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And I Quote… Week #15

28 Nov

It may be that those who do most, dream most. -Stephen Leacock

It may be that those who do most, dream most. -Stephen Leacock

And I Quote… Week #14

21 Nov

Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can really go. -T.S. Eliot

Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can really go. -T.S. Eliot

And I Quote… Week #9

17 Oct

Go as far as the eye can see, and when you get there, look farther. -Dag Hammarskjold

Go as far as the eye can see, and when you get there, look farther. -Dag Hammarskjold

The 2010 Konocti Challenge

7 Oct

Lakeport sign welcoming cyclists

Lakeport sign welcoming cyclists

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to ride the 100km 2010 Konocti Challenge– a beautiful and, as its namesake implies, challenging route around Clear Lake. The ride began on the lake’s western shore before sunrise, winding around the perimeter of the lake and up a few moderate climbs- one of which is fondly nicknamed “The Wall” by locals.

Curiously enough, my first challenge was just getting to Clear Lake, a 2 hour drive from where I live. A 4am wake up was required to compensate for travel/exploring time. Luckily, the directions to the starting point in Lakeport were relatively straightforward, perfect for driving at dark-thirty-in-the-morning.

Sunrise from the eastern shore

Sunrise from the eastern shore

I arrived, checked-in, and received a map, cue-sheet and elevation profile for the day’s ride. The 100km total climb was 2,200′ with low and high points at 1,330′ and 1,820′ respectively. Without a moment of pre-dawn to lose, I took off following the lake’s perimeter northward with whispers of sunrise shimmering from the western shore.

Around mile 45 I hit “The Wall” a steep, short segment of a longer 9% graded climb. The ascent received its endearing namesake because it hits right after a welcome, but ultimately deceiving descent. I lost all momentum a few meters (if that) into the climb. It was a good time.

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

There were a few sweet descents with incredible views of the lake. In fact, for safety reasons, I had to stop and take a picture mid descent rather than ogle without regard to the twisting road ahead. While the roads were relatively traffic free, this particular descent was a slightly technical, winding its way down from a peak to the lake’s shore.

Sporting the B&B jersey!

Sporting the B&B jersey!

But what would a ride be without its rest stops? The 100km had 4 themed rest stops along the route and at the end of the ride, riders would vote for their favorite. The rest stop winner would receive funds for their particular charity, so each one was chalk-full of goodies and good times vying for rider’s final votes. While I never tarried long, the second to last rest stop was right at the crest of a climb so I opted to get of the saddle and mingle, giving my bum a rest and letting my legs stretch out for a bit. This particular rest stop, was run by a charity which sends care packages to soldiers abroad, and since it was the one rest stop I actually stopped at, it received my vote in the end.

Boats on Clear Lake

Boats on Clear Lake

I finished the ride midday and was greeted by the scent of BBQ and the sound of music playing from Main Street where the Lakeport Oktoberfest was just getting started. Despite the myriad of festivities during the day, I didn’t stay in town too long. I had a long drive home and Sunday’s Surf City AIDS Ride was already at the forefront of my mind.

it’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside…

29 Sep

I’ll admit it. I’m excited. Oh sure, I caved in- my self-restraint crumbling at the sight of that shiny “click here” button. It’s an addiction. I need help. Where’s that button? Or how about the “fix me I’m still broken from a summer of cycling” button? That would be ace.

you can't resist. do it. you know you want to. click the button. go on...

Any who, this weekend will kick-start a little romp with insanity. Nothing major. Saturday I’ll be taking my bike up to Lake County and riding the Konocti Challenge, 65 miles around Clear Lake, California’s largest freshwater natural lake. I’ve never been there before, but I know it’s a popular weekend getaway and it should be a beautiful ride marked by “a very challenging grade that upon reaching the top you will celebrate your hard work with post card scenic views of the lake!” Should be good times.

Being insane, I couldn’t settle there. I discovered Santa Cruz’s Surf City AIDS Ride and, without hesitation, registered for the 60 mile. It’s for a good cause! That somewhat dulls the crazy, doesn’t it?

After the ride, I’ll be celebrating the post-weekend cycling love by continuing southward to LA where I’ve been “commissioned” to design a tattoo. I’ll be down there for a few days to work on the design and there is a very high chance of me commemorating the Bike & Build summer in kind as well… be excited.

…America, my home sweet home.

4 Jul

Howdy from Memphis, TX and Happy 4th of July! The past month has been a whirl wind of incredible experiences on and off the road with my fellow SUS 2010 Bike & Builders. We’ve biked, we’ve built, we went swimming in the Gulf Coast, we crossed state lines, taken detours, met inspiring people, and maybe even inspired a few along the way…

Today was a bike day from Altus, OK to Memphis, TX – 72 miles. Not bad- in fact, it’s one of the “shorter” days, so we were allowed to “sleep in” until 6 AM. Mileage aside, today was one of the toughest days we’ve had yet. From the onset of our journey, we were beset with rain and a 20 mph headwind/crosswind that nearly blew me off the road. Good fun. But even better, just as the rains let up we encountered a good 30 miles of hills, the steepest inclines we’ve had to ride to date. It was a good challenge making it to the host site on time.

I also had my first flat(s) while traversing the fun hills, spending a mere hour and a half between the crests of two large hills where I got not 1, not 2, but 3 flats from a staple in my back tire not even a half centimeter long. Thankfully, not long after my third flat, the van pulled up with Chris and Lizz riding beside it. Agata, Cory, Alex, and Allison were in the van and with the positive energy and pooled experience we found the staple (and a bonus one in my front tire). Chris really saved the day by helping me out. I was frustrated with myself, being so close to the host and not going anywhere for so long- I felt helpless out there. But everything came around in the end.

Bike & Build has been an incredible experience so far- and I think everyone has come to realize that there’s more to the “Build” aspect than building affordable housing. We also build relationships with the people we meet along the way, we build friendships with some of the most talented and inspiring young adults, and through these interactions we find ourselves building a summer, a life, that is, in a word: awesome.


Thank you to everyone who has, and continues to support the efforts of Bike & Build and my own personal cross country cycling adventure. You all are “the wind beneath my wings”.

Follow the journey online: http://bikeandbuild.org/rider/route.php?route=SUS&year=2010
You can read our group rider blog, track our progress, and see pictures from the ride!

The Journey so far

13 Jun

Though I find it near impossible to write a substantial post from my phone, I have discovered a way to share a little nothing of a melody in progress. It’s inspired by countless hours on the road and 32 amazing and extraordinary individuals.

Thank You

24 May

You know who you are 🙂 You’ve inspired me to push myself above and beyond what I thought was physically possible. When I was delirious on my way to Montauk thoughts of you gave me the strength to keep pedaling. Despite countless patches of grass that looked oh so wonderful to “accidentally” crash and fall and stop and just give up on everything – you kept me going. (I told you I got sappy didn’t I?)

You voted for the hair cut I got this Saturday. You supported me through and through, and now I’m at the edge. This is it. It’s jump time.

In a few days I’ll begin the trek across the Southern United States to build affordable housing. Thanks to you, I’m able to put in just about a month’s rent to cap off the $4000 goal 🙂

Cheers and thank you!!!

Las minute online donation? http://tinyurl.com/help-v
*****

Mail Drops have been posted on the Bike & Build site for the route:
Bike & Build groups will receive mail approximately once a week while on the road, and welcome letters and packages from friends, family, and supporters. Mail will be delivered through USPS General Delivery. Please be sure to send mail in ample time to arrive prior to the pick-up date and only through the United States Postal Service (The Post Office will not accept mail from any other carrier). Address mail to:

Bike & Build
Attn: CYCLIST NAME
General Delivery
STREET ADDRESS (if noted)
CITY, ST ZIP

Please mark the envelope or package with “Please hold for pick-up on DATE
Late mail will be forwarded to the mail drop two weeks ahead. Late mail from the last two mail drops will be returned to sender.

Southern U.S.
June 03
20 Ave. D #101
Apalachicola, FL 32320

June 10
104 Norton Ave
Saraland, AL 36571

June 17
New Orleans, LA 70140

June 24
Natchitoches, LA 71457

July 01
206 East Walnut St
Decatur, TX 76234

July 08
1 Walnut St.
Clayton, NM 88415

July 15
2301 E. 20th St.
Farmington, NM 87401

July 22
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

July 29
51 S. Main St.
Eureka, NV 89316

August 05
761 Plumas St.
Yuba City, CA 95991

145 Miles to Montauk

18 May

This past weekend was something of an odyssey; from California to New York on Saturday and New York City to Montauk on Sunday, I was truly all over the place. Saturday’s journey was defined by overhead monotone announcements informing half-awake travelers of delayed flights. While Sunday’s adventure was an amazing trek that challenged me both mentally and physically. It was definitely a weekend like no other.

Having arrived in New York about 4 hours after the scheduled time, I was slightly frazzled and out of sorts upon landing. Thankfully I hadn’t checked any baggage so I went straight to the AirTrain, eventually deciding upon spending the extra $5 to take the Long Island Rail Road as opposed to the Subway back into NYC. Despite my mental decision, I took the AirTrain to Howard Beach rather than Jamaica so I ended up saving a few bucks and losing some more time by taking the Subway.

I didn’t arrive home until about 11pm or so, and I didn’t start packing for the ride to Montauk until midnight… I finally fell asleep around 2am which only allowed for about an hour of sleep before I had to wake for the Montauk Century– granted, had I arrived home “on time” I would have had about 5 hours of sleep. In any case, I was in complete denial of the day ahead.

At 3am, I woke to my alarm, floundered about my room in darkness and donned my bike gear that I had laid out just an hour ago. My brain was still sleeping even though the alarm jump started my body into motion. Had I not carefully laid out my clothes and backpack I definitely would have had trouble finding and sorting gear for the day.

I checked in to the event at Penn Station among a handful of avid cyclists, some in groups with matching jerseys, while other solo cyclists like myself lingered on the outskirts of the activity. I received my cue sheet; and after giving it a quick glance, I took off down 8th Avenue just after 5am.

It was surreal crossing the East River into Brooklyn. The sun rose as I made my way across the Williamsburg Bridge, pacing myself behind someone far more awesome than I could ever imagine: a young woman who was completing the 145 miles in flip flops. Her amazing-ness coupled with the beautiful sunrise and my adrenaline set the day off on a wonderful note.

The first rest stop was in Queens, though I didn’t tarry long nor did I stock up on foodstuffs (I regretted this trend later on). The second stop was in Babylon where I stopped long enough to snap a photo. Unfortunately, I lost the cue sheet while riding from the finish line, so I can’t quite recall the remaining rest stops other than the very last one, at Water Mill, where I actually stopped to eat 2 bananas and an apple as I’m quite certain I had depleted all glucose stores in my muscles. Had I actually utilized the rest stops to rest and replenish sugar levels and whatnot, maybe the ride wouldn’t have been as… interesting.

I discovered my physical threshold around 90 miles into the ride. That’s when all sorts of interesting things happened. My leg muscles began to feel like they were constantly contracted, as if at any moment they’d implode. My lungs had that same sensation as I would have had after the last 100 meters of running a mile- except instead of being sharp and lasting a minute or so, the feeling was somewhat subdued and lasted for the remaining hours of the ride. To keep myself going, I remembered the people who believed in me and donated to the Bike & Build Fund as well as thinking of all the pain that people go through who can’t afford housing. It was an excruciating mental and physical exercise.

Thankfully, I found a friend to pace to, or rather, he found me- thanks to my Bike & Build jersey. Matt noticed my super snazzy gear as he was passing by and cycled alongside me for a good amount of the second half of the trek. I did my best to keep pace with him, which ironically increased my average speed for the last bit of the journey. Matt also gave me invaluable tips on shifting gears and tackling hills, which completely altered my hill strategy- okay fine! I didn’t have any strategy for hills before Sunday. Needless to say, Matt was a lifesaver.

I rolled through the finish line around 4pm – 11 hours after starting and completely spent. It was incredible. After parking my bike on the lawn, I took a shower and sat in the shade of a truck to munch on some turkey jerky and reflect on the journey. Everything was great. The shower, the jerky, the lawn… I was riding a wave of endorphins. It was a beautiful experience on so many levels; it was an incredible journey in so many ways. A perfect primer for the awesomeness that is Bike & Build.

NYC to Montauk

NYC to Montauk

Reasons To Give Whether You Love/Hate/Don’t Care

13 May

With less than 2 weeks before the start of Bike & Build, I admit I’m more than just slightly concerned over the fact that I’ve got over $1000 left to fundraise- no, let me rephrase that, it’s not how much I need to raise that keeps me up all night, it’s how many people have yet to respond-positive or negative- to my call for help and support. I don’t quite understand it- I feel low down. If I dwell on it, I feel my heart sink.

So before I lose any more time being sad, let’s get happy with all the reasons why you should support my endeavor to bike across the country and build affordable housing:

IF YOU LOVE ME:
I LOVE YOU, TOO! Donate a dollar to boost my spirit and morale- You are my a reason to keep on keeping on. Believe me, when I’m riding out there for +100 miles, your good energy and support is my life line. For serious.

IF YOU HATE ME:
Donate a dollar to ensure a long, hot, and grueling summer. Force me to devote my summer months to physical labor, building houses, and cycling all day in hot and humid Southern US weather.

IF YOU COULDN’T CARE LESS:
Then you wouldn’t care donating a dollar. I mean honestly, $1. I know it’s rough out there, a lot of people are pinching pennies – but that’s why I’m doing this! Housing is a huge and necessary cost burden. Your dollar will be funding an effort to help alleviate this issue by supporting my cross-country ride and the houses I build along the way- oh… you don’t care? My bad… I get all riled up about this. Any who, donate a dollar, consider it your good deed of the day/week/what-have-you. Peace.

IF YOU ALREADY DONATED:
You are amazing. Truly, honestly, amazing. When my muscles start to give out, thoughts of you renew my energy and sustain me to the end. It’s sappy, but believe me, after +100 miles everything is.