T-Town 2018


This was the 10th year that Spokes of Hope was invited to Valley Preferred Velodrome in Trexlertown, Pa. In previous years, we had childhood cancer survivors “take a lap” against cancer sometime during the evening races.

We were the pee-wee football team that gets to play on the big field for five minutes of the half-time of an NFL game. Or the midget hockey team that gets five minutes between periods at an NHL game. There is also some down-time between races at the velodrome and Spokes of Hope filled the gap by introducing the childhood cancer survivors.

Take a lap against cancer – Barry and Branon Cooper getting some laps in on the track. PHOTO CREDIT: Kathy Robinson

But it was always a blast for us. For Cindi Hart, she just glowed when she could teach the young kids how to ride on the track even if it was the flat ground-level apron. But that would not happen this year.

Spokes of Hope Memory scarf – Jake “The Hero” Grecco is the first name in the upper left corner

In the past it has never been smooth. We usually didn’t find out until an hour or so before the program when we would go on. But riding the track was only half of it. Spokes of Hope loaded up a trailer and brought a full display and store from Indiana to sell at the velodrome. And some of the mission was just support for people coming by.

Barry Sherry, Linda Baun, Lexi, John Baun

Call it a miscommunication, but we arrived only to be told that we would not be riding on the track. Uh-oh. No worries. We still had the tent plus there was an entire evening of bike races.

In Memory – Alex Shepherd

My cousins from New Jersey, Stacey Gravina and her family, always come over to see me. That always makes it special. Stacey was the mother of Jake “The Hero” Grecco, one of our heroes.

Stacey Gravina, Raeann Peters, Barry Sherry, Josh Grecco, Gary Gravina, Logan Gravina

But this year was especially hard. I had hoped that my cousin, Kay Walborn, would join us as a cancer warrior. Instead, her name was the latest to be added to the Spokes of Hope banner that Cindi carries with her on rides. Kay lost her battle five days earlier.

Kay Walborn’s name added to the scarf. This sucks.

One of the people that came through was young Lexi. She was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia (A.L.L.) in February, 2015, finished treatment May, 2017, and relapsed December, 2017. Lexi – we ride for you!

Cindi coaching Lexi

If Friday is all work, especially if we don’t get to ride), then Saturday is all play. Each year we meet for a group ride out to Topton and back. We meet at The Market Cafe which is quite a neat place situated right next to two train tracks. Unless you’re a railfan, which I am, you probably don’t want to be sipping on a cold drink when a train rumbles by.

On the road to Topton

The ride is truly one of my favorite rides of the year. It is just fun. But it is also a ride with other warriors – a brotherhood, and sisterhood, that can’t be explained and we don’t want others to join. But if you are diagnosed then we welcome you.

Front: Ken Hart, Cindi Hart. Rear: Barry Sherry, Jay Bodkin, Kathy Robinson, Andrew Werner

We had another great Saturday morning ride. Weather was perfect. Company was superb. I love my Spokes of Hope family.

Atlas Ride 2018


I pulled into the parking lot at Hanna Springs Elementary school and got my bike from the truck of the Kia Optima I had rented. Not an ideal rental car but I could lower the two back seats and the trunk was roomy enough that the bike would fit, minus the front wheel.

Although I was at least 20 minutes early, I was in a hurry to find my “teammates” for the day. I did not anticipate meeting Vanessa and her friends because they were departing at 9:00 a.m. and not rolling out at 8:00 a.m., the start of the 50-mile ride. I got on my bike and went 20 yards before returning to the car. Lights.

I had brought a rear tail light for the bike and flashing helmet lights. I have found myself much more antsy on the bike since my crash, even though I was near no one. No riders. No walkers. And especially no cars but I found in the last week as I returned to riding that cars especially made me antsy. Those lights would do no good locked in the car for the day.

In honor of my cousin, Kay Walborn, fighting a good fight

Properly lit up, I rode down Hackberry Street and was directed to the Atlas start – I followed others via sidewalks or just cutting through the park’s grass. I wanted to get a look at the Mile of Silence, a mile (or quarter-mile) of signs dedicated to people fighting or have fought cancer. I found the sign dedicated to my cousin, Kay Walborn. To see the others would have to wait until we rode this stretch at the end of the ride.

Roll out at the start of the 50-mile group

I had two ride options today: a 25 mile loop or a 50 mile loop. I did not come to Texas to ride 25 miles. So I was committed to 50. While normally I can ride 50 with almost no effort, since knee surgery in February, I only had ridden 50 miles once. That was three weeks ago from Reston to Purcellville when I discovered Scott and Nichole had sold their bike shop and moved to France.

But after the crash and concussion, I was off the bike completely for 10 days and then allowed to slowly introduce “light activity.” I rode 10-12 miles three of four times although I rode 26 miles once. The day I rode 26 miles I cut it short and thought then about changing all my reservations from this weekend to the Livestrong Challenge in October instead. But I didn’t.

I looked for Mary. She is the president of the Rice University Cycling and Triathlon team and a friend of mine who I met five years ago. I saw the Rice jerseys lining up at the start and asked Cat, one of their riders, if she could hold my bike long enough so I could hug Mary. She obliged.

Mary, Barry Sherry

Mary introduced me to Cat and Caitlyn. And Brian, who was a 2009 alum of the T4K. She said we could ride together, they would probably go 16-18 mph and I thought I could handle that.

We rolled out and quickly Brian was off the front and Mary and I had to bridge up to his group. His fiancé (?) was with him as well as another rider. If they introduced me then I suck at remembering (which is true). This is especially true since my brain injury. My short-term memory, especially involving names, is lacking.

Rest Stop 1

I don’t know how it happened but we organized and Brian and I were on the front, setting a nice easy (so I thought) pace, although a couple of times we were asked to slow down.

The thought that “an easy 50 miles” would be my first effort since the concussion and that I should save myself did not exist. In reality, I was burning matches that I would need at the end, without even realizing it because the pace we were going is one I maintain when I am in “bike shape.” With Brian and me at the front, we averaged 17 mph over 13 miles, our fastest segment of the day.

At one point I even told Brian that I probably shouldn’t be up here setting the pace the entire time and should drop back and sit in. But I didn’t.

Brian (left), Mary farther up on right

There were four rest stops on this course which made for an easy day. My group stopped at all four. Because I anticipated getting a complimentary bottle from Mellow Johnny’s with my rental, I had brought just one water bottle. A sponsor, Bush’s Chicken, had some bottles, not necessarily for the bike, but I was offered one and put it on my bike.

Rest stop 3 – We were about to start the oil section

The roads were mostly “heavy” roads. Those are of the chip and seal variety and don’t present a smooth riding surface. They didn’t affect my ride or comfort, but I was working harder than if I was on smooth pavement.

At Mile 27 we had a rest stop just as we turned onto a newly surfaced road. By new I mean yesterday. Literally yesterday. Fresh oil. I was very glad I was not on my bike but was on a rental. Our group stayed together but after five miles or so I noticed that I had gapped Mary. I slowed a little for her to stay with me and we joined a teammate. We had 11 miles on that tar and chip mess.

With the sign for Cousin Kay

At our last stop, Mile 38, the star seemed to be this 9-week old German Shepherd puppy named Murphy. Everyone wanted to pet him and he only wanted relief on the ground under a table in the shade. I was hoping his owner was getting him enough water as I was finding my own.

This is a supported ride and at every stop they had bags of ice. One did not have to settle for lukewarm water in your bottle but always could add ice and make it ice old. I refilled my bottle (the second one stayed on my bike with 100 degree water in it) and went to tell Mary that I couldn’t wait for everyone to finish eating fruit and filling bottles before rolling out.

I could feel my body shutting down and I didn’t want to spend more time at this stop than necessary. But Mary’s group didn’t linger and we were soon on the road. We were off that new chip and seal road but it looked like we had a half-mile climb right out of our stop.

Brian and his couple of riders went. Mary hadn’t yet clipped in so I went at a slower pace determined to let her catch me. I looked back and could see her but also saw a couple gaining on me. First the man passed me then his wife passed me. And I felt a twinge.

Strangely enough, whether the road got steeper or leveled out a bit I couldn’t tell you, but I found myself passing this couple. We were all riding at our own pace.

About a quarter-mile later, Mary caught up, along with a friend. We had talked for most of 38 miles but said nothing the last 10. It was a sign to me that I was beat.

There was a strong headwind. A strong, hot headwind. It seemed every time I looked up the road was going up. There were no major climbs just a gradual slog into the winds.

The twinge was a warning. My body was shutting down. I carried a bottle of Hot Shot designed to eliminate cramping. I had never needed it before but was able to unseal it and drink about 1/3 of it at once. And just like that, the cramping went away.

Hot Shot to eliminate cramps

We continued on, without talking. As the road turned up again Mary pulled away. Earlier in the day I would have gone with her but I knew better than to try. I was light-headed. And I was watching my heart rate monitor. It seemed to record a higher than believable rate. I was pushing 170 bpm yet I wasn’t breathing heavy.

I also thought, in no particular order, that maybe my blood pressure was way off. I couldn’t feel my heartbeat at 170 bpm but maybe I was ready to have a stroke. I saw one SAG vehicle go by and lamented they had room for three bikes on the back and they had three bikes on the back. I thought maybe I would pull over and call for a SAG but sitting on the side of a shade-less road seemed more punishment than moving forward.

In Memory of Alex Shepherd

With Mary up the road, I was keeping pace with her friend, neither of us saying a word. I changed my Garmin screen and could see I had 5.2 miles left. Then 4.5. Then 4.0. Mary’s friend seemed to be struggling and it was all I could do to tell her “3 miles to go – we got this.” I counted down 2.5 then 2. Then we passed a couple of riders coming in from their 25-mile ride which unconsciously may have given us a boost. And we saw Mary.

With one mile to go, we caught Mary and soon turned down the street to make the Mile of Silence. I asked Mary to stop with me so I could get a picture of Kay’s sign. And then I sought out signs for Jake and Alex (Jacob Grecco and Alex Shepherd).

In memory of Jake Grecco. I repositioned his sign to a better location.

Mary and I rode the last half mile together, with Mary, not me, wanting to stop and take some pictures of the old downtown. Another sign I wasn’t thinking straight.

Lampasas, Texas – the town of murals

We parked our bikes and I called Vanessa. She had texted and wondered if I was there and I wasn’t going to mess around with texts. She asked if I was OK and told me I didn’t sound good. Her group was in the food line and allowed me to cut in. I was so cramped and tired that social norms (not cutting line) were not going to be obeyed.

I met her friend, Kevin Hellgren, and then a big surprise to me, Kristina Schommer. She was my bicycle buddy (pen pal) four years ago with the Ozarks team in 2014. It was great to finally meet her.

We found someone who found this year’s bicycle buddy, Grant McFarlin. After meeting we talked about the day’s ride. He had done the 25-mile route. I am a big supporter of the T4K program including their safety and training. They have a required metric that all riders must meet – a 10-hour century ride. Grant told me one of the riders had crashed at Mile 90 in April and never finished his requirement.

Grant McFarlin, Barry Sherry

So on Thursday, the day before they were to leave, Grant and two other riders, joined this rider so he would finish his test and ride the T4K. Grant had ridden a century on Thursday, 70 mile roll out yesterday, so he was to be excused for a 25-mile ride today.

Grant couldn’t stay and talk much as they were getting ready to present. After this year’s T4K teams presented, music started playing and everyone sort of scattered. I was told that Grant walked “that way.” And pointed to the horizon.

Although I had cramped even while sitting and eating under the big tent, I needed 1.5 miles to make 50. I would have quit at 49.99 two hours earlier but thought I would take “the long way” back to my car. As I arrived, there were just two cars left in the lot. Mine and a pickup truck next to mine. And Grant was talking to the driver.

Grant and his girlfriend, Lizzie Hill, had walked over to the school and I was able to see him before they would depart. That warmed my heart I could say goodbye.

They walked back to the event and I drove off into the horizon. Or sunset. Or to the nearest In-N-Out Burger for dinner. Yea, I think that was it.

EDIT/EPILOGUE – I still had the effects of my concussion and should not have traveled to Texas for this ride. My body was not in shape (see photos) and certainly could not handle a 50-mile ride in Texas heat. But the next night, in Houston, was the last night that I had headaches from the crash so I was healing. Slowly.



The event was the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride, the official first day of the Texas 4000. Riders had the option of riding 25, 50, or 70 miles, often determined by the friends and family that came to the Atlas Ride.

I drove to Cedar Park and met Will, who brought along a Garmin mount since my BarFly mount broke yesterday. I made it to the start with five minutes to spare.

After the National Anthem, the current 2017 team of Texas 4000 riders were the first to depart. They were followed by alumni riders. Then the rest of us.

I had no expectations for the ride. At first, I was sitting in with a group then decided to go faster and bridged up to the next group on the road. A “train” came by with about 10 riders and I jumped in. We were flying until we came to rest stop one. I stopped but no one else did.

Back on the road, I kept my own pace until another group came by. We had a good pace until we came to a rest stop. They all turned right (rest stop). I turned left (70-mile route). I was all alone.

I soloed for about two miles then pulled over to fix my handlebars which were misadjusted. Eventually, another group came by. One of the riders was Scott Towle from the 2004 group – the original group. The official story was that Chris Condit, the founder of the Texas 4000, was in San Francisco when the Hopkins 4K was just finishing. And that brief moment was the inspiration for the Texas 4000.

Later I saw a Hopkins 4K jersey from 2006. I did not get the rider’s name but he shared stories of the early years. He offered his opinion that the Texas 4000 does a much better job at building community within the teams than the 4K for Cancer does.

The 50-mile and 70-mile rides followed the same course except the 70-mile ride diverted to the west, probably 10 miles, and found some wonderful grazing areas protected by many cattle guards. It was a free message on the bike.

For much of the ride, it was overcast but humid. I was drenched. There were some raindrops but nothing of significance until safely in the food tent.

Will and I rode together the last 30 miles. We integrated with a group of 2017 riders and I started talking with Trey Curran, a rider with the Sierra route. As we got close I remembered the Silent Mile. Surprisingly Trey, nor his teammates had heard of it. When we came to the last mile, I slowed and looked for the signs. Jake. Alex. Amelia. I even doubled back to make sure I didn’t miss them. Found them all.

I ended and was greeted by name. I think that helmet sticker (and number) was a clue. I turned into the main area and saw Ayesha, my Bicycle Buddy from last year.

I got food and sat with the Rockies 2016 team, having met them last year.  Then Vanessa found me. I moved to sit with her 2014 Ozarks team. While eating the skies opened up and poured. It lasted about 20 minutes but sent water throughout the tent we were sitting under.

I also got to meet my bicycle buddy from this year – Luis Salazar. Luis is a bright and athletic young man. I also learned that he will not make it all the way to Alaska as he will have to return on Day 48 to start medical school. Well done my friend!

Luis and Barry

After the rain we sought out the signs from the Silent Mile. We then found Amelia Schmidt’s bicycle buddy, Lauren Nix. She wrote a note on the sign for Amelia – to be delivered to her front yard on Tuesday.

As I was leaving, Trey came over to say goodbye. That was actually very touching.

The Texas 4000 does it right. A wonderful event where friends and family can ride with this year’s team – 25, 50, or 70 miles. And very well attended by alumni. I just wish we didn’t need cancer rides.


A view of the ride using Relive.

Livestrong Challenge 2016


It was humid if not warm when I lined up in the 100-Mile riders’ coral. Our pre-ride instruction included a doctor who told us that number one we should have fun and number two “be safe.” Interesting. I think safety should always trump fun. But maybe that’s me.

At the start - 7:30 a.m.
At the start – 7:30 a.m.

The first 10 miles to Aid Station #1 is one big mass rollout. Police patrol the many intersections leaving the city and at most traffic lights we could roll through. The crowd started to thin out approaching the aid station but it was mostly one big group ride. At the Aid Station, I pulled in and found a mechanic, who happened to be from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop which is where I rented my bike. Since I had no pump with me and had the bike since Friday, I knew I would need a little air. He pumped up the tire, refilled a water bottle, and was out of there in three and one-half minutes. I wanted to keep my rest stops short.

My favorite gas station
My favorite gas station

I rolled into the second stop for water. This time it was 90 seconds. I went by the third stop which used to be the cookie stop. I guess it still was. Damn. There was a sign warning riders the next stop was the cutoff for the 100-mile route at 10:30 a.m. I rolled into Aid Station #4 at 9:50 a.m.

Crossing the Blanco River
Crossing the Blanco River

Then it was off to the Wall. Or as it’s called, Devil’s Climb. I was on a rental bike. My guess is when I rode this route four years ago my Trek Pilot was fitted with a 30:28 gear ratio. It was difficult but I don’t remember struggling (like everyone else seemed to be). This bike was set up with a 34:28. I’m older. The ratio is worse. It’s not getting easier.

Texas 4000 Aid Station at top of Devils Climb
Texas 4000 Aid Station at the top of Devils Climb

The climb was hard. Damn hard. There were more people walking than riding. My Garmin was set up with a maximum heart rate of 180 and Garmin was going nuts because I was over that (186). I was displaying heart rate and knew that. My legs ached and my body wanted to quit. But I would keep going.

Blackberry the chicken
Blackberry the chicken

I pulled into the aid station near the top of the climb (essentially it was at the top) and talked to the kids from the Texas 4000. This was their aid station and they were quite helpful. I spent 24 minutes here which represents half the time I spent in all stops.

Pulled into this campground to check in for tomorrow's flight
Pulled into this campground to check in for tomorrow’s flight

The roads from here back to the finish were very “heavy.” Chip and tar, heavy on the chips. Not a smooth surface at all. It’s hard to pedal on this surface but must keep moving.

Buda, Texas
Buda, Texas

I stopped at each aid station after this. It was hot (90 degrees) and I needed to keep my fluids topped off. Around Mile 70 we saw the chickens. I think it was an FFA group and the girl proudly displayed “Blackberry.”


The roll in to the finish went well. Ninety-nine miles went OK but that last mile forced me to think why am I here? Why am I here when Jake and Alex are not? Or Joe Petrucelli? Or Nancy Natoli?

Survivors get a yellow rose

I rode by myself all day. I never hooked up with anyone all day long. It was just a 100-mile solo effort. So I entered the finishing chute and made sure I was alone. I stayed right, for survivors and videoed as I got my yellow rose for they hand out for survivors.

I rode for many today. I did not wear a survivor’s bib. I have transformed so that this ride is not about me – it’s about others. I’m thinking this was my last time. It was if it is only for me. But if I ride for others I may be back.


And if I ride it again, I have to remember, NO RENTAL BIKE. I want my bike which is geared a little more favorably to the Devil’s Climb.

Dave Wright, Kelly Wright, Barry Sherry
Dave Wright, Kelly Wright, Barry Sherry Team CCC

Spokes of Hope Saturday Ride


Our riding group from Spokes of Hope met at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center for what has become our annual ride in the valley.  I joined Ken and Cindi Hart, Jay Bodkin, Kathy Robinson, Andrew Werner, and Branan Cooper (but Branan could ride only for a short bit).

Ken Hart, Kathy Robinson
Ken Hart, Kathy Robinson

Cindi asked us to gather and we formed a small circle. She gave thanks for friendship and then I offered up that this must also be a dedication circle. I led by speaking about Jake, whose family I had visited an hour earlier. And I dedicated my ride and day to Amelia Schmidt.

Bowers, Pa.

We rode out country roads to Topton. But not without incident. Jay came to railroad tracks and did a bunny hop. He hopped right out of his cleat – the shoe suspended on his pedal. He did an emergency repair and we were able to continue as a group.

Topton, Pa.

We did a loop out to Bowers and ended up at the cafe in Topton next to the railroad tracks. While drinking milkshakes and smoothies (I had a smoothie), Cindi asked for a hill on the return ride where we could ride for the people we have dedicated to.

Near Topton, Pa.
Near Topton, Pa.

Andrew found a hill near Mertztown. Cindi and I went up. I yelled for Amelia and Alex and Jake.


Andrew and Kathy followed. Jay and Ken watched. After the dedication, we passed a pumpkin patch and were surprised to see they were harvesting pumpkins in August.

Well, at least this writer was surprised.

Cindi Hart
Cindi Hart

It is always great riding with these cancer survivors as they enjoy their lives and triumph over cancer.

Clockwise: Ken, Andrew, Jay, Kathy, Barry, Cindi’s shoes (Credit: Cindi Hart)

25 Hours of Booty


•   Rain fell from the beginning at 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
•   Rode in Memory of Jacob the Hero Grecco and Jamie Roberts
•   Rode in Honor of Alex Shepherd
•   First 70 miles were tough with cold and wet conditions zapping my energy
•   Planned to ride throughout the night but was getting cold and realized I would not handle that many hours without sleep
•   Retreated to car about 2:45 a.m. for a couple of hours of sleep
•   Knew I was on pace for 200 miles but only by skipping lunch
•   I ate lunch
•   Marveled at a 20-something woman who rode like the Energizer Bunny. She was up to 280 miles and told me she wasn't stopping the rest of the way.
•   I escorted a woman to help her finish her first 100 miles.
•   After the event I was 18 miles short of 200 (14 really since Garmin was off for two laps). I stayed an extra hour to get the miles, hence 25 Hours of Booty
•   Final distance was actually 204.2 miles

The weather did not look promising. Still, there was only a 40% chance of rain in Columbia. They missed that one. Try 100%. All day. It was raining as we took to the start line. While there a woman looked at me and said “Hey, you were here last year. You wore the F**k You Cancer jersey.” I laughed. “Well, it’s FUCANCER and I am wearing the socks.

I’ve got the socks

I then regretted not having my FUCANCER jersey (any of them). But I later discovered that I did have one of my jerseys with me. I wore my Bootystrong, Spokes of Hope, and Stand Up to Cancer jerseys throughout the 24 hours.

One of the younger riders

Our opening ceremony featured remarks by the organizer. Another, a guest who had lost his infant son, told a joke about how much he loved breasts. It made everybody cringe. We waited for recognition for Jamie Roberts, who had been killed on a cross-country cancer ride for the organization that benefitted from this ride. There was none.

National Anthem. Source: 24 Hours of Booty

Survivors, followed by top fundraisers, were to line up at the beginning. It appeared to me that the groups were mixed and everyone took off at once when it was announced. It would be more meaningful if they let survivors-only go. And then one minute later, let the top fundraisers go. Then one minute later, let everybody else go. Or let the top fundraisers go first. But a separation in the groups.

At the end of the first lap, and I went through it first – third year in a row, I pulled over and waited for my sister, Betsy, to roll by. And waited. And waited. Finally, after being lapped twice by the field, she came by and told me she had had a flat. She walked her bike back to the Race Pace tent and had them repair it.

Riding for Alex Shepherd

We rode. We got wet.  The temperature was 70° so it wasn’t that chilly although there was no warming sun. When we stopped around 7:00 p.m. for dinner I had 70 miles but was chilled to the bone, sitting in a tent, soaking wet. I thought about calling it a day/night then. I went to the car, changed clothes, and turned the heat on high. Aaaaah.

Rainy day

With dry clothes I hit the course again. My intention was to ride 24 hours although I am not a night person. I rode until “midnight pizza” arrived and then turned off my Garmin for the first time. I wanted to record a 24 hour ride but didn’t know about battery life. So I shut down the Garmin while I ate.

Done with pizza, I turned Garmin back on to a mishmash screen of incredibly small fonts. It appeared it was in diagnostic mode. I could not get it to work. My plan all along had been to count laps and take a water/bio break every 10 laps (21 miles). So I kept counting.

Jake’s Snazzy Pistols – Betsy, John, Barry

After two laps I went back to my car for an extra layer and turned on the Garmin. This time it worked. I only missed 4.2 miles.

Around 2:30 a.m. the realization finally struck. I suck at sleep deprivation. It seemed on course there were only four of us but it could have been five times as many as we were spread out. Still cold, but no longer wet, I thought some time off the bike would be useful.

If I could make one cancer patient’s life better by riding 24 hours I would never stop. But at this point, the money has been raised and the time on the bike was purely personal. That is all. It’s good for a humblebrag. I took a break.

I rode in memory of Jacob Grecco and Jamie Roberts

When the sun came out I switched to my Trek Domane as the roads dried. At breakfast, Betsy and I sat with Paul Lemle. On course I rode with John Phipps and counted laps with him as his Garmin quit working too.

Betsy. Someday my sister will see this photo and ask me to remove it

There were a few riders who openly declared they were riding 24 hours and piling up the miles. One of these had a coach or wife just beyond the start/finish line. He didn’t plan to exit the course to take on food/water but simply have it handed to him on course. I saw him take bottles from her on the fly and toss his empty bottles aside. And then he was sitting in the grass. Just sitting. For an hour. Then he left. I don’t know what happened. Hard crash? Mechanical? Bad idea?

Jim Gleason was one of the ultra-riders (although not the one mentioned above) and was the top fundraiser. Another was a young (20-something?) woman who routinely lapped the field every 5-6 laps. Around 10:30 a.m. she told me she was at 280 miles and was not getting off her bike until the end.

But she was no longer lapping me (and John) and each lap on the climb up the start/finish line, we passed her. She passed back on the back stretch but I also noticed she no longer pedaled on the downhill portion. Near the end she was off her bike and sitting in the grass. She was awesome, racking up more than 300 miles and also she was human.

Pink arm warmers and a pink cape – she was awesome

Garmin beeped. Low battery. I knew if I was to get 200 miles that I was going to have to skip lunch. Once Garmin beeped I decided to go for lunch. I put Garmin in the car on accessory and gave it a charge while taking my time at lunch. I traded miles for lunch and my chance to reach 200 miles.

We were instructed to talk to people, and I tried. But so many people had earbuds in which screams to me “LEAVE ME ALONE.” So I didn’t talk to them. But late in the ride I was next to Veronica Galindo de Otazo and asked her who she was riding for. She said a friend of her daughter’s mother, who had a second recurrence of breast cancer. We rode and talked.

Veronica was also trying to get to 100 miles. At 12:26 p.m. we told me she was at 84 miles and wouldn’t make it. I told her she would. We would break it down. I told her we needed eight laps and at eight minutes per lap, we could finish with 20 minutes to spare. We did and she thanked me. She told me without me supporting her she wouldn’t have made it.

As we were held at 1:45 p.m. to begin the last lap, I put on my Team Alex T-shirt. At the completion of Booty I was at 184 miles. I decided to make it 25 Hours of Booty and get the 200 miles.

Barry – Source: 24 Hours of Booty

When I got home I realized those diagnostics that appeared in Garmin – it was fried. I could not offload the data. But I do have the picture and the course is a loop.

Missing two laps or 4.2 miles – 204.33 total

EDIT/EPILOGUE – Jamie never was recognized. A number of us waited to see if there would be something at one of the meals. Maybe a callup for a lap or two in her memory. Nothing. I expressed my disappointment in the organization that they didn’t recognize her life, her contribution. The CEO called me. It wasn’t to apologize for failing to honor Jamie. No, it was to chastise me for making a social media post that would criticize his organization. He said that he and Basil (the 24 Hours of Booty CEO) discussed this before the event and decided not to honor her. As he said, “everybody honors somebody.”

Remembering Jamie

Yes, I followed a woman who had pictures of her cats that she had lost to cancer. Jamie’s life was way more important than those cats. The CEO also said I should have talked to him. I pointed out that neither he nor his COO or anyone from the organization bothered to show up. They just wanted us to fundraise so they could cash the check and continue to live in their McMansions on horse farms in Howard County.

The end

It would be the last time I raised money for this event.

Didn’t Want to Do It


Each year it seems harder to bring myself to New Hampshire to ride this mountain. But it seems to be more about the 1,400-mile drive (round trip) than the ride up the mountain. And this year I wasn’t “feeling it.”

Rest Area on I-91 near Brattleboro, Vermont

I was surprised when earlier this week my daughter, Ashley, asked me when I was going and if I needed a driver. I hadn’t made any gearing adjustments to my bike and was planning to call it a career at six successful hill climbs.

Rest area on I-91 near Brattleboro, Vermont

But with Ashley volunteering, if not wanting to go, I decided to go. Besides, I would see the Gubinski family again.

Mount Washington Hotel (we did not stay there)

Two years ago was to be my last time racing this mountain. I needed a ride down and found the Gubinski family, or they found me. But every rider needed a driver and no vehicles could go to the summit that Saturday morning unless they were bringing a cyclist back down the mountain. It was a marriage of convenience. Lucas and Alexa were hiking to the summit and their parents, Vic and Alison, were to drive up and meet them – as long as they were bringing a rider back down. And thus we met.

Near Crawford Notch, NH (Credit: Ashley Snow)

Navigating here yesterday, and anticipating it would be the last time, I decided to try a different approach to North Conway. We came up I-91 so we could stop at our favorite rest stop in Vermont.  Then we followed US 302 and came in on the other side of the mountain through Crawford Notch, a drive neither of us had done before.

Near Crawford Notch, NH (Credit: Ashley Snow)

I never saw a moose before until Ashley came with me in 2007. The race was canceled that year but she was happy – she saw a moose. She came with me again in 2008 and, again, we saw a moose. Ashley hasn’t been with me since 2008 and I haven’t seen another moose. Yesterday, we saw a moose. When I told my friends, the Family Gubinski about her “Moose Whispering” skill, they didn’t believe it – they always wanted to see a moose. So we left registration at the same time. We found another moose.

This morning I was hoping the race would be canceled. It would be appropriate bookends that Ashley was with me for my first (2007) and last (2014) races and both were canceled. The weather did not look great. When I checked before leaving the hotel it was 37 degrees at the summit with winds at 44 mph – wind chill was 23 degrees.

Summit Conditions day of race

On the other hand, were the Gubinski twins, Alexa and Lucas. I had met them two years ago when they hiked to the top of the mountain. They loved watching the race and decided to come back – as racers. And they talked me into coming back last year. And this year. And today they were excited and ready to go. Alexa had taken brakes off her bike, weighed her water bottles to take the lightest ONE, and was going up without a spare tube or tool kit. She is extreme!

2006 Trek Pilot (with Blue Madone fork)

Before coming here I had purchased a larger cassette (32 tooth) to put on my bike but hadn’t, thinking I would return it unopened for a refund (if the race was canceled). This would make the bike easier to pedal. I had my mechanics change the front ring from a 30 to a 24 but last year ran a 24:28. The 24:32 would be better.

Riders getting ready at the start (Purple – Group 4)

Ashley went up the mountain. The starter gun (actually was a small cannon) went off for the first wave of pro and “Top Notch” riders. I decided I better put the cassette on my bike. I was in the fifth and last group to start, 20 minutes behind.

No hitchhiking or bicycles

This took me back to my short-lived Cub Scout career when I was working on building a plane to fly on a wire. I waited until the last minute to attach the propeller. At the race, my plane won its first two heats, easily in fact. In the third, the propeller came loose and fell off because the glue had not set yet. This was a life lesson that should have taught me preparation. It did not.

Some riders in my wave. The unicyclist and young girl beat me.

My quick change of cassettes did not go as expected. I had a new lighter wheel from my Trek Domane which I planned to switch to my climbing bike. It has an 11-speed cassette. My mechanic assured me the wheel would fit, and I guess it did, but it did not like the new 10-speed cassette. I couldn’t get the cassette fully tightened.

It could have been operator error but the second group was now headed up the mountain. (Just three groups left to go.) I took the last three gear cluster from the 10-speed and replaced the last three gear cluster from the 11-speed and tightened it. Now I was running an 11-speed cluster on my 10-speed bike/derailleur. This, my friends, is not a good combination. That 10-speed cluster is not meant for the 11-speed hub and I didn’t even bother to test it. I failed Cub Scouts too.

Unidentified rider climbing toward the summit

I was sitting in a field with two wheels, neither of which was working with my bike, and less than 10 minutes to go. The gears would have to be. I lined up at the back of the last group, which was also the largest group. I started dead last (which I always do). There were two unicyclists ahead of me. The cannon sounded. I didn’t move. The group had to space out first as they took off.

Vic Gubinski nearing the finish (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

My gears seemed to work only for the first three but anything beyond that and they were skipping. That cluster of three gears was molded as one whereas the rest were individually added with a washer. Those other gears would be problematic except I would never get to them. I could have ridden a single-speed up the mountain as long as it had 24:32 gearing.

Lucas, Alexa, Barry (Credit: Alsion Gubinski)

The weather was warm, around 70º (21ºC), at the base, and I, along with most racers, wore a short sleeve jersey. No jacket. No arm warmers.

Jill Landman, Geoff Hamilton – I don’t know them – they just passed by me and I took their picture

The lower section (first two miles) is just beautiful. It’s just a 12% grade road headed up through a deep forest. At 1.5 miles I passed the first of a few people pushing their bikes. In the past, this was mentally deflating but not today. I kept going not even thinking about them.

Lucas Gubinski nears the summit (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

Around Mile Three or Mile Four it got cold. Real cold. Real fast. I sort of envied those riders who had jackets or arm warmers. The wind was strong – at times it was a headwind.

Seven times – dedicated to Alex Shepherd

I came to Mile Four realizing it was more than halfway. I wasn’t working that hard. I felt good. I passed a red bib rider (first group). Plenty of yellow (second), blue (third), and purple (fourth) too. Although I had been passed earlier by both unicyclists who were racing (after I passed them at the beginning), I overtook them too.

Thumbs Up – Barry nears the summit

The top of the mountain was cold – my hands were starting to feel it a little, but otherwise, I was OK. I came to the final 22% grade and saw the Gubinski family cheering for me. I smiled. I waved. I gave thumbs up. I slowed down.

Pain locker at Mile 5

I finally shifted into my lowest gear (32t). I made a big deal about changing that cassette and never once used the lowest gear. So I made sure to get my money’s worth. I climbed the 22% grade and looked at the time – 1:48. Yuck. Same as always.

Mt. Washington Cog Railroad

I was surprised. I thought I had done better. It’s about power to weight (ratio) and even though my weight is up this summer I felt good. This was the first hill climb where the “Quit Monster” didn’t hound me. Thoughts of Jake The Hero Grecco, Alex Shepherd, and Jamie Roberts carried me to the top. Every previous climb here I have had to fight not to quit or stop. Today was cool. Just climb. And since I didn’t use the easiest gear, I thought I might be going better than last year. I guess the wind or maybe cold slowed me down. Ah, it didn’t matter.

I don’t have power data but I do have heart rate data for my seven climbs:

2014 – 161.1/176 bpm
2013 – 161.8/173
2012 – 160.8/178
2011 – 153/173
2010 – 156/176
2009 – 158/177
2008 – 156/176

Alexa Gubinski powers to the finish (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

Each year I hit my max on the final climb. The last three years my average has been 161; before that, it was 156. I have no idea what all this means except I’m alive.


As far as perceived effort, my climb in 2008 was a 10. I want to think today’s effort was a 6, which is probably not what one wants to do in a race. But twice I almost stopped not to rest but to take a picture. The only reason I didn’t was it is so hard to get started on a 12% (or higher) grade.

Gubinski Family

Ashley found me, we took some pictures (seven times up the mountain!) and I found the Gubinski Family. Alexa came in at 1:20:30 and, as she would find out later, finished 5th in the Women’s Division. Lucas did well too, coming in under 1:15.

At the bottom, we enjoyed a great turkey dinner and said goodbye to our friends. I didn’t want to make this trip this year but am glad I did. Although it’s good to retire with seven straight climbs, I do have that new cassette, only used once (and with a low gear almost not used at all). Any takers?

Four finishers. Apparently I need coffee.

As for real racers, John Kronborg Ebsen beat Cameron Cogburn (and 516 others) to win in 52:53. Marti Shea won for the fourth time in 1:06:01.

“Shea hoped to finish the climb in under 65 minutes, but the cold and windy weather got in the way of that plan. The temperature was just over 40 degrees and winds about 35 miles per hour for a wind chill factor of 25 degrees when the top riders reached the summit.

“‘Down below, the weather was good,’ said Shea, ‘But around four miles the wind started, and then it was off and on – a side wind, then a head wind. I was losing body temperature. There have been a few races here with conditions like this, but this may have been the worst I’ve seen. Anyway, I’m happy about my fourth win.'”

Race Report Source: Facebook page of Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
(16 Aug 2014)

My Strava time was 1:46:53. Not competing for anything other than PRs, this is more accurate than the cannon time since I am usually near the end of the group and can lose up to 90 seconds or so at the start. But this is point-to-point and is consistent over time. My PR is 1:42:15. I am, if nothing else, consistent. Consistently bad perhaps, but consistent.

25,000 Miles Cancer-Free


I had told my friend, Chey Hillsgrove, I’d be joining him at the end of his cross-country cancer ride. I had hoped to get their route and ride backward from Bremerton or Bainbridge Island until I found them.

Fish – Poulsbo, Washington

My friends, Dale & Kimber Polley were visiting Seattle. Kimber wanted to take me to Chey (after some begging by me, I think). It worked out because while I envisioned we would encounter the riders on the road and I would start at that point, we left very early and Chey’s group planned to leave very late. We arrived in Port Townsend before many of the riders did (they had homestay visits the night before).

Shelby Perkins inking Chey (it will wash off)

I said hello to Chey and then met Shelby Perkins. Shelby was a college classmate and soccer teammate of Jamie Roberts and it was good for both of us to meet someone who knew her. Riders and friends joined hands for a dedication circle.

Rolling out of Port Townsend

Words cannot explain what being part of a dedication circle means and I won’t try. Suffice it to say that my two highlights of a week of riding were meeting Alex Shepherd in Ashland, Oregon, and being in the dedication circle. Neither involved riding.

Rolling through Port Townsend

We rolled out as a group, apparently minus one. I was riding with Mike McDonald (Virginia Tech) and chatting about others. He told me Adrienne Rivera also goes to Va. Tech and I asked where she was. After looking around he said “missing.”

Barry and Chey Credit: Kimber Polley

Chey had dropped back to go find her. Ellie Stevens, Natalie Fischer, and I waited. Natalie left cue clues for them on the paths. Once we got together the five of us rode as a group the rest of the day.

Batman Rides Again!

At Mile 15 I pulled over long enough to raise my bike above my head to the bewilderment of the other riders. I just celebrated “Around the World” – 24,901.6 miles ridden cancer-free (started in 2010).

Around the World Cancer-Free

The first water stop was by the sound and by some fabulous blackberry bushes. I failed to grasp at the time that the entire area is basically covered with wild blackberry bushes. I started picking and sharing blackberries wherever I could find them.

Best blackberries in the world

These were the best blackberries I have ever eaten. I know now the best blackberries come from the coast of Washington. The best strawberries come from Finland.

Natalie Fischer Summiting the Wall – It’s steeper than it looks

Ahead of us was a steep hill. It measured 1/2 mile from the bottom which included the lower section where the water stop was. The “wall” portion was 1/4 mile long and it kicked up to 20% in a couple of stretches.

Crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge

I had preloaded a turn-by-turn cue to Garmin which Chey provided two days earlier. That helped our navigation. Once we actually went off cue to stay on course, in the process saving some miles (I think). Later we followed riders up the road even when Garmin told us to turn. Garmin was right but we were with everybody else.

(This is also why it was not a good idea to go to the end and then ride backward until we met. Chey’s group was prone to going off-course at times but then did make it across the country so they did something right!)

Ferry back to Bainbridge Island

We rolled into the campground for the riders last night. I thought they deserved better than camping on their last night. Actually, I’ll say it – they deserved better than camping on their last night.

After a quick lunch with Chey and his friends, I decided not to bike the surface roads back to Bremerton but instead to ride to the Seattle ferry. I was first in line to get on the boat and first off – which I needed. Because then I had to figure out the system — get a ticket to the Bremerton ferry which was boarding. I was last in line and last on the boat. But I made it.

The riding was fun but the dedication circle made the day. Jamie, Jake, Alex.

Three rides all part of a great day

Key West Friends


I went to Baltimore to see a couple of friends who were riding (mostly in a car) from Baltimore to Key West. I did this ride last year, and while I couldn’t ride this year, I wanted to see this year’s group.

I invited two cancer warriors to join me on the trip and then I didn’t go. Cindi Hart, from Indianapolis, and Dave Wagner, from Orange, California were there and ready to go. I hadn’t met Dave in person although we have been cyber friends for four years and it was great to finally meet him in person.

Barry Sherry and Dave Wagner

The riders formed a dedication circle where each rider could offer a dedication for the day. Dave surprised me by dedicating his day to Jake the Hero Grecco. And I already knew that Cindi would dedicate the day to Jake since she showed me the flag she is carrying to Florida. She did surprise me by also dedicating the day to me. I only wish I was in the circle so there would have been three dedications for Jake.

Cindi Hart (third to right, with sunglasses)

It was strange, almost surreal, seeing riders only in a dedication circle. Any cancer ride I have participated in everyone present was invited to join in but this group chose to be exclusionary. Well, I’m sure the group didn’t make that decision.

Dedication Circle

The group left Race Pace Bicycles and we rolled down to the Inner Harbor. By “we” I mean, yes, I rode with them.

Barry, Cindi

I had thought about what kit, what cancer kit, to wear and decided against my kit from last year’s ride. One reason was if I showed up wearing what everyone else was wearing I did not want to be confused with being a rider for this year. So I chose my Spokes of Hope kit to honor Cindi and because, well, it’s awesome.

Paul Lemle

As we rode to the Inner Harbor, Cindi and I slowly made our way to the front of the group to pick up the pace because it was cold and we weren’t producing body heat. At the Inner Harbor Groups #2-5 loaded their bikes to drive to their starting points. Since I was parked in Baltimore, I jumped in and rode out with Group #1.

BWI Airport Trail

The group I rode out with included Paul Lemle, Leslie Nissemberg, Dean Halberg, Marti Howard plus one other rider, and was supported by Dave and Alex Wright. Leaving Baltimore we went over one cobblestone street plus an open grate bridge. Paul flatted before Mile 5. What a start!

Longboarder who took a crash into me

Once finally rolling, Craig Babst, another alum from last year’s ride (and my 5th cousin), drove by us as we were on the BWI Trail, honking his horn and yelling support.

BWI Airport Trail

We rode on trails I had never been on and time was rolling by. You could see the flags whipping but felt no wind. I knew we were being pushed by a tailwind and I would fight it going back. I looked for a spot where I could say goodbye but they kept pushing on. We approached Dave and Alex at an intersection on the trail and I don’t think our group slowed down. I announced loudly I was leaving and turned around.

Then it was the adventure of finding my way back because I knew I could not trace back the way we came. Nor did I want to ride across that rough bridge. I figured the BWI Trail would take me to a spot I knew and it did, but not before getting run into by a girl on a longboard who fell and took a nasty spill right in front of me. She didn’t hit me but her longboard did.

But I was at a spot I could find my way. It was chilly, and the winds were strong going back but it was a day supporting cancer fighters. Any day like that is a good day on the bike.

A Two-Thirds Century


Saint Marys, Georgia to Vero Beach, Florida

I was offered (or selected) the chance to ride a century (100 miles) today along with my teammates, Jimmy Kondisko, Chris Zahlis, and Meg Shipman. It appeared to me, and my teammates, that we were selected as the strongest riders and most likely to be able to complete a century ride. But logistically it was doomed from the start.

Saint Marys, Georgia before sunrise

We left the hotel and faced a two-hour drive. From day to day we never knew who we would be riding with or where we would start, or finish, so to ask us to ride a mystery 100 miles was a bit of a stretch. Especially so when we learned it would take a two-hour drive to get there. Or more importantly, how about telling us the day before so we could fuel, and sleep, properly?

Saint Marys, Georgia

This would be the start of a very special day because I was wearing Tepig. Chey Hillsgrove carried Pikachu across the country on his cancer ride to Portland last year to give to Jake the Hero. Instead, Jake’s big brother, Alex Grecco, got Pikachu. Jake’s mother, Stacey Gravina, had Tepig to arrive and he would be carried to Key West and presented to Jake’s younger brother, Josh Grecco. The mileage would not be important as long as Tepig made the trip.

Barry with Pikachu (hitching a free ride)

We arrived at Ormond-On-The-Beach and pushed off into a heavy southerly wind. It would be strong in our face the entire day. The high buildings of Daytona Beach offered some respite from the wind but once out of the protection of the buildings we were being whipped around.

We had a six-hour limit because we needed to be off the course in time for another shuttle ride in a car, this time to our destination, Vero Beach. It wouldn’t happen. The first 18 miles we went through at a 16.5 mph clip which was pretty astonishing given the massive headwinds.

Chris, Meg, Jimmy, Barry

Even at 16.5 mph we were below the 16.7 average we would need. Without stops. But then the group began to falter.

Meg, of slight build, was getting shredded in the wind. We encouraged her to ride third wheel while we took turns up front in the wind. Jimmy was of slight build too so I always looked to latch onto Chris’ wheel.

Barry, arriving Titusville

At New Smyrna Beach we tried to follow the beach route, 1A, and stopped at a 7-Eleven. I started talking to a young couple which led to a discussion that you can’t get there from here. We turned around.

Directions were generally awful on this trip. There was little planning ahead of time. The routes were not communicated to the team ahead of time so no one could load those on their bike computers. And they consisted of wrong turns. And we found one mainly because our route had not been communicated to us.

Back on route we followed U.S. Route 1, a most dangerous road with small shoulders and 60 mph traffic. Unlike two days earlier, we had no one behind us “blocking” for us. It was open season on cyclists for the cars that blew by as one intentionally flew by within 12 inches or so.

Our support driver, Liz Kaplan, had left us to drive back to Jacksonville to pick up the CEO, who was at the Mayo Clinic. We had no support (other than the 7-Eleven). So there were four of us to ride with no support and to bring in the CEO mid-ride so he could go for a bike ride. It was a clown show.

Ultimately, the CEO was able to join as at Mile 53. But he had to wait for him.

We had a strong team. But we weren’t properly notified ahead of time, needed to leave before the dedication circle to have enough time, needed proper directions and support that would stay with us. But it was typical of the way the ride director handled this trip.

Chris, Barry, Jimmy, Meg

As we approached Titusville I saw a high bridge and told the group we would cross the bridge and finish there. You would think that our support or the CEO would be time-aware and know how far to go yet I had to make the call for them. We had a fixed finish time which we would not meet and the park offered stunning vistas. And it looked like a fun bridge to cross so we went.

At the golf club

We put out bikes on the truck and hurried down to Vero Beach to Bent Pine Golf Club where we were guests for the evening. Dinner was hosted by one of our rider’s parents at the golf club. Of course it wasn’t just dinner. It was a fundraiser. We were instructed to sit among members of club and maybe they could get $10,000 of out these folks.

Paul Lemle

I don’t know if they did.

Verified by MonsterInsights