I will be joining other passionate cyclists and riding Cykelnerven in June. It is one of Europe’s most challenging events and raises money for the MS International Federation (MSIF). Over four days in June we will tackle some of the toughest mountains that will be used in this year’s Tour de France.

There will be more added to this post but I will direct readers to my official page at Cykelnerven.

MS is very personal to me as it directly affects my family. I would like nothing more than to see a cure in my lifetime.

It is my hope that my participation in this event and by raising funds will be a beacon of hope for anyone affected by MS.

Olivia’s Light


In 2019 this ride was Ride Home Roads, a local ride sponsored by Ben King. In 2020 the Covid monster took it so it was virtual. I won something for a post about riding my home roads but did not collect a prize.

Who doesn’t love a dog?

The ride did not exist in 2021 or 2022 but came back this year. And it was also billed as Ben King’s retirement ride. Ben was retiring from being a pro cyclist, most recently with Human Powered Health.

Center of the Universe

But when it came out this year, it had a new name. It was now benefiting Olivia’s Light. Ben and Jenna started Olivia’s Light to raise awareness of rare genetic disorder and to assist parents who find themselves in a similar situation. Olivia, this ride is for you. 

Bib attached – Ready to ride

Olivia King was Ben and Jenna King’s second child, their first daughter. Jenna had a normal pregnancy but there was a problem when she was born. This blog cannot properly describe Olivia’s short life and you are encouraged to read Olivia’s Story.

Start line

I had parked at a lumber yard about 1/4 mile away. I rode to registration. I picked up my bib number and a swag bag (nice bag) and took it back to the car and attached my number. 

Start line

I rode back to the start and waited for the mass start at 9:15 am. Before “wheels down” (the start of the ride) Ben was presented with a signed jersey for his 2015 UCI Championships. Teammates, Brent Bookwalter, and two other teammates had signed the jersey. Probably two of these three, Tyler Farrar, Alex Howes, Taylor Phinney, but I couldn’t hear the names.

Ben King with Team USA Jersey 2015

My plan today was to ride the Metric distance (100 km or 62.1 miles). But there would be 4-5 miles shaved off because yesterday the department of public works in Caroline Co. (or maybe VDOT) put down fresh chip and seal on one of the roads. No one wanted to ride on fresh tar. No one.

Neutral rollout

Ben and his friends, including Jeremiah Bishop and USA Women’s Road Race Champion, Emma Langley, were at the front and eventually would want to hammer it. Maybe not by there standards but certainly by mine. But first there was a police escort for two miles in a neutral rollout (no racing).

Emma Langley

I didn’t want to try and stay with the big group. My goal was to finish safely. I am leaving for Europe tomorrow and I didn’t want to take fresh road rash or a broken collarbone. Or a broken bike. And besides, there was no way I could ride at 23-24 mph at that distance even sitting in the group. 

Out on the road – Olivia’s Light

I decided that I wanted to be near the rear of the 100 km group. There was also a 70 km group. In a race this would be the grupetto or autobus. We would all ride and finish together and make the time cut for the day (even though this ride did not have a time cut).

Rest stop 1 – Olivia’s Light

Even in the neutral rollout there were riders anxious to pass me and others trying to get to the front. And if your goal was to ride with the front group you would miss that being with me in the back. 

Start (finish) line – Ride Home Roads

Eventually I could see a split up ahead. And then two. And I was perfectly positioned. I was behind two riders, a man and a woman, perhaps husband and wife, and he was doing all the pulling. If he ever moved over and let her go to the front I would have followed and did my turn in the wind. But he never moved and after a couple joined us we probably had 5-6 riders in our small grupetto. 

Rest Stop 2 – Ride Home Roads

Eventually on a small climb they pulled over to check a mechanical, I think. I kept going and joined up with some others. We all pulled into Rest 1 which was probably at 20 miles. 

Rest stop 2 – Ride Home Roads

I did not stay long, grabbed one strawberry pop tart (not one package but one) and took off down the road. I should have waited and jumped in with a group but I would ride the next 20 miles solo. No one passed me (where were the groups?) and I passed one rider. 

Bike accident on Ride Home Roads

At the second rest I timed it to leave when 8-10 others did. Actually I had to chase to catch them and then joined in.  Whereas the second portion was a solo ride, the third portion was in a group. It probably wasn’t the grupetto, in fact I was way ahead of the stragglers, but was something in between Ben’s group and the last riders. 

Lunch at Ride Home Roads

The only thing frustrating for this rider is with one exception, I’ve never been on a group ride where people really know how to ride a pace line. This was more of the same.  We may have had 10 riders and at no time were we rotating pulls. One or two people stayed at the front and the rest followed. We simply rode in a line all wheel suckers. I shouldn’t feel bad that I rarely contributed. Learn to ride a pace line.

Ben and Barry

I didn’t feel like I went deep at any point in the ride. That part was good. At the end I averaged 18.0 mph which may be my high for 2023. It was a very good ride. 

Our last group coming home

Lunch was too-heavy burritos. An auction followed. Four items were auctioned off – a signed USA team jersey, a private bike ride with Ben (and lunch), a private fishing trip at Smith Mountain Lake with Ben and his dad, and Ben’s 2015 MTB.

Lining up at the start

My estimate was it brought in $600, $600, $2500, and $3300. In addition Alliance presented Olivia’s Light with a $10,000 check. The second part of the auction was the solicitation of donations. It started with $1000 and one or two people raised their hands. Then $500. I was able to put my hand up for $100. In all the event raised $40,000.

Ben auctioning off his mountain bike

Ben and Jenna are two wonderful people. I had met Ben before but this was the first time meeting Jenna. Very pregnant I asked her how scars she was and she said not at all because she knows God is in control. Wonderful people. 

$10,000 check presented to Olivia’s Light

It will soon be 40 years since we lost Lindsay. The pain is always there at her birthday and death anniversary. It is there because we loved and we love. Ben and Jenna loved and it will always be there for them as well. 

Ben King donated his mountain bike at the auction

But for a day they could celebrate the difference in people’s lives because of Olivia. Sometimes the smallest among us make the biggest impact. 

EPILOGUE – Ben and Jenna had a healthy baby in October.

Meet the Domane


It’s new bike day. To be honest, I wish it hadn’t come to this but Trek would warranty my 2014 Trek Domane due to bottom bracket issues.

So, let’s make the best of it. The new bike arrived. The setup is pretty much the same as the bike I gave up.

2020 Domane

New Bike

All my Bikes – for one day

Domane SL 7 is a high-performance endurance road bike with an electronic Ultegra Di2 drivetrain for precision shifting in any conditions. A lightweight OCLV Carbon frame with Front and Rear IsoSpeed, carbon wheels, and hydraulic disc brakes keep it smooth and fast on long rides. Plus, it has an easy-access storage compartment for stowing ride essentials.

All my bikes – but only for 30 minutes
Frame500 Series OCLV Carbon, front & rear IsoSpeed, internal storage, tapered head tube, internal cable routing, 3S chain keeper, DuoTrap S compatible, fender mounts, flat mount disc, 142x12mm thru axle
*ForkSize: 56
Domane SL carbon, tapered carbon steerer, internal brake routing, fender mounts, flat mount disc, 12x100mm thru axle
Frame fitEndurance

Wheel frontBontrager Aeolus Pro 3V, OCLV Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 25mm rim width, 100x12mm thru axle
Wheel rearBontrager Aeolus Pro 3V, OCLV Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 25mm rim width, Shimano 11-speed freehub, 142x12mm thru axle
Skewer frontBontrager Switch thru axle, removable lever
Skewer rearBontrager Switch thru axle, removable lever
TireBontrager R2 Hard-Case Lite, aramid bead, 60 tpi, 700x32c
Max tire size38c

ShifterShimano Ultegra Di2, R8070, 11-speed
Front derailleurShimano Ultegra R8050 Di2, braze-on
Rear derailleurShimano Ultegra R8050 Di2, mid cage 34T max cog
*CrankSize: 56
Shimano Ultegra R8000, 50/34 (compact), 175mm length
Bottom bracketPraxis, T47 threaded, internal bearing
CassetteShimano Ultegra HG800-11, 11-34, 11 speed
ChainShimano Ultegra HG701, 11-speed

SaddleBontrager Arvada Comp, steel rails, 138mm width
*SeatpostSize: 44, 47, 50, 52, 54, 56
Bontrager carbon internal seatmast cap, integrated light mount, 20mm offset, short length
*HandlebarSize: 56
Bontrager Elite IsoZone VR-CF, alloy, 31.8mm, internal Di2 routing, 93mm reach, 123mm drop, 42cm width
Handlebar tapeBontrager Supertack Perf tape
*StemSize: 56
Bontrager Pro, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree, 100mm length
BrakeShimano Ultegra hydraulic disc, flat mount
Brake rotorShimano RT800, centerlock, 160mm

Weight56 – 8.84 kg / 19.49 lbs
Weight limitThis bike has a maximum total weight limit (combined weight of bicycle, rider, and cargo) of 275 pounds (125 kg).

Goodbye Domane


I loved my bike. I thought my 2006 Trek Pilot was feeling its age back in 2013, although it was only seven years old. I would buy it again but Trek had retired the model and made the Domane its endurance bike.

At the Curve

I had crashed and broke my collarbone on July 3, 2013. I was on pain killers when just a few days later I was at The Bike Lane in Reston, Va., ordering a Trek Domane. Although they had paint samples at the front of the store, I never saw those. We sat in a dark office looking at a computer screen. I ordered a red and white bike to match my Pilot.


A bike with a view – Luxembourg City

When it arrived it looked nothing like I thought I ordered. I was sick. It was an expensive bike and I just felt like I could not accept it. I declined the purchase but promised to buy another when the time was right.



In the middle of the year, 2014, I sat down and we built a Project One Trek Domane 6. I wasn’t happy with the color schemes offered so I paid more for a custom paint job. It would be gloss/metallic black with gloss/metallic “tour yellow.” It may have been the only one they ever made.

The color scheme was me. Period. The Black and Tour Yellow represented three things in my life:

  • Livestrong
  • The Tour de France
  • The Steelers and Penguins


Santa Monica Mountains

Above all, this would be my cancer bike. Black and Yellow representing Livestrong. When I rode, my mind was never far away from someone battling. I put stickers on it to remember Alex Shepherd, 13, and Jacob Grecco, 8, both of whom lost their battles to brain cancer.

I love the Tour (de France). I’ve seen numerous stages and this bike could be a TdF bike. Or a Pittsburgh bike. But it was definitely me.

The bike rode well. It was very comfortable. But it had its problems.

Just one year old, on October 27, 2015, I shifted gears and the rear derailleur broke off. That wouldn’t be too bad but it got caught in the wheel. It went one revolution and then smashed into the frame. The frame was cracked and the repair would cost me $1800.

I was disappointed. Furious, actually. I was “JRA” (just riding along) when the derailleur came loose. Trek offered a new frame at 50% off, or about $2000.


Made it to the summit of Mount Evans

I got it fixed at Calfee in California.

After only three years the rear wheel began to fail. I had three spokes break (metal fatigue) in the rear wheel. The Bike Lane rebuilt the wheel and built me a new one that kept failing.


Train Station RVA

In 2016 we tried repeatedly to set the bike up with tubeless. But it would never set. At Ride the Rockies the air pressure would be as low as 20 psi n the morning. Basically I rode flat until getting to rest stop one where I could get a tire pump.

But in 2018, just four years’ of riding, the bike started to creak, especially when under duress. It was at The Bike Lane in Springfield four or five times before taking it to Reston. We got it to quiet down for a few weeks but it was back for all of 2019.


Virginia Capital Trail

In September 2019, it was sent back to the “Trek Hospital” in Wisconsin where they resurfaced the bottom bracket (BB90). I got the bike back in October and it ran quiet and smooth. I thought I was out of the woods. But a couple of months later, and maybe sooner, it was creaking again.


Michael (far), Robert (middle), Barry (close)

Earlier last month Tom asked me how the bike was running. I told him honestly and he said “I was afraid of that.”

Tom began the process of having the bike frame warrantied. Trek said they would replace the frame and paint it to match. But the problem with this bike lies in the bottom bracket – the BB90. And a new frame would still have the BB90.


Pier Titusville Fla.

The rim brakes on the two frames are different and I would have to purchase two new brakes at $275 ea. With a Trek discount of 25% for the brakes, it would cost me $413. The labor for the teardown and rebuild would be $400+. So for the same bike I currently own, but with a new frame, I would pay around $900.


Sam Legge, Bicycle Sport Shop, Austin, Texas

Trek also offered me a credit towards a new bike. After considering my options, I decided to get a new bike. It would be a Domane but not the top-of-the-line Domane Project One. That would mean a custom paint job would be off the table.


Ohio wasn’t good to me either

The black and yellow Domane was me. But it’s time for a new chapter. I want to say it was a good bike that lasted 5 1/2 years but actually, I had problems with it all along. I told Bill Hellwig at The Bike Lane in July that I was riding the Pilot because the Domane was the worst purchase I ever made. And I meant it. So it was time to retire it.


For a brief moment, I owned these three road bikes

I’ve done a number of cancer events with it including the Livestrong Challenges. I’ve ridden in eight countries. The bike popped (got your attention), especially with yellow bar tape. But it was time for retirement. And I’m looking forward to a new chapter.


Santa Barbara, California

We did a lot together. One might expect that riding more than 30,000 miles we would have plenty of memories. We traveled to Europe a couple of times including a solo trip across the Swiss Alps and with Rooster Racing in Luxembourg. In all the Domane had miles in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Switzerland. And, of course, the U.S. where we had trips to California, Texas, Colorado, and Florida. And even to the top of the highest paved road in North America – Mount Evans, Colorado.


Yes, you’ve been replaced

Age: Five years, six months
Miles: 30,880

Truly Horrible


The Horrible Hundred occurs over two days if you include the Saturday orientation rides. Those are delightful and, like group rides, occur under adult supervision. Not so the Sunday ride.

I stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Clermont, a four-mile ride from the hotel to start. With chilly temperatures (low 50s) I was unsure what to wear. I was also checking out of the hotel so I was a few minutes later leaving than I had planned to meet John Dockins at the start.

Rest Stop One

This would also be a test of the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, a new bike computer I bought in Jacksonville on Friday. I decided to mount both computers as a test.

I downloaded directions to the start on my Garmin and followed those yesterday. I didn’t load the route today thinking I would retrace yesterday’s route by memory. I was wrong. Normally with a keen sense of direction, the fully gray skies gave me no directional bearing. I had gone three miles and was literally, just feet from the hotel where I started and never noticed that until viewing my route hours later.

I wasn’t getting closer to Waterfront Park. A message appeared on the Bolt. “Where are you?” It was from John Dockins. Messages on my bike computer, pretty cool.

I called him and told him I messed up. I was two miles away and would be there in eight minutes but he was raring to go. I realized I was on course and told him I’d ride back to meet him.

There was one problem with my plan. Although I was two miles from the start, the route would circumvent the lake first before climbing up the hill to our meeting location. I rode back. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Eventually, I was convinced John had ridden by and we missed one another. John had suggested meeting at Rest Stop One. At this point, I figured I had missed him so I rode ahead to Rest Stop One.

Our bikes at Rest Step One

As I approached the rest stop I thought back to the map I had looked at before the ride. Only then was I pretty sure they went around the lake. I had cut off eight miles. But it’s a ride, not a race, and I was adding four to and from the hotel to get the same mileage.

At the rest stop, I called John. He was five miles behind me. I told him I’d ride back for sure this time. And I did.

Rest Stop One

The first segment to Rest One was not fun. This is a big event and mob mentality takes over. At two red lights, I was the only cyclist to stop. Even with cross-traffic tens of cyclists went by me, sometimes flew by me, through the intersections. I thought I might be hit by someone flying by.

Cold Weather Gear

Another time I was on the shoulder – to the right of the lane line and a cyclist flew up the gutter passing me. This was unsafe and not fun. And another group came by so fast and so close I jumped on the parallel bike path to avoid them. I hadn’t remembered such aggression before but will now consider this my last Horrible Hundred.

Tour of Lancaster (County) Jersey

John and I stopped at Rest One. The stops were well stocked with food and big lines. Not a complaint, just an observation. And great volunteers.

VeloFix Guy at Rest Four

John and I stayed together mostly. I let him go ahead on Sugarloaf Road but caught him on the climb. I set a PR on Sugarloaf on a day I was determined not to try. And sometimes when we try we go into the red and blow up. Slow and steady set my PR. (And now am in 5200th place.) This was ironic because I was thinking this was my last hill climb of 2019 and to enjoy it, not go out to set a PR.

Rest Stop Four

As we came back into town we were on the last hill. It had probably a 12% grade. A few feet in front of me I thought a rider was doing a track stand (balancing the bike while stopped). I wondered, briefly, why he was showing off this skill. Then he stopped and fell over very hard. And yelled. Very loudly.

Rest Stop Four

He had cramped badly and could not pedal nor could he unclip from his pedals. I stopped along with a woman. We tried to get him help and a SAG ride for the final two miles but he said: “I must finish this.” It’s a man thing. I understand. After five minutes I helped him to his feet then rolled on. The Bolt had a message from John: “Are you OK?” If it can respond I don’t know how to do that so I ignored it. (Note: It can’t.)

It was a chilly day. We had some very light rain in the beginning but mostly it was cold (low 50s) and windy. The phone was in a jersey pocket under my vest. Using it meant stopping and unzipping the vest. Maybe removing a glove too. So I didn’t take pictures on the road or try to call or text John (using Siri).

We went to lunch then said goodbye. I had to find my way back to the hotel. I noticed the mileage was different between the two computers: 73.0 and 72.9. I thought they would be perfectly equal. I have more testing to do.

Everyone is Walking


This was Phil’s Cookie Gran Fondo and I had decided to ride the 50-mile “Sugar Cookie” route. I was to meet Anthony Venida and waited at the starting chute with Robert Hess who was riding the family route which departed a little later.

Entrance between two hangers. Start/Finish is on the other side.

I didn’t see Anthony and let everyone roll through ahead of me before starting last. Once on course, I received a text from Anthony that he started with the “Chocolate Chip” route as some of his friends were riding the 80-mile route.

Start/Finish line

I rolled out, although I could not go fast, and the first seven miles were pancake flat. I was chatting with a rider wearing a Mont Ventoux jersey. Although much younger than me, I still had to secretly question his equipment when I saw it looked like his lowest gear was about a 17t cassette. I was running 32t.

“Are you OK?” – “Yes, just getting pictures of peppers”

The climb, which I remembered as a three-mile climb, had a much different profile than I remembered. The first 1/3 mile kicks up and then it appears to level off. It’s still a climb but much more gradual for the next two miles. And then, it whacks you in the face full force.

Cookies everywhere

My friend, with the Ventoux jersey, sat on my wheel and I didn’t mind. As we got to the wall, there were people pushing their bikes. And they were all over the place. The road kicked up – more than 15% (and maybe 20%). I was counting but lost track of the walkers but was over 100.

He had passed me on the climb – until he had to walk too


Part of me wanted to join them. And I wondered what I would have done had this been a normal Sunday ride with nobody watching. But they were watching. And I kept climbing although it was a real effort.

West Protero Road in Lake Sherwood

When I reached the summit, I turned around to look for Mr. Ventoux. He was nowhere to be found. It would have taken a super-human effort to push his gear up that climb. I don’t know when he got off to walk.

FAll horse farms up here – Lake Sherwood

There was a second intermediate climb of two miles which was also considerable. The Fondo made no mention of it, maybe because it wasn’t a timed KOM. It was also on Pretero Road, two miles after the summit of the first climb. At the bottom of the second hill, I stopped and visited the VeloFix mechanic who was finishing up changing a tire for a woman. We mentioned the climb on Pretero Road and he said, “everybody is walking up that hill.”

Mulholland Road

Although there was a rest stop at the base of the last climb, I did not stop because it was a rest stop at the base of a climb. The time off the bike would cause lactic acid to build up and my climbing would be crap. More crap than usual, that is.

Mulholland Road – this is nice!

I continued past and started up the climb of Westlake Blvd. This one was tough with sections of the lower portion pushing 20% grade. About one mile up it gets easier – 10-12% grade.

Westlake is particularly steep at the bottom portion and very windy. As we would discover, owners of fast cars love driving this road on Sunday mornings. It was almost a constant din of revved engines and occasional squealed tires.

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)

At the top, we transitioned onto Mulholland Highway for a trip to the ocean. The road was closed to vehicles as much reconstruction is going on due to fires one year ago. Not having a big ring available because my front derailleur had failed yesterday meant that I gave up some speed here although it wouldn’t hurt me much. That would come later.

This woman, walking away, had stopped and I borrowed a floor pump from her to change my flat.
This woman had a floor pump which I could use


My recollection of Mulholland before today was that it was downhill the entire way. That is not true. There are some uphill sections even while the road trends downhill. Once on Pacific Coast Highway, I was treated to a delight – a tail wind. It was here that I would really miss my big ring.

Lunch inside an airport hanger
Lunch inside an airport hanger

I was quickly out pedaling my gears. Oh how I needed the big ring to take advantage of the wind. Instead, I was spinning and getting passed by others. And then I flatted. As it happened, I pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway next to a woman who was running SAG for her family. She had a floor pump which made it easier to change. And asked for my used tube so her husband could repair it. Deal.

Barry Sherry, Phil Gaimon, Anthony Venida

Anthony texted me. Although he had finished 30 minutes (or more) earlier, he had come back to an intersection to ride in with me. Robert met us and we all enjoyed a delicious gourmet cycling lunch.

This is not just your typical cycling lunch. There were chefs from L.A. competing with their dishes. This is the best ever. Superb.

Robert Hess, Barry Sherry, Phil Gaimon, and Anthony Venida


Phil’s Sugar Cookie


Last year I came for the weekend and rode the longer route (Chocolate Chip Cookie) on Saturday. Having done that route, it made sense to try the other route this year, the Sugar Cookie.

The official car of the Cookie Gran Fondo

I stayed at a Homewood Suites in Thousand Oak and mapped out a route to bike to registration. It was 10 miles door-to-door so I would be adding 20 miles to the “40-mile” Sugar Cookie route. I think 55 miles the day before the Gran Fondo would be enough.

Phil Gaimon as Cookie Monster

The temperature was great but there was one issue. I was riding into a low rising sun. At times I had to shield my eyes to see. That was not a problem for me but I also worried that there may be drivers fighting the sun and may not see me on the road. I was nervous.

Barry and Phil’s Mom

Phil Gaimon met me at registration and have me a warm greeting. He made it a point to introduce me to his mother.

Barry and Susan Walters

After Phil’s group rolled out, we had 30 minutes before our group was ready to depart. I heard a voice – that voice – and I recognized it from Seinfeld. It was Susan Walters, who played the girlfriend that Jerry never knew her name – DOLORES! Susan was trying to take a selfie with friends and I offered to take a photo for her. And then I got a selfie (not really, one of her friends took our photo).

Barry and Anthony Venida

Before we rolled out, Anthony Venida, came in with some friends of his. They would be riding tomorrow. But I have known Anthony for six years and it was good to see him again. He also was recovering from a traumatic brain injury earlier in the year. But instead of being found unconscious next to a river, he went all-canyon and went over a cliff. He truly is a lucky young man.

Cookies on the ride

I thought I might ride with Susan’s group but they rolled out about 10 minutes before our official time. I never saw them on the road.

The views…

Once on the road, the route started out similar to what I rode last year. Out a canyon road and then an eight-mile climb up a pretty tough mountain. There is 4600′ of climb in just 37 miles. This is not an easy ride. After the climb, it was a short loop and back to start.

Phil Gaimon and Barry

On my descent, I tried to get in the big ring and get some real speed going. But the bike did not want to shift. My computer told me I was in the big ring but my eyes and my legs told me I wasn’t. I stopped and determined that a piece in the derailleur that lifts the chain had sheared off. I figured, and confirmed this with the VeloFix van, this is not a simple fix but a part replacement would be necessary. But not for this weekend. I would be out of luck for the rest of the weekend.

Frankie Andreu

On my return trip I never could get some good speed going. I was a slow-poke going back.

Frankie Andreu and Barry

Back at the site, we had a great lunch. I also chatted a little bit with Frankie Andreu, who also doubled as Phil’s race announcer.

At the evening Gala

I bought some items at the merchandise tent, left the items (on purpose) and my wallet (not on purpose) to be picked up later this evening at the VIP Gala. There’s a bigger ride tomorrow.

The Bacon Ride


The ride begins with the stay the night before. Trying to bump my status with Marriott, I was just looking at their properties. The Courtyard by Marriott is a nice hotel and was about $20 less than Fairfield Inn. The only difference for me was Courtyard did not offer a free breakfast.

At Flap Jacks in Lebanon

Now, was it worth $20 for a free breakfast of powdered scrambled eggs and concentrated orange juice? I decided it wasn’t. I took the Courtyard, left early, and ate at Flap Jacks in Lebanon. Ordered the three-pancake breakfast. That was $6.27 so I came out $13 to the plus. (less tip, of course)

Lebanon, Ind.

Ken Hart greeted me at registration and said “I thought we might see you here since you were in Piqua, Ohio yesterday (posted on Facebook). Cindi Hart did a little better – a big hug. Always a big hug from Cindi.

Lebanon, Ind.

I went for a four-mile warmup ride in preparation for the 100-mile ride. Arriving back, cancer survivors (or warriors or veterans) were staged separately. Alexis Overbeek came over to meet me. We had been friends on FB for five years but had yet to meet in person. Today we did, She and her husband, Pierce, had come, at my request, to volunteer with Spokes of Hope. It was great meeting both of them.

Alexis and Barry

While a bagpiper played Amazing Grace while we were at the start line, I removed my helmet out of respect – and the riders took off. I was caught without a helmet. I put it on, tightened the strap, and found myself 100 places down in the roll-out. Without being too much of a jerk I passed 98 people and caught Cindi and Rena Smock at the front. The three of us set the pace until Cindi went ahead for some video. Then Rena and I led it out about 19-20 mph for the first five miles. We discussed we were probably burning too many matches and decided to let some others pull through.

At the start


It was another 15 miles to Rest 1. I just sat in and was pretty much amazed that it seemed the entire ride stayed together. That wasn’t completely the case as a shorter route had broken off but we were a controlled group to Rest 1.

Cindi Hart with instructions to newbies – “Eat more bacon”

It was there I would get – bacon. This is the Bacon and Smoothie Century. In fact, Pierce was dishing it out and overloaded (overdosed) me on bacon. Never thought I could eat too much bacon until today.

Can one eat too much bacon? Yes, yes one can. Pierce loading up the bacon.


We rolled out of Rest 1 pretty much as a group. I sat further back and the yo-yo-ing got pretty bad, especially when turns were involved. It was constant accelerating to catch up after each turn. Eventually, perhaps halfway to Rest 2, I let my group go.

Cancer Warriors

Now solo, I dropped back, got passed by a small group then two Spokes of Hope riders went by. Rena said “grab a wheel” and I did. In short order, we caught the small group. Then we started a true rotating pace line which was the best riding of the day. Rena and Tim Wozniak seemed to have organized the line and it was some of the best riding I did all year.


With one solo rider ahead of us, we almost caught him two or three times. There must be something about the predator-prey instinct that cyclists have not to be caught even when it benefits them. When he was 100 meters up the road I said I was going to catch him and have him join us. I took off, caught him in no time, and told him he would be better off to soft-pedal and join us. He did. And we would have been better off too although in less than five minutes we were at Rest 2.

Rest stop

The sky turned black. Ken looked at his radar app and said we would get wet but no thunder or lightning. Ken would be wrong. We left out of the stop, had an overpass to cross (an Indiana hill) and I had the usual lactic acid after a stop. One group went ahead and I joined the second. We rode. We had probably five women and five men, all about equal ability.

Ken Hart assuring us we won’t get wet


Up ahead was a big dog and he (or she) did not want us on the road. It came at us in the opposite direction, misjudged our speed but then did a U-turn. He (or she) was fast. With people yelling I reached for my water bottle. I squirted him (or her) in the face and he (or she) backed off. I heard a woman say,’ “Wow, he just squirted him away.”

Rain pouring down


But then the rain came. It was gradual. At first, it was light and was a cooling rain. I thought we could ride like this all day. But then it was harder. Then thunder. Then lightning. We pulled into Rest 3 at MP 50 and the winds picked up. We helped move the pop up tents so they didn’t get destroyed or blown away.

Getting directions back to start (Pierce and Alexis)

We talked about cutting it short. We were given directions but when we left one rider thought we were finishing the route. And it felt like we were as we were following markings on the road. There was still thunder and lightning and I decided I would drop off the group and find my way on my own. I did not want to ride in a storm.

Cindi Hart with inspirational words

I dropped back, fiddled with Garmin’s Back to Start feature and it looked like we were headed back the right way. Except I had let the group go up the road. No worries. Today would be the day that I went over 60,000 miles cancer-free. I was happy being by myself for a bit.

Ken Hart welcoming riders

I got back to Lebanon, in the rain. I stopped at the bell for cancer survivors to ring. I rang. No response. But I didn’t expect any. The 100-mile ride became a 100 km ride. Spokes of Hope had closed the course due to the weather. It was a prudent and safe thing to do.

Lebanon, Ind.

I saw old friends, in the case of Alexis, met a friend, finally, for the first time, and went over 60,000 miles. It was a good day despite the rain.

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