In 2015, before my crash, I was in a training program towards my first Half IRONMAN and we quickly bonded as a group.
We met up Tuesdays and Thursdays at dawn to ride out of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, up Hawk Hill, down the backside to the YMCA, out to Rodeo Beach, and then back.
If you’re a cyclist in San Francisco, you know this ride really well. And you post pictures of the sunrise. And you get really grateful to live in such a cool place.
But if you’re us .. you take it to the next level. You give yourselves a name, you make it a club, make it semi-exclusive (meaning when people would ask we say yes), and then start talking about making cycling kits for no real reason except you really love how funny it is.
There is another group in our neighborhood of cyclists who would pass most of us on those morning climbs. They are called Fat Cake. We decided to call our team …
While I was in rehab we designed a logo and cycling kit. It was purple, pink, accented in sprinkles, and said ‘Fresh and Tasty’ across the butt.
Marin Century | Metric Century Distance
The Marin Century Ride goes up and over and back down the hill I crashed on two years ago. With the support of Team Chubby Donut, I ride in the Marin Century and we ride together down Lucas Valley Road from Big Rock to commemorate the occasion.
The Marin Century happens every year about a month before the anniversary of my crash and a couple of weeks before my birthday. So it’s a very introspect time.
Team Chubby Donut wanted to do the 60-mile metric century route of the ride this year. Last year Peter and I did the easy 25 mile route.
3,500 feet of climbing
The distance was fine. I’ve done 60 miles in my handcycle before.
But what intimidated me was the climbing. 3,600 ft of climb, which is 1,000 more than I’ve ever climbed before. But I told the team .. if you’re willing to rock the hills at 3.3 mph with me, then I’m down.
And rock 3.3 mph we did. Until the last hill, Red Hill Rd in Petaluma. Different things started to strain, the road got narrow and curvy, the heat of the day pounded on my chest and face, and I took a bunch of breaks. That’s where I hit about 3,000 ft of climbing and thought this could be where we have a support vehicle pick me up.
But I hadn’t descended my hill on Lucas Valley Road.
So I got really present. Take breaks if needed. Take fuel. Go a little more and a little more. Keep cranking. Don’t tell me you think we’re near the top, Peter.
And what comes after a climb? A descent. I got to take a rest while traveling upwards of 35mph with my butt 6 inches off the ground. In the video, it’s towards the end where you see Paul catching up with me on a long road.
After that was only one more climb that mattered. The climb to Big Rock and then down the other side where I crashed. Ironically that climb, while not nearly as difficult, was made easier by a deep, involved conversation with Sarah and Peter.
We paused for a break at the top and to turn on all our GoPros. And then we went down the hill:
Nothing has power except that which you give it
A mentor once said to me, ‘Nothing has power except that which you give it.’
I recently met someone who doesn’t ride places they crashed. They give power to those places.
I decided that that hill is just a hill. There’s nothing inherently evil about it. The hill didn’t do anything to me, it was just there. It was there long before me and will be there long after me. So decided not to give any power to this hill.
The guide for this ride says about this descent: “This hill dislikes males age 25–39 (yes, you guys crash here).” I have a secret to not crash like I did: go slow.
So that’s it. We went slowly down the curves at the top. After that was a few miles of 25mph straight descent – and that’s the fun part.
Relive ‘2018 Marin Metric Century’
People ask me what I feel riding down that hill.
Honestly, I don’t feel much. I think about people who think it’s amazing that I’ll ride this hill again. I wish I could show them how powerful this idea – this tool – can be. This hill as no power except that which I give it. And so I decide to give it none. And life goes on.
Now, what else do I give undo power to?
What do you give power to?
An Ask: support my ride for the Challenged Athletes Foundation
Not two or three weeks after my crash, I got a text from someone at CAF who’s since become a great mentor and friend.
Since then CAF has supported me by sending me to a paratriathlon camp; awarded me grants for coaching and travel to IRONMANs; gotten me entry into the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon twice, the Oceanside 70.3 IRONMAN, the CAF B2B NorCal Ride, the Xmas Coma, and numerous others.
Needless to say, this Foundation enabled my goals in sport which I realize more and more every day how much that meant for my recovery overall from this spinal cord injury and paraplegia.
Will you support CAF? (imagine my doe eyes) I’m riding my handcycle with a team during CAF’s San Diego Triathlon Challenge in October. Every bit helps kids and adults have the opportunities I’ve had after a catastrophic life event.
Even better: come ride with us. If you’re a cyclist then join the team. I’d love to have as many people there as possible riding with me.
Here’s the link, do $25. Or $50. Every part gets me to my goal and gets people back into life.
CAF is a 501c3 non-profit, so contributions are tax-dedutible.