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

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Week 3 - Feb 23, 2008 - Distance 25.15 miles

I will be 44 tomorrow. Wow! I am feeling my age this week. I have a backache that started on Thursday at work. I have been sensible since then and feel that I can complete the ride sucessfully.

Jose welcomes me on arrival and tells me that he has been assigned to be my mentor for the season. Now if only I could keep up with him!

This week's ride has a new venue, Griffith Park. We meet in the LA Zoo parking lot. Our ride has one "real" hill, Chevy Chase Drive, a winding climb that starts gradually and steepens as we climb. I am, once again, in with the group of over-achievers that decide to ride further up the hill "just for fun". The ride down is fast!

I finish the ride feeling good and head to Baja Fresh for a post ride burrito with the gang.

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

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Week 2 - Feb 16, 2008 - Distance 23.75 miles

Back to the same Rosebowl location. This time with a diference, we are climbing hills. I get assigned to the fastest group of riders. "Oh crap!" I think to myself, "maybe I should have rode much slower last week."

I should have listened to myself, because as we waited at the bottom of the first hill for all the slower riders to start climbing the testosterone started to take over. Once we were told we could go I followed mentor Jose as we climbed the hill. Turns out Jose is known for his climbing ability, but I didn't know that yet! About halfway up the hill we start passing the slow group very quickly, but Jose is leaving me behind. Jose isn't the only thing that is climbing as I notice my heart rate heading skyward. It peaks out at 198, and Jose is gone. The top of the hill comes not a moment too soon as I am panting and easing the pace letting my heart rate fall. Note to self: let Jose go, there is no way you will ever catch him going uphill!

The rest of the ride, more climbing, is done at a more enjoyable pace. I am the fourth rider of our group of six to reach the turnaround point and start the descent. Next week, I promise myself, I will ride the whole way at a sensible pace!

What follows the ride is a tire (ok! tyre for those in the UK) changing clinic. I get to use my CO2 cartridge for the first time to re-inflate my front tire.

Many of the Team head over to coach Andy's house for a letter stuffing party and lunch, but I have to get the van home for Judy to use.

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

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Week 1 - Feb 09, 2008 - Distance 16.68 miles

Our first team ride. I arrive early at the Rosebowl (Pasadena) parking lot where we are all meeting. No worries, coach Andy and his assistant, Deborah, are the warm familiar faces that I have met before; at the kickoff event and at sign up respectively. The other mentors (individuals who have competed past events) greet me and all the new participants that are arriving. I have already forgotten the first half dozen new names. Then someone saves the day with nametags! Now, I can look like I have been paying attention all along!

We stand around in the cold waiting for the sun to rise over the hill while listening to a briefing on the day and the season. Everyone is enthusiastic. Today's ride will be low key - a warm-up lap around the 3.5 mile Rosebowl "circuit". Then a timed 4 laps around the same circuit - but this is not a race, it is to be completed at a comfortable pace.

Yeah right. I set off intending to go easy, in fact as two of the mentors disappeared into the distance I told myself not to race them, 3 laps later and after a chat with several participants, I am told I am the lead rider by one of the mentors! I finished the last lap at an easy pace while chatting away to Becca, a girl who has only been riding a couple of months. She pulled in as the lead rider, with me checking in right behind her. I was blown away, she set a fast pace, wasn't out of breath, and not even using clip ins! After a chat with coach Andy the Team dispersed and those who had time went out to eat together. A great start to the season and a nice bunch of people.

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