Thursday, October 28, 2010

Challenged Athletes Foundation Half Ironman, Part 2

Beth demonstrates transition in Picture 6 as she transforms from seal to cycle. In the background (yellow jersey) is Ralph, a polio athlete who does the swim with his arms, and transitions to a racing wheelchair for the run part of the course. Behind him is Bryon, a young physician whose disability prevents him from doing his specialization, and he does mainly distance hand cycling in the run and/or bike events.

In Picture 7 I am tooling into the finish area with Dr Terry, my escort, in faithful attendance. My early derailleur problems (and probably the new pitavistatin they started me on 3 weeks earlier) resulted in severe and constant hamstring cramps for the last 10 miles of the ride, including Torrey Pines road. Super hydration and electrolyte supplements were just enough to allow me to ride in my lowest 3 gears. I had fortunately discovered a work-around to the shifting problem - after mile 35 - so was able to finish the race, but at a ridiculously slow pace of about 1 hour slower than my normal times!

Picture 8 is the reason for the fundraising and racing. This 2 year old boy, the second youngest current CAF athlete, toddled gleefully through his first kids run, precisely 2 weeks after CAF supplied him with his prosthetic legs. Watching him chase other kids and play ball was a truly amazing experience, and I really appreciate the efforts of everyone in getting me to this event. I wouldn't have missed it for anything, and plan on making this an annual event!

Challenged Athletes Foundation Half Ironman, Part 1

We recently received this account from one of our Bent Up Cycles Trike Squad riders, John Elliott:

Well, it is done (for this year)! Last Sunday was the Challenged Athlete Foundation San Diego Triathlon Challenge half Ironman in La Jolla. I had planned on being nicely trained for this event, but ended up doing it almost completely untrained, 8 weeks after my last stent. This created a few additional challenges, but nothing compared to what some of the other athletes had to overcome.

Picture #1 is of the first rider over the line from the Million Dollar Challenge - a CAF sponsored fund raising ride form San Francisco to San Diego - in 6 days. Several hundred able and challenged riders completed this event, including deaf, blind (riding on the rear of tandem bikes), and mobility impaired entrants.

Picture #2 is one of the many hand cyclists who rode the entire 620 mile course with everyone else.

After a BBQ, everyone met up at the QUALCOMM conference center for the Celebration of Abilities dinner to hold a memorial and celebration of the life of Jim MacLaren, who passed away this last August at the age of 47. CAF grew out of a desire of Jim's friends to assist him in his sports activities - Jim was a Yale football player who suffered an amputation after being hit by a bus while riding. He transformed himself into a trailblazing below-knee-amputee endurance racer. He suffered a devastating second accident while competing in a triathlon in Mission Viejo. Hit by a car that entered the closed course during the bike leg, Jim was paralyzed from the neck down. His many friends quickly decided to raise funds for his recovery, and organized the first San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) - an annual fundraising triathlon event at La Jolla Cove. From this modest beginning CAF came into being, with a mission of helping challenged athletes compete in their chosen sports. There were too many courageous and inspirational stories to re-tell here, and legions of celebrities (including former Celtics player Bill Walton whom I was able to meet after he rode his bike in the 620 mile fund raiser!)

After a rest and registration/course instruction day, 200 challenged and hundreds of non-challenged athletes met up at La Jolla Cove for the 1.2 mile open water swim, 13.1 mile run, and 56 mile bike ride. I was lucky enough as a new Challenged Athlete to be assigned a first row first wave starting slot for the bike portion (No, I didn't do all 3 events the way some of the REAL athletes did!) Picture #3 shows us jockeying to the start line for the first wave start. Unfortunately, an errant racing wheelchair snagged onto my front derailleur before the start. I didn't know until later that this was going to make shifting down into hill climbing gears a huge problem. This 56 mile ride was a very hilly course, with 2000+ feet of elevation gain, including both sides of Torrey Pines road. Picture 4 gives an idea of one of the less challenging climbs. On the first steep uphill, while I was in the middle of a pack of Tri bikes and had no way to pull over, I discovered that downshifting to a lower gear was impossible. This meant powering up the 2 mile hill in a much higher gear than I wanted, and curt deeply into my reserves. Fortunately, CAF had assigned me an escort rider to accompany me on the ride because of worries over the sort time span since the latest stent. So a Physician/triathlete was right on my rear wheel all day.

While I was off playing Lance Armstrong, the swim and run parts of the race were going on. Picture 5 shows 2 of my friends leaving the water for the transition area. Greg (foreground) is a 21 year old who lost an arm, damaged his leg, and had 9 cardiac arrests due to a motorcycle accident. This was his first Ocean swim - a month earlier when I was unable to compete because of stent, I gave Greg my entry number and he rode the Disneyland half marathon in my place - his first event, and as I found out later, the second anniversary of his accident, almost to the exact hour. Also being helped from the water is Beth, my mentor at CAF, and a highly motivated hand cyclist who has done the LA and Boston marathons, and will be doing the Great wall of China marathon next year. Beth was a nationally ranked woman cyclist until a race accident on faulty paving left her an incomplete spinal separation. She transformed herself into a triatlete, and now coaches others (including Greg) on swimming and transition techniques.

See Part 2 for more!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Catrike supports Breast Cancer Awareness!

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Big Cat is offering all Catrikes and Catbikes powder coated in Pink (or Aqua) free color upgrade until the end of 2010. For every Pink or Aqua sale Big Cat will donate $50 to local breast cancer foundation to be used for free mammograms for uninsured or underinsured women who need this procedure that can save their lives.

We will make a donation to Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation.

As always thank you for your continued support.

PCH Randonneurs Big Sur 600K - a Big Sur Adventure Part 2

Day Two arrived much too early. I got two hours of fitful sleep after a quick shower. Shaun and I agreed to meet at 7am to head out. What that really meant was meet at 7:15am, chat for 30 minutes as we set up our bikes and actually leave at 7:45!

The first part of the ride was the only real climb of any consequence for the day. Highway 1 winds its way up the San Julian grade before bombing down to Gaviota. This is a beautiful stretch of road...the climbing is mellow, the shoulder is wide and the traffic minimal. The brown and green pastures covering the hills to our left are in stark contrast to the taller peaks on our right. As we climb higher and higher, it gets warmer and warmer, and I am nailed with my one flat tire in one of the storm grates that periodically appear. I ride this section recalling fond memories of the California AIDS Ride 10 years drag queens to cheer you on during this ride!

We stop in Gaviota to fill bottles and take off extra clothing before continuing on the 101 into Goleta. Shaun and I played a bit of leap-frog through this section as my strength began to wain as we approached the Hollister exit. By the time we got off the freeway, I was definitely ready for lunch! We picked up a third rider here, Mike, and we found a subway sandwich place (not Subway) shortly after thereafter.

The sandwiches were delicious, but made me even sleepier! Shaun and I continued on through Santa Barbara, and by the time we reached the beach, I needed a nap! I snoozed under a palm tree for 10 minutes while Shaun read the Wall Street Journal. With promises of iced-lattes in Carpenteria, we headed off for the next, uneventful section of our trip.

In Carpenteria, we met up with a few other brevet riders who were also stopping for a drink. I gulped a large iced mocha latte, and filled my bottle with another one. Being only 50 miles from the finish on very familiar roads, I was definitely ready to go! A quick jaunt down the 101 freeway and through the beaches north of Ventura brought us to Ventura, and shortly thereafter, the Oxnard control. The riders were starting to pile up here, and were were soon chugging like a train across Oxnard, savoring the wonderful tail wind and the thoughts of pizza at Greg and Lisa's house!

A quick stop at the base of the Santa Rosa climb allowed us time to set up lights and get ready for cooler weather. Having climbed Santa Rosa Rd. many times, I knew each rise and fall in the road and floored it up the canyon, knowing my wife and kids were waiting for me at the end (actually, I was trying to go as fast as possible to beat them to the finish!). There's the high school...1/2 mile to Moorpark Rd. Left turn on to Moorpark Rd. up "the wall" and I am home-free! A fast ride down to Tierra Rejada, up and over the hill and I am bombing down Tierra Rejada towards the finish and the completion of my first Super Randonneur series (and the rights to wear the PCH Randos SR kit)! Missing the last turn was classic, given the number of times I've ridden this... Oh, there's the Jones' residence, replete with bicycles parked out front and Greg Jr. guarding the bikes and asking for tips! Woo hoo, another successful brevet!

Elevation profile of day two and the night loop to Buellton

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PCH Randonneurs Big Sur 600K - a Big Sur Adventure

Aside from Race Across America, this 600K brevet was my most-looked-forward-to event of the year. Last year, a large group of us did not finish this ride for a variety of reasons, and we were all returning for payback!

JV and I drove a UHaul up to Salinas on Friday. We were delivering a Catrike Pocket to the Palo Alto VA, and also transported bikes to the start for some of the riders. We arrived in Salinas, had Thai food for dinner, double checked our bikes and said hello to old and new friends. JV planned to ride the brevet with John Schlitter of Bacchetta in about 24 hours. I was shooting for anything under 40 hours, and had made arrangements to sleep in Lompoc.

I split the ride up into to sections: Day One would take me 215 miles down to Lompoc through Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, and Guadalupe. I would then continue on to finish the 40-mile loop to Buellton and back before getting some sleep. Day Two would continue the expedition down the coast for 125 miles through Santa Barbara, Carpenteria, Ventura, Oxnard and into Moorpark.

Saturday morning, 4:30am, we are all on the road heading out the Monterrey. I stopped to chat with Allan Duhm, a Team Bacchetta rider who came out from Florida to ride with us, while he fixed a flat tire, and we rode together for the next 100 miles. It was a real pleasure to share the Big Sur coast with someone who had never seen it before... It's about 35 miles from Carmel to Big Sur, with one good climb after you cross one of several historic bridges. At the top, we stopped to admire the scenery and Allan was blown away by the beauty of the morning sky, the cliffs and the ocean below. "Just wait," I said, "It gets better...much better...!"

We pulled into the Big Sur control at about 8:45am, where we were greeted by one of our fabulous volunteers, Patricia! We snacked, drank, removed layers of clothing and applied sunscreen as we prepared for the next 50 miles of climbing and more climbing (FWIW, the first 100 miles of this brevet had about 8000 feet of climbing).

I told Allan that Big Sur is a ride of contrasts. As you approach Big Sur, the cliffs down to the ocean to your right are not too steep, the hills to your left gently rise above you. The foliage is shrubbery. As you enter Big Sur, you are suddenly surrounded by Redwoods...a giant, beautiful forest to behold! Over the top, you emerge onto classic Big Sur scenery...evergreen trees surrounding you as you glide up and down windy climbs exposed to sheer drops of up to 800 feet on your right. It's truly breathtaking, and while it is incredibly difficult, it is a fantastic road that every cyclist should experience! As you leave Big Sur's south end, you drop to gently rolling hills where the miles seem to disappear under your wheels! We enjoyed all of it, stopped a few times to eat and take pictures, and even played tag up and down the climbs!

As we left Ragged Point for the rolling terrain leading to San Luis Obispo, it became clear that I could not keep up with Allan and his aerodynamic wheels! I rode alone and counted the miles to Cambria where I could get a much-needed snack - an ice cream sandwich and Coke were perfect!

The climb up to San Luis Obispo from Morro Bay, with 135 miles under my belt already, was quite difficult. Again, I found myself counting the miles to our next control at Vickie's house. Upon arrival I was greeted by many other riders, some coming, some going, and lots of good food! Lance and Vickie set up a wonderful rest stop, and it was much appreciated! I left about 30 minutes later as it was starting to get dark, nourished and ready to ride the 58 miles to Lompoc!

I ran into a couple other riders outside of Pismo Beach, and we rode together to Guadalupe in the dark. It's always easier to ride when you have company. As we left Guadalupe, Dion got ahead of me, and I got ahead of Bill...we were three sets of tail lights spread out over a mile or so. The road was quiet and dark, and as we transitioned to the climbs towards Vandenburg AFB, a support vehicle stopped us to make sure we were okay and hand out food/water. Much appreciated!

The climbs to Vandenburg were brutal. It's not that they were incredibly long or steep, it was just that it was 10pm, I had been riding for 17.5 hours, and it seemed like the temperature kept changing! This was slowly becoming less fun... I stumbled into Lompoc at about 11:45pm, got my room key and headed for the rest stop room where I was greeted by Kathy, warm soup and some friendly faces.

Dion, Shaun and I finally made the plunge and headed out into the darkness to complete the 40 mile loop to Buellton. A few miles up the road, we came up on Bill, and the four of us headed up Santa Rosa Rd. towards and information control out in the middle of nowhere! To be honest, this was not fun. I was running on fumes, we seemed to be climbing a lot more than the map indicated, and I was pretty beat. At the info control, I laid down in the road for a few minutes and just watched the stars. We re-mounted and pushed ahead to Buellton, 6 miles up the road.

We couldn't get Andersen's split pea soup at 2:45am, so we settled for a fresh pot of coffee at the Circle K. After hanging out and waking up a bit, we started the easier road down the 246 back to Lompoc. The coffee had kicked in, and before long I was charging ahead full tilt through the rollers, trying to avoid the rumble strip at 40mph! We arrived safely back in Lompoc at 4:15am, and Shaun and I agreed to meet back at 7:15am to hit the road. A quick shower and a couple hours of fitful sleep capped our first day of riding.

A map and elevation profile of our first day can be found at