Sunday, May 17, 2015

Test Ride: Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX


I sold the Triumph Tiger 800 and have begun my quest for the new steed. I am looking for something that is sporty for the twisties and comfortable for longer, multi-day rides. I went over to Europa Macchina in Lewisberry. They are, quite honestly, some of the nicest people I have met, passionate about heir business, but also genuinely interested in what I was looking for. They answered all of my questions about the brand and the bike.

Sitting Down
Sitting on the bike, I had a really nice surprise. Most reviews will tell you the bike feels heavy, almost obscenely so, but I didn't feel that at all. The bike felt extremely well-balanced at rest, and was easily manhandled to where I needed it. I am 6 feet tall, and can easily flat foot the bike. I did find the position almost a little tight in leg space, and I would wonder if there is a higher seat position. That was weird. The dash is very well laid out and attractive, with everything right where you want it.

The mirrors are adequate (though they shake at speed, again, something that is documented in many reports. A lot of people get the European package on the mirrors, which increases size and decreases shaking). The bike is very well outfitted, with Trax bags, high-power auxiliary lights, bash guard under the bike, and hand guards standard. It's everything you need for a proper adventure!

Starting Up

A simple twist of the key and push of the starter and the oil-cooled 1151cc engine comes to life. It's mounted across the bike, rather than in a straight line, so it feels a little funny as the pistons fire across the bike. People will say you either love it or hate it - I loved it. A twist of the throttle and you realize there is something alive under the seat. I LOVED the sound of this bike. 

The Ride
Europa has a good situation, with a quick flat road to get the bike under you, then a bunch of twisties, so you can stretch it out. I said the weight of the bike wasn't a big deal for me, but it immediately disappears when the wheels start turning. The bike has quick pickup, but not raucously so, and it is a linear acceleration that is predictable. One of the strange things is the feel of the engine at 3500RPM. It has a vaguely unnatural side to side pull you can feel. 

Out in the curves, the bike rolls right through. It is predictable and easy to throw around. There is a point in this part of the experience where people usually fall in love with a bike. Or not. For me, it was a not. The bike starts to get "interesting" around 6000 RPM and redlines at about 8000. That means that as soon as I entered the "fun zone" I had to start thinking about shifting back out of it. The bike does not have a lot of grunt/torque (having had a Suzuki SV1000, I suspect I was more than a little spoiled), and it's that missing piece that really makes it a no for me. 

My goal is to do a lot of mixed riding, touring and hitting the twisties around the rural roads of southcentral Pennsylvania. If all I were doing was touring, heading cross country, especially if it was on and off road, this bike would definitely be on the list. But, the Stelvio's lack of enthusiasm, especially in the curves, takes it off the list. 

Next!




Sunday, April 26, 2015

Close Shave

I took a nice hot shower, hotter than normal. I washed my face with a good soap I had bought from Sunrise Soap, a tiny little soap shop on Beaver Street in York. Getting out of the shower, I picked up a package of razor blades, figuring that, if it worked out that it was going to take a bunch of tries to find "my razor blade" that grabbing one randomly was as good a way as any to decide.
I filled the sink with mildly hot water, the steam rising off the surface in light wisps, splashed some water on my face, dipped the shaving brush into the sink and started working up a lather on my face. I used the orange cream and the smell was incredibly good. One of the things I am really coming to enjoy is the smells of my morning routine. In fact, it has expanded to a multi-sensory experience, now, and the brush sweeping back and forth across my face, the feel of the lather building into a thick, creamy texture, and the smell of orange filling the room were a great way to enter into the next chapter of shaving.


I carefully unwrapped the blade and put it into the razor handle.
There was a moment, putting blade to face, where I considered the wisdom of the course of action I was taking. I mean, I am fully competent with the cartridge blades. Did it really make sense to do this?  Well, no guts, no glory. I used the short, abrupt, non-overlapping strokes recommended in the shaving videos and got my upper face done without incident. On to the neck. Dragging the blade across my neck was a little disconcerting, but the blade just glided across the skin.

I repeated the lather and shaved across the grain, using the same small, non-overlapping strokes. I finished with minor nicks and put on the Platinum Aftershave....
OH MY GAWD! I was completely unprepared for the napalm-like experience of putting this on my just-shaved face. Like Gollum with an Elvish rope or Damien with Holy water, all I could think is, "IT BURNS US! IT BURNS US!" And for one minute or so (that's a long time - believe me) it showed NO sign of abating. I actually considered washing it off, but waited it out until it started to calm, and then it was absolute bliss. My shave was complete, and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Shaving...It's Worth Doing Right

I got this bee in my bonnet a couple of weeks ago, after going to the local store and for the thousandth time in my life, buying a four-pack of razors. I didn't think much about it until I got to checkout and the clerk gave me a dollar and change out of a twenty. At first I thought there was some mistake. Twenty bucks a month seems a little steep, no? Especially for these dinky little things. Cigarettes would have cost less.

So, I gritted my teeth, went home, and shaved (Note to self: Don't Shave Angry. Nothing good can come from that). But I thought there must be a better way, so I hopped on Facebook and asked my friends about their impressions of Dollar Shave Club and they came back favorable. Cheap. Easy. Efficient.

But then my buddy Brad jumped on and said I should consider an old school safety razor. I was, frankly, intrigued. Surely a guy who shaves his face and head with a safety razor must know a thing or two...right? And, I do like the Old School (I wish men still wore hats and stood when a woman entered the room), so I thought I would poke around and see what I could find. One of my favorite things about the Intarwebz (thanks, Al Gore!) is that, for whatever bizarre, obscure information you are looking, there are dozens of sites where people are anonymously clicking and clacking away in conversations.

Enter The Wicked Edge, a chat forum dedicated to wet shaving, safety razors, shaving creams and oils, and the kind of minutiae that will alternately enthrall you and drive you mad. I loved it instantly. Vintage razor discussions. How to strop a straight razor. What does The Kraken Smell like? The place has an almost mentorship mentality, with a lot of guys teaching younger guys and newbies like myself the fine art and science of shaving. I was quickly schooled in the pros, cons, and dangers (that was ultimately, I suspect, what sealed it for me) of wet shaving.

I also found a great video on how to shave. One of the things I learned was that I wasn't building a proper lather. That became abundantly clear after watching this particular video.

I was so excited that I ran upstairs to shave. Mrs. Fishr was sitting in bed reading, and seemed a little confused at my sudden appearance.
She: What are you doing?
Me: Shaving!!!
She: Um. You know it's 11.00, right?
Me: But I just learned something, and now I need to do it!
So, off I flew to the bathroom as she turned back to her book, presumably rolling her eyes at my antics, yet again.

I decided to go with Maggard Shaving, a husband and wife team out of Detroit Michigan who offer, by many accounts, fantastic stuff at great prices. I got a mid-priced beginner's set that I can grow with if I like it, but that won't break the bank if I decide otherwise. Mine came with a Parker 26C Razor, a handmade Italian Boar Bristle Shaving Brush by Omega, two aftershave tonics, a multipak of blades (it takes a bunch of trial and error to find the best blade for your face), a stiptic pen (yeah. you'll want one of those), ad an amazing smelling orange shaving cream. It arrived in a couple of days, easy-peasy, lemon-squeazy.

I opened it up like it was Christmas Day and I was getting my Official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 shot range, model air rifle. And there it was in all it's glory.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Learning to Fly...

Into the distance, a ribbon of black
Stretched to the point of no turning back
A flight of fancy on a windswept field
Standing alone my senses reeled
A fatal attraction is holding me fast,
How can I escape this irresistible grasp?
There's no sensation to compare with this...
Thirty-five years ago, I rode my first motorcycle. I was 12, and my buddy's parents had bought him a small dirt bike. We took turns writing it in circles around his house. It was AWESOME... Until I went home and my mother smacked me with a wooden spoon, exclaiming in her Irish brogue,"You're never to ride a bike, ever again!" There are, of course, those people who would look at this as a challenge, a gauntlet thrown down as an invitation to fight, an obstacle to overcome in order to take a defiant step into manhood. Those people never lived with my mother.

So that was that. But I never forgot it. It was like something awakening inside of me, each spring. My mother was born in Dublin, Ireland and left home at the age of 15 to travel through Europe and eventually land in America, settling in New Jersey by way of New York. She gave me the blessing of loving to cook and the curse of a wanderlust that never seems quite satisfied. And every spring, I feel it again, made all the more powerful because of the latent effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

My wife J. greenlighted the endeavor, having long ago resigned herself to being married to a guy who gets ideas in his head and realizing the only way for me to get them out is to purge them through activity. So, two years ago, I decided to take the PA Motorcycle Safety Course. The advantages of the course are many:
  • The course is FREE!
  • The course is taught by people who have been riding longer than I've been alive
  • They provide a motorcycle, so if you drop it, it's still theirs
  • At the end of the course, you get your Motorcycle License
  • Did I mention it's FREE?!?
There are two days of rather droll classroom instruction, but I realized it is the kind of thing that is going to help me ride a motorcycle and quite possibly save me from bodily harm. So, I forced myself to pay attention, practicing the barely contained patience of a kid on Christmas Eve. And then, I got to sit on a real motorcycle for the first time in 35 years. and start it up. And I knew, as soon as I sparked those 250ccs of pure Suzuki power to life, that something also came to life inside of me. And, I was hooked. Forever.










A New Start...


Here's the thing. I realized, thanks to a number of recent influences, that I haven't done much of anything that involves creativity in a long while. Then, my wife started cooking. My brother-in-law started a blog (and wrote a novel!). A high school friend from days gone by recently connected with me and she's a full-time (no longer starving) artist. And my daughter...well, at 17, she is one of the most creative people I know, and continues to inspire me. 
There was a time when I spent a good deal of time writing, painting, and drawing, even considering it as a career for myself. It's quite unlikely I am going to be the next Hemingway, but I also want to get back in touch with that creative side. 

Friday, April 05, 2013

50 Things To Do When You're Sick


My daughter is sick. She is bored. So here is her list of 50 things to do when you're sick:
1) Watch Spanish soap operas and shoot Nerf guns at the villains. 
2) Make an origami bird
3) Make origami binoculars to look at your origami bird
4) crumple the origami binoculars - Bam! Origami snake!
5) Grow a cat from scratch
6) get hopped up on your meds and prank call your parents at work
7) wash your dog so he doesn't smell like a cracker
8) Pretend to be a doctor and shine a flashlight down your throat as you say "Ahhhhh"...
9) Start a fake disease, claim you have, then set up a website accepting donations for a cure
10) Find the Elder Wand
11) Wear your dog as a hat; cats work too....sometimes. 
12) Microwave a Peep and see what happens. 
13) Glue a sock to our nose and pretend to be an elephant
14) ask a parent what they thought was funny back in the day on TV, then see if you can find it funny. For example:http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Gs1ljs5Acig&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGs1ljs5Acig
15) Shave a bear
16) Pretend you are a tiger waiting for your prey, then pounce on the mailman and ATTACK! 
17) write a story
18) pretend you're a tornado and rampage through the house. 
19) Pretend you're a tomato and sits in a bowl
20) Translate what your pets are saying
21) Text your friends. A lot. So when they turn their phone on at lunch, it blows up. 
22) throw things to the squirrels. Or at the squirrels. 
23) Adventure Time Marathon!
24) Spend some time upside down...unless you have the stomach flu. That's where it gets "interesting"...
25) Paint your nails
26) Repaint your nails 
27) Exfoliate your dog
28) Organize your room....yes, my father came up with that one. Yarg.
29) Walk and text at the same time
30) Get your Zombiepocalypse plan in order 
31) Get your life plan together - but only AFTER you have done #30
32) color your pet's hair
33) Color in a coloring book - it's more soothing than you think
34) Hit stuffs with a hammer - also oddly soothing
35) Name your teeth
36) Write a letter 
37) Draw a picture to go with the letter
38) draw a picture of what you think the germs that are making you sick look like
39) Look them up on the Intarwebz and see if you were right
40) Call QVC and start a conversation with the operator
41) Sue someone - bonus points if her name is Sue
42) Organize your shoes....oooooh, forgot I had those!
43) Type with your nose...I just typed that with my nose
44) Make a treasure map
45) Play hide and seek with yourself 
46) Create a pillow fort 
47) Make up an accent and speak like that all day long, including when you call QVC
48) Make yourself a picnic
49) Pretend you're a dinosaur and stomp through the house 
50) Make a crazy list

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LiveSTRONG 2012 Ride Report -- Epilogue

Paul and I grabbed a quick bite, then went our separate ways. I had a great time riding with him, and I am grateful to him and my brother and eternal riding partner, Patfish Hunter, who has done every Challenge with me. I missed the people who could not be there, Jennifer, Michael, Kurt, Sean, Randy, George and Brad.


The ride home is always a cramp-fest, with quads, calves, and even my lower back seizing up. It's always been that way, and this trip was no different. I came home to an empty house as Mrs. Fish had taken Li' Fish over to church. I stretched, got a shower, stretched, cleaned up my gear and stretched. Mrs. Fish came home and I just hugged her, grateful to have had the last amazing 19 years with her.

Then I had to go pick up Li'l Fish. I walked into church and a lot of the youth group were really happy to see me and then I heard "DADDY!" It was the same voice I heard six years ago when I finished my first Challenge, and an eight-year-old Li'l Fish came bobbing across the parking lot into the arms of her daddy. Tonight, a young woman looked me almost eye-to-eye, and I realized just how much she has grown since that first Challenge, and just how much I have been given in these six years.

I am blessed...

LiveSTRONG 2012 Ride Report -- Part VI

Paul and I quickly fell in with Andy, a foul-mouthed guy from Plymouth Meeting. He said he was riding for his friend who had died from intestinal cancer. Andy wanted to remember him properly, and he thought the ride would be the ticket. He was skilled rider, and strong on the climbs. He could also curse a blue-streak that would embarrass a Marine. At one point, he said, "I'm not a #$*&ing religous guy" and I replied, I am. He asked why, and I told him my story, and he agreed he could see, maybe, how God was working in my life. It was an interesting moment. Interestingly, when he pulled up next to us, I was wondering how much longer I was going to have to ride with this #$*&ing guy, and when we separated, I honestly wished it would have lasted longer. God does continue His work....

The LiveSTRONG Challenge does bring out both the best and the worst in people (it's a lot like cancer in that way). Readers of this blog might remember how I almost got into a fight with a Prius guy two years ago (STORY HERE). As Paul and I pushed into the last 20 miles, a guy in a convertible BMW rolled by heading the opposite direction, raised his hand (or, more accurately, one-fifth of his hand) and gave us a "salute". I can only assume our ride to beat cancer had ruined his afternoon drive. Paul asked me if anyone had ever, in the history of cycling, received that "salute" and just decided in that moment that, "You know what? Gosh darnit, you're right. I really need to stop riding my bicycle because it's ruining the drives of all these people in their fancy cars."
Ummmmm...no. No cyclist ever has.
The irony is that, in a BMW convertible, flipping the bird to people actually exposes it to sunlight. Which causes cancer. The irony was not lost on me. Or Paul.

Mile after mile, Paul and I pedaled onward. The last section of the ride actually looks very similar. Hills, rolling hills. And more rolling hills. They're not big hills, but they are consistent. We call them rollers. Up and down the rollers we went. It affords you time to think, and for me, I have always used this time to think about the people I have known through cancer. this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about the man who would have been my father-in-law. He passed away shortly before Mrs. Fish and I started dating, and I was sad that he never got to see what an amazing woman she has become. Even sadder, he never got to meet Li'l Fish, and to see just how amazing she is. I can't help but wonder at how cancer had robbed him of this, and robbed us of that experience.

And then Paul and I rolled over the last hill and I was looking down at the bottom of the hill and the area where the finish line was. It always catches me a little off guard, because it's so unexpected. After dozens of hills, you're suddenly...DONE. Paul and I coast down the hill and he heads left in the supporter's chute, I go right into the Survivor's chute, and for the sixth time, the announcer says:

NOW FINISHING, ROB DUFFIELD -- SURVIVOR!

LiveSTRONG 2012 Ride Report -- Part V

The other thing that I discovered about Dave was that his sister and brother-in-law own the Landis Store. The Landis Store is the most epic of rest stops, located at roughly the halfway point, and you have to ride the 100 mile route to get there. It is also located at the top of a 1 mile climb that is incredibly steep at points. Honestly, it's the climb that puts the "Challenge" in the LiveSTRONG Challenge. At the top of that climb, the Landis Store offers live music, chicken and rice soup and the friendliest volunteers on the course. It's a party! I always think of the Landis Store fondly, because it was so special to my friend Kurt, and I was thinking of him as I was talking to Dave. Sadly, he could not ride with us this year, due to an injury. Toughen up, and we'll see you next year, Kurt. I gave Dave a BUTNZ! for himself, and one for his sister, for all of her hospitality over the years.

We pulled into the next rest stop and Pat, Paul and I regrouped. We quickly refueled and got back on the rode. Pat had committed to the 45 mile ride and Paul and I were still undecided. We got right back into the swing of things, when all of a sudden, we came up to a fork in the road, and it was decision time. Go left and do the 45 mile ride. Or go right and shoot for 70 miles. Paul and I were still feeling really good, so we decided we were going right. Pat was ready to head for home. It was really strange, because I honestly thought we had more time (I think in life we always think we have more time, until suddenly we don't). We said a quick goodbye, and I was saddened that our time together was over so quickly, so suddenly, and without any warning.Paul and I rode on, but I was feeling a bit melancholy.

The miles rolling steadily under our wheels cured me of my melancholy, slowly but surely like an old-time tonic. I like to see old friends, and you actually see people you remember. Jon's Crew, a group of people who ride in remembrance of their friend, were there again this year. On one significant hill (are you getting a picture of the course, or do I need to emphasize that there were hills on it?), I pulled a BUTNZ! out of my jersey and held it up, so the people cheering at the top of the hill could see that I was going to toss it. As I did so, one of the guys yelled, "Are you Team Fish?"
"YES!" I said as I tossed the BUTNZ! and rode past, wondering how the heck he could know who we were.
"We have five of your BUTNZ!", he shouted as I rode on. He had come out with his family every year I have ridden, and because they are alone at the top of a really hard hill, shouting, cheering and ringing cowbells, they really stood out. So year after year, I tossed them BUTNZ!. Very cool! He actually has a Team Fish rookie BUTNZ!

I came up along another rider and we got to talking. He was riding on a bike clearly marked with IronMan stickers, and I thought that was pretty cool. His name was Steve, and it turns out he was not an IronMan. He was riding in memory of his father-in-law, Ira, who was a seven-time IronMan. The family had taken to calling him "Ira"nMan, and it was a joke they thought was pretty funny. Ira passed away suddenly from a heart attack this year, and Steve and the family were looking for a way to honor him, when they saw the LiveSTRONG Challenge. They realized this was exactly the type of challenge Ira would have loved -- physically demanding and also finding a way to give back. I thanked him for coming out, and choosing the Challenge to remember Ira.

We separated and I saw another guy riding alone, pedalled up and introduced myself. He asked about my dignosis and I told him my story, then he told me about his friend, the smartest guy he ever knew. They were in high school together, and had stayed friends over the years. Sadly, his friend was claimed by brain cancer, leaving behind his wife and two kids, aged 4 and 8. As he told me about it, he choked up, and it was clear how fresh all of this was, how unresolved his emotions were, but he said he and his friends were coming together in meaningful ways to help the family, and to honor their friend. It amazes me how much stronger this disease makes us, and also those who are left behind. It's one of the reasons I think we are going to beat this disease someday. Instead of despair, cancer awakens something within us, those who fight the disease and win, and those who are left behind after someone passes. It teaches who we are and what we are capable of, and it is simply astounding.

Paul and I rounded a turn, and I told him the next hill was going to be challenging, emphasizing the word in such a way as to let him know that, perhaps, those last 30+ miles of hills weren't in the same arena as this one. I remember this hill. As we started to climb, I actually started feeling better. My legs were under me and I rode up the hill, passing people as I went. I looked back and saw Paul was doing pretty well on the hill as well. I could tell it was putting "the hurt"on him, but he was powering through, slow and steady, grinding out the pavement.

We got to the top, and it was again decision time. Left for 70 miles or straight for 100 miles. Amazingly, we had made the cutoff time. Wisdom is the better part of valor, and we actually opted for the 70 mile course. I didn't feel defeated. I didn't feel disappointed. Seventy was my initial goal, and I was sticking to it. Paul was totally on board, so we would ride the second half of the Challenge together, all the way to the finish.

We rode down chip sealed roads (a nightmare), potholed roads (even worse) and silky smooth asphalt (the old hyms talk of Heaven's roads being paved with gold, but I know it's going to be a fresh coat of asphalt), arriving at the next rest area, which I remember as "The Worst Rest Stop in the World". I think it was the first year I did the Challenge. I stopped here and the volunteers seemed disinterested, there was very little to eat, and there was nothing going on. This is Sparta. Or, at best, Sparta-like.Even more disappointing, this stop is at a Fire Station, and I was riding in memory of a friend's son, a fireman who was killed tragically in a car crash. I couldn't help but think about how disappointed Donnie, the young man who was killed, would have been, and how different it would have been had he been in charge of things here. Fast-forward to this year, and I have to think Donnie's spirit informed the organizers of their shortcomings in this area, because there was an immediate change in feel to the stop. As soon as we pulled in, there was a six-year old kid running up and giving all of the riders high fives and congratulating them for getting this far.
"Were you in the Tour de France?" He kept asking all of the riders as this question as they pulled in, and they, of course, said, "No, no. Not me."
Until I got there.
"Yes," I said. I was! And it was awesome! Did you see me?"
"Yeah. You were on TV!"
"You're right! That was me! Thanks so much for all of your help. I really appreciate it, buddy! Here's a BUTNZ!"
He was overjoyed. I was too. It was a beautiful moment, and one I will cherish for a long time.

Paul and I saddled up and pedaled out of the stop. I felt really good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

LiveSTRONG 2012 Ride Report -- Part IV

And so, we were off. Like a herd of turtles. The first chute out of the parking lot is a slow affair, but I am fine with that because low-speed crashes rarely cause major damage. Patfish, Paul and I rode out together, onto the streets of Montgomery County. There is a moment where, as you start out, you want to do the entire ride as quickly as possible. You can always tell the first-timers by their enthusiasm and how quickly they go out of the gates. As an experienced rider, I remembered to hold back a little and just ride at a steady, somewhat restrained pace.

The first couple of miles are surprisingly difficult. Your body needs to remember how to ride, and until that happens, you actually feel winded. It's a little disconcerting, to be sucking for oxygen in the first couple of miles, but I have been to this rodeo before. My body started to settle in, and Pat and Paul and I fell into a nice, easy cadence.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. In fact, I was actually a little chilled for the first couple of miles, and unusual feeling for the LiveSTRONG event. The first couple of years I did it, the weather went to triple digits, with what had to be more than 90% humidity. We have also ridden in lightning storms, windy conditions, and a torrential downpour that caused a crash in the hills. By contrast, it was slated to be in the mid-70s, and I was ecstatic. This was, hands-down, the best weather we have EVER had.

The course starts with a series of rolling hills and we rolled up and down those hills. We talked about Paul's huge transformation from pudgy, out of shape guy to marathon-running, healthy-eating, clean living dad. We talked about Pat's kids, the coolest twins on the planet. It was good to reconnect with them in this venue. One of the things I realized last year was just how lonely the training regimen is for LiveSTRONG. There are a lot of empty miles on the road, getting into shape for an event of this magnitude. This year, I didn't train nearly as hard, and I was using this easy time at the beginning of the ride to decide whether to ride the 45 mile course or the 70 mile course. I knew I would pay for it on the ride (and especially AFTER the ride, if I went for the longer ride).

The way it's laid out, you get to checkpoints and you can decide how you feel, and if you want to go left for the shorter course or right for the longer course. Additionally, each time you take the longer course, it also gets progressively harder with longer and steeper climbs. Paul was asking me about the 100 mile course, and I was thinking about how best to temper some of that enthusiasm, so I explained the course options and then simply told him to take a wait and see attitutde at each of the checkpoints.

We got to the first refueling station and I needed to get water and Gatorade. In my haste to get everything squared away at the beginning of the ride, I hadn't made the time to fill my bottles. Still, I knew there was a station in the first fifteen miles and that I could borrow from Pat or Paul if I got into trouble. I did not need to do that, so I quickly got my liquids squared away, grabbed a banana and a peanut butter sandwich, and we got back on the bike. My experience has taught me to eat early in the event, because it's harder to eat as the day goes on. The banana has potassium which helps prevent cramps later on, so I made sure to eat that.

As always, the volunteers were AWESOME! It takes hundreds of people to put on an event like this, and the simple act of cutting bananas, making sandwiches and mixing Gatorade has not gone unnoticed. I always make a point of thanking the volunteers, because their support is so critical to this event.

Another on of my favorite things is the spectators that come out to cheer on the riders. They are so enthusiastic, and it is simply contagious. Even better is when an entire family comes out to cheer us on. My buddy Kurt makes BUTNZ! (check him out at www.butnz.com) with the Team Fish logo and we toss them out along the course. The volunteers love them, and Pat, Paul and I also make a point of tossing them to the kids. 

Off we went, riding forward. Always forward. I like to ask other riders what brings them to the event. At one point, I met up with Dave, a two-year colon cancer survivor. We talked about our experience and he asked my how I knew I had cancer. I told him my story, how the doctor had found a lump after I had told him I was having some pain. I thought it was simply due to riding too much, but then I found that was not the case and my whole life changed. He told me how he felt that he was not urinating properly, that something just seemed "off" and so he decided to go see his doctor. It probably saved his life. He is my age, so routine checkups were still five years away. It would have been too late. We lamented how men in particular seem to be reluctant to go to the doctor when things seem wrong. He talked about how many men he has talked into going to see the doctor.

If something seems OFF, GO SEE A DOCTOR. Please!