Goodbye Pilot


It was December 2006, when I went to buy my first “real” road bike. I was looking for an aluminum bike but eventually had my eyes turn to a carbon fiber bike, the Trek Pilot. But it seemed a little more than I wanted to pay and at first, I did not buy it.

But then, Adam Lewandowski called me and told me Trek had dropped the price, or it was a sale, but, whatever, it was 10% off. Adam told me it would be the last bike I would ever buy. And thus, I took delivery right before New Year’s Day (2007).

My inaugural ride with the bike was my “Manassas Loop.” I followed the Prince William Parkway counter-clockwise. When I reached the Coles District Fire Department, about 20 miles. I had a flat. It was not a good start to the Pilot’s career.

At the Tom Simpson Memorial, Mont Ventoux, France

As I understood it, Trek had introduced the Madone, as their racing bike. Although later they would have different models, the Pilot was introduced as their endurance/comfort bike. It was perfect for my riding. It also had a “triple” chainring upfront. This would be the only negative for this bike.

Triple rings were okay for mountain bikes but not so much for road bikes. The front ring was always problematic. Often I had to “feather” it after shifting to make it sound cleaner. Sometimes it would skip shifts. The Shimano-105 Triple was not a good drive train. Occasionally I could expect the chain to come off while pedaling. I got very good pedaling while the chain was wrapped around the pedal and my shoe, and coaxing it back into position without stopping to fix it.

Blue Knob State Park – near Altoona, Pa.


I loved the color and style. Rounded tubes and a bright red paint job, the bike stood out. It was sweet looking and I was proud to ride it.

The Agony of Defeat – 2012

This bike took me places. None better than Mount Washinton, New Hampshire. Eight times I went to Mount Washington. I completed seven hill climbs. The first, 07/07/07, was canceled due to dangerous weather.

Mount Washington Auto Road Hill Climb – 2009

It made a perfect climbing bike. We (or my mechanics) would swap out the front ring for a 24t and put a 32t or 34t on the rear. This was after the first year when I did not make any changes to the bike.

Col du Lautaret, France – I got caught in snow here – July 19, 2011

It went to France. I was struggling on the climb up the Col du Tourmalet (who doesn’t?) and on the descent over the top I noticed a wheel wobble. I thought I had a broken spoke, and stopped to tighten them, but in a bike shop in St. Lary, I was told the wheel was cracked. I shouldn’t ride it. But I was in France. I rode it. I made it up Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez with it. Maybe more importantly, I made it down Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez.

Powering up L’Alpe d’Huez

I rode RAGBRAI (Iowa) and Ride the Rockies (Colorado). It was at RTR that I learned a valuable lesson which I follow to this day – “Never put a bike on a car if you can carry it in the car.” In 2013 I drove to Colorado by myself. I had plenty of room in my car for a bike but it looked so cool on top of the car. It was in Wichita, Kansas when I unlocked the front caliper that was holding the bike on the rack and moved to the rear to loosen the safety strap on the rear wheel. A gust of wind pushed the bike over except it was caught in the mount. The drop out at the bottom of the fork bent.

A bike on a car looks so cool

I found a bike shop in Colorado Springs the day before RTR and they replaced the fork with a used one from a Madone. It worked but now I had a red, white, and blue bike for the next three years. I found a company that could repair it and make it look sweet again.

Blue fork on my bike – with a car to match (NH, 2013)

But it was aging and I bought a 2014 Trek Domane to be my primary bike. The Pilot became my back up bike. In 2019 I had the components replaced so it would shift better. But it was never perfect. It was a Pilot with a triple chainring.

The Brand. No, this Bike. Not this Cyclist.

When I got a new Domane earlier this year, I made a decision. I would move (that is, my mechanics would move) the drive train from my 2014 Domane to the Pilot. I would have the only Trek Pilot with Di2 electronic shifting. Because it did not have internal cable routing, we had come up with a mount for the Di2 battery on the frame.

But Tom Szeide called me today with bad news. He was stripping down the frame to move the components to the Pilot and found a major crack in the chainstay. The bike was ruined. And I was sad.

Cracked chainstay

Trek would give me a limited warranty for the frame and I would use it to get the Checkpoint. But I would have preferred to keep and ride the Pilot with the modification of electronic shifting. It was a sweet ride. I estimate that I put 30,000 miles on it. I’m not 100% sure because it was only post-cancer that I have tracked my miles. But I know I rode it about as far as it would last. I just wish it would have lasted longer.

But time to move on. Thanks for the memories!

More Booty


Last year I rode my first 24 Hours of Booty not knowing anyone in attendance other than through a cyber invitation from Bryan McMillan. We had never met before then. But I had a good time and soon discovered some of the summer cancer riders were there as well.

Team Fight

This year I decided to be a team captain. Officially we were Team Jake’s Snazzy Pistols, in honor and in memory of Jake “The Hero” Grecco. I signed up his step-father, Gary Gravina, my sister, Betsy Sherry, and John Phipps, a friend I met a couple of years ago while riding the Saint Mary’s Century (or was it the Southern Maryland Century?).

Barry, Betsy, John

A couple of days before the event I heard from Gary who mixed up the event dates and could not attend. That was a big set back. But I still looked forward to the event. Our pistols wouldn’t be as snazzy now.

Early morning in Bootyville

Last year I knew no one in advance. This year some of my Key West teammates attended as well as last year’s cancer riders, Jeff Graves and Erin Mack.

I decided to tent, still not sure that was a good idea, but arrived early enough to set up the tent. With not much time before the start, I joined fellow survivors at the front of the line for the Survivor Lap, which I think is really half a lap. Meg Shipman, Paul Lemle, Jessica Tanner, and Thomas Backof from the Key West ride, all were at the front.

After the first lap (I won) I dropped back and rode with my sister. I introduced her to all my friends I could find. While I rode at a decent pace, I talked more than I did last year and didn’t rack up the miles. I also had more fun.

I carried a wooden “train” whistle. As I approached the kids that were riding I gave it my best train whistle sound. That always got smiles. It slowed me down but that was OK.

I was invited to the Yellow Jersey Dinner and took Betsy as my guest. It was the same dinner menu as the other riders got but with speakers. Less riding.

My wind fairing (deflector)

After 6:00 p.m., my friend, Adam Lewandowski, came over from Race Pace Bicycles to work and brought a Trek Domane for me to test ride. Even less riding while we switched pedals and put my lights on that bike.

By 9:00 p.m. John had reached 100 miles and was checking out for the night. He had a hotel. I was envious. Real envious.

Last year I rode until the Midnight Pizza arrived and my light gave out. I had 120 miles at that point. This year I had to lift the pace to get 100 miles before midnight. After Midnight Pizza I decided to get some sleep. This would not be the year I would actually ride for 24 hours. I don’t know if I would try that. Maybe some day.

By 6:00 a.m. I was awake and went out on the course at 6:30.

Breakfast, by invitation, was a Survivors Breakfast. It was the same breakfast (menu) as everyone else got but we had speakers. More down time. This is not to diminish the speakers. They were all good.

After breakfast I had a great surprise. Last year Team Portland was greatly effected by Jake’s story, and ultimately, his passing. I had met Jake’s Pedal Pal, Chey Hillsgrove, on the day they left Baltimore, but had been friended on Facebook by one of the riders, Trish Kallis.

And after breakfast there she (Trish) was. She called my name. I was taken aback certainly not expecting to see her here. It was great to finally meet her.

Trish and Barry

Late morning we tore down our campsite. More time off the bike. But I rode when I could. Ultimately I got in another 41 miles before we all joined in for the last lap at 2:00 p.m.

Great weather, great friends, and fighting cancer. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

Air Force Crystal Ride


I’m not sure if I would have come back to the Air Force Cycling Classic had not Adam Lewandowski put out a call to The Bike Lane group to ride it together. So I decided I would come back even after not quite forgiving them for only crediting me with two laps last year instead of the eight that I had done.

Registration went smoothly. This year the timing chip was on a comfortable Velcro strap worn around the ankle. Hopefully, it worked as well as it fit.

Mass Start – Notice the white “German” FUCANCER kit

The course wasn’t quite the same as last year. This year it featured two turns of 180º which was a little hairy given the family nature of the cyclists.

On the first lap, I stayed with my team and even was taking a pull at the beginning of the second lap. Then amidst all the “bottle” warnings of bottles on the road from being violently shaken loose from the bikes – the pavement was awful – my Garmin GPS flew off. The mount broke although the Garmin was OK. I had to stop, go back, and gather it. I was done riding in my group.

I put it in my back pocket and pulled it out each lap to reset the lap. It seemed to pick up mostly although there are some places where it looked like I went off course. Maybe my mileage should be a little higher. 

At the end of the day I averaged 19.5 mph when moving, that is, when I’m not walking back to find my Garmin. And I got the “gold” medal for completing 8 laps within the 3.5 hour time window.

You say you want an Evolution


You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction

Don’t you know you can count me out
–The Beetles

I didn’t ride on New Year’s Day, missing out on Potomac Pedaler’s “I’ve Ridden Every Day This Year” ride. It was cold and windy on New Year’s Day in the morning although not as bad as New Year’s Eve. We had winds sustained at 35 mph and gusting to 50 mph. My mailbox post was a victim. When I arrived home from work both the mailbox and post were on the ground so that became my New Year’s Day project.

I left the house this morning after 8:00 and WTOP Radio reported it was 23º (-5ºC) in Manassas. Cold. I drove up to Reston to ride with the group ride that leaves from The Bike Lane at Reston Town Center. I was running late and arrived at exactly 9:00 a.m.

I quickly parked in the parking garage and put the wheels on my bike. I rolled out of the garage at about three, maybe four, minutes after 9:00, turned the corner, and saw the group heading out. I rolled past The Bike Lane to catch the group. Funny, as I did I saw 3-4 bikes parked outside The Bike Lane.

I caught the group as we rolled through some bike paths out to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. Adam (The Bike Lane group leader) normally doesn’t take the group on the WOD, I thought, but was willing to concede that either he decided on a cold winter Saturday it wouldn’t be crowded or this somehow was the wrong group.

Could there be two 9:00 rides leaving from The Bike Lane? Even if there were, it was too late to go back and find Adam. I hung on the back of the group — they were flying — and finally asked someone if this was Adam’s ride. No one seemed to know although there were no Bike Lane jerseys in this group. But lots of white ones.

I was told that I had joined the Evolution Cycling Club’s training ride but that I was welcome to hang on. And I did. I asked how far they were going and I was told — 80 miles. Yikes. It was a nice day, if 23º was “nice,” but I hadn’t brought any water (intending to fill up inside The Bike Lane) and no food. And no money for a stop at a store. It’s not good to ride that far with no nutrition. Oh well.

The ride was relatively easy as long as I was hanging on the rear. We went through Ashburn then to Leesburg. After Leesburg, we climbed our first long hill. It wasn’t that difficult but one learns the perils of hanging in the rear.

I wasn’t having any problems keeping on the wheel of the rider in front of me. But he was. A gap opened halfway up the hill and the first half of the group crested the hill a good 150 meters ahead of our group. In a race that’s when they attack but this wasn’t a race. Still, once we reached the top we had two separate groups out on the country roads. The gap widened more.

I finally broke free to pass a number of riders and tried to bridge to the front group. For a while, I was in “no man’s land” about 250 meters behind the lead group and 250 meters ahead of the trail group. I had no one working with me. After being stuck here a rider finally bridged to me and the two of us then worked out way up to the leaders.

We stopped at a store in Hamilton where some bladder-challenged riders, including me, made our way behind the store for a visit to some trees. Here we also broke the ride into groups and when we left there were nine of us. It was nine that we should have ended with.

We rode for a while longer until we came to a moderate climb. One of the riders, in the middle of what was supposed to be a paceline, was having difficulty climbing and we all passed him. When we crested he was way back and we waited for him at the light on Va. 9 at Paeonian Springs.

Our ride leader, a guy named “Chicken” then decided we would have some fun descending on Dry Mill Road to Leesburg. We would break into teams and try to box other riders out at high descending speeds — generally about 35 mph. Say what?

What the heck. We took off and formed our teams. We had only gone a couple of miles when we lost our trail rider again. Chicken went back for him and was going to show him the direct way back — the WOD. Chicken came back to us but reported that he couldn’t find him. I felt bad and was going to offer to ride with him but he had disappeared. We were down to eight.

We continued on and while descending, one of the guys in front of me went off the road. His tire hit the shoulder and three of us had to quickly maneuver so as not to join him. That also killed our descent. We regrouped, didn’t get any sprint points, and made it back to Leesburg.

Passing through Leesburg I was told Chicken peeled off although I didn’t see him. At a cross street, I saw another rider leave. And I missed another one bailing because we were down to five.

Another rider and I moved to the front and did a monster pull for about 3-4 miles. What was I doing pulling these 30-year-olds home? Eventually, we let the trail riders lead and we would follow their wheels.

The five of us returned to Reston and I got to go into The Bike Lane and told Adam why I wasn’t able to join him today. He just laughed. Unlike three weeks ago, I was able to hang and at least one other rider wasn’t.

I was told that the Evolution ride was a closed ride but no one on the ride took exception to me being there. In fact, many introduced themselves and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I don’t plan on racing because I don’t have time but I am thinking about joining this racing club. It was a great day for cycling!

And the First Shall be Last


Some days you have it, some days you don’t. Today I didn’t.

It was cold but I wanted to ride. It’s easier if you commit to meeting people so I called Adam Lewandowski at The Bike Lane last night to see if they would be riding in the morning. He said they would. It seems silly to drive 45 minutes to join a group ride but that’s what I did. I pulled in just as they were departing and asked if they would wait for me. They did. There were eight of them.

It was 28º (-3º C) and I quickly put on my shoes, grabbed my bike, and rolled up with them. I caught them outside the mini-skating rink at the Reston Town Center where two teams of 8-9-year-olds were playing ice hockey. Cute.

We rolled out and kept a good pace. Think about the guys that want to go riding when it’s below freezing. There aren’t too many recreational types here. Well, I was. I overheard one guy talking about his personal cycling coach. I didn’t quite understand that.

Still, we kept together for most of the ride but on one fairly long climb the pack pulled ahead of me by 50-100 meters and I couldn’t close the gap. I could catch them at the traffic lights but there were two places on the course of 30 miles (48 km) where my legs just weren’t keeping up. Disheartening.

It dawned on me that the night before around 9:00 p.m. that I did 40 minutes on the stepper machine. I mentioned that to Adam and he opined that would kill my legs for sure. I simply had no recovery at 9:00 a.m. in the cold. Whatever it was, I was the slowpoke today.

It doesn’t usually happen but we’ve all had those days — at least all of us who aren’t doping have had those days. It was cold. It was still fun, but a little disheartening.

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