Transplant Athlete
Sunday, March 26, 2006
  200km Brevet Hyattstown 2006

I completed a 200km brevet yesterday. On my way to the ride start, I have to take the Ferry across the Potomac to get into Maryland. Yesterday morning a little after 5am (they ferry service starts running at 5am) I pulled up to the Ferry and I'm pretty sure the guy saw me, because he left the building and went down to the ferry. I'm not sure if he saw me as a cyclist, or maybe thought I wasn't there. I started to dig into my pack for cash and food. The next time I look up, the guy is walking along the riverbank skipping stones across the Potomac. I turned my headlight on and tried to signal him. He eventually got on the ferry and started across, but when he got 1/4 of the way across a car pulled up to the Maryland side. He guided the ferry back to Maryland and picked up the car. Just before he docked on the VA side, a car pulled up behind me. That was my Alanis moment for the day.

Needless to say, I was about 20 minutes late to the ride start. I had taken Steve's advice and was carrying about half the water I have been carrying with my new camelback, although it still lasted for 81 miles. I caught up to Matt and Liz a few miles before the First control point, Matt has the flu and gets the "Ultracyclist of the year" award for completing the brevet. I caught a couple more riders on the climb up Catoctin mountain west of Thurmont. By this time, I was almost out of water and I was flying up the hill. I felt great, I could tell my fitness level is really high and then this guy comes flying by me. I don't know if he was on the brevet or just out for a ride, but I was 73 miles into my day (mile 38 on the Brevet). I still felt good even after getting passed, because I caught a rider just after the top. The descent was a bit sketchy, it felt like I had a flat on my rear tire(Yes, the one I rebuilt). The tire was fine, so I'm guessing that the spokes weren't tight enough to hold the rim in place during a high speed descent.

At the bottom of the hill, I bought a gallon of water and filled my camelback and mixed up some
for my water bottles. I hadn't gone 5 feet when I started praying that the next section of the ride was flat. Short little inclines feel harder than going up Catoctin Mountain when you have 8 pounds of water strapped to your back. My Second thought was "Start drinking, there's a tough climb up Mountville road at 106 miles (141 for me) and you don't want to be carrying all this water.

At the second control point, I found a bunch of riders resting. I pressed on before they were ready to leave and then they caught me as I was preparing to leave the third control point. I caught a couple more guys before the secret control at Antietam (which FYI looks surprisingly like Gettysburg), but two of them must have been traveling at my speed, because I they caught me just before a short climb on Townsend Rd near Gapland, MD and we were within a 100 feet or so of each other until I pulled over in Jefferson for some food.

My legs felt great all day. My right foot was a bit sore. I was a bit on the chilly side at the end of the ride. The NBC weather guessers had said that it was going to be rainy, drizzly, maybe even a chance of snow, but generally damp all day. I wore my rain jacket instead of my regular cold weather jacket. Would you believe the sun was out all day. I arrived in Hyattstown after dark and was not excited about riding home, so I called my wife for a SAG. I had 160 miles for the day with 8000' of climbing on the brevet. All in all, it turned out to be a beautiful day for a ride and left me feeling like my training is on track for RAAM despite the SAG at the end.


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Sunday, March 12, 2006
  Transplant Athlete

This is supposed to be a blog about being a transplant athlete, but most people reading might think I was just an athlete, because there isn't much posted about how the transplant affects me. I'm happy to say that in most cases it doesn't.

When I first started riding after the transplant, the prednisone I was taking upset my stomach when taken during a ride. In general it made me gain weight which was also bad for cycling, but I've been off that drug for almost three years now. There was a study published that said there is little difference in the outcomes of transplant patients on Prograf and Prednisone versus Prograf alone and I think, some transplant centers have done away with the prednisone after leaving the hospital.

My hematocrit fluctuates pretty wildly from 33 to 38. The cause is unknown. It could be my original kidneys (the ones that were anemic to begin with) or it could be the medication. It doesn't seem like I'll ever know. When my hematocrit is low, I feel the need to take multiple naps during the day (I'd probably stay in bed if I could get away with it). Before you say chronic fatigue syndrome or mono or "I thought I had mono once for a whole year but it turned out I was just lazy." I can feel the difference cycling, especially at altitude. I've gone to Denver a couple times (post transplant) and sometimes I could get on the exercise bike and pedal away, other times, I was huffing and puffing in what should have been a recovery zone. Right now it seems to be worse and I'm afraid to get my monthly bloodwork done in case it says my hematocrit is low. (I've been putting that monthly blood work off for 3 months now...)

On a day to day basis, sometimes I leave so early for a ride or I come back so late, I forget to take my medication. That can be bad.

If the transplant is impacting my performance in other ways, I don't really know. Am I slower because of the transplant or because I'm not training enough or is it just bad genetics?

One other thing, I do tend to worry more about my health post transplant. I think "is that lump cancer or what?" The medication I take tends to increase the risk of cancer. Is that pain in my new kidney area?

The greatest gift the transplant has given me is the ability to appreciate this second chance. The ride this past Saturday reminded me of that "Life is Good" feeling I had back on the Pactour in 2001.


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  My Equipment has been taking a beating

My equipment has really been suffering with all this mileage. To recap, On January 1st, my Mavic Open Pro busted a spoke and then ate rear the derailleur. I finally rebuilt the wheel with brand spankin new spokes last weekend when my parents were down for a visit. I went with 2 mm spokes versus the 1.6 mm that were on there to increase the durability of the wheel I like to do all my training on. She's a bit heavy, but I expect that in a training wheel. Then last weekend, 30 miles into the century, my front derailleur cable snaps leaving me with only the small chain ring in the front. I told myself at Sebring that I needed to do more high cadence work. By the end of the century, my HED Aerobars started squeaking, which I'm guessing is a bad sign.

I have the old handlebar set up, so I pulled a cable off of it to replace the one that snapped. I was hoping the cables would last a bit longer so I could get them replaced closer to RAAM.

Last but not least, I've been procrastinating on putting the new derailleur on the Litespeed. I'll need to make sure the hanger isn't bent and that'll definitely need a new cable...I just hope the frames hold up until RAAM. I've been considering buying a titan flex, but I'm running short of cash. I'm picking up the tab for RAAM so all funds donated to the Give Life Foundation can go to the Give Life Foundation. If you haven't donated yet, please visit The Transplant Athlete Website and make a donation. Thanks.


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  200 km Brevet

Matt Settle laid out a great course for the first 200km Brevet of the season. Ed Pavelka came down and was the first in by almost two hours. We have some strong riders down here, so my hats off to him. I was suffering a bit as most of my riding had been flat stuff leading up to Sebring.

I mixed my perpetuem REALLY thick. Normally I had been drinking 3 scoops in 2 hours. At Sebring, I drank three scoops/hour. So for the brevet, I tried 5 scoops over 2 hours. Definitely a bad choice. My stomach was cramping up and I ended up slowing down and spending a lot of time at the lunch stop just letting my stomach settle. The weather warmed up significantly, but I had no place to put my jacket, so I ended up wearing it and my tights for the duration of the event. I definitely need a larger Camelback. I got a flat about 10 miles from the end that took an inordinate amount of time to repair and then as I put my bike in my car I noticed my rear tire was flat as well. The tire was shot and a small pebble cut right through to the tube, so I will just use if on the trainer from now on.


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  Long Awaited Bike Sebring Wrap Up

I was worried during Bike Sebring that RAAM might not be possible. I tend to have those thoughts frequently. Mike Trevino set a cross state record going 25 mph for around 200 miles. That seems insane to me...There's no way I can generate that much speed or power. I was alone at Sebring in the wee hours and I can only maintain my positive self talk for so long before I start thinking about throwing in the towel and grabbing a shower and a meal. I know I'm a long shot to finish RAAM, right now. I think my training is progressing and should get me there before the race.

I was in the middle of one of Crista's 105 mile rides yesterday when I pulled into the lunch rest stop and Crista said. "Lou, you're loking fit." That made me feel good. I was suffering yesterday, I bought a new camelback (the HAWG - 1000 cu in storage). My Camelback Rocket (195 cu in storage) never seemed to be able to carry everything I needed and my softride doesn't really lend itself to panniers, handlebar bags, or even seat bags. So the HAWG has tons of space and a 100 ounce bladder, baseline it weighs about 2 pounds more than the rocket, but then I loaded it up with powerbars,perpetuem, tools, and a bunch of other stuff and it felt twice as heavy. I was still able to maintain a pretty good pace yesterday, so I am a bit more optimistic about RAAM.

Back to Bike Sebring: They put red blinkie tail lights at all the corners of the race track which made navigation extremely easy and I'm sure lead to faster lap times. I definitely felt faster. I took a 90 minute sleep break in the middle of the night and then I quit about an hour early. Liz asked me why at breakfast that morning and I didn't really know. Every year I go down there and tell myself I'm going to ride the whole thing and I'm not giving up. I know if I had had a crew there I could have ridden longer. There was an interesting article in the New York Times about Jure Robic. The premise was that his crew acts as a second brain for him, and they do all the important thinking for him. The article also described how crazy Robic gets when he's sleep deprived.

The drive home was long, I got stuck in Daytona 500 traffic and slept three times along the way(south of Jacksonville, North Carolina "I think", and north of Richmond). The important thing I think is that my legs felt better than ever. I rested the next day, but I could've done another century if I wanted to...Again that's a good sign for RAAM.


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Thursday, March 02, 2006
  Catching Up

I renewed my long dormant USCF license today. Most of my weekends leading up to RAAM are reserved for big mileage so I will be racing the Greenbelt training races when they start up in May. They're held on Wednesdays, so they should fit right into my training schedule, now if I can only find someplace to stash the kids while I'm there :)

There will be one more installment for Bike Sebring event coming up as well as a recap of the 200km Brevet this past weekend. Ed Pavelka showed up and blew us all away with the speed in which he finished. Ed there was a reason you were lonely, you were ahead of the next fastest rider by nearly 2 hours. Way to smoke the field.

My parents are driving down to Virginia with my Grandfather this weekend and it'll be the first time I've seen my mom since the news, so I'll be skipping Saturday's ride. Since they usually leave early on Sundays, I'll make up some mileage on Sunday.

I'd like to send a shout out to Ultra Rob, for his comment in a recent post, he's looking for a few good men/women to help out with his crew. Oh yeah, I need crew members for my RAAM event also...And another shout out to Jill for finishing the Susitna Race. Crazy weather to be riding a bike in...


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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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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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