It’s Not About the Miles


This was about the LIVESTRONG weekend. Saturday morning I went to Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bicycle shop, where I had reserved a bike for the Challenge. Reservation was simple and efficient. I recommend working with Peter Finklea, the Rentals Manager and I’d gladly rent there again. 

Mellow Johnny’s. Austin, Tex.

I went over and met Will Swetnam and six other riders from Cyclists Combating Cancer at the Grand Hyatt. We rode five or six miles to Rudy’s, a country store / gas station / BBQ. That was a good lunch. As a first-timer they let me sample their “three main food groups:” Juicy beefy brisket, lean brisket, or turkey. I went with the lean brisket.

Rudy’s – Self-described at worst BBQ in Texas

After lunch at Rudy’s we went over to the LIVESTRONG headquarters for packet pickup. As part of Cyclists Combating Cancer I was happy to find the room dedicated to our CCC group.

CCC Room at Livestrong HQ
Barry at Livestrong

In the evening I attended the LIVESTRONG Awards dinner since I was part of Cyclists Combating Cancer, the top fundraising team. Unlike past dinners, I wouldn’t say there were headline speakers (no Lance Armstrong) but everyone, especially the award recipients, moved the audience.

Two of the Movember founders – Adam Garone, Travis Garone, Luke Slattery, Justin Coghlan – but I couldn’t tell you which two

After dinner I spoke with outgoing President/CEO, Doug Ulman. He was kind enough to pose with my new Team Alex jersey, in honor of Alex Shepherd.

Doug Ulman on Team Alex

It was a late night, a short night, and a very early morning. I was out of the hotel at 6:00 a.m. At check-in Saturday, the volunteer had encouraged me to get to the $500 threshold. I was at $240 at the time and he told me to come back Sunday. I have some wonderful friends who donated and thus I had earned a backpack overnight. I needed to get there early and pick it up before the event.

Austin at daybreak

At the Challenge I was joined by Vanessa Beltran. She refereed for me five years ago and rode in the Texas 4000 from Austin to Anchorage this summer. We signed up to ride 100 miles.

Barry Sherry, Vanessa Beltran

Or maybe I should say I signed up for 100 miles. I love distance riding and there’s something about going the distance in a cancer ride. But Vanessa hadn’t ridden her bike since August 8, the day she finished her ride in Anchorage.

Kathryn and Vanessa

At the first rest, Vanessa saw a rider go through and pointed her out to me as I might be interested in talking with her. Once we were on the road, we first caught Kathryn Flowers, a staffer with the Texas 4000. After riding a while with them, I excused myself and went ahead to catch the rider who Vanessa told me was up the road.

Vanessa, Alaknanda

I caught the rider and as I pulled up beside her I said “Seattle 2013 — that would be Bradley Allen’s group.” Alaknanda Renukuntla, who went by “Lucky,” looked at me in surprise. After chatting for a few minutes she told me that Bradley said “if you don’t already know Barry Sherry, you will one day.”

Barry and Lucky

We rode into Rest Stop #2 which was a Texas 4000 Rest Stop. We met a number of the 2015 team. Vanessa was having a great time meeting them. Vanessa loved the rest stops and she took every opportunity to ask volunteers and riders their stories. And that is what the ride is really about. It’s not about the miles.

2015 Texas4000 riders manning the rest stop

The weather was great. It was about 70° with a cloud cover as we rolled out. It didn’t burn off until more than halfway through the ride and even then, only reached the mid-80s.

Prehistoric playground

I like this course. Two years ago I averaged almost 18 mph on the 100 miles including 22 mph for the last hour. And today I felt good. I certainly had 100-120 miles in my legs. I was enjoying reminding Vanessa of that. And she reminded me she hadn’t been on a bike in two months.

Love this photo stop – Dell’s Angels rest stop was right behind this building

The final time for a reminder was at the “Biker Bar” rest stop, Dell’s Angels. There was a sign there announcing we had to be at the 4th stop by 10:30 a.m. to ride the 100-mile course. It was six miles away, the time was 10:06 a.m . By averaging 15 mph for 24 minutes, we could make it. It wouldn’t be that hard to make the cut.

What cramping looks like

“Lucky” would spend more time at this stop and we would leave her here.

Taking my turn as a server

Vanessa and I rolled ahead to the 4th stop and I counted down the seconds to the 10:30 cutoff. We missed it by a minute. At the stop, we met students from the Hispanic Student Association at the University of Texas. We talked to them about why we are riding. We talked about Jake Grecco and Alex Shepherd. The students seemed surprised that kids would have cancer.

Bicycles on the road. Good thing they have signs.

Although we had missed the cutoff I was already resigned that 65 miles would be enough. Actually, a volunteer offered to let me continue but I wasn’t to go on without Vanessa. I was enjoying the company and she needed a ride partner. It’s not about the miles.

Logan Debord, Barry Sherry, Vanessa Beltran. Credit: Logan Debord

Talking about the battles was more important than cranking out the miles. At the rest stop, we talked to the Grassroots winner who talked about his wife, Brianne. We also decided that it’s not about the miles and decided to ride 65 instead of 100.

Buda, Texas

Until Thursday’s ride which I unexpectedly rode 55 miles, I thought I would need 100 miles to reach 5,000 for the year. But I came in needing just 46 miles and would get it no matter which route we would ride. So my Livestrong ride would make 5,000 for the year whether I rode 65 or 100 miles.

5,000 Miles. Or Close Enough.

Before cancer I didn’t track mileage other than look at the odometer on my bike. Unless the battery died, the odometer method worked great and I never had to record anything. But using a Garmin it became necessary to use a log.* When I returned from treatment in 2010 I started tracking mileage. And while mileage was never a goal, 5000 miles just seemed to be the right number for me. In 2010 I reached it on the LIVESTRONG Challenge course – Philly. It wasn’t during the August event but I drove there in late November to reach 5,000. And today it would be during an actual LIVESTRONG event.

Buda, Texas

I did not wear a Survivor’s bib. Five years ago in Philly I wore the bib. I needed to be a survivor. I needed to let the world know I was going to be a survivor. But today was about Alex Shepherd. And Jake Grecco. And a ton of other friends.

Team Alex

At the finish line the survivors are recognized. It was the only time on this day I allowed myself to be a survivor.

At the finish line

Five years ago I was choked with emotion. Today I was all smiles.

Finishing chute – Vanessa (ahead left, is winning)

Waiting for me at the finish was a volunteer, Haley Gold. She was at the dinner with us, she’s an intern at LIVESTRONG, and also rode with the Texas 4000 this summer in Vanessa’s group. We saw her this morning as we rolled out at 7:30 and she waited for us, for me, to finish. It was very meaningful that she was the one the presented me with a rose.


It was a day I felt good. If I didn’t have the rental bike which needed to be returned by 5:00 p.m., I may have ridden 20 miles back to Buda, turned around, and finished with 100.


But instead we went to the LIVESTRONG lunch in the tent. And met other riders.

We also honored friends who are battling or have won their battles and escaped this hideous disease.
Erin Bishop once said “you always ride for Jake.” I do and I always will.

It was a day to remember my friends who passed. I lost a good friend, Joe Petrucelli, this past year. And to honor those who are battling. Good thoughts for Marilyn Chiodo and George Born. Katie Bugge. Brad Lawmaster. Ned Lowmaster. Patricia Lawmaster. Elaine B. And so many more…

For Alex. Source: Source: Kreutz Photography

And today was especially for Alex. Twelve years old and battling. I can’t imagine. I am hoping that next year he can come here, or to Davis**, and get his own yellow flower.

And I’ll be riding with him.

Barry and Vanessa

*The evolution of tracking. I had a Trek bike computer that tracked distance and speed and had a built-in odometer. It was an upgrade to go to a GPS device (Garmin) but it did not have an odometer, thus it was necessary to use a log or a spreadsheet. Garmin also offered their website, Garmin Connect, where one could upload their rides which eliminated the need for a log. Later, RideWithGPS and Strava would offer their services as well. In those early days, that also meant using a USB cord and connecting the device to your computer for upload. Very clunky so I simply used a spreadsheet most of the time. Later, the devices became wireless and a ride is uploaded automatically once a ride is completed.

**There used to be a ride in Davis, Calif.

Verified by MonsterInsights