Friday, August 24, 2007

From the Cleveland 3-Day Team

Invitation to the Michigan 3-Day Closing Ceremonies

We invite you to join with Michigan Breast Cancer 3-Day walkers and crew members on Sunday, Sept. 30, for the Michigan Closing Ceremonies at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. You are welcome to meet up with the Michigan 3-Day community at the Holding Area to participate in the ceremonies. If you wish to participate in the Closing Ceremonies please plan to arrive by 3:00 pm as parking is limited.

Please send us an email RSVP by Monday, September 10th, so we can plan to expect you!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pictures from Dawn Cawood

Dawn is the wife of a Dallas Route Safety Crew member and an awesome person in her own right. Here are a couple of pictures of me with her team, including her daughter, in Cleveland.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jordan Leventhal, 3-Day Guru

17_15A, originally uploaded by levenhopper.

This a Jordan's first 3-Day event but you could never tell by his enthusiasm, professionalism or qualitism of his character. The man, all 18 years and 2months of him, was the bomb! Thank you Jordan for all of your help to the crew and the walkers! Mom, you should be very, very proud of him.

2007 Cleveland Route Safety Crew

18_21A, originally uploaded by levenhopper.

Nipple Man

Originally uploaded by levenhopper

A random walker -- if you know who this person is, please post a comment and I will update the entry.

Steffanie Roulet

Thank you, Steffanie, for sending these pictures. You are awesome!

Email from Komen

Dear Walkers and Crew of the Cleveland Breast Cancer 3-Day,

We wish to express our sincerest regrets that the severe weather conditions on Sunday cut short the celebration of your accomplishments this weekend at the first Cleveland Breast Cancer 3-Day. If anyone ever earned the right to a public celebration at Closing Ceremonies, it was you. You rose before the sun. You camped in the wind, and walked in the rain. Our hats are off to you.

The Breast Cancer 3-Day has never had to cancel an Opening or Closing Ceremony before. We know you missed an important part of your experience. We know you are disappointed and we are, too. However, your safety is always our first concern and after considering the options, we made a decision that we did not wish to make. We hope you understand that we felt it was the right decision for you.

None of this diminishes the fact that you accomplished a huge feat this weekend. Congratulations! You walked 60 miles in three days – and you raised an amazing $2.8 million in the fight to end breast cancer forever.

You walked because you knew you were making a real difference in the breast cancer movement. We’re so proud of you and we thank you! Proceeds from your tireless efforts benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund for breast cancer research, education and community outreach programs. A portion of the funds will benefit the Cleveland area through the Northeast Ohio Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Though the extreme weather shortened the event, we hope your overall experience was positive. The journey you started months ago culminated with each mile you walked this weekend. We hope you celebrated every moment – from Opening Ceremonies to that final step you took when you received your victory shirt as we cheered you on. We’re grateful for such a supportive and determined group of participants. Next year, we will have an amazing Closing Ceremony just for you!

Thank you again for your efforts. Because of you we are much closer to our ultimate goal to live in a world without breast cancer!

Thank you.
Pat RenzulliVice President, Breast Cancer 3-Day

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Closing Ceremonies, Canceled

My morning wish was granted, but that apparently was all I was allowed today. I had asked that, even though it rained all night long, the rain would stop in the morning at least long enough for us to break camp and pack up. I hate packing a tent and loading a bike in the rain; nothing remains dry for long.

We woke to cloudy but quiet skies and it stayed that way through our pack-up, breakfast and even our route opening. It started raining within the first hour of the day and never stopped. The weather turned so bad that closing ceremonies were canceled. I have never seen that before. For some reason, likely cost, 3-Day does not have a relocation plan for closing ceremonies. In this case, since thunder showers with heavy lightning was predicted (but never arrived), they decided early in the day to cancel the celebration. Quick work by the 3-Day Staff and a very generous Marriott hotel a block away from the scheduled location allowed us to use a ballroom for the distribution of shirts and a gathering place out of the rain to welcome home the walkers. We made the best of it, celebrating the $2.8m raised by 1100 walkers for the first Cleveland 3-Day ever, but it still lacked the pizzazz that we all expected and wanted for the final hours of a great event.

Lest I sound like the event was less than perfect, it is important to note that, walker for walker, this is one of the best events in which I have ever been involved. The route was awesome, the camp site great and the coordination of city police and services was impeccable. Lastly, the community support was amazing for a first time event. A lot of families out providing water and snacks, banners and signs and cheering for ALL walkers, not just the first 100 or so. The fire department came out with their mascot Dalmatian (all 6 feet of him waving to walkers) and a misting fan.

Now, I am in the hotel room trying to dry everything I own. My computer still works, luckily, but my camera may not fare as well. My HD map book will be trashed after I make it home and anything that was made of paper in my bags was reduced to pulp. So, it is a night of delivery pizza, diet cokes and cloths hanging all around the room.

And I forgot to mention, the wonder extra charger cable I creatively installed in my bike’s trunk to keep my mobile phone charged broke a wire, so my phone is now dead and I have no way of charging it. I will try to rig something tomorrow so I can have a phone for emergencies, but it could be a quiet ride home.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cleveland Day 2

We had a great day today. Cool temps, shady residential streets and breezes. The walkers are great and the crew are doing an awesome job -- not just for a first time event, but for any event.

Unfortunately, they are predicting rain overnight and thunder storms tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that it blows by or, at least, waits until the evening so everyone can enjoy Cleveland's first 3-Day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 1 is in the books

Cleveland 3-Day got off to an awesome start. Good walkers, good crew and great staff. After the major heat wave that made hadline news, today was a miled, comfortable day. It is still warm in the evenings (a liitle to warm for my tastes to sleep) and very windy. The wind made interesting work of tent building. And speaking of tents, the 3-Day is finally pink! Pink trucks, pink inflateables, and pink tents.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to your regularly schedued BLOG

So I am now in Ohio and tomorrow is the start of the 3-Day event, which for crew is really a 4-Day event.

I have riddin over 2,000 miles thus far and crossed 10 states. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.

I hope to be posting entries at least every night, and perhaps a few pictures during the event.

What a day!

When I was checking into the hotel in New Orleans, I met two other road-weary riders checking in. The usual conversation started -- "where you coming from? where you heading?" Turns out these two sweaty, grimy bikers just road in from Cleveland. I told them I was heading there in a few days after riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. At that point, we pulled out the HD map and they showed me Highway 250.

The day started out heading through Staunton, a historic Virgina town full of old Colonials and wonderful parks. This is more my speed, something interesting to look at besides just trees. A few more towns like that and all of the sudden I was in twisties and climbing quickly. I was exploring George Washington National Forest, one of three national forests traversed by Highway 250.

I was breathless as I rode through that section. I was thrilled that I had enjoyed a great ride -- but it was 9:30am.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. Climbing hills with turns switching between hairpins and sweepers. Peaking and then dropping into valleys with signs warning trucks of 11% downgrades (like the DOW this week). In the valleys between the peaks, small towns like something out of the animated movie Cars.

"It rolls along past houses, farms and fields." (extra credit if you can name the song for which Steve Goodman wrote that famous lyric).

If the Blue Ridge Pkwy was created for families in cars out for a day drive, then Hwy 250 was created for overgrown boys on bikes. I rode through wooden, covered bridges and past historic and scenic train tracks. I saw ponds, lakes, rivers, rapids and cascades. I avoided five deer running across the road and three trucks who preferred my lane to theirs.

It was the 3rd best motoring day of my life. Thank you nameless bikers from Cleveland via New Orleans!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blue Ridge Parkway

Built during the 1930s as a Depression-era public works project, the 469 miles stretch from Shenandoah National Park along the Blue Ridge Mountains to the eastern rampart of the Appalachians. The parkway is interesting for biking as it has a set speed limit if 45 mph and NO STOP SIGNS. The parkway has no gas stations, no stores, nothing. Just plenty of pristine forest, some tunnels and amazing scenery.

The ride was gorgeous, but very long. I started at 6:30am and rode for the better part of 10 hours. A few stops along the way allowed me to check the visitor center maps and buy some Appalachian Bluegrass CDs.

Since the majority of the parkway is shaded by a heavy tree canopy, the day was mostly cool. I was able to keep the leather jacket on comfortably all day. What a difference.

The day started in South Carolina. I entered the Parkway in North Carolina and ended the day in Waynesboro, VA. Even thought the speed limit is set at 45 mph, or perhaps because of it, the day was one of my most tiring. Beautiful, but tiring. I am glad I did it though.

Friendliest People

Sometimes we forget that good people are everywhere. I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway today (see next post for details of the day) when I stopped in one of the picnic areas. After two days in the serious heat, I have realized that I need to stop every hour or so and drink a bottle of sports drink.

When I pulled in, I noticed an older couple sitting at a picnic table who stared me down a little as I roared in. I also observed two couples dining together with an impressive spread. It was the kind of gathering I would expect in the moutains of North Carolina on a scenic drive -- all with their bucket hats, oversized sunglasses and sandels with thier socks on.

I had already eaten lunch so I just pulled to the curb near the trash can and drank my bottle down. As I was pacing around, letting the life-sustaining nectar soak into me, I noticed one of the women at the group table waving me over. I smiled, held up my bottle and yelled, "no thank you, I just needed the drink". She yelled back, "we have too much, come on over." Big, bad biker being invited to break bread with a few senior citizens.

I mounted up and rode over to them to say that I didn't need any food, thanks. It was like being with an Italian mother. "We have salami sandwiches", "we have more than we can eat", "how about some fruit?", "a cookie?" She was a hoot. We talked about the ride, the breast cancer events, etc.

It is easy to forget that there are generally good people out there, not just at the breast cancer events.

Oh, and the other couple who stared me down on the way in. They waved and smiled as I roared back out.

Wrong Turn?

Tunneling Through the Blue Ridge Mountains

Just another gorgeous day

in the Blue Ridge Moutains

Now the fun begins

1300 miles of hot pavement for this. The big payoff.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Redneck Ride

Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. What a day.

Recapping Yesterday

Now that I am sitting down for breakfast in Mississippi, it is a good time for an update.

For all Route Safety folks, please watch your fluid intake on event. It is hot out there. Yesterday, the weather overheated both my bike (shutdown in stop and go traffic) and me (mentally shut down 30 miles outside New Orleans). The bike got a little oil, I got 32 oz of PowerAde. We both took a break.

I am truely convinced that most single bike accidents in the summer are at least partly caused by dehydration. The poor decisions we make when the organs are malnurished can be devastating. For me, I notice that I "zone out" and no longer think about where I am -- I am just following the bumper in front of me just like the walkers following the fannypacks in front of them and walking into intersections.

Getting back to the ride, it was OK... Mostly pounding pavement. The same is on tap for today to make 650+ miles. That will set me up for tomorrow's ride on the Blue Ridge Hwy, I hope.

I had never driven or ridden into LA or MS before and seeing all of the swamps, bogs, rivers, lakes and buyous was very cool (well, swampy hot, but you get my meaning).


What the hell was I thinking riding South East in August? 6am in New Orleans and it is 85 degrees, muggy and ugly. Oh well, off to somewhere near Ashville, NC and the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Orleans, LA

long day of sun and humidity, but I am here. 600 miles, 8 hours of riding and ! am no closer to Cleveland than I was when I woke up. A little like day 2 on the event where we end back where we started, but sun burned, sweaty and tired.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The 2007 Season is Here!

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned. It has been 321 days since my last entry. Basically, I missed the entire 2006 season. So, to summarize, I did four events (Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego), I had an excellent time, the walks raised a lot of money and I made new friends. There, I am done for 2006.

Now, 2007 is here!

Tomorrow I start my ride from San Antonio (home) through New Orleans (fun), up through the Smoky Mountains (beautiful) and into Cleveland for my first event of the season next weekend. I have a few friends there (Hi Jackie and Amy!) and plan to make more. I hope to be posting blog entries from my phone as I ride up, so keep you eyes peeled (Note: that is an American colloquialism and is not meant to be taken literally).