Tag Archives: Cycling

2015 Fundraising Appeal – Obliteride

Today I’m kicking off my fundraising for Obliteride, my third annual ride to benefit Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), and my annual request to friends to help support my favorite charity.

I’ve written before about my work towards helping to repair the world – I feel an obligation to share what I can, and I hope you’ll join me. Many friends ask me to help with their fundraising; this is an invitation for us to be part of a “circle of giving.” If you’re interested, post back to let me know what you’re doing, and how I can help.

I’m particularly excited about Obliteride and Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, for the following reasons:

  • Bone marrow transplant was invented at Fred Hutch.
  • Immunotherapy and Genomics – today’s research focus at FHCRC – have a very strong potential of curing most human cancers within 10 years. These therapies involve sequencing an individual’s cancer genes, and then using that individual’s own immune system to attack and eliminate the cancer.
  • FHCRC vision to treat cancer: Blood test, small surgery, vaccine. Amazing stuff, and way better than chemo!
  • FHCRC is also one of the top researchers in the world for HIV. Their research focus is “DNA editing enzymes” which has broad potential for treating HIV and other viruses, which also frequently complicate cancer patients’ recovery.
  • Obliteride money raised last year actually helped FHCRC develop new blood-testing technology. It used to cost $500 per person to get a blood test in Africa or S. America. Now, a Fred Hutch-developed paper-based carrier can be used with a splatter of blood, and mailed to a testing center for just $0.50, dramatically reducing the cost – and increasing the reach – of blood testing.

One more reason – as if that wasn’t enough to inspire you, is a very personal one for me. It was exactly ten years ago that my good friend and mentor, Marty Levin, died from Multiple Myeloma, a deadly blood cancer. Marty enriched my life, and the lives of so many people, in so many ways, that I’ve dedicated my fundraising efforts this year to try to eradicate cancer – in his memory and gratitude for our friendship.

Obliteride is August 9th. In addition to donating $250 of my own, I’ll be riding 100 or so miles with 1000+ like-minded people, and I hope you’ll support my fundraising goal of $1500, with a small donation of your own. Here’s the link to make an online donation. Do it today and help me support Fred Hutch and remember my good friend, Marty!


Backcountry Prelude

This morning, Eli and I took our last preparatory hike before next week’s backcountry trip to the Wonderland Trail (which circumnavigates Mt. Rainier). It was fun father-son 1:1 time on a trail we’ve never explored, even though combined, we’ve visited Lake Chelan over 30 times!

We were attracted to this hike, because the guidebook promised a good challenge:

A real workout! It’s only four miles to the top of Pot Peak from Snowberry Bowl campground, but it’s steep enough to make you feel it. Take plenty of water and a hiking stick.

The drive along the south side of Lake Chelan is spectacular! A lot of people stick to the main highway and never experience this gem of a road. I’d recommend it for hikers, bikers or anyone touring the area. You’ll get great views of the lake and mountains, and if you squint, you’ll almost feel like you’re in Hawaii or Big Sur!

The Pot Peak climb – as advertised – is pretty solid. The trail is narrow – quite overgrown in sections, and almost constantly up, though never super steep. We hiked up for about 2 hours and 10 minutes, and then back to the bottom in about 2 hours. We took our time on the way down and enjoyed a peaceful – passed only two other hikers all day – and picturesque descent.


Waiting for us not 30 steps from our car, was an incredible payoff! You gotta see it to believe it:

Rushing Waters

All in all, a great morning – door to door in under 6 hours. The highlights: The views, shade (60% or more), the drive out and back, and the ice-cold foot bath at the end! The lowlights: Over-growth (should be cut) and the pitch.

One more word, I thought I would scout the trail for future mountain-bike opportunities – I got an MTB this year, and I’m loving it. This trail was way too difficult for beginners and probably intermediates. Very long, narrow, and steep, and not a lot of flow. However, there are easier rides nearby, including Devils Backbone, which is on my list for next summer.

The trailhead was easy to find, just 18 miles west of Chelan, hug the shoreline all the way. Just before the dead-end, turn left up Shady Pass Road. About 3 miles up Shady Pass, you’ll see a sign for the Pot Peak trailhead on your left. Half a mile down a gravel road and you’re there.

Josh and the tub

Newly Impassioned Soul

I heard Mumford & Sons “Roll Away Your Stone” on the iPod the other day. It was one of those gorgeous warm afternoons we’ve been savoring as part of Febru-ly in Seattle (follows June-uary, thank you to Gail, apologies to my fellow skiers and NY in-laws!)

The song brought me back to an epic ride from August 2011, that I thought I’d share with you. Conveniently, Josh and I made a video about it, which you can now watch here.

Courage Classic is a 3-day charity ride (i.e. non-competitive) that runs each August in the mountains east of Seattle. What made the ride so amazing for me was that it was the first time out for more than just a short day ride with my son, Josh, who had just turned 16. It was a father-son rite of passage, something that happens once in a lifetime — if you’re lucky.

The basic elements of the ride: Three days on the bike, two nights camping. All-you-can-eat meals and snacks catered by volunteer organizations competing for your votes of appreciation. Portable shower truck at each stop and the finish. Camping gear hauled for free by UPS. On-road support vehicles. Live music. Beer. Waterfalls. All you have to do is fundraise/donate, train for a couple of months, then climb and descend Snoqualmie Pass, Blewett Pass and Stevens Pass, a total of around 180 miles (of bliss!)

For the movie, we mixed a time-lapse sequence from Josh’s GoPro Hero HD, along with cellphone stills and an amazing hula dance (what some people will do for a free T-shirt!) Some fun facts that take you back: Josh is wearing a Windows Vista jersey; and at one point during the time-lapse, you get a quick glimpse of Jay Inslee, who was beginning his campaign for governor at the time, and riding with his son.

Since that ride, Josh has become quite an adventurous outdoorsman (check out his YouTube channel here.) The ride was a hard one for him – he was about to come down with mono, and almost bailed – but I’m so grateful to have been able to share something so special with my son.

By the way, if you think the whole thing sounds like fun, but want to try something a little less challenging, I have a tip for you. The guy who ran Courage Classic is now running Obliteride in Seattle, with rides from 25- to 180 miles, the second weekend in August. The hospitality isn’t exactly the same, but pretty darn close, and it’s a great cause! I have a team, and we start training in May.

Winter Cycling Survival Tips

People look at me funny when I tell them I’ve been bike commuting in Seattle year-round since 2008.

Their imaginary horrors include darkness, snow, ice, fog, rain, bad drivers, wind, etc., etc. I’m here to tell you, the reality is just as bad as you imagine.

To help me survive the winters (which often last well into May), I’ve devised a 5-point rating system, which I use both as a distraction while I ride (boredom is another hazard), as well as a way to quantify how much better it is than it certainly could be. A way to fool myself into believing, “I’m so lucky! I’m wet, shivering and dodging traffic, but it could be way worse than this.”

The scale is pretty simple. Score 1 point for each of the main challenges. Mine are:

  1. Darkness
  2. Fog
  3. Snow/Ice
  4. Wind
  5. Rain

You score only half a point if, for example, you have wind in your face for just half the ride. Which is usually the case, though sometimes it seems to magically shift against you halfway through. Snow and ice are combined into one category since they usually arrive together (and what the hell are you complaining about, it’s ski season!)

Rain is so prevalent, it requires a special score-keeping system. Basically, you can get a full point only if your socks are soaked inside your shoes and making that squishy sound before you hit the half-way point in your ride.

As an example, my ride on Sunday was pretty nice. 15 MPH wind in my face for about forty-five minutes, followed by a soaking downpour at mile 20 of 25. A total of one point, on a 5-point scale – a veritable walk in the park!

On the plus side, I got a nice workout, dodged (well, postponed) the breakfast dishes, and felt great for the rest of the day. (Or was it the Seahawks?!)

Why do it? Well, the endorphin high is probably the most honest answer. The joy of being outdoors. The challenge of getting through it. The feeling of accomplishment. And eating whatever the hell I please when I get home – that’s certainly an undeniable benefit!

If you’re uncertain of your motivation, read my next post for a proven strategy to help you reach your own fitness goals.

Discovering a New Sport

I went out Friday with three close friends for my second try at mountain biking (MTB). It was a humbling and joyous experience.

The humbling part is learning a new skill, with a body that is not as resilient as it was at age 20 or 30. The first time I went, I fell 4 times, but not very hard. This time I fell just once, but this was an “endo” (they have names for different falls in this sport!) going down a hill, and I landed hard on my elbow. After I got over the shock, and realized I would be mostly OK, it reminded me to be careful and pay attention – there are hazards galore in this sport.

I’ve been biking my whole life, but my primary mode has always been on pavement. On the surface, MTB and road biking look a lot alike – wheels, brakes, a skinny seat, etc. – but truly they are worlds apart. MTB has a completely different vibe.

Let me try to describe it for you. On a road bike, your goals generally revolve around getting from Point A to Point B, usually as fast as possible. The ultimate ride involves reducing friction, avoiding obstacles (& cars!) and achieving something as close to flight as possible. In fact, a lot of people describe the thrill of on-road cycling as something akin to the freedom of flying.

Now switch your mindset to mountain biking. You’re in the middle of the woods. The twisting & undulating nature of the trail, not to mention the rocks, stumps and trees, make going fast mostly impossible. Frequently, you lose traction due to the mud or a hill, the bike stops and you flop over to one side. Maintaining traction means keeping your pedals moving steadily, and keeping your wheels in contact with the earth.

On the MTB, it’s all about being in the moment, choosing a safe path, as you move gracefully along the trail. The image I got on both my rides was more about caressing the earth, vs. flying over and by.

After my confidence returned, I realized I had gained a higher level of respect for the trail and the bike. I was coming to appreciate the difficulty of this new sport, but having had a glimpse of the exhilaration and tranquility it can offer me, I knew I’d be hooked.

On the drive home, I opened the windows, turned up the radio, and basked in a perfect mix of sunshine, endorphins and old songs that somehow sounded completely new.

A Great Gift Idea for the Cyclist or Outdoorsman in your Life

What to give the guy or gal who has every gadget or gizmo? Give the gift of safety, and show them how much you care about them.

NOTE: This is not a paid endorsement. I just really like this product and want to share the idea.

Imagine this: Your friend or loved one is involved in an accident on the road or trail and isn’t carrying ID. A first-responder is called to the scene and is ready to help. How do they know if your friend has any medical conditions or allergies that would affect treatment? How will they know who to call to let them know your friend is OK or needs help?

In my family, we had a scare this year when one of our sons went off on an all-day hike and wasn’t in touch until after dark. We want the peace of mind that comes from knowing he could get rapid treatment – and we can be notified – if there’s an accident.

The product is called the ICE DOT Band, and it’s a slightly heavier version of the charity bracelets originally developed by LiveSTRONG.

It’s super simple. Each band has a unique ID that links to an online profile that you create. The profile includes who to contact in an emergency, pre-existing medical conditions, insurance info, allergies, etc. First responders can text the ID to a phone number and get back the necessary info. It’s kind of like the old “medic alert” bracelet for the digital age.

I like ICE DOT because they have a simple, easy-to-use system, and get this: It’s only $20 for the first year, $10 each year thereafter. And you can update your profile as often as you like. Additional safety/privacy feature (a hot button for me): the system also keeps a record of any phone number used to access your info.

I wear mine all the time, and now my son will, too!

Check it out at www.icedot.org.