Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My First Century (Bike Ride, That Is)

I recently signed up to ride in my first "Metric Century" - a 100 kilometer (that's about 62 miles for those of you who don't speak metric) bike ride. Fittingly, it's a fund-raiser for the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.

The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp was started by Paul Newman (yes, that Paul Newman) in the late 1980s to provide seriously ill children with a Wild West-themed camp experience (the original HITWG camp was formed in Ashford CT and was based on the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"). The original camp has been built up over the years - it now has an "OK Corral" for its infirmary (with a 24 hour medical staff), horse stables, totem poles, tee pees, swimming pools, boating, horseback riding, sports, theater, and camping, along with much, much more. Over the years, the HITWG camps (there are now 11 separate camps in several countries) have hosted over 130,000 seriously ill children.

My nephew (who also died of cancer a little over two years ago) went there several times in his final years. And while Jonathan never made it out there, the HITWG camp would send two staff workers out to the clinic where he was treated several times each week to play with the kids. These guys were amazing. One had gone to clown college (and no, I never taught there, but one of my previous schools resembled it on a regular basis) and could do everything from magic tricks to impersonations to juggling. The other had technical skills that would let him make rap tapes for the kids, PhotoShop their faces onto pictures of Superheroes (I have one of "Jonathan Hulk"), and do just about anything else they'd want with a computer. They made quite an impact on the kids - for most, they made the clinic a far brighter place.

In any event, this give me a good goal to shoot for. So far, the farthest ride I've taken this summer has been today's ride of 33 miles. I did it at a (for me) good pace, and it had a couple of pretty good hills in it. But I'll have to step up my game a bit if I want to make it - I'm still only halfway there, and the terrain for the ride is pretty hilly. So even if I slow down significantly, it'll be a stretch. Since every pound counts when going up hills, I'm hoping to ease the burden of schlepping up all those hills ny losing 8-10 pounds over the next 5 weeks.

This means you'll have to put up with occasional training posts. Ah well - them's the breaks.