Rule number #1 for ride reffing for Cascade Bicycle Club events
You ARE the “dancing bear”
people respond to humor.
We “encourage” safe and courteous riding by EXAMPLE. Don’t get “into it” with anyone, it’s not worth it; call the police, rat them out to CBC, but don’t be an asshole
TAKE the horn offered to you in training (take two if you can get away with it).
HONK the horn
HONK the horn as often as possible.
Coordinate obnoxious horn honking with a ride partner.
Tell bad jokes (best if at the expense of a CBC volunteer you’re riding with.)
Sing bad songs.
“LEFT…. LEFT… Passing on your LEFT….”
“When you Ride the STP….”
“Stopping and going and going and stopping…”
When someone displays safe and courteous and safe riding. HONK YOUR HORN!!! Celebrate it! Call them out and THANK them!
Tell bad jokes
Harass your CBC volunteer ride partners…
overheard on the 2008 STP while leaving the REI rest stop..
[Leo – wearing a ride ref jersey] Hey, see that star of life on her jersey? That means she’s a professional proctologist in real life.
[Lisa, wearing medical jersey] Better than being an amateur procotologist like you are Leo…
[Lisa, totally gloating over the perfectly timed BURN] Thank you folks, we’ll be here all weekend.
Stop for every flat tire, blown chain, blister, splinter, road rash, person sitting on the corner staring at map completely clueless as the where they are.
Be one of the last riders into Portland because you have stopped for every person who needed it (and some who didn’t), either in pouring rain or scorching heat, have no time for beer, haul butt to get your bike on the last truck and hop on the last bus without showering.
Uh… yeah… Most people wouldn’t call me an angel, but today I got to be one for a few hours.
After a rough few weeks involving my mother’s death, followed by a nasty case of the flu due to my stress level lowering my immune system and then to top it off, a nasty sinus infection, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the couch.
One of the things I’ve been looking forward to for the last year is volunteering as a “Swim Angel” for the Danskin Triathlon which is a fund raiser for the Breast Cancer Resource Center and in which survivors and or their loved ones often participate.
It’s a truly inspirational event (although Sally Edwards presence was missed this morning)
“Swim Angels offer encouragement and act as a calming presence to women who may be experiencing anxiety in the water. Swim Angels will swim alongside participants, offer support, and flag help from kayakers or lifeguards if needed.”
I thought about doing it last year (with some encouragement from my friend Julie), but with only one little (only a 250 meter swim) triathlon under my belt, I didn’t think that I was strong or confident enough to swim the course more than once and support other women.
But this year, by golly… Nothing was going to stop me from being a swim angel. Not fever (thankfully I had been without a fever for 24 hours by this morning) nor snot, nor exhaustion.
What almost took me out was my intestines.
I came home from dinner at the Icky Boy’s last night to discover that the high doses of antibiotics I’m taking for the sinus infection finally got to me (there just isn’t enough yogurt one can eat) and I spent most of the night running to the bathroom. I didn’t get much sleep and I was concerned about staying awake more or less not having an “incident”. (luckily, I had hydrated well)
I hydrated, ate what I could keep down and headed out to Genesee Park for a lovely sunrise over Lake Washington as the lifeguards, kayakers and swim angels headed out to the water.
I wandered over to the transition area to the REI bike tent to say “Hi” to Bill and BJ from the Tacoma store who were working doing bike maintenance.
On the way back to the lake, I saw the cutest thing, a teen/twenty-something young man braiding his grandmother’s hair as she was getting ready to race.
After a couple of trips to the port-a-potties I squeezed into my wetsuit and hoped for the best.
Stephani (who did the Danskin as her first triathlon last year, and for whom I wore the bunnie ears so that she could pick me out on the swim course) volunteered this year as well. (you can tell how tired I was and how sick I’ve been by the bags under my eyes)
My first “shift” was working the start gate.
Swim angles have swim noodles and we formed a line in waist/chest deep water in front of each swim wave forming the start line with the noodles, did the count down and raised and waved the noodles.
It was fun being a cheerleader yelling out to ask what age group was swimming and who was doing their first triathlon and to get everyone cheering while they were waiting for their wave to start.
I also got the snot kicked out of me. The swimmers did a great job of not mowing us over when they passed us but once they were past us, they kicked like good swimmers.
They gave me two women (I had two noodles) because we were short angels. Nothing like breaking in a new swim angel the hard way.
I swam with both for a while but ended up staying back with the slower of the two women as the other one moved ahead. It took us almost an hour, but we got her around the course moving boat to boat, board to board (they can rest on a kayak or lifeguard’s board without being disqualified as long as they aren’t towed)
I made sure to stay to the inside the course to give her better access to the boats/boards and to keep her from getting kicked/swam over by fast swimmers in subsequent waves.
I got the snot kicked out of me, but that’s OK, it’s what I was there for.
I got picked up by another very nice woman and her sister as soon as I got back in from my first lap and helped her get around in about 47 minutes. We were in the next to the last lap so there were fewer swimmers behind us and I hardly got kicked at all.
Swimming with the swim noodles was as difficult as I heard it was; there’s really no way to adequately use your arms and hang on to the noodles.
I’m glad I had the zoomers swim fins as my tiny little narrow feet don’t give me much power, and I really can’t breast stroke/frog kick well in a wetsuit because the buoyancy makes my butt float too high and pushes my face in the water.
I ended up mostly doing a lifeguard approach stroke (head above water so you can make eye contact) with the noodles under my arms and across my chest. Unfortunately my lack of bustiness, combined with a slippery wetuit that compresses what I do have resulted in a lot of slippage and a need for constant readjustment, but it worked even if it wasn’t particularly efficient.
My neck and shoulders really feel the effects of using a stroke I wasn’t used to and my legs, especially the calves really feel the use of the flippers.
I finished up with a headache, dizzy, my guts twisted up, exhausted from lack of sleep last night and being sick and some very sore muscles.
But more important, I felt a great sense of pride in the women who achieved their (often life changing) goals today while supporting such a great cause.
Today I took part in something that was bigger than myself.
Even though I was sore and tired from the triathlon yesterday, I couldn’t say no when asked to volunteer as a medical rider for the LiveStrong Challenge in Seattle today.
I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been touched in some way by cancer.
I hadn’t stopped to think about how many people I care about are survivors or actively fighting this disease.
As I wrote names down on my “in memory of” and “in honor of” cards, I started to cry.
I started to cry because there were so many, I kept remembering people and going back and filling out a new card.
It was getting close to start time, so I had to just grab the names of friends who were in the forefront for me now (I actually forgot my best friend whose cancer was a long time ago and a co-worker who just got the “all clear”) and get going.
Here are the few (of sadly too many) who were on the card today. Next year, I’ll think this out in advance because I feel bad that I missed so many. (I feel bad that there are so many)
My friend Diane Rooney died at the age of 34 after a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer (the types that hit younger women are fast and deadly) Diane and I jumped out of helicopters together and fought forest fires.
She was a warrior. After her diagnosis, she sold everything she owned and moved to Arizona (one of two states that recognizes naturopathic doctors) to study. She became an activist and battled companies genetically modifying food, spraying toxic chemicals and injecting milk cows with bovine growth hormone.
Before her cancer was diagnosed as coming back, I went to visit her in Phoenix. We took a road trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I had a fiend from the academy who worked there, so we went and stayed with him and enjoyed “special” spots that most tourists will never see.
After she died, her father called me to let me know that her ashes were being scattered as soon as the area we both loved, Dome Rock thawed and the roads opened.
He mentioned that one of the last things she talked about before she died was that trip to the Grand Canyon. It was one of her fondest memories and a very special trip for her.
All I did was take a friend to a cool place where I had “people”. It was a simple act of friendship to me. To her, it was the last memory she held on to and took with her when she passed.
We never know when our actions might (or how) profoundly affect someone.
I met my friend Karen when I was a Ranger at Canyonlands National Park at the Island in the Sky. She was staying with a mutual friend of ours at Dead Horse Point State Park. Bonnie (the friend she was staying with) was gone for a couple of days.
It was around Thanksgiving and since Karen and I already “knew” each other through Bonnie’s loving stories, of course invited her over for Thanksgiving.
It was the first meal she had eaten since being released from the hospital where she had received some truly horrible chemotherapy.
I also gave her injections to help her body recover from the treatments (she was too shaky to do it herself)
Years later, when I was in the doctor’s office having a cervial biopsy, she sat with me and held my hand while they ripped bits of my cervix off.
Lizzy has fought a difficult and painful (emotionally and physically) battle with Ovarian and Colorectal cancer.
She is a marathoner. She has turned this marathon into an opportunity to fight this disease, even going to Washington DC to lobby.
My friend Annette has had her cancer come back at a truly horrible time in her life. (of course, there’s never a good time) and yet she keeps on keepin’ on by working and taking care of her two children giving them a loving home and good memories while going though treatments that sap her energy and make her sick.
I called her today to let her know that I was thinking of her; so I pulled off to the side of the road and gave her a call, “Hey, did you know that I’m in your neck of the woods riding with your name on my back?”
I cried after I made that call.
My beautiful “little sister” Megs has had so much taken from her by this disease.
After being to hell and back, she has finally found happiness and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and watch that be taken from her.
I can’t find a cure, I can’t donate a bunch of money.
But I could volunteer to support those who can.
~ ~ ~
With that said, here’s the ride report.
I got up to Seattle bright and early and scored free (Sunday) street parking a block away from the Seattle Center.
I checked in, picked up my medical pack and got my cards (as mentioned before, incompletely) filled out.
With much fanfare and emotion, we lined up in our starting waves.
I had no business riding at all today after yesterday’s triathlon and my legs (and general sense of well being and energy levels) made that very clear.
I chose the 45 mile route in hopes that I at least wouldn’t bonk.
It was weird riding through the streets of downtown Seattle at 7:00 AM with no traffic. I’ve ran the streets when they are crowded with marathon runners for the Seattle Marathon; this was different, quieter, more purposeful.
As a sea of bikes, many riders wearing yellow LiveStrong jerseys moved down the streets people cheered.
Some asked, “What are you riding for?” Needing to give a short answer, I merely said… “Cancer”.
“Cool!” they said and they too began cheering on riders.
We got to ride on the I-90 express lanes (once again, I’ve only been on them for the marathon) which was pretty cool.
We headed out across the bridge for a loop around hilly Mercer Island.
People on Mercer Island sat or stood in their driveways or yards to cheer us on.
We looped over to Bellevue, down the lake to Renton and back up the other side of the lake back towards Seattle.
There were plenty of well stocked rest stops staffed by friendly volunteers.
The last one had a band and there was much dancing and toe tapping.
We needed that rest break because things got ugly from there.
The elevation gain on the course is listed as just a bit over 1,500 feet.
That’s true if you move from sea level to 300 feet above sea level (etc… etc… only once) but in a place like Seattle where there is no flat ground and you are up and down hills many many times, it’s much greater than that.
My Garmin shows that I climbed 6,043 feet in 45 miles today (I also rode down 6,061 feet)
Throughout the entire ride, my legs burned, complained and cramped up. They alternating between feeling like lead and rubber.
The ride was hard, damn hard.
And then I’d see a survivor ride by, or someone obviously going through treatment out there doing the same thing.
Now that’s hard.
So I kept pedaling and shut the heck up about it.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve cursed the hills on the route up to First Hill from the lake while on the marathon course.
Let me tell you, I will never complain again.
Not after doing it on a bike.
Relentless hill after relentless hill turned even strong riders, already hilled out into walkers.
The scariest part of the ride was once we got up the hills.
We had to ride down 3rd in downtown Seattle.
I have an increased respect for cyclists that run that gauntlet on a daily basis to commute. All I wanted was to get the heck away from there (I don’t even like driving a vehicle down those narrow crowded streets)
It is not a safe or bike friendly place to be; the need for the advocacy work that the Cascade Bicycle Club and other groups do is apparent.
We rode in tight little (single file) packs to make ourselves more visible and were all greatly relieved when we pulled safely into the Seattle Center.
We crossed the finish line to the sound of cheering and thank yous.
Luckily, the only medical “incident” I had today was someone asking for a band aid at a rest stop. Basically, I answered questions, gave directions, explained group riding techniques and encouarged safe riding. No illnesses, injuries or accidents. That’s the way a ride should be!
We had a choice of a burger (there were veggie options) or pizza and a Chipotle Taco. Mmmmmm tacoooooo. I went for the pizza and taco with apple slices as my side. I enjoyed them up in the beer garden on the Fischer Pavilion deck while talking about triathlons and training.
Now I’m at home on the couch getting ready to take some Advil and a nap.
It was a good day and even if it hurt (and I do), I’m glad I did it.
Flying Wheels (and that ain’t all that was flying…)
Today was my first time volunteering with the Cascade Bicycle Club as ride support staff.
I was a medical support rider.
My quandry was to figure out how to carry my medical gear. I don’t want to install a rack or trunk bag on Flash since she’s my triathlon bike, so I decided on a handlebar bag. When the store was out of the one I wanted, Michael F at the Tacoma REI store suggested the insulated lunch box which is what he uses.
It’s perfect, it’s very lightweight, has some structure, and the handle slides right over my areobars (I secured it with the rubber band from my areo bottle. I can easily grab things out of it, or flick the rubber band and bring the whole kit with me.
I’m not feeling 100% recovered from doing three triatlhons in 13 days, (and the last one was an Olympic distance) my back is not fully healed and the neighbor tried to kill us (and the rest of the neighborhood) by spraying Malathion on his apple trees next to our open windows last night. Organo phosphate poisoning is NOT COOL! Tom (and a few other neighbors) had a chat with him about it today.
I thought that 65 miles with 3,706 feet of elevation gain was plenty of a workout. I can do my 100 mile ride some time over the 4th of July weekend since the Trek Women’s Triathlon (thankfully) moved from that weekend to September.
*I waved at the McSidhe clan when I rode past their neighborhood.
I got a bit of a late start because I grossly underestimated what a parking lot 520 was going to be and then got stuck in the port-a-potty lines and didn’t hit the road until 8:45.
Luckily, I didn’t have to respond to any medical emergencies. I helped people with directions, answered questions, asked everyone I saw who was stopped if they were OK and needed help and tried to set a good (and badly needed) example by riding safely and courteously.
I ate and drank religiously (even though I was a bit queasy from the near poisoning the night before) and had no issues with hydration or energy.
The first hill came way too early and made a lot of riders walkers as usual.
The same for Inglewood Hill which is three miles of “Geeze this sucks” (actually it’s not that bad, it’s just relentless)
I noticed a huge increase in aggressive and angry drivers this year. Most of the people yelling nasty stuff didn’t yell at me because I was very conscientious about staying as far to the right as I could and only passing when it was safe. (that and I was wearing a big blue star of life on the back of my bright red jersey)
Conversely (which is no excuse for the aggressive driving and some of it was egregious and very dangerous) I noticed a large number of “hot shot” riders that thought “Car Back” meant “get out into the middle of the lane to piss off the car so that you can pass.”
Here’s a hint hammer heads. “Car Back” means “get your butt as far to the right as you can so that everyone is safe.” now and later when some innocent rider gets the rage you created taken out on them.
OK, that’s it for the riding lecture…
I never found Julie (even though we were only 5 cars apart on 520 and heading into the park) or Claire & David or Rick or most of my other friends that were riding this thing.
I did see plenty of other friends and made some new ones.
I pulled into Marymoor Park at 3:10 PM.
Now here’s where the story gets interesting…
*those who don’t like TMI can just stop here… move on… there’s nothing to see that won’t gross you out.
I need to ride and swim tomorrow, so I wanted to give my recovery a jump start.
I got back to my truck and slammed down one of my 3oz, 42 gram whey protein shots. I also drank 16oz of recoverite.
No problem, they mix fine and I feel wonderful the next day.
Then I got handed a carton of chocolate milk (3rd on my list of favorite recovery beverages) which I slugged down.
Oh, did I mention that it was hot? About 75 degrees. That may not sound hot to folks from other part of the country, but black asphalt can radiate 180 degrees of heat on a hot day.
I was hot, and thirsty and was waiting for friends so I went to the beer garden (Duh)
That (only one) Skinny Dip Summer Ale was refreshing while watching the track races in the sun (no shade available)
and then the beer hit the milk…
and the milk hit the recoverite…
and the recoverite hit the syrupy whey protein shot which was floating on the three bottles of electrolytes and water I drank throughout the ride.
All of this on top of heat and the after effects of the Malathion the night before.
I think you know where this is going.
Since it would be highly unprofessional to hunker over a trash can hurling copious amounts of colorful multi-textured fluid at a high rate of speed, while wearing a ride support jersey, I hauled butt towards the bathrooms (the real ones, no way was I bending over the “bowl” of a port-a-potty.)
That’s when I kept running into people I knew or who wanted to ask questions and had to at least make some polite small talk. (at this point, I was getting worried about barfing on someone’s bike shoes which is even less professional)
There was short line on one side, and a shorter line on the other.
I could hear the woman ahead of me fussing with the sink, hand dryer and other stuff. Then I could hear her fidgeting with the door. (for a brief moment, I was tempted to scream… get out, Get Out, GET OUT NOW!!!)
but I didn’t, I sashayed in there as delicately as I could.
Let it suffice to say that Wheels weren’t the only thing flying today.