I am almost speechless after watching this People Are Awesome 2013 video. There are athletic stunts and achievements here I have never even heard of, and many are clearly somewhat established “sports.” It also reminds me how nuts some people are to take these risks…like walking a tightrope between two moving trucks about to enter two different tunnels. Still can’t believe that is for real.
Posts Tagged cycling
Here I am strong in the beginning of the ride
Well the 2013 Cycle for Survival is over. What an extraordinary time we had. I made it through the hour, but it was really hard this year. My daughter Josslyn did two hours, Evan was able to do one, and over $13,500,000 was raised…bringing the seven-year total to $31 million! All of it for rare cancer research. Thanks again to all of you who supported this event, whether with silent prayers, encouragement or donations.
Although I am in pretty good shape from tennis and squash, and had stationary-cycled at home for two weeks before the big day, I only did gentle spinning while watching TV and would then stand up out of the saddle for 60 seconds, 2-3 times each session. On the day of my New York ride, the female spinning instructor was like a marine drill sergeant who “loves hills.” Unlike the previous instructor who led seated, easy rides and occasionally had the cyclists stand up for “hills,” my fearless leader had us constantly standing up for FIVE-minute pretend hills, and then seated for only a minute. Then back up again, again and again. I was wiped out.
After 30 minutes, she decided to lead sprints–six of them for 2 minutes each, I think, with a slight break in between. I was pretty numb by then, so I could barely hear or notice anything. Of course I didn’t have to listen to her directions, and some family members told me to just ignore her, sit down and peddle comfortably. But the seat in the gym was hard and painful, and some of the members of my team would come over and make fun of me for pedaling so slowly or sitting down. To my right was a friend of Evan’s who is a very experienced mountain biker. He was churning furiously the whole time, to sort of challenge himself with a heavy workout. Yikes! I was tired just watching him whirring his legs like a robot, non-stop the whole hour. And at the same time, it was all completely exhilarating.
Anyway, it is called the Cycle for Survival, and I did. Proud once again, because I only use these cycling muscles two weeks a year. Support from friends and family helped push me to stay with it, not be wussy and slow, and as Josslyn said, “fight fight fight.” I broke through lots of barriers thanks to others’ caring, contributions and messages. Hopefully many cancer patients will survive much more than an hour in the gym as the result of everyone’s efforts.
Here is an overview of the gym I was at with hundreds of spinners and enthusiasm and sweat!
by T.J. Stephens on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 11:40am
Like many of the residents of New York City, I wasn’t born here. In a move that barely makes sense to me to this day, I came here for college, but really on some level, I came here to run away from something dark that happened to me back home.
Every day since I’ve moved here has made me a better person than I was when I left, and maybe that change would’ve occurred naturally anywhere, but when I look back on the six years I’ve spent here so far and on the people I’ve spent them with… I know that I grew up to be as strong and brave as I am today because of this city and what it’s given me as well as what it’s put me up against.
I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I have proof, in fact – a list that I made when I was 14 of things that I wanted to do before I died. Four years ago, I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon for the first time. I wasn’t really much of a distance runner back then, but I was hell-bent on becoming one, and I entered the lottery again every year after that for the next three years until I finally got defaulted into the race.
I used to live in Alphabet City, and my very first “long run” was a trek down by the FDR, across Battery Park, up the West Side Highway, and across 12th Street again to my door. It totaled something close to 8 miles, which after training for the last year in the double digits, now feels like a leisurely stroll, but back then, I felt like I’d achieved the impossible.
All of my training runs this year have followed a similar route along the water. I did this on purpose because every time I feel like I can’t possibly run any farther, I come across a landmark that I saw on that first long run – one of a hundred NYC sites that reminds me who I’ve become here, and how far I am from that little girl in Texas who wasn’t brave enough to stick up for herself. I think “I can definitely keep running. I made it here after all, didn’t I?”
The friends I’ve made here are all beautiful people. Some are real New Yorkers who carry the city’s history on their backs; others are immigrants, like me, who shared their part of the world with me as I made Texas a part of theirs. Some are growing into doctors, dentists, filmmakers, playwrights, entrepreneurs… I met my tall, outstanding sisters here. I found a family of Argentinians who brought me in and taught me what it means to work hard. I now work for a company that sent me back to the land of my childhood, introduced me to one of my very best friends, and brought someone I love dearly into my neighborhood. I think about all of these people that I found here every time I’m running down the waterfront and about how eternally grateful I am for this place. When I’m running, I’m not running away from anything anymore; I’m running in homage to New York and to a future where even bigger things that once seemed impossible come easily.
When the marathon was canceled, I completely understood. It’s hard to explain to my friends that are out of town, but there’s a sick feeling on the ground here. Read the rest of this entry »
On March 3rd, I will again be riding with hundreds of others on stationary bicycles for one to four hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. All to help raise funds for rare cancers that are poorly supported by major charities. Over four weekends, there will be 13,000 of us on 2600 teams (it was 4000 total on 850 teams two years ago, 10,000 and 2000 last year) in 10 cities (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, etc). We will all be cycling away to music, speed and terrain cues from the spinning instructor and the encouraging shouts of hundreds of friends and family members. It’s a very thrilling ride.
The annual Sloan Kettering “Cycle for Survival” raises money for research of rare cancers, which are those with less than 200,000 total reported cases in America. Most of the money raised through other programs goes for the common cancers, like lung, breast and prostate. Over the last six years, the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised over $17 million for experimental research, and all of it goes for research.
My son-in-law, Evan, has been fighting a rare cancer since 2007. In fact there are only 100 cases in all the literature of people who have his exclusive, and serious, illness. The experimental drugs and treatments coming out of the Sloan-Kettering research have kept him alive. Unfortunately his fight has intensified, and he had a total laryngectomy last year to remove the tumor in his throat. The electrolarynx he now uses sounds different, and he can still speak understandably. Hopefully Evan will be strong enough to ride with us this year in March. He did four hours last year and the year before. I barely made it through one hour.
If you would like to help support this event, a donation of any amount—no matter how small—would be greatly appreciated and help treat the rare cancers, which include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. Just go to this Cycle for Survival link .
And if you are in New York and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along…
Sari Max is just melting away, and it’s having a huge effect. She wrote earlier in March about how she’d lost over 60 pounds. Now she has dropped another 15! And she has brought fitness and athletics into her life. She is biking for the first time in maybe 15 years, kayaking, which she hadn’t done in at least 20 years, and sometimes adding running spurts to her fast walking.
She is a changed woman, with her new hair style and a bit of color. “I am full of vigor, she tells me proudly.”
I know it takes a lot of discipline to exercise when you haven’t been. But Sari is even doing floor exercises at home, including push ups and 25 sit ups at a time. Way to go, Sari!
Met a new friend out West who described his life of total immersion in the outdoors and his love of fast cars and motorcycles. His stories were so astonishing and descriptive that I urged him to write them down. Who could have guessed that his prose would be extraordinary too. I told him he reminded me of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style or other journalists I imagine writing about speed on speed…or some other hallucinogenic. You are in for a real treat! (I hope he doesn’t mind that I relocated the first paragraph from deep within the story to give you a perspective of what is going on)
For whatever reasons, not the least of which was my father having a triple bypass at 35, I always figured on needing to pack as much experience into one presumably short life as a person could. So I’ve had the pedal down as far back as I can remember. The joke is on me of course, I never developed heart disease, but I did break a few bones, lose a shitload of skin and probably deserve to be dead 30 times over doing various things. Also got a late start building a career, so I’ll probably be working until I am in fact dead—but I design/test outdoor gear. How bad can that be?
OK, a quick bio: I’ve always been bipolar or multi-polar regarding outdoor sports, grew up at the beach but was sneaking onto the Irvine Ranch (before it was developed) behind our house with my .22 to hunt rabbits and quail (yes, quail, you just have to make a head shot, and I don’t mean when they are flying) and started fly fishing in the mountains around LA whenever my mom could drive me or with the Boy Scouts, then Explorer Scouts. Luckily the Explorer group I joined was the mountaineering group in Anaheim, which gave me my first glimpse of the High Sierra’s, and I got as interested in Golden Trout as I did in peak bagging.
As soon as I got my driver’s license, it was good bye to the scouts, and I was off every winter weekend to cross country ski tour/snowcamp in the San Gorgonio or San Jacinto Wilderness areas, often alone, which would drive my mom crazy, then backpack with a fly rod in the summer. Surf, ski, climb, hunt, fish, and of course getting around when younger I got everywhere on a bike, which became a nicer and nicer bike which became another, lifelong passion including a little bit of road racing in high school. I quit that because I kept getting clobbered by motorists who in those days weren’t used to seeing humans on road racing bikes out in traffic. Last crash involved being hit from behind by a car and flung through traffic across three fast lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber and surviving without a scratch. The rear wheel and rear triangle of my bike absorbed most of the impact and I came to a stop on the center divider balancing on my crank set, still clipped in, cars whizzing by in both directions. I did not get religion, I just left the bike laying in the highway and hitched home. No more road bikes for me.
Then one summer I came through Ketchum on a fly fishing trip and saw my first mountain bike—one of Tom Ritchey’s first hand-made bikes at the Elephant’s Perch, and my life was wrecked. I was living in Laguna at the time and the steep coastal hills were crawling with jeep roads, single track and game trails.
In a fitting way I was wrapping up my involvement with motorhead activities. My first car was a red Alfa Romeo Duetto softail Spider which I rescued from ruin and re-built myself. My second car was a raging-fast Lotus Elan which followed the same pattern, find a junker and bring it back to life one turn of the wrench at a time. I’d had a go-kart my Dad built for me when I was about 7, motorcycles, etc. so high performance driving was written into the software by the time I was a teen, and I could really drive. At one point I actually thought about it as a career, maybe an F1 pilot like Dan Gurney, but as I started hanging out at various tracks I realized I couldn’t stand the people who were involved with the sport. They were like golfers on crack.
With some irony I had long been co-evolving into a leftist tree hugging wilderness freak motorhead. I joined David Brower’s F.O.E. (Friends of the Earth) when I was 16, was reading Abbey, getting pangs about joining Dave Foreman’s Earth First gang but didn’t like the idea of prison. Note that both cars I mentioned were small, light, fast, fuel-efficient machines. But showing up to a Sierra Club meeting with my Lotus (even though it got 30 mpg) didn’t go too well. Which I found really disappointing. The leftist tree huggers turned out to be like accountants on crack.
In those years I tried everything that fit my personal ethos of small footprint, treading lightly, loving wild places, and having a fucking great time getting to those places. Think of hand-made (by me), aero cross-country ski racks and skis tucked behind the tiny roof line of a Lotus Elan howling through the desert North of LA at 2 A.M., on the way to Mammoth Tamarack lodge with the headlights off, navigating by the full moon at 120 mph with the Doors playing Riders on the Storm backed up by the sound of a nasty, tweaked-out twin cam motor pushing a low, smooth glass slipper through the void. Fuck the Sierra Club. (Continue to Part 2/3 in post below)
In this second part of my friend’s exciting story, I really feel the contrast between his life of extreme sports and unfettered risk-taking, compared to how most people live. Just this week I yet once again chose to lease an Audi A4 that will hit 60 in 6.3 seconds and not spend more than double for the RS5 that can soar from 0 to 60 in 4.5. I can’t spend that, so I ask how can an extra $40K justify 1.8 seconds faster takeoff from the light, lower gas mileage, danger when others drive my car, yatta, yatta, yatta. My friend lives his fantasy, while I just keep on dreaming…What about you?
The world was fascinating and crazy. My sister was in a rock band in Hollywood, so now and then I would dip into the dark side, Whiskeys, the Rainbow, Club Lingerie, The Troubador, Wongs; see X, China White, Fear, the Gears, Dead Kennedys, Nina Hagen; stay up till 4 then crash with bizarre creatures in strange motels or sleep in the chaparral on dirt trails above Mulholland, get up and go to work. Over time things happened that sharpened me up. Met an interesting girl. Started to get serious about doing something with my 5 years of university. Realized I could turn my outdoor addictions into a career.
So for the last few years I lived in the Southern Lands, my time was spent riding with the Radz, (including Hans Rey), hitting the mountain bike races all over, going to Fat Tire Bike Week in C.B., paddling/surfing my kayak, training with road wheels on my mountain bike by playing chicken with traffic and drafting trucks on Sunset from Hollywood to Santa Monica . . . and starting my biz…
About the Ducks. I grew up riding dirt bikes from age 8, always wanted a sportbike but, having self-knowledge about my impulse control, swore I wouldn’t buy one until I was 30, you know, Mature. So I waited, and then I did. Always having European cars, I wasn’t interested in rice rockets. I wanted a Ducati. I thought I wanted an older (78) 900ss. I had ridden a couple over the years and to me, besides being narrow and easy to ride fast, the Ducati motor was the most musical power plant on earth. I went into a local dealer looking at a 900ss bevel-head, and while I was haggling with the store owner he casually walked over to a low miles 851 Superbike that was already cammed and chipped and Termignoni-piped and started it up, letting it idle lumpily, the way tuned motors do . . . (Uuhhh, what’s THAT bike?). He blipped the throttle a coupla times. Boy did he have me made. “Why is this guy selling a bike with 800 miles on it?” I asked. “Because it scares the shit of of him”, the shop owner said. We smiled. Ah, Maturity. Ah, hubris.
I’d ridden a bunch a street bikes, from Harleys (ridiculous) to Ninjas and GXR’s, etc. and for the most part even the fast bikes were engineered to be very docile below their powerbands, except for Harleys, which don’t have powerbands because they don’t have any power to band. But nonetheless, all of these bikes could roll around town like two-wheeled sewing machines if you kept the revs down. Leaving the dealer on the 851, on the other hand, was quite an eye-opener. It made so much torque so low in the rev range it was like taking a tiger for a walk on a six-inch leash. On my ride back home I figured if I lived a week, I might make it a month, and if I made the month I was probably going to be OK. Talk about impulse control. Riding that bike was like jogging through the woods with a shotgun taped to your temple. But like with sports cars, the software was installed in my head long before—it just needed to boot back up. (Continue to Part 3/3 in the post below)
Pretty impressive story about Guy Adami, a Wall Streeter and Fast Money panelist whose historic exercise routine “consisted mostly of walking from his parking space to the front door of the CNBC studios in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.” But friends challenged him to do the impossible, a trainer gives him advice, and there is a charity involved as well.
In May he was able to run a triathalon that had legs one fifth or one tenth of an Ironman—a half mile swim instead of 2.4 miles, a 13 mile bike ride instead of a 112-mile ride, and a 3.2 mile run rather than a marathon of 26.2 miles. And he still has not reached any of these Ironman distances in training.
It’s all a work in progress. But his dedication is intense, he is approaching his goals each day. and the results will be determined on August 11th, when he joins 3000 others in New York’s first-ever Ironman. He has already lost 38 pounds (from 235) and six inches around his waist. You sure have to admire his effort…Can you believe that 140,000 people a year compete in an Ironman? Interesting that 20% of those who sign up miss race day due to an injury or fear the night before the race.
Cops busted 45-year-old Joseph Glynn Farley for cycling naked, saying Farley was a distraction to drivers. He was also creating a hazard by falling off his unicycle and into lanes of traffic. For his part, Farley says he just likes the feeling of riding without his clothes on.
Yesterday I was spinning during the last hour of the 2012 Cycle for Survival event. Four thousand cyclists participated in New York City and another 6000 in other parts of the country. I am guessing there were 125-plus bikes in the Equinox Gym where I was huffing and puffing. Friends and family all cheering us on, telling us we can do it, make it, don’t stop. Very exciting, dynamic, loud music, people yelling and singing over the spinning instructor’s microphone commands. My second year riding. A real high. I loved it.
I was only scared a bit maybe 90 seconds into the hour when my quads started feeling the strain as we rose off the seat—out of the saddle, they say—and I hadn’t practiced that at all on my stationary bike at home. I was glad after just four days of training the week before the event that I was able to comfortably build up to an hour. Sure I had done it last year, but that only convinced me I could do it. I didn’t remember how tough it had been. Eventually I was dazed and numb and felt no pain.
Sometimes I stayed in the saddle, when others attacked or took the hill. But I felt wimpy. Right next to me, I learned after a few minutes, was a woman and three male riders who were doing EIGHT HOURS! Both morning and afternoon sessions. What amazing endurance.
These are not professionals. Just devoted, passionate amateurs who spin 4-5 times a week. The only reason I was in the section for extreme cyclists is because my son-in-law Evan, who has cancer, was again riding the whole four hours solo, and so was his wife, my daughter, Josslyn, soloing for the first time. They both ride during the year and were in shape for this challenge. Their third team bike for me and three others (an hour each) was privileged to be right in front of them. Members of some other teams only ride for 30 minutes.
Amazingly out of 10,000 riders, there were only 36 extreme cyclists this year, who rode four hours or more…including the four who rode eight hours total. There were 40 last year out of 4000 riders, and 25 in 2010 out of 2500 riders. Evan has been an “extreme” these last three years.
I met a young man in the locker room after the ride who had been spinning in Chicago the day before and in California last weekend. “You are amazingly passionate about this fundraiser to be flying around to the various events like that,” I commented. “Well I co-founded the Cycle for Survival with my wife,” he informed me. I was totally humbled, partly because his wife, Jen Linn, had died last year after a seven year battle with cancer. Then because they had tried to raise just $10,000 for rare cancer research the first year, and it had grown so big that this year $7.8 million was raised, surpassing the $7.45 million of the first five years. And thirdly because what Dave and Jen Linn started has raised funds that led to research that has kept my son-in-law alive with new Sloan Kettering drugs and clinical trials. The Linns have really made a difference.
Last night I started spinning at home. 20 minutes. Why? Because on February 12th, I will again be riding with hundreds of others on stationary bicycles for 30 minutes to 4 hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. All to help raise funds for rare cancers that are poorly supported by major charities. Over three weekends, there will be 10,000 of us on 2000 teams (it was 4000 total on 850 teams last year) in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, NYCity and Long Island, NY. We will all be cycling away to music, speed and terrain cues from the spinning instructor, and the encouraging shouts of hundreds of friends and family members. It’s a very thrilling ride.
The annual Sloan Kettering “Cycle for Survival” raises money for research of rare cancers, which are those with less than 40,000 reported cases in America in one year. Most of the money raised through other programs goes for the common cancers, like lung, breast and prostate. Over the last four years—and including this year’s donations so far—the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised over $14 million for experimental research, and I hear that all of it goes for research.
My son-in-law, Evan, has been fighting a rare cancer since 2007. In fact there are only 10 cases in all the literature of people who have his exclusive, and intensely serious, illness. The experimental drugs and treatments coming out of the Sloan-Kettering research have kept him alive and also strong enough to ride his bike in the streets, when there is no snow or rain. Last year he was one of just 40 riders who cycled non-stop for the whole four hours. You can see in the photo that he looks fresher after four hours than I do after just one hour.
If you would like to help support this event, a donation of any amount—no matter how small—would be greatly appreciated and help treat the rare cancers, which include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. Just go to this Cycle for Survival link to Team Evan.
And if you are in New York and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, contact me here for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along…
Here is a story that is inspirational and upsetting about a Cuban cyclist, Damian Lopez Alfonso, who lost his forearms 20 years ago, when he was 13, in a horrible electrical accident. Shortly afterward, needing a bike to get around, he started racing…superfast.
Everybody knows Damian,” said Jesus Perara. “He rides the bike so fast, with no hands, it’s unbelievable.”
Indeed, nearly everyone who rides with Mr. Alfonso has been impressed by his endurance and bike handling.
“If he had never had this problem, I don’t know if he would have excelled at this sport, whether he would have had that tenacity,” said Mr. Perara’s wife, Nanci Modica, who first met Mr. Alfonso in 2002 while racing in Havana and is among his biggest supporters in New York. “He’s got something special that he can just dig right through the pain.”
In the video on the site, Damian says, “I am not afraid of anything. I have never been afraid of anything…Now the future is the (para)Olympics…The expectation is winning medals. Winning means always going forward…Life for me is a race. Every day that goes by is a day lost. That day never comes back. That helps you go through life, yes.”
This is another story of a human who has overcome the odds, the handicaps, his enormous struggles to achieve something you could never imagine. If he can do that, surely we ordinary mortals can reach our little victories by overcoming insignificant hurdles…right?
Well I did it. I spun for an hour on February 13th. First time ever that long and in a group. There were 125 bikes at my location, 450 bikes and 800 teams in all five locations. Helluva workout. The huffing and puffing and leg strain was much greater than any of the tennis or squash I do. A friend saw me sweating and was concerned that I was overdoing it and should take it easier. I’d never pedaled before “out of the saddle,” standing up, to loud music and hundreds of people egging me on by their own efforts…I wanted to keep up and move to the group rhythm. I’d planned to just pedal gently, but seated. Forget it. I was cycling for survival.
Definitely in the zone. Spaced out. Mindless. And zinging along. A couple of weeks earlier in a Boston hotel gym, I’d tried spinning on my own . Couldn’t get the seat and handlebars adjusted satisfactorily and was in agony. My butt was screaming from the pain. I was told to buy special padded shorts, but never did, so I brought a small blanket and padded seat. But I was up in the air so much I barely needed it.
How did my son-in-law, Evan, do it for four consecutive hours??!!! He is an animal, an ox, a lion. One of just 40 extreme cyclists out of 4000 participating. I was thrilled when the hour was up. I’d made it, but also sad that the experience was over. A real high. And this charity event raised almost as much this year as in the previous four years. The overall total is now greater than $8 million.
Our team goal was $15,000, way up from last year’s $3000, when only Evan cycled. This year Evan raised almost $17,000. My individual goal was $1000, and will add up to more than $2000 by April 1st, when the fund raising is officially over. All for a good cause. Rare cancer research. Yet add up all the rare cancers in America, and the total number of cases is equal to the major cancers that get almost all the corporate research dollars.
This event was started by a woman, Jennifer Goodman Linn, who developed cancer that is a rare cancer and that minimal research is being done on. So she began spinning, because it felt good. Definitely shows you what a difference one person can make.
And here are some of the poignant comments from the Cycle for Survival Facebook page.
Today I rode all 4 hours at my first Cycle for Survival! Thank you for your putting together such an amazing event. Thanks to all who supported me and the generous donations to this great cause! I rode in the event in honor of those who have beat cancer, in memory of those who have not and in support of those who are fighting.
My team cycled last weekend in Chicago and we had an amazing time!! I’ve been battling leiomyosarcoma since 2006 and I can’t even begin to describe my emotions I experienced on Saturday! To see so many people pull together and fight for me and the many other patients out there that have a rare cancer leaves me in tears… and speechless! Thank you to all of those who cycled in Chicago and thank you to all of you who are cycling in New York this weekend!! You are doing such an amazing thing and it means the world to all of us fighting cancer!!! Go New York!!!! And have a blast!!
Here is a new Danny MacAskill video of trials biking on Scottish streets and highways. His skill is far from ordinary, but it is here as an inspiration to anyone who rides a bicycle. You can see other examples of this extraordinary sport here .
This NY Times article (September 29th) by Bruce Weber describes an amazing human being. Far from ordinary, this cyclist shows us what our species is capable of—or at least what some outstanding examples can accomplish. Jure can be an inspiration to us all, especially when we ache a tad or feel a bit tired. Damn shame that he’s wiped out by a common car accident instead of something more noble…whatever that might be. More than 40,000 people a year die in U.S. car crashes…
Jure Robic, a long-distance bicyclist who won the grueling Race Across America five times and whose seemingly endless, sleep-eschewing stamina tested the limits of human endurance, died during a training ride on Friday when he collided with a car on a mountain road in Plavski Rovt, Slovenia, near his home in Jesenice. He was 45…
Even in the circumscribed world of ultra-endurance athletes, Robic (his full name is pronounced YUR-eh ROH-bich) was known for his willingness, or his ability — or both — to push his body to extremes of fatigue. Compared by other riders to a machine and known to friends as Animal (a seeming contradiction that nonetheless made sense), he once rode 518.7 miles in 24 hours, a world record.
One occasional feature of his training regimen, which included daily rides or other workouts stretching between 6 and 10 hours, was a 48-hour period without sleep: a 24-hour ride followed by a 12-hour break followed by a 12-hour workout. Play, a magazine about sports that appeared in The New York Times, reported in 2006 that Robic rode 28,000 miles — more than the circumference of the Earth — every year.
His five victories in the Race Across America, an approximately 3,000-mile transcontinental ride that has been held annually since 1982, are unequaled. (The current course extends from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.)
Unlike the Tour de France, the Race Across America is not a stage race; once it begins, there is no respite for riders until they give up or cross the finish line, so determining when and how long to sleep is the event’s primary strategic element. The winner generally sleeps less than two hours out of 24 and finishes in less than nine days (although Robic’s winning time this past June was a relatively lethargic 9 days 46 minutes).
In 2005, Robic won the race and two weeks later won Le Tour Direct, a 2,500-mile European version with a course derived from Tour de France routes that included 140,000 feet of climbing — almost the equivalent of starting at sea level and ascending Mt. Everest five times. His time was 7 days 19 hours.
Robic became accustomed to both the physical and mental stress that pushing himself to extremes brought on. In the later stages of long-distance races, feet swell as much as two sizes and thumb nerves go dull from the pressure of hands on handlebars. Robic told Daniel Coyle, the Play magazine reporter, that for weeks after the Race Across America, he had to use two hands to turn a key. Read the rest of this entry »
I like to test myself…and then you feel real good about what you’ve done. Biking is my thing, and most people on a bike have a smile on their face.
My wife passed away after 27 years together. So one of my philosophies is to Do It Today, because tomorrow you may not be able to. That’s carried over to my biking—when the weather is great, I ride with my friends.
Everyone rides a bike, when they’re a kid. I also messed around with bikes in my 20’s. But I played in a band part-time for 15-20 years after that, and I had no time to ride. I got tired of that. Then a friend offered me his mountain bike in 1988, when I was 35. (I’m 56 now.) So I quit playing and started riding, just five or 10 miles. There were trails near our house that I’d go on with my neighbor, who was 10 years younger. I met more people who rode, and it just became a passion.
Next it became a bit competitive. My two boys started riding with us. It makes me smile and feels good. It’s a great means of seeing things—more than hiking in the woods and trails. It’s so much fun.
Then a lady gave me a road bike, just left it at my house one night. I started riding on the road, which is safer and better for your cardiovascular system. You can go a lot faster and keep up your heart rate. Mountain biking is more up and down, while road biking is more steady. Once you get into a zone, you can really fly. It takes over your body physically.
Once I did the RAGBRAI [the Register’s (a local newspaper) Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa]. It’s a seven-day ride, 450-500 miles, a different route each year. There are 10,000 riders! Such an experience. You camp out each night after a set number of miles. So when I hit the 60-mile mark one day, there are 23 miles to go. I got into the zone, going 23 miles per hour, and I decide I’ll just go this fast as far as I feel good. I was in such a mental zone. I made it the whole way. That’s a pretty good clip.
The fastest rider I know does 21-22mph for 50 miles. You just feel good about it. You just have to do it. My girl friend Susan (see her story posted on 10/25/09) flew by me one time and went for five miles in the zone. The endorphins and adrenaline are flowing, everything seems to be right. You’re shifting nice, and you just go with it.
Then there are those times when you just bonk, and you can’t get out of your own way. Nutrition, eating well, and hydrating plays such a big part of it. You’re just tired, and your legs feel like lead, but it will pass. You’ll get your energy back. Younger riders are lighter, and they fly by you. Though there are a lot who can’t keep up with me. Physical conditioning is very important. There are even a lot of guys in their 20’s and 30’s I mountain bike with who can’t keep up with me.
In the summer, I go out 3-4 times a week. Two weekdays and Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes it’s 2-3 days in a row. It’s good to recover and back off a bit. You get a pain here and there, and you have to listen to your body and take it easy a little. Road riding takes up a good part of the day.
When we ride on roads, we usually won’t go less than 35 miles. We try for a 50-75 mile ride. If I’m going with friends who are fast riders, we travel at 17-18 mph. We live near a lot of hills, so when we go with older, slower riders, we go 13, 14, maybe 15 mph.
I once did 140 miles in a day. Four of us rode to Lake George, New York from Winsted, CT. It was 10 hours in the saddle. That’s a decent pace. Some fast guys can average 20 mph, but we were doing it for the enjoyment, just to have a good time.
A 66-year-old friend rode cross country, from Virginia to Oregon. Ten to 12 riders for 12 weeks. There were cars that hauled your supplies, sponsored riders and helped with breakdowns.
He and I also did the Border Raiders ride, named after Quantrill’s Raiders, back when there were border wars with slave states before the Civil War in the 1860’s. It’s 500 miles over eight days across four states (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri). You go 160 miles in 100 degrees, from convenience store to convenience store. Grueling. You just keep filling up.
I’m talking with friends about doing a double century ride—200 miles—in one day. It’s kind of nice to push yourself a little bit. Read the rest of this entry »
Sue is still biking away and recently sent in another photo of herself on the trails of Connecticut. This time it is at Case Mountain in Manchester, Ct. Check out her story posted below on August 25th: http://www.irasabs.com/?m=20090825
Been watching many of the finishes and latter parts of the races, and I am addicted. It’s on live in the morning and then re-broadcast two or three times each day on Versus. Thrilling to view, and I am not even a cyclist. But when Lance (in #2 position overall) attacked back yesterday and caught up to the leader, Contador, so that he did not lose any more time, it was exhilarating. As are many of the other finishes, climbs and various chases. Have you seen any of this? Check it out…
Bill Ale’s Running and Cycling Story: There Are No Short Cuts, And One Can Achieve Almost Anything With Commitment and Hard Work
I am a 58 year old, retired male and have been involved in competitive sport my entire life. I was not given the perfect body, but what I was given was heart. I learned that even though I did not have all the tools, I still could achieve anything if I committed myself to it and worked hard enough.
After I got out of college, for the first time in my life, I had no sport, and much to my surprise I began to notice my pants more snug and my mid section starting to expand. So I began to jog, which I really didn’t care for, but I stayed with it. One day, while in the men’s room at Southern Connecticut State University, where I was attending graduate school, a frail looking gentleman approached me after noticing my running shoes and asked me if I was a runner. I sheepishly said, I was. He introduced himself and said he was also a runner. In fact, he said he was a marathoner. I was intrigued, as I had read some of Bill Roger’s books on marathon training.
Make a long story short, we set a date to “run” together. Our running date was a torture fest for me as I tried my best to keep up with him for the 5 miles we ran. After the run he offered me some constructive tips and wrote down a basic training schedule for me. I followed that schedule and soon began to see improvements. As the old adage goes “the better you are the better it gets”. I was hooked. I set my sights on running the Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race with my new running friend.
On the big day, which happened to be my first race, I had no clue where to line up for the start. So I lined up next to my friend, which happened to be in the second row right behind Amby Burfoot, Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter. The gun sounded and we were off. Mile one, I passed at a 5:10 pace. Mile 2, I was in a survival shuffle and by mile 3, I was walking. A harsh reality! I learned alot that day, mostly that positive outcomes are a product of commitment and hard work. Something I had not done. There are no short cuts.
One year after that memorable day and many miles I ran my first marathon in 3 hours and 55 minutes. Over the next two years, I joined a running club, trained hard and managed to lower my marathon time to just under 3 hours. Lots of 80 mile weeks . I did manage to get a PR of 2:53 in New York, but shortly after that I injured my knee, which ended my running career. Read the rest of this entry »
David Dougherty says that he is a very “kinetic” person who has been active in sports all his life. He needs athletics as a balance to his business and family life and thinks nothing of playing tennis in four different games on a weekend. Or playing tennis in the morning and a round of golf in the afternoon. He also sails at a nearby lake and in Newport, RI when he can. Winters are filled with snowboarding and very aggressive ping-pong contests.
Most mornings these days he heads to his local Connecticut gym, where he cycles for an hour or two on a stationary bike that has a program hooked up to an online internet account. This way he can change his virtual course and also document how many miles he “rides” and how many calories he burns over a documented number of hours.
At age 53, he is now on a real flurry, pedaling as much as 32.5 miles in two hours some days, which always begin around 6:30 am. Over the last four months he has ridden 864 miles, burned over 40,000 calories, and expects to pass the 1250-mile marker this month. He is proud of his slimming-down, muscling up and has the heart of a lion.
Now here is what he wrote to me:
“In leadership training school, I learned the principle that “you do physical training to make your body as vital as possible.” This included working out, diet, rest, etc. I have been working out 3-5 days a week, 45 -120 minutes a day for 30 years. So what may seem excessive to you has been a life style and a leadership culture I grew up in.
The only time I have really gotten away from this is in the last several years, because of my business travel…..you and I come from somewhat different planets and norms….I am amazed that you can stay in such good shape and not work out much….good genes….it takes a ton of work now …..more work to stay in worse shape…..”