Transplant Athlete
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
  Poor Mike

So...We fueled up the Escape and grabbed some Burger King and headed back to pick up Mike. We had left him on the Blue Ridge Parkway for his pull. It was a beautiful warm day. The visibility was excellent, and Mike had some tremendous climbs ahead of him. He must have been a bit nervous about us going off without him, because he kept asking if we had our cell phones on. I'd really like to ride that stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway again.

We hauled ass to get back to him as he was 20 minutes past his pull. I didn't want him to have to climb any more than was necessary. He seemed no worse for the extra time on the bike when we caught up with him. It was close to 2PM and we still had 70 miles to go to get to Christiansburg. By my calculations, that meant we would be getting in after 6PM. I suggested we pack it up and finish the ride in the truck. That gave us the time at the hotel to shower, nap, and still get to the pasta dinner at the Holiday Inn in Blacksburg.

Mike Magnuson was the featured speaker at the Pasta Dinner and I was interested in hearing him talk. Unfortunately, he's a better author (I hope, I haven't read his books) than he is a speaker. He made some excuses about not being able to tell cyclists anything, and went on to read a short story he wrote, a Jean Shepherd knockoff, about his experiences with dogs while cycling. You remember Jean Shepherd...He wrote about the Bumpass' dogs and how they ruined his CHRISTMAS dinner. The father won a major award...You'll shoot your eye out...Well, I was ready to walk out, but that's rude, so I put my head down on the table and nearly fell asleep. I had gorged myself on pasta and I was rapidly fading into a food coma.

From then on, we would refer to Mike Magnuson as "Dog Boy".

The next morning, it was a quick stop at Denny's for breakfast and off to the ride start at the Newport Rec Center. There were about 75 riders lined up for the double metric century. Our man Mike was not, he had registered for the century and would be going off 10 minutes later with about 300 other cyclists.

The route started out with some gentle rollers and a gradual elevation gain to 2800'. Then a great descent, where all the sketchy riders showed off how crazy they could get in the twisties. Its a wonder there were no accidents. Deming and Vosseller went off in the lead group and I didn't see them again until the end. I'm kind of a mid-packer, but I hoped to make up some time by skipping rest stops. I was wearing my U Maryland racing jersey and kept thinking "tortoise and hare", or in my case "Terrapin and Hare". I skipped the first two stops and had about a half a bottle of water left at the bottom of Potts Mountain when I came upon Rest Stop #5 - It was meant for later in the ride, but I needed water. It was a hard slog up Potts Mountain and I got passed by at least a dozen people, including a hot Asian Chick. Nothing motivates me up a hill faster than trying to stay in sight of a hot biker chic. I'm not the kind of guy that gets pissed when he gets chicked. I prefer to ride behind women.

I did catch up to the biker chic at the next rest stop. She was taking an extended break and I just stopped for more water. The next stretch of road lost a couple hundred feet of elevation and was relatively flat for about 15 miles, so I cruised along trading pulls with another rider. We kept the speed pretty high. I overcooked a turn on a downhill and almost ended up in someone's yard - twenty feet down. We were running along a valley floor at times along a stream.

The road started turning up and I started slowing down, but again made up some time by having a really short rest stop at the bottom of a hellaciously steep climb. Hot Asian Chick passed me on the climb, but I caught up on the downhill by doing a great tuck, the kind you see pro's doing, hands near the stem, chin grazing the bar, ass up in the air. I passed her and a small group of riders near rest stop #5 and again made a quick stop. I then time-trialed to the next rest stop, it gained a bit of elevation, but was still relatively flat. I paused for a longer break at Rest stop #6, their slogan "If you are draggy, stop at Maggie." It was sponsored by VT cycling and Triathlon. A gust of wind came and yanked the VT Cycling sign lose and it whacked me in the head. I guess that's what I get for wearing my Maryland jersey in Hokie Country. My left knee was bothering me and it was difficult pedaling on the flat stretches. After Maggie, was the second to last big climb of the day. I had to stop at the top for a bio break.

The ride back to the start line was fast with a few small climbs thrown in. At rest stop #8 I got a peanut butter and Banana sandwich which felt like super fuel, my knee even stopped hurting, I figured they must have laced the sandwiches with Advil or Tylenol, it wasn't until 10 miles down the road I realized that standing on the leg was probably what made it feel better.


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Monday, May 30, 2005
  We Are Bingo Fuel Maverick

My RAAM Team mates sans Martin Phillips (He's in Africa) were joined by our crew chief Mike Wheeler as we participated in the Mountains of Misery. We used this as a warm up of sorts for Team RAAM by riding, relay style, down to Blacksburg. I made up the route avoiding Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, attempting to stick to the flatter parts of Viginia, all while avoiding heavily trafficked roads.

We left at 10PM Friday night. I assumed the guys needed some night road riding experience. They've got plenty of 24 hour mountain bike experience. I knew we were in trouble when 10 miles into the ride, I made a left hand turn off of Rte 50 onto a dirt road. I spent a couple seconds thinking "maybe they'll want to pack it up and take the truck down," but I pushed on and they followed in the truck. On skinny tires, I was sliding all over the place, and my puny light, which is usually fine for paved roads, was a nightmare on gravel. I had to slow up on the downhills and turns to stay in the trucks headlights. As soon as we hit pavement again, I pulled over to let Bill ride for an hour.

The transition seemed to take for ever, in actuality, it was probably 10 minutes. If we don't fix that it could add an extra day to our RAAM Race. Luckily, as the night wore on, we got a bit better with the transitions. RAAM rules state that a rider cannot proceed without a follow vehicle at night. A second follow vehicle will definitely help make the transitions go quicker. During the day, transitions aren't much of an issue, because the vehicle can go ahead and drop off a rider.

As the sun rose, we got to see how beautiful the area was where we were riding. Unfortunately, it was the wrong area. We ended up getting lost a couple of times; another thing we'll have to fix for RAAM. Due to fatigue, guys in the truck sometimes gave wrong directions; sometimes, the road that seemed to exist on a map were no where to be found in reality; and the guys in the truck rarely measured the distance from turn to turn, so we went 8 miles in the wrong direction. Eight miles in the wrong direction is just about a full "pull". Cyclists call a turn at the front as a "pull", in our case, each rider is out on the road for a "pull" of about an hour. We were pretty far behind schedule when we got down to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was 190 miles into the ride, which meant we had another 75 miles to go, when the driver realized we were nearly out of gas. We picked up Bruce from his pull and dropped off Mike. Then we went in search of Gas. The light came on indicating that we had enough gas for about 20 miles of driving. We crossed our fingers and baby'ed the accelerator up the hills. After our twenty miles was up, I figured we'd be searching for a park ranger to help us out, but we saw signs for a major highway. we pressed on for another 5 miles or so and we turned north on Rte 43. Luckily it was all downhill from there and once we hit Rte 11, therre was a gas station/Burger King right there at the intersection. We grabbed burgers and filled up the tank. The tank holds 15 gallons of fuel and we put in 14.85 gallons. That means we had enough gas for another 2 miles. Running out of fuel, yet another thing we don't want going wrong during RAAM.


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Friday, May 27, 2005
  400 Km Brevet

I completed a 400 km (249.6 mile) brevet last Saturday. We started at 4AM and I finished at 11:48PM. My total time on the bike was 16 hours 43 minutes. My on bike average was around 15.3 mph. About 20 – 30 miles into the ride I was drafting Ed and Mary on a tandem when a deer darted across the street and from where I was sitting, it looked like they were seconds away from creaming it. We were traveling at nearly the same speed, meeting up at stores and control points. At mile 116, we met up at a store and I drafted them the whole rest of the way to the finish line.

Somewhere near Scotsville (I think), we were descending a hill and this woman loses control of her 4 young kids and they dart across the road. The kid in the lead was pushing an umbrella stroller, and she was awful quick. The other three were spaced out pretty evenly across the road and cutting between them was out of the question. Kids are remarkably unpredictable and what looked like a safe passage between any two could rapidly become a catastrophe. We were probably exceeding 30 miles an hour when the kids started their mad dash. I briefly locked up my brakes, but backed off, figuring control around the kids was better than fishtailing into them. Images of Joseba Beloki flashed into my head. I tried to get around the front of the girl pushing the stroller and she was rapidly cutting off my line. If she was any faster, I would have had to put the bike into the ditch alongside the road and I would have finished the brevet in an ambulance.

I suffered like a dog trying to stay on the tandem’s wheel. My on bike average before meeting up with them had dropped below 15 mph, the tandem picked up the pace to a 16 mph average for the rest of the ride. I could climb faster than the tandem, but they were faster descending, so I really had to get in their draft. On the flats, they can cruise in the mid 20’s, so I had to get in their draft and work pretty hard to keep up. Around 233 miles into the ride we missed an unmarked turn or made a wrong turn and ended up doing 6 – 8 bonus miles. I was pretty zonked out at the time, so I wasn’t much help navigating for Ed and Mary. I was drinking and eating enough, but I was a bit confused and disoriented and the best I could do was to focus on their rear wheel. I don’t really know what was wrong. It felt a bit like dehydration, but I was drinking enough and taking Endurolytes. I was certainly peeing enough.
I tried eating a slice of pizza after I checked in at the final control point (finish line), but it made me nauseas. I passed a McD’s on my way home at 1AM and it was the only thing open, so I grabbed a burger. The food was enough to keep me awake for the last 20 miles or so to get home. I was so tired, I fell asleep on the floor just inside the door to the house.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2005
  Live Kidney Transplant Webcast

The link above is to a live kidney transplant webcast at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute at the University of Tennessee

I attended Heidi's Chain of Hope Ride in Massachusetts this past weekend. The ride benefits the Cancer House of Hope in Westfield. I'm reminded that over One Million people are diagnosed with Cancer every year and nearly 21% lose the fight. The Cancer House of Hope aims to assist people on their journey from diagnosis onward. They provide a support group, assistance, and most importantly Hope. I'm proud to help support their work. Let's get this transplant waiting list licked so we can move on to the cancer fight.

I know I promised a report on the legislative agenda of the National Kidney Foundation. Its coming.


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Monday, May 16, 2005

The World Transplant Games Federation is at it again. I just received this in an email.
"One of my close friends, Todd Lawrence (kidney/pancreas), was just denined the right to compete even in bowling because of a slightly weird test. He is irrate."
They charge us an arm and a leg to raise awareness for organ donation, then deny people the opportunity to compete. It all makes sense though if you think of the World Transplant Games as a profit center for the WTGF.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005
  World Transplant Games

I have a bone to pick with the World Transplant Games.
First of all, they are expensive. They cost roughly $1200 to enter, this includes food, lodging and athletic events for 6 or 7 days. That also includes a $150 fee to the National Kidney Foundation for uniforms and team clothing and in my case a $50 processing fee to pay by credit card.

Then there are the Medical forms. They recommend an ECG and other tests which should be performed by a primary care physician. They require me to see my specialist, get him to examine me,and then get him to sign a form. They also require that my transplant surgeon examine me and sign a form saying I'm healthy enough to compete without undue risk. Not so bad, I visit my specialist every three months, my transplant surgeon once per year, and my primary physician whenever I'm sick.
No. Thank you for playing, here are some nice parting gifts. They have a specific 3 week window in which to get the forms signed. You can't have the forms signed before May 16th or they will be rejected and if they are not in by June 9th you can't compete. The obvious thing to do is to bring the forms into the doctors and have them post date them, but I'm thinking of forging my doctors notes this year. We sign releases. Why do they need so many doctor's to say that we are fit? WHY???

I wish that was it, but they also want a signed statement detailing our regular training plan. Now, technically, anyone with a life-saving organ transplant can sign up for the World Games, but the expectation is that we "qualified" for our National team. I know what my regular training plan is going to say, "I ride my bike occasionally"


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Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Team Give Life fundraiser went well on Friday. Surprisingly, a woman came up to me and told me she wasn't an organ donor. She hadn't thought much about it, but she was weirded out that somebody else would have her organs. She wasn't quite sure she wanted to be living on in someone else. I hope and think I convinced her, but this just emphasizes the need for education and also that we haven't reached everyone yet.

I was up at 2am to get ready for the 300km Brevet. The brevet was to start from Middletown, VA which is a little over an hour's drive from Herndon. Check-in for brevets usually starts an hour beforehand for a bike check, believe it or not, people try to get away with riding without lights at 5am. I guess they don't want to carry the weight. There were some old school riders out there, riding flat pedals and wearing street clothes. I saw a pretty spectacular crash in the morning as one rider, trying to read his cue sheet in the dark, ran into a roadside ditch and flipped over.

The rising sun found us riding along a ridge line through apple orchards in full bloom. BTW, The setting sun also left me riding through apple orchards. We had a nice climb over Wolf Gap and we found ourselves in West Virginia on a long descent.

The visibility was great all day, and we managed to dodge whatever showers there were. I had brought my Pearl Izumi Kodiak Jacket because it was in the 30's at the ride start. I later regretted the decision, because it got into the 60's. The jacket was too much for that temperature, and it was too cold for bare arms.

I made it to the last control point a little after 8pm, the finish line was 26 miles away and it was pitch black. I think it took me 3 hours to cover that stretch. I had to stop several times to raise my bike up and aim the headlight at the street sign. I also had to stop and put the cue sheet by the light to read it. I tried putting my other light on, but I was fumbling with it in the dark and it wasn't going well.

I've DNF'ed the 300k twice already, so it felt pretty good to finish. I was on the bike for over 15 hours and I took about 2 hours worth of breaks. There was around 14,000 feet of climbing in 186.4 miles. I felt better after this event than I did after the 200Km, however I was getting an upset stomach from the Perpetuem. I usually have powerbars to break up the monotony, but I had forgotten to pick some up before this ride.

I was falling asleep on the ride home. I somehow made it to the rest stop on Rte 66 just east of Manassas. The rest stop is around 15 miles from my home, but even after a 40 minute nap, I still had trouble staying awake driving home. I got home at 2:15am.

You might think I can't walk today. In fact, I was stumbling around and in severe pain, but I put the Compex on Active Recovery Mode this morning and my legs feel great.


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Friday, May 06, 2005
  Lots o Stuff to talk about today

I just paid my entry fee for the World Transplant Games this July and they sent me the link above for the results from the 2003 World Games in France. In the 5k TT I placed 5th and in the 20k Road Race I placed 9th. The thing is, I took the guy in 8th place at the line, I had at least a wheel on the guy. At the rate I overtook him, I'm positive he was down a lap. There's no way a guy that slow could have gotten in front of me. He was French though, and we know all about french judging :) C'est la vie.

On to more important things

My team and I were on the Elliot in the Morning show on DC101 this past Wednesday! Elliot is the most popular morning show on DC Radio. We got most of our message across, though like Ralphie, I felt like I was sputtering out my request for a red rider bb gun and I really wanted to encourage the listeners to go out and donate Blood immediately. C'est la vie. I was at the Inova Fairfax hospital recently and one of the nurses mentioned that they were praying they didn't have to do a liver transplant because they didn't have enough blood.

I attended the People Like Us Initiative Sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation this week. I learned a lot and will share it over the next couple of days.

The team is having a fundraiser at the Dragonfly tonight at 6pm. Come One, Come ALL! 1215 Connecticut ave NW, Washington, DC.


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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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