Ultimate Cycling Challenge

Ultimate Cycling Challenge

i Feb 23rd 8 Comments by

Livestrong 2009
Ride #1 – Holland, Michigan
February 20 – 21

• Indoor bicycle event
• On the bike for 9 hours
• At the event for 12 hours (8pm until 8am)


I sure am glad that I did not commit to doing the full 24 hours alone! 12 hours was definitely enough. Surprisingly my legs and butt were fine, but I was really tired. The time between 2am and 5am was tough. While taking 10-15 minute breaks every hour to stretch helped, during this time I was reluctant to sit down for fear that I might fall asleep. Jeri sent me a text message at 7:15am that read, “The Calvary is on the way.” The Calvary was her, and I was very glad to see her at 7:30.

Jeri and I used the event to start our 2009 Livestrong fundraising campaign. While we will send out a letter soon with our specific commitments, we did list the basics on a poster: 7 rides over 100 miles a day, 70 contributors over $100, 700 total contributors, 7000 kilometers on the bike, and $77,777 dollars. We also turned on The Road Rider web site. (Visit www.theroadrider.net to see what we have put together.)

Like last year, this year’s Ultimate Cycling Challenge was quite motivating. Watching the Livestrong Manifesto is always emotional. Hearing that this event was able to raise more this year than last despite the economy was also a charge. The organizers had a great band and DJ throughout the night. The real motivation for me, however, came late in the ride and from an unexpected place.

Around 6am I was down. I was tired; the music was great but I was sick of it; my butt was a little sore but my legs could not take standing more than 30 seconds at a time; 8am seemed like a really long time away. As my mind started to wander through other times when I had felt like this it almost immediately focused on the first ride I did with my Dad from San Diego to El Paso. On the second to the last day we had a big climb (over 5,000’). It was cold all day and my feet were numb before we even started the climb. I am usually a faster climber so Dad went first. This was normal and usually I would catch him after 30 minutes so. On this day, however, I did not. While I kept moving, I just could not get the energy to go any faster. I was even starting to wonder if I would make it. There was no here to stop and no place to get warm. I will never know if I could have made it alone or not because at about the 2 hour mark, my Dad came back for me.

This would be expected from a Dad with a young kid, but it was a big surprise to me. I was 39 and he was 67. I had been “cruising” up all the other climbs in those two weeks, while he had struggled up most of them. Going down a mountain that you know you must go up, is tough. It is even tougher if you have already gone up it once. Well the short version is he came back for me, made this tremendous sacrifice, and I made it to the top. (Visit www.theroadrider.net click on the Journals tab and find March 22, 2006 for the full story.)

Remembering this story caused the last two hours to fly by. Not because of what my Dad did for me, but for what I cannot do for him. I kept thinking that he came back for me when I needed it, but there is no way for me to go back for him when he needs it. I would do almost anything to be able to “go back for him”. His back injury has left him not being able to stand up beyond 60 degrees and not able to do any of the fun physical stuff he looks forward to. I kept remembering the look of concern on his face when he came back for me and wishing I could do this for him.

The only thing I could do was keep riding. So just like that day in March of 2006 I turned my iPod up as loud as it would go and decided to pedal until 8am or until I fell off the bike. I pumped up the cadence to 105rpm and heart rate to 155bpm. With tears streaming down my cheeks for the last hour and a half I pedaled at this rate thinking about my Dad and what I could not do for him. I am sure Doug and John who were riding next to me will be surprised to read that it was not all sweat. (There was a little sweat. Hahaha)

The frustration of being helpless is a strong motivator. It was this same feeling that got me pumped up to ride in San Jose last year. It is also the same feeling I get almost every time I listen to one of the 2008 Song Dedications I received last year. I started this ride thinking it was the kick off to Jeri’s and my 2009 fund raising for the LAF. It ended as a dedication to my Dad. I guess for now, I will ride because he cannot.

I love you Dad!