OVERCOMING ULTRA ENDURANCE CYCLING CHALLENGES
When I decided to honor my wife's 20th year of surviving clear cell ovarian cancer this past summer by attempting to cycle 9,000 miles around the perimeter US states in 100 days (http://bicyclingforovariancancer.org), I was attempting to do something that was not within the physical genetic makeup I was born to do. Completing such an enormous ultra endurance cycling feat should not have been possible for me based on my physiological genetic profile because of severe allergies and asthma. Yet, this summer I successfully cycled 9,197 miles touching 32 perimeter states in just 91.5 days of cycling out of the total 100 days on the road. Looking back at this summer, I am most amazed at one post ride observation, I could have accomplished many more miles with just a little more preparation and organizational changes. I truly believe the limits I perceived before the ride were absolutely unfounded!
No matter what our natural abilities are in cycling, the root of our cycling successes will not be based only upon talent; but, our ability to harvest our talents through inner strengths. It is at this psychological level that I believe most ultra endurance cyclist must be very gifted. Psychological inner strength is possibly much more important than the physical demands of the event. To successfully complete events like the Race Across America, although essential, your greatest skill is not your physical endurance capabilities, it is your mental endurance capacity. For me this summer, I was extremely well prepared. I trained for three years. I trained many areas of the course several times. And, using GPS courses for my indoor power training system, I road the entire route several times on my indoor trainer. Yet, once the ride started, my success had much less to do about my physical preparation then it did about my psychological strength. When I started to get physically tired, I reached deep inside and reminded myself of how my wife went to chemo and radiation for her ovarian cancer treatment on Friday and threw up all afternoon. Then, she would be literally passed out most of Saturday and Sunday. But, when Monday morning arrived, she went to work so I could stay in school for my doctoral degree. So, every time I felt the urge to quit a day’s ride because of wind, rain, food poisoning, extreme heat, or simple fatigue, I remembered my wife’s gift to me. I remembered her sacrifices as she was fighting for her own life. Additionally, as I conquered mile after ride mile, people all around the country began following us, giving to us food and a place to stay, kind words, or shared their own cancer stories. Thus, even when my internal drive was weak, the realization that I was giving others hope to survive allowed me peace in my pain. The key words here are “peace in my pain.” I hurt often but I was in complete peace knowing the pain I was feeling had a purpose much bigger than my own ambitions.
In the next couple newsletter contributions, I will share with you stories about my preparation from the perspective of an exercise physiologist with specialized training in clinical nutrition and metabolism. I will share with you how doing my event opened my eyes to the my own unique physiological and biochemical needs that cannot be found in any text book. I will share guidelines for determining your personal training and nutritional needs based on my educational background and 40 plus years of cycling experience. But, before I leave today though, I would like to share an opening quote from a novel I have been working on the last few years (It is my personal therapy novel). “It is funny how things are when you are young, you have all your dreams and the dreams they’ll come true. But one day, you awake and realize you are living a life of left over dreams you never had.” It is my hope that my small contribution to our UMCA organization will inspire you to live a life that one day has few, if any, left over dreams you have not yet lived!