Saturday Susan and I did the BStrong charity ride which was great fun. Susan did the 25 mile loop with Ross and I did the 70 mile loop with a couple of folks from the DCTBL cycling team I'm on. It was really a great day, marred by one really unsettling moment. Going up a 16 mile canyon (Lefhand Canyon for you local folks), we came across a cyclist that had suffered a heart attack. The ride support was great - there was a sag wagon there when we came by the guy and they were doing CPR on him. They had an AED unit in the car and managed to get him stabilized with some combination of CPR and the AED. They then ambulanced him down to a broader section of the canyon and medi-vaced him out to a Denver hospital. As of two nights ago the paper reported that he was in serious but stable condition. So my hat is off to Paul Balagher and the other organizers and volunteer of the ride. Without prompt medical attention I think it's highly likely that the cyclist would have died there on the side of the road. I hope to never see that again - active CPR on someone is surely a sign that some serious shit has hit the fan. So after that, the whole way up to Ward and Peak to Peak highway, there's a little voice in your head going "Hmm, so just how hard should I push?" That guy looked to be in his 50s. I'm in my 50s. That guy might have had some medical issues that triggered a heart attack. I have some medical issues. So when my feet and hands start tingling and my vision starts to tunnel and my chest starts to get tight, is it just the happy dance of hypoxia brought on by my low hematocrit count? Or is it the grim reaper moseying by for a little visit? I have to admit that I did back off a bit on the 12% grade up into Ward. And I was darned happy to get to the top and out onto Peak to Peak highway in one piece. Yeah, life! Yeah, not having a heart attack! At the top of the canyon they had a nice aid station and I happened to run into one of my oncologists that was also doing the ride. It was really touching to be able to share that moment with him. To be healthy enough to climb 4,000 vertical feet on my bike and receive all the congratulations of the volunteers at the aid station and have them celebrate my efforts to get fit again after 18 months of hard illness. A special moment - made even more special by the fact that my friendly doctor had a big snot hanging out of his nose. Hey, at least his immune system is working, right? Pretty funny stuff - or at least, funny to me. After that I got to enjoy a screaming descent down the Peak to Peak highway into Lyons - 4500 feet of descending in 25 miles or so. I got into a good pace line of about 5 other riders and we swooped down the canyon at speeds of 25-40 mph. Each of us taking our turn to pull, sitting 10" off of someone's rear wheel you've never met before, trusting each other to ride safely and share the joy of being outside, carving through awesome canyons, a roaring mountain stream next to you and being healthy enough to actually share the work load a bit. A pretty special 20 minutes that will stay in my memory for a long time.
Another 30 miles on the flats north of Boulder and we were back at the start/finish line. From there, we hung out at our team tent giving information out to people about Livestrong and our team. And oh, yeah - rehydrating with some tasty beverages, courtesy of Avery Brewery.
After more than a few beverages, I let everyone know that my stomach hair seems to have grown back at a faster rate than my chest hair. Ryan and Ross were not to be out done - they each also claimed to have some manly man hair adorning their umbilicus. So of course, in keeping with the blog tradition of slightly inappropriate body photos, here 'ya go:
And finally, a big thank you to all of you who donated to the ride. Susan and I raised over $1,000 to support Livestrong and Boulder Community Hospital's efforts to make cancer patients and their families have an easier go of things. The total numbers aren't in yet but the afternoon of the ride there was some estimates floating around that the ride in total raised over $200,000. That's a pretty good day's work! My plan is to participate in this ride for the next 20 years or so and I hope to see you there next year. Be warned, though. I plan to kick it pretty hard on the ride up and over Peak to Peak so start your training now or you won't be there in time to join the pace line coming down from Ward to Lyons!!!