Pan Mass Challenge winter training blues…

Training for the Pan Mass Challenge here in Massachusetts is pretty rough. You don’t just go jump on a bike without training, ride 200 miles and expect to do it without assistance from an ambulance, that’s what makes the Pan Mass Challenge a challenge. πŸ™‚

The reason it’s tough here is that from mid December to about mid-March, the roads are in bad shape thanks to old man winter, I can handle riding in the cold, but not many riders want to do battle with snowy and icy roads. As such, my basement becomes my training ground for most of those 4 months. Riding indoors is, how can I say it, brutally, soul-crushingly, BORING – it’s awful. You can watch TV, listen to music, whatever, the only thing I think about is how long until I’m done. I even train on rollers, which are supposed to be more interesting and simulate riding on a road, I don’t think it matters much, it’s still booooooring. πŸ™‚

The good news is that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we’re at the start of March and the temperature is peeking above freezing now and then. Soon enough I’ll be able to say farewell to the rollers until next winter.

The fund raising is going really well, and that’s what keeps me going through the winter of indoor training. We’re currently at $325, about 7% of my fund raising goal of $5000, I still have a long way to go, but the ride is not until the start of August – I know I’ll be able to make it.

We recently got a Flip video recorder so now I can post videos along the way. So many people are asking about training, and what rollers are, I decided to post a quick video it’s nothing special, Steven Spielberg is safe for now…

Thanks again to everyone who has donated so far, and to everyone who has joined the Facebook group, we have over 3100 members now. I get so many messages, it’s truly sad, that almost everyone has a cancer story of some description, some are even undergoing treatment right now ( and doing an AWESOME job of it “CM” ). It amazes me that people going through so much, are still interested in helping others out.

As always, I vow to be back here posting more often, I’m a pretty miserable blogger with my monthly appearances. πŸ™‚

At the risk of sounding like a ( very ) broken record, to those who already donated, THANK YOU. To those who didn’t yet, but would like to, please click here, no donation is too small ( or too big! ), it doesn’t mind which currency you donate in, they are all very much appreciated.

The wonderful world of Facebook.

During the run up to last years Pan Mass Challenge I set up a group on Facebook that I hoped would promote what I was doing. I gathered about 170 members over a 4 month time span and raised roughly 60% of my funding. However, the group kind of fizzled out after the 2009 PMC finished. Fast forward to January 2010…

I wanted to beef up my Facebook efforts, it seemed like the perfect way to raise awareness for a cause. Enter an old school friend ( turned social media guru ) Jade Gandey who had some great suggestions about what I needed to do to get group numbers up. Thanks Jade! That was a week ago, as of now, the group is at…drum roll please…

1080 members!!! And still growing. The outpouring of support has been unreal. Thanks so much to everyone who has joined, and invited their friends to join, it has started a chain reaction that literally spread around the world. Thanks also for all the emails of support I received, I’ve tried to reply to them all, but it’s hard to keep up with. (:-) A good problem to have. The group is still growing and I have no idea when it will stop. This is a terrific way to get the word out about the PMC and what we’re doing in the fight against all forms of cancer.

My fund raising is off the ground, $135 is already in, 3% of the total I need to hit the $4200 minimum! I’m starting the fund raising much earlier this year, I left it until later last year and struggled to hit the minimum. I’m really hoping I can raise well over the minimum this year for the Jimmy Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

To those who already donated, THANK YOU. To those who didn’t yet, but would like to, please click here, no donation is too small ( or too big! ), it doesn’t mind which currency you donate in, they are all very much appreciated.

Training is off to a good start, the weather here is miserable for riding at the moment, but that’s what indoor trainers are for. I was able to get out this weekend for a ride, but apart from that it’s been indoor riding which can be very, very boring. Thankfully there’s Hulu.com to keep me entertained while I train, I recently watched a great film about marathon runners, highly recommended and makes me think cycling is easier than running. (:-)

Thanks again to all those who support me in my ( albeit very small ) part in the fight against cancer.

Here we go again! Pan Mass Challenge 2010…

( For those new to this blog check out the “What’s this blog about?” page )

Hard to believe it’s been a year since I went through the “Should I?”, “Shouldn’t I?”, of signing up for the PMC. Last year I had 2 huge obstacles, athletic ability, and the mammoth fund raising commitment. Thankfully this year I’m a little more likely to ride 200 miles without ambulance assistance, but the fund raising commitment looms again…enter my darling wife…As I wavered last year, she was the one who pushed me to ride, telling me we’d figure out the fund raising piece of the puzzle, which we did with a struggle. This year she’s there again, telling me we’ll figure it out, which we will.

Last year I raised $4,200, 100% of which went to Dana Faber Cancer Institute, I’ll need to do the same again this year and hope I can maybe beat last years amount. I was amazed to read that collectively the 2009 PMC riders raised $30,384,200!

I have an idea that this year I’ll go park myself outside Dunkin Donuts, or Starbucks, and ride my rollers ( for those who don’t know what they are, see here ) for a couple of hours on the weekend mornings. This kills 2 birds with one stone, maybe people will drop a few bucks as they go past ( I’ll put up a board about what I’m doing ), and also takes care of my training needs. Just an idea for now, but might work, I guess I need to see if those folks would allow me to setup outside – could be questionable…

I’d also like to get the Facebook group numbers up, I managed to get about 170 members last year, it would be awesome if that continued to grow, it was so good for raising cause awareness. Anyone can join here, once you’re a member please invite all your friends to join, maybe it can go viral ( in my dreams )? (:-)

So here we go again. Last year it was a nerve-wracking event, lots of hard work, and unfathomably rewarding – I expect it will be all those things again!

2009 PMC

My PMC profile page is up now! In the meantime, if anyone has any good fund raising ideas, please please let me know!

-Tim

Mission accomplished!

Well, I made it, 200 miles in 2 days, $4200 raised for Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Hard to believe it’s been 3 months and only now am I getting the time to sit down and blog about my 2009 PMC experience. In short it was awesome, nothing I write here will do justice to the event, it was challenging, but empowering – I know I can’t cure cancer, but I can help raise money to support those who can, it’s my very small contribution to something bigger than all of us. The 2009 PMC is on target to raise $30 million this year.

Try finding your bike at 4am in the dark, there were about 5000...

Try finding your bike at 4am in the dark, there were about 5000...

Ah, there it is...

Ah, there it is...

Start line...

Start line...

On the road ( me - front left - white helmet )

On the road ( me - front left - white helmet )

My home for the night on Day 1

My home for the night on Day 1 - PMC tent is the way to go.

These things are NOISY.

These things are NOISY, but I was so tired it didn't bother me a bit.

Up early on Day 2, heading out on the Bourne bridge, next stop Cape Cod.

Up early on Day 2, heading out on the Bourne bridge, next stop Cape Cod.

My lowest point of the weekend mid way on Day 2, everything hurt, a lot. (:-)

My lowest point of the weekend mid way on Day 2, everything hurt, a lot. (:-)

Finished! In more ways than one...

Finished! In more ways than one...

One thing is clear, I’m just riding the bike, that’s the easy part. The real heroes here are:

  • My sponsors. Raising $4200 is a monumental task, one that almost put me off signing up. I was amazed at peoples generosity, even in these tough economic times. People donated all kinds of amounts, small to huge, some donating multiple times to get me closer to my target, people donating that I did not even know. The outpouring of support was touching, “Thank you” doesn’t seem to cut it, but it’s all I’ve got. (:-) Thanks also go to the sponsors who got their companies to match their donations ( thanks Google!! ), it makes a huge difference! Also my nieces, nephews and little boy for their enterprising lemonade stand, they all worked so hard at serving tasty lemonade to thirsty customers on a very humid summer day – thanks guys! (:-)
  • Members of my Facebook group. Over 170 people joined the Facebook group I set up, it was invaluable in getting the word out to potential sponsors. Again, so many people joined who I didn’t know, the support was awesome.
  • Megs and Jake. They watched me vanish for hours on end as I trained to get ready for the PMC and never, ever complained. They supported me every step of the way, from pushing me through my fears of signing up, right up to willing me across the finish line, they were both always there for me. Thank you guys, love you.

As I sit here in October 2009 my thoughts turn towards the 2010 PMC, will I do it again? Out on the road it’s not uncommon to see riders who have done 5, 15, 25 PMCs. Having ridden this year I can see why, it’s infectious and gives a sense of being able to do something in the fight against cancer.

Jim and Brenda, my 2009 PMC’s for you.

I’ll end this post with a question, should I saddle up again and ride next year? I think I already know the answer…

Riding up Mt. Greylock

This Saturday morning seemed like a good time to tackle Massachusetts highest peak, Mt. Greylock. I’ve been talking about doing it for a while now, but the road has been repaved and was only recently reopened after a 2 year shutdown. After wolfing down a fruit pie ( calorific! ) and a banana I hit the road around 5:20am.

Early start...

Early start...

The nice thing about riding this early, it’s quiet, I even beat the fisherman out on Pontoosuc lake…

Pontoosuc Lake

Pontoosuc Lake

About 7 miles into the ride you turn off Rt. 7 and start heading up towards Mt. Greylock, the main gate is about 2 miles off Rt. 7.

Mt. Greylock main gate

Mt. Greylock main gate

The weather was perfect, in the low 60s with some sun, great riding weather. From the base up to the summit it’s 8 miles, not usually a big deal, but the grades start out steep, then let up a little in the middle, then get steep again about 2 miles from the summit. Needless to say, it’s pretty much all uphill, it’s a mountain after all.

Up, up, up and away - new pavement euphoria

Up, up, up and away - new pavement euphoria

About 1/2 way up there’s a nice break in the trees with a great view, at this point it was starting to get a little foggy and cooler.

My ride

My ride

The last 2 miles get pretty steep with a handful of hairpins to keep things interesting, I was lucky this morning, I only saw 1 car the whole ride up and down the mountain. I can only imagine what a zoo it could be on a busy summer afternoon, probably a pretty dangerous place to be on a bike.

Hairy hairpins...

Hairy hairpins...

About a mile from the summit I noticed the air thinning out which causes a gentle burn in your lungs, not really painful though. Much to my suprise I was barely even tired at this point, all that Pan Mass Challenge training must be paying off! It was pretty cool riding above the clouds…

Above the clouds

Above the clouds

When I made it to the summit, the whole thing was blanketed in fog, the scenic vistas I had hoped for weren’t there, but the sense of accomplishment was. πŸ™‚ I didn’t hang around too long at the top, it was eerily quiet up there ( which was nice to begin with but got “weird” the longer I stayed! ) and was pretty chilly.

A quick Mt. Greylock lesson...

A quick Mt. Greylock lesson...

Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit

Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit

Made it!

Made it!

At the summit

At the summit

It took me about 45 minutes to make the climb up the 8 mile summit road, going down took less than 20 minutes routinely hitting 40mph thanks to the lack of other cars and the brand new pavement.

I got back to the house around 8am, all in all a great way to start the day!

In other news, my Pan Mass Challenge fundraising continues to go well, I’m currently only $6 short of the 50% marker ( $2100 ), still a long way to go but anything’s possible! As always, donations are very welcome, no matter how small.

Happy riding!

More training, more fundraising…

A quick fundraising update, I’ve broken the 35% marker!!We’re currently sitting at $1,479.00 which is awesome, I’ve been amazed by peoples generosity, even in these tough economic times. With 11 weeks left until the event, I’m sure I can reach my fundraising goal.

Training is going well, I’m regularly riding 60 – 70 miles at a time at a decent pace (16.5 > 17mph), I have a big training ride coming up on 5/17, 100 miles with CRW, it will be interesting for sure. If I can do that it’ll make me feel better about my PMC readiness, I’ll just need to be able to do 100 miles for 2 consequtive days! πŸ™‚

Just a quick update for now, but will be back again in the coming days with more!

If you didn’t already donate, please do so if you can, no donation is too small ( or too big! )

PMC Fundraising, training, and more fundraising…

This time last week I decided I really needed to get going with the fundraising side of my PMC quest. I’ve been dreading the fundraising aspect far more than the 200 mile ride, asking people for money is not really my “thang”…

I started a Facebook group where friends could join to read about what I’m doing, and get updates as the big day draws closer. As of now the group has 132 members, and thanks to the generosity of our friends ( and friends of friends ) we’ve already raised…drum roll please…$500!!!!!! That’s almost 12% of the total needed!!!!!!!

With the current economic situation I was really nervous that fundraising would be a complete bust, I have $4200 to raise, if I don’t it comes out of my own pocket. πŸ™‚ So far I’ve been amazed how generous people have been, it says a lot about the cause and the people we are raising the money in the name of. To those who donated, THANK YOU! To those who didn’t but want to, you can do it by clicking right here! If you can’t make a donation, please show your support by joining the Facebook group we set up here, strength in numbers!

I’m guessing the fund raising will slow down after this initial spike so I have my thinking cap on for fund raising ideas for the coming weeks – if anyone has any ideas please let me know! πŸ™‚

The riding is coming on really well, the snow has all but melted here and spring has sprung, you can’t beat spring in New England. Winters are frigid and way too cold, Summers are steaming and way too hot, Spring and Fall tend to be just right. I’m able to get out and ride most days and usually do between 30 and 40 miles, I need to start doing longer distances but it’s hard to find the chunks of time needed to do that. To ride anything over 60 miles you need at least 3+ hours, 80 is probably close to 5. I’ll have to start getting up REALLY early now that the weather is good to try some of these longer rides.

I just passed 900 miles on the bike I bought back in my first post on this blog, won’t be long before I hit the big 1000 mile mark. Just where would that have got me if I’d ridden it all at once…

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • 1/3rd of the way across the Atlantic

For those that are interested, I’ve probably spent about 60 hours on this bike…gulp. That doesn’t count miles and hours spent on the bike on rollers…

That’s all for now, here’s hoping for more great weather, more miles, and more money raised for a great cause!

Happy ridin’ πŸ™‚

Help me meet my Pan Mass Challenge fund raising goal

-1 for Foamy Engine Brite

Soooo, turns out this stuff isn’t as great as I first thought… πŸ™‚

It has quite a few downsides, thanks to the guys at Bike Forums for pointing them out, all the details here.

I don’t have any problems to report yet, but won’t be in a hurry to bathe my bike in it again anytime soon! πŸ™‚

On another note, I’ve started a Facebook group, please join and support me on my road to the 2009 Pan Mass Challenge.

Happy riding! πŸ™‚

+1 for Foamy Engine Brite!

I’ve been blissfully ignorant to the needs of my bikes drive train since I bought the bike 6 months ago. I figured as long as I kept oiling it, all would be fine. Turns out that’s not the case, a winter of riding on wet, salty, gritty roads turned my drive train into a creaking, stiff, black messy blob. It was clear it needed something, but I wasn’t sure what, water sure as hell didn’t do any good.

Thankfully my friend Alan mentioned Foamy Engine Brite…

Foamy Engine Brite!

Foamy Engine Brite!

I am really kicking myself for not taking a pre-clean picture, trust me when I say the cassette was barely recognizable, it was a black gritty blob, the chain was no better. After a can of Foamy Engine Brite, which costs a whopping $3, the results were amazing:

All clean!

All clean!

It’s been a week since I used this stuff, and so far the bike hasn’t dissolved, the paint work is still intact, so I’m assuming there were no heinous reactions.

I would highly recommend this, the brush by the way was an old brush I had that’s for brushing grout out of tiles, it was perfect for this job.

Happy riding! (:-)

Tim vs. the bike rollers

As the weather got worse and worse here in the North East it became clear I’d have to do some type of indoor riding to keep my progress moving forward. I went back and forth about a getting a trainer, or rollers – my biggest fear was getting something I wouldn’t want to use.

You can spend a fortune on these things, so initially I started to look for them used on Craigslist, but as you can imagine, the way the weather is here people don’t look to get rid of them very often. I saw a few come up used, but quickly figured out I could get a brand new set of Nashbar reduced radius rollers for under $100 shipped to my doorstep.

I went for rollers over a trainer for the following reason:

  • I have heard trainers are mind-numbingly boring, whereas rollers are more interesting due to the challenge of staying on them – plus 1 for the rollers.
  • It’s said that rollers help you work on your form, spinning and concentration – failure to do so results in a carpet burn on your face – plus 1 for the rollers.
  • Rollers seemed to be cheaper than trainers while achieving what I was looking for – done deal.

I ordered the Nashbar reduced radius rollers and they showed up 4 days later (not bad considering I only paid for ground shipping) in a big box.

Box o' pain

Box o' pain

Setup is really simple, the only adjustment you need to make is based on the wheelbase of your bike. You basically measure the wheelbase then move the front roller to match, very easy, 2 bolts.

I was up and running within 15 minutes of taking them out of the box. I found the horror stories about riding rollers had some truth to them, no doubt about it they’re hard to stay on. The key for me was to hold on to something at the side that was at hand level until I was up to a decent cadence, then I could let go.

Rollin'

Rollin'

My quick tips:

  • Use something to grab on to at hand level, you’ll need it.
  • Don’t look down at the front wheel, next thing you know you’ll be looking at the ceiling from the floor. Pick an object 2-3 feet in front of the rollers to focus on.
  • Don’t use the brakes while using the rollers. If you do the wheel stops but the rollers don’t, end result is a nice flat spot on your tire, and a smell of burning rubber that will have your wife wondering “What’s on fire?”.
  • If you have clipless pedals, I wouldn’t clip them in to start with, and once you do just do one – worked well for me.

So far I’m loving the rollers, I have about 2 one hour sessions on them so far, I am thrilled at how quiet they are – that was a main concern. I’ve got to the point where I can watch TV on the rollers with no problem and thanks to the quietness of the rollers I only have to turn the TV up a little higher than usual. Having never ridden anywhere other than the road I’m really glad I didn’t get a trainer, on the rollers I find myself clock-watching, I can’t imagine how bored I would have been on a trainer.

The resistance takes some getting used to, it’s managed by changing gears on the bike, but doesn’t seem to vary a whole lot. It’s a different kind of riding I find, I sweat like crazy on these things, something I never do when riding on the road. I’ve also heard of people stuffing an old towel underneath the rear rollers to add resistance, not sure how true this is, sounds like a fire waiting to happen. πŸ™‚

Bottom line is, I’m really happy with these rollers, and my roller vs. trainer decision.

Happy rollin’ πŸ™‚

Help me meet my Pan Mass Challenge fund raising goal