Monday, August 25, 2008

Livestrong Challenge Philly, 2008

(Rob, Mike, Me)

Last year my friend Rob Duffield, a cancer survivor, rode the Livestrong 100 mile ride in Philadelphia. After I read his report, I told him I would join him in 2008.

Well, the year went by, and quite frankly, I forgot about the ride and my offer to be on his team. Two weeks ago, Rob sent out the information about the ride which quickly jogged my memory: "Oh no, I have two weeks to raise money and get ready for a full century." I quickly signed up for the event, sent emails to family and friends and began pedaling like a mad man. Fortunately, I was already signed up for the Covered Bridge Metric Century, so at least I would have a good tune-up ride under my belt.

My fund raising goal was $250.00, enough to cover the minimum required to participate in the full century. I was totally amazed that in two days, I not only met my goal, but exceeded it by almost $100.00. In fact, as I write this, I'm still receiving donations from people.

The ride was scheduled to begin at 7:30, so I left my house at 4:40 to make sure I would be down there early enough to get settled in and warmed-up. Rob picked up my registration packet the previous day, so I didn't have to contend with that, but as a former Marine, I have a hurry-up-and- wait mentality, and don't like to rush. Besides, most races begin early, so I was used to it.

I arrived at Montgomery County Community College, the staging area for the event, at around 6:15. I called Rob, and he was right in front of me in the line of traffic awaiting to get into the parking lot. We got into the lots around 6:30, and got our bikes and other gear ready then rode to the starting line to meet up with the other members of our team including Rob's brother and cousin. After everyone was assembled, we formed up with the other 100 mile riders in the corral.

The staging area was well laid out and there was plenty of room for all riders doing the 100 mile event. Lance came on stage around 7:45 and gave a few words of encouragement and thanks, and then we were off. Well, sort of, a couple of thousand riders on bikes just don't' get up and move. To be honest, this was the scariest part of the event because of having to clip into the pedals in a mass of humanity. Unlike the Covered Bridge Ride, I didn't fall and we got off to a good start.

The first 30 miles of the event were a breeze. We stopped at all "Power Stops," fueled up, and drank plenty of water and Gatorade. The weather was cool and we were making good time. Now, for some reason, I thought the ride was going to be closer to Philly (It helps to check the map) and thus we'd be riding on relatively flat terrain. Well, we rode to the northwest and were in Berks County around mile 30 or so. Berks County northwest of Montgomery County consists of hill after hill and they came at us fast and furious. By mile 50, I knew there was a reason they called it the Livestrong "Challenge". I really shouldn't have been surprised, after all, the event supports the foundation of 7 time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

The mother of all hills came at mile 57. It was a 1 mile climb, and it this point, numerous riders were off their bikes and walking. I was determined that I wasn't going to walk at any point in the event, so I shifted down and sucked it up and made my way to the top of the hill. On the other side of the hill was a rest stop in a little Village called Landis Store. Just like the Boston Marathon when I heard the Pink Floyd song "mother," which got me through some hard times, I was again reminded of my mother, because her maiden name was Landis. so, in a small way, my mother was with me again.

After the rest stop, we were elated that we were over the biggest climb of the course and were expecting it to be "all downhill" the rest of the way home. In fact, it was "all downhill," that is until the next hill. It got to the point where I was tired of riding downhills, because I knew what awaited once I was at the bottom. Mile 60-90 was definitely some of the hardest riding I have ever done, because of the distance and the terrain: a perfect storm of hurt. Actually, my legs didn't feel too bad, and I was able to climb well, but the climbs did hurt. Now, what hurt the most, however, was my a**. I now have a new appreciation for riders on major tours who ride 100 milers on consecutive days. I know my grandpa will be telling me that I need to get a bigger seat.

After mile 90 it was a pretty smooth stretch to the finish, and we were able to push it home as a team. Some of our team split off earlier and rode the 70 mile event, but Rob, Mike and I rode under the banner with the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that comes with completing a full century, the bikers equivalent of a marathon. After we passed under the banner, Rob split to the right and rode through the survivors chute and received his yellow rose. I was proud of his accomplishment and proud to have rode with him and for the memory of my mother.

After the ride, I made my way to the Livestrong Village and had my complimentary meal, which hit the spot: pizza, subs, salad, couscous and cookies along with beverages supplied by Michelob.

I sat down by myself, because the team all went different ways. As I was eating, a young couple came up to me and asked if they could sit with me. I said, by all means. We struck up a conversation, and I pulled out two buttons that we were throwing to the supporters along the way and gave them to them. They asked about the meaning of "Team Fish," and I explained to them that one of Rob's favorite quotes is "there comes a time in everyone's life when they have to either fish or cut bait." I also told them that "Fish Or Cut Bait" is the name of his blog.

After I told the story, a woman who was seated behind me asked, " did I hear you mention something about team fish?" She then showed me her button that she received from Rob last year. As it turns out, her name is Dianne, and last year on the ride she was between chemo treatments, in fact she scheduled her treatments so she could do the ride. At some point, Rob noticed that she was having a tough go of it and rode with her for awhile. That's when he gave her the button. She did the ride again this year and had the button on her jersey. She is 8 months clear as of yesterday. After hearing the story, I gave her a 2008 "Team Fish" button. I hope that it brings her the luck that the last one did.

On a final note, I'd like to say thank you to all the volunteers who made the ride a success. It was a great experience, and I am planning on doing it again next year. I feel blessed that after 23 years I have the ability to participate in an event that raises money and awareness for cancer research, and that I can honor my mother by raising donations.

Thanks to all who made this possible:

Andy B.
Anita and Brian B.
Brook and Cherry L.
Constance G.
Edgar R.
Gene and Kim E.
Tina E.
Kyle F.
Matt M.
Melinda E.
Phillip S.
Yvette C.
Ed and Jan S.
Bob and Jan E.

(Elevation Profile, note: lost GPS power short of Finish)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kraybill Geocaching Adventure

Our children's school always has a a benefit auction in the spring. One of the auction traditions is the the teacher adventure. Parent's and others bid on an "adventure" sponsored by a teacher. This year, my wife and I, along with 4th grade teacher Mrs. Smith decided to do a geocaching adventure for up to 10 students at Chiques Rock County Park. We weren't sure what it would bring in. We were flabbergasted when the final bid came in at over $600.00.

This past week I went out through the park and plotted 5 caches: 4 for the geocaching event and a fifth cache for the final adventure race. This morning was the actual event. 10 students showed up and I went through a lesson on GPS and geocaching then the students along with a parent and Mrs. Smith broke into two groups and went geocaching. They found the first four caches fairly quickly, so I had everyone report back to home base. When everybody was assembled, I had them turn off their units. I then explained that the next cache sought would be a race. When I said, "go," they turned on their units and quickly made their way into the woods to see which team would be the first to the cache. They both arrived at the cache at around the same time, but the first group found the cache and were declared "the winners."

Afterwards, we had a wonderful lunch prepared by my wife. All the students and adults involved said they had a great time. We're looking forward to offering it again next spring.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Covered Bridge Metric Century

I rode the Lancaster Bicycle Club "Covered Bridge Metric Century" this past weekend. It was the second year in a row that I did it. The weather was perfect for riding. It was cool and there was only a slight breeze. The wind, however, did pick up a little towards late morning, but it didn't hinder me all that much. We rode at what seemed an easy pace, but managed over 18 mph. The lunch at 30K was awesome and included Subway subs, fruit cookies and pretzels. Last year I skipped the lunch, because of time constraints. The lunch definitely made a difference in the second part of the ride, and I didn't have to suck down any gels.

I've been riding with clipless pedals now for over a year and have taken pride in the fact that I haven't fell over because I couldn't unclip. Well, it happened Sunday at the worse possible moment... when there were numerous other riders around. Oh well, the only thing injured was my pride.

View Larger Map

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Native American Graffiti"

This past Saturday the boys and I, along with Brian B., Troy S., Tom K. and Kory E., paddled to the Native American petroglyphs located on the Susquehanna River below Safe Harbor dam. It was a beautiful morning to be on the river. The weather was cool and there was little humidity. The Boys got a kick out of finding the various designs carved into both Big Indian and Little Indian Rock.

Here are some photos of our trip. Click on the images and they will appear in a larger window.

Friday, August 15, 2008


In light of my own challenges of learning how to be a faster, more efficient swimmer, and because I too was anxious about the swim qualification at Marine Corps boot camp, I give you this:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Train, train...

take me on out of this town." This is just one of the many train songs that went through my head as we were waiting at the station to depart for Harrisburg and our urban adventure. The boys had not ridden a train before with the exception of the amusement park variety and Thomas (Actually, Kyler rode Thomas, but Tristan didn't). So, I decided that we would go on a trip to the capital.

There is an allure to trains, which I impressed upon the boys by showing them a map of all the routes Amtrak travels. They immediately made the connection that one could walk down the street, board a train and pretty much go anywhere in the United States. I prefer to travel by train, because of this accessibility and it's relaxing nature. Flying to me has become a hassle, and It only appeals to me for very long distances, or when time is of the essence. I wish I could take advantage of train travel as part of my daily commute.

We left Mount Joy at 11:12 and were in Harrisburg at 11:40. We had lunch in Strawberry Square then went over to the capitol building. We strolled around the outside then toured the inside. After the capitol building, we went to the state museum. There, the kids were most fascinated by the rocks, dinosaurs, hall of mammals and of course the skeletons in the archaeology exhibit. We concluded our trip there by making a tile to add to the rainbow mural.

After the museum, it was time to head back to Mount Joy, so we headed back to the train station. We boarded at 3:20 and we were back in Mount Joy by 3:50. The kids loved the trip, and now want to go to Philadelphia and New York.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Belay...

Well, not really, as we didn't have any ropes. We did have a nice day and decided to head down to Chiques Rock to do a little bouldering along the face. One of my goals is to learn the basics of setting up a top rope and then we'll be able to climb a little higher. In the meantime, we enjoy scrambling around on a very large piece of quartzite.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Finger Lakes

(Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake Looking East)

Tina and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this past weekend with a trip to one of our favorite destinations, the Finger Lakes Region of New York. We departed on Friday and made our way north stopping briefly to drop off the boys at my parents place along the way. We then proceeded to Selinsgrove Brewing Company for lunch. This has become a mandatory stop for us when traveling to the Lakes. We also decided to stop at Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA to help break up the trip.

We arrived in Geneva, NY around 7:00 p.m. and checked into our B&B, the Bragdon House. We were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by our host Jennifer who was also to be our guide on the next days wine tour. After settling in, we walked into town and had a great meal at a place called Halsey's. I must mention that if you are ever in Geneva and find yourself in Halsey's, by all means order the scallops as an appetizer.

On Saturday we took our time in the morning and had a wonderful breakfast of french toast stuffed with peaches. After breakfast we headed out on our wine tour. Having been to numerous wineries on the western side of Seneca Lake, we decided to hit the Cayuga Wine Trail. We did make two stops on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake before heading to the western Shore of Cayuga Lake. The weather was perfect for a wine tour. There was very little humidity, a cool breeze was blowing and there were cumulus clouds lazily floating by. I'm not an oenophile, so I won't bore you with details of the tastings, but the company and the pleasant day created a wonderful context and I was impressed with the wines we tasted.

Here is a list of the wineries we visited (click on the trail name for winery information):

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Three Brothers Estate (Stony Lonesome, Rogue Hollow, Passion Feet and Barley Yards)

Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

Goose Watch
The Thirsty Owl

After our tour, we headed back to the B&B and had our leftovers from Halsey's. We hung out for awhile relaxing and playing with Bubba the pug then decided to go back to Halsey's for the scallops.

Sunday came too fast, but we got up early and drove down to the Lakefront Park in Geneva and went for a nice run along the Lake. Afterwards we had another great breakfast, souffles this time, before having to get ready to head back to PA.

The drive home was easy, and to savor, as well as extend, our anniversary celebration, we again stopped at Selinsgrove Brewing for a late lunch.

We couldn't have asked for a better weekend to celebrate. Our hosts were very gracious and the B&B was, in our opinion, one of the best ones that we have stayed in. Geneva is a beautiful and friendly town. We look forward to going there again, not to mention, another 10 years of marriage.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Another beautiful night on the river. The air was cool and the sky was clear. I was able to watch Venus move across the sky and the moon drop below the horizon. I also saw two shooting stars. The fishing was a little slower than the last time we were out, but that could have been caused by a front that moved through the area. Both Jonathon D. and Brook caught fish that were over 8 pounds.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Pennsylvania, not England. Spent the middle of the week up at my dad's and step mom's place. They live about 5 minutes from the Susquehanna River and 15 minutes from the Juniata River. We got out on the water a lot over the last couple of days. We even launched the Seahawk 500 which is a rubber boat that I acquired, but never got around to inflating. The boys and I had fun slowly drifting down the current and stopping along the way to catch crayfish and look for other creatures in the shallows. The one day I kayaked with my step mom, and the highlight of that excursion was seeing three bald eagles. I also got to go on two really nice bike rides through the mountains and valleys. In almost 50 miles of riding I think I may have been passed by 20 cars. "I was in the Zone."