First and foremost, I want to thank Mary. It hasn’t been easy living with someone who gets up at 4:30 every morning to ride his bike, then works a 10 hour day and comes home looking for dinner. I haven’t been much help for the last six months, and she deserves better. She’s earned some help from me and I pledge it.
Whatever I do, I am wired to be passionate about. But I wasn’t born with anything resembling athletic talent. I owe thanks to the teachers in eighth grade who put me in remedial PE because I couldn’t due a pull-up. And I owe a big thanks to coaches Fairchild, Jamison and Mercer in High School for encouraging hard work on the football field and in the shot-put ring. I think that they probably knew that when I goofed off in PE and they made me run laps, they were really rewarding me and not punishing me.
When I started cycling in my mid twenties, Don Peterson, the President and Coach of the San Jose Bicycle Club was a huge help. In spite of the fact that I showed no potential to go beyond being a mediocre Category 3 rider, he spent as much time with me as with any of his potential superstars.
But as far as preparing for this trip, there are three people who need to be singled out:
In my 40s and 50s, I became a couch potato, until I started swimming daily when I was 56. I lost weight, and redistributed the weight that I had, but I soon realized that I wasn’t as good a swimmer as I thought I was, until I discovered Terry Laughlin and Total Immersion. Terry’s teachings centered on mindfulness (“No Brain, No Gain”), and he breaks the art of swimming into several interconnected parts. After several months of determined drills, I emerged with a totally redesigned stroke, and made impressive gains for several years. Terry and I exchanged some e-mails, but I don’t imagine that he realized how profoundly his teachings impacted me. I celebrated both my 60th and 61st birthdays by swimming 15 miles.
One day, three or four years ago I idly picked up a book while waiting for my Jamba Juice smoothie. It was Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. After a couple of minutes I said to myself “OMG, this is Total Immersion for Running”. I bought the book and sent a note to Danny remarking on the connection and I got a nice note back from him (and from his wife Kathleen) telling me that he and Terry had realized how much they had in common and regularly shared training tips. I read both Chi Running and Chi Walking and, although I have not put as much mindful effort into running and walking as I have into swimming and cycling, the point had been made: every body part is connected and you have to think of what each one is doing in isolation to see the effect that it has on others. But I still had no idea that the teaching principles of Terry and Danny could be applied to cycling.
And finally, last fall when starting my preparations for Fast America, I saw a Physical Therapist, Curtis Cramblett (Revolutions in Fitness). After fitting me for orthotics, he showed me that the foot pain that I was having was not due to poor orthotics, but to swelling of my leg (residual from a blood clot after a foot operation about five years ago) and he recommended compression socks (which are now my signature fashion statement). He then showed me how improper compensation for various asymmetries in my body was leading to muscle aches; something in the way he was describing things prompted me to ask “Have you ever heard of Danny Dryer?”. He went to the bookshelf in his office (his garage) and pulled down Chi Running and told me that Danny was bugging him to write a similar book for cycling. The exercises that Curtis prescribed for me were a big help in preparing for my ride, even though they had nothing to do with the muscles normally associated with cycling.
Terry, Danny and Curtis: Thank you for providing me with the tools to reach my physical potential. I have no end goal; it is the journey that counts. When someone asks me “What do you think about while swimming 15 miles in a pool or riding your bike for 10 hours?” I can honestly answer “Lots of stuff” because of you. You have in common a passion for what you do and a selfless desire to share and teach what you know.
Of course there are others, like the staff of ABB, Mike, Karen, Judy, Jim and Jay; my colleagues at work and in the SS/L Cycling Club and my friends at SJBC (and in particular Phil, who is always full of advice); but I want to reserve these thanks for Mary and the teachers who have made me what I am.