Saturday, June 29, 2013

“Circle-Up” this morning

Instead of a ‘blog’ today, I’ll share my devotion given to the riders this morning … 

I’m not good at finding scripture to support what I believe, but love is the primary theme in the New Testament and therein lies my beliefs in all social situations. As you have heard me say, these FCBA bike trips have renewed my spiritual well being and my faith in my Lord and Savior.

You riders all inspire me. You are becoming real life heroes to me, doing what you are doing. I’m sure you still don’t realize the full impact this trip will have on your life, and on the other people's lives that you will touch along the way. That is what has brought me back to this ride. It has become a passion that I believe in, as the money we raise is put to good use, making a difference in hundreds of people's lives. It’s a great thing. Don't forget the impact we have on the congregations, and others we meet as we spread the word of our mission.

I have been down emotionally about this trip since day two and the ER trip and even before that, because of the trouble with getting my meds adjusted. And, of course, not being able to get in proper shape for this ride. I’m not sure that the meds are in the right balance yet, but my doc and I are working it out. I’m struggling mightily on this bike trip. I’m not used to being in the van, and it depresses me. If I had signed up as the van driver I would be just fine, but I signed on to bike, not ride in the van. So I struggle mentally with the road and my bike. I’ve lost my mental edge, and am having trouble finding it again. This is a new struggle for me. 

Some of you may be struggling also. I’ve never been a fast rider, but for the last two years I’ve always ridden, except for three partial days. Mostly I’ve ridden near the rear, but always finished. Three weeks into this trip, and I have finished maybe twice. 

In about a week I’ll be leaving for a fishing trip with my brother, his daughter and son, rejoining you in Craig, CO, missing about 10 days of our time together. You will continue to be in my prayers as you learn more about yourselves than you ever expected. 

Of course, whether I ride in the van or not really doesn't matter, except to me. We are a team, and I’m still helping those in need of housing. So that means it’s just a matter of my pride being hurt. You can supply the proper scripture here for me.

Starting as a lark in 2011, my FCBA orange fingernails (thanks to Hailey) have become a way for me to tease, but also to talk about FCBA, and I continue to have fun with it. Thanks to those of you brave enough to join me this year--a first for other guys to paint their nails.

I also greatly enjoy teasing about my pink bike. As a guy I’m ‘secure enough in my masculinity’ to ride pink. I ride pink for FCBA to help raise money. But the primary reason for the pink bike and my sister’s name, Pat, on the front fork, is in support of cancer. Pat died of cancer almost 19 years ago, at only 54 years old.

Peace … 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hot!!! ...

93 miles today from Idabel, OK to Atoka, OK. A pleasant morning riding. At 12:15 my bike computer showed the temperature as 95°F. One hour later it was up to 105°F. Humidity still must be in the 90's. I’ve decided that at 71 years old, I really don’t need to be on the road biking with temperatures over 100°F. That’s my new policy, and I’m sticking to it.

A first yesterday! I have spoken with numerous newspaper reporters the past three years with FCBA, I’ve been on two studio TV shows, and I’ve been interviewed by television reporters numerous times. Some time during an interview, or after an interview, I always ask the interviewer for a donation to Fuller, saying something like, "I’m still short of my goal” or “another rider is still short of their goal". Well, yesterday a newspaper reporter finally gave a donation. He was holding his camera with one hand, searching thru his pockets with the other hand, changing hands with the camera, but only finding pieces of paper in those pockets. He went back to the other hand again, and as he pulled out more paper, a dollar bill fell on the floor. “Ok,” he says, “looks like that’s all I have,” and he picked it up and gave it to me. I hated to take his last dollar, but I was not about to give it back. Nice guy!

Yesterday evening at the grocery store we met the sports reporter for the same newspaper. While he was asking questions about the ride of ‘Just Kurt’ and me, Kurt noticed a woman half listening to the conversation. She later drove up to our van out in the parking lot, got out with her check book, and asked if it was all right to give us a donation, and if so, how to make out the check. She wrote a check for $100 and told us we still had time to cash it at the bank down the street. We told her that would not be necessary, as we would send it to headquarters to be deposited. Nice lady!

This morning I was riding alone on the backroads, when I noticed a truck coming toward me, going rather slow. The truck passed me, and I kept an eye on it behind me, as the driver turned around and drove back toward me. After the “speech” the other day from the guy who stopped at our rest stop, to “warn” us about the rednecks in these parts, I was starting to get a little nervous. There’s nobody else around! The driver caught up to me, driving slowly. The passenger window was down, and the driver looked over at me as he drove alongside, asking me how far we were going. I gave him a quick response about our charity ride ending in Vancouver, BC. He then asked how far we were going today, so I looked at my route sheet, and told him to Atoka, OK. I think he asked me to stop for a minute, but I wasn’t about to do that, although I didn’t feel nervous anymore. He slowed down, creaking along, while I pedaled on. I decided to pull over into the oncoming side of the road, and he slowly caught up to me. I got a business card out, held it out for him to grab, and saw him open his wallet. He handed a $20 bill out the window to me. I think this is a Fuller Center first, to get a donation on the fly. He wished me good luck, I thanked him, and we went on our way. Another nice guy!

The best thing one can bring to this adventure is a strong mental attitude, keep it, and strengthen it as the ride progresses. Because of various factors (some beyond my control, i.e., medications). I arrived in Savannah unprepared both mentally and physically for this bike adventure. If the mental attitude is strong, the physical will take care of itself; if the physical is strong, the mental will not necessarily take care of itself, I’ve determined. I’ve ridden these miles before, I’ve ridden these miles in this kind of heat and humidity before. I separated my shoulder on the way to the 2011 ride, but I was still sharp mentally. My mental attitude was fairly good last year, though I lost it for a day or two on the West Coast ride. This year my trip to the ER on our first practice ride dropped my mental attitude way down, and I’m still struggling to get it back, but it’s a tough road (pun intended). So I will continue to ride, but only as far as my mental edge will carry me.

Peace ,,,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hot! and down to only 90% humidity ...

Our time in Shreveport was very informative. They are doing an awesome job of building, rehabbing, and using the Greater Blessings program.  Shreveport was the first place Millard went to after Habitat, and was persuaded to start building again because of the need after Katrina. Interesting history was shared with us there. And, we had 3 nights in a barracks type setting, with bunk beds, mattresses, sheets, and sleeping on the floor! And, I managed to get a lower bunk.

We had an 86-mile day today, and I had a good day of riding. I rode with Melissa, Brett, Doug, and Kristi for most of the first two 20-mile segments, then Kristi and I rode together for most of the third 20-mile segment, although she had pulled away from me near the third stop. We took off for the last 25 mile segment and promptly missed a turn. Two and a half miles later we realized our mistake and turned back to get on the correct route. Before we got back to the missed turn, the van came by, having missed the same turn! After letting them know to turn back also, we got back on track, now having gone 5 miles out of our way. 

Most of the afternoon, temperatures of over 100°F registered on my bike, but the humidity was probably all the way down to only about 90%. Not as bad as it has been, at any rate. I had forgotten one of my water bottles at the last stop, so had to stop to buy a bottle of water to put on my bike. About 7 or 8 miles from the church I was starting to feel bad, so we stopped in some shade for a few minutes, and then took off again. I made another few miles, but realized I was going to be in trouble because of the heat if I didn’t stop. Kristi stopped with me at a convenience store, where I bought a cold Gatorade and stayed in the air conditioning, hoping I could recover enough to finish the ride. Finally I realized I needed to stop before I was in real trouble (didn’t want another trip to the ER). So, I called the van to come get me, and as it turns out, we were still 5 miles from the church--the same distance Kristi and I covered when we missed our turn. Had I not missed the turn, I would have made the church. Bummer! Kristi couldn’t be persuaded to leave me and finish the ride while I waited for the van, and as we were waiting, the sweeps caught up to us, so we all waited for the van together. 

I averaged 16.1MPH for the first 20 miles, 15.2MPH for the next 47 miles, 12.6MPH for the final 19 miles, for an overall average of 14.7MPH for the total 86-mile distance. The good news is my saddle was treating me much better, and we have a shorter day tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to a great ride!

Tonight Brett and I gave the presentation for the congregation since Melissa had to leave for a while. Brett played the DVD introduction and talked about what the Fuller Center is and what it does. I gave an overview of how the bike ride functions, and about my experiences since joining the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. We also called on a couple other riders to share their experiences riding. Several thoughtful questions were asked after the presentation, so all-in-all, a good evening.

Peace ...

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the van again ...

A good morning today, riding with 6 other riders. Yesterday I rode with another group of riders, which accounts for my faster times. We tried to run a pace line, but the roads were so bad that we had riders trying to find their own smoother ride. Bikes were weaving all over trying to find the smallest pot holes, and the roads were much the same today.

So, I managed to hang on for the first 20 miles, but decided to take the rest of today, as well as tomorrow, in the van. Then we have a day off, followed by a build day, giving my rear end three days to heal and get me back on the bike for good.

At the first stop, a guy in a pickup pulled next to the trailer, rolled down his window, and caught my eye, so I walked over and greeted him. He said that we need to be careful out on these roads: “Do you know where you are? In case you don't know it, you’re in Louisiana redneck country! We’re in the grain transportation season, and these rednecks only drive their trucks once a year. And, mostly using grandpa’s truck that hasn't seen maintenance for years.” “You guys must be crazy,” was said a number of times. “Ya’ll need to be careful,” was said a number of times! “Do you know anything about redneck behavior?” was said a couple of times. So, I thanked him and off he drove.

On the ride a few days ago a pickup came toward me, with the passenger in shotgun position (appropriate, considering). He had climbed through the window, sitting with his entire body facing across the highway toward me, and when they got close to me, he started “shooting” me with an imaginary machine gun, hollering “da da da da da, got cha!” Glad it was all pretend!

We had a 92 mile day today, with 100°F temperatures. Everybody made the ride except Melissa and me. What a group of troopers! They were sucking up the water and electrolytes and sweating it out faster than they could get it in. An enormous effort from all, and most had never even considered doing something like this. Makes a difference when riding with the enormous purpose of helping people have a safe and affordable place to live.

Our route took us over a river, but the bridge on our route was closed, so we had to route around to find another bridge. In the process, a few of our riders ended up crossing via the Interstate. ChaCha rode it by herself, and said she had never been so scared. But, she did it, and if it should happen again, she will be much more prepared, since she’s now “Interstate biking experienced.”

Funny, supporting the riders from the van feels useful, but not the same as biking. It would seem better had I signed on to drive or support, but I signed on to bike. I don’t really feel as much a part of the team as I would if I were able to bike like I should. Seems like I’m letting the team down; not reality, but what I’m feeling.

Sonic chocolate malt yesterday: 4.5 

Temple Baptist Church had a carnival tonight and we were invited to join them for hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, snow cones, cotton candy, etc. There was a station for each, where you just stepped up to get what you wanted. Hailey had done my nails (orange with FCBA and the bikes) again this year, and as I stepped up and held my plate out for a corn dog, the older (older than me even) lady serving caught sight of my nails and asked, “What's that on your nails?” So I started to tell her what FCBA 2013 means, and she interrupted me, as she kind of gently slapped at my hands, and said, as she looked me in the eyes, “You know, we used to call that behavior sissy!” Then I finished telling her what the letters stand for, showed her the bicycles drawn on the thumbs, and I looked her right in the eyes, and said, “Yeah, and I am man enough to wear them.” She looked right back at me, “Good for you!“ 

When we finished eating we were back with three of the leaders of the church, explaining how a covenant partnership works. Questions and answers began to wind down, so of course I found the opportunity to share this story with these men, and they asked me who the lady was. I told them it wouldn’t be appropriate to divulge the person’s identity, but two of them, laughing, immediately said that it must be Mabel at the corn dog station. Did not get a donation, but it made my day! 

Peace ...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back in the saddle again ...

Ouch!! Well, riding was actually not too bad today until the last 20 miles. We had to stop and group up to cross the Mississippi River because we needed special permission and all had to sign waivers before crossing. The bridge was opened just for us, and we had an escort to cross with us. The bridge is 1.5 miles long, and a much better ride for us than crossing using the Interstate. 

I was running strong up to this point, averaging 15.8 MPH for the first 42 miles, then down to 12.9 for the second 39 miles. Unfortunately it was a long wait for all of us to reach the bridge, at about mile 60, and after the long wait, when I got back on my bike, ohhh, my butt was sore and sweaty, and my knee was aching! After a few miles trying to ride my knee back to functioning, I gave up, stopped, called the van, telling them to wait for me because I needed a ride if I couldn’t ride out the pain in my knee. After talking to the folks in the van, I started riding again, and the knee felt better immediately! Not near 100%, but I could push down on the pedal again. So now I felt like my knee would hold, but my butt was screaming at me. After catching the van I applied a generous amount of cream, and off I went, with the pain at least tolerable. I had a good finish the rest of the way, with the sweeps pulling me.

We ended up riding about 4 miles on the Natchez Trace, without 35°F temps or rain. Much more pleasant ride this time than back in March when we rode 400 miles on this beautiful route in deplorable conditions.

Last night the church members were very, very receptive to us. They provided a wonderful dinner, as well as a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, big fruit dish--just your typical Southern breakfast!

Tonight we are in a community center, making dinner for ourselves, and we will prepare breakfast also. We are so grateful for a dry and safe place to crash, much more than some of the people we are helping have.

Doctored my butt, hopefully enough to make another 80 miles tomorrow. And, while waiting at the bridge I adjusted my saddle slightly; hopefully this will help on tomorrow’s ride.

Peace …

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Van Driver ...

Never before have I missed a day of riding because of saddle sores, but today was the first. I hurt so bad yesterday that I didn’t want to risk an infection by riding again today. So, I rode in the van, drove the van, and helped support the riders. 

However, I made a bad decision! Actually, made two mistakes today. First, I left the sign that we use to help mark the van stops at the first van stop. Second was the worst mistake, made after the second stop, by going back to the first stop to retrieve the sign. That left the riders without timely support, and we were unable to recover in time to provide the third stop for any of the riders. Baaaad mistake, and I should know better!

The route today was about 81 miles, not a bad ride. We were on Rt 80 all day, a bit narrow, especially on the bridges. Some of the riders did get hit with a good rain shower, but not too bad, and within 5 miles of the church.

The congregation has been very welcoming, and some members took us to their homes for showers, which is always a nice diversion. They are providing dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow, and allowing us to do a presentation on the Fuller Center.

Let’s hope for healed saddle sores in the morning!

Peace …

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Saddle sores ...

After riding all 7,400 miles last year without any butt problems, I’ve been bothered with saddle sores on and off all year. The first 20 miles today went well; I was moving OK, but my saddle was starting to bother me again. With days off after the ER event, I thought I would not be in too bad a shape, but after the rest stop at mile 22, getting back on the bike was torture. 

So, of course then everything started to bother me. The hills, (short and only 4%-5.5%) seemed like twice the % and 10 times longer. I know for sure I never had any down hill runs at all. :-). I know for sure I have climbed all of these hills and hit all 2 million bumps on this road before (just because I’ve never been on this road before is immaterial)! They all feel and look like those I’ve actually seen and hit in the last two years. 

For the life of me I could not conjure up why I was out here today. Yesterday I rode 86 miles at an average speed of 14 MPH; today I rode 55 miles at an average speed of 11.8 MPH, under similar conditions as yesterday. And, going through my mind for 33 miles today was questioning what I was doing out here. Of course I had to fit that in with the stupid "skunk song" that kept playing in my mind most of the day! I will acknowledge I’m inspired by my fellow riders, the church members who cater to us, and the blessing of helping people in need of safe housing. But, this is my third year, and I’m thinking maybe I should have taken a year off, doing just the spring ride with family. Or, maybe driven the van this year. Ah, questions.

We rode through rain for most of the first 22 miles. It took a few miles to get to us, but then hung around in various degrees of strength until almost the first stop. I had almost dried out by the time we reached the church. Showers were available at the church again, a luxury to not have to transport to get our showers.

So far, not even a good or bad chocolate malt to rate, and after two yesterday, I have no plans of going out for one tonight. :-(

All in all, a tough and depressing day for me. Thank goodness this kind of day has been few and far between on these rides. I’ll probably rest my rear tomorrow.

Peace, geezerman

Monday, June 17, 2013

Some excitement ...

We hit a strong thunderstorm at the end of the ride today (or, it hit us). High winds, blowing rain, some hail, and lots of lightning. The faster riders made it to a Subway just in time to miss getting soaked like the rest of us. One civilian stopped and picked up four bikes and three riders in his truck, which allowed room in the van for the other riders. First group loaded, up the road, stop for the next group, jump out, open the trailer, load bikes, in the van, on to the next group. Bikes stacked on top of bikes, hot riders steaming up the van windows. Three others had found shelter so we could make a trip back to get them, since we were out of room in the van and the trailer. All great stuff since everybody made it to the church safely and on time.

Because I had been pacing myself nicely to make the whole 101 miles today, I was disappointed having to make the pick up, but, it just wasn’t safe in that weather. I did make it to about mile 88 when the storm hit.

We have a tough 6 days of riding this week. Today, 101 miles, then 60, 80, 80, 80, and another 80 before we have a day off.

Blogging really has been hold---my iPhone crashed, and I drove to Birmingham, 90 miles, to the Apple store to beg for a slot to have them check and fix it. Finally got a manager involved, and my phone was replaced quickly. My hearing is so bad that using another phone that does not Bluetooth to my hearing aids makes using it almost impossible. So without my phone, I’m not in communication, and get very frustrated. Who'd a thunk it?

So, a little catch up: Our first training ride was from Tybee Island to Savannah, a ride of about 18 miles. Having trained in about 9% humidity in Colorado, I now was biking in Georgia in about 90% humidity, with high temperatures. I thought I was riding within my limits, but kept wondering why my heart rate was registering so high, when I wasn’t riding that hard. Turns out, after downloading my bike computer, that with the head wind, temperature, and humidity, I was riding much too fast. Net result was I ended up with extreme shoulder pain, weak pulse, and blurred vision (good thing we had an MD riding sweep). EMS was called and I ended up in the ER. After an EKG in the ambulance, and another one in the ER, fluids via IV, chest x-ray, cat scan of my head, some other tests I don't remember, nothing was found wrong (really good thing). My good friends Krystal and Michael beat me to the hospital, and stayed with me the entire time. The ER doc told me he didn’t know what caused the symptoms, but I should take it easy for a few days, then gradually start riding again. I asked the doc if I could get a second opinion of the rest days, and Michael said, “sure, you are a jerk”. What are friends for, if they don’t make fun of you?!  What happened?: I pushed too hard for conditions, dehydrated myself, and caused symptoms that could have been heart related.

Following many conversations with our bike adventurer Dr Scott, and emails with my MD in Colorado, I changed meds to help get me back to riding like I want to be able to ride. So my two days off were spent driving the van (which worked out well because our van driver was late getting to the ride); one day riding only 40 miles, because it was cool, and gradually working up to today, where I could have made 101 miles if not for the storm. I was surprised that I enjoyed driving the van and supporting the ride for two days. It was a challenge and I seemed to be up to it (glad I didn’t have to back the van up though). 

It’s been good speaking at the churches, at Melissa’s request, and I’m happy to share the Fuller story since I’ve been doing it a while now. We had quite a few others who spoke in Montgomery. It’s a good mission to share!

First week is over, and we are now down to 19 riders, and two support folks, with16 riders going the entire distance.

We’ve had numerous injuries on this trip already. My visit to the ER; Caleb, our 15 year old rider, went to ER (he dehydrated much worse than I did; van driver, Nadine, fell off a wall, badly scraping the back of her thigh; Doc fell thru the roof of a repair project house, scraping his shin; and Louis crashed, hit his head, and also ended up in the ER. All are doing fine, but this hadn’t been the best start of the first week to a long ride.

My malt ratings: A very good malt at a place a couple miles from the Montgomery church the other day gets a solid 9. And, not a bad shake at Jack’s after the ride tonight, but only an 8 because it was not a malt (they used Blue Bell ice cream, so it had to be good!).

Peace and love,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trouble ...

No time for blogging lately. I ended up in ER first day riding, but all is well again. Nothing serious. Still working on meds adjustments. Still working on stupidity.

Yesterday I rode about 65 miles, and got in the van the last 20 miles.

A fabulous build day today.

Lots of great people to be riding with, great meals, and congregations that have helped us.

I'll catch up with details as soon as I can. Internet has been sketchy, and time has been short.

100 miles and 100 F tomorrow; leaving church about 6am.