Thursday, August 27, 2009

Finally, an Update

Whatever happened to Steve Asche? We used to get these regular updates about Team in Training and his trip across France. Then he dropped off the blogosphere. Did he ever make it across France without more uncomfortable moments with Roy? Did America's Most Beautiful Bike Team ever complete their century ride? What about the sponsorships with all the names on the bike?

Well it's about time I got around to this. To say a lot has happened since June would be an understatement, I'll provide those details in future updates.

Let's get to the most important question - Did America's Most Beautiful Bike Team make their 100 ride around Lake Tahoe?

Of course they did! And they did it in epic fashion. Team Shake 'n Bake would have flown around Lake Tahoe if they could - that and if they had wings and sufficient thrust and all the other physical requirements. The team did fantastically well despite some very, very cold and wet conditions the day before.

The team got up there the day before and we'd planned a tune-up ride. This was a 10 mile ride from the hotel just to get people acclimated to riding at altitude. Of course what we hadn't planned on was cold rain. I debated about whether it was nobler to check into the hotel and take a hot bath or take the team for their tune-up. I opted for the latter. We went for a ride in 40 degree rain and all I could think is people are going to get hypothermia. We were miserable and soaked. On top of that, the weather forecast for Sunday said more of the same in the morning. Great, train all spring to have to face a bitter cold ride. On the plus side, at least there was no concern about overheating. Three weeks earlier we nearly exhausted the team by taking them on an 80 miler in 100-plus heat in Livermore. So now they're going to get the other end of the spectrum. Fortunately everyone survived the ice cold tune-up.

A memorable part of the ride was going up Spooner Summit with Julie Reed, one of the esteemed Shake 'n Bakers. I rode with her the whole way up the 7 mile climb. Along the way we passed dozens of TnT riders from all over the country. Julie was maintaining an aggressive pace. With about a half mile to go, I told Julie that we had just a little farther, pointing out that the top was up ahead around a curve. With that notice, she put the hammer down and started passing everyone. She had a full head of steam and she was not going to be denied. The Shake 'n Bake team regrouped at the top of Spooner and we made the downhill run back to the starting line. The best part of the ride was finishing as a group at the finish line. Check out the picture.

What about the bike sponsorships you ask? It had snowed at the higher elevations around Lake Tahoe a couple days before. Nonetheless I made individual stickers for my bike and had applied every sponsor's name to the frame, forks, and handlebars on my bike. I carefully taped each name down so the wind wouldn't mess cause and incessant flapping as I was riding. It was a work of art. I even had provisions for writing my name on various body parts. I'm sad to say the body part plan was shelved because it was way too cold to have exposed skin. I figured you'd prefer visibility. So everyone that sponsored me got a placement. One special sponsor, Natalie Jenkins, had made such a generous donation that she bought the spot of honor. Yes, those are my shorts.

So what about Roy?

Well after I blew past Roy on Col de Mente, we rode into Luchon. Luchon is a resort town in the center of the Pyrenees. We got to rest for a day and see the sites. The next day we would be climbing our legs off as we would tackle Le Tourmalet. I know, you're disappointed that there are no Roy stories this time. He'll be back, don't worry.

Finally, thank you to everyone that bought sponsorships on my bike. We raised close to $3000 to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. The fight continues. Every day we get closer to a cure.

For this Thanksgiving I would like to thank you for all your generous support.

Steve

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That Day

I know it hasn’t been that long since the last update but I wanted to get another update in before the donation deadline. This update is a little longer than usual, but it is one of my more memorable days on a bike. So if you haven’t read the previous posts you may need to catch up.

I’m still selling sponsorships too. If you made a donation and haven't picked a spot, I may assign one to you or you can let me know. So get your donation in to get a spot on me or my bike.

France – The Hard Way

I woke on day 4 feeling pretty good. Not just-won-the-lottery good, more like slept-through-the-night-without-worrying-about-getting-spooned-by-Roy good. I attribute the better sleep to the glasses of local wine I shared with my new drinking buddy, Brigitte, wife of the non-drinking Rutiger. Trying to exhibit good-ole American hospitality, I couldn’t let her drink wine alone. So we made it a point to sample the local wine at each town we stayed. There’s definitely something to be admired about the rural French, they know how to eat and drink

Roy was already dressed, thankfully, and was describing the day’s upcoming ride. He’d diligently studied the route and, like a doctor explaining impending surgery, he gave me an unrequested but obligatory report that he was sure I needed to know. Along with the news he delivered the weather, it would be really hot today. We have three major cols to climb. As best as I can figure a col is French for a mountain pass. It’s probably short for “collapse” because that’s what you feel like doing when you get to the top. Roommate Roy asked if my sore tendon was going to force me to ride in the van. I wanted to say “I’ll be damned if I ride in the van, what do you think I am?” Instead I said the tendon felt fine and I was good to go. I made a mental note to thank Horst for adjusting my seat and alleviating the problem. As we headed out Roy mentioned that he’d let me have the bed by the window tonight since he always got to the hotel before me and always had first pick of the room. Instead of saying thanks, I smugly said, “Maybe I’ll save the window for you.” He laughed the kind of snort-laugh that I used to hear a lot in my high school days that simply said, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

The first climb, much like the days before, I brought up the rear. But something was different this time; I actually could see the leading groups as I was nearing the top. In other words, I wasn’t as far back as I typically was. On the second climb I rolled to the top for a rest just as Roommate Roy was leaving. Four of us left the top of the second col, crossed the valley and started the third climb – Col de Mente. Roy was something like 20 minutes ahead of us.

Col de Mente climbs about 1100 meters over 15 kilometers. Roughly 3400 feet over 9 miles – or in layman’s terms, a Mt. Diablo. There are many switchbacks that zigzag up the face of the peak. After the first couple turns I had to rest and cool off – Roy was right about the weather. As I was resting the other three riders kept going leaving me as the last rider on the hill - crap. I got back on the bike and continued the long hot climb. As I was slogging along, the tour van pulled along side me and a voice that can be only described as a Teutonic angel, in precise German-accented English I heard – “Vould you like some cold vater?”

Petra, whom I befriended on one of our rides a couple days ago, was in the van. She said they stopped at the spring atop the previous mountain and filled the coolers with ice cold water. I replaced the lukewarm water in my bottles and thanked her profusely. I also poured a healthy amount on the back of my neck and felt amazingly revived. If I’d known her better, I would have kissed her.

With 14 kilometers to climb, a voice inside me said something elegantly simple - “Go” As if propelled by a thermal updraft, I went. I knew that this was the last climb for the day and I might as well leave it all on the mountain. I kicked my cadence up to 80 revolutions per minute and dropped into a fast climbing pace. As I climbed I saw the 3 riders that had passed me earlier. They were a couple switchbacks ahead of me. I didn’t think of them I just focused on my rhythm. Without any fanfare I slipped past the group leaving them quickly behind me. I thought that if I was riding Mt. Diablo back home that this would be one of my personal best rides. I was in the zone. In every westbound switchback I would take a drink of Petra’s ice cold water – in every eastbound switchback I’d pour a little water on the back of my neck. I felt like Floyd Landis in 2006 Tour. Go. After doing this for countless switchbacks, I spotted what I never thought I would see.

With 1.5 kilometers to go to the top, I saw Phil and … Roy! Go. I kicked my cadence up to 85 rpm and quickly closed the gap between us. I came upon them said to them as nonchalantly as possible to make it sound like I was cruising, “Hey, how’s it going?” Roy looked around with a look that said “Where the hell did you come from?” Then I said something that was incredibly cheeky – “grab onto my wheel, I’ll give you a pull”. When you’re riding and someone says that to you, it may mean “Get in my slipstream and it will be easier on you.” But oftentimes it means “You can draft off me - if you can keep up.” I may have said it like the former but I suspect I meant it as the latter. Phil didn’t bite, he knew that it was still another kilometer to the top and he didn’t want to blow up. Roy bit.

I took my pace up a few more notches. Roy and I were flying up the last 800 meters. He was hanging on my wheel. The afternoon sun was beating down. Sweat was flying. I shifted into a couple higher gears and put the hammer down. With that I heard what sounded like the “pfffishhh” sound a compressor makes when it the pressure valve releases. It was Roy making a pronounced exhale as he reached his limit. I cracked him. I pulled away and made it to the top of Col de Mente a few minutes ahead of him.

As we rode into our hotel in Luchon later that afternoon, Roy and I together, Roy said “The beer’s on me tonight, you kicked my butt back there.” For the rest of the trip, Roy was all right. Roy may out climb me on most rides, but today was that day. You know, that day, where everything just works and you can beat the world.

Now here’s the point - You have to keep after it. That’s what TnT and fundraising is all about. There are people fighting for their lives. Some days are bad and some days will be that day. With research more of them will win. This is your last chance to donate so if you are inclined, please consider making a donation. It will give some victim a chance to experience that day.

Steve

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome Back

As you recall, I'm raising money by selling sponsorships on my bike. Thanks to everyone that's helping sponsor my bike and body. I got donations for various bike parts and even a left nipple. I don't know why I say "a left nipple" since I'm not one of those folks with an extra nipples. Anyway, there are plenty of parts and bike components available for sponsorships. Just go to my fundraising site, make a donation and name the part you want sponsored. As you can see in the picture on my blog, Pope Benedict and I are sending you our heartfelt thanks.

France - The Hard Way
As you recall last time, well if you don't recall last time, go to my blog at http://notabouttheback.blogspot.com/ and read about my Bike Story. As I was saying, where we last left my story I was getting ready for the first night in Spain. I was sharing a room with a bottomless roommate that had a Darth Vader breathing apparatus. The pretty much sums it up. Well almost.

Sleeping the first night was brutal. First I'm worried that my Darth Vader roomie might play some mean tricks on me, the weather was so hot it was nearly impossible to sleep. So if he did try playing tricks, I would have been on him like a spider monkey.

So the first day of riding came after a long hot sleepless night. Roy asked if I slept well, I said no. He then asked something about a teabag, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was just glad he didn't try to spoon me in the night. Anyway, we packed our bags and headed down to the parking lot where our journey would begin.

When the idea was first proposed to me to ride a bike across the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, I thought "How hard can it be?" The distance didn't look that far, after all, it was only a few inches on the globe at home. And besides, everything is smaller in Europe. So I figured, what the heck, I could easily ride my bike across France. Look I've been through Death Ride training with Team in Training, I could ride to the moon if I had to. As with many things in life, the reality did not match expectations.

We get down to the lot and I notice that everyone is standing in the shade. Mike is having an animated discussion with Horst, the ride organizer. Horst was smiling and laughing much like when you talk to someone who absolutely no idea what you are talking about but the person doesn't want to offend you. I got close enough to hear what Mike was asking Horst. Mike said "...I'll even buy the ice chest too" As I stepped from the shade into the sun, it became readily apparent why Mike was so insistent on convincing Horst to buy an ice chest and ice. It was 8:30 in the morning and it already felt like late afternoon. All I could think was "oh shoot". At this point I did the only sane and reasonable thing...I offered to double what Mike was offering Horst so he would be extra motivated to buy the ice.

Horst wasn't buying it either figuratively or literally. Besides he said, "There's no place to buy ice." I thought this was crazy. I asked him matter-of-factly, "What they don't have the recipe here?" Horst gave me a look much like you would make when you discover you have gum in your hair.

Plenty of heat. Lack of sleep. No ice. No problem. We finally set off on our ride. Now at this point your probably wondering if I'm going to talk about every mountain pass we rode over giving you exhaustive details about the height in meters and the number of French people I saw, I won't. Here's the shortened version about day 1. It was 90 miles of torture. We climbed over three mountain passes. One pass was on the border between Spain and France where the road had been removed by the locals because they didn't want any illegal immigrant Spaniards sneaking into their country. The highlight of the ride was when my friend Andrew and I found a roadside stand that sold cool Coca Cola. Notice I didn't say ice cold or frosty. Cool is their definition of cold. After the morning and afternoon of blistering heat, sweltering humidity, warm drinking water that we had endured, a cool Coke was perfect. Andrew and I sat and drank our cool Cokes and shared that look of "What the hell have we signed up for?"

Thankfully we finished our rides, we were the last ones to come in to the hotel that evening. Everyone else had been there for some time, had enjoyed cool beers and were relaxing from the ride. Everyone was talking about how hot it was. Of course, Roy had some pearls of wisdom to share. He said "You know, this hot weather is particularly harder on heavier guys. I'm really impressed that you made it." Of course, I'm thinking that's just great. Just what I need, I'm totally beat up and now I'm being patronized...by Roy. If I had been riding at the time I would have squirted my water bottle at him or put my frame pump in his spokes. Maybe another day.

So day one is in the books. We survived. We saw some very pretty country side and we were exhausted. Only 6 more days of this. What had I signed myself up for.

Riding across France is no small feat. Surviving cancer is infinitely harder. If you have been stimulated by the Obama economic plan and have a big heart, please consider donating to fight cancer. And hey you get your name on my bike, or my body. So take a moment, dig moderately deep, and go to my fundraising site.

Stay tuned for my next update and find out if riding across France has any redeeming qualities.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Welcome back. Well that's not really accurate since I'm popping up unexpectedly in your mail box. So I guess I'm welcoming myself back. As you know I'm writing about my annual saga to raise money to fight leukemia and lymphoma and how I'm coaching a group of people to ride their first century ride. I figure you'd appreciate the trials and challenges and hey, if you enjoy the tales, you might want to support the cause. http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/ambbr09/sasche

About the Bike Sponsorship
The offer to sponsor parts of my bike and my attire was met with immediate response. I've got sponsors for my drops (they're on my handlebars), my helmet, my bottle cage, and the back of my shorts! Nice going. I will wear the sponsors names proudly. I told the rest of the team and they thought the idea was quite innovative. To get more sponsors, I figured I'd go the full NASCAR route. I'm offering more body parts for sponsorships. I figure I can use the same grease pen stuff they use on triathletes and put the names of sponsors on body parts. So in addition to bike parts, I am adding my calves, quadriceps and biceps (also known as my guns :-D
If you're interested in signing up, visit my site and make at least a $25 donation. If you're interested in other body parts, let me know I am negotiable. All you have to do is go to the sponsorship website at http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/ambbr09/sasche

A Bike Story
This is not related to the training, which is going quite well, but I figured I'd tell you a bit about my trip across France last summer. That's right, I along with 4 friends and 5 new friends rode our bikes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic along the crests of the Pyrenees mountain range. I'll include little excerpts in these posts. Anyway if you're considering a tour you may want to plan a little more carefully than I.

So there I was sitting in the airport in Perpignan France. This is a little Mediterranean beach town on the border of Spain and France. The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was that it was hot and humid. It felt like Washington DC in August. I met up with my friend Phil and one of the other riders, Roy from Tucson. Our guide, Horst was there to shuttle us to the hotel. We loaded our bike boxes, our luggage and our jet-lagged bodies into the tour group's fine German van and we were on our way to meet the rest of our riders.

Of course the topic of conversation in the van was generally about the weather. Afterall, isn't that what people talk about when they first meet. Horst proceeded to tell us that this 530 mile trek we are about to make is much better in June. It's not nearly as hot and humid. Wait a minute, I just spent a princely sum to ride with Horst's tour group and he's telling me that it would be better if I rode a different time. I started to have some concerns about this trip. He followed up his weather report with a description of the rides, he went on to explain how the Pyrenees are very treacherous, of course with his German accent he pronounced treacherous with a long e sound. So at first I didn't know what he was saying. As we climbed the winding roads that led to our starting point, I realized what he said. Ah jeez.

Roy from Tucson was rattling on about all the great long distance rides he's done around Tucson and Washington state. Apparently he was quite proud of his achievements. Just as I'm thinking, thank God I don't have to listen to these stories all day, Horst says, "By the way, you and Roy will be roomates." I think, "I'm on vacation; maybe it won't be so bad."

We make our way to Port de la Selva Spain. And after meeting the rest of the group, assembling our bikes, having dinner, we get our room assignments. Roomate Roy and I check into our rather small hotel room. The first thing we notice is the single bed. "Oh hell no", is my first thought. After further investigation I realize there are two beds but they're pushed together. I immediately set to separating the beds and made sure there was a safe two feet between the beds. Okay that's not so bad.

Roy then starts to unpack what looks like an oxygen mask and pump. He asks if I mind the sound of his air pump machine. I told him it was okay because I'm deaf in one ear. I can just sleep on my good ear. I was mildly worried about sleeping with the sound of Darth Vader breathing two feet away. I could imagine myself waking up in the middle of the night and being quite disoriented. Finally he says he's ready for bed. He then removes his pants and puts on a t-shirt. Now when I say "removes his pants", I mean he's naked from the waist down. Ah hell.

My immediate thought was, "I wonder if he and his wife are one of those couples where they buy one set of pajamas and one where's the tops and the other wears the bottoms?" But in most couples, the woman wears the tops and the man wears the bottoms. I thought, "they got it all messed up." Which I thought at the time was quite a funny thought. So, naturally, I laughed. Apparently you don't want to laugh when someone in the room is not wearing any pants. Roy asks me, "What's funny?" At this time I immediately think, "Oh no! he thinks I'm laughing at his junk." So I quickly come up with an explanation that Horst made a joke about John McCain and George Bush at dinner. Apparently the Germans were not fond Bush and McCain, but I digress. That's when I remembered Roy is from Arizona, home to Senator McCain. Roy goes, "that's not funny." Now I did not want to get into a conversation with guy not wearing pants, so I said "It's funny when the jokes are told with a German accent." Roy says nothing. Great. Now I'm thinking, "He absolutely thinks I was laughing at his nethers and he's going to do something to me in my sleep or worse, he's going to tell me one of his cycling stories." So on my first night of vacation I am in a tiny hotel room with a half-naked guy with a grudge and a Darth Vader breathing machine. And I'm thinking, "I get 7 days of this and I haven't even done any riding."

In future posts I'll tell you about French beaches, ghost cows, the land where only two people work, near-death experiences, tense moments at customs, and a host of other stories. I'll even share pictures. If you enjoy the tales, then sponsor my cause, I have plenty of spots on my bike and lots of body parts available.

Finally, if you have comments or suggestions, visit my blog.

Steve

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Not About the Back

It's Not About the Back
I'm selling the rights to put your name on my bike in exchange for donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You have to go to my web page to donate. Visit the blog for details.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Welcome back. I appreciate all the well wishers and supporters that have been following my tale of riding my bike and raising money to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. I'm here to share another installment about my latest challenge. As you may recall I've raised money the past 3 years to in honor of my mother-in-law Margie Griffin. Each year I've done something to encourage donations. In the past I've ridden a mile for every dollar donated and last year we had a raffle. This year I've come up with something a little different. The idea for this year's fundraiser comes from my daughter's college alumni association. They sent her a solicitation letter where they were selling sponsorships for chairs in the new music hall. For a substantial sum you got to pay to have your name on a seat in the auditorium. Not a bad idea. So I decided to take that idea and make it better.

For this year's fundraising recognition, I'm going to sell sponsorships on my bike and apparel. That's right you can have your name prominently displayed on a part of my bike. When I'm riding I'll be reminded of people that have supported me this year. It will also remind others of what I'm doing.

Now I realize many of you don't know what the parts of a bike are. So here's a list of parts that are available: handle bars, hoods, drops, forks, top tube, down tube, seat tube, steerer tube, chain stays, seat stays, cranks, hubs, seat, bottle cages. For a, shall we say, $25 donation (of course you're not limited) you can request which bike part you wish to have your name emblazoned. For example, you can visit my donation site at http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/ambbr09/sasche , make a donation and simply send me an email. You can say "Steve, I want a fork" or "I want your crank" and I will gladly put your name on my crank (left or right) or you can have the fork or any other bike part you can think of. Then I will take a picture of the emblazoned part and your name will be for all to see.

Additionally I'm offering items of apparel. I always wear a helmet so you can sponsor that. Or for that extra special someone I'm offering to my to put a select name on the pad of my bicycle shorts. Now you could put anyone in there but this is ideal if you want to send a message to someone that did you wrong. It could be the cop that gave you a ticket this morning or your 9th grade civics teacher. Whatever name you choose, just sponsor me and send me a message that says "I want to be on on your helmet or I want xxxx to be in your shorts"

Check out the bike picture, as you can see there are a plethora of sponsorship opportunities awaiting.

Act fast, all of the best spots are sure to go quickly. Now this is much better than buying a chair in a concert hall. And the best part, it's just as tax deductible.

As always, be sure to check out the blog at http://notabouttheback.blogspot.com/ And if you no longer wish to receive these updates, drop me a message.

Thanks
Steve

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

While the Bay Area has been enduring a week of rain and the rest of the country is slogging through the depths of winter, my thoughts are turning to my annual quest to do something just a little different. But before I launch into my plans for 2009, I'd like to bring some of the new recipients up to date. For the past four years I have ridden my bicycle ridiculous distances in order to raise awareness and funds to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. You can read my tales at my blog at http://notabouttheback.blogspot.com/ I've been doing this because, well, cancer sucks and I have a few friends that died from Leukemia, including my mother-in-law Margie Griffin. So when I'm not organizing reunions, or my day job, or my night job, I ride and raise funds. If you want to support me, and of course I'd be very appreciative if you did, visit my fundraising site at http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/ambbr09/sasche For the new readers, you're up to speed. If you want some background, visit the blog as I said. Look for the entries about kamikaze squirrels, touching the floor, dieting tips, scary events, and how to crush walnuts with ones butt cheeks.

So this year's saga is a little different. The fine folks at Team in Training decided to allow me to be a coach. That's right, can you believe that. The funny thing is they know me too. They said that if the people you coach have half as much fun as you, then you'll do fine. Well, we'll see about that.

To be a coach you have to take a coaching class. I did that. I can now show you how to change a tire while your still riding your bike. Pretty impressive eh! They even had me take a CPR/AED and First Aid class. I spent last Sunday at the Red Cross sitting with a bunch of well-intentioned folks trying to revive the torso of a dummy. The instructor did not appreciate my comments about the dummy being beyond saving nor the comment about how my dummy never got to see Paris. Despite that, the instructor passed me. Now I am coaching certified and CPR certified so the next thing is to actually coach people. So that's what I'm doing. I'm one of the assistant coaches of the America's Most Beautiful Bicycling team. Can you believe that? That is the official name and these folks will be doing their first century rides on June 7th .

Check it out, there's a picture of me on my first day of coaching. It was like my first day of school. So join me every couple weeks while I indulge you with the latest tales from the road and the America's Most Beautiful Bicycling team's quest to do their epic ride. If you get a chance, support the cause