On A Training Ride for the American Cancer Society's 2015 Endure for the Cure

This morning, I woke to the sound of rain. It had been raining all night, but the forecast called for a mostly dry day. I remained confident that it would be.

I pulled my Giant Defy 5 out of the closet and began doing maintenance -- degrease/lube the chain, remove the rack and change out the tubes. The tubes were nearly 2 years old; It's been a while. Once I was satisfied with the work and pre-flight inspections, it was time to taker her out. Well, not yet; it was still raining.

Finally, right around 10 am, the sky cleared and the rain stopped. Wow! An accurate forecast? Cool. Time to fly...

My goal for the day was to get in at least 30 miles. It's been a while since I've done a stretch like that. Last year,
when I was trying to kill myself, I was doing 2 loops of the levee system -- one in the morning, one in the afternoon -- for a total of about 28 miles or so every day for a few weeks. Then I slowed down and spent more time enjoying the ride rather than trying to get hit by traffic. It was a nice change, but it also mean that I was riding a lot less. A couple times a week, here and there, whenever I felt like it.

Well, since getting on board to ride in the ACS Endure, I've switched from a moderate, "casual" pace, to something a bit more crazy. I'm riding to beat the devil, as they say, but I'm not racing against myself, I'm racing to get into shape for this 62 mile ride I'll be doing in August. So far? I think I got this.

I didn't bring a bottle of water, food or anything -- which was incredibly foolish, I admit. But the course I rode is pretty flat -- relatively speaking -- so it was really just up to keeping my stamina up. I needed to know how far I could go before I got into trouble. Had the estrogen changed my body chemistry so much that I couldn't ride at least 30 miles? Had the lack of testosterone sapped my strength? The answer is, "No." It clearly hasn't. I felt just as strong and able as ever.

By the time I got home, I actually considered going a little further, just to see if I could push the total even higher. But I backed out. I didn't want to exceed myself, especially since I no longer knew where my wall was. Besides, I can always save that challenge for another time, and there will absolutely be another time.

Eventually, my goal is to ride this route again but include the ride up the Coxton hill. Everyone hates Coxton. It's sick. By the time I reach the top, I want to vomit. This mass of twists and turns of almost vertical roadway is extremely well-known throughout the cycling community. It's the mountain everyone wants to be king (or queen!) of, simply because of its legendary difficulty. At some point, if I'm serious about training for this, I'm going to have to Coxton. I just don't know when. Maybe next Saturday? We'll see...

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In Memory of A Friend Who Lost Her Life to Breast Cancer

This morning, I was a little later than usual in getting started on my morning routine.
Going through personal issues, financial problems, car trouble, relationship issues... wondering what it's all about... It's just been a rough week. The most distressing thing, though, was learning of a friend's passing last night, after a long, painful battle with cancer.
What's the point of it all? Why do we even bother? We struggle so hard for so little, only to have it all taken away. Why? I don't know; I don't have the answers. So I just sat there. I've been knocked down before, but this time, I really didn't want to get back up.
And then I did.
I got up for all the reasons I've gotten up before. I got up because it's a new day, with new challenges, and another chance to continue the fight. And I guess I just enjoy the fight too much. Besides, I'm kind of a sore loser. But, really, I got up because I was inspired by another's strength to keep fighting against the odds. I was inspired by a very powerful figure in my life who's gone now.
Sherry Buller was a very good friend of my mother -- they grew up together in Swissvale, PA -- so she knew me before I was born, in a way. She was kind and sweet, and so strong. A true inspiration. The last time I saw her was in April, just about 4 weeks ago. We had a nice chat; we talked about my father's passing in March, we talked about my transition, and we talked about life. She never once judged me, and had nothing but positive things to say, but I knew she was in pain. I knew how tired she was. I'm thankful that I had one last moment to spend with her before saying goodbye and never seeing her again.
I cherish every moment that I had to spend with her and her loving husband, Paul, and their daughter, Jenny, who is a talented coder working on some amazing things in Arlington, Virginia. They are strong, independent people who never stopped loving each other. Inspiring to the end. And that's how I felt, this morning, when I picked myself up and decided to try again. I felt inspired to do something on her behalf.
Cycling has been a life-saver, for me. Sometimes, I'll be climbing a steep incline, shifted into the lowest gear and just slogging along at a grueling pace. For a moment, I entertain the idea of giving up and turning around, or getting off the bike and walking. But I don't. No matter how much my legs burn, no matter how much my body begs me to stop, I just keep going.
I know that even a snail's pace is faster than not moving at all. I know it's not about speed but about endurance. It's about knowing you can get to the top, if you just stick with it. Ease up, take your time. Have patience. But don't stop. Don't ever stop. You may feel like you'll never reach the top, but if you stop moving, you never will. Just keep pedaling; just keep pedaling.
Cycling has taught me some important lessons about life, and about how much strength I really have. That's why I'm riding the 2015 ACS Endure PA in her honor. I've chosen the 62 mile course -- a metric century, in the parlance of riders. It's a long, long distance, but I'm confident I can do it. I have plenty of inspiration to get me there, and I'll be training for it at every chance I get.
Now here's where you come in: I want to raise at least $250 in Sherry Buller's name and donate it in her place, but I need your help to get there. If you feel inspired to give, please do. Follow the link below -- any amount will help. I have just under 90 days to collect the amount I've pledged to raise. Help me keep fighting. Help me to help others keep fighting.
You may not have met Sherry, but I hope you understand how much she meant to me and my family. Cancer sucks. It kills and will likely continue to kill. It killed my grandmother 30 years ago and still ravages the lives of people around us. With the advances we've made in technology, procedures and vaccines to prevent cancer, maybe we'll actually manage to stop it... but only if we keep fighting. Advances are slow, but still so much faster than doing nothing at all. Just keep fighting; just keep fighting. We'll get to the top of this hill, yet.
In memory of Sherry Buller.
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