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, March 1, 2008

Week 4 - March 1, 2008 - Distance 33.42 miles

Last Sunday, my birthday, I was laid up with a bad back for at least half a day. It was a strange day, I missed getting a call from my Mum. It's strange how it flattens the day, even though you know you won't get, and weren't expecting, a call from her. Still, I got to talk to my brother, Russ, and my Dad.

My wife, Judy, got me a cycle trainer for my birthday and by the end of the day my back felt good enough to set it up and test it out. It's going to be great to use in the evenings (when it is dark) and when it is raining.

On Thursday I rode to work and back, 12 miles each way with a hill in between. It feels good to get my first midweek ride in.

Our Saturday training ride has 2 clinics, the first one on "interval training" (basically sprinting till tired, then recovering and repeating) followed by a second one on nutrition. The nutrition one is very interesting and serves to remind me that all I have for today's 33-mile ride is water. Oops! I wont make that mistake again. Apparently, it is important to eat the right kind of carbohydrates on a longer ride. Generally speaking they are all the kind of foods you should not consume if you are not training: white bread, sugary drinks, energy bars, etc. It seems the sudden increase in blood sugar levels will not occur because your body demands the energy - NOW! Additionally, it is important to replenish electrolyte levels to avoid muscle cramping (something I experienced a little of riding home after work on Thursday).

"Today's Team Ride has only one hill" coach Andy tells us at the Saturday pre-ride briefing, "La Tuna Canyon Rd". I recognise the name, and think to myself "isn't that up by the 210 freeway". This thought is later confirmed when we are told that the riders will re-group by the 210. It turns out that La Tuna Cyn is almost a 5-mile climb. It starts very gradually with but after a brief downhill becomes much steeper. Bottom gear all the way up the last 2 to 3-mile stretch! I am fortunately distracted from the gruelling climb by the conversation I am having with Cherie, one of the mentors, who earlier, at the pre-ride meeting, had shared, with the team, her experiences in caring for her Sister-in-Law who had passed away in 2006. The story had touched me because of the parallels with my Mum's illness and passing. It had been emotionally difficult to listen to. It seems many of the riders share a passion that goes beyond cycling, we want a cure so that others don't have to endure what our loved ones did.

The descent from the summit is long and at times fast. Our biggest challange is staying warm. The temperature is around 50F, but most of us dressed expecting the sun to put in a late morning appearance. Instead we faced light misting and a heavily overcast sky. Once back at the parking lot we are intent on getting warm and I "bundle up" as the slower riders come in.

Then it is off to lunch at Baja Fresh again where we are treated to a show and tell of coach Andy's damaged rear rim. It seems he bent the rim in a slow speed collision while climbing La Tuna, then while trying to limp the bike back he rode ove a 1 inch drywall screw that drove itself through the tire into the rim. Talk about bad luck!

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

No comments: