Transplant Athlete
Friday, June 09, 2006
  Goin' down San Diego way

I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted to drive my car across country to the start of RAAM. Reasons? I wanted to take some time to clear my head, I needed to get the car across the country, and I wanted to use the time to get “heat acclimated”.

I wanted to take some time to myself to get my mind right. Its been said that ultra-cycling is 90% mental and only 10% physical. I thought about the distances and the climbing and how I’ve done equally difficult rides, albeit not packed together so tightly…I thought about the terrain as I was driving and I saw myself riding it. Finally, I told myself I could do it, over and over again.

It took me three long days behind the wheel to get the car across the country. By packing everything inside the car, I was able to cross the country in just 8 tanks of gas. I had one tank last 395 miles and the next one lasted 404 miles. If I had had the bikes on the roof, I would have been lucky to get 275 miles to a tank. By using my truck instead of renting a van, I saved around $1100. It’s something I’m glad I did this time, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

According to a magazine article, Mike Trevino drives around with the heat cranked in his car to get heat acclimated, and I thought I’d try it. Because of my low hematocrit, I know I’m going to be behind, so I’m hoping that by being heat acclimated, I can stay with riders who are stronger but less acclimated. Did you know that when a Ford Escape gets too hot, the factory CD player shuts down and there is an actual “CD HOT” error message that comes up? I would generally shut the heat off when the steering wheel got to hot to touch.

My plan for the drive went well. I drove about 700 miles, then pulled into a rest stop, moved the bikes to the front seat, and slept in the back. Did you ever notice how some people at rest stops don’t pull into slots, they pull in parallel to the curb, so they can just pull out? They take up a ton of slots, but hey, it’s easier for them. Well, throughout the night, there were at least two, but maybe three diesel pick-up trucks that pulled in like that with their engines idling right near my truck/me sleeping.

I woke up the next morning a bit sore, I have a sore glute (see previous blog entries) that is acting up, and being stuck in a seated position made it worse. Any pain was quickly washed away with the golden rays of the sun that burned off the early morning mist. It was a good day to drive. Passing through St. Louis, I got to see the arch and a Billboard with a picture of a kid holding a teddy bear and it said something like “Jackson needs a kidney transplant”. I hit rush hour traffic in Oklahoma and that was around the time that I really wasn’t happy about finishing the drive, but I used the same tactics I would for cycling, just make it to the next...(Gas stop, state border, etc).

I slept in the truck again, this time in New Mexico. This time I parked where it would be hard for any other vehicles to get near mine. I am deathly afraid of snakes and stepping out of the truck and walking towards the bathrooms in the dark, I noticed a sign that said “Watch Out For Snakes”. That made me remember that the last time I was in Arizona, Joe Friel told me about the snakes and the scorpions. I had nightmares all night that I was getting stung and bitten. It was another great morning, I did some stretching to loosen up the sore glute and I realized I have really stinky feet.

Coming over the mountains near San Bernadino on 15, I was greeted by Smog. Welcome to California.

In and Out Burger. YUM.


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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
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  • Blood in your urine
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  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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