Keynote Speaker: Inspire Connections Academy

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

― Mark Twain

Gaining an education is what sets one up for success. How the education is received is up to the student. There are many ways we can obtain an education now, public schooling, trade schools, online schools etc. As part of RESET, I find it important to do what works best for you. I had the opportunity recently to be the Keynote Speaker for Inspire Connections Academy Graduation Class of 2014.Inspire Connections Academy is an online school for students elementary aged through high school.  In Idaho, parents pay no tuition for this online school, because it is considered to be a public school. The students have a more personalized learning plan and can go at their own pace. It allows the students to excel and obtain a wonderful education. Amongst the crowd were 38 bright eyed students who were about to receive their diplomas and accomplish a major milestone in their lives. As I stood there and began my speech, I could see the graduate’s futures. A room full of potential. I was excited to congratulate the class of 2014, and share the special event with them. I found it a perfect opportunity to give each student a copy of my book Reset as a guide to the next step in their lives. You can hear the full speech below.

CO 500

Day 1

IMG_0805Mary and I decided to participate in the Central Oregon 500. It’s a bike ride that supports a youth mountain biking program. This year supporters were able to donate $12,000 which will allow the best cycling coaches around to be hired, and keep fees low for kids 6 to 15 years old. The ride began in Bend, Oregon. On the first day Mary and I rode 97.7 miles, 5,954 feet of vertical climb in 7 hours of riding time. We had perfect weather and clear blue skies. Temperature started at 45 degrees and climbed to 81 by the end of the ride. The higher temperatures were not too bad because of the high elevations, and the scenery was spectacular. Mary’s derailleur broke but that didn’t keep her from completing the day’s ride. After finishing the ride we were able to get it fixed at the Sunny Side Bike Shop, thanks to Henry, one of our ride guides who had called several bike shops to find the part. By the end of the day I was tired, but was ready and looking forward to day two.

Day 2

IMG_0823 (640x480)Mary and I woke on Day 2 feeling a little tired physically, but still excited about riding with the group again. That lasted until I lowered myself on to the bike saddle. Yowzer! Just under a hundred miles on a bike made for some tender spots on the backside. The route for the day two included less incline and was planned for a 102 miles. The route took us through back roads and highways to Prineville Dam, then down the Crooked River Canyon to Prineville. My first glimpse of the Prineville Reservoir came after rounding a corner on a nice descent overlooking grass, sage brush and trees. On top of the Prineville Dam you can see the Crooked River starting down the canyon. I pedaled hard on the descent and the extra effort paid off as I was able to catch Mary. Actually, the only reason I was able to catch up to Mary was because she had stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. Seeing that Mary had lots of help fixing her tire, I decided to use her flat tire to my advantage and pedaled on down the road. As usual, it wasn’t long before Mary caught me again. This time she was riding with one of our new friends from Portland, whose name was also Mary. We rode the highway beside the Crooked River and it provided great views. By this time both Mary and Mary had passed me. The ride allowed us to climb above the river which had a great view from atop the cliff. Fly fishermen dotted the length of the river. Mary and I were both still smiling at the 40 mile mark. Lunch was at 60 miles and I was feeling pretty good. I rode strong until about mile 87, and that is when I started to fizzle out. The route home was a little bit confusing and we missed a turn that was left off the route instructions. Fortunately, I recognized a street in town and knew how to get us back to the start. By the end of the day, we had ridden 104 miles. We were tired but content; satisfied that we had completed 201 miles in the first two days.

Day 3

IMG_0841 (640x480)Our third day was scheduled to be the hardest at 126 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing. At this point I had to admit that I had not trained enough to prepare for 5 centuries in 5 days. Before starting the ride, my body was screaming in protest. Being tired, sore, and mentally fatigued before you start a century ride did not make for a good day. In an effort to make my strength last, I kept my pace under control.  At mile 28 the seeds of doubt were sprouting. Two miles after the water stop, we started a 13-mile steady climb to Lake Paulina. I knew I wouldn’t see Mary again until the lunch break on top. At 5 miles per hour, the climb seemed to last forever.  I used, taking a picture as an excuse to stop and rest on the climb. In the middle of day three, I realized it was much too hard to put on a big smile; especially when there was still a climb left. The temperature was perfect for a relaxing lunch at the Paulina Lake Campground.  We were standing with our bikes on the boat ramp as we got ready for my biking specialty, the downhill.  The next 13 miles were downhill. As the terrain flattened out again, I was having trouble holding the pace of the group, and fell off the back. I was breathing harder than I should have been for the level of my heart rate, and didn’t feel well at all. I was finally learning to admit that I might have some limitations. Listening to my body as I dragged into the rest stop at mile 60, I made one of the hardest calls on a ride. I decided to end my biking for the day and sag in on the van. I was physically relieved but psychologically stressed. The longer, harder events Mary and I have been participating in are proving to me that the weeks prior do not allow for poor training. I thought that maybe a good night’s sleep would allow me to recover for day 4.

Day 4

IMG_0871The route on this day was another great one, with lunch scheduled at Smythe Rock State Park. Smythe Rock is a world famous rock climbing area where the cliffs rise above the Crooked River. Hoping for a better showing, I found a spot in the peloton and we were clipping along at 23 to 26 miles per hour. Then we reached rising terrain, and it was like I was trying to breath with my head inside a paper bag. I couldn’t suck in enough air and fell off the back of the peloton on a long gradual climb. Something wasn’t right. I was breathing like I was doing heavy exertion with an elevated heart rate, but my pulse was only 118. I didn’t know how that could be. I plugged along until I reached the water break station at mile 45. Smiling in the picture with Carl Bontrager from Hailey, and Karen Kenlan from Bend, isn’t a reflection of how I felt inside. It was really humbling and demoralizing at the same time to call it quits early, two days in a row. I rode in the Van to our lunch site in Smythe Rock State Park. Riding along the road between the fields of freshly bailed hay on the valley floor with the snowcapped mountains as a backdrop, was inspiring. I had my first glimpse of the climbing cliffs framing Mt. Jefferson as we neared the park.  The faster riders were riding out with the cliffs behind them as we rode in. Standing by the lunch table, I looked up and saw Mark Scarff, a client from Kent Washington. It really is a small world. Mark and I had our pictures taken with the climbing cliffs and river behind us. It was Mary’s first visit to the park. Day four ended with a mushroom cloud of smoke from a control burn that erupted out of control. About 300 acres on Saturday night became burnt 6,000+ acres by Monday morning. It was way too early for the forests to be that dry. It looks like it might be a bad year for wildfires.

Day 5

IMG_0891Riding on day 5 didn’t happen. I was exhausted and felt poorly. There was no sense for me to even attempt to ride. Due to the heavy smoke from the fire, Mary opted out of riding as well. We flew back to Boise, and I found myself dragging around and getting winded just mowing the lawn.

On Monday, the day after our return, I threw in the towel and decided to go to the doctor. Something wasn’t right. An exam and x-ray revealed the problem—fluid in my right lung.

Yippee! I am happy, because even though having fluid in my lung is a serious condition, it’s treatable. I am so relieved that my poor performance on the last days of the ride wasn’t due to a major case of the wimps. That, cannot be treated with antibiotics and an inhaler. Hopefully, I will be able to start training again in one week. We have several more big rides on the calendar this year.

Boise Aeros Las Vegas Ride

In continuing to prepare for the Tour Divide, Mary and I joined the Boise Aeros for their annual spring ride in March. The ride was near Las Vegas where the long courses in Lake Mead National Park provided enjoyable scenery and lots of hills. The climbs were physically challenging as the road wound through spectacular desert settings. The group of about 30 riders stayed at the Hacienda Casino outside Boulder City on the hill above the entrance to Lake Mead National Park.

The concept of the ride was to go south where it is warm and start riding outdoors. Focused training indoors is great for building muscle power and endurance. But there is no substitute for increasing your backsides’ tolerance for long hours in the saddle. You have to put in the miles and hours. Riding the undulating roads around Lake Mead provides the opportunity to start riding before the weather allows in Boise.

The first day of riding I learned a painful lesson. It is called “pace yourself”. After the winter of workouts on compu-trainers in the Boise Aeros House of Pain (HOP), I felt strong and was ready to ride. The group started out and I jumped on the back of the pace line as we started our first ride; feeling good and pushing hard. At about the 10-mile mark, we were climbing a hill and it became clear that I was not able to keep up with the group for the entire ride. I put my ego aside and fell off the back of the line to ride at a pace suited to my ability. Unfortunately, the damage was done, but I was still not yet aware. One of the difficult things to remember as an amateur is, if you ride until you start feeling tired while you are riding away from home, you have a problem. You become tired and have to make it back home. I had burned too many calories early in the ride and faded out on the 45th mile of a 50 mile ride. My fading became enhanced by the last four miles of the ride—a steady climb from the Park entrance up to the hotel. I decided that the first days’ ride wasn’t a failure but a learning experience, because I realized my ability and learned to ride within my boundaries instead of stroking my ego by trying to keep up with the big boys and girls. The rest of the week was spent doing rides of 47, 66, 58, and 76 miles; taking one day off due to winds that made riding unpleasant. Part of my definition of success for cycling, wanting to enjoy the experience. For me, there is a difference in challenging myself by pushing the limit of my ability to improve, and torturing myself to show how tough I am. Learning the lesson of pacing myself early in the week allowed me complete longer rides at a faster pace throughout the rest of the week. I felt like I became a little stronger each day, reinforcing the RESET concept of progress through incremental improvement.