Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's All Starting To Come Together....

Which, of course is much better than it all coming apart...

Back in 2010, I and a group of my friends got involved with the non-profit group TurningWheels for Kids. Our involvement was that on a Saturday, at the beginning of December, we put together a team, head down to San Jose and helped them assemble bikes which they in turn gave to charities for kids at Christmas.  It's their Annual Big Bike Build....and it's an awesome event where over 900 volunteers got together for a day to assemble over 2000 bikes!

It was a really rewarding and an incredible experience combining my passion for bikes and my desire to give something back. I'm a firm believer in the bible verse that states, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded". And, while I know that times are tough and we're all working harder and harder to make ends meet, I still hold to the fact that I live in the greatest nation in the world, have been blessed abundantly and am far better off than many in my community and am richer than most of the world's population.

With this in mind, I began a dialogue with Sue, the founder of TurningWheels for Kids about how to expand upon their one day Bike Build and what I could do to get involved a little deeper.  But, as is usually the case, life got busy, the holiday's passed by and the conversation died. Then, after the 2011 Bike Build, and additional conversations with Sue, she sent me an email in January telling me there were others in my area that wanted to go deeper....and would we like to get together to meet.

And so it began....We launched the TurningWheels for Kids Tri-Valley Chapter at the end of January and here we are, 11 months and many hours later getting ready to host the First Annual TurningWheels for Kids Tri-Valley Bike Build.  Over the past months we've put together an amazing group of volunteers who, in turn have; raised almost $40,000.00, purchased 493 bicycles, helmets and locks, found a build location, arranged raffle prizes, set up breakfast and lunch, arranged for pickup and delivery of all 493 bikes, sought out, vetted and established relationships with 9 different charities, and found and organized almost 150 volunteers to help pull it all together. (pretty sure there are at least a thousand other tasks I've forgotten)

The really amazing thing, is that they've done all this with a smile on their face and I have to admit, it's really been a joy. Sure it's stressful at times and I do wake up in the middle of the night thinking of things that need to be done, but for the most part, this has been one of the most fulfilling projects I've ever been involved in.

So, for the next few days I'll continue to stress and worry about a bazillion little details, because that's just what I do, but come Saturday I'm sure everything will work out just fine and I along with 150 of my new friends will assmble and donate 493 bicycles to be given to kids at Christmas.....and we all know, there's pretty much nothing better than a new bike at Christmas. (too bad my wife doesn't read my blog)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Ability to Suffer....

Last night was the last Thursday ride for the season that will start in the daylight.  This weekend will be the end of daylight savings time (or is it the beginning? I can never remember) so starting next Thursday, we'll need lights from the very start of the ride.
(yes - I know I haven't yet posted Day 2 of the Tahoe trip, but I'm still trying to get pictures and video edited)

We had a little bit of rain on Wednesday night/Thursday morning so the trails at Lake Chabot were perfect. Hero-Dirt as I believe it's referred, for the traction it provides and last night was no exception. After a summer of dry, powdered sugar over hardpack conditions, where we ended every ride looking like pig-pen, last night was a treat.

The trails were damp and tacky, but not muddy. Traction was incredible and the weather was cool, but not cold....a perfect evening for a ride. I, having had kind of a crazy week, decided I needed to work through some issues and brought the single speed. The single speed forces me to give 100% of my concentration thereby preventing me from thinking of work, or life or all of the myriad of projects I still need to finish.

As I'm sure I've mentioned in other posts, this has not been a great year for me fitness-wise. I've ridden just enough to maintain a base level of fitness but am way off my normal mileage for the end of the season. As a result, bringing the single speed out tonight meant that Brandon, the first long climb of tonight's ride, was going to hurt.....and it did...

One thing though that I think is common, no actually make that required, among cyclists is the ability and the willingness to suffer. People ask me when I mention a nice long ride, but don't your legs hurt, or your butt? Or why I ride a single speed or why I prefer rides with lots of climbing, but doesn't that just make it harder?  Why yes, yes it does.

I've found among most of my riding friends that the same mentality exists. The desire to go just a little further. The willingness to push the limits of what their bodies are used to. I mean sure, I have friends that prefer nice social rides to the coffee shop and there's definitely a place for that.....but most of the serious cyclists I know actually prefer pushing their boundaries a bit just to see if they can.

It strikes me as I type this that cycling is actually like a lot of things in life.  The ability to continue to move forward when things get tough is a characteristic that can be found in marriage, in our jobs, in our friendships, pretty much in everything we do. 

These thoughts were bouncing around in my head as I continued to stand and make circles with the pedals, willing my heart rate to mellow and trying my hardest not to have my lungs explode out of my chest. Then, another thought dawned on me....one which I shared with Jack as we finally got to the top of the climb.....it's  the end of the season....we're supposed to actually be in shape by now....

From here, we could have done the regular loop, but in a desire to suffer just a bit more, we decided to add in Redtail and Soaring Hawk. The suffering continues....things actually went ok. As long as I kept my pace mellow, my heartrate stayed under control. My legs though, were a different story. By the time we got to the Soaring Hawk, Cottontail intersection, both Jack and I agreed we had had enough....we dropped down Cottontail to the regular loop and finished the ride on that route.

Still, the last climb up to the parking lot on the road had my legs asking for a break and when we finally got to the truck after just under 2 hours, I was ready for a beer and a rest.

The weather ended up being perfect, the trail conditions were ideal, the bike performed flawlessly....now if I could just get the motor tuned up and running better, I'd be all set.