Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Loon Echo Trek, Not Dead Yet & The Dempsey Challenge 2014

This will be my 6th year doing the challenge!  I haven't missed one yet.  With your donations I have raised $7400 to help people struggling with cancer.

But That's Not All!: The charity rides are stacking up!  This year I am riding 260 miles within 8 days.  They are all good causes, click on each link to make a donation for the cause of your choice.   I typically promote the Dempsey challenge the hardest because I've done it the longest and I I'm trying to collect a jersey for each year I've competed which takes a minimum of $1000 in fundraising.  But this year I'm saying screw the shirt and pick one of these deserving charities to support.  That said, if you are undecided - pick the Dempsey Challenge, 'cause I'd still like the shirt.

Loon Echo Trek 

Supports land conversation for public use for current and future generations. If you're ever hiked Pleasant Mountain you have benefited from Loon Echo!  They also manage thousands of acres of land available for public use.  Thank You Loon Echo!

Fight Back Festival

The fight back festival is a major fundraiser for The Cancer Community Center in Portland.  The work the community center does is very similar to The Dempsey Center without the backing of a Hollywood star! The Cancer Community Center Serves the Portland Area and The Dempsey Center Serves the Lewiston/Auburn area.

The Dempsey Challenge

Everybody knows this one.  More info at the bottom of the page.



Here's a summary of years gone by:
  • Year - Mileage - Bike - Amount Raised 
  • 2009 - 50 - Univega Viva Sport - $840
    • My first BIG group ride, pretty exciting!  I was so cute back them, I thought this ride was long.
  • 2010 - 100 - Univega Viva Sport  - $2550
    • My first century, also exciting!  Even though I have been biking more I had never ridden this far and was a little worried about riding for that long.  I was pretty proud to be riding it on my almost 30 year old bike. This was also the year I lost my dad to cancer
  • 1011 - 100 - Scott CR1- $1660
    • My fastest century, still exciting.  This was the year I set out to see how fast I could go.  I remember the temps hitting near 90 in October.
  • 1012 - 100 - Surly Cross Check $1220
    • My slowest century, less exciting.  I decided to do the ride on a slower heavier bike this year, pushed it pretty hard and paid the price.  All's well that ends well.
  • 2013 - 100 - Scott CR1-$1130
    • When you start the race with a flat tire there's a good chance it's going to look up from there.
  • 2014 - 100 - Felt F4X? - ???
    • Kelly is going to join me for the 100 mile ride this year.  The plan is to kick back and do it at a slower pace and enjoy the ride and ample rest stops.  Since I'm riding the Not Dead Yet ride the day before that may be mandatory.
The Dempsey Challenge raises money to support The Patrick Dempsey Center For Cancer Hope & Healing.  In most years they raise around $1,000,000 which goes directly to the center which offers free counseling, care & support to anybody impacted by cancer.  Your donations support local people to help make their lives better at a time when they need support the most.  

Thanks for making a difference!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Great Adventure Challenge 2014

An hour and a half of driving to borrow a kayak, a precious day out of the camping vacation, sore legs for days and what do I have to show for it but a small (2 actually) Lucite trophy that says "1st place".  Was it worth it?  Hell Yes.

My kayak is fun, maneuverable, comfortable, pleasant to paddle but it isn't a race winner.  Last year I bought a race winning kayak that was not fun, maneuverable, comfortable or pleasant to paddle.  Not to mention that it was 3 times too small fro me which put my center of gravity uncomfortably high so I sold it.  (Sorry Bill, Here's hoping that tipsy kayak doesn't flip on you in next years race)  This year I arranged to borrow a very nice ocean rig from a friend.  With one practice paddle under my belt I was off to the races.  The kayak wasn't magically fast, as I had hoped, but it got me to the finish in exactly the same place as last year, 16th and 2 minutes faster too.  Most importantly, I wasn't terrified the entire trip.  You can pay for piece of mind...or you can borrow it.

Off to the biking leg.  I didn't know it at the time but I had 16 people to pass in order to make it to the front of the pack.  Usually there are a handful of bikers that are faster than me and today was no exception.  I passed about 10 people on the road before we hit the trail.  At the bottom of the steep rocky descent I saw one of those handful off to the side with a flat.  I briefly stopped to see if I had the right size tube for his bike, I didn't so off I went.  In the next 10 miles I was able to catch and pass most (maybe all?) of the other bikers.  At one of the last water stops I learned that there was one other biker ahead of me and he was way ahead of me, 5 minutes ahead of me!...At least he was part of a team so I didn't care.  OK, my competitive nature still wanted to beat him but people on teams are "cheaters" so I chose to let it go, for my own good.  I'll concede that he was a stronger biker than me as was my friend with a flat.  Next year I'll try not to ride a hilly 52 miles 2 days before the race.  Nonetheless I was the first individual biker over the line and also had the fastest time, I'll take it.

Now the damn mountain.  The hike up is hard but that's OK.  The hike down is f-ing miserable.  I lost the race last year on the downhill leg so this year I was going to do my best to hold onto the lead even if my quads hurt for a week.  It turns out that's just what happened.  Both the win and the pain.  The 2 people ahead of me were on teams and I passed the other individual that I knew could beat me, flat repaired, on his way up at the start of my downhill "run".  I must say it was no less frustrating this year when the second downhill runner passed me like I was STANDING STILL.  How, HOW do they run downhill that fast, I just don't know.  It was also on my descent that I passed my wife as she was coming up.  I was too focused on my own race to notice that she was the first woman, not on a team, that was coming up the mountain.
First Individual Woman Over the Line

After looking over my shoulder and pounding my quads until they were screaming, I made it to the bottom, the first individual to cross the line with all the fame and glory that goes with it.  The fame and glory is limited to a few people saying "nice job", but hey.  I was able to "run" to the truck to get a camera and capture my wife coming over the line as the first woman finisher with all her fame and glory attached.  She was smiling... hard. A celebration ensued on the lawn with beer and ice cream and beer and a hamburger and maybe another 1/2 a beer in somewhat that order.  The slower finishers kept trickling in for over 2 hours after the fastest ones were done but nobody cared.  This event is all about the feeling of accomplishment for having taken the challenge.   Well, unless you were vying for the podium.  Speaking of that, my wife and I took our turns getting our awards for first male finisher, first male 35-49, first female overall and first female 35-49. We were happy, our legs were not.

First Male Finisher
First Female Finisher

Like fools, we decided to bike to and climb a mountain 2 days later, the legs weren't too happy about an addition trip down a mountain but the sunrise from the top of the mountain was exceptional.
Mountaintop Sunrise

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Mountain, A Ledge and a Notch

OK, at first I was a little skeptical when somebody contacted me through Strava and suggested we go for a ride.  Not just because he looked stronger than me when I looked at his Strava page, not only because the route he suggested included 2 mountain passes.  No, it was because getting up at 4:30 on a Sunday morning seemed just a wee bit earlier than my comfort zone.  As it turns out, he was a little stronger but I could mostly keep up, the 2 mountain passes turned into 3 climbs that were just enough challenge and the 6:00 start gave us some traffic free roads for the first hour.  Another Strava contact of his joined us for 60 miles of torturous fun.

First the mountain.  Hurricane Mountain, a category 2 climb according to my Strava route.  A steep set of staircase climbs that is almost a right of passage for area cyclists.  Until yesterday I had not earned the right.  It turned out to be pretty manageable with slow steady standing climbs.  I was being careful not to expend too much energy too early in the ride.

Next my newly found riding partner said he was thinking of throwing in Cathedral Ledge as an added climb.  This one climbs about 500ft in about a mile, a category 3.  A demanding climb that gave you a sense of accomplishment when you were done.  Oh, and it also gave a very good view of the area.  We had the top to ourselves.

After some relatively flat sections and a water stop at the last store before the national forest we hit our 3rd climb, a category 4 that seemed pretty easy in comparison.  Although a push at the top finished my legs off for a while.  Luckily, the next 18 miles were mostly downhill.  Unluckily they were plagued with flats and tire problems.  Now I'm sold on the merits of a CO2 inflator.  By this time we were late and our ride organizer put it in high gear, so to speak, and sprinted for the barn.  I was able to tuck in and hold on for the last 3 miles.  Our third rider slipped off the back which gave us a chance to load our bikes before he pulled into the parking spot.

In all, it was fun to find some new riding buddies that could push my limits but not make me feel slow.  Between climbs we had some nice stretches of good conversation.  When I got to my car I got a text from my wife that said she was still 20 miles out on her ride so I drove home and hopped back on my bike for an intercept.  I found her in just about the spot I expected and rode the last 10 miles of her ride with her.