ride" or the more recent, "Tour of the California Alps". It gets its name from the simple fact, it is really hard to do. Half of the people that attempt it, don't finish. Do I have to donate now?You can donate whenever you feel like it. I set the deadline for April so people would not forget. My wife's cousin made a donation of $1 per mile, she paid up front to make sure I completed the ride. If anyone wants to donate $1 per foot of elevation gain, I won't turn them down :-D.

Can I send you a check instead of donating online?
Yes. Drop me an email and I'll send you the instructions.Will you make your goals?I am 100% confident that I will reach the fundraising goals. I will probably raise my goal. Don't worry, I won't ask people to sponsor me twice. As for completing the ride, the miracle of modern medicine will get me through.

How can I get you to stop sending emails?
Drop me a line and I'll take you off the distribution list.

Again the link to my fundraising page is

Thanks for your support,
The last time I wrote to you I told you about my latest challenge - to raise $5,000 to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma in honor of my mother in law, Margie Griffin, and my friend Stacy Bowman. As part of my personal challenge, I've been training to ride 130 miles and climb 5 mountain passes in one day. So far 16 people have donated to help me fight leukemia and lymphoma. Many more have offered their support. I've been overwhelmed by the response. There have been many people that responded that said they had a relative or friend who passed away. The stories have been gut wrenching to say the least.

So far I'm at 25% of my fundraising goal. Thank you again to all of you who have sponsored me. In addition to the fundraising, I've begun my training for the ride. The first official training ride was this week and it was a fast and chilly 25 mile ride. The group I am in has two people who are cancer survivors. One common comment from the cancer survivors is that they profess that they're fortunate and lucky. That they're also planning to do the same grueling ride is especially impressive.

If you are considering sponsoring me or if you'd like to forward this email to an associate, you can visit my web page at

Thanks for your support,
Hi All,
After many years of self-indulgence, I thought it was high time to do something meaningful. Last August my mother-in-law passed away from leukemia. She was very close to my family. So I decided to find a cause that would help others that were fighting leukemia and lymphoma. The Team in Training organization does just that - by raising funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. So as part of my tribute to her I've decided to raise $5,000 by April in her honor.

Team in Training raises millions of dollars to fight blood cancers, help victims, and raise awareness. As part of the challenge I'm taking on a personal challenge of completing a grueling 130 mile bike ride over 5 mountain passes on July 8th. The personal challenge is a symbolic way of showing that great challenges, like fighting blood cancers, can be defeated. With continued research and care for the afflicted, these diseases will be overcome.
This is a great cause and, having seen the effects of leukemia first hand, know that these are diseases that have to be overcome. If you, or anyone you know are interested in supporting this cause please check out my web page at

Thanks for your support,