Transplant Athlete
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Cycling, Cycling, and More Cycling

Adventures at 200k

I left VA for NY at 1am, lost my credit card at a gas station on the Jersey Turnpike, and and arrived in Hoboken before the bathrooms opened in the Train Station. Why did I leave at 1am? Didn't I learn my lesson with the 300k brevet? Apparently not. I was working on Friday and before I knew it it was 7pm. If I drove up then, I would have gotten to Stanhope at 11:30pm been able to catch a couple zzz's and then I would have had to take the train from Netcong (4am-ish) to Hoboken, then the PATH into Manhattan...I saved my self some travel time by riding straight to Hoboken.

I spent 4 years at Stevens Tech in Hoboken, so I'm pretty familiar with the city, but I'd forgotten how rough the roads can be. I rattled my way up to 110 West End Ave, the location of Toga Bikes, the start location. Diane and Dan were there already and I was the second rider to arrive, but from the outside the area looked deserted. After the ride start, we rattled our way uptown to the George Washington Bridge. There was way to much red light running for my tastes, but by the end of the trip, I was dodgin' cabbies like a bike messenger. I figured I might be able to catch a glimpse of Toilet Tower or at least the Stevens Center from the bridge, but I guess it was too far. From there, we went up 9W and then took 502 west. Somewhere around 25 miles into the ride, the vibration was too much for my tail light and it jumped ship. I managed to recover the pieces, but that was pretty much how my day felt...

Diane made us sandwiches at the control point around 57 miles. She wanted to fill my water bottles for me. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty! For anyone wanting to try one of her rides, here's the website: www.NJRandonneurs.com It doesn't get any better than this.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004


I got an email from Nancy Maier over at www.pedaling.com today. She was interested in selling me some advertising on her site. The concept behind the site is appealing. She's collected data for over 1000 rides around the country and in Canada. Visitors can write in their favorite rides. If you are new to an area or just bored with the rides you've been doing, go to the site and search for something new or enter in your favorite ride.

Also, before I forget...We get calls all the time at Bonzai Sports asking, "What's the best way to get my bike to a race in ______(insert foreign or domestic location here)."

On International flights, you can usually get them to take a bike box in place of a piece of luggage. Just make sure the box isn't too heavy and check the rules for your particular airline.

On domestic flights, you're pretty much screwed. Because of 9/11, rising gas prices, and the price of tea in china, airlines which can't turn a profit any other way try to squeeze out a few bucks by charging extra ($150, so much for that great Internet airfare) for bike boxes. In the past, you could usually get away with them, but not anymore. What do you do then?

You can ship your bike through the usual suspects: DHL, UPS, FEDEX Express(isn't that redundat? Federal Express Express), but not USPS. What's up with that???? They spend $10 mill to sponsor a cycling team and they won't ship bikes?


You can join the League of American Bicyclists. I get the snail mail from them all the time, you probably do as well, sometimes it looks like you've gotten a letter from Lance Armstrong. Anyway, besides the great work they do for cycling advocacy, membership also comes with vouchers so your bike can fly free. Those vouchers alone can cover the cost of the membership.

while on the LAB page, they have a link to
Sports Express
a company that specializes in shipping sporting goods. While I haven't checked it out specifically, I'm pretty sure their rates are cheaper than UPS/FEDEX/and DHL, even though they are using these shippers.


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Monday, April 19, 2004

Long Ride

I attempted a 300k Brevet in New Jersey this weekend. So, I spent Friday driving up to New Jersey, unpacked the car, caught 3 hours sleep, and then drove down to Princeton at 12:30am. I got there early enough to have breakfast at Denny's. I talked with Jay Ambroson and Pat Cole (tandem riders from New York) before the ride. I rode with them on the 2001 Northern Transcontinental PACTour. They said that last year it was cold and rainy at the start and they were stuck wearing cold, wet gear all day long, normally they can complete a 300k in 12-13 hours, but with all the climbing (10,000 feet to 11,000 feet) and the weather issues, it took them 17 hours to finish this one. Now, I had been hoping to complete the 300k in 13 hours, but I was starting to have serious doubts. At least it wasn’t freezing cold at the start line. Weather.com said it was supposed to be in the 40s, but it felt much warmer.

We rolled off into an inky darkness punctuated by stabs of red LEDs. The first 30 miles were relatively flat (only 1000 feet of climbing) and the tandems pushed the pace really high. My heart rate was around 185 bpm, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing the pedals hard, I just knew I was blowing through my glycogen stores.

It can be really hard to read a cue sheet in the dark, which probably explains why we took so many wrong turns. You get blinded by the reflection off the cue sheet, you have to avoid potholes, and then your eyes have to readjust to the darkness. After the second wrong turn, I took out my cue sheet and made sure I always knew the next two turns. We pulled into the first control point around 6am, putting our average speed at 17 mph. I booked out of the control point as fast as I could and tagged on with a group of 3 guys, but I missed a turn on my pull and we blew past the turn. We were able to get back on the course, but any time advantage we had built up got blown away. We met up with the tandem and a bunch of other riders.

At some point around the 35 mile mark, I got dropped by the group. I was running out of gas. I had been using small “shots” of Hammer Gel and small sips of a concentrated Perpetuem mix and apparently it wasn’t enough. Those who’ve read previous posts here know that I’m trying to get my nutrition and hydration dialed in, my performance at the 24 hour Sebring TT was cut short by a small bout of dehydration that I overcompensated for and gastrointenstinal distress that really caused distress. I switched over to my standard training fare, (a PowerBar every hour) and I got some of my energy back.

At 44 miles I stopped for a “bio” break and a small group caught me. I hate riding these long distances alone, so I followed them down a steep windy descent, but I got dropped on a hill before Hackettstown (around mile 47). I passed them as they were stopped in Hackettstown(mile 56), but they passed me again leaving Hackettstown(mile 57). I was passed by another rider near the I-80 overpass around mile 63. The weather was pleasant now and I was feeling better, but I wasn’t going very fast and my heart rate was still in the 180’s.

Near Spring Valley, about 78 miles into the trip, my right pedal came apart. I still had the pedal axle, but nothing to keep my foot linked to the pedal. My foot would “unscrew” itself every couple of revolutions. I limped into Blairstown and mailed the postcard for the control point and then continued on to the Kerr’s Corner Rd. My parents used to own property on Kerr’s Corner Rd, so I knew when I saw people riding on 94 South that they were headed in the wrong direction.

I limped up Kerr’s Corner rd and out to Johnsonburg, My nutrition plan was working, but my legs were feeling the strain from all the climbing, and my pedal was annoying the crap out of me. When I got to the control point at the 90 mile mark(6000 feet of climbing), I was beat, I bought a sandwich, cheetos, and Gatorade and took a longer break.

The next control point was nearly 70 miles away and included over 4000 feet of climbing. My average speed dropped to around 13 mph and meant I wouldn’t be getting back to my car until nearly midnight. I had until midnight to complete the ride, but that’s a lot of time to be on a bike for just 189 miles.

I wanted to Sag forward, but I had just watched Diane drive away, so I had to ride forward. As I was ready to pull out, Diane drove back to the control point and I asked for a sag, she got me a ride to the next control point with a woman who was supporting her husband(I’m sorry I forgot her name). Her two kids were watching “Finding Nemo” in the back of the van. At the next control point, Diane said she would give me a lift to the start/finish line, when her relief moved forward from the previous control point. However, she needed to sag a rider who was cramping up, and it would take her another hour to get me to the start finish line. There were approximately 4 of us out of 30 who DNF'ed. Now at this point beggars can’t be choosers and I’m eternally grateful for the sag support, but I wanted to get out of my skeezy cycling clothes; and also, I was ashamed and embarrassed of myself for not completing the ride. While getting sagged, I saw Jay and Pat toiling up a hill on their tandem and it hurt telling them I was DNF’ing because of a mechanical. I get the impression that they have a very low opinion of my cycling ability and DNF’ing wasn’t helping that impression. Since there was around 1000 feet of climbing in the last 30 miles, I figured I could make it if I took it easy. I limped along the Canal desperately wishing it was over.

In the end, I logged 120 miles with about 7000 feet of climbing. I got to see a Peacock strutting across the road, and I got to see some awesome scenery. I feel I definitely nailed my hydration and nutrition(straight water on the bike and one endurolyte per hour – no gastrointestinal distress at all). On Sunday, I cycled around with my mother for a half hour to get some active recovery in my legs.
Thanks Diane for organizing a great event, it was an amazing challenge.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Warning, this post may seem a bit depressing

I have been traveling up to New Jersey frequently. Last week I was up for Easter, two weeks ago it was a funeral:
VINCENT "JIMMY" MASUCCI, 80, of Manahawkin, STAFFORD, died Friday, April 2. He was employed by the Garfield Police Department and retired as captain in 1987, working for 30 years. He owned and operated Masucci Electric, Garfield, for 22 years. He was a World War II Army veteran, serving in the infantry in Europe. He was a Purple Heart recipient.

Surviving are his wife of 58 years, Josephine Ganguzza Masucci; two sons and daughters-in-law, Peter and Linda Masucci of Westwood, and Vincent and Peggy Masucci of Barnegat; two daughters and sons-in-law, Carol and Tony Gaeta of Montville, and Michele and John Pitt of Barnegat; a brother, Peter Masucci of Garfield; and nine grandchildren, Michael, Danielle, Peter Jr., Megan, Janelle, Nicholas, John Jr., Brianne and Ashley.

"James" was my Grandmother's cousin, they lived next door to each in Garfield,NJ for many years. He really celebrated life and I'll miss him.

On a more cycling related topic, this past weekend, I got my mother to ride a bike for 15 minutes. I don't think she can remember the last time she was actually on a bike. I tried to tell her that 30 minutes a day for three days a week is the minimum recommended amount of exercise to reduce the risk of diabetes and I couldn't remember the stats, but I did tell her that it will also reduce her risk of breast cancer(Bicycling Magaine ran an article citing studies that cycling reduces the risk of breast cancer.)

I've been twisting my mother's arm(and her sister Antonina) to ride a 10 mile event called the Heidi's Chain of Hope(10 mile,25 mile, 62 mile) a ride to benefit the Cancer House of Hope.

A bit of background though, my mother's sister Gaetana(for those at home keeping track, my grandfather had 4 daughters, no sons) is a Breast Cancer Survivor as is my cousin Linda Armstrong(no relation to LA). After recovering, Gaetana started the Cancer House of Hope as a place where people could come for emotional, psychological, and educational support in the Westfield, MA area. I met Heidi at the inaguaral "Chain Of Hope" ride two years ago. This year, the ride has been named in her memory and I will be riding it with my mother and Aunt in tow. If you are in the Westfield, MA area mid-May please consider riding the event, its a good cause. Or to make a donation Click here.


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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Wow, long time since I last posted. The Cycling Fitness Results video series is done. I've had my eyes glued to the "check disks". Talk about dry, itchy eyes. We had a problem early on with glitches in the video, so I had to watch every second of the DVDs. Try not blinking while watching them, and while I love the results and think they are awesome, if you are not on a bike working out and you watch all three straight through, you will fall asleep. The only saving grace was the music. The duplication company should be done with them in about a week. Now that they are out I can use them in preparation for the 12/24 hour races I've got planned.

I've been entering my workout data into the President's Challenge. You get points for the amount of effort you expend working out and after "x" amount of points you get awards (bronze, Silver, Gold). There are approximately 2000 people across the US participating. The NKF is using this as a group motivational tool. We can see how much exercise we are getting as a group. Any awards we reach before the end of June will be given out at the US Transplant Games in July, presumably at the opening or closing ceremonies. I signed up for the Presidental Champions programs which has some insane requirements for awards, but I've already reached the Bronze level. I reached the bronze award(40,000 points) in 2 months. I have to reach 90,000 points by June to get Silver. That shouldn't be a problem with the 12/24 hour races and brevets on my calender.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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