A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Riding with Big Troy and the Boys

Home on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies!
I often ride solo when I am in training or out for a leisurely ride. I like to lose myself in thought and enjoy the scenery along Colorado's Front Range. Sometimes, like this morning, I'll meet up with my buddy Troy. These rides are a little more intense, perhaps a bit competitive. As Troy said this morning, "We are perfect training partners. No slackin' when we're riding together!!!"

At the Sprucewood Inn with Big Troy.
Recently Troy and I have been meeting up with his friends John, Mark, Dan and Randy, who push it to a whole 'nother level (I've never tried writng that before and just now realized how grammatically incorrect that is, but I'm still going to say it!). These guys attack Deer Creek Canyon/High Grade Road (a category one climb like those seen on Le Tour) like a pack of wolves on a lamb (OK, so that's hyperbole but you get the picture). Only sometimes I feel like the lamb.

Team BEEF on this year's Elephant Rock ride
I like riding with a small group of strong riders like Troy and the boys, especially in large "event" rides like Elephant Rock, Colorado Bike MS and the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. It's fun to grab the wheel of the guy in front of you and hang on for dear life, taking turns pulling at the front and blowing past riders laboring along on inferior equipment or unconditioned legs.

Riding in large group events does have its challenges, like waiting in line for porta-potties and keeping a close eye out for riders to don't follow the rules of the road. Some people hate it (like my friend Jeff who rode solo from San Diego to Bar Harbor, Maine and wrote a book about it). Others (like me) like the atmosphere and social aspect of riding with a pack of several thousand other riders.

Following the rules of the road is especially important in large group rides and will help you and the other riders avoid serious injury. Nothing puts a damper on the fun like seeing the ambulance cart a rider off the course to the hospital. I've had it happen to friends and have had my own trip to the ER compliments of the Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Department. Not my idea of fun. My first goal in a large group ride is to cross the finish line...on my bike!

My trip to the ER after an unfortunate encounter with a car in 2007. I was lucky that a broken collarbone was the worst of my injuries!
Ride on (and ride safe!)...


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Riding with the Pack

Sometimes in life you have an opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself, to use your gifts and talents to help others, to leave a positive mark on the people and community around us. I had that opportunity this past weekend and I want to share the feeling and invite others to be part of it!

The story starts more than a year ago when I met Ed and Tim Blach on the Elephant Rock ride in Castle Rock. As usual for these big group rides I was wearing my Team BEEF jersey to remind other riders that beef provides "fuel for the finish" (as I cruise past them on the last 20 miles of a century ride!). To make a long story short Ed and Tim's brother Randy works in the same building as I do and is a good friend in the beef community.

Nearly 50 cyclists rode in the 2012 Colorado Bike MS as part of Patty's Pack.
After we sang the chorus of "It's a Small World" (not literally) the brothers shared the story of Patty's Pack, a bike team formed in memory of their sister Patty Metzler, who died of complications from MS at age 55. I learned more about Patty after I decided to join the team and ride with Patty's Pack in the 2012 Colorado Bike MS ride.

In the words of Patty's daughter Hannah...

"As many of you know, my mom, Patty Metzler passed away due to complications with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2007. Throughout her life she enjoyed many activities including playing softball for Colorado State University in her college days, raising 5 children, and sharing a lust for life with everyone she knew. It was only when MS disrupted her day to day abilities that she had to give up some of her joys in order to focus on her health.

"Patty was 26 years old when she first remembers missing a step and falling outside of a department store. Next it was the numb limbs on her left side, or sometimes she just couldn't get her smile muscles to work on her face. One thing led to another and she was eventually confined to a wheelchair. Though you would have thought this would dampen Patty's spirit, the exact opposite happened. My mom gave others the courage to face their insurmountable daily challenges while saddled to her own every day. She never complained, and when people would ask her how she dealt with her MS so well, all Patty would say is, this is what God has blessed me with.

"For those of you that did not know my mom, she was a very kind, loving and compassionate person.  I miss her dearly, but this ride helps me to keep her memory alive, and hopefully in the future rid the world of MS."

I met Hannah on the Bike MS ride this past weekend and am happy to report that Patty lives on through her daughter's spirit and determination to eradicate the world of MS.
Patty's Pack started with six riders in 2007 and has grown to over 50 riders this year. The team has raised over $120,000 since 2007 and the goal is to raise $50,000 in 2012. To date we have raised just over $39,000. Even though we have finished the ride we will not stop until we reach that goal!

Five of the original six members of Patty's Pack. From left: Ed Blach (Patty's brother), Darci Jones Blach, Hannah Metzler Long (Patty's daughter), Kyle Blach, and Tim Blach (Patty's brother)
I rode in my first Bike MS ride in 2000 as part of a personal weight loss effort. I had no connection to MS. I was doing it the ride for myself and dreaded fundraising. I hate asking people for money! But after sending out an e-mail to some close friends and family I began to receive checks with notes of thanks and stories of loved ones living with MS or who's lives had been cut short by MS. They were thanking ME for the opportunity to participate!

In promoting my fundraising efforts for the Bike MS ride I learned that a high school classmate, Kathy Reagan Young, lives with MS. I dedicated my ride to Kathy, carrying her on my back as Patty's "wings" carried me through the two-day ride. Check out Kathy's FUMS blog for more of her story.
Over a period of five years I raised over $20,000 riding in the Kansas City and Topeka MS rides and met many people living with this insidious disease. After moving to Colorado I stopped fundraising for MS for several years...until that day a little over a year ago when I met Ed and Tim and heard the story of Patty's Pack. That's when I remembered what it felt like to be part of something bigger than myself, to use my gifts and talents to help others, and to leave a positive mark on the people and community around me.

I set a personal goal this year to raise $5,000. Going into the ride this past weekend I had raised just over half that. I could stop there and feel good about what I accomplished, after all that's a lot more than most people raise. But after meeting Hannah this weekend I am determined to reach my goal and help my new team reach ours.

I finished the 2012 Bike MS ride but have not yet reached my fundraising goal so the effort is not over!

Please visit my BEEFMAN fundraising page and join the effort. Contribute whatever you can afford: $10, $25, $50, $100 ... every dollar gets us closer to our goal. Experience the feeling of what it's like to be part of something bigger than yourself. Then next year join the team and ride with the Pack!

Ride on,