Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff


No PMC For Me This Year

PMC-Logo-2011-180x157After seven years of riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a 2-day charity bike ride across Massachusetts, I’m going to have to bail out of this year’s event. The ride is a big deal for me each year because it supports a truly meaningful cause – cancer research – and the supporters of it, most of whom have been touched by cancer, really work to make it a rewarding experience. It’s a tough ride, but a total blast. I’m skipping this year because my knee, which I had surgery on in March, has not healed LIKE I WAS PROMISED! The surgeon said I’d be back in four months and now is saying it’ll be at least six. The physical therapist isn’t even that optimistic. As it turns out, the fine print in the surgery contract doesn’t say anything about commitments by a medical professional being legally binding (yes, I’m kidding).

While I’m not going to be able to do any actually pedaling in the event, I can still do some peddling (get it? pedaling vs. peddling? funny, right?). I’m still going to try and raise some money for The Jimmy Fund. To do that, I’m going to be a “virtual rider” for the PMC. It’s just what it sounds like, I’m afraid. I pretend to ride so that I can pimp the cause.

If you have the desire and ability to donate, I’d appreciate your support of the efforts at Dana Farber. I have raised $35,920 over the last 7 years and already have $4,840 committed for this year. I suppose it’s a bit lame to be seeking donations when I’ll be sitting on my butt during the 2-day ride, but if by making it a bit easier to donate I can convince a few more people to throw in with the cause, it’s worth it.

Thanks in advance!

 June 28th, 2011  
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Knee Surgery . . . Finally

dislocated-patellaAfter whining about a deteriorating knee that has slowly eroded my capability to ride my bike over the last few years, I finally found a sports medicine physician who diagnosed my problem and performed surgery to fix it. I had the surgery yesterday and start my too long recovery period today. Officially, the diagnoses was Chondromaliacia Patellae caused by Patellar Tilt (see diagram at right).

It turns out that amount of cycling I was doing caused the patella (kneecap) to be pulled laterally towards the outside of the knee. Basically, my lone focus on cycling caused certain muscles to develop while others remained weak, pulling things in one direction only. Since the patella was pulled outside the groove it normally sits in, it rubbed the cartilage between the kneecap and femur where it’s not designed to – over the sharper part of the femur. After about 10 million cycles, it rubbed right through so that there is no longer any cushion between the kneecap and femur. Bone rubs on bone. Ouch.

Funny, though, I had no trouble walking. The hole was low on the knee so it only affected me when I bent it by over about 30 degrees. Stairs were hard, ladders were almost impossible and cycling . . . well I had to stop riding last August.

The surgery is arthroscopic and isn’t major, relatively speaking. The surgeon cleans up the crappy hole in the cartilage and does a lateral release – cutting part of the connective tissue that holds the kneecap in place (the lateral retinaculum) allowing it to slide into its normal resting place. Finally, and this is the gross part, the surgeon drills or digs a small hole in the femur (a process called microfracturing) to release cells that help the cartilage heal more completely.

About four weeks after surgery, I’ll be getting four weekly injections of Orthovisc, which is made from naturally occurring lubricants found in joints. Apparently, this is injected with a needle the size of an oil well drill bit, but it’s worth manning up because it helps the cartilage heal, adds some lubrication to the beaten up joint and speeds up all-around recovery a good deal.

The prognosis is that it will take me about 4 months to recover enough to get back on my bike for any serious riding – why didn’t I do this in September? One of the advantages in working with a sports medicine specialist is that they are very sensitive to their patient’s addiction to their activities and work to get them back in action faster. Given that, I’m hoping my doc works with me to cut some time off the textbook recovery period.

Update(s): when I searched the web for information about this surgery and, more importantly, the recovery from it, there was very little to be found. So, for those of you have stumbled across this as a result of a search for information, I’m going to keep a brief digest of what my recovery was like. As usual, your mileage may vary.

  • One day after surgery – Ouch! Anesthesia and anesthetic are all gone and being very much missed. Like an idiot, I didn’t take the pain medicine (percocet, in my case) soon enough or frequently enough. This is the only day I had to take any though. 24 hours after surgery, the pain was manageable. I’m a wimp, too.
  • Two days after surgery – Still a lot of swelling and very stiff. Moving around on crutches a bit. Started using a CPM machine to exercise the knee. Doesn’t seem like it would help, but it does. Start doing basic exercises with short range of motion. Painful.
  • One week after surgery – I still can’t bend my leg much. After using crutches for about 4 days, I moved onto a cane. Doctor says I don’t need it, nurse and physical therapist insist I do. So, I compromise. I overuse it and the knee remains really swollen. Sleeping is hard, every move causes me to wake up.
  • Ten days after surgery – See the surgeon. Have the stitches removed (no bleeding at any time – the holes are very small). He says my knee is abnormally swollen. I probably used it too much. Gave me a few more exercises and tells me that I can do the PT work myself if I like, which I do. He tells me “full” recovery will take 4-6 months. Longer than his original estimate. I start walking without any support (cane/crutches) all the time. I crank the CPM machine to 80-degrees of motion.
  • Two weeks after surgery – Still discouragingly stiff and swollen. Doing loads of basic leg lifts and such and spending >2hrs/day in the CPM machine.  I’m getting around better and can even climb (not descend) stairs a little. Interesting how the basic act of releasing my leg in the backswing of a stride is stiff and painful. I can walk, but with a stiff leg. Sleeping remains difficult since I toss and turn, waking up each time.
  • Three weeks after surgery – Remains stiff and swollen. The swelling is certainly less severe than right after surgery, although it’s hard to tell if it’s better than a week ago. Spending >2hrs/day in the CPM machine and another hour/day “exercising” and icing. Also, added a 20 minute session/day on the elliptical – almost no resistance. Like last week, releasing my leg on the backswing of my stride is stiff and painful. Getting little sleep because every toss and turn wakes me up with some pain.
  • Four weeks after surgery – I could feel enough improvement that I abused it. I ended up standing and walking a lot this week. At times, I could walk with almost no limp, but ended up paying for that in the last couple of days. No real pain, just a bit stiff on the backswing of the leg, I can go up small flights of stairs with almost no pain, but can only go down stairs one at a time – always leading with my bad leg. Still using the CPM machine, now at 100-degrees and I’ve turned up the resistance on the elliptical, although not the time. Sleeping is no longer a huge problem, although I still end up waking up because I bump or twist something during the night.
  • Five weeks after surgery – I still have a lump on the outside of my knee that is completely numb to the touch, but doesn’t disturb me otherwise. I think this is swelling around where the muscle holding the patella was cut. That’s also where I feel the tightness in the backswing of my leg, which continues. Once I get loose, I can walk without much of a limp. Climbing stairs has gotten a bot easier and I can even gingerly descend stairs with both legs. I’ve increased both my time and resistance on the elliptical and have even gone for a couple of mile walk. The knee makes a lot of crunchy noises, though, which is freaking me out a bit.
  • Nine weeks after surgery – Fast forward . . . another appointment with the surgeon, only my second one since the surgery. He’s pretty casual. I called a couple of weeks ago because of the crunching sounds coming from my knee when I bent it. He said, “nothing to worry about.” That didn’t help. They did, however, mostly go away over the following weeks. I still have the tightness where the band was cut, although it’s not as bad. I stopped using the CPM machine at the 6-week mark, per doctor’s orders. I don’t think it was doing too much for me anyway. Going up many stairs brings about a little pain. If I hadn’t had surgery, it might not even register too much. Going downstairs is quite a bit different, although I can do it much better and with less pain than just a couple of weeks ago. At this visit to the doctor, he told me to start physical therapy, which I will this week. He told me it will be another four weeks until I should even sit on a bike. I’ve upped both time and resistance on the elliptical and am on it five times per week. I’ve also restarted weight training – upper body only, of course. Things are getting better, although much more slowly than forecasted by me or the surgeon. My biggest concern is that there is no indication yet that the surgery actually fixed the original problem. There are other pains and stiffness that mask the pain from the injury.
  • Sixteen weeks after surgery – well, I’ve officially blown off the cycling season, there’s no way I can ride a bike . . . at all. Things are better, I guess, but they’re not very good. Stairs remain a problem, especially down. I’ve been doing physical therapy now for almost 6 full weeks. I’m stronger, for sure, but not in much less pain. The pain is different most of the time and I still feel a lot of numbness on the outside of my knee – the other side from the injury. I have to think it’s surgically related. Probably from the band that was cut holding down the patella. Stretching like a maniac helps, but disappointingly little. I can’t squat down and if I do work my way to the floor, I can’t get up. While supporting my weight, even half of it, I can’t bend my knee more than about 50-degrees. Without weight, I can bend it all the way. Very discouraging.
 March 5th, 2011  
 Cycling, Health and Fitness  

PMC 2010 Wrap-Up

It’s hard to explain why the people who participate in the Pan-Mass Challenge as riders and volunteers make such a big deal of it. For my part, I make it the center of my summer activities and the almost singular goal of my cycling training efforts for the seven months before the event. Like the others involved, I talk about it frequently and nag my friends about donating to the cause – fighting cancer. I think about it a lot.

The focus may all seem nutty if you don’t see it for yourself. The thousands of people riding (5,200) and the thousands more (3,000) supporting the ride; the people cheering on the sides of the road through every small town the riders travel; riders with the names and pictures of their family members killed by cancer on their backs and bikes; tractor trailers worth of food and goods donated by stores to support everyone involved; the woman on the side of the road holding a sign that says, “I’m a cancer survivor because of you.” It’s so impactful and meaningful that being part of it becomes a drug. Maybe even a way of life.

I guess that’s why I’m crushed that because of my previous knee injury, I couldn’t do day two of the ride (Bourne, MA to Provincetown, MA). A combination of obligation, guilt, desire and a deep down need for the endorphin rush I get from the athletic accomplishment all combine to make me miserable about not finishing what I started.

Fortunately, my knee held out for most of the first day, which I finished stronger than I expected to, although way off my personal best for the ride. The last 20 miles got tough. My right knee gave out and I had to pedal almost exclusively with my left leg which, like most of the left side of my body, has been ignored for most of its life – I’m very right-sided. This is hardly heroic. There are a few PMC riders who don’t even have two legs. I saw one rider with a prosthetic leg (from close to the hip) and another riding with one leg without a prosthesis.  Those guys are heroic . . and insanely strong.

The other heroes are those that donate to the cause. For my part, that’s those of you who donated to and supported me on my ride. This year, my supporters donated $8,950 (so far) to the fight, the most I’ve raised in any of the seven years I’ve ridden. To all of you, my apologies for not holding up my end. My heart was in it, but my body couldn’t back it up. I let you all down, though, and I feel terrible about that.

My family stepped up to fill in some of the hole I left by not riding on day 2, each of them volunteering for the event. My wife has volunteered for years, but this year even my kids got out of bed at 5:00am to participate. It was a real family effort.

For the first five years I rode in the PMC, my life was hardly touched by cancer. Since then, we’ve lost my mom (a multi-occurrence cancer survivor), my aunt Gerry (lung cancer) and my wife’s aunt, Bev (stomach cancer). Additionally, a very close friend who I have known most of my life was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, almost being caught too late. Scary, scary stuff.

Thanks you so much for your donation and support. As soon as I get my Steve Austin bionic knee replacement, I’ll be back in the saddle and prepping for next year’s PMC.

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 August 9th, 2010  

Big Trouble in PMC Training City

Because of a nasty knee problem, I haven’t cycled much this year. Even so, I committed to ride in this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge, the largest charitable sporting event in the world and the primary fundraising activity for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. For the last month, my training has been slow, but steady. Lots of stretching, ice, slow speeds and low mileage. My knee has hung in there with only relatively minor pain. That was, until a couple of days ago.

About five miles into a 30 mile training ride, my right knee gave way. It felt like someone hammered a large nail into the side of my knee. At first it just hurt on the downstroke, but as I struggled to get home, it hurt at all points of the pedal rotation. Eventually, I had to unclip my right shoe and just pedal with my left to get home (it’s not that weird, many cyclists practice pedaling with a single leg to perfect their form – I do it from time to time).

I’ve stayed off the bike for the last couple of days and probably won’t even test the knee again for a couple of more. I’m ignorantly confident that I can manage the situation. I’m going to try to get in to see a doctor before the PMC as well to see what can be done. If I’m going to have surgery on the knee, might as well inject it full of crap that relieves the pain beforehand, right?

On a more positive note, fundraising for the PMC this year has been terrific. Actually, it’s been the donors that have been terrific. Thanks so much to everyone who has expressed support for me and, more importantly, the cause. So far, I have $8,000 committed to support the Jimmy Fund, Dana Farber’s fundraising arm. If you haven’t had the chance to donate, and cancer research is a cause you desire and can afford to get behind, there’s still time (go here).

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 July 15th, 2010  

The 2010 Pan-Mass Challenge

Pan-Mass Challenge The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (Pan-Mass Challenge or just PMC) is a charitable, 180 mile, 2-day bike ride across the state of Massachusetts that raises money for cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund.  The ride was the first fundraising bike-a-thon in the country, starting in 1980.  Since then, over 55,000 riders and 33,000 support volunteers have made it one of the largest and most successful athletic charitable events in the world, raising $270M for cancer research.  Last year, 100% of the $30M raised was given to the charity (making up 50% of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue) made up of donations from over 200,000 individual contributions.  This year’s ride will take place on August 7th and 8th with over 5,000 riders and almost 3,000 support volunteers (yeah, it’s big) along its several routes.  This year represents my seventh time participating in this great event.

Last year I rode on a special route, 342 miles across Italy. This year I’m being a bit less ambitious and am doing one of the standard PMC routes without leaving the country or even the state. Unlike previous years, where I’d have about 1,500 miles of training under my belt by mid-June, a knee problem has kept me off the bike almost entirely for the last nine months. I’ve only ridden about 100 miles at this point. That’s gonna make the PMC a bit of a challenge this year and it might mean a lot of time in the saddle during the ride. I feel some bond with the effort, though, and want to make the best of it.

Last year, my aunt died of cancer and my mother, a cancer survivor several times over passed away. Earlier this year, my wife’s aunt died of cancer as well. Sadly, my story is not all that different from many others’ – most of us have been touched by the horrible disease.

While I think of myself as a generous donor to many causes, sometimes I need a kick in the pants to remind myself to write a check.  If you’re like me, please feel free to treat this as your gentle nudge.  While I’d appreciate your support and donation for my ride this year, supporting me isn’t what’s important.  If you’re financially able, supporting a worthy cause like cancer care and research and a great organization like the Jimmy Fund is.  So, sponsorship of my ride is less important than sponsorship of these organizations and efforts – financially or otherwise.

If you’re interested in donating to Dana Farber and this seems like a reasonable way of doing it, you can do it online at this web page or click on the PMC logo to the left.  My PMC Gift ID is: wh0028 if you access the PMC web site another way. Of course, you can make the donation directly to Dana Farber or to the PMC.

No obligation and donations can be made anonymously, if you prefer.  Thanks for even reading this far and if you choose to donate, thanks in advance for your support.

 June 15th, 2010  

Sucking Wind

Today I did my first ride since last October when my knee went out on me. I’ve seen three doctors about my knee problem and all three say “surgery,” although none can tell me exactly what’s wrong with it. So, eschewing Western medicine, I sought out Eastern help through acupuncture, tensiology and whatever other voodoo I could find someone to throw at me (I know, bad attitudes don’t help, but some of this stuff really requires a huge leap faith – bigger than I can make sometimes . . . ). Nothing. Nada. I still can’t descend a set of stairs without pain. Totally sucks.

Having sat on my ass for seven long months, I thought I’d give the knee a try. Thankfully, I’m not compelled to take a hacksaw to my lower thigh at this point. There was some pain, but it is manageable with ice and a few dozen Advil. The three margaritas before and during dinner are helping a lot as well.

While focusing on my knee, I completely forgot how my body would deal with my prolonged absence from the saddle. It wasn’t pretty. I huffed and puffed up hills and my speed . . . well let’s just say I was able to move fast enough to avoid falling over. Thank God the ride was flat.


I was giving it everything I had to average 16.2 mph for the measly 12 mile ride today. Usually by this time of year, I would have 1,000 miles or so under my belt and my average ride would be about 35 miles. This year it’s now 12.2. The ride I look forward to the most all year, the Pan-Mass Challenge, is in eight short weeks. If my knee holds out, I might be able to get enough training in to do reasonably well. We’ll see. In the mean time, I’m gonna keep trying until I can’t ride any more. That may be tomorrow, but I hope not.

 May 31st, 2010  

122nd Place And Proud Of It

Univest Cyclosportif 100k - 2009 Yesterday, I raced in the Univest Cyclosportif 100K in Souderton, PA.  While I ride in many events each year, most of them with some competitive component, this is the first true timed, competitive event that I’ve participated in.  It rained – no, actually poured, during the entire race.  Additionally, there had been a storm the night before and the course was littered with tree braches, pine cones and wet leaves.  While many better riders were able to deal with the slick roads and assorted obstacles, I was cautious and liberally applied my brakes on much of the course.

The results?  I came in 122nd out of the 219 riders who did the 100K (there was also a 60K ride that had about the same number of riders).  I finished in 3:23.  Slower than I think I can do the course, but faster than I expected I would.  I’m pretty pleased with my performance.

I was really worried about the rain before the race and it certainly affected the way I rode.  The thought that there are only two little one-inch square contact patches keeping your body from skidding across the surface of the earth in a corner never really fades too far from one’s thoughts.  I also saw three major crashes during the ride and twice passed ambulances going in the opposite direction – ouch.  All that said, the weather stopped really bothering me after about five miles.  Once you’re soaked, you just can’t get much wetter.

A Cyclosportive is sort of the cycling equivalent of a marathon – a timed event that is very competitive for the top participants and is a race against the clock for most of the others.  In cycling, it is sometimes linked with a professional race on the same course, as this one is.  The pro event – the Univest Grand Prix – starts three hours after the amateurs start, making sure even the slowest of the non-professionals are off the course before the real racers come through.  Watching the pros finish after having raced the course puts ones effort into perspective.  Man they’re fast.

It was a great event.  I’m really glad I did it and I’m happy how well it turned out for me.  Special thanks to my support team – my wonderful wife – for making the long trek to Souderton with me and for helping me navigate the ins-and-outs of a big event and the incredibly bad weather.

Update (9/22/2009): Not that I’m counting or anything, but it turns out that there were 229 riders.

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 September 13th, 2009  
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Using RunKeeper for Cycling

Early this summer, I promised Jason Jacobs, the founder of FitnessKeeper (the creators of RunKeeper), that I would try RunKeeper for cycling.  Well, it’s been a crazy summer and I just got around to it (sorry, Jason).  When we spoke, Jason told me that the company’s focus today is on running, although they plan to add more cycling features in the future.  For now, you can setup RunKeeper for cycling, but it lacks several features available in other cycling computers, namely, cadence, heart rate and power (the first two are widely available, power is more rare).  The lack of these features make RunKeeper less than ideal for cycling right now.

RunKeeper and Garmin 705 That said, the display is big and clear with useful speed, timing and map information.  I rode with my iPhone mounted next to my Garmin Edge 705, which I’ve tested against other cycle-computers and have found it to be very accurate.  The speeds shown by RunKeeper were generally close to the Garmin, but were sometimes a bit higher and sometimes a bit lower.  I would assume that’s an iPhone 3G issue.  The average speed for my 30mi ride was slightly below the Garmin’s reported speed, but pretty close.  Total distances were virtually identical.

I liked how RunKeeper presented the data.  Very easy to read in sunlight.  In fact, I found I was looking at the RunKeeper display more often than the Garmin’s display.  That might have something to do with the screen’s size, but it seems like the gang at FitnessKeeper has put a lot of thought into how one reads data quickly while exercising.  There was no comparison when it came to reading a map.  RunKeeper was waaaay better.  Of course, RunKeeper is online and uses Google  maps, the Garmin is not connected and has all its map info on board.  The Garmin map data is also displayed on a much smaller screen.

Even better than the application itself, the RunKeeper website (which gets its data via automatic upload from the phone – cool) is really nice.  Much nicer than Garmin Connect, Garmin’s attempt at cataloguing similar data.


Mounting an expensive phone on the handlebars of a bike that vibrates on crappy roads scares people, including me.  I used the RAM Mounts RAP-274-1-AP6U to hold the phone.  The mount is very stable, holds the iPhone like superglue and is cheap (I think I paid about $15 on eBay).  On the downside, it comes with no instructions and it’s pretty bulky.  See pictures.  It wasn’t exactly rocket science to install.

RAM iPhone Mount  RAM IPhone Mount

I know that runners have been downloading the app like hotcakes.  It really is very nicely done.  For cycling, it still needs some work and some help from extra hardware for cadence, heart rate and even power data inclusion.  I don’t know if Apple has opened up the phone enough for this type of hardware to be added (a little ANT+ Sport dongle anyone?).  I’m looking forward to a real cycling version.  It sure would be nice to have ride data, phone and music all in one device.

 August 24th, 2009  
 Cycling, Gadgets  

Riding Across Italy to Cure Cancer

PMC RAI - Click to Enlarge On Sunday, I completed a 342 mile, 7-day bike ride across Italy.  I had two simple goals: to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund and to survive.  Thanks to the help of many caring donors, I raised $6,400 for cancer research and care this year (so far).  Since you’re reading this, I obviously achieved my second goal as well.  The ride is an official route of the Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual ride across Massachusetts (yeah, sort of a PIC – Pan Italian Challenge – instead of PMC) established 30 years ago to raise money for Dana Farber.

The ride was orchestrated by the terrific Ciclismo Classico that put together a special PMC version of their their standard ride across Italy tour – combining their final four days into just two.  We started our journey in Fano, on the Adriatic and ended near Monte Argentario on the Mediterranean.  We had two incredible guides (Massimo and Marcello – how perfect is that?) who kept our minds off the gallons of lactic acid flooding our legs, climbing loads of steep grades in 100 degree heat while crossing the country.

The first day of the ride was really just a warm up to test out bike fit – a short loop around Fano.  The four subsequent days were made up of what would seem to be reasonable rides – 40 to 50 miles.  The last two days were setup to mimic the PMC.  Long rides both days, about 80 miles each.  All doable distances of course, aside from the fact that there were loads of really steep hills including the Apennine mountain range that added to the challenge.  We climbed roughly 25,000 feet over the 6 days of regular riding (not including the short loop on the first day).  According to my bike computer, I burned something like 22,000 calories during the week.  The food was so good though, I think I consumed about 35,000 calories (OK, I admit that more than a few of those calories came in liquid form).

In retrospect, while there were a lot of hills, some of them pretty steep, they weren’t the biggest part of the challenge.  The heat was.  Man, was it hot – che caldo!  Italian roads seem to be missing any shady spots, too.  So almost all of the climbing was done in direct sun and a lot of it in the middle of the day. 

We stopped in terrific cities and towns and generally had a chance to spend an hour or two when our legs permitted to check out where the day’s ride ended.  Gubbio, Spello, Assisi, Urbino, Orvieto and loads of small towns in between.  Simply gorgeous places.  Man, the Romans built a lot of stuff.

Anytime one is thinking about crossing Italy, one has to consider the Apennines, the spinal column of the country.  It’s a mountain range that runs north to south and is sorta in the way if you’re looking for an easy way across.  I think our route was along about the lowest altitude path available.  Not quite as flat as a billiard table, but no shear, vertical mountain faces or anything like that.

This was my sixth PMC.  Those of you who know me, know that I’m a data junkie and collect as much data about my rides as possible.  Here’s this year’s data, a lot different from my previous Massachusetts-based PMC rides:

Money Raised $6,400 (so far)
Miles 342
Hours 25
Altitude Gained 25,000 ft
Average Speed 13.9 mph
Calories 22,000

Cancer has had a bigger impact on me this year than it has at any time in my life.  My Aunt died of lung cancer earlier in the year and my mother, who is a cancer survivor, is very ill right now.  All this made it even more appropriate, in a strange way, for me to have to work my ass off in this charity event.  In a funny way, this ride was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Thanks so much to all my sponsors and supporters and to everyone on Twitter and Facebook who checked in with encouraging messages.

Oh yeah, pictures.  I almost forgot.  Most of them can be found here.  More coming later.

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 August 4th, 2009  

Apparently, You’re Not Responsible for Driving Responsibly

Last week, my daughter’s 31 year old high school math teacher, Carolyn Girod, was struck and killed by a car while cycling in Washington.  At the time, Girod was riding with her boyfriend on what is reported to be a fairly rural and straight stretch of road.  According to the Washington State Patrol, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident “was not paying attention and drifted onto the shoulder where the couple was biking.”  The car hit the boyfriend, pushing him into Girod and pushing her into the active roadway.  The boyfriend, who survived with minor injuries, was thrown into the embankment beside the road.

Needless to say, this is a tragedy and of a type that happens all too often.  Cyclists are hit by cars frequently in the US.  Many motorists refuse to recognize that in most states bicycles have the same rights on most roads that cars do.  While cyclists certainly aren’t faultless in some instances, it’s the casual (or inebriated) tossing around of two tons of vehicle that’s usually found to be at fault.

Furthermore, it seems like there is little other than lip service being paid to fixing the problem.  Signs posted here and there, rhetoric now and again (especially when an accident like this happens) and a new law passed, but not enforced, once in a while.  This case is a perfect example, as reported in the article about accident:

“. . . the State Patrol rarely arrests drivers who are merely “inattentive” in their driving, “even if they kill someone” through their inattention.”

What?  I’m not responsible for my lack of attention to my driving even if I kill someone?  As a licensed driver of a vehicle, am I not responsible for all my actions behind the wheel?  Isn’t attentiveness the responsibility of a driver?  Geez, I don’t get it.  As long as we don’t hold people responsible for their actions, we just condone their behavior.

The comments to the article even better represent the problem.  Some comments predictably and incorrectly blame the cyclists.  But more disturbingly, one woman sympathized with the driver saying something to the effect, “we all have fished around on the floor of our car searching for a flashlight or CD player.”  Really?  While moving?  Once again, we show how a driver’s license is a right instead of a privilege in the US.

 July 15th, 2009