Archive for category cycling

Mountain Biking Up North In The Winter

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Anne Zimmerman’s Unbelievably Inspiring Cycling, Training, Mothering And Her Family’s Fundraising

Anne Zimmerman (ctr) pedals magnificently in the last hour of her all-day spinning marathon—2/12/12



To my left at Sunday’s Cycle for Survival was a woman who had been spinning for almost eight hours and inspired me to pedal faster than I wanted to and keep rising out of the saddle, rather than be seated like a wuss. Anne Zimmerman was the only woman in the group of just four EXTREMELY extreme cyclists this year who rode for both morning and afternoon sessions. And there were just 32 others who rode for four hours out of 10,000 people participating in this year’s event. She was magnificent.

I asked about her training to get ready and if she wanted to write about it. Little did I imagine that she spins 10 times a week, does 100 push ups, and road bikes 350 miles a week in the summer. I was also awed to learn that her team raised more money for the event than any of the other 2000 teams. Here is her amazing and powerful story.

Sunday I sat on a medium comfortable, ok, not so comfortable, spin bike for 8 hours sweating and panting but having the time of my life. Cycle for Survival raised almost 8 million dollars this year and our team, Team Perry, just crossed the $300,000 mark the other day. All of us riding for Team Perry draw our inspiration from one brave little girl, my daughter Perry Zimmerman.

But I think this story is supposed to be about me, not as easy a subject as my family and friends or the food that I write about on my blog, nutrimommy.com . Ok, me as an exerciser. I admit to being a fanatic, and I go to about 10 spin classes during a typical week here in New York City. I add to that one long treadmill run anywhere from 7 to 13 miles always before my Monday morning Darryl Gaines spin class, which is a rockin’ good time, plus one or two short runs, and a Thursday insane short run with Robert Pennino that often involves killer sprints up extremely steep inclines. I occasionally dabble in a duathlon, half iron length and am always prepared for that, so have never officially trained. Other than that, I do 100 push-ups of questionable form twice a week and occasionally pull-ups as I see fit. I do not seem to have achieved Ira’s abs quite yet.

The excessive spin classes are just a warm up for long summer and vacation bike rides. Last summer I had myself going about 350 miles a week with at least one 80 to 100 mile ride in there. Our marriage counselor, Gregg Cook,(hah, he is really a spin instructor) thinks I need to rest. Yet I assure you I do this all purely for fun. I know some people have questioned my wasting my precious babysitter (free) time this way, but I cannot think of a better way to explore my community and broaden my world beyond the gates some of my friends rarely pass through. By riding to farmers markets and grocery stores, I save myself from sitting in a car, something we city women cannot get our head around.

Outside our Maryland summer community, I have found amazing Chesapeake views, crazy hills, a swath of fishermen communities and farmers as income diverse as you can imagine. I’ve met people through my own flat tires, through my blabbering on about unhealthy sports drinks with artificial colors and through my poking around little farm stands like the one that always gives me a glass of water or the one where the woman cannot believe I am over 40:) I love that woman!

In Florida, I have discovered every health food store from Ft. Pierce to well north of Melbourne, and inland have found organic farms and bootlegged raw milk and illegal organic groceries. I even was carded buying Kombucha at Jungle in Melbourne…boy is Florida odd.

Every year in August, in spite of some whining and complaining by my husband, we take a hiking trip in eastern Canada. Last year, I let him talk me out of it, and we headed to Florida where we discovered an enormous lump in my daughter’s leg. Since she had had retinoblastoma as a baby, and a huge brain tumor as a two year old, I immediately suspected cancer, had it confirmed and came home to Sloan Kettering.

Since then, I gave up most of my career-related activity, I do not advise on nutrition, nor take law school classes toward that LLM in environmental law. I no longer research and write about unreasonably ridiculous FDA laws, nor do I visit the NYC public schools to check on the vegetarian lunch program. I rarely get the chance to take my younger three kids to an after-school activity, but I do still exercise.

I think the sacrifices are small, and the time at the hospital with my recovering daughter who has three more months of chemotherapy is worth every sacrifice. But the exercise keeps my mind and body strong for her.

And believe me there has been heavy lifting involved. After her 15-hour surgery I squatted for a half hour holding her leg up…OMG that hurt. Hauling a few backpacks of her school work and her IV fluids a block to hail a cab, or pushing a wheelchair sometimes for more than an hour or two, is not physically easy either.

If I look back on this cancer experience since August, the incredible support of friends and family, my husband and my other three nutty kids, the crazy rockin’ fun heavy exercise of Darryl’s spins, and the seriously tough exercise of Avery Washington and Robert get me through my long, sedentary, often stressful hospital days. So, I am already looking forward to next year’s 8 hours, when I am again a regular mom with four healthy kids.

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Thrilling Spinning At The Cycle For Survival Fundraiser

Ira grinds and guts it out

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.

Joss and Evan look fresher after four hours than Ira after just one

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.

cyclists cheer and yell after the ride

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.

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Help the Cycle For Survival Save Lives

Last year Evan (rt) looks fresher after four hours than I (ctr) and my son do after just one hour—2/2011

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…

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Mind-Boggling Sports Stunts In 3D

This is a thrilling collection of death-defying sports clips in an almost-3D mode that adds to the breath-takingness of the stunts. I can’t believe people have the courage to do some of these things. I can’t imagine how many takes it took to get these mind-boggling shots.

Enjoy the video.

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Cyclist Damian Alfonso Wins Races Without Forearms

Damian Alfonso wins bicycle races without forearms

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?

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Mountain Biking In Slow Motion

Filmmaker Tom Guilmette uses a special high speed HD camera to slow down mountain biker action in this teaser/trailer he made for a film he is producing. Enjoy the beautiful imagery of these amazing amateur athletes…and the dirt they stir up as well.

Here are his thoughts when he first started playing with this camera: “I was working a gig in Vegas with a brand new Phantom Flex high speed digital cinema camera. I had to try it out. In fact, I never did go to bed that night…Violating the laws of nature. Playing God. Capturing stuff we are not supposed to see. Potentially opening up a wormhole in the fabric of time by shooting at 2,564 frames per second.”

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I Cycled For The Survival Of People With Rare Cancers

at the end of four hours for Evan, one for me and my son

Ira and Evan during their rides

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.

she started it all

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.

For more details, check out this earlier story . And go to this site if you want to donate too.

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!!

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Join Our Cycle For Survival To Support Rare-Cancer Research

Evan rides for research, a straight four hours non-stop—1/31/10

Today I will be one of more than 4000 riders (on 850+ “teams”) who pedal 500+ stationary bicycles for 30 minutes to 4 hours near Grand Central in Manhattan. Other people in Chicago and Long Island will also be cycling away this weekend and the previous weekend 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, the annual Cycle for Survival events have raised over $4.5 million for experimental research, and some of that has been very relevant to my family.

My son-in-law, Evan, who just became a father on New Year’s Day 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 25 riders (out of 2500) who rode non-stop for the whole four hours.

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 the New York or Chicago areas and want to actually cheer us on and experience the excitement of the event, contact me at ira@irasabs.com. for more details. We’d love to have you shouting along…

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New Danny MacAskill Stunt Bike Video In Scenic Scotland

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 .

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Endurance Cycling Champion Jure Robic Dies In Car Crash

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 on one of his Races Across America

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.

Robic takes a break from the heat during a RAAM

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 »

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Terry Peterson Lost 30 Pounds Riding His Unicycle In His 50’s

I bumped into a video about a 54-year-old who took up unicycling four years ago, lost weight, became fit and now has over 275 videos on his web site . Terry Peterson calls himself UniGeezer, and you should see him do his extreme rides cross country, up stairs, down mountain trails. He’s a real inspiration, and the news broadcasters who interview him all agree he looks half his age.

A really good story about him was written by Tom Berg for the Orange County Register (California) in 2008:

Mountain Biking on One Wheel? Yes!

An alarm rings in most guys’ heads around age 50.

It is nature saying: You know, you won’t live forever!

Some respond with sports cars; some with trophy wives; some join the Peace Corps.

Terry Peterson?

“I said, ‘My God, I cannot button my jeans anymore!’ ” says the professional piano tuner. “It dawned on me I should start exercising.”

Running, however, was out of the question – hard on the knees. Swimming? Inconvenient. Biking? Boring.

“I mulled over the options,” says Peterson, now 52, “and they all seemed boring.”

Until he remembered a short-lived, 1960s fad he tried as a 10-year-old.

Since that day, Peterson’s waistline has shrunk from 35 to 29 inches. His weight dropped from 165 to 140 pounds. His on-line videos elicit responses like: You’re the coolest 52-year-old I’ve ever known!

And he’s virtually dropped the name “Terry.”

When people see him pass now, they point and holler: “Hey, there’s the UniGeezer!”

Pure music to his piano-tuning ears.

AIR

The UniGeezer’s uni-verse is filled with uni-spins, uni-drops and uni-fests. He founded the Uni Psychos club. And he writes uni-poetry. Guess what he rides.

Peterson is not simply in love with unicycling. He is head-over-heals, madly, obsessively, compulsively in love with unicycling; specifically mountain unicycling.

That means no low-gear for going up hill – it’s all direct drive. And no coasting going down hill – again, direct drive. It means knowing how to jump, hop and drop off rocks, roots and ruts.

It means dealing with UPDs (Un-Planned Dismounts), and carving out a line to ride over the obstacles in your path.

“It’s a lot like life,” he says.

“I try not to avoid the obstacles. I like to confront them head-on and get over them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Astonishing Trials Riding Bicycling By Den, Danny MacAskill And Hans Rey

In the post about Gary Gianni, he mentioned a biking celebrity named Hans “No Way” Rey who is one of the most famous trials riders. This variant of cycling requires unbelievable control, balance, coordination and skill. It involves moving the bike over obstacles as large as mountain boulders, rooftops, and city sculptures..even riding on chains and railings or tops of fences. However the rider cannot touch either foot on the ground. Hans was a pioneer in this variant of mountain biking and has won many competitions since he was 16. Here are three videos of riders who will introduce you to an unimagined ability that is universes away from what you and I did on a bike when we were kids.

This video has been watched almost 36 MILLION times. Be sure to see the stunt around 3:10 to 3:20. Danny rides on just a front wheel as easily as just a rear wheel.

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Gary Gianni Rides Road Bikes, Mountain Bikes, and Spins in Cellars in Winter

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.

Gary Gianni during his first Century (100 miles) ride—

Gary Gianni during his first Century (100 miles) ride—


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.

Hill on the RAGBRAI out of St. Olaf, Iowa—

Hill on the RAGBRAI out of St. Olaf, Iowa—


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.

Susan and Gary at Pennwood, CT, New Year's Day, 2006

Susan and Gary at Pennwood, CT, New Year's Day, 2006


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 »

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2000 Cyclists Spinning To Beat Cancer

I went into Manhattan two days ago to cheer for spinners at the Cycle for Survival. This is an indoor charity event where people can hop on a stationary bike and pedal to raise money for research on rare cancers. There were 400 teams (of one to eight riders) split between two Equinox gyms in which people would spin for a half hour or more. With music blaring, bikes close together, “coaches” with microphones saying “climb that hill,” “sprint for the finish line,” and friends and relatives waving arms and yelling, it was a very exciting, energetic and emotional experience.

spinning to fund research

spinning to fund research

Some of the cyclists are cancer patients. Most are not, and everyone’s participation is providing hope, support, and fund-raising enthusiasm. Over $2.2 million has been raised so far this year, a total of $4 million since the first annual event in 2007, all used for research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Next week 100 more teams will be cycling for the first time in Chicago.

he rode the whole four hours

he rode the whole four hours

Of all 500 teams, and over 2000 cyclists, only 25 are extremists who pedaled for all four hours. I was yelling for a cancer patient I know who rode solo the entire time. In good weather he rides about 70 miles a week. He says, “I cycle because it keeps me alive…because l can…because I am still here.”

A number of celebrities were cycling as well. Here is one I cheered on, Chris Mullin, a five-time NBA All-Star who also won Olympic gold twice.

NBA All Star, Chris Mullin

NBA All Star, Chris Mullin

Most funds for research are granted to the more prevalent illnesses like breast and prostate cancer. However more than half of all cancers are classified as “rare,” because each one affects less than 200,000 people. These include cervical, stomach, brain and all pediatric cancers. It’s unbelievable that so little money is being directed to cure these rare cancers.

To learn more, visit the event’s web site, www.cycleforsurvival.org

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Cyclist Frank Krasowski’s Year-Round Rides Create Endorphin Satisfactions Exceeding Food Pleasures

At the therapist the other day for my arm, I mentioned “Beth’s Story” (see November 6th post below) to Frank Krasowski, the owner of The Hills Physical Therapy in Bantam, CT. He had his own ideas about what it takes to diet, exercise, and lose weight.

“Some people are disciplined, and others aren’t. Food gives some people so much pleasure that they can’t give it up…unless there is another pleasure to compensate for that loss.”

For Frank, riding his bike on hilly, scenic roads does the trick. The sweating, the big gears, and the views he enjoys outdoors trigger endorphins into his system that easily make up for his more limited diet. “I love biking. It changes my mind set, so that food becomes fuel, rather than a source of pleasure and satisfaction. This doesn’t happen for me with other kinds of exercise.”

Frank Krasowski resting from a ride—2007

Frank Krasowski resting from a ride—2007

He admitted that his ability to be disciplined with food goes in spurts. And he really admires people who can stick to their own rules with consistency. He also volunteered that he rides in the winter as long as there isn’t much snow on the ground. He has all the necessary clothing layers, masks and gloves to build up the warmth needed to ride comfortably in freezing temperatures. Sounds pretty disciplined to me…

After hearing Frank’s words, I did a few searches on the net about sugar rushes and endorphin highs.

SUGAR RUSHES

Time and again you’ve experienced the intense effects that food can have on your moods. Cakes, cookies, and fudge are known as pleasure foods not only because they delight your taste buds but because they can make you feel calm and happy – at least temporarily. This sugar induced sense of euphoria comes from several chemical mechanisms in your brain. First of all, the sheer pleasure of tasting a chocolate treat or powdery donut stimulates your brain’s pleasure pathways and the release of dopamine and endorphins, the chemicals that makes you feel exhilarated. You also get a quick surge of energy as the sugar hits your bloodstream. Unfortunately, that energized feeling lasts only as long as the sugar rush. Once your blood-sugar levels drop (about an hour or two later), you’re left feeling drained and out of sorts. You become an addict looking for another hit.

Clearly, then, food can be as powerful as the most addictive drug. If you’re experiencing carbohydrate cravings as a result of taking antidepressants, you’re probably well aware of the addictive nature of certain foods. Addictive foods are almost always processed foods. (I have never known anyone addicted to lima beans.) And you probably know that feeding your cravings only makes you crave the food even more. In fact, some studies suggest that food cravings may be triggered by low levels of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins), a phenomenon that may also occur in people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.

NOW SOME INFO ABOUT ENDORPHINS Read the rest of this entry »

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Senior Athletes Who Inspire All Ages

I learned about a book called The Wonder Years that celebrates senior amateur athletes “who never slow down.” Of course these are rare individuals who have their health, the will to persist, and the physical capability to still compete. Very inspirational. They are truly blessed. The USA Today article follows the pictures. The photographer Rick Rickman’s words apply to us all: “…no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”

The first portrait is of a Catholic nun who began exercising at 49 and has since finished 20 Ironman triathlons in Hawaii and over 300 more around the world. She is 79! There is a video about her accomplishments at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUp9v8A46dk Check out 66-year-old Clifford Cooper’s October 31st post below about his upcoming Ironman dedicated to his brother who died of Alzheimer’s.

Sister Madonna Buder has completed over 325 triathlons

Sister Madonna Buder has completed over 325 triathlons

Margaret Hinton has competed in numerous national games. “I can tell that some of these people came here to socialize. That is okay, but I’ve come here to take home the gold.” Eve Fletcher began surfing more than 50 years ago. “I don’t think you can be too old to be stoked.”

shotputter Margaret Hinton

shotputter Margaret Hinton


surfer Eve Fletcher

surfer Eve Fletcher

Jane Hesselgesser was a concert pianist and Bill Cunningham was a soccer player and a double for Frankie Avalon. Now in their 60’s and 70’s respectively, they compete as a pair in bodybuilding events around the world against couples 20 years younger.

bodybuilders Bill Cunningham and Jane Hesselgesser

bodybuilders Bill Cunningham and Jane Hesselgesser

Senior Athletes Still a ‘Wonder’ at Their Age

By Reid Cherner, USA TODAY
7/23/09

Growing old might be a contact sport, but it shouldn’t be a competition you need to lose.
That is the premise of The Wonder Years: Portraits of Athletes Who Never Slow Down, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Rick Rickman.

The official photographer of the Senior Olympic Games, Rickman has profiled everyday athletes who many think were past their expiration date as competitors. From surfers to runners to swimmers to body builders.

“These are people who, for the most part, really have no misconceptions that they ever are going to be athletic superstars,” Rickman said. “They are people who love to stay fit and healthy and competitive. Most of them started training late in life, and it has been a wonderful thing for them.”

When a high school student asked the photographer if he had any remorse taking pictures of people doing activities “that might hurt them,” a book idea was born. “I was so taken back I didn’t know how to answer at first,” he said. “I realized that there is this strange perception about aging in this country. I think in the process of growing old and gathering days under your belt, you can decide for yourself whether to be active and engaged and vital all the way to the end.

“I hope (the reader) takes away the fact that, no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”

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“Because I Can, & He Cannot”

(left to right) Clifford, Richard and Stephen Cooper—1999

(left to right) Clifford, Richard and Stephen Cooper—1999

Our Mother’s license plate said “My 3 Sons”. The picture above is of the 3 of
us. 2 are still playing tennis & celebrating life. The 3rd is not. He died from
complications of Alzheimer’s. Richard was 59 when he was diagnosed, he died
when he was 67.

At 66 years old, I have qualified & will participate in the 70.3 Ironman World Championship, November 14, 2009 in Clearwater, Florida.

I have chosen to acknowledge the spirit & memory of my Brother by
dedicating my training & participation to Honor him & raise awareness
to help find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Contributions in any amount are welcome (but increments of $730, $70.30,
$35.15, or $17.575 might have more meaning) should be made in Honor of
Richard, c/o Team Cooper, http://alz.kintera.org/runforthememory/ccooper

You can follow my effort on line at
www.ironman.com/WorldChampionship70.3. Bib # 506
I will be sure to feel your energy & I know Richard will be watching.

“because I can, & he cannot”

contact me at:
cliffordacooper@optonline.net
41 Westover Road
Litchfield, CT 06759

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Mountain Biker Susan Georgia Struts Her Stuff At Case Mountain In Manchester, Ct

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: https://www.irasabs.com/?m=20090825

Susan Georgia pausing on the trails at Case Mountain Ct—8/09

Susan Georgia pausing on the trails at Case Mountain Ct—8/09

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Susan Georgia Bikes CT Trails and Risks Riding the Rim of the Grand Canyon

I don’t remember not being on a bike. I was the third child—and the first girl—and grew up playing football. I was one of the guys, and if my mom couldn’t find me, she’d look up the nearest tree.

I was always riding over lawns and in the woods. In high school, I was captain of the soccer team, was on the swim team, and softball team. I was a very jock-type person. I have always been athletic. I also like kayaking.

Then I acquired the taste for mountain biking, which is basically trail-riding in the woods. It is wonderful…and at age 48, one of my favorite things to do. There are not a lot of girls who do it, and it was an instant attraction.

Susan Georgia mountain bikes the Grand Canyon rim—2008

Susan Georgia mountain bikes the Grand Canyon rim—2008

I work in a doctor’s office, and I often arrived with my bike in the car. At the end of the day, I would ride on a level trail around a nearby pond.

My love for the sport really picked up after I met Gary four years ago. He is 56 now and has been riding seriously for a long time—doesn’t even get on a road bike unless he’s going for at least 50 miles.

Anyway he introduced me to much more aggressive mountain biking, which involves steeper trails with lots of rocks and tree roots. The rides are longer, say 15 miles, and the biking is more technical. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week?

Excerpts From an article in the NYTimes, 5/24/09, by Gretchen Reynolds. [Summary: Six minutes or so a week of hard exercise (plus the time spent warming up, cooling down, and resting between the bouts of intense work) had proven to be as good as multiple hours of working out for achieving fitness. The short, intense workouts aided in weight loss, too.]

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans…can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit?

The answer, a growing number of these sports scientists believe, may be yes.
“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” such as long runs or bike rides or, perhaps, six-hour swims, says Martin Gibala, PhD, chairman of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. But ongoing research from Gibala’s lab is turning that idea on its head. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tour de France Very Exciting

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…

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Bill Ale’s Running and Cycling Story: There Are No Short Cuts, And One Can Achieve Almost Anything With Commitment and Hard Work

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Hard work and commitment is the key to any athletic endeavor! Only a very small percentage of athletes have that genetic gift that seems to allow them to excel with minimal work. Most of us have to accept what we were given at birth and sculpt that into whatever athletic objective we may want to pursue or achieve. I am a perfect example of the latter guy.


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.

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08


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 »

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David Dougherty Is A Passionate Athlete Biking Furiously These Days

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.

David Dougherty Cycling the Miles

David Dougherty Cycling the Miles

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.

David Dougherty Pedaling Furiously Fast

David Dougherty Pedaling Furiously Fast

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…..”

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