Jack is 12 and he has lived 1/3 of his life with cancer. I
met Jack’s Dad during RAGBRAI last summer. I could not meet Jack or
his Mom because he was going through yet another cancer treatment.
His Dad only came to see our group one night because all 70 of us
were staying on his lawn. Back in 2008 Jack and his parents
launched the “I know Jack” campaign. My now favorite t-shirt has on
the back “If you don’t fight cancer, you don’t know Jack.” The
front says “I know Jack”. Well I have not met Jack, but I do fight
for him. Watch his video at your own risk. To some it will cause
them to cry. To some it will cause them to say how unfair this is.
To me it does both. I cry, I think how unfair this is, then I get
pissed off and try to do something about it. In Jacks honor a
donation of $28 has been made to LiveSTRONG. Because of this
organization Jack and his parents have been surrounded buy love,
help, and hope. Even a guy Jack may never know went out and road 60
miles in a 15 mph headwind with a high tempeture of 42 degrees.
This flag is for Kate. She is 26, has stage 4 melanoma that has spread everywhere. Although I have never met Kate, I heard her story from a LiveSTRONG staff member. Kate’s passion is distance running. Because she could not run the Austin Marathon this year, her friends formed Team Kate to run for her. Their goal was to raise $1,000. On February 16 Team Kate ran with 118 runners who had raised over $50,000. That’s inspiration.
I will likely never meet Kate or her husband Mike. I will, however, send her this flag and make a $28 donation to LiveSTRONG in her name. While I cannot help her with cancer, she will a least know that a weird stranger from Michigan road through Georgia with her name on the back of my bike. I Fight like hell the only way I know how.
(If you want to read more, here is “Team Kate” home page: www: http://bit.ly/QiI3vf Also, this is a really special recording of Kate and Mike talking about her cancer and their marriage: http://kut.org/2012/03/kate-and-mike-voth/)
The last day was the best of the trip. It was 31 degrees when I left at 7am, but it warmed up quickly. The sun was strong and I had either no wind or a slight tail wind. There was very little traffic and a big shoulder most of the way. Feels good to have done this ride, but this was NOT the trip I had planned.
Usually my journals are “The adventures of The Road Rider and The Dutch Plodder”. I’ve decided to title this trip “The travels of The Border Collie and Son”.
A few years ago Jeri and I went of vacation with our friends Jeanette and Brenda. We spent the week in a condo, sat in the sun, ate good food, and had great conversation. (Well Jeri, Brenda, and Jeanette had great conversations. I spent most of the time lost because they would change topics every 2-3 sentences and I was regularly lost). Anyway at one point I came back from the store and they all laughed at me when I walked in. “What’s so damn funny?” I asked. While gone Brenda had commented the the other two that Jeff must have been a border collie in a past life because he is only happy when he is working. I was a little disappointed because I would rather be a Rottweiler but I must admit she is right.
It was very clear over the last 4 days that I come from good breeding stock. My Dad is a working machine. He hauled my bag in and out of our room, scouted out the route ahead to find the best roads and stops, and went all the way back to the start to get the box I needed to ship my bike home. (That was a 5 hour round trip drive!) Whenever I suggested he head home he absolutely would not hear of it. Last night at dinner I tried to thank him for all his help. His response, “I am glad I could help.” Then he added (and this is the absolute best part of the entire trip) “I learned something though. I learned that I would much rather be on the field.” That is just so cool. After 74 years he is still saying “Put me in. I want the ball!” I hope I can be that kind if person when I am 74. Thanks Dad!
So this trip is in the books. I road 252 miles in 4 days, used all my cold weather gear, and never took my camp shorts or my short sleeve shirt out of my bag. Along the way I traveled with Kate for two days and Jack for two days. (I put their names on the flag that I always ride with. I’ll post up their stories in a couple days.) Despite not being able to ride, I was also able to hang out with my Dad for 3 nights. I do not have anything else planned right now, but am already scheming on riding the UP of Michigan this summer. Probably only do it, however, if The Dutch Plodder can come off the injured reserve list and get back on the field.
SHINE! The Border Collies Son
One would think that while on a bicycle tour there would
not be any major decisions one would have to make. Pedal fast or
slow – eat at Golden Coral or Bonanza – get up at 6:00am or at
6:10am. These are just not that critical. Today, however, I had a
significant decision to make. Do I stop for the day with 65 miles
or push on another 35. I did not like either of my choices. I think
I mentioned yesterday that ITIS COLD HERE! 32 degrees this morning
when I started. It never got above 43 degrees and by the time I had
my 65 miles in at 12:15pm the wind was blowing at 12-15mph. The
next 10 miles are straight into that wind. Seems like an easy
decision right? Stop for the day and do the last 60 miles tomorrow.
Here’s the catch, I can only ride for about an hour and a half at
temperatures like this before my feet are numb. If I wait for
tomorrow, it will take me 3 hours to get to the first place where I
can go inside and warm my feet. If I do that section today, the
first 10 miles will take me an hour but the last 25 will only take
another hour. (With a 15mph tail wind I can go pretty fast.) Well
it is 2pm and I have taken a shower and am now typing this journal.
So clearly I choose to stop for the day. Being the CEO of a top
notch building products company I thought others would like to
understand how I made such an important decision. I did my
research. I looked at the weather forecast and the maps and the
hotel options. I then talked to my advisors (Jeri and Larry). After
all this work the decision was still a toss up. So why did I stay
instead of pushing on? If you could see where I am sitting right
now it would be obvious. There is a Starbucks here and there isn’t
one 35 miles away. Of course I am not going to push on. I’m going
to sit here and drink my Iced Venti non-fat Latte with a short
straw and eat a piece of Lemon Pound Cake. No brainer! So tomorrow
I will hopefully finish this trip by riding into Jacksonville, FL –
60 miles. Thanks to my Dad, I do not have to worry about my bike
box. It did not get picked up on Friday as promised so he drove up
to Charleston this morning to get it. He is a cool dude! I only
beat him to the hotel by about 15 minutes. My plan is to bike in
around noon, pack up my bike, take a shower, and fly home. (I will
probably stop at Starbucks in the airport.)
I was supposed to go 49 miles today and stop in Savanna, GA. At 9:30am I only had 18 miles to go. I called the hotel and they could not get us into a room until 2:30pm. I looked and found another city 20 miles further on that had a Hampton Inn. When I called they had a room AND a guest laundry. Dad went on into Savanna to visit the Air Force 8 museum (the corp that flew all the bomber missions from England into Germany during WWII). I headed into Savanna. Most of that last 18 miles was into a 15mph head wind. Seems weird but that headwind was the decider for me. I felt good, it was sunny, and I only had another 21 miles so I kept plugging.
The only thing I saw in Savanna was a big sign for the Golf-stream factory. I did ride through what was probably a beautiful wild life preserve but I could not take my eyes off the road. Wind was gusting up to 25 and I was heading directly into it. For any who noticed that Larry went to a museum and may think, “At least Larry has a little class.” He stayed for one hour and half of that was a movie. When I asked him why he did not stay longer, his answer made perfect sense to me, “I saw it. No need to stay longer.” This is the same guy who will spend 2 hours studying a map to see if we can shave 1 mile out of the day. Apple does not fall far from the tree here. That’s cool to me.
Because of my extra miles today, I changed all the rest of my reservations. Assuming my bike box arrives from Charleston on Monday in Jacksonville I will be coming home. 60 miles tomorrow and 65 on Monday. Gonna be 32 degrees tomorrow when I start. No rain, however, so all should be good. I’m starting as early as possible to beat as much of the wind as possible. When I finished today it was 45 degrees with a 15mph head wind. I wonder what the wind chill calculation for that is. Actually I know – too damn cold for bicycling.