Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Set-backs can be a Good Thing

As I mentioned in the last post I had some serious pain in my foot that steadily grew worse. I took a day off, bought new shoes, and thought that was the end of it. The pain was minor during the weekend rides. However, Monday, after the wind battered monster ride Sunday, the bottom of my foot was swollen and painful to any downward pressure. A lump had formed on the ball of my foot just behind the big toe. I was devastated. If anything can put an end to this project, it’s an injury that won’t go away.

So, I made a decision. No riding, running, strength training, or exercise for at least five days. Each night I iced and soaked my foot, stayed off it as much as possible at work, and generally babied it all week. This was very tough for me. By Wednesday, I felt like the biggest slug on the planet. The interesting thing was even though I wasn’t exercising I felt tired all week. I was getting 1 – 2 hours more sleep than normal, but just didn’t have any get up and go. By Thursday, I was becoming slightly depressed, even though I could see the swelling recede a little more each day and feel the pain significantly lessen. By Friday, it was all I could do to stop myself from at least riding to and from work. I said 5 days, it took all the discipline I have to stick with it.

Finally, Saturday! Went out for test ride, nice and easy, flat, minimum pressure on the pedals. Felt good, although I intended on only riding an hour, I was so happy to be back on the bike, one hour turned into four. I felt so energetic and alive!

Back on the Bike an Loving It!

Sunday, longish ride, 6 ½ hours with my riding buds Kevin and Tom. The weather was fine, the company was spectacular, and as always in Colorado, the scenery breathtaking. Toward the end of the ride I was feeling some pain, so when I got home, iced my foot and took some Advil. Monday, foot was feeling fine without a trace of pain. Yes!
Larry & Tom Gold Camp Road

There is nothing better than a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich during a long scenic ride!

When I think back how tired I felt last week, and how much I slept, 8 – 9 hours vs my usual 6 - 7, I think this set-back was a good thing. I’ve been pushing pretty hard since November and I believe the foot was telling me I need to take a rest. When I didn’t listen, it forced me to. And judging how I feel this week, that rest was sorely needed and did wonders. I’m every bit as enthusiastic and energetic as the first week when I got the green light from my employer to do the Tour Divide Race. Set-backs can truly be a good thing!
Kevin just enjoying the day

Larry & Tom High above Colorado Springs

Thanks for reading and supporting the Children’s National, I am sincerely humbled and grateful for all the support we’ve received thus far. Thanks.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

And Now It Gets Hard: Tour Divide Race

Today was BRUTAL. I have to write this while the pain is still seeping through my body and my memory is fresh. In a couple days I’ll call today’s ride a character builder. But today, it was brutal. I kinda new what I was getting into when the weather reports were filled with high wind advisories and warnings. “Good Training”, I thought. In addition to that I now have a lot of my gear so wanted to go for a long ride with packs and gear. Result; 10 ½ hours in the saddle, 20+ lbs. extra weight, 7,500 feet of climbing, and ridiculous wind = long hard day.
Early Morning Garden of the Gods

Morning is coming, the moon is still bright

The ride started just after 5:00 am and the wind was already going pretty strong. It was still beautiful, and riding through Garden of the Gods with a bright almost full moon was awe-inspiring. From there I started the climb up Rampart Range Road to ride the “Monster Loop”. A loop that climbs to 9,500 feet around Rampart Reservoir, then drops into Monument. The rest was just make it up as I go along.

Two things: Wind and extra weight. I already knew this, but to know and experience are two different things. Climbing with extra weight takes a whole different mindset. It is slow going. A climb that normally takes me 1 ½ hours took over three. Granted I was being buffeted from the wind on all sides, but I could definitely feel the weight difference. It’s a game changer. The discouraging thing is I was probably only carrying about ½ the weight I’ll be carrying on the TDR.

Slowly Getting Bike Set-up 
The wind was ridiculous and relentless. I started listening to a book to take my mind off the climb but the wind was howling so loud I couldn’t hear it. Even with earbuds stuff as far down my ear canal as I could get them. At one point I had a mechanical and had to stop and work on the bike. I couldn’t put anything down; tools, gloves, parts, without them blowing away. It was above 9,000 feet so the wind was bitter cold. Patience, I told myself, good training.

View of Pikes Peak from 9,550 feet on Rampart

Amazing - at 9,000 feet - no snow

Descending into Monument 

After descending into Monument and seven hours into the ride, got a call from my good buddy Tom Turney to see if we could hook up. It happened that we were within ½ mile from each other, hooked up and headed for Greenland Open Space. Now “Open Space” sounds cool, but in this wind, I think “Closed Space” would have been much better. Greenland Open Space is an open almost prairie like environment with no, none, zero, zip shelter from the wind. We got battered. Tom did the bulk of the work by going to the front and shielding me the best he could. Tom is a saint. Finally, as we came back into Monument, Tom headed home and I was on my own once again. 20 more miles to get home all against a ludicrous headwind. In the end, 10 hours 46 minutes and only 84 miles. Here is a 3D review of today's ride.

At home, Roswitha already had a fresh smoothie and pizza waiting for me. Yes, she is a true angel. I was wasted. I couldn’t help but think that in the TDR I would still have another five plus hours to ride and no smoothie, pizza, loving wife, and warm house waiting for me at the end. Instead I’ll have to eat whatever I have, do some bike maintenance, pull out a sleeping bag, bevy sack and sleep in whatever conditions I happen to be in. I wondered out loud if I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Roswitha just laughed and gave me the look she always gives me when I take on these new adventures. I know in a couple of days, I’ll call this a “character builder”, but right now I’m calling brutal.

The rest of the week went great. Rode with Tom and Kevin Saturday. I always love riding with these guys. We ride hard and fast, well fast for old guys, and we feel just like high school boys out doing what we love. Tuesday and Thursday, early morning longish rides before work, hill repeats on Wednesday, and core strength training on Monday. Had a little bit of a scare though. For a couple of weeks now, my left foot has been getting sorer and sorer. I kept pushing and after Thursday’s ride I thought I may have done long lasting damage. I took Friday off from riding and bought new shoes with a wider toe box. Everything is fine now. Such a relief. I was really worried that after pledging to help raise money for Children’s National, my foot injury could put everything at risk. Luckily it was just a matter of changing shoes.

Kevin and Tom

As I write this, the wind howling outside. It’s just after 7:00 PM, which means I’d still be riding in the TDR, then looking for a place out of the wind to sleep. Given how beat I was at the end of today’s ride, this thought both excites me and at the same time gives me a ting of dread. But that’s what adventures are all about – Right? Today was good training, and yes, a character builder!

Thanks for Reading and your support of Children's National


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Heroes and Generosity: Tour Divide Race

 About 2 ½ years ago I had the good fortune to participate in an amazing project called Burning River for Ben. Ben O’Daniel was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Leukemia type B and in his third year of chemo, we put together a team to raise money to help families that were having to deal with childhood cancer. The plan was for me to run the 100 mile Burning River 100 race and Ben, even though still going through chemo, would run the last mile with me through the finish line. Ben trained all summer and instead of one mile he ran the last five miles to the finish! It was incredible, and in the end, we raised over $10,000 to help families with costs such as parking, meal tickets, lodging, and other needs not covered by insurance. This was Ben's idea by the way. The generosity and outpouring of support was incredible.

Ben (on my left) and Friends - Finish Line Burning River 100
During this experience I had the privilege to meet some of the staff that dedicate their lives to caring for these kids. I was humbled. The doctors, nurses, and volunteers are so dedicated and will do anything for these kids. Their whole mission is to save these kids lives and make their ordeal as pleasant as humanly possible. Unfortunately, they are not always successful and it is truly devastating. But they drive on. These people are true life heroes.

Ben, by the way, is doing awesome these days, attending Kent State University as a math major.

Dr. Horde and Ben
His dedication and the dedication of his staff is truly humbling

That brings us to Tour Divide and Children’s National. The Tour Divide Race is going to be an incredible adventure. I’m quite sure it will be the most challenging undertaking I’ve ever attempted. However, as with Burning River I would like to use this adventure to help a positive cause.  I’ve partnered with my employer to use this race to raise money for the Children’s National program which will help families going through childhood cancer and cardiac birth defects. The program is supported 100% through donations. My employer, Plus3 ITSystems, will generously contribute a matching donation for the first $2,500. We have set up a donation page and the ball is rolling. I was blown away, when within 48 hours after posting on Face Book, over $1,000 was donated. But we’ve just begun. And any donation will be matched and will help so many kids and families. Thank-you so much.
Good Morning Colorado Sprngs!
As far as training goes, this past week has been a recovery, or I like to call it “recharge” week. I essentially cut my training down to about half and slept in till 5:00 or so to recover from the previous three-week build-up. This week, the three-week cycle starts all over. Although training was reduced, there were still some highlights:

Battling the Wind
  • After a morning run in 4 degrees Fahrenheit, I got to work and there was no hot water. The shower was much more challenging than the run!
  • It was incredibly windy this week. Sunday’s ride was 5+ hours of battling side winds than forced me to put my foot down several times to keep from being blown over. Head winds that had me pedaling forever and going nowhere. And of course, tail winds that were effortless. Through it all I just told myself “this is good training, there will be entire days like this on the Divide”. 
  • The highlight of the week however, was when I stopped to piss, dropped my glove, and peed all over it.
I think all this kind of stuff is good prep for the Divide. Anything can and will happen, except hopefully, peeing on gloves.

Thanks for reading & thanks for your support of Children’sNational