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Transplant Athlete
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
  Is God Sending Me A Helicopter?

I just found out today that my buddy Cliff lost his house in a fire a couple of days ago, so he won't be able to join my RAAM crew. He's OK, nobody was hurt, but he lost two bikes and a motorcycle and it'll take ten months to rebuild the house.

Adrienne: "He gave your mom breast cancer, He burned down Cliff's house, Is God Sending you a helicopter? Is He trying to tell you something about RAAM?"


If you're not familiar with the story you can click on the link above to read it.

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  My Hematocrit is 36%

Yes, you read that right. My hematocrit is 36%. That's not where I want to be going into RAAM. Once again the doctor reminded me that I was "Anemic, but not enough for them to do anything about it." I got a chuckle out of that because the only thing they can do is prescribe EPO, which is banned by the UCI and consequently RAAM.
 
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
  400 km brevet 2006

I completed the DC Randonneurs 400 km brevet this weekend. I spent friday night at the In-Laws and rode to the ride start. It was a bit chilly and a little bit of rain started to fall as we left the Frederick Holiday Inn. Keith Krombel as usual tried to go off the front, but the first couple of miles were very tandem friendly and Ed and Mary were pushing hard from the Get-go. I heard some chatter in the group that some riders were hoping to finish by 7pm or 8pm. I think Keith likes riding alone and all those people breathing down his neck must have been upsetting. But, It was really amazing to be in such a large fast group. I felt much safer than I normally do on night rides. There was a lot more light on the road from everybody's headlights and presumably, more people knew the way and were reading their cue sheets.

Ed and Mary dropped a cue sheet and stopped to pick it up about 13 miles into the ride. The rest of us continued on and made the first rest stop at mile 41 in around 2 hours. We beat the control worker there. I got my cue sheet signed first and then went to the porta-potty. When I came out everybody was gone. We climbed to Snickers Gap and had a great descent down to the Shenandoah on Rte 7. The next control point was at mile 75.8 in Shepherdstown, WV and I really enjoyed this stretch of the route. I caught up to the tail end of the fast group at this stop, they were going out as I was coming in. I got my cue signed and got more water and immediately went out following Chuck and Crista and another tandem. Liz was manning a secret control just 2 miles down the road.

I got dropped about 10 miles later after we passed through Antietam National Battlefield. At the control point in Fort Frederick, 108 miles into the ride, Chuck and Crista were leaving as I was coming in. I took about a 40 minute break there and Chris Mento showed up and as I was riding out, Ed and Mary pulled in. Normally I don't like stopping for real food on a ride, but I needed more energy and stopped for pizza 127 miles into the ride. Chris Mento showed up soon after with the same idea. It was a good thing I stopped too, the store at mile 140 was closed, so I ended up stretching my water supply to last until the 171 mile control point at Pino's Pizza, where I stopped for more Pizza. I had a personally interesting observation at this point, I was riding fine on less water and still seemed to be hydrating properly. I know I've covered this ad nauseum in this blog before, but hydration is the biggest issue I face on every ride. After doing a quick calculation, I figure I drank about 16 ounces of water per hour on this ride. That's at the low end of most recommendations I've seen. I think the recommendation is normally 20 - 24 ounces per hour. Normally, I would guess that I'm drinking 24 ounces or more per hour. I think I could have had a bit more water, but 24 ounces per hour is probably too much.

Mary and Ed were already at Pino's, and Drew Roth showed up soon after. I tried drafting Ed and Mary from Pino's because I knew the next section would have somewhat of a tailwind and it would be relatively flat, but I got dropped abotu 20 minutes later. George Winkert had drafted the tandem as well for a couple of miles. He later caught me and we rode together most of the way up to Shippensburg Rd (Part of the Big Flat Mountain climb). He took off up the climb, but stopped at the top to put on extra clothes. It was getting late, so like an idiot I hit the fast descent in my sweat soaked clothes without putting on another layer. I stopped a couple of miles down the road in Arendtsville to put on that extra layer, my lights, and to take off my sunglasses. This is a really small town and the locals were hot-rodding around the intersection where we were. There was a lot of engine revving and wheel spinning going on...

We made it to the final control in Gettysburg just as it was getting dark out and I quickly pushed on, mentally ticking away the miles to Frederick. 42, 37, 33...That's where it got really dark. Too dark to read a cue sheet. I caught up to Chris Mento briefly here. I mentioned how I felt safe in the morning, this was the opposite. I only travel with a fork mounted headlight, so without other riders, I generally have to stop and lift the bike so that the headlight aims at the street sign to see what intersection I've arrived at also, it can be difficult to distinguish the road edge from the road with the little bit of light our headlights are throwing out, and cars don't usually bother to dim their high beams for us. As you can imagine this slows things down greatly and worrying about directions left me forgeting about eating and drinking. As I got closer to Thurmont though, the roads became more familiar. I stopped at McD's for some cheeseburgers and hot water. At this point, I had on all my layers and I was still freezing. From Thurmont it was less than 17 miles back to Frederick. I had a rough time finding and then descending on Blacks Mill road in the darkness, but I knew it was just 13 miles to Frederick once on Hessong Bridge Road. Then 11 miles. Then 9 miles. Then just a couple of miles until the downhill on Yellow Springs. I kept telling myself that once on Yellow Springs it was all downhill to Baughmans Lane and then it was just a short nine-tenths of a mile to the Holiday Inn. I didn't dawdle at the hotel, I still had around 6 miles to go to get back to the In-Laws, a hot shower, and clean clothes. I felt good at the finish, like mentally and physically things are on track for RAAM. I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be, so that's a good sign.

 
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Monday, May 15, 2006
  RAAM Nightmares

I spent a good part of last night tossing and turning in bed. I was thinking about all the things that had to be done for RAAM.

Do I take the cargo carrier for the bike rack or not? If I take it, I get more space inside on the trip to California, but I only get 250 - 270 miles to the tank. If I leave it home, I won't have any room inside the truck, but I'll be able to go 350 miles on a tank. The difference is 4 stops and an extra $200.

Will I get to Cali in time? Will I be acclimated to the heat? Will I get Shermer's Neck? Will I find a massage therapist? Will I finish before...

On and On it went, for what seemed like an eternity.

 
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
  300km Brevet

This past weekend was the DC Randonneurs 300km brevet. it only had 9000' of climbing as opposed to last year's which had around 14,000' of climbing. After the first mile, I decided to see how strong I was and started chasing down two people who went off the front. What I should have done was stayed in the pack, the road tilted gradually up and within 5 miles of the start line, two large groups of riders had passed me. I spent the rest of the day chasing after a small group with Chris Mento and Carol in it. I ended up finishing the 300km brevet in 15 hours versus 18 hours for last year's with the extra climbing.

My main problem? I left my waterbottles at home and so I couldn't use any of the Perpetuem I had brought with me. That meant fueling with Powerbars and stopping for food (Subway and McDonalds) along the way. Once again, I express my love for Anti-Fatigue Caps. When my legs were feeling shot, I'd down one of those and within a few minutes, I was ready to go.

I was hoping to do the hilly 300km brevet this saturday, but I'm feeling like I may need a rest week, so I may try to do the hilly 300km route after the 400km brevet next week. We'll see.

 
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  Aunt Anna, I'll miss you.

I spent last week driving up to and back from New Jersey to attend Aunt Anna's funeral. She was a tough little lady and I was surprised to hear of her passing. She was my grandmother's sister, but they (my grandmother and her sisters- Camille and Anna) were so close, that sometimes it felt like I had three Italian grandmothers. Their brother Bo passed away when I was really young.

When I was a kid, we would spend New Year's in Aunt Camille's basement partying(mostly eating) til nearly dawn. Then in later years, the parties were held at Aunt Anna's house. I miss the food, I miss the family. The Masucci family has a get-together in Seaside Heights usually the weekend after Labor Day, but its not the same.

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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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