Tahoe or Bust: Racing for a Cure

A beautiful day for a ride!
Jun 09, 2012 by Matthew Weinstock

On June 3, I completed a 100-mile ride around Lake Tahoe. It was a spectacular ride and an amazing weekend. I’ll keep this entry short, but just know that the photos can’t do justice to the beauty that is Lake Tahoe!

First and foremost, a huge thanks to everyone who made a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my ride. With your help, I raised more the $4,000 (you’ll note that the total on this page is lower, that’s because I split some funds with a group of co-workers who joined me this year and formed a corporate team). My four-year total: $15,000! The 17 members of the Team in Training Illinois cycle team raised more than $70,000 and, sit down for this, the 1,300 TNT cyclists at Lake Tahoe raised more than $5 million! Amazing, simply amazing.

Here’s a brief photo essay of the weekend:

Geri and I walked down to the beach on Saturday and got our first real glimpse of majestic Lake Tahoe:

Here’s the inspiration for everything I do with Team in Training. He was my hero!

Our team set out at Sunday at 6:10 AM. It was a crowded start:

Here we are starting our first major climb – about 600 feet to the grueling switchbacks:

Yes! I made it to the top of the switchbacks without falling:

My riding companions Simon, Ben, Adam and Gary at the first rest stop:

Our lunch stop at Kings Beach:

At mile 80, we started the hardest part of the course – an 8 mile, 1,000-foot climb. This was the midway point, and I’m still smiling:

What goes up must come down. I hit about 40 mph on the descent, which was a blast:

And finally, the thrill of victory (for those who care about the details, I finished the 100 miles in 6 hours 30 minutes, not including rest stops):

One more shout out to my riding mates:

Thanks, again, to everyone who donated. I can’t wait until next year!

Wind blows, but it makes you stronger
Apr 22, 2012 by Matthew Weinstock

Note to self: they make sunblock for a reason! Just because it was 39 degrees at the beginning of our 55-mile ride in St. Charles (a western suburb on Chicago) doesn’t mean that the sun stops shinning. I’m now sporting a lovely Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer look.

The St. Charles ride isn’t really one of my favorites. It’s nowhere near as beautiful as Barrington and the wide-open space means that the wind as plenty of room to howl. Still, we had a GREAT ride. I rode with Carrie and Clint today. Carrie is an assistant coach and one of my favorite people! We’ve been doing Team together for the past few years. She’s pressed me every year to suck it up and ride Tahoe. So, she’s partly to blame for me taking on this challenge. Clint is a long-time Team member as well, although he’s not riding Tahoe. No, he’s training for a triathlon, but will be back with the cycle team in the fall. He’s also one of the cycle team’s strongest riders. I was happy (and proud) to keep pace with the two of them today for the full 55 (actually, Carrie and I did 60 because we circled back to ride with a teammate as he finished his 55).

Even with the wind, we averaged between 16-17 miles per hour. Clint said that he wanted to hit 30 mph at some point during the ride. Probably around mile 45 or so he took off. Carrie and I looked and each other, shrugged and then lowered down into our drops (the lower portion of the handlebar). Clint hit 33 mph, while we topped out at 28.4. I don’t know how long it lasted – not very – but it was fun to go that fast.

So, we have just five more training rides before Tahoe. It’s hard to believe. I’m getting really excited.

Besides the fun of being out there on the bike, I’m thrilled to have raised $3,600 for the battle against blood cancers. THAT is what keeps me going and why I come back to Team year after year. I could get on my bike and ride anytime, but to do it with such an amazing group of people and to know that I’m helping people combat this horrible disease, well, that makes all of the early mornings and the aches and pains worth it.

And it's because of stories like this -- a heroic little boy fighting leukemia -- that I ride.

And, my challenge from a couple of weeks ago still holds: Help me hit my goal of $4,000 and I’ll color my hair and beard purple (Team in Training colors) and make it my Facebook profile picture.

Next week: 60 miles in beautiful Barrington.

Sweet Home Chicago
Apr 15, 2012 by Matthew Weinstock

It was 6:00 AM and I was ready to ride. The bike was loaded safely in the car and my gym bag packed with cycling gear. I had just finished my normal pre-ride breakfast of an egg, fruit and yogurt. I gazed out the window at the overcast sky and thought, “Well, it’s not too bad out.” The weathermen predicted that fierce storms would blow through Chicago and the suburbs starting mid Saturday morning.

I called the cycle hotline to make sure that the ride was still on. There was Coach Anne’s voice: “Good morning cycle team. Today’s 50-mile ride in Naperville is…” wait for it… “…off. Even though it is nice now…” I tuned out the rest of the message. I was bummed. I was ready to ride. I fully understand the coaches’ concerns. I recall a ride last year – in Naperville as well – when the clouds opened up with heavy thunder/lightning storm as we were completing the second loop of a training ride. We were 20-25 miles from the parking lot and the safety of our cars. Thankfully, we all made it back safe and sound, but there were some harrowing moments.

So, I get why the coaches cancelled yesterday’s. I’ll never question their decisions when it comes to keeping us safe!

I went back into the bedroom and told a previously-sleeping Geri that the ride was off. “Come back to bed then,” she said before dozing off.

That would have been the prudent decision, but I had just eaten breakfast and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I opted to head out on my own before the supposed storms rolled in (of course, the storms didn’t come until 11:00 AT NIGHT). I got the bike out of the car, clipped into the pedals and headed toward the lakefront. I don’t typically ride the lakefront path on the weekends, but I was in a Chicago-state of mind and wanted to see the lake and my beautiful city! We have this amazing natural resource 2.5 short miles from the house; why not enjoy it on a Saturday morning ride?

I headed south toward Jackson Park. Thankfully, it was early, around 7:00, so the path was relatively empty. There was a slight headwind, but it wasn’t too bad. The lake looked calm and was a beautiful blue. After hitting Jackson Park, I stopped at a park along the lake to take in the view and munch down a Cliff Bar (cool mint, probably my favorite). After a few minutes, it was time to get back on the bike and head north. The tailwind was awesome, allowing me to pick up my speed. By this time, several running clubs were starting on their morning jogs, but it wasn’t too bad, at least south of Grant Park. I love heading north on the Drive. The city looks so spectacular, especially as you come around the bend at the Shed Aquarium (I’d post a photo, but my lousy flip phone…yes, you read that correctly…flip phone…has a lousy camera).

Once I passed Navy Pier, traffic picked up with joggers, riders and the obligatory dog walkers who think it is OK to let their dog leashes stretch from one side of the path to the other. Anyway, I made it through the morass of people safely and headed to Evanston. From there, I went west to pick up a nice bike path that runs along the river and McCormick Blvd. It’s got a really neat sculpture garden. Forty-eight miles later, I pulled up the front of the house. I felt great.

I love riding with the team, but sometimes it is nice to just get out and do my own ride. I was feeling especially sentimental about Chicago, as well, so it was nice to enjoy the lakefront for the first time in a while. Plus, riding alone gives me time to think of really stupid ideas, like this one: I'm $560 short of my fundraising goal. So, why not offer up a challenge to my friends and family -- help me reach $4,000 (or more) and I'll dye my hair (what little there is) and beard purple (Team in Training colors), take a picture of that lovely look and make it my FB profile picture through the Tahoe ride.I ran the idea past Geri and the kids and they are all for it. So, there you have: want to see me in purple? Make a donation.

So, 50 miles. It’s hard to believe that Tahoe is a mere seven weeks away. I can’t wait!

I earned that cake!
Apr 13, 2012 by Matthew Weinstock

Now this is a great welcome home: After riding 40-miles yesterday, I walked into the kitchen and was greeted by the aroma of fresh baked goods. Geri and the kids baked a chocolate cake while I was off on my training ride. Gotta love my wife and kids!

It’s hard to believe, but we are just nine weeks away from America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride. The training rides are getting longer, but I feel like I’m getting stronger. More importantly, I am two months away from having to meet my fundraising goal. Our deadline is May 22. I’m so very close, but could really use your help to hit my mark. Every dollar helps. The money is so vital to helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fulfill its mission of battling blood cancers.

Now, for yesterday’s ride: So, March 2012 was one for the record books. It’ll go down as the warmest March ever in Chicago – except, of course, for our 40-mile training ride on March 30. Yeah, those 70 and even 80 degrees were nowhere to be seen; instead it was barely 40 when set off from the Skokie Lagoons at 9:00 AM.

It was an overcast, windy morning, but that didn’t deter 15 or so of my teammates and coaches from showing up for the training ride. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, the Skokie Lagoons are nestled in part of the Forest Preserve. It’s a nice spot where fishermen gather and herons soar overhead. Now, it’s not actually in the suburb of Skokie, but in the North Shore suburb of Winnetka.

From the parking lot, we took of north through parts of Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Forest and then west for a rest stop near, oh, I forget. I get confused by all of the North Shore and near North Shore ‘burbs. Anyway, it was a good ride. Chilly, but good. I was in the lead pack with Coach Matt, Adam (who is new to Team, but Coach Anne’s future son-in-law) and Gary, who has ridden Tahoe a few times. We kept a pretty good pace, averaging around 16-17 miles per hour. My weekday training at Vision Quest (see entry below) really helped and I actually started to apply what I’ve been learning. I put the pedal to the metal and tried to really push myself for parts of the ride. It helps that the course was pretty flat.

As I pulled into the rest stop, I realized that I couldn’t feel my toes! I didn’t bring shoe covers, thinking that it would actually warm up. Boy, was that a dumb mistake! I was greeted by our SAG team. They are the best. They set up shop at the rest stop with a large supply of food so we can replenish our tanks. Rose makes a mean peanut butter and honey sandwich. After about 5 minutes, it was time to get back in the saddle.

The ride back was good, although I did most of it on my own. Gary had left the rest stop earlier, and I kept a quicker pace than Coach Matt and Adam. I also ended up doing an extra mile because I missed a turn.

Back at the lagoons, I quickly changed into sweat pants, a dry shirt and socks. It took 15-20 minutes, but I eventually got the feeling back in my toes. A few of us headed to Five Guys for lunch – hey, I earned the right to eat that grease, plus I needed the protein. And remember that chocolate cake? Well, I had just enough will power to hold off on that until after dinner.

We head to my favorite riding spot next week – the horse country and hills of Barrington. I’ll provide another update soon. In the meantime, thanks for your support!

Keeping pace...sort of
Mar 24, 2012 by Matthew Weinstock

A dollar a mile!

Now, that’s a good idea. One of my fellow cyclists suggested it after today’s 35-mile ride in Naperville: she was going to ask friends to donate $1 for every mile she rides. I like it! So, how about you: $1 for every mile I ride? We rode 35 today, will do 40 next week and culminate in 100 in Lake Tahoe in June.

The best part is that the money you pledge will help blood cancer patients with expensive copays and provide them with valuable educational materials. It’ll also help clinical researchers discover new lifesaving drugs. To date, our Tahoe cycle team has raised more than $26,000! That’s just amazing. We need to keep it going. So, what do you say: $1 for every mile I ride?

Today’s ride was great. The heat wave we had earlier in the week gave way to much cooler temperatures – low 60s, but that’s still 20 degrees above the norm. It was cloudy and looked like rain, but thankfully none fell. I rode again with Simon and his friend Jim. They are good company, although Jim fell off of our pace eventually (more on Simon’s pace later!).

Having a riding companion really helps to pass the time. The hour or so that it took us to get to the rest stop flew by. After a banana, peanut butter and honey sandwich and a few pretzels, we were back on the road. Simon took off like he was shot from a rocket. I kept pace with him for a couple of miles but the, well, realized that I’m not Simon! So, I did the last 15 miles on my own, which was fine. It was nice scenery and I was to practice for my audition on The Voice without any interruptions.

I’m really having a good time this season. The Tahoe team is a tight group. One of the best moments is standing in the parking lot at the end cheering on new team members as the finish their rides. I’m especially proud of my co-worker Beth, who hadn’t ridden a bike since she was a kid. In fact, she didn’t own a bike until six weeks ago. Today was the longest ride she’s ever done. She has a great spirit!

So, next week we hit 40 miles. The rides will begin to get harder, both physically and mentally. My knees will ache. I’ll get tired. In the end, though, it’s nothing compared to what cancer patients and their families fight every single minute of every single day. They are my inspiration for these rides.

Go Team!

Older posts

Supporter Comments

    "You are a superstar Matt!!"

    The Sorokti Family

    Wed Jan 11 10:13:59 EST 2012

    "Go Matt! We are so proud of you."

    Melissa & Charlie

    Sun Jan 15 09:53:52 EST 2012

    "Ride on Matt! "

    Robert Kehoe

    Wed Feb 01 03:14:36 EST 2012

    "Keep up the work Matthew!!!"

    Danny Jackson

    Fri Feb 10 02:53:27 EST 2012

    "Happy spinning and training!"

    Lisa & Stuart

    Fri Feb 17 02:26:32 EST 2012

    "So proud of you, Matt!"

    Karen & Mike Pinsky

    Wed Feb 22 09:19:53 EST 2012

    "Bust those hills Matt! Believe me Matt...Tahoe...HILLS! "

    Randy Knotts

    Fri Mar 09 05:44:56 EST 2012

    "Go Uncle Matt! We are proud of you!"

    The Cronin Family

    Tue Mar 13 07:46:08 EDT 2012

    "You're going to rock this ride--we're so proud of you!"

    The Hess Family

    Thu Mar 15 02:49:33 EDT 2012

    "Feel the wind at your back. You know who that is. My heart is filled with pride and love for you!"


    Sun Apr 01 11:48:01 EDT 2012

    "Go Matt go! We're proud of you! - The Morse Family"

    Christine & Jeff Morse

    Sun Apr 01 06:49:58 EDT 2012

    "Go Uncle Matt! We're pulling for and are proud of you!"

    The STL Aston Family

    Tue Apr 17 09:44:37 EDT 2012

    "It's so inspiring how you continue to bike for a cure! Happy Birthday!"

    Christine & Joe Garofoli

    Sun Apr 22 11:21:00 EDT 2012

    "Good luck, Matt!"

    Ruth Berger

    Mon Apr 23 08:11:38 EDT 2012

    "Enjoy the ride, Matt! It will be a beautiful ride for a great cause!"

    Jeff & Joan Lefkof

    Tue May 01 09:43:22 EDT 2012

    "always cheering for you and your success"

    jerry davis

    Fri May 04 03:21:49 EDT 2012

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $3,819.36 | Goal: $4,000.00
95 %

My Team

Team Total: $17,122.85 | Goal: $13,775.00

Make a Donation

We are sorry donations are no longer being accepted for this participant for this event.

In Memory of

Dad, John Kehoe, Peggy Chapman, David Anderson

My Thanks To

Master Card  
David Gursky  
Christine Remedios  
Louise Benzer  
Susannah Figura  
jerry davis  
Haydn Bush  
Julie Moore  
Lee Weinstock  
Richard Aston  
Jeff & Joan Lefkof  
Linda and Todd  
Ruth Berger  
Christine & Joe Garofoli  
Judith Anderson  
Shawn Zeller  
Carrie Isaily  
The STL Aston Family  
Jane Jeffries & Mica Raci...  
Chuck Lazar  
Jessica Bowman  
Michael Newman  
Christine & Jeff Morse  
James Jobes  
Larry Lefkof  
Steve Cline  
Friends of Matthew  
The Hess Family  
Matthew Clark  
Douglas Fruehling  
The Cronin Family  
Kyle Anderson  
Randy Knotts  
American Hospital Associa...  
Jay Davis  
Karen & Mike Pinsky  
Pasi Rikkinen  
Lisa & Stuart  
Rhoda Lefkof  
Danny Jackson  
Laura Putre  
William Santamour  
Dan Valliere  
Alan Lefkof  
Christine Weldon  
Laura Pittman  
Lee Ann Jarousse  
Robert Kehoe  
Bob & Jennifer Linton  
David C Mair  
Suzanne Michel  
Artis / Miller Family  
Melissa & Charlie  
bernette jaffe  
Bob & Ingrid McDonald  
Nathan Hutcheson  
Philip Dunn  
Sharan & Lynn Goldstein  
Rise Sanders Weir  
The Sorokti Family  
Alan Glazen