theZeph

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it is good medicine

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This post may seem a bit irrelevant given it has been three weeks since the race, but it took me some time to process what exactly happened at the Leadville 100.  So consider this my race report.

Those of us who participate in endurance events get this question a lot:

“So why do you do it?”

6 years ago, when I was attempting the Wasatch 100 endurance run I would tell them “it’s family peer pressure”, because theWife’s father and brother have run that masochism every year for as far back as I can remember.

After Leadville, however, I started to understand exactly why we do these things.

It’s about the people.

We’ve all seen the inspiring story of Rick and Dick Hoyt:

Similar accounts have become television specials or screenplays, but there are thousands more stories happening in races across the country every year that only those who were there can attest.  For those of us participating, there is something incredibly intimate about witnessing such manifestations of life…in person.

You want to know why I twice toed the line of the Wasatch 100?

It’s because of the 70 year old man who crossed the finish line 30 minutes past the 36 hour cutoff time.  Shuffling along, bent over at the waist from exhaustion, but determined to cross that line.  The rest of the finishers and their families were already spread about eating the post race dinner, sharing stories of their two days of suffering on the trail when a collective hush came over the entire crowd as eventually everyone began to notice what was playing out at the finish line behind the post race scene.  The hush turned to rousing applause and cheers as the crowd stood to give everything they had to help will that man across the line.  It didn’t matter that it was unofficial. He finished. He inspired.

Or because of theWife’s dad, who on his first attempt of the Wasatch 100 hobbled into the last aid station at mile 92, well past the cutoff time.  The race volunteers told him he had to abandon, he would never make it, the race for him was over.  David –  exhausted, discouraged, but not beaten – looked the volunteer in the eyes and said “you don’t tell someone who has come 92 miles, to stop going.”  He then picked himself up and hobbled on a bad knee across the last 8 miles in the dark to what 5 hours earlier had been the finish line.  By the time David arrived, everyone had cleaned up and gone home.

Every day I see bad examples of the human spirit.  In the headlines, during the commute, around the office, even in some of the same races that bring out the best in people.

But when, DT crossed the finish line at Leadville in 12:01, despite no one (and I mean NO ONE) giving him any odds of finishing, those bad examples are wiped from memory.  Especially when you hear DT, in tears, tell you it was the words of his daughter echoing in his mind that compelled him to finish:

“Win the race, Daddy, win the race.”

That’s why I do it.

My friends Dug and Holly had a similar experience at Leadville…only they didn’t see the ending, just the drama.  After the final gun went off, signaling the official end of the race, they noticed a wife and two small children still waiting for their dad to finish. In Dug’s words:

“Holly and I turned around and saw her. Standing just over the finish line, holding a hand-scripted sign of pride for her man. And her two small children standing next to her, their hero-dad’s race number painted on their foreheads. All of them openly weeping, standing stock still.”

I don’t know if the guy they were waiting for actually finished the race. But as he suffered along those final miles, using every ounce of strength he could muster to turn those cranks just one more time.  Then one more time.  One. More. Time. I am certain, in his mind’s eye he could see his family waiting at the finish line and he could probably hear them saying…win the race Daddy, win the race.

That’s why I do it.

During one of the Ironman specials NBC airs each October, Al Trautwig said something very insightful during his voice over for the Hoyt segment:

“If you have ever searched for the meaning of life.  Stop.  The answer lies right here.”

Can I get an amen?

P.S.  we had the greatest crew in the history of crews.  thanks to Cicely (one of my inspirations to finish), Dad, Mom, JDub, Dug, Holly, Rachelle, Gina, Rachel.  couldn’t have done it without you all.

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Written by eber

September 3, 2009 at 5:32 am

fight like susan

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In the past year I was fortunate to have been introduced to Elden Nelson.  For those of you into cycling or who like to read a very funny and often times emotionally engaging blog, you may know him as the Fat Cyclist.

Elden’s story is a familiar one – in that his wife Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and for the past 5 ½ years has waged an unbelievably noble fight against the disease that over time ravaged her entire body (you can read a much better version of Susan’s fight here).

What is unique about Elden, Susan and their family is that not only have they waged a tireless battle against the cancer within their own home, they have taken the fight worldwide…through Elden’s blog and the influence he has become to people everywhere.  His readers include people from all walks of life including cyclists, cancer survivors, those currently fighting cancer, friends and relatives of cancer survivors as well as those who waged the battle as long as they could.

Lance Armstrong is one of the more influential followers of Elden’s blog.  As well he should be. Because as near as a few of us could surmise on a ride up the canyon this morning, Elden and Susan’s efforts have likely generated close to $1 million for Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Foundation (including a staggering $506K generated so far this year).

Hence the reason for my message to you today.

Susan passed away last night.

I didn’t really know what I could do to help until late last night, when I decided to send this message to everyone I could asking for your help to reach Elden and Susan’s goal of raising $1 million in 2009 alone.

If you are willing and able please click here to visit Elden’s LiveStrong page and donate whatever you can – $5 is a really great start.

I also encourage you to pass this post along to as many people as you can to help find a cure and to visit www.fatcyclist.com to read more about what Elden is doing.

Over the last month, Elden has changed the mantra from “Win Susan” to “Fight Like Susan”.

Susan did her part (and then some) – now it’s our turn to Fight Like Susan.

PS – Click here to donate to Elden’s LiveStrong page

WIN Susan

Written by eber

August 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

remember two things

with 26 comments

So you know how sometimes you’re doing a thing and then you do a bunch of other things after you did the first thing and then you kind of forgot that you did the first thing?

That happened to me yesterday.

I went for a really great ride up Big Cottonwood Canyon (that was the thing).

Then I met the family halfway down the canyon for pancakes and eggs around the campfire (a great family tradition I married into).  After that we went looking for fireworks and food to celebrate the nation’s birth  (those were the other things).

Upon returning home I learned two things I feel are VERY important to share with you all:

The First Thing

Always, ALWAYS remember after a bike ride (no matter how many things you’ve done in between) that you attached your bike to the roof rack BEFORE you drive into the garage.  Otherwise THIS could happen to you:

Crumpled Bike

Uh huh.

It’s like reading the end of Old Yeller all over again.

My legs went weak when I first saw the destruction.

Five minutes later I found myself sitting awkwardly on the running board of the car.  Apparently in my fragile state I opted to sit pinned between the door and the seat rather than just collapsing back into the driver’s seat.  Traumatic episodes tend to have that effect.

The Second Thing

After you futilely attempt to use your bike as a battering ram and your wife asks “what was THAT?”   I recommend you DON’T respond with:

“That was my f*cking bike.”

Especially NOT when the kids are still in the car.

Commit these two simple lessons to memory and you will find bliss.

Here endeth the lesson.

Written by eber

July 5, 2009 at 7:52 am

bcs

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A bunch of us got together yesterday to celebrate Elden’s birthday.  What better way to do that than a group ride in the Wasatch.

Here is the group at the top of the first climb:

Top of Alpine Loop

Thanks KK for the photo.  You should be collecting royalties.

What I didn’t know about this group is that not all of them planned to subject themselves to Elden’s Gauntlet of Pain.  As we rolled out only 7 of us headed down Cascade Springs for the brutal 2nd climb.  I should have seen the writing on the wall early as the group consisted of Kenny, Brad, Mark, Adam, Elden, one other guy I didn’t know (but couldn’t ever catch him to ask his name) and me.

As we started the climb back out of the bottom Mark asked if a particularly steep section of the climb was the extreme mile.

To which Elden responded “no, this is the moderate mile.”

To which Adam added “yeah, moderate like Ahmadinejad.”

Eventually we hit the “extreme mile” and Elden wasn’t kidding.  It felt like I was climbing the Widowmaker.

I had held the wheels of the group until this point in the climb, then it all fell apart.  Then it was clear one of these kids was not like the others.  I came around the next bend…and they were gone.  It was only like 2 minutes before that I was right behind them.

I realized I was in for lonely suffering.

Throughout the next mile I kept thinking “this climb is BCS.”

What’s BCS you ask?

Well, I have a friend whose mom is not really all there (if you know what I mean).  Anyhow, one day their family was on a road trip through the Arizona desert and most of the family was commenting on the beautiful scenery.   When they asked their mom what she thought she replied: “nah, that’s BCS.”

Puzzled, my friend asked:

“Umm, Mom?  What’s BCS?”

Her mom replied matter of factly “butt cheeks spread. You know…it’s ugly.”

Indeed.

I feel the same way about the climb out of Cascade Springs.

Written by eber

June 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

the mistress

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theWife has dubbed the new Draper Downhill MTB trail, “the Mistress”, because when I drive by I stare longingly up the canyon that is home to the trail.

Each time she sees the bruise on my left butt cheek (compliments of the bridge at the top and the lesson it taught me about speed and narrow passages) she calls it the “lipstick on the collar”.

I can’t stop thinking about it – I am braving the cold early tomorrow morning to make another run. Surely theWife will mention something about me clandestinely sneaking out of bed to visit “her”.

Can you hear “her” song:

Go to sleep, little baby.

Go to sleep, little baby.

Your mommas gone away and your daddy’s gonna stay

Didn’t leave nobody but the baby

I can still hear Sam holler “I seen ’em first!”

I have to go now…I am getting a little flushed writing about it.

Written by eber

June 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

Posted in biking, good ideas, s & m

100 miles of nowhere

with 13 comments

Some ideas are better than others.

Elden put out a call for entries to his 2nd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere bike race.   The name comes from last year’s inaugural “race” in Elden’s basement where he was the only entrant and rode the entire 100 miles on his stationary rollers.  That’s right…he rode his rollers for 100 miles straight.  Without moving ANYWHERE.  I think this idea fits nicely in the “others” category.

This year Elden mixed it up a bit to help raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the fight against cancer.  He opened up entry to basically the world and he also gave us all a little latitude to boot.  As long as the ride was a short circuit he would count it.  And the best part?  Each of us wins our own race…because theoretically we wouldn’t be racing against anyone else.  That’s a good idea.

Some of Elden’s readers had some pretty unique ideas:

  • One guy programmed his computerized trainer to ride downhill for the entire 100 miles.  This idea goes in the “better” category.
  • One group was able to score time on a local velodrome.  Kind of like Nascar on bikes.
  • A group in London rode 160 laps around the Inner Circle of Regents Park
  • One guy rode the ENTIRE 100 miles looping his cul-de-sac (another idea that belongs in the “others” category).

So I decided to try a route that would not only be interesting, but would also be great training for Leadville.  I opted to circle Suncrest and the Point of the Mountain 5 times.  With Suncrest perched at 6200 feet I was in for a pretty nasty day of climbing.

Race Preparation

For a one man race of this magnitude I had to take my preparation seriously.  First item on the agenda…shave the legs (to milk the aerodynamic advantage of course).

And because I dig the silky smoothness.

In lieu of shaving, this year I decided to go chemical.  A friend has been bugging me to try a fancy cream called Magic Smooth for over a year now.  theWife suggested I use her bottle of Nair before I mix it up with the big boys and Magic Smooth.

Following the instructions I “smoothed on thickly and did not rub in”.  Wait 4 minutes.  Wipe off.

Are you kidding me!  It was THAT simple?

Question for the ladies:  why would any of you EVER shave again?  Nair is a MIRACLE.

I was so effusive in my new found love of Nair that theWife said with apprehension:  “I am going to come home to a totally hairless you, aren’t I?”

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry “did something stupid” and then couldn’t stop?

I couldn’t stop either.

Nair is just SO addicting.

As a consequence I think I am sleeping on the couch for a few weeks.  At least until I no longer resemble a Canadian Hairless cat.

Race Day

So it rained pretty much the entire day and night before the race.  I feared I would be relegated to the drudgery that is riding 100 miles on the trainer in the basement.  Oh, the horror.

Instead, this is what I woke up to Monday morning:

IMG_1911

Dry roads and the sun rising.

Lap One – What an Amazing Day for a Ride

Erik R escorted me around the first lap.  Set a new PR on the downhill…60.1 MPH.  I was so shocked by the speed, I almost catastrophed into the guard rail doing the double take to recheck the speed.  That was exciting.

The conversation with Erik made the first lap pass quickly.  Thanks Erik.

Here is a shot of Erik heading down the north side of Suncrest:

IMG_1912

Check out the clouds.  Living at Suncrest is pretty much okay.

Lap 2 – Feeling Pretty Spry

After climbing south Suncrest and parting ways with Erik I turned around and headed back down the south side to make the loop around the Point for the first ascent up the dreaded north side of Suncrest.  Things were going so well I decided to take a self portrait.  Here I am rolling down the Highland Highway:

Self Portrait

 

Does that picture make my butt look big?

Lap 3 – North Suncrest Sucks…But I’m Already 40 Miles In

Really, it does suck.

Riding up an 11% grade for a prolonged amount of time has a tendency to cause great pain and deep reflection.  Now things were starting to get interesting.  The descent off the north side was great, but I started thinking I still had to climb the north and south sides of Suncrest THREE MORE TIMES.  I started to move my route into the “others” category of ideas.

At least the day was still amazing.  Here’s the view as I approached the second ascent up south Suncrest:

IMG_1915

Lap 4 – Lyrical Clarity

So something interesting happened on Lap 4.  At about mile 70 I started noticing on the iPod that some lyrics were decidedly more distinct than others:

  • “Your engine’s dead, there’s something wrong”
  • “Twice as ha-ard, as it was the first time”
  • “Nothing is real but pain now”
  • “Under pressure”
  • “Had a bad day again”
  • “Your beast of burden, my back is broad, but it’s a hurtin”
  • “House of pain”

You seeing a pattern here?   I was turning into a mental midget (or a mental little person).

[Challenge: I have a packet of cola flavored Shot Bloks for the first person to name the song and band for all the lyrics above.  Banks you are not eligible.]

As I was saying…yeah though I ride through the valley of death.

As I rounded the corner for the next climb up north Suncrest I ran into this:

Suffering

Uh huh.  I was going straight.

Lap 5 – Just…Go…On…Without…Me

The second climb up north Suncrest was quite possibly the single most painful 30 minutes of my life.  Even the descent couldn’t pump life back into my limp noodle legs.

Until I saw this on my last run across the frontage road:

Glen Beck

It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. A beacon in the storm.

No matter how terrible I was feeling at mile 90, it could be SO much worse.  For instance, I could be going to see Glenn Beck at the state capitol on May 30th.

Suddenly I felt MUCH better.

Finish

The last climb up south Suncrest was sloooooooooowww.  Pedaling squares as they say.

I finished.

Here is the evidence…proudly wearing the spoils (based on the drawing my left leg must have carried the burden of most of the climbing):

Dead Body

Recap

100 Miles

8500 Feet of Climbing

Max Speed = 60.1 MPH (descending north Suncrest)

Min Speed = 4.9 MPH (ascending north Suncrest)

Elapsed Time = 6 hours 54 minutes

Most importantly Fatty and everyone who rode their own version of 100 Miles of Nowhere raised over $20,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

That definitely does not suck.

See you next year.

P.S.  Here’s the route:

Route

 

 

 

Written by eber

May 27, 2009 at 9:31 pm

it’s not that simple

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So Elden has been posting some pretty good videos lately (this one of our near death experience suffered from technical difficulties).

As I watched one of the latest I had a troublesome flashback of my recent descent down Jacob’s on Tuesday.

In this picture you can see the plaid clad butt of a suddenly self-conscious Dug exiting screen right.

Dug ExitLooks simple enough, right?

Wrong.

Witness Exhibit A:

Jacob's Crash

The orange arrow indicates the location on the tree that I smashed my right hand, at speed.

The red arrow indicates the location on the 2nd tree where I subsequently smashed my shoulder and helmet.

The green arrow indicates my final resting place (the shrubbery is a bit matted after my passing through).

Worst of all…I tore my favorite jersey.

Written by eber

May 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Posted in biking, s & m

Tagged with , ,