¨If you offered me a lottery ticket with a 25% chance of winning, I would buy that ticket!¨ -Jim Gausman 2005
Jul 15, 2014
[NEWS FLASH] June 1, 2014 I have completed the big Ride!
SCROLL DOWN TO READ ABOUT HOW IT WENT, AND TO SEE SOME PICTURES.
Your Moral and Financial Support Helped Make My Ride Successful
Contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will still be accepted on this page until the end of June.
I am training to ride my bicycle around Lake Tahoe on the Nevada - California border to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The 100 mile ride will be held on June 1, 2014.
The lake is 70 miles around and in addition we will be taking a 30 mile side trip down the Truckee River to Truckee, California. This ride is in MOUNTAINOUS terrain.
My involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society did not start with my signing up to do the Lake Tahoe ride, but rather started 8 years ago... I had a persistent sore throat that I hoped would go away on its own. After a few weeks of complaining I was admonished by my wife to go to the doctor.
To my great surprise, I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia [AML] in November of 2005 and was told that I had a 25% chance of survival. I learned that the average person with AML lives 8 weeks! Had I put off seeing the doctor for much longer, I would not have survived.
AML is the disease that killed Mary Travers (of the singing group Peter, Paul and Mary) and also killed Susan Butcher (the Iditarod dog sled champion who was diagnosed the same week as me).
My white blood cell count was so low that they could not count it. I had to stay in a positive air pressure isolation room at the hospital for a month for my own protection. To get the disease under control I endured very harsh chemo treatments. I spent a week with a temperature over 104 F. I knew that I was dying and I had to emotionally deal with my mortality.
Ultimately, after four months of treament, I had a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. I was given a lethal dose of chemo that killed off my bone marrow in its entirety. My bone marrow (and my life) was restarted when they introduced the stem cells into my bloodstream.
For three years after the transplant I could not run a step because the chemo had so damaged the connective tissues in my chest that my heart would be painfully jarred around. Slowly I recovered and gained strength. Four years ago I found that I could still ride my bike.
The cure apparently worked on me! I take no cancer medications and my periodic check-ups show no signs of recurrence. I have my doctor’s blessing to do this ride.
If I had been diagnosed with AML earlier in my lifetime it would have meant a certain and rapid death. Because of the funds that were raised and the research that had been done prior to my diagnosis, at least I had a small chance of survival. Luckily, I beat the odds! Now it is my turn to give back to the systems that saved my life. I want the odds of survival for future generations to be much brighter than mine were.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society [LLS] has been extremely effective lately in finding treatments and cures for cancer. Research that has lead to the development of most of the new drugs used to treat cancer have been funded by LLS. Many of these new drugs are being found to help with cancers that are not blood cancer.
All of us on TEAM In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!
Eight years ago when I was diagosed with leukemia I was given poor odds for survival. This had a profound and lasting impact on my life - I have found new purpose: raising funds to help find the cures for cancer. I need to train physically for the challenge of riding my bicycle in mountainous terrain, and I need to raise or pay the fundraising goals in order to participate in this event. Your help and encouragement will be greatly appreciated!
TNT (www.teamintraining.org) is the largest fundraising arm for the LLS and it is the world's largest organization for training endurance athletes. People commit to raising a substantial amount of money and then they are coached and supported by TNT to complete the event.
For the Summer 2014 events the Minnesota TEAM-IN-TRAINING has set a goal of $440,000. The Team-In-Training has funded breakthrough discoveries that are being used to save lives now!
I hope you will visit my web site often. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. Thanks for your support!
The TEAM has asked me to make the helmet decorations for the event. I am using my skills as a paper modeller to make Loon heads that when attached to a helmet form a whole Loon!
Keep scrolling down and you can read about how my training is going.
My Training Blog:
June 1! EVENT DAY!
This is the view from the back of the tandem bike on a 46 mph descent around the west side of Emerald Bay!
The inspiration dinner which was served the night before the event was incredible... the food was good but it was the speaker that made the evening memorable. His son was diagnosed with ALL at 4 years old. Still undergoing treatment, his son (now six years old) was at the dinner and is everything you would hope that a little boy would be. His Dad explained to him early in his treatments that: ¨Sometimes you get bad luck, but you have to work at it to make it into something good¨.
The ride started off cold (low 30´s) at 6:15 am and my fingers turned numb for the first few miles. I had dressed lightly, expecting that the sun would warm things rapidly when it appeared. The sun appeard over the ridges about the same time we hit the first big climb. Trish and I did as I expected and made it to the top easily. At the top and during descents, Trish would sit up and take pictures with her cell phone. She got some great pictures!
The Minnesota TEAM raised over $50,000 for this event, and became great friends.
On the first huge descent we proved to be MUCH FASTER than all of the other bicycles, but unfortunately we found ourselves behind a support car which was hard to pass and I had to ride the drum brake to stay safe behind the car ;
From Homewood, CA to Truckee, CA the flatlands along the lake and the river grade down to Truckee are what I call 'tandem country' we led several of our TEAMmates all of the way.
After lunch at Tahoe Vista, CA we pointed the bike upward for 8 miles to the top of the Spooner Lake Pass. This is a relentless climb which proved the value of the training which we did with TNT.
The final leg of the ride includes the 8-mile descent from Spooner to Zepher Cove. This downhill is on a 4-lane concrete road with a 55 mph speed limit. The other riders were in the right lane with cars passing them in the left lane. Building speed up we saw that the cars were only a little slower than us so I feathered the brakes and pulled into the left lane with the cars and we could pass the other bikes at a safe distance ;) I think that I have never gone so fast on a bike. We were MUCH FASTER than any other bicycle on the road. Had it not been for the auto traffic, we would have opened it up and gone even faster! The BIG BIKE was extremely stable at those high speeds and neither Trish nor I felt scared.
The National Leukemia & Lymphoma Society TEAM of 750 riders on America´s Most Beautiful Bike Ride raised over $3.3 Million dollars to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fight cancer and care for patients!
May 30, 2014: Today is my travel day and I am anxious and excited. Most of my TEAM is reporting on Facebook that they have already arrived. The bikes are due in early this afternoon while I am still in the air. My stoker will retrieve the BIG BIKE.
The Loon Head is mounted to my event helmet.
The BIG BIKE is all dressed up in packaging materials for shipping to Lake Tahoe! It will be loaded onto the truck early on May 27 and is to arrive in Stateline, Nevada on May 30!
May 24, 2014 Our final adventure before the event at Lake Tahoe! The whole TEAM gathered in Afton, Minnesota at 6AM for our ultimate training ride. Riding from Afton to Maiden Rock, WI and back is 90 miles with over 5300 feet of climbing (and descending). My stoker Trish was advised by her Doctor not to overdo and injure herself before the event, so we figured out how she could do half of the ride today.
I brought two bicycles (the tandem and my road bike) and we loaded the road bike onto the rack on our chase vehicle. Trish and I rode to Maiden Rock and then she and the tandem were carried back in the truck. Climbing out of Prescott, WI and about halfway up the enormous hill we heard bad noises coming from the drive train on the tandem. A few pedal rotations more and one of the bike chains broke. Fortunately we had packed a few extra links and a chain rivet tool and in a few minutes we were back on the road.
Tandem bikes do not climb hills well, but we were able to keep up with all but the fastest members of the TEAM. I kept the speed regulated on the downhills (tandems can be lightning fast descending).
The ride to Maiden Rock seemed pretty quick and we enjoyed a pot luck lunch in the city park by the River. It is quite a luxury to have a chase vehicle to support the TEAM and carry our lunch.
After lunch I was off and running with the fastest group. I was handicapped by my size and the gearing on my bike. Lower gears make for faster climbs. I countered that with my abilities descending. I don´t know why I can go so fast downhill, but I don´t know many that can keep up with me!
After a few more major climbs I could no longer keep up with the fastest riders, but I was able to finish in relative comfort. With the training season behind us we are all ready for the excitement and beauty of Lake Tahoe! Next week is coming soon!
May 21, 2014 The training ride tonight involved 3 loops from Lilydale down along the Mississippi River to climb the Ohio Street hill and back to Lilydale. Each loop is just over 6 miles. We had just climbed the Ohio hill and we were planning a side trip to climb Ramsey Hill when three middle aged men approached us. One of the men was unsteady on his feet (and my first impression of him is that I thought he might have been drinking). That man walked up to me (in my LLS jersey) and extended his hand and said that he wanted to thank us - that he is a leukemia survivor! I told him "Me too!" His treatments were what made him unsteady (I can relate) and his friends were with him for support. We told him about our ride and our fundraising, and we got a picture of him with our team. All told we rode 23-1/2 miles and climbed Ohio Street three times and Ramsey once.
May 17, 2014 The TEAM training ride this morning was from Burnsville to Jordan and back. We were into the wind on the way out and even though I was not on the tandem bike, I found that I could do a fair job of hammering the wind. My level of fitness is up this year - and I will certainly need it for climbing the mountains on the tandem. I had a physical exam this week and my Doctor told me that I weigh 26 lbs less than last year before the ride ;) That will help too. We rode 65 miles and for the most part I felt great... I learned a lesson about nutrition at the end of the ride as I did run out and sagged a bit. All that I brought with me was a small package of cashews and that was not enough... I have a reputation for carrying a bunch of bananas with me. A few bananas would have helped at the end of the ride this morning ;)
May 15, 2014 We rode some of the major climbs on the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin. 46 miles with 2,222 feet of vertical elevation change! It was so cold and windy that it was more pleasurable to climb the hills than to descend them. The highlight was when we found the Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt's Nursery which is about 10 miles south of Prescott, WI. Warm coffee is a wonderful thing on a cold day.
May 10, 2014 Bright and early this morning the TEAM met at the Surly Brewing Company in Brooklyn Center to ride in an organized ride called ´Pedal For Pints´. The ride turned out to be pretty easy except that the route was not marked clearly and the maps and instructions were not very accurate. We did figure out where to go and we found the rest stops ;). We met with a number of TNT alumni and it was fun to catch up with what is happening in their lives. Among our group were three stem cell transplant survivors. I love riding with those guys! The weather was cool but dry and not too windy. We rode 45 miles. We also got word from LLS that indeed, we can take the tandem bike to Tahoe!
May 7, 2014 The TEAM met tonight at the movie theaters in Oakdale - close enough to home that I did not need to transport the bicycle by car - I rode the bike to the starting point ;) Three of us were on-time and after just a couple of minutes, we started out for Stillwater - we were only half a mile into the ride when we saw two more TEAMmates show up at the start so we turned back and let them unload their bikes and get ready for the ride. We rode to Stillwater and up and down the BIG hills. We did hill repeats for half an hour and then turned our bikes back toward the starting point. Trish and I climbed Chilkoot Hill twice and Myrtle Street twice. All told, the training ride was 25 miles and my riding to and from the starting point added another 9.
May 3, 2014 This morning the TEAM converged on Eden Prairie for our practice. The weather was windy and cold, but sunny - a good day for a ride but I did need to be dressed for it. I rode the tandem bike again with Trish as the stoker (backseater). First we rode north to Minnetonka and did a 20 mile loop that included climbing Orchard Hill. We rode back to the ride starting point and then did a 40 mile out-and-back to Waconia. On the way out we were facing a stiff headwind and I think that the TEAM was grateful to have a tandem along to cut the wind and start the draft. The way back from Waconia was especially fun with the tailwind - I could have used a higher gear as we were spinning the pedals as fast as humanly possible in the highest gear ;) We recorded 37.6 mph as our top speed. Trish asked whether it would be possible to do the Tahoe ride on the tandem? I remember seeing a lonely tandem at the top of the Emerald Bay climb last year and I thought OMG!, that is another level of fitness above me! I struggled up that climb on my single bike and tandems do not climb as well as singles. I told Trish that I won´t rule it out. I contacted LLS to ask whether they would be able to ship a tandem in lieu of two single bikes. Still waiting for an answer.
April 26, 2014 I am signed up and prepaid to ride the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride tomorrow, but the weather forecast has me thinking that cold, wet, and windy as heck does not sound so fun. It is cold and windy today, but without the rain. Some of my TEAMmates and I elected to ride the 58 mile route today (the day before the official ride). Five of us took off from Lake Elmo and rode the loop to Scandia and back through Marine-on-the St. Croix. We detoured off the Ironman route a bit so that we could climb out of the river valley up Nason Hill! The tandem is learning to go up hills. I recommend the breakfast at the Scandia Cafe.
April 22,2014 (Earth Day) With bad weather promised for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, TEAMmate Trish and I took off on the tandem and rode nearly the same route that the TEAM rode on Saturday. 42.6 miles to Marine to Stillwater and back. This was the first that Trish and I rode together - we had to know whether she would fit on the back of the BIG BIKE and whether we could ride together without hating each other. That is a typical problem with tandem riders. Trish is a great sport on the back of the tandem even when I point it up evil hills >;) We climbed out of the river valley on Chilkoot Hill and then went back down and climbed out again up Myrtle Street.
April 19 2014 The Coach had me write the workout for Good Saturday. Rain was promised, but the weather forecasters were wrong. A good Saturday it was! Six from the TEAM rode from Mahtomedi, to Marine-on-the-St. Croix to Stillwater to North St. Paul and back. 46.2 windy miles. This was the first run with the loon mascot on my helmet. It did fine in the wind! Chilkoot and Myrtle Hills in Stillwater are always a destination for rides that I plan. My TEAMmates found them challenging too!
April 15 2014 A foot of snow in mid April? Really? I had another workout with my snow shovel in lieu of riding the bike.
April 12, 2014 We met in Burnsville this morning as the rain cleared off. I surprised my TEAMmates by showing up with my tandem bike (in case Trish were to show up). I would have ridden it solo if I found no takers, but fortunately for me, Lisa B. was intrigued. We rode a rolling 45 mile course in the wind, but thankfully no rain. Lisa proved to be a good sport, and we had a a great workout.
April 9, 2014 The TEAM was meeting up for a ride near Lake Calhoun which I know is a traffic nightmare for me to get to, so I trained on my own tonight in the roads of northern Washington County. I found that the Gateway Trail is still ice and snow encrusted so I made my way to Marine-on-the-St. Croix on the clean shoulders of the County Roads. Descending Nason Hill into Marine I managed to hit 44.1 mph. I turned south into a headwind to make it down to Stillwater. In Stillwater I found that Chilkoot Hill is open to traffic. It is closed during the winter because it is so steep that it would be unsafe for plow trucks. Climbing Chilkoot Hill is a real challenge and I do it everytime in honor and memory of those fighting blood cancer! Once I had made it home I found that I had done 39.4 miles. My TEAMmate Trish Gardiner wrote on the TEAM´s Facebook page that she had seriously damaged her wrist and that she is afraid that she might not be able to continue. She then asked whether anyone had a tandem bicycle. I volunteeered that I have a tandem ;)
April 6, 2014 After a nearly one foot snowfall on Thursday night and Friday morning it is amazing that the Spring Sun is warm enough to clean and dry the roadways so fast. The TEAM rode 40 miles from Rosemount to Hastings by way of Vermillion and then back to Rosemount. For a stretch into the wind we were practicing a rotating double paceline - this is my favorite way of cycling!
April 3, 2014 With snow in the imminent forecast (heavy snow hitting the west metro area as I got into my car) I headed down to Bloomington to a spin class with the Triathlon TEAM. As I expected, once again Coaches Randall and Karl beat the tar out of me to the point that I was so tired I could hardly walk. When I walked outside heavy snow was coming down.
March 30, 2014 The first outdoor practice today! I was not looking forward to this because of past experience riding in the cold and wet. It turned out much better than my expectations! We rode 29.5 miles from Rosemount to Hampton and back. I was surprised at how clean and dry the roads were and also how much strength and endurance that I have achieved by riding hard on the spin bikes. Among us riding today were three bone marrow transplant survivors.
March 27, 2014 Tonight was the last spin class for the season. Sunday we will be taking it outside. Coach Randall lead the practice and kicked it up another notch. By the end of the class I could hardly walk up the stairs to the locker room. I am starting to see my weight drop and now I am starting to look forward to riding some uphills ;)
Mar 23, 2014 Another early morning at spin class and another intense workout. Coach Scot talked to us about what type of clothing we will need for training this Spring once we hit the roads outdoors and also what we will need for the event day.
Mar 20, 2014 Ah, the vernal equinox - the first day of Spring. The weather was finally decent and I drove down to the practice with the top down on my little convertible ;) Another very intense 1-1/2 hour practice. The first part led by Scot, and the end led by the triathlon coach Randall. I am finding that my legs are in good shape and that my workouts are mostly stressing my cardio system and my core body muscles.
I have only 74 days left before the event. Today was also a big day for my fundraising as $350 more hit my account! THANK YOU! to all who have contributed! This means a lot to me and it is making a difference in cancer patient outcomes!
Mar 19 2014 I attended the sports nutrition class that was held for all of the TNT teams (cycle, triathlon, marathon) at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offices in Minneapolis. TNT proves again to be a first class organization for training for endurance events! There have been BIG changes in what is understood about nutrition in the past couple of years. It is important to stay current with this because it will have a large impact on my ride performance in the short term and on my health and fitness in the long-term.
Mar 16, 2014 Another early Sunday morning practice and this time the coach had us simulate hills the whole time. The problem is that he only had us simulate the UP hills! We never did get to coast down ;) At the end of the hour long practice I was very tired. On a scale of zero to chemo-induced-fatigue, I would rate this practise as an ´8´. Afterward, at church, I got light-headed everytime that we stood to sing ;)
Mar 13, 2014 Today is the 8th anniversary of my stem cell transplant. I had a lot of emotional flashbacks last night.
We had two ´Mission Moments´ tonight that showcased AML. I told of my transplant, and of the chemo prescription that had me taking 40 pills every four hours. I have managed to survive despite the horrific treatments.
The other story, from a young woman on the Triathlon TEAM, told of her mother´s struggle: Her mother was very athletic, even racing in two triathlons last summer. She participated in a Spin Bike class the night before she was diagnosed in October. They were never able to get the AML into remission, so even though they had found a perfect match, they could not use it. Her mother passed away in mid-January of this year.
As I expected Coach Scot beat me up badly for an hour and a half. I can endure amazing punishment if it will make things better for cancer patients.
Mar 6,2014 The practice tonight was run by the triathlon TEAM coach Randall. I am so happy that Scot has given me the base that he has, because Randall was nothing short of brutal! He inspired me to turn the tension up to max and fight through. Wow! this training is really kicking it up a notch or two.
Mar 2, 2014 Today´s (Sunday) practice was shifted to the afternoon for an hour and a half. I am beginning to realize how the coach does it (get me to ride so hard): he has us turn up the tension a full turn to start an out-of-the-saddle hill climb simulation, and then when the time of one or two minutes has expired , he gets us to sit down without readjusting the tension. After a few times like this, the friction is intense, the leg muscles are burning, with the lungs and heart working hard. I see my fitness improve each practice. I have noticed that I recover much faster than just a couple of weeks ago. It has been hard to climb stairs this evening, but I expect to be OK tomorrow morning.
Feb 27, 2014 Hard Practice tonight. We rode the spinner bikes for an hour and a half. Scot the cycle coach tag teamed with Randall the triathlon coach, and they both beat me up physically.
Feb 23, 2014 Another early morning and another tough spin class. Starting out, I was very sore from all of the snow shoveling, once I was spinning, thoughts of stiff shoulders evaporated and my focus was on making it through some tough interval training. I am already amazed by how fast I am getting in shape. After the class, some of my TEAMmates and I stopped for coffee and started collaborating on fund raising plans. The TEAM is already starting to form close friendships!
Feb 20, 2014 Major Winter Storm Hits Region! Coach Scot wisely cancelled spin class tonight. For a workout I picked up my shovel and started to clear neighborhood driveways of snow. This is a different type of training than the spin class, but the ultimate result is the same - Jim is tired and sore!
Feb 17, 2014 Uff da! It was hard to get out of bed this morning - I was so sore from spin class yesterday. But get out of bed I did. Presidents´ Day so I was home from work. I watched as the snow fell and accumulated to about 4 inches. By then my re-caffeinated body was ready to do battle with the white stuff. I shoveled out four driveways and one neighbor´s roof. If you are thinking that you wish I were your neighbor... the house right next door to me is for sale ;)
Feb 16, 2014 Early spin class again today - When I started out I was still sore from last Thursday. I started feeling OK during the warm-up but then we went way over the top again with the training. Scot, the coach, has a way of inspiring me to turn the resistance on the spin bike to a point that gets me an intense workout! I know that I will be feeling this for the next few days.
When we hit the locker rooms after the workout I was speaking with one of the members of the TNT triathlon team (whom we work out with). He told me that his connection to TNT is that he is a scientist working on cures and that the LLS is funding his research.
After the spin class I went to church and I found that every time we stood to sing I would become light headed. I am so looking forward to the snow that we are supposed to get in the morning ;)
Feb 13, 2014: When I got home from work tonight I had an e-mail waiting for me from LLS. In adddition to TNT, I volunteer with the ´First Connections´ program... a current patient with AML wanted to speak with a survivor and they sent me his phone number. I made the call and spoke to a brave soul who is fighting for his life. Emotions and memories come flooding back every time I make a call like that. I truly hope that I did him some good. He asked me to call him again tomorrow.
At spinning class tonight the coach beat me up pretty badly and I am pretty sore. But I can be brave, and strong, and do everything I can to support my heroes who are still fighting blood cancer!
I had a spectacular day in the fundraising department! Thank you to everyone who has contributed!
Feb 9, 2014: 7am came early this morning - and by that time I was already down at the Bloomington Life Time Fitness. This year´s coach Scot is a seasoned spin class instructor and it is apparent to me that he is going to whip me into shape that I have never achieved before. My starting weight is already 25 pounds less than last year
Feb 1, 2014: The Kick-off meeting for the Summer events was today. My first practice will be Feb 9 at 7am at the Bloomington Lifetime Fitness - we start indoors with spin classes.
This is a picture of me with one of the Nurses and one of the Doctors who saved my life 8 years ago.
To donate you can either hit the donation button on the top of this page or send me a check made out to: LLS
my postal address is:
83 Birch Street,
Mahtomedi, MN 55115