Transplant Athlete
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  West Virginia Mountain High

There was a group cheering us on at the time station in Athens, OH. I found out later, the woman was giving out envelopes with $100 in cash for gas and food. The team leader has the envelope, but from what I remember, their name was Matter or Matler. Parents of Brian. Thank you for the donation to our cause.

As we pulled into Parkersburg, West Virgninia I had a good case of Deja Vu. In 2001, 9 months after my transplant, I rode through Parkersburg on the Pactour Northern Transcontinental. It was just as confusing this time, at higher speeds and in the dark. There was a huge group in Parkersburg cheering us on, so I came into the Time Station with the sprinter salute (both arms rasied high in victory). I signed a t-shirt and we talked for awhile about organ donation and blood donation.

Bruce and I had a 50 mile break, while Bill and Martin rode. Bruce and I rode from Smithburg to Grafton. Then we took another pull into Gormania. I had manned a time station for RAAM in Gormania the previous year, so I was eager to ride into town. Bill and Martin took the next two time stations (90 miles) unfortunately, they were two very tough sections. The first 46 miles had 3050 feet of climbing and the next 43 miles had 4350 feet of climbing. In the west, the climbs are high (10,000 foot summit) and generally gradual. The climbs in our neck of the woods are shorter (2,000 foot summit) but steeper. As the RV cruised along on Rte 68, we passed the guys struggling up Rocky Gap on 40 Alt.

My hematocrit is generally on the low side (my last blood test was 38%). If you follow the link for hematocrit, you'll see that normal for a male is between 40.7% and 50.3%. So, since my hematocrit is low and I have less red blood cells transporting oxygen, the altitudes out west were really rough on me. We rode nearly 300 miles above 6000 feet and between my chest congestion and the low hematocrit, I was often having trouble breathing. Now that we were back east, I was feeling much better.

Bruce and I made the pull from Hancock to Hanover. Bill and Martin took over and the skies opened up. We were getting closer and the miles seemed to fly by. Bruce and I jumped back on the bikes for the pull from Georgetown, PA to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I guess jumping on the bike probably wasn't the best description for Bruce. He was suffering from severe saddle sores and generally mounted the bike rather gingerly or very loudly. I took longer pulls here to keep him out of the saddle.

Saddle sores. There were a couple of reasons I was fine and Bruce was suffering from Saddle sores. I rode part of the trip on my Softride Rocket which as the name implies is a soft ride. Also, I had a different saddle on my Litespeed Vortex than I had on my Softride Rocket. The saddles had slightly different contact points which relieved stress on already sensitive areas. I've had more long distance training time in the saddle, so my behind was a bit more accustomed to being in the saddle. Bruce also spent the most time in the saddle out of the four of us and I probably spent the least time in the saddle. Out of 182 hours, Bruce probably rode 50, I probably rode 40 hours, and Bill and Martin were probably close to 45 hours each.

I wrote the following during RAAM, so it is biased
We’re almost to Atlantic City. Bill and Martin have a 63 mile pull, and then we have a 45 mile pull and a final 50 mile pull. Then its down to 14 miles, half of which are parade miles. Bruce and I just finished a long pull and Martin wasn’t even dressed to ride, he was getting a massage when we pulled up. Bill was and jumped in the van to catch Bruce. It occurred to me that his heart hasn’t been in this ride at all. The first or second day he claimed he couldn’t sleep in the RV and requested a hotel room. Just a day or so ago, he called a powwow with Me and Bill to talk about Bruce. Mike was there, but Martin rather belligerently and repeatedly told him to shut up. They weren’t ready for their pull, so Bruce had continued on. Martin thought we should pull everybody off the road and let everybody get two hours sleep. I objected. Anytime we stop, we slip further behind. All I needed was two hours of sleep, which I ended up not getting. My performance sucked the whole next pull, but I was able to recover for the shift after that. Martin came in last night after a pull and threw his helmet onto the stove and I could tell his attitude was messed up. I asked, “What the F$@K is your problem?” He said that we were late for our shift, but we weren’t. They did their 4 hour pull and we were ready when they were done. I’ve been pissed when they weren’t ready for a shift, but I didn’t take it out on others.


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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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