Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Now Let's Have Some Fun in 2014

Happy New Year everyone and Merry Christmas too.

Let me start by saying, I'm not asking for money.  That's a switch.  I know my friend Dave said that he could always tell when spring was near because he would get an email from me asking for support for fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Last year, as you may recall, I did the Death Ride, and in the process, you fine folks donated over $4000 to support the cause.  Once again, thank you very much.

I actually did two Team in Training events in 2014.  The Solvang Century in March and the aforementioned Death Ride.  And I must say, I had a lot of fun.  So when my dear friend K.Sue Duncan called me a month ago to coach for her cycling team, I simply couldn't say no.

So here's the thing, I will be coaching as part of the Team in Training America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride team (AMBBR).  This is a century ride that circumnavigates Lake Tahoe.  That's right, on Sunday June 1st, a whole bunch of riders will be circling the lake.  Five years ago, Team Shake n' Bake did this ride and it changed their lives ... for the better.  Now, I can't guarantee a life altering experience such as Team Shake 'n Bake's, but I can guarantee you'll have fun.

So instead of asking for money, I'm inviting you to join me on this classic, beautiful ride.  You'll be in great shape, you'll be virtuous and you'll be in great company.  So here's my invitation - sign up for TnT AMBBR and we'll have the ride of a lifetime.  You can join by going to this link here https://www.teamintraining.org/register

But wait, "don't we have to raise money", you ask.  Yes, there is a fundraising commitment.  But here's the deal.  If you sign up, I will personally donate the first $50 for your fundraising.  THAT'S RIGHT.  I'm not asking for money, I'm giving money away!!  Holy guacamole.  Call it the Christmas Spirit, call it the weakness from dieting, call it ether induced hallucinations, but the offer is legit.  If you sign up and tell them I referred you, I will plunk 50 "semolians" towards your cause.  I will also help promote you too.  Because, that's just the kind of guy I am.  

So go to the link I've provided or contact me with questions.  Sign up in the next couple weeks.  Training begins in February.  You'll have fun and you get to help fight some crappy diseases.

Please join. https://www.teamintraining.org/register


Monday, August 12, 2013

Bigger News Than the Return of Breaking Bad

First let me say thank you to all the donors that contributed $4,000 towards the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma.  Your support was phenomenal and I greatly appreciate it.  Now to work my way through the thank you notes...

So the Death Ride happened on July 13th, just about a month ago.  But before I tell you about the Death Ride, let me tell you about another ride.  On September 17th 2011, I was leading my team of riders over hills on the Peninsula.  We had just finished climbing Old La Honda Road and had worked our way over to the descent down Kings Mountain Road.   We started down Kings Mountain, in one moment I could see our path down the tree lined road and in the next moment, I was in an ambulance and a paramedic was asking me if I knew where I was.  From the accounts of the riders I was with, I would guess that 20 minutes of my life were spent as someone else.  I was told that I crashed and that I was talking after I regained consciousness, but for the life of me, I cannot remember any of that.  While crashing is traumatic in and of itself, the part that really unnerved me was as I was riding in the back of the ambulance - all I could think was that I needed to call Sherri.  As I said it to myself, I couldn't understand why that thought made me uneasy.  As I lay in the rolling ambulance, I searched my mind trying to recall her phone number. After several minutes of brain racking, like being dropped in a cold lake where the water takes your breath away and you can't think of anything but air, it all came back.  The paramedic gave me a startled look as I gasped with the realization that I couldn't call my wife because she had passed away 17 months earlier.  The paramedic asked what was happening and I feebly waved him off and said I would be okay.  

But I wasn't okay.

Every hill I have ridden since that day has been an exercise of will.  It's not the going up, rather the going down.  As I would start a descent, I would ride my brakes too much, I would grip the handle bars too tightly; essentially the counter-intuitive things you should not do if you're trying to avoid a crash.  Nonetheless, every hill was approached with weighty apprehension.  After a year of this, I decided to do something about it.  I was so afraid of descending hills that it was taking the fun out of riding my bike.  I was so afraid of ending up on the road and losing myself, and either repeating or outright losing memories.  So I did the irrational thing, I faced down my fears.  I reasoned, if you're afraid of descents, then do more descents.  So I signed up to do that Death Ride, not only to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma, a worthy cause if there ever was one, but to regain my confidence and joy for riding.

I knew that training for the Death Ride would also be traumatic.  In the previous three Death Rides I've done, Sherri was heavily involved in SAG support.  She would come on practically every ride and would be there along the route to provide water and food to support the team.  She was so good at it, that she created a cook book that SAG people still use.  During this year's training I would roll up to a rest stop to see snacks that our supporters provided that were made from Sherri's recipes.  On every ride, I would relive her memory because the rest stops would be at the same locations from rides that we did years earlier. Every training ride was a melancholy reminder.

So the Death Ride comes and, as always, it's painful and torturous.  Every climb is tough and every descent is nerve-wracking.  As I was climbing the west side of Ebbett's Pass, the fourth of five mountain passes, a section where the sun sucks the energy from me and usually portends the onset of leg cramps, something different happened.  As I was grinding it out, a cool tailwind comes from the valley and I felt relieved and energized.  Like being pulled from the lake, I felt buoyed.  In that moment, I could hear Sherri's voice in my mind saying it was going to be okay; you can do this.  

And you know what...I did.  

I rode better on the last 40 miles of the ride than I did on the previous 80.  I was able to relax and, like a skier slaloming through fresh powder, I flowed easily down the east side of Ebbett's and kept a blistering pace through Markleeville, past the cheering crowds of spectators who sat on the courthouse lawn eating ice cream as we suffered by.  I climbed the last mountain pass and I kept a steady and strong rhythm all the way to the top.  As I descended, I could feel myself relaxing and enjoying the wind rushing past while savoring the fresh mountain air.   

I finished the Death Ride an hour faster than previous times.  As I rode to the finish I could see the TnT folks and I could see my girlfriend Tracy.  While I have to say I couldn't have done the Death Ride without their support during the season and on the ride day, I know that on this day, there was something more.

Thanks to all my supporters for another great season.  If you would still like to donate, please visit my fundraising site.  You're doing a good thing.


Monday, June 03, 2013

Bigger News than the Discovery of the Higgs Boson

I realize the Higgs Boson discovery was some months ago, but I'm totally a science geek and really like that stuff.  Anyway, I can't believe it's been over a month since my last update.  You'd think I was on vacation... I wasn't.  Actually, I have some good news to share.  I am now re-employed.  Yes, I know many of you didn't know I was ever unemployed.  Seems the startup I was with last year would rather conserve cash than pay for marketing people.  I don't blame them, it's the reality of startups.  So I was on the dole for Christmas and New Years.   Not to fret though, I got a great job working for SAP.  I was contracting since the beginning of March and last week they decided to make me a full-time employee.  Sweet!

In an odd twist of fate, SAP was one the marquee customers for my last company, Redwood Systems.  So every day, I see the Redwood's products right above my head.  But enough about that, let's get to the important things.

First, you still have time to make a contribution and get in on the Pork-a-Palooza - Hamtastic 4 action.  Simply go to my fundraising page and pull the handle.. You don't want to miss out on the this event, I've gotten donations from all over the world - individuals and institutions.  I'm telling you, this really is bigger than the Higgs Boson discovery.

I realize I haven't really said much about my training.  In years past, that would be most of my message.  Let me put it this way, it's been damn hard. So get this - normally I ride with the not the slow group and not the fast group, I usually ride with the half-fast group.  So some of the riders, nay most of the riders, from the fast group (aka the varsity team) decided they want to ride with the half-fast group.  Obviously they don't want to work as hard.  So what does this mean, me and my rather massive body have have to chase these little bastards up and down every hill we train on.  Mind you, I don't mind if they want to dog it with the half-fast team.  I figure I'll benefit because I'm working a lot harder than they are. 

Speaking of working hard, you know, cancer won't cure itself.  Again this year, I've heard from lots of people that have loved ones who have been affected by blood cancers.  I am thankful I can do what I can to help raise funds to battle these diseases.  I'll keep chasing those little-bastard varsity riders over hundreds of miles of mountains if it helps raise funds to fight leukemia and lymphoma.   Please take a moment to do something good and get on the Pork-a-Palooza train.  

Thanks again

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bigger News Than My Birthday

Hello Again,

I'm back with a bit of an update and some cool news.  First, many thanks to all the fine folks who have donated to the fight against blood cancers.  Your generosity always continues to astound me.  If you want to see how much has been raised, I encourage you to go to my fundraising page to check it out  While you're there, feel free to click the radio buttons and try entering some numbers.  It's very worthwhile.

Speaking of numbers, so the here's an update on the suffering.  By the suffering, I mean the training. First, you have to understand, training for this event is hard.  Not hard like working with differential equations, hard like dragging a dead pig across a desert.  The reason I don't post any pictures of myself is because there are no happy shots - only grimacing shots.  If you've known me a long time, you've noticed that I haven't aged well.  That's okay. I'm fine with that; the grizzled appearance accompanies my occasionally cranky demeanor... like when I'm doing my training rides.  But despite my challenges with youth, or lack thereof, and weight, as in too much, I've still managed to ride close to 1400 miles and climb nearly 107,000 feet.  And that's just the beginning.   Now it sounds like I'm congratulating myself, I'm not.  I just want you to know, that there are about 25 people just like me, well except for the weight and age thing, who are suffering and fundraising right along with me.  And each one has committed to raise money and awareness to fight these terrible diseases.  

Of course there's something I'm doing that they're not doing, and that is Pork-a-Palooza - The Hamtastic 4.  That's right, the invitations are ready to hit the interwebs.  Now generally speaking, invitations go to donors, past, present and sometimes future.  The easiest way to lock in your invitation is simply, make a donation.  Yep, go to the link that is included in the first or last paragraphs and you too will be on the a-list for the smoked meat extravaganza of the the year.  As an added incentive, anyone that donates $100 or more, will receive a jar of Pork-a-Palooza special caramel sauce.  The early reviews are in, here are a few:

"You call that caramel? I call it heaven"
"I could eat that right out of the jar"
"I've heard tales of caramel sauce like this in the West Indies from my days before the mast...yahhrrrr!!"

Sounds pretty good, huh? 

Anyway, Pork-a-Palooza is scheduled for June 23rd.  

Finally, it was my birthday last week and I'm reminded that "you can't have your cake and eat it too."  "Nuts to that", I just say buy more cake.  And the moral is, you can do something good for someone else and do something good for yourself.  Simply, make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and join Rob and me at Pork-a-Palooza - The Hamtastic 4.

Thanks for listening

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bigger News than The Walking Dead Finale

Hello again, 

I'm back to clutter your inbox with observations, solicitation and celebration.  If you read my last email/blog post you should have learned about Pork-a-Palooza - The Hamtastic Four and my ongoing efforts to raise funds to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma.  To recap, I am attempting to do my fifth Death Ride.  That's riding my bike 129 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing in one very long day.  That event happens in July.   I'm doing this to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  You know, these diseases won't cure themselves.  So the LLS funds research and patient services.  Truly, it's a good cause and breakthroughs will help many victims.

As if the virtuous benefit of donating to a good cause wasn't enough motivation for you, I am also hosting an annual event with my son, Rob.  Pork-a-Palooza is a fete replete with heaps of meat.  This year's Pork-a-Palooza continues to get better.  As you know, or will know, Pork-a-Palooza is a combination smoke fest - where Rob and I prepare lots of smoked dishes - and pot luck.  To round out the menu, guests also bring their pork-themed dishes. This year we will make things more exciting.  That's right, it's a food fest and pot luck and we will be giving awards to those dishes voted best in show.   Email invitations will be coming soon.

So how do you get on this smokey party wagon?  That's easy - make a donation to the cause.  I'm thinking of a number...$50.00 is a good start.  Now if you donate $100 or more, you'll get a jar of my homemade caramel sauce made specially for this event.  Last year I gave out t-shirts and trying to estimate a distribution of sizes just made it a little impractical.  So this year the caramel sauce is one size fits all.

Many people have already jumped on the party wagon.  Thank you to all those who are already supporting the cause.

While all this is happening, there's a fair amount of training going on.  On March 9th I finished my season with Team Awesome at the Solvang Century.  Team Awesome was my group of TnT riders who trained all winter to do, for most, their first century ride.  They too, like all TnT participants, raised money for LLS.   Two of my riders were top fundraisers for the greater team.  So wouldn't it be cool if we could match the fundraising exploits of Team Awesome.  Well I'm certainly going to try.

Remember, please donate at my site Follow this link

Finally, as the holidays of Easter and Passover have just passed, I am reminded of hope.  These holidays tell us that there is always hope and that's what this fundraising is about.  We're fighting today in the hopes that we will defeat these diseases.

Thanks for your time

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bigger News Than the Pope's Resignation

Welcome back, it's that time of year when I start popping up in your inbox with messages about fundraising and pork.  Yes, I am the email equivalent of the swallows returning to Capistrano only with less bird droppings.  I realize this may be confusing for new recipients of these emails, so let me explain:

Since 2006 I have been raising money to help fight Leukemia and Lymphoma.  I support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the Team in Training program.  I take on a physical challenge to raise awareness and funds for LLS.  In return for supporting my quest, my son and I throw a kick-ass party called Pork-a-Palooza.  More about this year's Pork-a-Palooza in a bit.

First, let me tell you why I do this.  I know several people who died from leukemia and lymphoma.  In all cases they were taken from us too soon.  I have met many blood cancer survivors and I know that they would not be here today if not for advances in medicine and research.  I think that with continued research, we will find a cure for these devastating diseases.

Second, let me tell you what I'm doing.  I have committed to complete the Tour of the California Alps, more popularly known as The Death Ride.  This is a single-day bike ride that climbs 5 mountains over 129 miles.  To put it bluntly, it's crazy hard.  To do it you have to work at it and the lunacy of it helps me talk about the fundraising challenge.  Speaking of which, let me be specific - I hope to raise $3500 in donations by the end of May. To donate, please click on this link here to visit my donation page.

Finally, if you donate you get more than simply the satisfaction of supporting a good cause.  When Pork-a-Palooza started to get popular, we struck on the idea of combining it with fundraising.  So here's the payoff.  If you donate $50, you get preferred treatment at this year's fourth annual Pork-a-Palooza.  The theme for this year's Pork-a-Palooza is [drum roll]....THE HAMTASTIC FOUR.   Additionally, we will have an award for best dish and we'll be expanding the menu.  More on this in future updates.

Just like Pork-a-Palooza gets better each year, the offers get better too.  If you donate over $100, you get a jar of my home made caramel sauce.  I have been crafting a combination of two of my favorite flavors.  More on this in future updates.

So there you have it.  I am raising money to fight leukemia and lymphoma.  If you donate you get preferred treatment at Pork-a-Palooza - The Hamtastic Four.   If you donate more, you get some phenomenal caramel sauce too.  To donate - click here

Finally, mark your calendars Pork-a-Palooza - The Hamtastic Four will be held on June 23rd.  Invitations to follow.