The Reason I am Doing It.

It was my brother's idea at first, he told me he had looked into doing a sponsored bike ride in England. The idea was to raise money for leukemia research because our mother had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2005. Since I enjoy cycling, raising money for leukemia research while bike riding sounded perfect. An evening of "Googling" later, I had found Team In Training, a group that fund-raise with endurance sports for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I initially registered for the 2007 Lake Tahoe event, but had to drop out when it became aparent that Mum was losing her battle with leukemia. This year I am back and intent on raising $5000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The event I am training for is a 100-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe on June 1st 2008. Because of the altitude (6,225ft.) and the distance, training is important. So, every Saturday for 5 months I will be getting up at 6:00 a.m. to join my team for training rides. There will be a lot of hills to climb!

So when the training gets tough, I look down at the top tube of my bike where I carry 2 names that inspire me to push on. The names are, my Mum – Ruth Davies, and my Aunt Meg, both of whom lost their lives to blood diseases. My Mum, as many of you already know, passed away last year from Leukemia (AML). I thank God for the 14 months of remission she had and the last vacation we spent together in February 2006. At the end of 2006, the leukemia returned and this time there was no stopping it. After wasting away, my mother died in April of 2007. Similarly, my Aunt Meg passed away in February of 1993 after an 11-year battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What these two women endured is infinitely more than any discomfort I feel during my training.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, go to: TNT Donate

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm Thankful For...

... a wonderfully successful season.

It's the night before Thanksgiving and I have finally been sending out my Thank-You cards to all those that contributed to my 100-mile bike-ride in June. That is why I am reflecting on my ride this Thanksgiving. It is foremost in my mind.

I am so thankful the fundraising exceeded my wildest expectations. After starting the season wondering if I could raise enough to reach the minimum ($3,800), the final total came in just short of $12,000. All I can say is "Wow!". Everyone's generosity just blew me away. Donations came in all sizes from little to large. I am sure my Mum would have been proud.

I have had several people ask me if I am still riding. I suspect they expect me to reply with excuses, but instead I can say "Yes, I am". Apart from a lull in June, partially due to a bad back and the need to recuperate from the 100-mile ride, I have been riding regularly. I have ridden Stunt Road again, and even tackled GMR (Glendora Mountain Road). I actually feel stronger now when climbing hills. What I do miss is the camaraderie of our weekly group training rides. I shall have to join a local bike club!

I rode with "Coach Andy" recently when we participated in the Solvang Prelude, a 100-kilometer (62-mile) organised bike ride.
Andy has a love of fine wines, so our group of 9 riders ended up visiting some wineries on route for a tasting or two. We had a lot of fun, but finished the ride at just 48 miles, (could have been the 5 wineries)! Ironically, the winery we finished the ride at (Rusack) was the one I took my Mum to, with the rest of the family, in February 2006 while she was in remission. It was nice to be there again, remembering the fun we had relaxing, chatting, and sipping wine under that big oak tree in the garden!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Ride statistics:
Distance 100.5 miles. Time from start line to finish line - 9:10, Time spent cycling (from bike computer) 6:48, average speed 14.7mph, fastest speed 42.8mph! 1,800 riders from 60 regional chapters raised over $7.5 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My total so far is over $9,000 and is likely to reach $11,000 when the corporate matching gifts come in at the end of the month.

June 20th is the last day for me to submit checks (cheques) to be credited against my fundraising total. Final accounting will be at the end of June. Once I get my final total I will post it here.

Here are some photos from my ride on June 1st (The first shot is a composite of the names on my bike, the second 2 shots are of our group pracice ride on the day before) in chronological order. Click on the photos for a larger version!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Newspaper Article with Slideshow.

Here is the link to the Tahoe Tribune's website article about the bike ride. It features a slideshow.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate

Monday, June 2, 2008

AMBBR - Lake Tahoe 2008

WOW! This weekend, the event, the people, the cause, and the weather all blew me away! Everything exceeded my expectations. Most of all, the emotional energy. More of that later!

It all started on Friday when some of us went for an informal "20 mile" bike ride. As it turned out we exceeded 26 miles, but I was surprised that the altitude didn't seem to affect me, even when we climbed a steepish incline to view a beautiful waterfall. The air was prestinely clear, (something you value when living in LA), and the snow capped peaks made a dramatic backdrop. The smell of pines and sequoias added to the euphoria. I was just ecstatic to be there.

Saturday, I got up early (ish) to feel the temperature for myself. I had heard stories of bone numbing cold temperatures for the start. However, I actually felt too warm wearing all of the cold weather gear I had brought. What shall I wear? It's something to think about!

After picking up my entry packet, I headed for the hotel room where I carefully placed names on my bike (see my previous blog entry). The wave of emotion was expected, yet still took me by surprise. I was suddenly acutely aware that I would not be here this weekend, in Lake Tahoe, amid such beauty, if Mum had not been diagnosed with Leukemia. The purpose of this ride felt even stronger than before. Obviously, any cure is too late for Mum, but if the money I raise can help others... The thought gets lost in my emotion.

Our last official practice ride goes well, and I still don't feel any affects of the altitude. We rack up 24 miles as we pull back in to the parking lot ready for a shower.

At 4:00 p.m. we all head over to our Pasta Party, the traditional pre-event Carbo-load. Judy and Megan are with me as we head up the elevator towards the conference room surrounded by other participants from all over the country. The sound of enthusiastic cheering and clanging cow bells becomes louder and louder. It is just like I would imagine a stage on the Tour de France to sound like. As we walk down the hallway we are cheered by our mentors and coaches, a hero's welcome. Wow, my emotional fragile state is breached again. During the dinner there is a presentation of how the founder, Bruce Cleland, ran the New York Marathon to raise money for Leukemia Research in honor of his daughter who had cancer. I was touched once again.

After the dinner we had our pre-event meeting with Coach Andy. He ran over the plans for the big day, gave us last minute tips, and finalised the ride groups. I was happy, I would be riding with the same people I had ridden with for most of the season, Our fast group: Jose, Becky, Tim, Becca, Thai, and myself. Actually, we aren't that fast, just a little bit faster than the others, that's all!

I am busy getting things ready for bed and an early (ish) night when I decide to add air to my rear tire (tyre!). Just as I am getting close to full, boom, there is a loud rushing of air as I realise the valve stem has broken off. Now I get to practise a flat repair! I use one of my spare tubes, leaving me only one spare tube for the ride tomorrow. I get to bed at 10:30 p.m.

Event Day. 4:30 a.m. Sunday, I get up, however I have slept poorly. The emotion, the excitement, the nerves all kept my mind racing, and me tossing and turning into the small hours of the morning. I heed the coaches advice, "if you don't have it you can't use it", and wear most of my warm gear. It is reassuring to know that there will be staff at certain rest stops that are able to receive unneeded items and transport them back to the start. I bring my small backpack to make it easier.

After breakfast I bring my bike down from the hotel room. The elevators are jammed with bikes. The only way to get down is to ride the elevator up, stopping at every floor, up and down! Our team assembles on time, 5:45 a.m., and heads over to group together at the start line. We wait as waves of riders are set off at 5 minute intervals by chapter. Our chapter, Greater Los Angeles, is to leave at 6:25 a.m. Soon enough we are off pedalling gently through the brisk morning air, allowing our muscles to warm up slowly.

The first few miles are spent dodging potholes in the road (the considerate riders point them out) and navigating our way past slower riders, while in turn being passed by faster riders.

At mile 11, our 2-mile climb up the switch backs to Inspiration Point begins. It is steep and full of riders. The road is closed to north-bound traffic and at times bicyclists fill the lane completely. There isn't much opportunity to enjoy the view as we have to concentrate on the riders around us. At Inspiration Point, Maeve, our Campaign Manager, is waiting and cheering. She accepts our unwanted clothing. I choose to remove my cycling tights, but retain my knee warmers. The short descent is fast and chilly with a breathtaking view of Emerald Bay to the right. Immediately there is another climb and our group chooses to continue up the hill past the first Rest Stop, Vikingsholm. Another fast descent drops us into a flat section of the ride where we make our first stop for food at the Homewood Rest Stop. 26 miles done and we have been riding for nearly 2 hours.

Riding again we soon come to the turn-off for Truckee. Here, as we navigate our way through a parking lot there are families cheering us on. One group cheering especially wildly is Tim's family and girlfriend. That brought my emotions to the fore again. You see, Tim is a Leukemia survivor - he is in remission. If you remember from an earlier post, he had just finished his last round of Chemo weeks before our training stated back in February. What a guy, I am honored to have him as a teammate, and more so, in our group of riders.

The run down hill to Truckee followed the Truckee River utilising a bike path for half the route. The river was beautifully clear and pretty often running slowly through alpine meadows. The bike path while away from traffic had its own danger. The danger of a head on collision between cyclists. The closing speed of riders approaching each other can be in excess of 30 to 40 mph. In a congested setting where faster riders encounter slower groups of riders and wish to pass extreme care must be taken.

As we swing into the Truckee Rest Stop, Tim's family is cheering again, wearing "Tim" t-shirts.

Now the temperature has climbed to around 60F (16C) I choose this stop to strip off my warm outer jersey, knee warmers, long fingered gloves, and skullcap. I put all this in my backpack, choosing to retain my arm-warmers and windbreaker. I also switch to my short-fingered gloves.

The climb out of Truckee is also into a headwind and we use pace lining to conserve our energy. Tim's family has leapfrogged us again and is cheering once more. This time I quickly slip off my backpack and throw it to them asking them to take it back to the Finish. They are awesome! Every time they pass in their car they cheer too! The emotional energy and boost I got from them and all the other families along the ride was phenomenal. It gave me strength, while at the same time bringing me to the edge of tears. I could imagine Dad and Russ cheering me on, while at the same time knowing that Mum would have cheered for me too!

My own little family, Judy and Megan, were at the entrance to the Kings Beach lunch rest stop. Megan was holding up the sign she had made weeks earlier. It was awesome to see them and I was proud of them! After they hugged and kissed me and I ate lunch our group was off again, ready for our last 30 miles. However, Spooner Junction was between us and the finish line.

Our ride continued through Incline Village before our climb to the top of Spooner started at mile 80. The climb was long and warm rising 800 ft in 8 miles. It was certainly tamer than hills we had done in training, but the altitude was an added factor. Thai was really feeling the effects of the altitude and because of his asthma was having problems catching his breath. We would stop and wait for him periodically on the climb. We were determined that after all our time together training that we would all finish together.

When we reached the Spooner Junction Rest Stop we celebrated knowing that the final few miles were just a formality. We decided to regroup at the bottom of the descent in Zephyr Cove. The initial descent was very fast and by the time we reached the tunnel Becky and I were out in front and we were pushing the pace. We rode the 8 miles to Zephyr Point enjoying the run. When we stopped I called Judy to let her know we were only 3 miles from the finish line. Once the others caught up we continued to the finish.

As we entered the approach to the finish line the sound of cheering and cow bells was incredible. As we had arranged we all spread out and crossed the finish together, Thai and Jose were just behind us. As mentors, they wanted us to cross first. None of it mattered because once again emotions ran high as we high-fived each other and congratulated each other. Judy and Megan ran over along with other teammates and families to congratulate us.

It was amazing. We hung around and cheered as our other teammates came in until Coach Andy arrived with several of our teammates and a bottle of champagne. Apparently he stopped a mile or two down the road to buy it! We had a fantastic impromptu celebration right there! There were now only 3 of our team left out on the course. We waited for them to come in. When they crossed the finish line with Jayne, their mentor, Liz lost it and sobbed. I could understand her emotion.

Now we were all in it was off to the victory party to celebrate.

The statistics given to us this weekend's ride were; 3,350 riders in the event. 1,800 of them were fundraising for TNT - Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Collectively the 1,800 riders have raised $7.5 million dollars to date!

(I will post photos later in the week!)

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Finished! 100 miles. 3:35pm. Party!

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Spooner Jct

Top of Spooner! 87 miles. 2:30pm.

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Kings Beach. 70 miles. 12:00pm. Feel good!

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Truckee rest stop. 46 miles done! 9:57am

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Our first rest stop. 26 miles. 08:30

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The Start

My cheerleaders (Judy and Megan) are up, and ready to see the team off!

It's 6:25 a.m. and we are off, the entire Greater Los Angeles Chapter of 25(approx.) riders are sent out. The temperature is a relatively mild 40F (4C). Mild that is for Lake Tahoe, as only 1 week earlier it snowed!

(Start line update published after the event)

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I have just finished placing names of those people who have passed away from, or that have had a blood disease, on my bike. It was a very emotional moment for me when I stood back to view them, especially in light of the fact that if my Mum hadn't been diagnosed with Leukemia I would not be in Lake Tahoe today. What turns our lives take!

I am looking forward to my ride tomorrow, placing the names on the bike helps me focus on why I am doing it.

(Click on the picture for a larger version!)

Tomorrow's ride will feature 3,000 feet of climbing, the longest of which will be 1,000 ft. There will be around 3,000 riders, and it is anticipated that collectively they will raise $6,000,000 (six million dollars) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday In Tahoe

I went for a ride this afternoon. There were about 15 of us. We rode 26.95 miles. I felt surprisingly good!

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Early flight!!!

Well, it's 4:09 a.m. on Friday and I am up, bleary eyed, ready to head to the airport. Once we get there I will unpack and assemble my bike. There is an unofficial ride this afternoon at 3 p.m. On Saturday we have a 20-mile ride. I expect it to be an easy ride just to make sure the bikes are OK, get a feeling for the altitude, etc.

Then Sunday, June 1st, is the BIG day, our team has a 6:25 a.m. wave off. Yes, I expect Judy to be up taking pictures, even if she is in her PJs! I expect it will take around 9 hours to complete the course. So expect me to finish between 3 and 4 p.m. I have figured out how to text in blog updates from my cell phone. So check the blog for updates during the day/weekend!

I am really getting excited, especially in light of the flurry of recent donations brought about by my cousin's e-mail. Once corporate matching gifts are added to my fundraising total I am within striking distance of $10,000. Double my original goal! I am so grateful to everyone.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No more training wheels!

Megan learned how to ride her bike this weekend. While she is not ready for Tahoe, yet, she is very excited. I am so proud that I wanted to share.

Just 30 minutes later...

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate

Final Week!

Well it's finally here. Next weekend is the big ride, 100 miles around Lake Tahoe. This weekend we have no scheduled ride. I spent the early part of the week taking my bike apart for a good cleaning and lubrication - KYCWO - eh U. Geoff (an inside joke - the initials stand for keep your chain well oiled!) I also installed 2 new tires and a new chain.

Saturday morning a few of us decided to do an informal ride out of Woodland Hills. However, after getting up at 5:30a.m. and getting halfway there it started raining quite steadily. I decided to abort the ride. I wanted to keep well for next week and didn't want my bike getting dirty. Later in the day on Saturday there was a break in the weather and I did a 30-mile ride which along with Thursday's ride of 24 miles makes a rather paltry (at this point in the game) 54 mile total for the week! Next week is unlikely to be any better as I am handing over my road bike for shipping today (Sunday). However, my total miles ridden in training for this event exceeds 1,150 miles since February!

Fund raising, This week saw a leap in the total dollars raised on Friday when my cousin David made his donation and then sent out an e-mail to his entire address book. David's mother, my Aunt Meg (see pic), passed away in 1993 from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after a long and courageous battle. The response to his e-mail has been fantastic. In just 6 hours the total jumped nearly $1,000, that's amazing!

I know from the many messages I have received that the donations made are not just about my ride. People have supported the cause for many reasons, in memory of my Mother or my Aunt, or in memory of someone else they have lost that is dear to them. There are some that have family or friends that have beaten blood cancers. Your contributions will increase awareness of blood cancers, assist those who are fighting for life, and some will fund research. I hope someday that there will be more of these survivors.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Week 15 - May 17th, 2008 - Distance 81.90 miles

Midweek Training: I rode after work on Tuesday, nothing exciting Just 8.19 miles around Simi. Thursday I did my usual routine, work and back, but during the afternoon the temperature hit 105F (40C) in Canoga Park. I decided was still going to try the ride home knowing that Judy was at happy hour in Chatworth with some of our friends. Then if it got too hot to climb the pass, I could call Judy for a ride home. By the time I reached Chatworth traffic was looking nasty. I elected to press on home. When I rode up Santa Susana pass I was passing the line of cars even when my pace slowed to 7mph. It seems the freeway was closed due to an accident. I passed every car going up the hill and more than a few on the downhill. It was sweet satisfaction and it took my mind off the heat. I felt so good I added a few more miles to make my ride a 30.66-mile round trip. When I got home I checked the calibration of my bike computer. I had suspected it was reading high since I always ended up logging more miles than the ride guide in recent weeks. It was reading high, but only by 1.7%. Now it is accurate again!

Group Ride: Today is our last organised training ride before Tahoe. We gathered in Long Beach (just barely, Seal Beach is across the bridge). The weather forecast was for warm weather (sorry, typical British understatement). It is supposed to hit 80-90F (26-32C) in the beach cities! As we were getting ready to ride at 8:00 a.m., we were already sweating! No arm warmers or jackets today! Our ride guide indicated we were heading to Laguna Beach for an 82-mile round trip. Wow, today's ride will be the furthest I have ever ridden in one day! My previous record, 80 miles, was set in 1980 when I rode from Shrewsbury to the top of the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen and back.

We settled into a good rhythm for the ride as usual but at mile 22 we took a detour and rode the Balboa Ferry across Newport Harbour. It is just a short ride but it was fun and different. After riding the ferry we headed inland where we lost the cool ocean breeze and temperatures peaked at 104F (40C) according to a teammate's cycle computer, much of the heat was rising from the hot asphalt. I was leading through this section and surprisingly I felt good, but I was glad when we headed down Laguna Canyon Road as I was anticipating a cool ocean breeze. Mark picked up a flat tyre and Andy stayed with him to fix it. There was a stiff breeze blowing up the canyon that negated the downhill speed, however, it wasn't at all cool until we reached Laguna Beach. It was a tough few miles for me leaving my rear feeling very sore. At our SAG stop in Laguna Beach, many of the riders decided to cut the ride short and do a 60-mile option to get back. Andy knew that if I did the full length of 82 miles that this would be a peronal best for me. He polled the riders to see who else would join him and me in completing the full length.

Six riders left Laguna intent to compete the original 82-mile route. We headed up PCH and then turned inland for a climb up Newport Coast Drive. About 2/3rds of the way up the hill the temperature became brutally intense again, I was sweating badly and started to feel light headed. Not wanting to succumb to heat exhaustion I slowed my pace even more and eventually made it to the crest where the others were waiting. I wiped the stinging sweat out of my eyes in order to continue. We made our last SAG stop at a Ralphs parking lot where I ate again and drank an entire bottle of Gatorade. I left SAG feeling bloated and uncomfortable, I had too much liquid and food in my stomach. The rest of the ride then became very difficult for me and it wasn't until the last 10 miles that I got rid of the bloated feeling. By that time my legs felt shot and I slowed the pace right down and limped in with Jose and Becca (who was herself feeling dizzy). We all congratulated ourselves on a job well done!

As for myself, I feel equipped to break my new distance record of 81.90 miles in 2 weeks when we do the 100-mile ride in Lake Tahoe. Today's ride, with the heat being an adversarial element, gave us a taste of what is to come in Lake Tahoe where we will instead be dealing with the effects of altitude.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week 14 - May 10th, 2008 - Distance 69.41 miles

Midweek Training: No Sunday ride this week. Yes, I know it is becoming a habit, but I get quite sore after Saturday. No Tuesday ride, it was too hard to fit it in. Thursday I rode to work and back adding in extra miles on the way home, and a couple of hills, for a total of 36.42 miles. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Greenacres (salivating, thinking about Tri-tip sandwiches) they had closed the BBQ. Bummer! So it was off home for a peanut butter 'n' banana sandwich.

Group Ride: Today we attended an organised ride, The 24th Annual Cruisin' the Conejo . There are five optional routes to ride ranging from a "full Century" ride down to a 21-mile shortcut option. Our team opts for the "Moderate Metric Century" a 68-mile ride. This is great practice for our event day at Tahoe. There are four fixed rest stops, with food and Porta-pottys, on route. The first few miles are heavily congested with, at times, around 30 riders waiting for a traffic-light to change. Later in the day the participants thin out and we settle into our own groove. From time to time we find ourselves riding with strangers, (or new friends depending how you look at it). We have to be a little more cautious when riding in a group with riders you are not familiar with, as they might just do something unpredictable.

During the first half of the ride, on a steep downhill section of Potrero, one of my teammates, Thai lost a water bottle. Fortunately, none of the following riders hit it. I was far enough back that I was able to stop and retrieve it for him. Later in the day, we passed a coyote and a rattlesnake, both of them were roadkill but in our bike lane! We ended the ride really pleased at our progress. We had done 69 miles in 5 hours and 21 minutes. While it isn't a blistering pace, it was good enough for us, and indicates that we should be able to get 100 miles done in less than nine hours.

This weekend was the first time I have used the "Chamois Butter" mentioned in previous posts. While it wasn't the cure-all magic elixir that I had hoped for, I think it probably did help.

The highlight of the day? The post-ride BBQ at the Bruckners' home. A great opportunity to unwind and relax. Judy and Megan got to meet many of my teammates too.

Fundraising: I have just sent out my second e-mail campaign for the season to thank all of you that have contributed. The success story of raising well over $6,250 couldn't have been done without you, no matter how far I ride! Thank you all.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Week 13 - May 3rd 2008 - Distance 74.19 miles

Midweek Training: No Sunday ride this week, since I was packing to return home from England! On Tuesday I rode 10.5 miles after work. However, I made the mistake of eating just before I went out to ride. Note to self; regurgitated pizza does not taste good - allow more time after eating before riding. Thursday I resumed what has become my weekly ritual - ride to work and home again. Only this time I rode the extra distance to Greenacres in Simi to get a tri-tip sandwich that I took home to eat. It was delicious! A great way to end the 30.5 mile ride.

Group Ride: Saturday's ride was out of Malibu. So that meant getting up extra early 5:00 a.m. to get ready and arrive in plenty of time. This week I was presenting the "mission moment". This is when a team member shares with the group about someone they know of with leukemia or other cancer that they are riding in honor of in order to remind us all of why we are riding each week. This week it was my turn. I had stayed up late the night before, putting together something to share. When It came my turn to share I explained how I had missed last week's ride due to my being in England for the first anniversary of my mum's death. Then I read from my prepared paper. I came close to breaking down once, but was able to finish. (I have posted my mission Moment below). After some other business it was time to ride out.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. The beach weather was just perfect, never getting too warm, but just sunny enough to balance the chill of the light breeze. We started by pedalling along the Pacific Coast Highway, PCH, and it wasn't long until we passed one of the many sections of beaches along the coast. Right then I knew it was going to be an emotional day for me. I had been reflecting on my mission moment speech and seeing the waves breaking on the edge of the Pacific gave me a knot in my throat. You see, Mum had always loved the water, and had on her trips to California she had often paddled in the surf at the edge of the vast ocean. She would have enjoyed seeing me make this trip too! After a few miles we swung inland, making the 5.2 mile climb to the top of Encinal Canyon Road. Just less than halfway up I snapped this incredible view.

The rest of the day's ride was spent riding along the beautiful coast out past Point Magu, to the strawberry fields of Oxnard before returning along PCH to Malibu. The whole day, my calf muscles burned as we pressed on. In the end we finished our 74 mile ride in around 6 hours, and that included stops. My butt was the sorest it has ever been. Taking the advice of a friend, I vow to use the chamois cream next week!

My Mission Moment.
My motivation to bike and fund raise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is personal. In February 2005 my mother, Ruth, was taken ill. At first, after showing signs of confusion, the doctors suspected a mild stroke. After blood tests it was revealed that it was Leukemia. Of course I was clueless about Leukemia and so my education began. There are four major types of Leukemia. My mother had AML, Acute Myloid Leukemia. Furthermore, this specific Leukemia can be broken down into seven different classifications. Shortly after diagnosis I made a trip to England to meet the consultant as he discussed treatment options with my mother. He gave three options; the option to do nothing beyond making her comfortable, a low intensity chemotherapy session, or a high intensity chemotherapy session.

It was very difficult for me to summarize the treatment options for my mother; spelling out the pros and cons and the life expectancy (looking back it is horrifying how accurate they were for my mum). It was hard to be objective, in the end letting it be her decision. She opted for the Low Intensity Chemotherapy, an option that made her eligible for a special trial drug. It was a drug that had been used here in the USA with success.

As the treatment started, the education continued; white cell counts, neutrophil levels, and others that I have forgotten. Each bringing indications of effectiveness of the treatment and with it news of increased susceptibility to infection.

Towards the end of 2005 we had great news, the Leukemia was in remission. Mum took the opportunity to travel both in England and visiting me here in California for my birthday in Feb of 2006. I have great memories of that trip; riding the Amtrak, wine tasting, precious moments enjoying her granddaughter.

At the end of 2006 the 14 months of remission was over as Mum relapsed. The old treatment wasn’t an option anymore – the body develops a resistance to each treatment. The new treatment wasn’t as effective. It wiped out her immune system and when we visited at Christmas she was suffering from an intestinal bug.

I last saw Mum when I surprised her with a visit in early April on her 66th birthday. She was bedridden, in hospital, and awaiting transfer to a hospice. She had lost so much weight; she was like a skin covered skeleton. Yet, behind the appearance was my mother, we had a good week together and were able to talk. When I left the end was near, and just a week after my visit she passed into unconsciousness and subsequently passed away on April 22nd 2007.

I really miss her.

To end on a positive note; I have rediscovered the joy of cycling that I experienced in my teens. And more importantly, I am happy to be raising money to find a cure, and also to make life better for those who are affected by Leukemia now. It is something I can do to help.

Fund-raising: I received the check from The Habit Burger, $87.17, for last month's fundraiser. The grand total raised so far has passed $6,250!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back from England!

My time in England went so fast. I was able to spend some good quality time with Dad, which was the whole purpose of the trip. We also were able to visit the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Museum together at Browns Lane in Coventry.

I was also able to visit Nana (my Mum's mother) at her home twice. She is 93 and living on her own. She is doing amazingly well. On the Sunday we had lunch at the Summerhouse Restuarant along with Uncle Geoff and Dad.

It was also great to spend time with my brother, Russ. I drove up to Shrewsbury to visit old friends, Jon & Karen (I can just hear Karen protesting that she is not old now), with him during the week.

It was particularly good to drop in at the garage I used to work at many years ago. We had a good long chat. It is now called Preston Gubbals Motor Services, and Roger is still selling cars next door. Many thanks to Pete, Mike, and Paul for the donation.

However, the best part of being away is coming back home. Megan (with Judy's supervision) baked a really delicious cake to welcome me back. Then to top it all off, I recieved constant hugs from Megan for the next couple of days!

Ah, good to be home!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Year Later

On Tuesday it was the 1 year anniversary of Mum's death. It is a strange feeling; in some ways it seems so recent and yet it also seems a lot of time has passed. The world in it's own way marched on, yet for me a significant part of my life ended a year ago. On the plane travelling to the UK I felt some sadness as I reflected on the the last weeks of her life and her death. I have made progress through grief, but at the same time there are moments when I miss her so much. It is good to have that assurance that she is with our Saviour.

Today, Wednesday, was a poignant day as Dad, Russ, and I climbed Robinswood Hill, a local beauty spot that Mum enjoyed so much with Dad. It was the first opportunity for us to all get together and hike the hill since Mum's passing. Once at the top we scattered her ashes. It was an emotional time, but also such a beautiful day for the hike.

Miss you Mum!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Week 11 - April 19th 2008 - Distance 62.52 miles

Midweek Training: No Sunday ride this week, Saturday's heat left me exhausted. No Tuesday ride because Judy had to stay late at work. Thursday I rode to work and back adding in extra miles on the way home, for a total of 29.41 miles. I would have done more but I was hungry and Taco Bell would not let me bring my bike inside, nor would they let me go through the drive through, so I went home.

Group Ride: We rode out of Woodland Hills this week. We last rode from here 5 weeks ago. The weather was a complete contrast to last week. It was overcast for much of the ride holding temperatures down in the 50s. It felt downright chilly especially when descending hills. This week's highlight was a 4-mile grunt of a climb to the top of Stunt Road. On a clear day it is possible to see the ocean from the top. In fact the last time I was at the top of Stunt Rd was over 5 years ago with my Mum and Dad. But, today we were in the clouds. Literally, as we stood on the top a cloud bank rolled up the hill from the Santa Monica side of the mountain. So we snapped a couple of photos and headed straight down the way we had just come up.

The bottom portion of Stunt Road can be seen to the right of the group in the photo

It was a fast descent, but not my fastest speed of the day. That came when I hit 41.14 mph eastbound on Lynn Road after our trip through the beautiful Hidden Valley. The scenery for the ride was really nice and it probably was a blessing that we had cloud cover to keep us cool on the climbs. All in all, a fantastic day. Then when we were finished with the ride we all ate at Chicks, a local restuarant, where Ellie (one of the other riders) was holding a post ride fund-raiser.

Fundraising: You can read in the previous blog entry about our fundraising event at The Habit. Many thanks to my wonderful wife for organising it.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fund-raiser at The Habit Burger - 04/16/08

Hi! Judy here! Wow! The fundraiser we had at “The Habit Burger & Grill” was a fun! Brian and Megan arrived around 5:30pm to “meet and greet” with everyone who came! When I got there around 6pm, I was happy to see a ROCKIN’ RESTAURANT! There were so many people who came including Megan’s 1st grade teacher (with her daughters), friends from Megan’s school (with their parents) and friends from Rocky Peak! A co-worker of mine stopped by on his way home to Moorpark and one of Brian’s bike buddies stopped in to get a huge meal for his family! It looked like everyone was enjoying themselves, especially the kids with their ice cream cones!

Our friends the Feezors at The Habit

I had to take Megan home around 7pm as it was a school night, but Brian stayed on and told me when he got home, people continued to come to the fundraiser. His boss and wife came out for dinner as well as Brian’s TNT mentor. I wish we could have met them, but well, it was a school night!!

So…….how much was raised? The gross receipts from flyer accompanied sales for the evening was $435.00……THAT’S pretty good…! 20% of the gross receipts will be donated by the Habit to LLS.

Thank you everybody....For the gift of your time and your stomach, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for your support!!! It was awesome to see each and every ONE of you there EATING (which did my Filipina heart good to see everyone enjoying FOOD) and having a great time. If you came early to the event, I’m really sorry we missed you, but we want to thank you all the same! Everyone has been (and IS) wonderful for supporting Brian on this 100-mile bike ride for LLS and we appreciate all the well-wishes, support, and donations.

We definitely feel the LOVE!


To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Week 10 - April 12th, 2008 - Distance 63.52 miles

Midweek Training: No Sunday ride this week, my leg muscles were still aching from Saturday's ride. Because of Judy's work situation this week, I could rely on her to pick up our daughter from school. So Tuesday and Thursday I rode to work and back. On the way home on Thursday I had time to add extra miles and an extra couple of hills to round out the day's mileage to 32.33 miles. The fork conversion that I performed on the bike last weekend felt good and didn't change the handling of the bike that much.

Group Ride: Wow! Week 10! I am now half way through training. So far 644 miles have rolled under my wheels since starting training in February!

This week's ride was a really tough one. After last week's ride with 3 significant hills, and coach Andy telling us that this week would have no big hills, I felt sure the ride would be easier than last week, even with the extra miles. What I didn't factor on was the heat! Our ride out from Pasadena started with nice warm sunshine, no need for arm warmers or jackets, but very quickly, by the time we reached Puddingstone Lake in San Dimas, the temps hit 90F (that's 32.7C). We passed the Fairplex in Pomona before heading back.

It was a long slog back to Pasadena. Becca, one of the 2 girls riding with the fast group of 6 riders, suffered from heat exhaustion and had to be shuttled back to Pasadena. I was feeling the heat also and was hanging back on the way home. I emptied my water bottles several times on this ride. It was a good job we had 3 SAG stops. The last 10 miles or so seemed to go on forever, every part of me that touched the bike was sore and/or uncomfortable. Fortunately the Tahoe ride won't be hot, we will just have the altitude to contend with.

After I finished the ride it was off to Colin's birthday party (the son of our good friends Russ and Eileen). Where, sadly, I fell asleep!

Fund-raising: After considering it, I have moved the goalposts, since we have raised over $5000 to date. I have now set the target at $7500. How could I not up the goal? It is such a good cause and I have had so many people donate, and what really touches me is when I thank them, they often thank me for doing the ride.

This week I have a fund raiser at The Habit Burger in Simi Valley. My wife has done such a wonderful job of organising the event and promoting it to our friends. So please come on down on Wednesday, April 16th (between 4 and 9 p.m.) to eat with us. You were going to eat anyway, right? Click here for the Flyer

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Week 9 - April 5th, 2008 - Distance 59.02 miles

Midweek Training: On Sunday I rode to Big Sky Park to meet up with my wife and daughter. The intention was to teach her how to ride without training wheels (stabilizers). Unfortunately her bike had a flat front tire. So we played on the swings instead. When I got home, after the 14 miles round trip, I had some practice patching her inner tube! Thursday was the only other day I was able to ride this week, and then it was only the ride home from work for a 12 mile ride.

Group Ride: Today's ride (Saturday) was 59 miles with 3 significant hills. Up first was La Tuna Canyon, the same hill we visited on Week 4. This time it felt a little easier, but it was still a long climb. Our first SAG stop was at the top. My peanut butter and banana sandwich tasted great. We were just shy of 20 miles at this point and still had well over 30 to go. The next hill was Chevy Chase Dr. We climbed this hill on Week 3 but this time continued up Linda Vista Dr. Linda Vista was brutal, lots of twists and turns and it just kept on going. I was glad when we got to the top and our second SAG stop. I filled up my water bottle again and munched on a Powerbar. We now had 34 miles behind us and knew there was one more hill to come. Off we set for our next downhill section for a fast descent into Pasadena. After completing a loop we came to our third hill, Lida. We started the climb, but I was in dire need of a toilet break. It seemed like every bump or rut in the road was going to cause my bladder to explode. Jose and I saw a porta-john (porta-loo) in the front yard of a house that was being renovated. Jose, Tim, and I swung round and made use of this convenient find. Ah, sweet relief! Much better! We continued the climb up to the third SAG stop of the day. More water, and snacks. Then it was off for our last 10 miles; a twisty downhill section, and an easy ride back to Griffith Park. We got back exhausted but happy that we had completed our most gruelling Team ride to date. I skipped eating a post ride lunch with the team since it was late and headed to the workshop to upgrade my bike. More details about that later. I have also ridden just over 500 miles since begining training On Feb 9th! My legs feel so sore tonight, I can really feel those hills.

Fund-raising: I am within spitting distance of $5,000. I want to continue to raise money for such a worthy cause and don't want anyone to hold off on contributing because I have reached $5,000, so I am thinking of increasing my goal. I was thinking of shooting for $7,500. What do you guys think? Let me know. I have enabled comments on the blog entries now, so use it to tell me what you think or give me some encouragement for the next hill!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Week 8 - March 29, 2008 - Distance 53.66 miles

Midweek Training: On Sunday I dusted off my mountain bike and rode the Rocky Peak Fire Road, a 2.5 mile climb on an unpaved fire road to the summit of the third highest mountain, at 2,714 ft (827 m), in the Santa Susana range. I was a little rusty! It has been over six months since I climbed this trail, and I was surprised at how many times I had to stop to catch my breath. It seems that when riding off road there are different muscles/techniques in use than when road riding. Still, it proved to be excellent cross training and it was a beautiful view from the top! Thursday was the only other day I was able to ride this week, however, I completed the ride home from work in my fastest time to date.

Group Ride: Today's ride distance is just over a half century! We rode from Duarte and practiced two techniques, pacelining and intervals, covered in our pre-ride clinic. Pacelining is where a group of four or more riders will ride in single file in close proximity then periodically (10secs to 2 mins) the lead rider will rotate off the front of the pack and join the rear. This way everyone benefits from the "pull" of the lead rider, and the time spent at the front is minimal. Pacelining can easily increase the speed of the group by 2 to 5 miles per hour. Intervals: this is sprinting till exhausted then recovering and repeating. Coach Andy tells us these are beneficial on short rides as a way to increase strength. We did 2 intervals today for demonstration purposes. The lead rider was told to break off from the group and sprint for 20 seconds then slow to 16 mph. Each following rider would then wait 10 seconds and leave the group to "chase them down". I noticed my speed hit 26mph on the flat when sprinting today.

After our practice we continued our ride out through many of the neighbourhoods we had visited before until we reached the Rosebowl parking lot we had frequented as the start point of some of our previous rides. This time it was for a SAG stop. Sharon, a volunteer, was driving the SAG car that we had put our sandwiches or other snacks into before the ride. My peanut butter and banana sandwich really hit the spot, followed by raisins and nuts. A quick refilling of the water bottle and a bathroom stop and we were off again, back to Duarte. At the end of the ride I am feeling "saddle sore". There is mention that next weeks pre-ride clinic will cover the use of "chamois butter" which I believe is a euphemism for "butt cream"! Seems to me we should have had that clinic earlier in the season!

Fund-raising: You guys are awesome! Today I was given a water bottle as acknowledgement of the fact that I was in third place in funds raised to date in our team. The first place fund raiser, Tim, is a guy who just finished his chemotherapy at the start of this season. He has raised over $5000 so far! An amazing guy, and his hair is just starting to grow back!

This week, Judy and I have made our personal donation of an amount that will cover the cost the Society pays out for my hotel and flight expenses. That way an even higher percentage of the amount you donate goes to the cause.

Judy has also been busy organising a fund-raiser to be held at The Habit Burger here in Simi on Wednesday, April 16th between 4 to 9 p.m. So for all you locals that like to eat, plan to be there. 20% of the sales accompanied by the flier will be donated by The Habit to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, all you have to do is eat, (you were going to do that anyway, right!) Judy has created an awesome flier and will be handing and emailing it out to as many locals as possible. Come hungry!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to >TNT Donate

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Week 7 - March 22, 2008 - Distance 45.16 miles

Midweek training: On Sunday I rode 15 miles in a loop around Simi, taking in the hills up by the Lost Canyons golf course. I managed, after work on Tuesday, to do a quick 6.5 mile ride, getting in a couple of good short hills. It was a hard ride to do because all I could think of was the food waiting at home for me when I returned. Rode to work and back again on Thursday. The ride home was 5 minutes faster, but I am not sure whether the caffeine and calories from my mid-afternoon Starbucks helped, or maybe it was the dash home to use the bathroom!

Group Ride: For today's ride we were back in Pasadena, the city of a thousand traffic lights and stops signs (tongue firmly in cheek). I think we stopped at most of them! Apart from the constant stopping and the traffic, the Southern California perfect weather made the ride wonderful. My riding today just hit a groove, there were only a few hills and I was able to keep up a really good pace. Maybe this training thing is paying off!

Our ride group had a couple of mishaps along the route, we had 2 chains come off, and one rider had debris lodged in the brake pad. After the stop to fix the brake pad, I clipped in early to get going, tried to balance while waiting to roll out, and promptly fell over with the bike when I was unable to clip out. No damage done, no blood, just a bruised ego (it's so embarrassing falling with 7 riders standing watching)! Even with the mishaps, we covered 45 miles in less than 3 hours 40 minutes (an average speed of over 12 miles per hour). If you extrapolate that out to a 100-mile ride then you could expect 100 miles to take nearly 8.5 hours. That's a long time on such a narrow seat.

Fund-raising: Many of you have asked when the ride will take place. It will be on June 1st. Also, donations can be made up to 2 weeks after the event. However, since the format is donation driven, as opposed to per-mile sponsorship, it is better to get as much of the fund-raising done as possible early on in the season. Then as the length of time in the saddle increases, we have less time to spend fund-raising. Also, if your company gift matches, the extra time is needed for processing the paperwork. So donate now, if you are able. Also, thank you for the encouragement you have given.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Week 6 - March 15, 2008 - Distance 42.97 miles.

Mid-week training: Just the 24-mile ride to work and back on Thursday. I did the ride to work in 50 mins (my fastest so far). But, I didn't stretch when I got to work and my right leg, behind my knee, bothered me all the way home.

Saturday's Ride: What a beautiful day! It started out clear and chilly. Appropriately, our pre-ride clinic was on clothing. Apparently, even though it will be in June the Tahoe ride may start out in the low 30s Fahrenheit (just above 0 Celcius), so layers will be important. Arm warmers, and leg warmers (no! not the 1980's Flashdance kind) are very useful. As are the thin windbreaker cycling jackets, just like the one I bought last week!

Our ride took us along Mulholland Drive, a road I had driven many, many times before on car rallies and scenic drives. The views were breathtaking and the hills were... tiring. But, seriously it was an awesome ride. I felt good, even though I dropped back on the uphill sections, I caught up on the downhills. It must have something to do with the 26lbs of Japanese steel I am pedalling. I am kicking myself for not bringing my camera as the ride through the Santa Monica Mountains was gorgeous. I will have to add appropriate photos later.

The ride route took us out to Westlake Village before heading back to the start. At a little over halfway we had our first SAG (Support And Gear) stop, where Deborah (who was standing in for coach Andy) handed us water to refill our bottles before telling us to get going again!

Reflecting on this weeks ride, I realised that it is the furthest I have ridden a bicycle in approximately 28 years. Yes, I am sore and tired, but many thanks to Bill and Crystal for this evenings dinner, good conversation and wine. Now I am relaxed once more!

Fund-raising: You guys are awesome! Donations recieved now exceed 50% of my goal, I am now over half-way to my goal of raising $5000. This is an awesome feeling as it doesn't include the corporate matching gifts, (icing on the cake). This Tuesday is Recommitment Day, where I have to guarantee (with my credit card) that I will raise a minimum of $3800 by June. I am confident I will get there, but my personal goal is to raise over $5000.

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brian's New Coach

Hi Everybody! Judy, the wife here! I thought I would share a picture of Brian's new coach:

Drill Coach Megan

Brian was telling me how he needs to strengthen up his lung capacity for his Tahoe ride, so what more to help strengthen his lungs than EXTRA WEIGHT? I figured 40 lbs would be good to start off with. So we attached Megan's trail-a-bike to his mountain bike and off the two of them went, climbing the hills of Simi Valley.

Megan was yelling like a good little drill sergeant....


(Yah....she might look sweet in the pictures, but don't let her looks fool you!)

I think they did about six miles up and down and around Yosemite Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood.

Megan came home tired and I got her to bed early. Brian.....he went off on another short sprint through Simi.

You guys would be so proud of him! He's really doing great with his training. I know I'm very proud of him.......!

To make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or to learn more go to TNT Donate