Friday, July 31, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Behrs Ride

I got a chance to ride with my friend George Behr. George and I have known each other for about 5 years now, through church and men's group. He is brand new to cycling, which made yesterday's ride fun. You remember fun on a bicycle, right? We started out with a C+ Level group that was supposed to ride 13-15 miles per hour.

I say supposed to because they didn't. Not exactly, anyway. They were AVERAGING 14...up the side of one of the mountains out here. For a first-time rider, it was NOT the place to be: a pack of testosterone-laden guys looking to impress each other because they can't hack it with the B Level riders. Toughen up, move to the next level and suffer a little to get better, fellas. It works. Honestly.

So George and I broke off from those idjucts and went our own way. I took him down along the Yellow Breeches, a world-class trout stream with a low overhanging tree canopy covering the road-it's cool, quiet and smooth, an ideal road for a beginning rider. It was beautiful. We eased up so we could talk about kids, cycling and life in general. It's actually renewing to be out with a complete newbie because it takes me back to when I was there, trying to figure out things like stopping, starting and not dying while clipping into and out of pedals (Hint: Unclip BEFORE you NEED to unclip). We then noodled up through some rolling hills and cornfields and eased into the high school parking lot for a 21 mile jaunt together.

The cool thing is that George said he was going to start making it a ritual, already planning his next rides. Me? I sat back and listened like a junkie that just introduced someone to the crack that I am selling. Welcome to the addiction, George. I think you're going to love it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Had a Revelation...

As you might suspect, I have been thinking about the Third Annual Team Fish or Cut Bait assault on cancer at the LiveSTRONG ride in Philadelphia. We'll be cycling into the hills outside of Philadelphia in a 100 mile Tour de Force to fight cancer. What I have been thinking about are the forces lined up against us. It's not going to be easy: the rain has cut into some training, but we've put our bikes on trainers, risen early to get out and come up with other creative ways to get in our time. The heat has been non-existent so far, which means we can't prep for the inevitable 95+ degree muggy weather (if you don't know "muggy" it's Philadelphian for unbearably hazy hot and humid). There's also the economy. And add too that the fact that Lance only came in third at the Tour de France at the tender age of 37. I think he really needs too step his game up.

Oh. And then there's that thing with the economy. You may have heard about it on the news. Which has caused me to reevaluate, I think in a new way, how I am measuring success this year. The last two years, I wanted to reach certain dollar levels. This year I have spent more time thinking about what's REALLY important and this is what I have arrived at: THE PEOPLE.

That's why this year I am going to start measuring Team Fish's success by the number of people we "bring" with us to the event. Look, the economy is going to do what the economy is going to do. What I am hoping and praying is that you will give what you are able to give, whatever that is for you. What I want to do is bring an army of people with me, in thought, hope, prayer and spirit, who are willing to say, "I am with Team Fish!"

So there you have it. And there it is. IF YOU'RE ABLE to give, and you want to stand as part of Team Fish as we go off to battle, YOU CAN CLICK HERE.

If you're not able to give, your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes will be with us. You can leave them on this blog in the comments section, or send them to me directly. Go Fish!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well, Now That Was Fun

Thought this was tres' cool:

Thanks, Spaniard.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On the Drainer

There are times when you just can't ride a bicycle on the road. Rain. Cold. Dark. Last night it was a combination of things that included rain, dark and guests. My friends brought their two daughters camping at Knoebel's, a great family park near our home. We shot up there for half a day, had an awesome time, then came back and settled everyone down for the evening.

By the time I could even think about riding, everyone was in bed except Michael and me. I ran out to the video store rented Iron Man (if you haven't seen it, get it!) and we watched it together while I road for an hour on the stationary trainer (aka The Drainer) an exercise in mindless monotony. Sometimes you just have to get the time in when you can.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And So It Begins...

Team Fish is once again building. My brother joined Team Fish or Cut Bait today, marking the official beginning of the cancer ass-kicking season. The LiveSTRONG Challenge is in Philadelphia on August 23rd, an opportunity to raise money to fight cancer by riding a bicycle 10, 40, 70 or 100 miles. You can also run or walk the 5K.

There are several ways you can join Team Fish as we fight cancer. First, you can get on your bike and ride with us! You can go to the Team Fish or Cut Bait Homepage and join our team. Last year, my brother Pat, cousin Michael and friend Kurt joined Team Fish. I would love to see even MORE people come out this year. Think about it: You can ride 10 miles and raise $250.00, right? (Note: the $250 was VERY daunting the first time I did it...I raised it in a week. All of the people who have ridden with me have said the same thing. Don't let that be what stops you if you're thinking about it.)

Second, you can give to the LAF in support of my ride. Last year we raised more than $5,000. Go to Teh Fundraising Lownje of Fish and make a pledge. Furthermore, I am all-in for Challenge Giving! Last year, we had a chance to Shave the Wookie! That's right, yours truly shaved his legs at the $1,000 threshold.

Then, I shaved the head at $2,000...

Rest assured, if you have a recipe for insanity, or just an itch you need to scratch, and want to offer me a challenge, the negotiations can begin (just ask Bill Moore and his buddy Pat and friends...).

Last, inspiration comes in many, many forms. I do not speak lightly of TEAM FISH. It is a TEAM. And that means so much more than simply the riders who are out there with me. It is the people who support us in this endeavor. Many of you have given money for the event, and as a cancer survivor who has benefited from that (testicular cancer was a death sentence thirty years ago. Now, it's 95% curable if they get it early), I assure you, no amount is too small. What REALLY matters to me is the PEOPLE for whom I am riding: you, your friends, your loved ones, your sons and daughters, the living and the saints. It is the spirit of TEAM FISH to bring everyone with us, in body, mind and spirit.

Some of you have given your time, helping me get prepared both physically and mentally (Mrs Fish and Little Fish have been especially helpful here). Others used their unique talents or skills too add something special to the ride, like Kurt and his BUTNZ! I share them on the ride with fellow riders and survivors and they never fail to bring a a matter of fact, I had people remember me from the first year as "The Buttton Guy".

Or, maybe you have mad photoshop skills...

By far the greatest inspiration I receive are the stories. So often, people will make a donation to my page in honor or memory of someone and e-mail me to tell me just why that person is so special. I would be continually honored if you have someone you want me to ride for and you want to share them with me.

And so there you have it, and there it is. It's open season on cancer, and I'm going hunting. Who's with me?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Do You Do It?

I've been riding more and more. The other day I shambled through the door, a disheveled mess, and Mrs. Fish asked me why I do it. I wasn't really sure how to answer, having just ridden nearly 50 miles and arriving home cramped, somewhat dehydrated, completely blasted and in a state where the only thing I wanted to do was put my head in the ice chest in the freezer. It was a question I probably should have asked myself, but I didn't.

Until yesterday. I was riding another 50 miler when everything faded away. Runners talk about runner's high, and I have been there before, a long time ago but not on a bike. I was pedalling away when I crested a hill and I became a single being, my bike, my legs, my heart, my lungs, all in complete harmony with the world around me. I could feel my soul drawing on the energy of everyone and everything around me. Everything was a part of me, I was a part of everything and I could feel my heart beating as I breathed in the world and we were all...ONE.

And that is why I do it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

National Stuttering Association

Little Fish stutters, and has pretty much since the age of 3. It was one of those things that Mrs. Fish and I noticed and were largely poo-pooed by doctors, teachers and the like. Still, as teachers of special education, we knew something was amiss.

Scanning the intarwebz revealed very little information, most of it psuedo-scientific stuff that ranged between blaming the parents (you talk too fast) or the environment (she has too much pressure on her). Then, we discovered the National Stuttering Association. We corresponded with some people there and decided to go to the National Conference in Atlanta two years ago (farther down the page HERE).

There, we met amazing people, but more importantly, Little Fish met, for the first time, kids just like her. It was a revelation, and she came to a deeper understanding of her stuttering, as did we. I went from hoping for a "cure" to hoping she would be empowered like the people we saw before us. Most amazing were the teens, kids who had been through all sorts of garbage but come out on top as confident, competent, talented and gifted communicators. I even met a Yankee fan I could almost like....

This year was a reunion and a reconfirmation of all that, and more. We saw teens that we met who have now entered college, and it was incredible. One of the most important conference moments fro me was listening to Jay, a person who stutters and has CP, who is working on his Masters degree. His message was inspiring: don't let stuttering or anything define you or limit you. Stuttering is something you do, not who you are. If you choose not to be a victim, you will not be a victim. It was, for me, the best part of the conference.

I also enjoyed the resort with my family. Floating on the Lazy River at the hotel while gently drifting past the lizards, cacti and cackling birds was great, as was the water chute. I also got out to run in the early morning, before the temperature soared to 117 degrees, making everything quite unlivable out of doors.

The food in Arizona was amazing, but by far the best meal was a simple guacamole made table-side by our waiter. Simply unbelievable...Nom Nom Nom. I loved the spices of the Southwest cuisine, and chorizo is the food of the Gods.

We also had a fantastic time at the Phoenix Zoo, where we got to feed a giraffe! The walk was pretty warm, but it was soooooooo worth it. I thought the hyenas were really cool, too. I was looking at the javelinas when this kid next to me said, "Hey mom, look at this wolf!"
"Oh, very nice," said the mom.
"Ummmmmm...they're wild pigs," I said.
"What?" she asked, somewhat incredulously.
I just mumbled and left. How do you not know a wild pig from a wolf? Seriously.

The best thing about the NSA is how connected I feel with my family after it's all over. My wife, who bravely presents every year, educating parents about their rights in the education system and how to operate within that system to get the most for their children. My brave, strong, amazing daughter who continues to grow in ability and confidence. I love NSA for what it's given us and how much that grows every year.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Word of the Day, by Little Fish: Shizofrantic

schiz⋅o⋅fran⋅tic  /ˌskɪtsəˈfrantic [skit-suh-fran- tic]


1. Psychiatry. Related to dementia praecox, though more often seen in dogs. A severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all, of the following features: extreme tail wagging; running around in circles at a high rate of speed; licking face, hands, legs and toes; utterly losing one's mind, especially when a person you loves comes through the door or down the stairs.

2. a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements, especially where the owner is calm and the dog is decidedly not.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fishing with Little Fish

"The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing."
--Babylonian Proverb

I took Little Fish fishing today and she did great. We both caught fish and she brought in the biggest one. It was a really fun daddy-daughter time.

We hiked down to the Conodoguinnet, a local creek and set up our area. We casted for a bit with no success when a guy came flying down the hill with three Alaskan Malamutes and flew into where we were fishing. He just couldn't control them. So, we moved upstream and that's when we started hooking them. Between the two of us, we probably picked up a dozen fishies.