Transplant Athlete
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
  Chain Of Hope

I drove up to New Jersey this weekend, picked up my mother, Aunt, and Grandfather and drove up to Massachusetts. I rode in Heidi's Chain of Hope, a fundraiser for the Cancer House of Hope - a support center for people with cancer. This fundraiser helps support the many wonderful programs at the center.

There were approximately 50 people who rode at the event, the course was well marked and the cue sheets were excellent.

Craig, a certified trainer for a local high school, started off in front, and I stayed with him, within a mile or so, we realized we'd left everyone behind. About 2 or 3 miles into the ride, I noticed a bike had caught up to us. It turned out to be a tandem. The tandem pulled out in front and Craig pulled into their draft. I rode alongside him to keep our conversation going. We were chatting away merrily as we pulled down a small hill, completely oblivious to the STOP sign at the bottom. I ended up locking up my rear tire, but I kept it upright. I'm not sure if the tandem thought we were sketchy after that, or they really were "slower on the hills coming up", but whatever the reason, they let us pass through. Craig and I continued on, I suffered on the climbs, Craig seemed to be handling them with ease. We made one wrong turn after the first sag stop. Craig saw an arrow and misinterpreted the direction, which took us straight up a hill. I pulled out my cue sheet to check the directions, but craig was hauling A&* up hill and he didn't hear me try to get his attention. I went slowly up the hill, hoping he would turn around, or at least check his cue sheet. He finally stopped at the top, checked his cue sheet and waited for me to reach him. We turned around and headed back down hill. We probably had a 10 minute gap on the rest of the riders, but by the time we got back on route, we very near the back of the group. However, we rapidly caught and passed most of the riders. I believe we got into the 25 mile sag stop(back at the Center of Hope) in the top 5. I had told him that I was going to be going off SAG to ride the 10 mile ride with my mom and Aunt, so he continued on.

And I waited. And Waited. We had gotten in nearly an hour before the 10 mile ride was to start. My Aunt had been complaining about how out of shape she was, but she ended up doing well on the ride. I was concerned about my mother. She was my kidney donor, so I want her to feel that she hasn't lost anything giving up a kidney. It was important to me to know that I wasn't any less of a person with just one "borrowed" kidney, that's why I rode across the country, why I race in USCF events, and why I'm trying to qualify for RAAM. I don't want her to feel like she's limited because of her sacrifice. If she felt restricted, or didn't trust her body, or felt like she was damaged in some way, then I would've been better off on dialysis or dead.

She's also had knee surgery, so I felt cycling would be a good low impact exercise for her. Unfortunately, there are a lot of steps to get up to her condo, so its difficult to get a bike in and out to practice. She ended up doing well on the 10 mile ride. I'm proud of her, she did have to walk the bike up a couple of hills, but she did the distance. I ended up tipping over about 7 miles into the ride, which is really embarrassing when you're mom thinks you're an expert cyclist.

After we completed the 10 mile ride, I hit the porta-potty and then jumped back onto the 64 mile ride. I had told a couple of the organizers that I was going off SAG, and I didn't fill up on food or water before jumping back onto the course, so I ended up bonking badly around mile 47(about an hour after I left the center). The sag stops had been closed up and there were no convenience stores on the route, so I had to limp into the ice cream store where the 53 mile stop had been set up.

Home made ice cream...yyuuummmm! Root Beer float...Potato chips...chocolate chip cookies...water...I refueled and spent nearly 20 minutes waiting for my body to absorb enough to complete the last 11 miles. I can usually tolerate a little bit of ice cream, but this was too much and I knew I would be paying for it later, but it was really good. For those wondering, I could've gotten a hot dog, but I don't think that was any more nutritious, I suppose I could have asked them to make up something special for me, but this was primarily an ice cream stand and it didn't look like they were set up for much else. They certainly didn't have gatorade or powerbars. By the time I completed the ride, all of the other participants and most of the volunteers had packed up and gone home. They had raffled off the Cycling Fitness Results DVDs I donated. I did have my own little cheering section though when I got back (Mom, 2 Aunts, Uncle, 2 Cousins, Grandfather, and Margerite).

I guess I should have mentioned, for a charity ride, there was a helluva lot of climbing. My Avocet watch said that there was 3700' in 64 miles, that's about the same ratio as the Brevets in New Jersey, which are considered hilly.

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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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