Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Make my day...

I promissed to expand on the story about the walker who made my day in Phoenix last Friday.  I am at 31,000 feet somewhere over the mountains on my way to St. Louis so this is as good a time as any.

One of my roles on the 3-Day is “bad cop” to the walkers.  I have to remind them of rules and, sometimes, enforce them to weary, dedicated angels walking for a cure.  I really hate that part.  To make it more palitible, I try to come up with cute ways to say the obvious.

One of our rules is that walkers must stay on the sidewalk whenever possible.  After having told several groups to get out of the street for their own safety, I was getting frustrated. I came across a young walking group, one of whom is obviously connected to the military with his handsome, Marine Corps looks and his camoflauge sun hat. 

When I got to them on my bike, I turned and hollered, “how many times do I have to tell y'all, if I don't see a license plate stuck on your ass, I want to see you on the sidewalk!”. I smiled back at them all and gave them a “thumbs up” sign.

Four hours later, I am leaving a pit stop where there is a wide sidewalk and all walkers, now spread out from the hours of walking, are all safely on the cement.  Just as I am approching a group from behind, I see a guy jump out into the street and keep walking.  I was mad that he had done that, then pissed when I realized it was my forewarned Marine.  As I got closer, I nearly fell off my bike laughing -- he was holding a cardboard license plate that said “Cal Fed” on his is butt.  I grabbed a quick photo (to be posted when I get home next week) and went up and thanked him for making my day.  The guy not only remembered my admonition but went out of his way to find a license plate and CARRIED IT for 10 miles just waiting to hear me come up again.  I made a rule and he lived by it.  My son will tell you that that is all I ever ask of anyone.

Clean up

By the way, I am fully aware of my typos and poor grammer and hope to clean that all up this week.  Typing on a Blackberry with no spellchecker at 5am is tough, let me tell you!

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Beginning of the End

I am on the road home just east of the California border in Arizona after the last 3-Day event of the season.  Bitter sweet as I have thoroughly enjoyed myself for the past month but I am ready to get back home and into work again.

While the Phoenix event frustrated me immensely in many regards, it ended and a fantastic high note.  The low points seem to have been caused mostly by the newness of the event.  As the first Arizona event ever, most of the crew and walkers had no experienced with multi-day events like this.  As such, there was little of the cooperation and “can do” attitude that  exists in the Calofirnia events I have done.  Many crew captains were new and still learning their roles. The outcome was a bit of “we/they” as opposed to the usual “us” that a 3-Day requires.   I believe that these issues will be resolved next year and expect this to be an outstanding event.  This year, there were almost 2,000 walkers and we raised $5.4 million dollars.

The high was being invited to dinner with Bob, Barbara Jo (walker in all Avon and Komen events), David (their son who walked 4 events), Dr. Deb (walked 10 events), Tom (her fiance), Dan (Big Thunder and Cheer Station Extraordinaire) and two other couples who heavily support the cause and the walkers.  Thank you, again, Bob and Barbara Jo for your amazing hospitality.  We met at Ruth's Chris Steak House and I realized that I had not eaten there since Sally passed. You see, whenever Sally got her taste buds back between Chemo treatments, that was our first stop.  What a wonderful way to end the Breast Cancer events!

Well, back on the road now.  More comments and updates when I get my laptop back online.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Phoenix Day 2

Um, yeah. I missed Days 0 and 1. Sorry.

OK, here is the recap. Day 0 rained the whole day. Streets flooded. Saftey Video cancelled due to concerns about electocution. Overall, a miserable day. I ended up leaving my bike in the dirt parking lot of Rawhide, the event location because that was safer than riding it through the flooded streets 5 miles to the hotel.

Day 1 was clear but still wet from the previous rains. The streets had cleared however and the event went off as planned. Nearly 2000 walkers took off on their 22 mile first day. With only 3 motorcycles and 4 bicycles, it was an interesting day but we made it through successfully. When I have more time, I will tell you about the walker who made my day yesterday.

It is nearly 5am and I have already showered and started packing my tent. Breakfast next then hit the course. It was “desert” cold last night and very damp this morning so it is hard to get going. Colder here than when I woke up in the rain in San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Well that was exciting

Some fun, I tell you.  50mph shifting winds in a driving, blinding rain.  At least it was warm enough to stay rain except for that little hail storm I mentioned earlier.  I have arrived in Scottsdale soaked to the bone and with black hands (my leather gloves bled) and am heading to dinner with Bethel and the AZ Lunch Crew.

More from Day 0 tomorrow!

Oh, Hail!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Vegas, Baby!

Made it to Las Vegas today from Reno. With the storms coming off the pacific coast, I chose to ride Alt-95 down which takes me about as far east as possible before heading south. Great in theory, but the rains found me anyway. 450 miles with nearly 75% in the rain. Luckily, my rain gear works flawlessly and I arrived dry and comfortable. No one enjoys riding in the rain, but if you arrive safely and relatively warm and dry, it is not too bad.

Time to grab dinner and then hit the casino for an hour or three. Tomorrow I have some work to do first then a ride into Scottsdale to start the last of my four 3-Day events for 2004!

Monday, October 18, 2004

What the hell was I thinking?

Riding through snow covered canyons is one of the most amazing experiences you can have if you are dressed for the occasion. I wasn't. Who thought on the way to Phoenix I would be riding at 7,000' in 30 degree weather? All of you, probably. Just not me. I never thought 40 degrees would feel so good, but that is the temperature, just outside of Squaw Valley, where my hands regained some feeling. Luckily, I had my heated jacket and rain gear, so I wasn't too cold. Unluckily, I left my heated gloves and socks at home. Again, 107 degrees in Phoenix! What the hell was I thinking riding to Reno in October?

Anyway, I am here and made a little money at the poker table to boot. Now it is off to bed for a very long day riding in the rain to Las Vegas. I expect to be in rain most of the day, but, except for the times I am at elevation, the temperatures should be moderate (65 degrees or so). I will leave tomorrow morning between 9 and 10am bundled in jeans, rain pants, chaps, long sleeve shirts, leather jacket and rain jacket. A face shield, bandana and gloves will complete my ensemble and then I will take off south. I hope to reach Las Vegas in about 11 or 12 hours with a lunch break and 3 or 4 gas stops. Once I thaw out there, I will send another update.

On the road again...

Just couldn't wait to get on the road again... so I am packed, laundry done and rain gear on. Heading up to Reno tonight through the rain and possible snow. More when I get to the hotel tonight and back online.

Another Monday travel day

For the readers who also ride motorcycles, I can describe the final day of the San Francisco 3-Day event as follows: Slow riding the SF hills in the rain over wet, curved, steel trolley tracks. What a day. If you don't know what that is like, let's just say it takes an acrobat's balance, a weight lifter's strength and an alligator's eye sight. Trying to watch Sunday traffic, 1800 walkers and trains and trolleys all while slip sliding away made for a tough day. The great news is that no one got hurt and the walkers did not whine at all. It was, as always, an amazing day on the route.

We started out in light rain that came and went through the day. By the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the air was warm. The closing ceremonies started out perfectly, until Howard Sitron (or Howard Certain, as he was introduced) started to speak. As if performing a rain dance, Howard said hello to the walkers and the heavens opened. A brief but energetic rain shower drenched us all. Not a stellar ending but everyone took it in stride (pun intended).

Speaking of Mr. Sitron, the man blows a mean horn! Thank you, Howard, for joining the Groove on stage at Camp 2 to blow Funky Town and Brick House (?). You continue to amaze me!

As for our MotoCrew in SF, all I can say is it was a supreme honor. You took me, an outsider to your well established team, in as an equal and I feel honored to have worked with you all. Mama Dee, thank you for your oversight and planning. Everyone else, you are amazing. I felt very comfortable with you all and enjoyed our time together. I can't wait until next year in San Diego when all 50 MotoCrew members from SD, LA, SF and Phoenix show up wearing our bright Orange, Green or Yellow vests and proudly proclaim, "MotoCrew is in da house!". Ummmm, 3-Day Staff, are you ready for us?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Rain, Rain. Go Away

So far so good. After a seriously rocking night at Camp 2, we all hit the tents praying for a delay in the rain. The rains came over night but by early morning were gone again. Very nice to sleep in a tent in the rain and wake up to clear skies.

Spoke too soon. As I am packing my tent and getting ready to head out, I can hear the rain again. Gonna be a wet one for the walkers.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

SF Day 2

Up at 4:30am, basic gear packed by 4:40 and in a hot shower by 4:50. Breakfast until 5:30 and back to pack the rest of the gear and stow the tent. On the route before the walkers at 7am. So starts day 2 and I could not be happier.

Yesterday, Day 1, was an exceedingly easy day on us all. Most of the walk time was in parks and along the bay where we were not needed. When that happens, we get to be cheerleaders which is my favorite part. Last night in camp, we celebrated two crew members' birthdays -- Polly and Kim. Mama Dee, our captain, brought a great looking AND tasty cake to share.

Well, it is time to finish my packing and get on the route before sun up. I am just pleased that, after the wind we had this morning, my tent is almost where I left it. Everyone keep praying for no rain today and tomorrow. We need your help.

Today we head up the eastern edge of the bay thought South San Francisco and Daly City.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Monday, October 11, 2004

Spoke too soon

Guess I was premature about not getting my “special moments”. Somewhere between Salinas and San Jose, a nice fellow in a small truck decided that 8:20pm on a pitch black, mountain curve was a good time to take a nap. As I watched him move into my lane, I realized something interesting... there was nothing to the left of my lane but black space.

Oh well, as long as he got his cat nap. I just punched it and left him in the dust.

Time for bed now. 410 miles from home to my hotel and I need MY nap now. I decided to wait for the kickstand to go down first.

Tomorrow I will try to recap my wonderful experiences at the LA event.

Update from the road

On my way from the LA walk to San Francisco. Quick update: Boring. OK that was unfair. You deserve more. Damn Boring!

They say dangerous careers like Police, Fire Fighters and CPAs are based on hours and hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror. This ride is much like that, without the benefit of those special moments.

Taking the speed route up I-5 instead of the scenic route up Hwy 1. So far, I've seen no walkers nor any route marking signage. We are really slipping. Nothing to report except, perhaps, for the Pro Bowl head fake I gave the black bird intent on playing chicken with me at 80 MPH. Had I a red cape and a sword, I'd have an ear as a souvenir now. Do birds have ears? If they do, and I a sword, I'd have one.

OK on to Hwy 46 over to the 101 and into the Bay Area.

One more in the books!

It is now Monday morning and the LA 3-Day has been completed. The event went extremely smoothly and the walkers and crew were amazing. I had an absolute blast. This is my first event outside of San Diego and it was very different. The "vibe" was very different. More on that in a future post.

I am sorry to be this brief, but I just got my full 8 hours of sleep and need to pack, finish one more conference call then head to San Francisco on the bike. Will be in the hotel by 6 or 7pm tonight and will log back on then.

Thank you to all who walked and crewed in Los Angeles (and to my parents for letting me crash at their house for three night -- oh yeah, Mom, Dad... Can I crash at your house for 3 nights and rev my Harley at 4:30am every day?)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Los Angeles -- Day 1

Oh-dark-early and 500' visibility.  Much different than the start in San Diego.   The walkers are leaving from the beach on PCH near Newland and then heading inland up Brookhurst.  Hopefully it will clear up when they start and make it safer.

There are expected to be between 1200 and 1400 walkers on the route today for the first 21 miles.

We have 13 folks on the MotoCrew here so the coverage should be a little better than we were ablw to provide in SD.   The MotoCrew philosophy is a little different also (more on that later).

Last night and tonight will be freeoading nights while I sleep at my parent's house in Huntington Beach.  Saturday night is still up in the air for camping vs. house sitting.

Time to meet up with the rest of the biker bunch!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A snippet from last year...

I was just reading my emails from the 2003 San Deigo event and realized that what I put down into words last year is still appropriate this year for the 2004 events. So, apologizing to those who read this last year, here is the best way I can describe at day on the route for a MotoCrew member...

Let me describe a typical day for me on the motorcycle safety crew, or MotoCrew as we were known. It was nothing like I expected. I had an image of those motorcycling Shriners you see at all of the large parades running down the edge of the walkers to make sure no one gets in their way. Not quite what happened. My day started with a 4:30am alarm so that I could be on my bike before sunrise and make it to our morning breakfast meeting at the camp site. Our team of 10 men and women met with our captain, reviewed the route and “hot spots” for the day and then, around 6am, took off to our “spots”. A spot is a location where walkers may have a challenge crossing a street or getting to the next part of the walk. At our spot, we dismounted our bikes, and started pressing buttons, if there were any. That means that for intersections with lights we pushed the walk button then held traffic for the right turning cars to make sure the walkers made it across safely. For intersections without traffic signals, we stepped out to halt traffic and still ensure the walkers were safe. Going between spots (three or so per day, 3 hours or so at each) we rode the route, honked and cheered. Really, we were watching for walkers in trouble to make sure that whoever was having issues was attended to. Doesn’t sound like much, and it really wasn’t. I found out in the first 30 minutes, however, that that was not my real job. I was a cheerleader. I was an information booth. I was a hugger. I was an inspiration to use the words of several walkers. My job was to get them to the next spot emotionally, if not physically. So, from 6am until 6pm, I was on the course supporting walkers.

I fully expected to be a small cog in a very large wheel. There were over 450 crew members and many more volunteers out there. Why would I or the motorcrew be any different? Well, there was one big difference; most of the 450 other folks were stationary. That means that they were in a pit stop or in a camp or driving around looking for walkers who needed a ride to the end. What made us different? We were with the walkers. They would walk for a mile or more with their walking buddies or, often, alone before they saw one of us in our bright orange “Safety” T-Shirts. They had no idea how far they had gone or where the next porta-potty and food stop where. I could see them coming and the smiles would start. Through the blisters and bruised knees, they would smile. They smiled because they knew we were there to talk to them, to hug them (and there were A LOT of hugs), to cheer them on and to tell them what was next. By the end of day two, about a 1,000 walkers knew me by name. By the end of day 3 nearly all of them did.

That was my typical day. To feel what the other 2,400 people did, they got up at the same time, then packed their bag, collapsed their tents, brushed their teeth and, in the morning dew, wearing shorts and tennis shoes, they started walking. 20 miles later, after a lunch that, depending on their walking speed, came sometime between 9:00am and 11:00am, they arrived in camp to do the whole thing again. Oh, and to add insult to injury (literally), they had to set up their own tent when they got there.

The amazing thing was that, even though they were sore, they never stopped smiling. Some were singing the whole way. Others invented cheers to yell. And every time one of our motorcycles went by, we honked and they yelled! Thumbs up meant, “I am still doing great and don’t call a sweep van for me”.

On Day 0, the day before they started walking, there was a video. It was proclaimed that the motto, slogan and jingle for the 3-Day was simple, “No Whining”. I heard that from a lot of walkers. “How are you all doing?”… “Two new blisters but I am not whining! How far to the next pit stop with the medical tent?”

And, in the end, I stood on the sidewalk as they were 100 feet from the finish line. We all cried. The ones who still had a spring in their step and the ones who were limping. The ones helping someone else make the finish line and the ones being helped. Hugs, kisses, tears; all of them in the last few feet. And who was lining that walk way? Family and friends for sure but mostly walkers who had already crossed the line. They all came back to clap for their new friends and camp-mates.

This year, unlike last, I camped along with the walkers. That meant that I too had to set up my tent, grab a quick shower in the trailers and hit the sack at 9pm to prepare for the next days 4am wake up call.

Oh, and by the way, I am already signed up for 2005 (at least one event)!

Um... Sorry

I drifted off there. I had planned on updating you all the next day (when I finally woke up) but, alas, work popped up its ugly head and took over for a few days. Now, it is Wednesday morning and I am taking a break from my new gig at work (building org charts, talking to the new teams and explaining my new organization that was announced as I was watching the amazing walkers).

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah... the MotoCrew ;-)

Once again, our team leader Paul made everything as smooth as possible. As a team, we are very flexible and fluid and that was critical this year. From the get-go, we had challenges. The very first intersection on Day 1 was supposed to be covered by our Police support but no one showed. We quickly identified the problem and Paul and Jen stepped in to ensure the walkers' safety. That was the first indication that the event was going to require some serious flexibility. Luckily, we stretched each morning, then adjusted thoughout the day. In the end, all critical spots were covered, walkers were safe and no one got hurt. That is to say, no one on the event got hurt. Can't say as much for the three auto accidents we saw -- something about seeing 2500 walkers with shirts that talked about their boobs, bras on the outside and bright pink wigs makes drivers forget to watch where they are going!

As for the event, it amazingly well coordinated and executed. Everyone was in place and no details seemed to be missed. I hope my three other events are this smooth. I am confident that they will be.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

OK, I Lied...

I think I was a little idealistic when I said I would update this blog throughout the event. I could barely eat and sleep during the event, let along update my website. Instead, I will do my best to recap the last three days as it is now Sunday night at 8pm.

First, I have to start with the overall comment that this event was AWSOME! I met some of the most amazing walkers this year and, as last year, the MotoCrew was a blast to work with. Bud Light was back this year after riding across country from his home in Western Florida and we had three new members, Bob from my HOG Chapter, Scott who was a bus driver last year and Mel. These guys were all outstanding and just seemed to round out the team nicely.