Saturday, July 25, 2015

VeloSano Recap

Photos by OHventures

The old phrase "it's like riding a bike" probably wasn't referring to riding a 100-mile bike ride across Northeast Ohio. Unlike that phrase suggests, riding 100 miles is no easy feat - something I learned firsthand while participating on July 18, 2015 in the second annual VeloSano Bike to Cure

This epic fundraising event was held in Cleveland, with over 2,000 cyclists signed up to raise money in the months leading up to their bike rides. Each cyclist was required to gather a certain amount of donations according to whichever distance they committed to pedal (12, 25, 50, 100, 179, or 207) - all of which would go towards funding cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.

The health system where I am employed started its own team to rally for the cause. Our team consisted of 27 caregivers, all of whom opted for varying distances. Being the daredevil I am, with my ever-growing bucket list on hand, I signed up to ride 100 miles (joining just 1 other individual on my team who was going this distance). We all had matching jerseys which I thought made us look like superheroes!

Do I look like the green Power Ranger with my bike jersey?

However, no matter what distance anyone rode, we were all there to push ourselves to the limit and put ourselves under physical pressure - a small feat compared to what anyone who has ever lived with cancer has had to go through during treatment, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Knowing individuals in my life who have personally suffered from various forms of cancer - and working at a hospital system - has given me a glimpse of the struggles cancer patients endure. They are incredibly brave and strong to go through what they do, so I was more than happy to tackle the 100 mile course.

This required me to raise $1,500. Thanks to the many others who also have experienced the pains of cancer in their own lives, I was able to reach my goal (and then some). I asked each person who donated to give me a name of an individual they knew who is a survivor or victim of cancer, and I would place their name on my jersey as a reminder as to why I ride.

At the kickoff party on Friday, June 17 (ocated at Mall B in downtown Cleveland), there was a "WHY I RIDE" wall in which I also wrote each person's name. It was powerful to see that wall fill up with names and reasons that people have chosen to be there. It was clear that this was not just any ordinary bike ride.

The kickoff party also gave me the opportunity to hear from US Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, who was there to share his family's story of cancer, and also to drive a pace car the next morning. To top things off, he even decided to ride 50 miles himself! It was an honor to see him there. It was also very tear-jerking to watch a very compelling movie on the big screen where survivors of cancer (referred to as LIVING PROOF) spoke about why they were choosing to ride and why VeloSano was such an important event.

Things were also more lighthearted at the kickoff party. I got the chance to meet the Cleveland Indians mascot, Slider (who would have to be my second favorite Slider after my dog), take a team photo, eat some grub catered by Zach Bruell Events, listen to tons of live music, pet a potbelly pig named Zumi who was a virtual rider, and even appear on the evening news (WKYC) as I was checking my bike in (I didn't know I was being filmed, but many people told me they saw me on air!).

At the start line at 7:30 AM with my fellow Century Riders!

After staying overnight at my friend's house in Willoughby Hills, it was time to start our bike ride nice and early at 7:30 AM. The 100-milers were pedaling the farthest distance you could for the 1-Day routes. They needed to start us early so we wouldn't be riding when the sun went down. I estimated I would finish the ride in about 8 hours, but you'll soon see how wrong I was!

Despite recent rainy weather, it was a beautiful sunny day all day for our ride - perhaps a little TOO sunny. When the horn blew and our race began, the sun was just rising and there was a pleasant breeze from the Lake Erie air. We weaved through downtown Cleveland with police located at each intersection for the first few miles of our ride. This allowed us to surpass any red lights or stop signs so we could make a swift exit from the busy city roadways. 

Our route was taking us east near Cleveland Heights and Beachwood, then eastward in a giant circle through or near Orange, Chagrin Falls, Solon, Aurora, back north to Burton and Chardon, then back west through Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties until we reached Shaker Heights and came back to downtown Cleveland.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

VeloSano Thank Yous

Thanking ALL who gave to my 100-mile VeloSano bike ride! $1,575 raised (105% of my goal!).

I pedaled and sweat and powered through to make it to the finish line in just about 10 hours (including all of the stops!) Miraculously I am not sore days later (although I do have a heat rash - yuck). 

It was incredibly challenging and so inspiring to ride through the countryside of Northeast Ohio for such a great cause. 

Knowing that 4,500 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. every DAY is reason alone to take on this task. To all that gave money and cheered me on, YOU the true champs! 


My Family: Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Patty, Curt, Regina, Cousin Linda, Aunt Phyllis

My Co-Workers: Sue, Robert, Debbie, Rose, Ryan C., Carol & Bruce, Sara

My Hometown Friends: Marti & Butch, Darla, Matt & Carrie, Marcy, Marisa, Mike V., Clara, Chuck

My Fellow Torchbearers: Erica, Paul, Amanda, Danielle, Michael

The RHB Crew: Ryan, Judy, Norma & Ron, Ali & Derek, Suzanne, Pattie & Dan, Nadine, Mary, Fran, Stacey & Marc, 

The OSU Bunch: Steve, Caitlyn, Jared G., Matt C., Alyce, Andrea, Jared B.

More Thanks: Gary, David & Deborah, Jason F., Sherri', Lisa

Special Thanks: 
To Emily, for letting me crash at your place in Willoughby Hills!
To Bruce, a volunteer on race day who helped me at the finish line!
To Erin, our fearless Team Captain!
To God, for getting me through and keeping me safe!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thirsty Dog 8K Recap

Photos by OHventures

It has officially been the wettest summer on record so far for Ohio. This factoid does not bode well if you are one who enjoys running, biking, swimming, hiking, or doing basically anything outdoors. But when you've paid top dollar to run in one of the most anticipated events in Akron, you show up no matter what the conditions!

A weather advisory was issued for the day of the Thirsty Dog 8K & 1 Mile (Saturday, June 27) calling for severe thunderstorms. My drive up to InfoCision Stadium on the campus of the University of Akron was slow & cautious, with legitimate fear that the roads would flood. But at this point, I was committed!

This race was the first event in the first year of the Akron Marathon's Rubber City Race Series leading up to the main event in the fall. It was presented by the popular local craft brewery, Thirsty Dog Brewing Company, which is one of my favorite places to go in the A-K-Rowdy. Because of their sponsorship, a miniature beer festival was taking place at the finish line. Definitely motivation to make it through the rainy run! 

(SIDE NOTE: I am sensing a theme to my recent races: Ultimate Beer Run, AkRun & Crawl, and now it time for an intervention?).

All of the precipitation ended up adding to the fun of the 8K race! I had a poncho on to avoid getting totally soaked. It was pretty effective, actually. But there was no avoiding the rain. Hands down, this was the wettest run I have done. And, I have to say: I highly recommend it! With all of the themed runs out there where you get slathered in something (like mud, paint, or foam), a "rain run" should be the next big thing! After all, when we were kids, what was more fun than playing in the rain?!

The route started on Union Street at InfoCision Stadium, going straight onto Brown Street, turning left onto Thornton, and a quick left onto Spicer. Then, a left onto Buchtel, right onto College, left onto Mill, left onto Main, left onto Bartges, and left onto Broadway. Then, you turn right onto Arc, wrapping around onto Wolf Ledges and Carroll. It ends with a final wraparound of the InfoCision Stadium, running onto Summa Field!

Now for the fun part. 25 varieties of Thirsty Dog beer were awaiting! We received finisher medals shaped like the puppy on the Thirsty Dog logo - which doubled as a bottle opener! We also received small beer sampler cups to fill up using our drink tickets. Of course, many people did not want to wait around in the rain for the beer, so me and my pal Karlo ended up with way more tickets than we started out with (people just started handing them out before leaving). This helped us get a nice variety of beers in our bellies!

Karlo, Me, and my Poncho

Thirsty Dog actually created TWO brand new beers specifically for the race. The beers were aptly called Blue Line Ale and Blue Line Lager (named after the iconic blue line of the Akron Marathon). Both beers were light with a great malt balance, perfect for after a race (no one wants a heavy brew after hitting the pavement for 5 miles). They also were serving their own homemade root beer for those 21 & under. Since I had so many tickets, I took a taste!

Other beers offered for tasting included Labrador Lager, Whippet Wheat, Raspberry Ale, and Irish Setter Red. Karlo and I sampled a fair portion of the beers offered on site before we called it quits. The best part is, we got to keep the mini tasting glass as well as a full-sized commemorative beer stein so we can continue on with the festivities at home! 

Black Diamond Bicycles

11325 Jackson Dr,
The Plains, OH 45780
(740) 797-0880

Established just last year in 2014, Black Diamond Bicycles is a family-friendly one-stop-shop for cyclists of all abilities. Located in The Plains (near the city of Athens) in the Eclipse Company Town (a historic coal heritage site) and less than 5 miles from Ohio University, it is perfect for those who are riding through on the nearby Hockhocking Adena Bikeway in need of a bike tune-up, or for anyone who is looking to for bike repairs or purchases.

Riding  the fat bike!

The shop offers new and used mountain, road, and cruiser bikes for children and adults alike. You can get snacks (such as ice cream or energy bars), or any bike parts or accessories (helmets, seat covers, water bottles, cases, gloves, etc.). Best yet - Black Diamond Bicycles also has an array of bikes for rent, in case you do not feel like hauling your bike to the path, or if you don't own your own bike. It's also great to give new bikes a spin.

They have some cool and unique offerings that I had the opportunity to personally try out on a recent visit! One of the owners, Vince, let me take a ride on a "fat bike" (also known as a wide tire bike) which is basically a bicycle with over-sized tires designed as such so that you can ride in unstable and rough terrain. Notably, the fat bikes are used in snowy conditions, on winter trails and tundras. They are extremely versatile and have been becoming increasingly popular in recent years. Riding the fat bike proved to be rather easy - the wide tires made for a smooth ride!

Next, Vince let me take a ride with him on a re-purposed tandem (meaning two seats) recumbent (meaning you are in a laid back reclining position) bike that he custom-built! Riding this contraption required you to be in sync with your cycling partner. It also required a bit of concentration, because the steering was done by a crank-handle on the left side of the bike. Unlike some tandem bikes, this one is a "social tandem" because our seats were side-by-side (as shown in the photos above). It was a really fun and different experience riding on the tandem recumbent, but I was ready to hit the trail on a regular bike!

The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is a 21-mile bike path that stretches between Nelsonville and Athens in Athens County. It is named after the first inhabitants of Southeast Ohio (the Adena Indians), and the Shawnee name for the Hocking River (Hockhocking, which means "bottleneck"). It is a "rails to trails" bikeway, because it is located on the site of the old Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad. It is a diverse trail, with both rural cornfields and urban campus streets along the way. You can see not only the aforementioned Eclipse Company Town, but other historical sites, such as the ruins of the Hocking Canal, and the burial mounds built by the Adena tribe.

We rented some hybrid road bikes and rode approximately 5 miles along the path near Black Diamond Bicycles. We were able to see some great scenery along the way, including lush forest and wide open fields. Signs were posted near on the trail leading bicyclists to Black Diamond in case they needed a tune-up or a quick repair (such as air in their tires, gear adjustments, or other fixes). Basic tune-up packages begin at $39. Rentals begin at just $12 an hour, which is quite a bargain! 

Stop in and find everything you need to hit the trails of Athens County (and all of Ohio)!