Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riverlutionaries Untie

Ride Report

On October 8, 2011, 17 riders circumvented the 72 plus miles of Lake Pepin along the Minnesota and Wisconsin boarders. The day seemed unseasonably warm despite some strong head and cross winds. At the start on the bluffs of Wacouta, MN eleven riders headed out followed shortly thereafter by “The Sandwich Sisters” in two vehicles. It became immediately obvious that next year a cue sheet would be a nice addition as four of us headed south to the path and seven headed to the north on the road, but we all came out on the same road and headed into Red Wing. I felt a swell of pride as I looked forward and saw that dark line of jerseys cranking their way toward the bridge into Wisconsin.

I was quite taken at the pace this year. Tom and Seth, both accomplished riders lead the grouppo at a solid pace into our first stop at The Haze Loft, Bay City, WI. The shopkeeper at The Flat Iron treated us all to free ice cream! I chose a puff on the inhaler as the next stretch was a two mile plus climb. I was duly impressed with Tina and Theresa’s climbing efforts. They held a steady pace and topped the hill with seeming little effort. I’m still scratching my head how Tony, riding a single speed could push ahead of us geared riders. I used almost every cog on the ring to surmount the 2300 feet climbs all day long. I know this climb was a first for many and while it was not the steepest, it tends to be the most challenging due to the length. As I crested at County Road D, I adjusted and careened down the hill topping out at an exhilarating 39+ miles per hour.

We regrouped our “team,” swapped stories so far and headed on to Nelson, WI. For me, this was the most challenging section with shorter but steeper climbs and a cross wind that seemed relenting when you got caught alone. I found the best spot on the ride was to be caught behind Luke and his broad shoulders. I bet it took the typical 30% exertion savings down to about 50%! While some of us stopped in Nelson, others had taken a quick break in Pepin, WI and went on to Wabasha, MN to meet the six remaining team members who would finish up with us. As we acquainted ourselves with each other, all the riders rolled in. I was so pleased to see everyone together (and get one last sandwich). The shop owners at The Eagle’s Nest Café were delightful. Every rider and support person who went in got praise for their t-shirts and jerseys. Avid animal rescue and ride supporters they will be a definite SAG stop next year and promote our causes. These folks just exuded “Minnesota Nice,” so glad to have met them.

We picked up our six newbie riders and pressed on to Lake City for our now annual “technical” stop at “For Pete’s Sake” bar. Again a cue sheet would have helped as Randy went wayward not knowing where to stop – you might think the bikes outside would be a landmark but the bar lets us bring them inside for safe keeping. This year we had two flats. Both rented bikes got flats, four and ten miles into their journeys. There were a couple lessons learned. First, a quick lesson on how to change a tire and use a CO2 cartridge. Second lesson, how not to change a tire as Ethan’s tube burst at the valve effectively taking him out of the ride. I was proud the way he didn’t let his disappointment get in the way. He helped the SAG teams for the rest of the ride, hung with us all Apré ride and looked forward to defeating the challenges next year. Go Team Crush!

I can’t understand how we seemingly had a headwind in every direction, but I think we did. Kind of a slap in the face to have to pedal downhill after 72 miles! But, for my part I had the best average speed of my Riverlutions at 16.8mph. A very important fact for me was the “firsts” for so many. Dan, leader of “Team Zoolander” and rider of Blue Steel, went his personal best distance, as did Kim, Barb and Fred. Many riders had never ridden with a group like this before. Hats off (literally) to Nicole and Marc. Ben, Molly, Eric you were all wonderful and a big part of what we accomplished: Personal bests, awareness and support for animal rescue and cancer.

The Apré Party was great. The Rush River beer flowed, we poured wine and poured on the stories. Thanks Nancy for the beautiful bike inspired jewelry – it made the Yankee swap a delight.

For next year I will initiate a few changes. First, we will have a “Clue Sheet” for Mike, who, despite the advice of surgeons, three PTs and his wife, rode with determination and a recovering rotator cuff. I hate to congratulate this kind of behavior, but the accomplishment deserves recognition. We will be stopping less and making more sandwiches. I hope next year we secure more sponsors, money per mile not only from riders, but companies and personal fund raising efforts.

From the support of my wife and the sacrifice of my training time, to the coordination of Nancy and Toonsis, plus Debbie and Sheila’s bell ringing, a tremendous “Thank you!” all. We probably brought in over $3000 over-all and netted about $1050 for our causes and I am still hoping to get in some more corporate sponsor money.

Each and every one of you were wonderful and I cannot thank you enough and hope you will roll with us again next year!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rolling. Slowly...

Seems by the date stamp it has been literally 7 months with no post. Sorry, I've been busy. And, I have the ever-morphing body shape to prove it.

But that will be changing... the press is on for this seasons rides and fund-raising for Ride2TheRescue. We had great success last year with about $3900 in donations. I hope we can double that this year -- at a minimum.

Check out the jersey -- and, grab a sponsorship if you want -- plenty of room for your logo at this point!

Keep Crankin'

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Riverlution Ride Report

Grab a coffee or beer, it's a long one.

This years ride was more about not riding, I think, than the ride itself. We had such a great collection of family, friends and feasting the time on the bike seemed less important. What was important is that we raised money for animal rescue and cancer research. Thank you everyone who helped by donating time, money or both!

The trip was stressful for me and it started before we even left when UPS called to say my bike box label had fallen off. One great guy in Jax called me and sent it on despite "regulations" to send it to lost and found. In tracking it though it was headed to MN but didn't really specify where! Stress Level One.

We had an early flight out, direct to MPLS on Delta. Up really early -- even for me -- and took the dogs out for a walk. When I came in Nifi was in the kitchen and said "Our flights been cancelled." I thought she was kidding for a split second, but her look said otherwise. Great. Stress Level Two. Good news was we were re-routed thru Detroit later that morning with decent lay-over time.

Later, we decided to take take the option for a cheap upgrade to First Class. Plus, I figured that we would get off the plane faster than struggling from row 35 in coach. All was on time, we boarded and settled into our plush leather seats. That is when I noticed two guys in logoed knit shirts that were not with Delta. I also noticed the pained look on the attendant's faces. Stress level Three enacted. We waited. We waited some more. We would have certainly missed our connection. Then we were asked to deplane, get our bags and re-check in at the counter. Stress Level Four complete.

Nifi and I plodded back to baggage claim and fetched our bags. We went upstairs to see a line about a block long! Fortunately we stood next to a quiet older man looking through what looked like a TV Guide. While people chatted he asked where we were going. I lamented that we are trying to get to MPLS and this was our second cancelled flight. He goes back to his book. Then he says "There is a direct flight to MPLS leaving at 3:25." What! This is great -- I booked it from my phone at the back of the line and we raced up and got our boarding passes. The comfort of First Class was long gone and we now have to try and recoup the funds from Delta -- in writing.

Two beers go me back to Stress Level Three. The poor SAG Sisters had been driving around MPLS all afternoon waiting for us in rainy MN fall weather. I kept calling them to alert them to our progress. The last straw was circling the airport for 40 minutes due to weather. I nearly kissed the ground when we landed. Travel is not a Martin gene.

We had a dark drive south to Redwing. I had a few dark beers to lower me to SL2. But by 9:00 that night we made it to our final destination and the start of family time. Plus, my bike was due in Redwing at 8:00 a.m. thanks to the dedication and investigation by brother Mike.

Friday was slow to start. I walked down to my sisters to get coffee while my parents house slept and awoke slowly. From there Brother Mike and I went in town and got my steed from UPS -- sitting in the bay as promised. So happy!

That afternoon it was errands and ride planning. The Hilds rolled in from Illinois for the ride. So fun to see them again and share "my home" and family with them. Again, that word "family" pops up. Dinner at SAG Sister Station was phenomenal -- pasta, breads, salads and of course beer and wine (maybe too much!). I forced myself to bed despite the laughter, food and gifts from the vine. I passed out this years jersey's and swag to the Team R2R members who made it to dinner. Tomorrow was the early start for the Second Riverlution. The dogs and honored guests were depending on us. My eldest sister, SG is recovering from surgery to combat cancer. She is a gift -- always spirited, always in awe of what others do, not realizing all she has and will continue to do. Family.

Saturday morning was cool and grey, temps hovering just above 50º. But, the howling winds of the previous day had diminished. Small prayers answered. I headed back down to SAG Station One for coffee and a hot breakfast I was eager to ride but anxious too. I was not sure if I had trained enough for the terrain ahead.

I had assembled my bike the day before and rode 10 miles on the trail around Wacouta, MN. I pumped up everyone's tires, checked over my bike one more time and changed for the ride. JH was delivered for the ride and breakfast. All was good and three of us headed out with dropping temps. We rolled out at 9:05 and planned to meet the rest of the Team in Wabasha in the early afternoon.

The road conditions were bad heading into Redwing. About six miles in I flatted -- big time. I picked up a screw directly into my tire so deep I had to thread it back out. I had one spare, one CO2 cartridge and that was all any of us had. Note for next year -- shwag to include tubes and CO2. Brother Mike remembered one he had in the garage. He called SAG Central and got it added to the wagon. I feared all the training and effort would be cut short by a second flat. I would have been out. Alas, only one more flat was to come and it was a good thing.

Bad roads almost put me in a huge rut that would have taken me out, but I missed it at the last second. I can still see it and the calamity that would have ensued. The roads never really got better until we hit WI and highway 35. Of course that is also where we hit the big climb. The climb I trained for all summer. It is not steep but it is over two miles long. Shortly into it I realized I had made a mistake not weight training this year. I quickly ran through every gear I had and began worrying: SL4. My heart rate monitor was acting up as well so I did not trust the numbers. I later found out the chest band was twisted, so a zero reading meant bad connection, not that I was dead. My lungs and legs fought to find a rhythm I could deal with. I chose not to look at the speed but my inner competitiveness drove me to gain on Brother Mike and JH. I was able to lead the way up the hill and back down a gear or three. Just maybe I could have gone up a longer hill...maybe. I made one other error in climbing and that was to look up hill not just ahead. Mentally it can be pretty defeating. That did however give me a smile as Brother Ric climbed out of his car in Team wear to cheer us over the top -- what a great sight to see.

About half way up, after cars and motorcycles rushing past us, I heard a really loud, nasty sounding car. Sure it was in need of a total ring job, it was the SAG Sisters ringing the cowbell and yelling cheers of encouragement. Great timing. Even greater to see you at the decent for some needed fuel and fluids. Once again Brother Mike descended like a fat man's ham sandwich. I chose not to take pace because of the road conditions. JH chose not to rush down either -- because he is smart.

The next leg was through several small towns -- worth visiting -- just not during an endurance ride. The terrain mellowed out and thankfully, so did the pavement. Last years ride had me cursing the DOT for such bumpy shoulders. This year all smoothed out. One query for a "sandwich" in Nelson and a quick stop it was on to Wabasha to meet the rest of our Team. And coffee. The temps had never really warmed past the mid-50's and this FL boy was chilled. We met up with our team and new members Tony, Dave and Allison. As introductions were taking place Nifi walked up with hot coffee -- a welcome addition to the ride and my chilled core. We had 27 miles left. I headed out with the Team thanking Juan Valdez and the Smart Wool arm warmers from Spengahli who could not make the ride -- impending, now birth of our newest Team member Kellen Crossley Spencer! Congrats to all. I can't wait to ride with you Kellen.

Now a team of eight we broke into smaller peletons based on freshness, training and bikes. Three riders took the lead. As we approached the next stop, they passed it and went on. JH and I stopped for some food and water. While we waited for the next group SAG One got a call. Tony -- who was riding a fixed gear by the way (and my new hero) flatted. They were in Lake City. From the one sided conversation I got "Lake City For Pete's Sake." Back and forth it turns out he flatted right in front of a bar called "For Pete's Sake" and now an added spot on the Riverlution. As we rode in Brother Ric called us -- and our bikes -- into the bar. Team and Sag shared a pitcher (or two) of beer to fortify us for the last 12 miles. SAG Sister SG could did not know what to make of it all. The chamois shorts, Butt Butter, beer and why we would take on the suffering. We all had reasons and she was part of mine. A big part.

Again this year a lump and tear came to me as we topped the last hill and saw my Mom and Dad meeting us at the top waving American flags. Kisses, tears of joy, relief and hugs. Family.

Half a mile down the road a welcome party ensued with home-made vegetable soup and thanks to Brother Ric, Rush River Beer to warm our tired legs and fill our hearts with joy that we had made one Riverlution come true. Both the food and the sensation were delicious.

The next and final gathering was at Mom's after we all cleaned up and the Hild Girls made it back from their MPLS shopping adventure. We joked, laughed and regaled in the day. Together we were all family and now friends who were family too. In truth they always had been. We toasted our collective success in the ride, the preparation and the SAG support.

The night was make poignant by small moments. Young kids that just met and were now fast friends. Brother Ric showing us all the stars visible from Jupiter and the thrill the kids had seeing them. My mother's joy in having her family together again. We rang the cowbell and thanked everyone for being part of one of the biggest things in my life, and part of my family. And though the feeling had not quite come back to my posterior, we made plans for next year. Family.

Stress Level Zero.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Paws To Help

The sunrise. The swallows return to Capistrano. Taxes. All things that you can count on. So too is our quest to shed some light on animal rescue via our Ride 2 The Rescue efforts. For the fourth year now, a group of dedicated cyclists will head out this fall for long distance rides to generate awareness and hopefully raise some capital. Plus, this year, because of several personal ties, we have added the Susan G. Komen Foundation as a recipient of our efforts.

Okay, if you are interested, you want to help, you love the under-dog (or cat, rabbit, whatever) and you despise cancer, this is where we ask for money. Our first ride event is our own, The Riverlution – a 75 mile ride around Lake Pepin in Minnesota, Saturday, September 25. Our ranks have swelled to about eight so far and with folks joining in from Florida and Illinois. There will hopefully be others this fall, but this ride is our primary opportunity to raise as much funding as we can. Our goal is $5,000 this season. We have a long way to ride and a long way to go in order to achieve that mission.

Many of you have helped in the past. We have great corporate sponsors who gave generously to fund our team jerseys this year – I know, that sounds just like a little league team. But, the challenges for the rescuers, the researchers, the animals and patients is big league. We all need your help to succeed. If you chose to open a helping heart, there are now two ways. You can visit our web site and donate by clicking any amount posted on the dog bones. Those funds go to animal rescue. If you want to support cancer research or you are more of a traditionalist, checks can be sent to Team R2R, Inc. as a tax deductible contribution, address below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I, along with all my saddle sore compadrés hope you will make our miles count!

Steve Martin
Spiro & Associates
12651 McGregor Blvd, Unit 4-402
Fort Myers, FL 33919

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Shadow Rides A Litespeed

Long-time-no-post. There really no appropriate explanation, I have been riding, I have been involved in some novel bike related activities and I am excited about the upcoming Riverlution. Guess I just didn’t want to. Facebook and Twitter have so much more immediate gratification. I can usually sum up my activities in 140 characters anyway. I am just not that deep or verbose.

This summer has been a battle of my riding mojo (or rather lack there of). Seems I have to really talk myself into saddling up. When I do, the results are typically good and lately, better than expected. I attributed last years riding troubles to the heat. I always try to blame work related stress, cuz it is true. I have been trying to get into a schedule of any sort as the Century Season approaches. First is the Riverlution (70 miles) then the Seagull (100) possibly Ride 4 Hope (50) and then the Horrible Hundred (obviously 100). I am kind of worried about making even the first one at this point.

I have been trying to build up distances and my climbing strength. The two seem to be quite at odds with each other. One day I have a great climb workout, the next I can’t fulfill my miles without wanting to up-chuck on my top-tube! The week before last for instance. I did not feel terribly inspired to ride Saturday, but I eased into the idea, my chamois and then the bike. It felt rough out of sorts. I ended up having the fastest ride of my “season!” In fact I had ridden Thursday, Friday and then Saturday. So planning for a 50 on Sunday I was tired but determined. “Los Mojo” was not going to win this week. I felt pretty good, only to determine later that I had enough of a tailwind to fool me into going further. At on point I caught a blue and yellow helmet approaching just out of the corner of my eye. I waited for the rider to pass. I held my line despite being hit repeatedly by branches jutting out like a Deutscher’s Mussette bag just waiting to take me down. I pushed, kept pace and never let up. For four miles all I saw was a shadow hanging there, never really retreating, certainly not gaining. Just there about a yard back. That probably pushed me a little harder than I had hoped because all the way back the headwind pushed back at me.

This last Sunday was a scheduled 60 in prep for the Riverlution. I had ridden Friday and Saturday with a magnificent climb Saturday. A pittance for any one else with any elevation, but something for me to aspire towards. I woke up Sunday and Los Mojo was sitting on me like a cement truck. Coffee, puttering around, the threat of increasing heat, nothing inspired me to get out. I came close to going back to bed but prepped a bottle instead. Then another. Then pulled out a jersey. Slowly I readied myself for a ride of any length. I figured maybe 20 miles. Okay then 30. Finally decided I could do 40 and make it back in time for a meeting over some Belgian beer(s).

I came around a bend and noted two riders turning around at an intersection. Ah, rabbits to chase. I set out in pursuit. While one got away, I gained on the second, in true predator fashion I sectioned off the weaker from the herd. When I did catch up I noted a man, in his late 60s no doubt, wearing a blue kit riding a Litespeed. Could this be the Shadow from the prior week? Was it a look back or a look forward, to be pretzel thin and venous. I am still not sure. But, he was a nice guy – looked like an anemic Grandpa Walton, and chatty – couldn’t have been The Shadow. We took turns pulling, held a great pace until he turned off and I headed on.
Though I had scheduled 60, settled for 40 I ran out of water with no where to refill and had to call it at 38. My hope is this week Los Mojo will take a beating and surrender for the summer.

Spin On

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Long Time

It has obviously been a looooong time since I posted last. Life has been fairly routine, training has been minimal but I am in an effort to amp it up again. Jerseys are almost done, sponsors are about lined up and the miles lay before me for this years fund raising events.

So, what prompted me to write? Yesterday on the way home to watch the static finish line of the Tour of California and listen to Paul and Phil try and talk for 2 hours while no camera coverage was available of the race, I noted yet another new Florida license plate. For the non-resident, there are literally 125+ custom plates. Not vanity plates, license plates to promote a cause or group. Mine is naturally a share the road -- supports bike awareness and routes. The universities all have them. There are plates to save panthers, bears and sea turtles. I'm fine with all that. But yesterday I ended up behind some grandiose SUV toting a mom and 2.2 kids. The plate shouting out in bold yellow letters, looking like it was designed in Word®, in a most sanguine voice "PLAY TENNIS!" Now, I enjoy tennis -- aside from the now obligatory grunting of both male and female players. And, I am far too lazy to actually research if it has any beneficiaries. Seriously Play Tennis? Why not Curling!