Tag Archives: Cancer

The battle continues

With the start of Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride now nearly a month in the past and the miles behind us, it is easy for me to “check it off” as one goal complete. I tend to place finished goals on the shelf and start focusing on the next one. It is good for me to be reminded that the ride isn’t over. The goal didn’t end when I dismounted my bike.

The Challenge to Conquer Cancer and the Palmetto Peloton Project is more than just a set of dates on the calendar and miles to be ridden. This organization is made up of people. Some of those people are constantly in the true challenge to conquer cancer. For them it is most certainly more than a ride.

Whether is be one of our colleagues going through a struggle with chemo or a new instance of someone finding they have a tumor, it all comes back to the realization that I can’t say to myself, “Well, I’ve done my part. I rode the miles. Now, on to the next thing.”

The battle continues.

Raising funds for the battle is just part of our responsibility. We also have the responsibility to encourage and hold up in prayer those who are on the front lines of the war each day. Even for those of us free from the immediate effects of cancer this can be emotionally overwhelming. How strong these warriors are.

I begin to glimpse the truth in the simple statement: LiveSTRONG.

All in one place

Pretty soon I’ll be sending a DVD and a jersey of my Ride For Mike to his parents.  I’ll also be sending one to his wife and little girl.  It will be something for them to remember him by and to remind them that people still love him.

I figured I would go ahead and combine all the videos of the week in one place for archive sake.  So, below are all the videos you may have seen last week during the Palmetto Peloton Project’s Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride.  Then again, you may have missed one.  Check them out.

The Overview

Day One

Day Two

Day Three/Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven – LiveSTRONG Challenge

Remember last year?

Why not make your plans for 2010?

I didn’t ride with Lance

Last week my teammates and I did a lot of riding:  100 plus miles on the beautiful Natchez Trace – in the dark, 80+ wonderful miles through the walking horse country of Tennessee, dozens of miles here and there, and – not to be overlooked – 85 miles that included 2.5 hours through tropical storm Rick.  However, the miles I was looking forward to all week were those in Austin when I would once again try to catch Lance Armstrong during the LiveSTRONG Challenge.

I did it last year. A few of us riders took off from the start and caught Armstrong about 15 minutes into the ride. It was a once and a life time experience – at least I know that now!

This year I took off once again to relive the excitement of the past. Fifteen minutes into the ride there was no Lance and my teammates who started with me were no longer around me.  One succumbed to cramps and another to a mechanical. I wasn’t sure of the status of the third.  All I knew is that I was hurting and trying to stay with about 6 other riders who were putting the hammer down.

My mind went back to last year when I was on the super team of the Palmetto Peloton Project. We had a strong collection of riders and I came to Austin much fresher that year. It was a different experience entirely. That year we gloried in our strength – and I loved it. It culminated with enough reserves in the tank to ride with Lance.

Here I was again in 2009 trying to bring back some of that magic. I kept hanging on to the chase group knowing that if I could stay there then the crud would pass and catching Lance would still be a possibility. I was right.  Twenty miles into the ride I was starting to feel better.  I took my turns on the front and then slid back to recover.

Nearing mile 24, I was on the front.  We were going through a small town when we came to an intersection with some policemen directing traffic.  It wasn’t clear what we were supposed to do.  I motioned to the guardians to give me a signal of how to continue you.  They waved us directly ahead.

We then approached another one.  There was on policeman on duty here and I motioned to him for a sign as well.  He made a small motion with his hand and in a split second I realized I misread his signal.  He told us to go right.  I continued straight.

Unfortunately for me, all the other riders were paying better attention to the road markers.  They whizzed through the turn and took off.  The one guy who went straight with me got turned around faster and took off after them.  By the time I got back to the turn, the group was out of sight.

I chased to get back on.  However, I knew at that point it was fruitless. To be honest, I knew it was going to be tough the day before when I went for an easy spin around the city of Austin. A couple of times I gave my legs a test, but the screamed back at me and simply did not offer me any power.

My team this year was much different. Most of them had taken up cycling just recently. I was not on the “super-team” this year. My miles from Greenville to Austin included a fair amount of pulling my teammates through headwinds. There simply was not enough fuel left in the tank. Had I been able to catch Lance, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay with him because I would have shot my wad to get there.

Now, does that mean that this wasn’t as good of a week? No – not by any means. It was simply different. This year’s team gloried in each new accomplishment – and we loved it. This year it wasn’t about me going fast with a bunch of racers. It was about watching relatively new cyclists grow by going farther than they thought they could. It was with pleasure and a sense of ownership that I pulled them (not to say they didn’t work hard!)

All alone somewhere in cattle country of Dripping Springs, Texas I had opportunity to think through these things. Finally, some other riders came along and swallowed me up. I gladly jumped into their pace line and began to think that while I might not catch Lance, at least I could get a good finish.

Will Flanagan was in the group and we stuck together for many miles. I owe him big time. Here I was the “racer” the “Lance chaser” and I was trash. Will had to pull me along. He didn’t complain when I began to ask to stop at the various SAG stops along the way.

Then with around ten miles to go I came upon Sally Dunn.  I knew it was her because she had her pink cape on.  As we approached her we called out her name.  “Oh, hi, Jonathan! Your wife is just ahead!”

One thing I didn’t mention is that my beautiful redhead decided on Friday to do the 45 mile ride of the LiveSTRONG Challenge! She had never ridden over 20 miles in her life and here she was biting off quite a piece of cycling! I was a little concerned knowing the rolling nature and rough roads of the Dripping Springs area.

I caught her and we began to ride together. She was doing her best, but after the 20 mile mark she was starting to have some pain in her knees.  She was really suffering up the hills. It caused me to slow down to nearly a coast.

Rider after rider passed me.  Racer types, overweight types, older riders, and kids finishing their shorter distances.  I recognized some of them from pace lines I had left behind earlier in the day. My competitive nature cringed as I watched them leave me in the dust.

I urged Annette on and we continued together. Rather than being frustrated about being passed, I put my focus on the fact that she was doing this for me. She isn’t a cyclist. She doesn’t want to be one. However, she wanted to experience this with me.

We rolled into the finishing shoot together.  She was hurting so badly that she couldn’t put much pressure on the pedals. I looked back and she gave me a smile through a painful grimace. I finished my 90 and she her 45 together.

No, I didn’t ride with Lance. I rode with Annette — and I grew to love every minute of it.

For memories sake, I am also including last year’s video.

A day in Austin

Once again it is getting late at night… at least considering that I will be getting up at 4:30 AM in order to get to Dripping Springs, Texas for the LiveSTRONG Challenge 90 mile ride.  However, I do want to get this uploaded before I go to bed.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back on the computer tomorrow.

I hope I will have a little time to breathe tomorrow and I will begin to tell some of the stories I’ve experienced during these days.  Unfortunately, editing these videos seems to take up more time than I remember them taking!  It is leaving me with less time to type the thoughts in my mind.

If things go well in Dripping Springs, I hope to have some good video of the LiveSTRONG Challenge ride.  Arthur, Bob, and I are planning on making a mad dash to the front like we did last year.  Who know who we might see up there…

Riding into Austin

This video uploaded while I was sleeping last night.  Think I stayed up a bit too late getting these done.  I have that very groggy feeling going on in my head… coffee… coffeeeeee…

It was an emotional day all around.  The video of the actual LiveSTRONG Challenge ride may not get up until sometime early next week.  It all depends on how things go on Sunday.

If you enjoyed this video, be sure you go back into previous posts to check out the rest of this year’s segments.  I sure have enjoyed living them!  Thanks, Team Awesome!  I’ll be your exit buddy any day.

Have you ever ridden in the middle of a named storm?

We have.  We rode through tropical storm Rick as it moved across Texas.  It certainly was a dark and stormy night.  Team Green was ready.

I’ll spend some time later blogging about exactly how the ride progressed.  For now, I am still very tired and after a busy day of Palmetto Peloton Project related activities, I’m ready to hit the sack.  I’ve got to get some rest for the ride coming up Sunday.

However, before I climb in the bed, I’m putting up two new videos for you all.  By the way, thank you so much to those who let me know they actually watch these things.  I do wish they could better capture what happens out there.  At least I know that as my teammates come back to view them the videos will serve as a spring board for bringing back to their minds the events surrounding these feeble attempts to portray those memories.

First, Part One of Day Four – it was a very interesting day on the road — in the van that is.  We learned to practice that informal motto of the Marine Corp: adapt, improvise, and overcome.  Team Green did!

Next up is Part Two of Day Four – or was that the beginning of Day 5? Hmmmm, it started at midnight and ended around 6 AM in the morning.  Most amazing was that once it was all pedaled and done we learned we had ridden straight through the middle of a named tropical storm!  Rick dumped his best on us, but we came through together as a team.

I believe that the connection that cyclists have with cancer warriors is the suffering.  A cyclist may be 70 miles into a ride with a 20 mph headwind and rain beating down on him.  His body is cold with his muscles and joints aching from the exposure to the elements and exertion.  Yet, he pedals on to reach the goal ahead of him.  He attacks the pain – or at times locks it away in the corner of his mind.  He finds away to go through the pain.

I do not have cancer and don’t mean to speak for those who have fought – or are fighting that battle.  However, I have seen in those whom I have been privileged to know that same spirit.  I cancer patient has much more pain and aching than I’ll ever know on the bike.  Still, she will attack this invader and go on with courage.  What an inspiration these brave warriors are to all of us.

Thank you.

Oh, deer!

I’m pretty tired right now.  We rolled into Vidalia, LA last night at midnight.  I slept pretty well, but the effort of the last couple days is beginning to show a bit.  Forgive me if this blog is a little short… but at least there is some video today.

We started the morning in Tupelo, MS and got in the van to ride to a rest area on the Natchez Trace.  This is a scenic highway that cuts through Mississippi.  It has become a favorite route for cyclists, and I can tell why.  It was a wonderful ride on some great road.

Being pumped on the way out we thought we could get in over 100 miles for the day.  However, no sooner had we gotten started when Jerry’s rear wheel flatted.  It was a little frustrating because the follow vehicles had been told it was against the law to do so on the the Natchez Trace.  So, we were scrambling to get the tire changed.

Thankfully, Bob Cramer, with Great Escape, was starting the leg with us.  He was able to help us out.  I know we wouldn’t have been able to do it as quickly!  He had us back up and going in no time.

From there there isn’t a lot to describe — one light in front of me… one light in the back of me.  We just kept going into a setting sun.  We had no incident following the flat and so we were making great time.

The most eventful part of the trip were the deer.  We could hear them off in the woods to either side.  Then we started seeing them dart out across the road.  There was one time that a doe came across the road IMMEDIATELY in front of me.  The riders behind me were freaking out because from their perspective the deer was about to take me out!  However, it was really about 10 feet in front of me.  I could hear the hoofs tapping the asphalt as she crossed.

Toward the end of the ride Bo, the closer, started smelling the barn.  We had to hold him back — as well as Meggan (who we always have to hold back) — because Nikki was feeling the effects of her accident a couple days earlier.  At first it was frustrating because we were afraid we wouldn’t get our century ride if we had to slow too much.  However, it ended up be a good experience because Nikki really worked hard to stay up and the team began to work for her.

Working together helped pull her through some slight climbs along the way and then we would bomb downhill for a bit.  As a team we neared our transition point and the century was right at our fingertips.  Then we were afraid that the transition would be BEFORE the magical 100 mile mark.  We were on pins and needles, but shortly after we crossed the Mississippi River the computer flipped to to triple digits!

For me it was a great night.  I tried to pull on the front as much as possible to help the crew keep it moving.  Three of the five of us had never had finished a century.  It was encouraging to think that I was helping them reach that goal that most cyclists aim for.

Today we have some time down.  Unfortunately, it will be hard to spend any of that time sleeping.  Maybe we can find some hot spots so that other members can get in their blogs.  I’m certain there are some spots out there as we drive today to College Station, TX.

Texas… ah, that word sounds good!  We’re almost there!

Packing for an epic ride

Okay, so maybe “epic” is a little too strong of a word, but it probably was the one that got you to the blog.  Still, compared to most of my other rides during the year the 1400 mile trip from Greenville, SC to Austin, TX rates pretty high on the “don’t do this every day” scale.  Whatever the case, for posterity I’m listing my packing list for the ride.  Maybe next year it will be yours!

Bicycle – the Giant TCR Advanced is ready to roll.  Got my wheels all true, good chain, new cassette, and a tune up about a week ago.  This part of the ride I’m confident about.

Bicycle gear – shoes, helmet, and gloves (fingerless, fingered, and winter) are a must.  A pair of shades with several lenses for different lighting conditions.  I’m also taking a spare pair for quick transition if needed or if one gets broken.

Cycling clothing – two pairs of bibs, two P3C3 jerseys, one POA Cycling Team kit, one rain jacket, one P3C3 wind vest, one winter jacket (one of our rides has a projected temperature in the 30s!), several under layer shirts, arm warmers, leg warmers, several pairs of socks of differing thickness, shoe covers, head covering (cycling hats and cold weather protection), and LiveSTRONG wrist band.

Bicycle accessories – Garmin 705 (got to record those TSS points!), Blackburn Flea front and rear lights, Mini-Newt front light, won’t carry a bag because of the support following.

Food/hydration – three water bottles, Cytomax powder and maltodextrin powder for creating “meal bottles”.  Any other food will come from the support.  I’ll prep two meal bottles before each ride and then add a water.  One water for each meal bottle and then some extra water.  I’ll be able to replenish both from the support bus.

Miscellaneous support items – two D sized batteries and chargers for Flea, plug in chargers for Newt and Garmin 705, and towel for changing.

Memory stuff – VHoldR helmet cam and accessories, iPhone (for pictures, video, etc.) and accessories, laptop, and necessary cables, etc.

Other accessory stuff – power converter for van, multi-plug wall socket adapter (for hotel), and iPod.

Clothing – got to have my underwear and socks, several t-shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of shorts, polo shirt, light jacket, LiveSTRONG pullover, couple of hats, Crocs and pair of normal shoes, mesh bag for dirty clothes, toiletries.

Things I almost forgot! – sun block, chamois cream, wet wipes…

Believe it or not, all of this will fit in a small duffle and my HincapieSports Pro Pac.  The only other storage I will need is my computer bag.  Cycling gear is quite compact.

Well, it is 10 AM Saturday morning as I finish this post.  Now I’ve got to start putting it all together.  Then I’ll need to start focusing on getting some things done that I have to finish before I can leave.  It is going to be a busy, busy day, but it will be worth it when I can roll off tomorrow knowing I haven’t left anyone in a bind.

Let’s go!

Riding for Mike and more

Cancer wasn’t something that touched my life very specifically growing up.  For the most part, my extended family was free of the disease.  None of my immediate family members had to face it.  It was something that happened to people farther outside my sphere of relationships.

Then, in 2006 that changed.  My friend, Mike McCaskill – who was a decade younger than I, was diagnosed with a brain cancer.  My bubble of immunity was shattered.

Mike’s friends joined in the battle with him.  My part was to determine to engage in a charity ride in his honor.  My plan was to raise money for the fight and then present him with a special jersey I had made.  It was my hope to be an encouragement and do something substantive at the same time.

I never had a chance to present the jersey.  Mike died before I participated in the 2007 ride.  My participation in that Palmetto Peloton Project ride was in Mike’s memory – not to honor his continuing fight.

It was at that time I determined to attempt a significant charity ride in memory of Mike each year.  That led me to participate in the first ever Palmetto Peloton Project Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride in 2008.  It was my way to keep Mike’s memory alive and keep me motivated to be aware of others who are fighting against this killer called cancer.

Since that time, I have come upon many other friends – and now extended family members – who have been pulled into this fight they did not choose.  My fund raising alone  probably has done very little to help them.  However, participating in the Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride has changed forever the way I see cancer and those fighting it.

My short ride across the country is an insufficient way to show my love and concern for those friends and family members facing these battles – or living each day supporting a warrior or missing a loved one whose battle has ended.  I ride for Mike… and so much more.  www.rideformike.com

3 days left to help me raise $5000.
$1185 raised so far to fight cancer.
Give to my fight today!