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, 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!

This mobile text message is brought to you by AT&T

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