Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Million Dollar Challenge is now complete

Harder to pedal than any spin class... but far more rewarding
Day 7: Started the day with some trepidation and warnings from others. I was to ride Lance Weir's tandem handcycle for part of today's journey from Dana Point to La Jolla. I was supposed to meet him just before the entrance to Camp Pendleton and pedal as far as I could. I heard rumours of how hard it is to ride. Turns out it's far harder than I thought, but also by far the most rewarding part of my journey for the entire MDC North or South.

Getting Lance all set to go. I'm terrified at this point.

Chris Self (L) and Don English giving Lance and I a push

Hard to describe the hand cycle, much less the special rig that Lance has that allows him to hand cycle, while another person uses their legs to help propel, and steer him over very long distances. Lance has been making his way down the coast with us with a dedicated crew of guys who have many hours in this specially made tandem saddle, errr, back rest. By now, their bodies have adapted a bit to the unusual pedal style required to ride this hot rod. 

Where are the brakes? How do you steer?
I was both very excited to give it a try, and also coming in with some fear that I'd let Lance down. I've ridden a lot of miles in my legs, and while I'm in good shape for pulling my 185lb frame up the few remaining hills, it's a whole lot harder to pull Lance, Me and a 70lb, 13 foot long bike up those same hills! 

(l to r) Me, Lance, Don English and Brian Brillo
But the beauty of MDC is you realize you are not alone. Just like Lance was not alone that I was with him, there is a community of other riders who will help push the 'sled' down the road. So when the hill starts getting steep, other cyclists can lean into the specially designed handles and help propel Lance and me up the hill. 

So Lance get's strapped in. And I mean really strapped in. He's taped to special handles so his hands can connect with the hand cycle portion, and the rest of his body is strapped down. I, however, will not be so lucky. If something is to happen, clearly the rider in front (me) is the sacrificial bumper to this enterprise. Perfect! Lance then mentions that his top speed was in the 50's. as in MPH. oh boy, this is gonna be good!

Off we went. Toward San Onofre camp grounds and then onto the Camp Pendleton base. The guards at the gate were not expecting the circus to arrive, but we showed our ID's and proceeded through. 

I was counting on my riding mates to help push the sled. I mean, I'm not one to actually ask for help and will do everything I can on my own before asking, but in this case. Helping to push the sled, no matter how slight, was a huge relief... even if temporary. There in lies a huge lesson. It's because this community cares so much to come together to ride down the coast, raise $1.4M and physically help push people in need that I think it's so unique and why I support CAF. 

Mt. Camp Pendleton. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's the bump I take in my big chainring on the Wed Swami's Pendleton ride. The small knoll that might slow us down to 23mph or so before accelerating to warp speed. Today, it loomed large. As large as Mt. Ventoux or the 21 hairpins of Alpe D'Huez. I was happy with 10mph... with pushers. I can't thank Don, Jim, Brillo and Bando and Chris Self (which deserves an entire book to describe what a stud this guy is) for giving me a boost. I know there were others, but another interesting aspect of this sled design is that you can't see anything behind you. So I couldn't thank the endless pushers who helped my small part of Lance's far longer and larger journey. 

I made it about 15 miles. From the San Onofre exit on I-5 to the Oceanside harbor. Not sure exactly since I was laying on top of my Garmin (no wonder the seat was so uncomfortable). Chris Self got on Lance's wild ride next and took a long pull along the coast, and I pushed a few times as they made their way up some of the bumps along the way. 

Chris Self gets on after me... Yes, he has a prosthetic. I have nothing to complain about.
Lance will have done nearly half the MDC route this year. That's more than a 100% improvement over last year. He not only made it to the finish line to collect accolades and Oorah's  But he showed me what this event was all about. To have this happen to me after 1,200 miles and two weeks is simply priceless. I was so moved that I just sort of cruised to the finish by myself in a daze reflecting on my journey. By far this was the most emotionally cool thing that I ever experienced. Surrounded by friends that I've now ridden with for two years of training and two MDCs, but doing something completely different, yet so familiar and foreign at the same time... and DAMN hard, triggered this amazing feeling.

I was expecting to feel tired legs and body fatigue. I was expecting to want a huge meal, lots of beer, a long bath, a hot tub, and another bath but what I feel more than anything is a camaraderie and sense that my fundraising, riding and friendship stands for something good. I feel more alive and more energized than I should have any right to feel. I'm truly stoked and ready for more.

Thanks CAF for producing such a quality event. Thanks Lance for being so gracious, patient, and most importantly... Alive!  


Chris Rowan said...

Cool post Bob. Thanks for sharing!

Cass said...

You are awesome Bob!! Great recap, sniff sniff! So glad you had the ride of your life.