Saturday, August 25, 2007

Positively Floyd

I completed Floyd Landis' book, "Positively False" this week. Let me first make some disclosures: 1) I firmly believe that the French hate the fact that Americans have dominated the TDF for the past 8 years and are hell bent on discrediting us; 2) I am unsure of whether Floyd Landis cheated, but my impression of him from reading his book and from chatting with him for a few minutes atop of Columbine Mine a week before the Leadville 100 (if you're reading this, Floyd, I was one of the two guys that stopped to chat while your training partner changed a flat tire on the Columbine descent on Sunday, August 5th. I told you how great it was that you were riding the LT 100 and sincerely meant that) , is that he is a good dude, someone with whom I would enjoy sitting with, drinking a beer or three, and discussing cycling; 3) I remember a scene from the film "NFL Crunch Course" where an old offensive lineman freely admits (brags), "Hey, we all hold." Like some form of "cheating" is endemic in NFL linemen, I believe the same to be true among professional cyclists. My biases, revealed, read on.

A couple of things surprised me about the book. First, not that I ever doubted the single mindedness of Lance Armstrong, but the anecdotes detailing his intensity and, sometimes, childish irrationality, were eye opening. When you're the best at what you do, there is no need to feel threatened. Enjoy your supremacy, do not use it to demean and/or retard the progress of others. That's called poor sportsmanship. Lance, go soak up some sun, put a 45 on, and chill out. Second, as a practicing attorney (litigator), I find the hearing process used by WADA and USADA very arcane. They are responsible for doling out punishments that adversely affect the livelihoods of cyclists and other athletes, all of whom have a very short professional shelf life. While I find cheating reprehensible, my impression of the "legal process" available to athletes charged with using illicit performance enhancing drugs is that it is lacking in competence, structure, and fairness.

Floyd aptly describes a legal process that is inexorably slanted in favor of the governing body, an agency that he claims (perhaps rightfully) pursues victory at all costs. With limited to no pre-hearing discovery, arbitrators that are pre-selected by the governing body (read conflict of interest), and a dubious set of procedural rules, it is no wonder that athletes are 0'fer against the Man. Floyd laments the fact that unless you have tons of money to afford a top-notch attorney, you are doomed against the USADA. This is where Floyd misses the fact that his microcosmic world of cycling closely mirrors the larger US legal system as a whole. The quality of "justice", unfortunately, is often a factor of ones available resources. That is not to say that our system is rife with corruption. I do not believe that it is. My meaning is that money can buy great lawyers, the best experts, and, as a result, the ability to present a very strong case. I strongly agree with Floyd that the system he describes is broken and in need of a fix.

The book reads as if you were having a casual conversation with Floyd. It is by no means a scholarly work. I believe that was done on purpose to further convey the "folksy" side of Floyd. It makes for an enjoyable, low carb read.

As far as Floyd's defenses, they range in credibility from strong to grasping at straws. The strongest defense appears to be the sloppiness of the work done at the initial French lab. Mis-labeled samples, changed labels etc. begs the question as to whether there was some monkey business in Frogland. (See disclosure #1 above). Variances in T/E ratios are also suspect. It seems very odd that a machine analyzing the same sample would come up with several different ratios. If you shoot a radar gun at the same car traveling the same speed on three separate occasions, the results should be fairly consistent. Anecdotes about the skill level of the lab technicians and magnets attached to the lab's machines were unimpressive to me. Stick with the good stuff, Floyd. The meringue theory of law (throw everything on the wall and at least some of it will stick) dilutes your strong points.

As for my one conspiracy theory, I wonder why Floyd drank/used so many bottles of water (82 by his count) on his historic comeback ride. I know it was hot and that he was riding his legs off. Those are obvious and convenient explanations. I'm wondering if there was some hidden purpose. Was he trying to flush his system of something? Is that even possible? Otherwise, based upon all cyclists knowledge of the testing procedures, you know you will get caught so it is a no win proposition. Is it worth it to win the TDF and all of the benefits that comes with that if it means suffering through the slings and arrows of a positive test? Who knows. I doubt it, but you never know.

My final analysis is that I believe that Floyd Landis trained like a mad man. I believe that he worked his ass off to achieve a level of fitness to win the TDF. I believe that he had the appropriate experience to know how to win the TDF. I believe that his upbringing emphasized hard work, discipline, and the value of simple things like truth and honesty. It is for these reasons, and my bias against the puling French press and cycling authorities, that I want nothing more than to have Floyd vindicated.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm Back! Back in the Saddle Again!

One week to the day since The Event, I finally got back on a bike and rode. And, oh, did I ride. I did a simple 28 mile road loop from my house out to the end of River Road and back. I had, in the past, avoided the trek in from River Road due to the hills on the in-bound leg. I thought that they were too tiring. HA! Now, not so much.

I felt great today. I hammered up every hill as hard as I could. The hills on River that I once thought were too tiring were mole hills, compared to last week's mountains. But the highlight of the ride was a call that I received from Restoration Hardware while I was at the furthest point from my house. The new bed that was supposed to be delivered between 11-2 (aren't they so kind for giving us such a condensed window of time??) was now arriving at 10:30. I received the call at 9:55. It had taken me 1:05 to get to the end of River. I now had 35 minutes to get back. I made it back in :45, shaving :20 off my out-bound time. What was the motivation? The new bed? Hardly. Two things: 20 minutes and 358 days, the time over 12 hours last week and the days until next year's Leadville 100, respectively. Let the obsession continue....

Friday, August 17, 2007

Woody: The Other Guy

Having attended an all male school from grades 6-12 and been raised by my father from the age of 13-18, some see extreme irony in the fact that I have three daughters. Yet they forget that I have a son, albeit a furry guy, named Woody.

Woody was our first kid. A practice run, if you will. We bought Woody from a breeder in 1997. Woody is a purebred Cockapoo. When I went to pick him up to put him in the car for his first ride home with us, he was sporting lipstick, and not the kind that women apply to their lips. At that point, at least for me, his name was made. When Jill raised the question about a name for him on the ride home, I relayed the anecdote about Woody's wood when I went to put him in the car. Jill blushed. She hemmed and hawed. How could that form the basis of his name? How would (no pun intended) we explain that to our friends? Family? Who cares. It was too funny. And so it was that Woody's wood would stick with him forever.

Not that a simple name is good enough in this family. Oh no, there must be nicknames. Some of Woody's call signs: Wood, Woodman, Woodster, Lissle Zozzie (Poppy's name for him), Mr. Butt (long story), Mister, Woodmont, Woodrow (when he is in trouble), Woodrow Wilson Dog (when he is real big trouble!), Eku (the kids came up with this one. I have no clue why), Woody Otter (after the playful otter we saw in Allentown, PA), and, recently, Old Man.

Jill a/k/a The Runt

Jill is The Runt. It is my main term of endearment for my wife/best friend/love of my life. It is also her comic book, superhero alter-ego that specializes in mischief, malapropisms, and general silliness. It's a part of her that warms my heart everyday. Need an example?

March. NCAA Tournament time.

Jill (innocently): What does NIT stand for?

Kevin (feeling knowledgeable): The National Invitation Tournament. It's for college teams that don't make the NCAA Tournament.

Jill (being serious): Oh, I though it meant the Not Invited Tournament?

Kevin (balancing snot rocket on chin from sudden laughter): Can you get me a tissue, please?

Falling Asleep One Night.

Kevin (sitting silently watching TV while Jill dozes off).

Jill (out of no where): You little bowler!

And the list goes on. Laughter is great medicine and Jill is my favorite pharmacy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life After Leadville

Back to reality. I've been in court every day since returning from Leadville on the 13th. Tomorrow, mercifully, is Friday and the end of the short week following The Event. I'm looking forward to a long road or mountain bike ride on Saturday morning to stretch my recovering legs.

I've got Leadville on the brain. I'm constantly searching for blogs about the race, peoples' experiences, and pictures. Is there a support group besides my fellow Leadvilleheads in the Yahoo Leadville 100 group?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Leadville Trail 100 2007, My First Race

(L-R) Jill and Me Tangled Up In Blue!; Brent and Lisa are certainly Two for the Showing! ; Sharone and Gary always wearing The Cutest Things!

Distances, elevations, and gradients, oh my!

I’m done. It’s over. 104 taint killing miles are under my belt. The good news is that I MADE IT! The somewhat bad news is that I did not complete the course in the required 12 hours, so my efforts did not get me a Leadville 100 silver belt buckle and the sweatshirt with my name and time on it. My time: 12:20.37. This was, by far, the single hardest thing that I have EVER attempted. And with the exception of convincing Jill to marry me and fathering three incredible kids, it is, by far, my greatest accomplishment.

A little about the race: it is an “out and back” course. 50 miles out and 50 miles back. My fancy GPS tells me that I climbed 12,700 feet of mountains over the 104 mile course (clearly the Leadville 104 does not sound nearly as sexy as the Leadville 100). The race starts in downtown Leadville, literally a one stop light town. 900 riders lined the start yesterday morning broken down by intended (hoped for) finishing time. I placed myself in the 11-12 hours finishers area. Floyd Landis and Dave Weins, the four time Leadville 100 champion, were probably at the front. The atmosphere at the start was an incredible mix of nerves, testosterone, and anticipation. I expected my stomach to be riddled with butterflies (huge ones) but I was eerily calm and excited. The starting area is lined with hundreds of families, support personnel, and Leadville residents, all cheering on loved ones and all wondering what in the hell would prompt someone to do this to their bodies. The race organizers count down the start, giving warnings at 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minute. They must have taken classes in Chinese water torture. Finally, when the clock struck 6:30, the race director aimed a shotgun in the air and fired. Race on! What followed was a symphony of cheers, best wishes, and the whirr of knobby tires cascading over the pavement.

We rode out of town in a huge peleton. The first three and a half miles are on pavement and are all downhill. That is great for the start but, if you dare to think ahead, it means an uphill finish. The course then shifts to a 3 mile gravel/sandy trail leading to the base of the day’s first climb: Mount St. Kevin’s (pronounced Keevins). St Kevin’s is a very steep, 2+ mile dirt/gravel/sand road complimented by fist size rocks just for good measure. As if that is not enough, the trail was scarred with ruts from last weeks rains. The peleton crawled up the first climb in some semblance of order. We had all been warned from veteran riders not to “get caught up in the adrenaline rush” of riders flying up the first climb. Going out too hard, too fast is a recipe for disaster we were told. So I was very excited to see the large pack moving at a very comfortable pace up St. Kevin’s. Before I knew it, we were close to the top (10,800 ft) and I was “on time” according to my pre-race time splits. After St. Kevin’s, you descend down some rocky dirt trails and come out onto a paved road. For the next 3.5 miles, there is a blissful descent on this sinewy mountain road at very fun speeds. According to my GPS, I hit 45 mph on this descent. But going down means having to go up the other side. Enter the next climb: Sugarloaf.

The Sugarloaf climb starts at the bottom of the aforementioned 3.5 paved road descent. The first 1.1 miles are also paved road, a surface condition that I would grow to crave during this race. On this climb, I wanted to get into a comfortable (relative term) rhythm, keeping a pace of about 7-8mph. Once up this paved section, you turn 180 degrees onto a dirt/sand/gravel road and climb some more, a lot more, up to 11,200 ft. But before you get to 11,200 feet, you make another 180 degree turn off of the relatively smooth dirt/sand/gravel road onto what has to be Leadville’s signature surface condition: sand/dirt/gravel/fist and larger sized rocks that toss you around and make for a VERY bumpy, difficult ride. The bumpy and difficult part was, unfortunately, the longest part of this climb. The reward for summiting Sugarloaf is a descent down the Powerline, so named because of the electrical powerlines that are immediately overhead (Picture on right of Powerline courtesy of . Powerline is a rutted, steep, rocky mess that dares you to go fast at the risk of crashing into the trees lining the sides and/or breaking a collarbone from an endo when your wheel gets caught in a rut or stopped by a large rock. My strategy going into Leadville was to scream down all descents and push as hard as I could on the flats since climbing is/was my weakness. I held to strategy on Powerline and, as I passed rider after cautious rider, thought to myself that no one should be allowed to have this much fun during such a hard race. I flew down Powerline and made my way back to flat pavement on my way to the first aid station and check point at mile 26: Pipeline. My goal was to reach Pipeline in 2:30 minutes. I was delighted to look down at my GPS and see that I was on-time. (close-up photo of Powerline courtesy of

The next 14 miles are as flat as Leadville gets, meaning there was only about 900 feet of elevation gain over this portion of the course. This section is a mixture of some paved road and a lot of the now very familiar dirt/sand/gravel mix, but at least there were no fist sized rocks!! My goal was to ride this section in about 1:15. I teamed up with other riders to form a paceline to allow aerodynamics to help us. At about the 12 mile mark on Pipeline, we were descending a very steep dirt hill known as the North Face. Race volunteers were telling us to slow down because there was a rider at the bottom with a broken femur. That was sobering. Before I knew it, I was looking down on Twin Lakes, two huge, beautiful mountain lakes which serves as the next checkpoint/aid station and eagerly anticipating seeing Jill and Olivia (my wife and eldest daughter) who were waiting for me there. I flew down a paved hill, crossed a highway (they stopped traffic for us Leadville riders) and started riding through a ¼ mile of supporters who, regardless of who you were, cheered for you as if you had just saved their drowning baby. I was literally moved to tears. I felt invincible. About a half mile away, in the official “crew” area of the Twin Lakes aid station were Jill and Olivia. Again, tears but also a HUGE smile. I was so happy to see them. Jill had taken a Camelback bladder and filled it with my energy drink for the ride up Columbine. In my excitement and haste, I forgot to fill my water bottle with straight water, a mistake for which I would soon pay dearly. I gave Jill and Olivia a lot of very smelly hugs and kisses and hopped back on my bike and rode out of Twin Lakes to the cheers and well wishes of the hundreds of people there. What a great feeling!! After I turned the corner out of Twin Lakes, I started the 10 mile climb up Columbine and immediately started feeling a bit queasy.

(Olivia "Ovie" Kane, 8, and her very proud (of her) pop at the Twin Lakes aid station out-bound)>>>>>

Sidebar: In order to ride for a 100 miles, you have to maintain your energy. I had trained with a product called Sustained Energy which contains just about everything I would need to fuel my body for the entire 12 hours. Based upon the recommendation of a veteran rider, I mixed the Sustained Energy into my main water supply in my Camelback and set the timer on my GPS to take sips every five minutes. Your body can only process about 250-350 calories per hour. Moreover, your stomach can only process about 24-30 ounces of water an hour, depending upon heat, weight, etc. I thought that my nutrition program was right on. Enter the Columbine climb.

So here I am at the start of the longest climb of the day, having just kissed Jill and Olivia goodbye for what I had hoped would only be 3 hours and 15 minutes. I figured the climb to Columbine would take me 2:30 and the descent would add 45 minutes to that. After the first half mile, I decided to stop and try and pee. I had consumed over 100 oz of liquid and had not peed at this point. I pee and then go to my water bottle to clear my mouth of the film left by my Sustained Energy, and realize that I had little to no plain water. I was instantly dismayed. Rather than turning around and going back to the aid station, I decided to push forward. The first 8 miles of Columbine are the dirt/sand/gravel mix with your fist sized rocks thrown in very sporadically for good measure. Most riders can push a good pace through this section. I was hurting. Badly. I was in granny gear (the lowest gear on my bike) barely riding 2.5 mph. I felt hot, queasy, and very fatigued. I was drinking regularly from my Camelback but I was hating the taste of the Sustained Energy. Unfortunately, I had no choice. I stopped several times on this “easy” portion of Columbine to catch my breath and gather my wits. I eventually made it up to the final two miles of Columbine. At this point, the trail to the summit turns nasty. The pitch becomes twice as steep and the surface becomes a lot worse. Fist sized rocks? Sure. Try head sized. When you look up, all you see is a two mile stretch of riders walking their bikes. It’s not a pretty sight and is certainly not great for motivation. I started walking my bike up the steep section, stopping every 10-15 steps to catch my breath. At this point, I was having VERY bleak thoughts. I was, as a prior Leadville rider wrote in his post-race blog, wallowing. I was feeling sorry for myself. For the first time, I was very seriously considering turning around and riding back to Twin Lakes, my race over. I was an instant from acting on this thought when the angel appeared on the shoulder opposite the devil screaming, "quit, quit, quit!", albeit an angel who could be mistaken for Vince Lombardi. I thought of the fact that my parents did not raise a quitter. I thought of the example it would set for my children. I thought of the training that we had done to get to Leadville. I looked down on my handlebars and saw the quote that I had written on my handlebars from Herb Brooks when he was the coach of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team. After beating the Russians, they were losing the gold medal match. Brooks walked into the locker room at the end of the first period, starred down his players and said the following, “If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your fucking grave.” He started walking out of the locker room and turned around, “Your fucking grave!” They ended up winning. If I quit Leadville, I’ll take it to my fucking grave I thought. Finally, there was the thought of Daryle (my dearest friend, business partner and fiercest competitor in all things in life) riding Leadville next year on a unicycle and telling me it was no big deal. I had to finish!! I also knew that there was plain water at the top, something I desperately wanted.

I’m not quite sure where I found the energy but I made it to the summit of Columbine at 12,600 ft. in slightly over three hours, well off my budgeted time. A volunteer took my bike and asked me what I needed. Besides new legs, I told him, I wanted a banana and some PLAIN WATER. I drank three cups of plain water and chomped down on the banana. I stood for a second enjoying my feast when I felt the sudden rumblings of an angry interior. Look out folks, he’s going to blow! And blow I did. I painted the top of Columbine with a torrent of Sustained Energy, water, and banana. Five full heaves later, my stomach was empty and I was a new man. I actually felt good again. Plus I knew that the next eight miles was all down hill. I texted Jill that I had summited Columbine. I believe that my exact words were, “HOLY F&*K THAT WAS HARD!” I mounted my mechanical steed and pointed it down. I was passing the cautious with reckless abandon. My bike was bouncing all over the place, thrown left, right and up from the huge rocks and ruts, and I was loving it!!! I was having fun again. I eventually made it to the bottom in my budgeted time of just over 45 minutes. I again rode through the Twin Lakes aid station and, this time, felt almost embarrassed by the cheers and encouragement. Didn’t these people know that I almost quit? I took close to four hours to go up and back. Why are you cheering me? Because that’s the spirit of Leadville, and I was ready to start drinking the Kool-Aid.

There, at Twin Lakes stood two of the most beautiful images a guy could see: Jill and Olivia. I told Jill to empty my Camelback of the Sustained Energy and fill it with just plain water. As between drinking more of that stuff or risking a bonk later in the race, I chose the bonk. I told of my permanent mark at the top of Columbine. I was also encouraged to know that one of my teammates, Dean Gregory, also had “prayed” on Columbine. I came through Twin Lakes in-bound with about 7 hours of the race complete. I beat the 8 hour cut-off at Twin Lakes in-bound. That meant I had the honor of proceeding onto the Pipeline aid station 14 miles away and beating the 9 hour cut-off there. It also meant that I had 5 hours to tackle the remaining 40 miles, including the dreaded Powerline ascent.

I rode out of Twin Lakes on auto-pilot. I was fueled by the incredible encouragement of my wife and daughter, Lisa Golstein, Allan Goldberg and a slew of Brent’s Colgate fraternity brothers who came to the race. Then I started doing some math. I had five hours to finish to get the buckle. It was going to take me at least 1:20-1:30 to do the Pipeline section on my weary legs and then I had to climb Powerline. Oh boy. I budgeted an hour for Powerline. I figured once I finished Powerline, “all” I had to do was enjoy the fast descent down the other side of Sugarloaf, hammer up the 3.5 mile paved portion of St. Kevin’s, descend the far side of St. Kevin’s and race into town for the final 6.5 miles, the first half of which is flat, the second half of which rises 500 feet over 3.5 miles. Harder things have been done.

The ride through the Pipeline section was harder than I had anticipated. I had conveniently forgotten about the incredibly steep pitch of the North Face, a two tiered climb that no one rides. That hurt. After the first 5 miles of Pipeline in-bound, things got better and I hit some flat sections that I worked to speed through, trying desperately to make up time. I began to see the familiar sight of cars and people, signifying my arrival into Pipeline aid station. Again, more cheers and praise from complete strangers. Just amazing. I arrived at the Pipeline aid station with 3:20 minutes left in the race. I quickly ate two bananas and had some water. Thankfully, I was able to keep both where they belonged, in my stomach. I got back on my bike and headed to Powerline.

You can see Powerline from the road after the Pipeline aid station. It has been described as, “a scar that runs straight up the mountain.” Making matters worse, there are three “false summits” to Powerline, meaning that after you climb these incredibly steep, rocky, rutted sections and think you’re done, you’re not. The first third of Powerline was too steep to ride. I walked the bike up taking baby stpes and stopping to catch my breath and relieve cramping every 20 steps or so. It was on this climb that I met a guy from Wyoming. He is in the Air Force and is responsible for an ICBM silo. I started calling him, “Rocket,” because I didn’t know his real name and, quite frankly, was too tired to ask. So Rocket and D.C., his name for me, trudged up Powerline, baby step by baby step, cursing the sadistic race organizers that placed this, the hardest ascent, at the 80 mile mark. As I walked my bike up Powerline, I kept an eye on my timer. I was deflated to see the one hour mark pass with at least one third more of Powerline to climb. I made it to the top of Powerline in 1:30, did some quick math and realized that I now had only 1:50 to finish. The good news was that I was on another descent. I flew down the other side of Sugarloaf, again bouncing over rocks and ruts at speeds that only my teammates Brent, Gary, Dean, Wobber, and Allan could appreciate. I hit pavement and made the 1.1 miles pavement descent to the bottom of Sugarloaf and started the 3.5 pavement climb up St. Kevin’s. I would have ordinarily done this climb in granny gear, taking my time at 3 mph. I knew that I did not have this luxury. I shifted into my middle ring and started hammering the pedals. I was very encouraged that I could keep a pace of 7-8 mph going uphill. Moreover, I was astonished at how good I felt doing it. I had ingested a banana and two Hammer gels since leaving Twin Lakes. I had no clue about the source of my energy but I was not about to question it. I fought my way up the 3.5 miles and arrived at the final aid station, the Carter Summit. I had been told to drink a Coke here for fuel for the final 11 miles in-bound. Again, one of the incredible race volunteers took my bike and asked me what I wanted. “A Coke” I said. “We have Sprite,” was the answer. No, no, you see, I’m supposed to have a Coke here. That’s what everyone said you were supposed to do!! I drank the Sprite, ate two more bananas and was told I had 50 minutes to finish. As I left the aid station, the volunteer who helped me said, “Enjoy the downhill.” So, belly full of Sprite and banana (I kept it all down again, yeah me!) I rolled out having wonderful thoughts of bombing another down hill section, only all I could see were people walking their bikes ahead of me. No, you see, this is supposed to be a down hill. The aid station guy told me so!! Curses on him!! I was deflated and hiking my bike up a series of short, steep climbs once again. I then made it to the top of St. Kevin’s and the beautiful down hill. I was angry. I was tired. My ass was filing divorce papers. I had 8 miles and less than 30 minutes to finish in under 12. Not even Daryle, the man born with a lucky horseshoe up his arse could pull this one off. Nonetheless, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. I bombed the descent and made my way to the flat dirt road at the bottom of St. Kevin’s. I pushed as hard as I could over the next three miles until I came to the railroad tracks that separate Leadville from the mountains. I’m not sure which side is the wrong side of the tracks. I didn’t care. I was just happy to be crossing. I was on a paved road for about a mile which directed me to “the Boulevard” the final climb of the day. The Boulevard started with a steep rocky section like I had ridden on the out-bound sections of St. Kevin’s and the upper section of Sugarloaf. This section is relatively short and then gives way to a false flat, sand/gravel/dirt road that leads you up towards Leadville.

When training, we contemplated the doomsday scenario of what would happen if you were at the bottom of the Boulevard with 15 minutes to finish. There I was, at the bottom of the Boulevard, though I only had 8 minutes to finish. The belt buckle and the sweatshirt were gone. I was crushed.

I labored up the Boulevard with thoughts of all of the training I had done, the time lost on Columbine, and what I could have done better/differently to meet my 12 hour goal. Dark clouds filled the sky, mirroring my mood at the moment. And then, it began to drizzle. Great. As if I needed another reason to feel poorly. Then, “screw you!,” I thought. I’m finishing! So I completed the Boulevard and hit pavement once again, took a quick right onto E 6th Street and the .6 mile climb up the street to the finish line. I heard more cheers and encouragement as I made my way up 6th Street. I thanked everyone who cheered for me but hung my head, knowing I hadn’t made it in time. As I approached the finish line, there stood Jill, Olivia, Meredith and Danielle (Meredith and Dani are my middle and youngest daughters, respectively), adorned in all of the party gear sent to us by the Bobb family. They were cheering wildly. They were jumping up and down.

They ran the last 50 yards along side of me to the finish line. Any dark thoughts that I had, any feelings of despair or failure, instantly vanished. I rode 104 miles in 12:20. I beat the demons. I had pushed myself harder and father than I ever had. I jumped off the bike with a yard to the finish, raised my bike over my head and let out a primal scream. “YES!!!!!” I did it and, more importantly, it’s over!


My wife and kids for putting up with all of the time out of the house training. Jill and Olivia for being the best crew a guy could ask for. To Meredith and Danielle for your unbridled exuberance at the finish. I love you guys!!!

To Brent for being the unofficial/official team captain and coach. Brent, as is his nature, took the lead and organized training sessions, found us a coach, and otherwise gave great order to this entire experience. Thank you for pushing me and for setting a great example.

To Mike and Rikki Postal for their incredible generosity in allowing us to use their home in Vail for the time that we were here for the race. BTW, we changed the sheets.

To all of the donors that supported our team. Your generosity is greatly appreciated and will benefit the First Descents attendees more than you will ever know.


Brent Goldstein (second from right), he whom I anointed team captain, finished in 11:11. Brent fought through severe leg cramps the entire final 40 miles of the race. His courage and grit, both during the race and prior to that with training, are incredible. Moreover, he is responsible for raising over $78,000 for First Descents, an amount of money that will send countless kids to a First Descent camp, helping their mental and physical recovery from cancer. That alone deserves a buckle.

Gary Morris (far left) was the stud of the group, finishing in 10:56. Gary had a great race. He trained very hard and reaped the rewards of those efforts yesterday. Oh, and Gary did the race on a hard tail – i.e. no rear suspension. If my ass is filing for divorce, his is calling the police for assault and battery. Congrats, G-Mo.

Dean Gregory (third from left) finished in 12:07. Dean, like me, was hurting on Columbine and that made the difference in the race. Dean is very strong and will buckle. We may even get him to wear a heart rate monitor next year.

John “Wobber” Wontrobski (cool dude with glasses in middle) finished in 12:50. Wobber “held my hair” and gave me water at the top of Columbine when I was donating my stomach contents. That’s Wobber. He is as genuine and kind and selfless a guy as you will ever meet. He lost time helping me and probably others along the course. He is a true champion.

Allan Goldberg (second from left) busted his ass to get to the Twin Lakes aid station within the four hour cut-off. Allan is an accomplished tri-athlete and will ride your legs off on a road bike and can run forever. A mountain bike, perhaps not so much. Nonetheless, Allan, as is his nature, gave it his all and fought hard to complete the race. When he missed the cut-off at Twin Lakes, he hung around with the crew and helped everyone of us as we came through. Did I mention that Allan beat cancer for a second time in his life this year, ending his chemo treatments just this past April? Allan, you are an incredible friend and competitor. See you at the starting line next year.

More on the history of the First Descents Team and our leaders, Brent and Allan.


Which answers the question, “Will I do this again?” You bet. And I will buckle, come hell or high water.

Ken Clouber, co-race director, gave the field a “rah-rah” speech on Friday, punctuating the lecture with the mantra that, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” You bet your ass . See you all next year at the starting line.