Day 3 120 Miles
Today we dedicate our ride to Aaron Peterson, a 36 year old young man who regretfully is one of the rare adult HLH cases known currently. He is at Bellevue Hospital in NY and can use some serious prayers and positive energy support. Aaron was going to propose to his fiancé but not much time before he became very ill. Now he is on a ventilator fighting hard. Today we cycle for you Aaron, hang in there, don’t give up!!
Courtesy of the Akin Foundation
Day three was full of interesting experiences. The day started at 7.30am with rain, chilly and wet roads. The first few miles were miserable but the rest of the day weather was ideal for a long stroll on the bike. No sun, no rain (just wet shoes) and clouds making the weather our friend but just, like with HLH, you think things are safe and sounds the hills kept climbing and steeper …and …. steeper, it was as if there was never a downhill. Bolt (aka Justin Akin) led the peloton like a true leader while Iron Man (aka Sean Feltoe, HLH/BMT Survivor), Energizer Bunny (aka Doug Myers) and Hercules (aka Olivier Gillier; Hercules due to his abnormally massive calves) were dragging after him screaming “slower slower bolt!!!”. Note that a peloton leader takes about 30% more effort than the followers as he creates a wind tunnel for the rest of the team.
Early morning prep with support staff Ann.
The leader split from the pack at mile 40. Like a true lightning he ripped into the road. His tracks are now a legend in Mississippi. They are named the Bolt Tracks of Mississippi. We nicked named him Bolt because he truly goes up hill at 25 mph speed…ridiculously fast...without even cracking a sweat!! Note the rest of us social cyclist go up the hill at 12 mph when we feel ambitious… thus rarely. Bolt is a legend and we expect him soon to start the Tour de France. Go Bolt Go!!!
The rest of us misfits, namely Iron Man, Energizer Bunny and Hercules, stayed behind and dragged our tooshies up the hills begging the lord for mercy. Climb…climb… One optimist called Iron Man said full joy “Oh look a down hill”; but the other optimist said “yes but that means we have an uphill to follow”. The total feet climbed were about 3000 feet in total by end of day. So when I say climb it was CLIMB BABBY CLIMB!
Regretfully the climbing came at a cost. Hercules was downgraded and renamed Achilles because by lunch time Hercules’s Achilles (aka Olivier) had given out. Iron Man (aka Sean) also needed to retire as his knee gave out again. Iron Man still fights many HLH/BMT scars from all the steroids. May the blog state that he is truly a hero to all us cyclist for his strength and his positive attitude. The drop out of 2 cyclists left 2 cyclists standing, but to the rescue came Speedy Gonzalez (aka Dennis), with a repaired bike and a ready to go desire to climb hills. Speedy took the baton from Iron Man and Achilles. Iron Man and Achilles were very disappointed that after 300 miles they needed to stop and ice many Achilles and even more knees. Like Speedy after the accident, both of the dropouts rather suffer the wrath of hills than bail out and leave the team alone. It was a disappointment.
Notice the abnormal size calves of Hercules, now Achilles
The next leg (30 miles) of the tour was as brutal as the beginning with more long stretched out hills but clouded and cool. Speedy (aka Dennis) came back from the accident like a super star, hanging along Bolt (aka Justin) mile after mile cycling a good 18-20 mph. These guys were on a mission to finish this day with a new record.
There was true joy for everyone crossing the border between Mississippi and Alabama. A milestone, an achievement! Sweet Home Alabama!
Mile 85 (after a 30 mile rest), Achilles (aka Olivier) annoyed with the reality that his body was failing the ambitions of his mind got back on the bike. I hear you readers say "not smart" to which I will respond "Achilles was a warrior not a genius" . If children fight HLH with all the energy they have than Achilles can get moving. The one legged cyclist decided to finish the day, which proof to be a bad decision.
Mile 95, Iron Man (aka Sean) joined in with the same thought. There is no giving up. It is ok to stop, it is ok to take a breather but you have to keep going and focus on what good is to come. This is the attitude that kept him going through his HLH experience. Stay positive, keep fighting and inspire yourself with the belief that things will be better.
So Speedy (Dennis) and Bolt (Justin), ripped ahead towards the Tennessee River (magnificent) and finished the day glorious and strong. Whereas Achilles (Olivier), Energizer Bunny (Doug) and Iron Man (Sean) crawled slowly but surely with or without injuries, but with a sense of humor that was unparalleled. Who knew that Energizer Bunny (Doug) was a talented comedian who could imitate Droopy like no other. The issue of laughing while cycling is that your energy gets drained even more but it was so funny and eventually we all arrived at destination. All with a big smile and lots of pain.
Iron Man Sean with Achilles (me) at the Tennessee River.
Doug is nicknamed Energizer Bunny because with no training last year and no training this year (and I mean he ain't no gym type of guy) he keeps cycling with the determination of an olympic athlete. When I asked him "Doug how do you keep going", he answered "it's my Annie who keeps me going. I miss her very much but when I am on the bike it's as if she is with me and gives me the energy to keep cycling and smiling". Annie was his little girl who died from HLH 2 years ago.
An amazing man with a endless endurance.
On this ride I have met amazing people like Justin and Doug who have the desire to help others despite their own unmeasurable loss, who smile and laugh every moment of an excruciating bike ride despite their personal grief, who want to help because of their strong belief that it's the right thing to do, and who keep inspiring people along the road because of their strong desire to create hope for those who follow. Justin (Bolt), Doug (Energizer Bunny), Sean (Iron Man), Patrick and Dennis (Speedy) are truly an inspiration. I hope people will join us on next year's ride because cycling with these guys is an amazing experience.
The medal of the day goes to Bolt (aka Justin) and Speedy (aka Dennis) for speed but the medal of perseverance goes to Iron Man (Sean) and Energizer Bunny (Doug).
The medalists Bolt (Justin) and Speedy (Dennis)
PS: Cyclist Patrick who had to drop out of the tour due to work, goes every day to the gym and cycles 50 or more miles in solidarity to the team. THANKS PATRICK for the support!!!! You are missed and your gym cycling during your travels is much appreciated.
Tomorrow 115 miles.