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

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