Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Month Away

Sometimes a month seems like a long time, but not to me this month. I have a lot to do in June. My conditioning and physical preparation are on schedule. A real key I have found is to get "on the road" early in the day. I think any miles you can get before 7 AM are like bonus miles. I had a nice ride up Del Puerto Canyon on Saturday. This took me up the coastal hills west of Patterson in a remote area. It gave me some moderate climbing exercise and offered beautiful scenery. The winds were favorable. I figure for the month of May I logged close to 1400 miles which seems like a lot but is less than half of what I plan to do in July across the country.

Things are happening at Teen Challenge at Faith Home Ranch. I was by there Friday to check up on Anna Belle, one of our registered Holsteins, who is doing well. Lawrence Rawls does an excellent job of managing the agricultural programs on the Ranch. He is a joy to be around and has a wonderful testimony.

I added a tune, Ashokan Farewell, to the music. This is an instrumental that I hear occasionally that was used in the Ken Burns PBS Series "The Civil War" a few years back. I hear a combination of sadness, but also of hope, so I'll share it with you for a while.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Changes

Made a few changes in the blog. Most notably is the music. I thought we would change it up. I got several positive comments on the first set of songs. We'll bring back the "Small Town County Man" again and maybe some of the others. "Grandpa Tell Me About the Good Old Days" is one that relates some good principles we want to develop in the men of Teen Challenge. As I am now a Grandpa it has special meaning to me as well. I want the men of Teen Challenge to have some good stories to tell their grandchildren or nieces and nephews about. I threw in a classical number, "War of 1812 Overture" by Tchaikovsky one of my favorite composers. I like the brass and strings competing back and forth. If you have some songs you think might fit, let me know. Also, I changed the football picture to a action shot of a game in 1976 against the Jets in Candlestick. This was one of my best games as I sacked Joe Namath 3 times that day. That is a defensive tackle's dream.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Planning the trip

Cindy is working on a map with possible overnight stops for the trip. This thing is going to happen! I have recovered from the 200 mile ride. I did not suffer a single muscle cramp from that experience. Lots of bananas help me, I think.

A person who is doing a lot for me from Teen Challenge is Roger Williams our Director of Development. Roger is always working to find new ideas to get the Teen Challenge name exposure to the community. He makes usage of the newsletter to get information to our supporters. He is doing this with the bike ride as well. He has a section on the Teen Challenge website: that gives individuals several ways to donate and/or pledge toward this bike ride. He has contacted service clubs (I will speak to at least 3 Rotary Clubs in the area). If you know of a civic club, church group, or any other group that would be interested in me coming to speak; have them contact Roger at (209) 238-0216. All funds received are going into a special account and are being held until all pledges are in after the ride is completed in late July. All donations will go directly to our local Teen Challenge to assist in restoring men's lives here in Stanislaus County. Cindy & I are taking care of the expenses for the trip itself. We are so fortunate to have someone like Roger to work behind the scenes in so many ways. Roger is a quiet, but fun loving guy. His integrity and high standards serve as great examples to us all. Thank you, Roger.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

200 continued

Armed with bullet proof (Kevlar lined) tires, 3 liters of gatorade, a map, and determined spirit, I headed out at daybreak on Saturday with the goal of riding 200 miles that day on my bicycle. After a similar start as on Friday with the tires still holding, I headed toward the windmills and the edge of the Altamont Hills. I could hear the power buzzing through the 500 kilo volt lines as I went under them. As I came around a hill I passed through rows of the turning windmills. Sights and sounds you don't always get to experience. There was a lot of wind, but the day was young. I made it through the windmills and on a little north toward Byron before turning back south. I felt pretty good about the 65 miles I had logged by then. However as I headed back, I faced a headwind from the south that I was not expecting. It slowed me down considerably and took until noon to get 100 miles. I headed west again toward I-5 and got on the California Aqua Duct at the Westley/I-5 exit. I made my way down to Patterson and then got back on the rural roads. I meandered down and through the south west side around Crows Landing, Newman, Gustine, and Santa Nella. I headed toward home for a little break. By this time it was 6:30 and I had 164 miles. With 36 miles to go, the straightest shot without headwinds was east, so I headed toward Snelling. With the race for daylight on, I still recognized the sound of the wind as it rustled through the row of cottonwood trees on Turlock Road. I got to Snelling and needed 4 more miles so I headed back. By this time it was almost dark. I could barely see the speedometer as it turned to 200. I kept going a few more minutes as Cindy showed up to rescue me. Mission accomplished. This was the most challenging physical experience of my life to date. Stay tuned!

200: Done

After a failed attempt on Friday, Saturday was a success. 200.43 miles up and down the westside of the San Joaquin Valley with a final "sprint" from Turlock to Snelling as darkness approached made for a long, but successful ride. Thanks for all of your prayers and concerns. I'll get back with another post about the ride later today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Disaster: 2 Flats in Tracy

I got off to a great start this morning. I was all the way to Tracy with almost 50 miles behind me before 8 AM when I looked down and my front tire was flat. No problem; I have a spare tube and pump. I'll be back on the road in 15-20 minutes tops. I had some problems with the tire and tube. This was actually the first time I had done this on the road. It's not the same on the side of the road with cars going by with the wind blowing, etc. My quiet garage with a nice table works much better. Nevertheless, I finally got things in proper order and inflated the tire and put it in the fork and set it. Finally, ready to go. Before I picked up the bike, I grabbed the rear tire and discovered it was flat also. This was discouraging. I did not have another tube, but I did have some patching material. I got the back tire off and begin to work with it. By this time, I was out 45 minutes to an hour and not certain I could get back on the road soon with a bike that could make another 150 miles. I remembered the writer saying, things need to go "pretty good" to do a "double century" in a day. Things were not going good. I decided right then that I would not do the double today. I called Cindy to come get me. This gave her some experience in her role of providing support in these situations. She got there much faster than I thought she would. However, in the meantime, I did continue on with the tube repair. I found the leak, put a patch on it and managed to get it back on the bike. I had the bike on the road riding toward her and she met me after I had been a few miles. We came home. I replaced the tires and tubes and have the bike ready for another run at 200 miles in one day (just a day late). In our study of Acts this year Cindy & I were reminded of the difficulties that the Apostle Paul had on some of his journeys even as he was totally focused on spreading the gospel. I learned a lot today on this short journey marked with failure that will be of much more value to me than my going 200 miles today. I'll try again for the 200 tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

200 in a day

Friday I will be trying to complete 200 miles on a bike in a day. I'm hoping for a very early start and I imagine it will be a late finish. I hope I am up to it. I'll let you know how I come out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today I'll try to answer some of the obvious questions? Why do a solo bike ride across the country in the heat of the summer with your wife driving from city to city ahead of you in a pickup? I like bicycling a lot. It is great exercise for an old man like me. I love the outdoors with all the elements (except headwinds). I like a significant challenge at times. I don't mind being by myself while riding. I like doing things with just my wife. As a board member of Teen Challenge, I am always looking for opportunities to support the ministry. Our business is a lot slower in the summer. I think this could help me lose 10-15 pounds. I have been considering this for 2-3 years. Many people have done this. Now is the time to "saddle up". I plan to go for 200 miles in a day later this week.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Home from the desert

We made it back late Sunday from a visit with my son's family to the desert where part of the ride will take place. Great to hear from you, Derek. Sorry I won't be coming near Reno. Perhaps I can get by for a visit in the future. Thanks for your ministry with Teen Challenge in Reno. The route is from Huntington Beach, CA along the southern tier through southern Arizona and New Mexico. I'll travel the entire state of Texas from El Paso to just above Beaumont on the Louisiana border. I'll ride through Louisiana around highway 190 and then veer a little north to Bogalusa and cross over into my home state of Mississippi. I'll follow rural roads close to the Mississippi Gulf where Hurricane Katrina did a lot of her damage a few years ago, then head over into Alabama along its coast and on in to Florida where I'll cross the entire panhandle over to the Atlantic Coast and finish by dipping my tire in the Atlantic at St. Augustine. I will try to put a map on the blog with the route highlighted as we get closer to the trip. My daughter-in-law, Shannon, has helped me make some additions to the blog. I'll try to get some more pictures. You may notice if you have audio that we added some music. We'll try to have a variety and change it up. Some of it has special significance perhaps I can share about latter. I think I'll close for now. May God be with you all!

Friday, May 15, 2009

150: Done

Today I was able to ride 151.2 miles to complete a goal in my training to ride 150 miles in a day. I was glad to make it and even more encouraged that I completed the ride in the face of winds in the 15-20 mph range at times. Headwinds and and cross headwinds are my biggest frustration. I can take heat, cold, rain, snow, even with mountains I know what to expect. But the winds just gnaw at you. My heart rate soars even if I slow down. I was glad to finish. It was calm early. Maybe that is my take home lesson (get started early).

Elton Nelson is the Chaplin at Teen Challenge. Elton does many things behind the scenes at Teen Challenge, but he does a lot of 1 on 1 counseling with the individual students at TC. This is a very important responsibility because each student is so unique and has different struggles to work on. Elton's experience in working many years with the Faith Home boys I'm sure helps him in dealing with each man at Teen Challenge. Elton and Margo were valuable in the joining of Teen Challenge with Faith Home. They both continue to be assets in God's work at Teen Challenge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yesterday I measured my maximum sustained heart rate by going as hard as I could at the highest level on my stair master for 15 minutes. I was able to maintain a heart rate of 176 beats per minute. This is 13 beats per minute higher than the typical maximum sustained heart rate of someone my age. Then I did some speed work on a 20 mile ride in the windy conditions we had. Today, I worked and did not ride. Tomorrow, I go for a long ride.

On this post I would like to introduce you to Margo Ely, Community Coordinator for San Joaquin Valley Teen Challenge. Margo has had several titles over her many years at Faith Home and Teen Challenge, and has a wealth of experience and knowledge about both organizations. Integrity and hard work along with a servant's heart for ministry are just a few of her outstanding traits. We are very fortunate to have Margo on this team.

I have spoken with several of you who may want to respond to the blog, but prefer not to go through the process of joining the blog. My email is: Feel free to respond directly to me if you like.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Long Weekend

I'm back. Let me try to type in the link for the May 5 Modesto Bee Article: . We'll give it a try. I got to see my Mother, my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, my brother, and Cindy's step-father over the weekend. We celebrated my son's graduation from business school at Rice University in Houston. I need to get back to training tomorrow.

Today I spoke about my NFL career, our veterinary practice and about Teen Challenge and the bike trip to the Modesto Rotary. It was an honor to speak to such an influential group. It may not gather many pledges for the bike trip, but it could sow seed for future support for Teen Challenge. It just so happened that the man who gave the invocation shared with the group that his son had been rehabilitated through the San Joaquin Valley Teen Challenge program. Just a coincidence? I don't think so.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Modesto Bee did an article on the "Ride" and Teen Challenge in yesterday's sports section. I will try to get the link posted so those who want to see it on line can. I'm learning about the blog as we go. Cindy & I are leaving to visit one of our sons and his family in Texas and then we will fly on to Mississippi to visit my Mom on Mother's Day.

David Wright is the President of the Teen Challenge Board of Directors. David is a successful businessman from Modesto with a GIANT heart for Teen Challenge. I have known him for about 4 years. David leads by example, but is not afraid to challenge any of the rest of us board members to do more. Along with that he is a very good encourager to us all. Being from a family of ministers he is a very spiritual person. Generosity and unselfishness are the 2 traits that come to mind when I think of David. He is the right man for this job.

Cindy just brought a $100 check for Teen Challenge that my neighbor put under the windshield wiper of my pickup. Somebody reads the paper!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Back to work

Sorry there was no post yesterday. We had 2 busy days with our veterinary practice here in central California. Modesto and Dos Palos on Monday, then we went to Live Oak Monday night and worked there today. We got back to Turlock late afternoon today and I just got back from a Teen Challenge board meeting at Faith Home. No bike riding.

The Director of San Joaquin Valley Teen Challenge is Dennis Whitman. We are so fortunate to have a man leading this ministry who has been where every man who comes to Teen Challenge has been and then has developed a leadership style over the last 25+ years that helps and trains men to find victory over the struggles of life. Dennis did time in San Quentin Prison in the 1970's. There is a mug shot picture of him in a book that is scary to say the least. How can a man so mean become so gentle and humble? Take a trip to Teen Challenge at Faith Home. You are likely to find Dennis in the 25 acre almond orchard on one of his prayer walks.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Today I finished the last in a consecutive series of 4 century rides. My friend, Randy, accompanied me through an early morning ride before church and I completed the 101 mile ride in the late afternoon while fighting some wind. I feel pretty good. I have 3 days of veterinary work to do this coming week and we are leaving Thursday for the weekend, so I will be limited in the biking I will be able to do this week. My next major goal will be to get in 150 miles in one day.

San Joaquin Valley Teen Challenge is an amazing ministry working with adult men with life controlling issues dealing in many cases with drugs and alcohol. It is rewarding to see men become clean through this faith based ministry based on following biblical principals and having a relationship with Christ. All funds raised as a result of this bike ride will go to Teen Challenge located at Faith Home Ranch in Ceres. Cindy & I will cover our own expenses for the ride. We look forward to this experience.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

3rd Straight Century Ride

Today, I completed the third consecutive century (100 mile) day ride with a goal to finish tomorrow with the fourth. This serves as a way to evaluate where I am and to help condition me as I plan to average over 100 miles per day on the 30 day cross country bike ride. So far, so good.

I would also like to share with you about my wife, Cindy, who will be very important in this effort. She is helping me so much already by encouraging me, feeding me properly, and giving me twice daily foot massages while I am doing this four day century training. I am truly a blessed man to have her.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Starting the blog 5-1-09

Today we begin the blog for the "Coast to Coast" bike trip to bring awareness to and raise funds for San Joaquin Valley Teen Challenge. This is the initial post to "kick off" the blog. I will try to update the blog in a timely manner. Stay tuned!