My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week of 03/28/10 - Two Gold Level Sponsors and Almost 200 Miles

Thanks to work, fundraising, training, and outreach, I have neglected this Blog.  I need to become much more religious with it going forward.  I will try to quickly catch back up over the next few days.  The week of 3/28 was another big week ... two new gold level sponsors, almost 200 miles on the road, hit the 350 mark on Facebook - Mark's Trek Across America, as well as several other donations.

I am excited to have Jason Kamps from Woof Designs as a new gold level sponsor.  He will help create the "Leo's Legacy" cycling jersey for my 50 day trip.  The jersey will also serve as the new team jersey for the annual Trek Across Maine.  Logos from all my corporate, platinum, and gold sponsors will be included as well as my Trek Across America logo, the American Lung Association logo, and a nice photo of my father-in-law, Leo Lambert.  I expect a few other design additions too.  Woof Designs helped design and produce the team jersey for the Baltimore Bicycling Club.

Bruce Katz also joined the gold sponsor ranks with a generous personal donation.  Bruce was a few years ahead of me at Stoughton High School.  He is a committed cyclist (more of a mountain bike guy) and dad, and works in the IT field with IBM.  A big thanks to Bruce and Jason.

Individual Bronze donations are still my bread and butter. Thanks to Nancy Okun-Silverman, Patrick Cushing, and Adam Driscoll for helping push me over the $8,000 mark. Nancy is a good friend of my sister, Amy. Patrick is another road cyclist who will be participating in the Tri-State Trek from Boston to New York on July 23rd through July 25th. His Trek is is a fundraiser to end amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS took my brother-in-law's brother, Stephen Phillips. Another great cause being helped through cycling. Adam is another big cycling story. He is the capatin of my local racing team, Adventures for the Cure (AFC) and has Type 1 diabetes (I have type 2). He and another AFC member, Patrick Blair, won the Race Across America 2-man team competition in 2009. They also went cross country in 2006 on fixed gear bikes and made a great documentary on it. In May, I will ride with AFC at the Tour de Cure to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

On the training front, rest and work (need to pay the bills) kept me off the bike on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday saw a nice 40+ mile day to Catonsville that included some hill work in Oella and Lawyers Hill in Elkridge. Oella dates to the early 1800's and was a mill town for the Union Manufacturing Company.  It housed one of the earliest and most extensive cotton factories in the United States and used water-powered looms as early as 1819.  Today, the Oella Historic District is undergoing a nice restoration and includes numerous 19th century worker houses. 

On Thursday I headed to Marriottsville and West Friendship for another 40+ miles with a return trip via Glenelg and Tridelphia Mill Road ... rolling hills are the order of the day on these roads.  Friday was a flatter 36 miles to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.  House guests arrived ... my mother-in-law, Jane, and sister-in-law Kathy (from Alaska).  The weather turned wet on Saturday, so I headed to the basement, for what should be my last spin session for awhile (18 miles in HR Zones 2 and 3).  My brother-in-law, Dave, came up on Saturday night.  Karen and I had a nice night out at the Archbishop Spalding High School “Bella Italia” auction to benefit the school's technology and arts initiatives.  On Sunday, Dave and I headed out for a brisk 55 mile ride to Lisbon.  A fast first half (always the case when I "chase" Dave) was followed by an extremely windy and slower return trip.  Drafting helped perserve some of our power. 

I hope to continue at around 200 miles per week for the month of April and bump it up some in May. One update down, three to go.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week of 03/21/10 - Princeton Sports Sponsors Mark's Trek Across America; Spring Has Arrived - Almost 170 Miles

Spring has officially arrived.  I was able to ride outside every day this week!  More on that later.  The big news of the week was Princeton Sports.  Princeton Sports has signed on as the official bike shop sponsor of Mark’s Trek Across America. Princeton has a 70 year history of providing the best bicycling, skiing/snowboarding, tennis, and swimming products and services to the Baltimore/Washington area. They have stores in Columbia and Baltimore, MD.  Princeton is extremely active in the community and is also a sponsor of the Columbia Triathlon, Iron Girl Triathlon, MidMDTriClub, HoCoCyclists, The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, and Adventures for the Cure.  A big thank you to Alan, Stoney, Sonny, Paul, Corey, and the rest of the committed Princeton team.  Alan's mom (Sonny's wife) passed away from lung cancer ... her story and struggle help inspire my ride and encourage me to ride stronger.

I also received donations from Russ Correy and Lorraine Ryan.  Russ has asthma and used to ride on the amatuer cycling circuit.  Lorraine grew up in my hometown and donated in honor of a close friend's mother who passed away from COPD.  Each new story I hear about individuals and families touched by lung disease helps me focus on my training and inspires my 50 day adventure.  Dimensional Concepts increased their donation to become a gold level sponsor.  That earns them a spot on my jersey.  Dimensional Concepts is based in Reston, VA and focuses on business intelligence, data warehousing, and decision support systems.  Thank you to Sanjeet Harpalani and his team.

I continued online communication with fellow Across America North riders Katie Spear and Helen Steussy.  We are all starting to ramp up our base miles and finalize the logistics for the big event.  I made my hotel reservations for Astoria, Oregon for the weekend before we start.  Turns out there is a Scandivavian festival, ScanFest, that weekend. It should be a fun way to ease into the ride. Final trip payments are due next month and after that I should have contact information for other members of our group.  I am looking forward to seeing how many folks will join us and learning their stories.

On the training front, I was able to get outside for five great rides. Tuesday (38 miles) saw the familiar roads of Glenelg, West Friendship, and Clarksville, with time on the Columbia Triatholon route as well.  Wednesday (46 miles) was my longest day of the week and included a descent of Illchester Road (its almost a 20% grade) followed by a nice run to Elkridge Furnance Inn, a short stint on the BWI Airport trail, and home via Sevren and the Arundel Mills Mall.  I squeezed in a  quick 29 miles on Thursday to Timbuktu, the Jessup prisions, and the Laurel Race Track.  The weekend saw a solid 40 mile ride on Saturday to Marriotsville and Randallstown with some good hill work on Ridge Road and Old Frederick Road by the Patapsco River.

I had planned a 50 mile ride for Sunday, but Leah really wanted to get out and ride with me after being in Flordia for the week. So ... we headed out for a nice 18 mile trip on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail including a ymmy stop at Bruster's Ice Cream at the end.  Check out a few of Leah's Florida pictures below, including her swim with the dolphins!  Almost 170 miles for the week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Week of 03/14/10 - Corporate Level Donation, Rain - 135 miles

A huge week on the fund raising front.  I received an amazing corporate level donation from The Bunson Family Foundation.  This marks the second consecutive year that Steven and Joy Bunson have supported the American Lung Association.  They truly out did themselves this year, increasing last year's corporate donation by 150%.  I have been close friends with Steven since the early 70's and am glad to have shared so many memories with him and his family.  Steven and Joy are dedicated supporters of many community and world-wide organizations including Mercy Corps, Bright Horizons, the National Corporate Theater Fund, and The Retreat.  Their involvement and philanthropic support has helped families and children across the globe. Joy is also a major advocate and nationally known force in the work/life balance area.

I also received generous donations from the following:  
  • Jessie Lirtzman-Sivkin - one of Mike's fraternity brothers
  • Mary Wall - friend of a friend who has helped spread my message on Facebook
  • Christine Ausnit-Hood - 5 time Silver level supporter; Christine's son is on the cycling team at Harvard
  • John Hurley - high school friend active in the Baltimore theater
On the training front, the theme was "lost opportunity" the first part of the week.  The weather was nice (in the 50's), but my schedule did not cooperate.  With daylight savings time now here, I hope to have more flexibility and expect to ramp up my miles.  I was able to get out on Thursday for a nice ride (almost 50 miles) to Glenelg, West Friendship, Glenwood, and Highland.  It felt great to be outside and I saw no affects from the charley horses of last week.  The route went up Sand Hill and past the Crestlawn Cemetary. I made a stop at the grave of Kyle Ciralsky.  Kyle is the son of my close friend, Linda Ciralsky.  Kyle has been gone for nine years.  He was taken from us too young and is missed each day.

The rain came hard and often the rest of week.  It was back to the basement and my trusty CycleOps trainer - Friday (33 miles), Saturday (25 miles), and Sunday (30 miles).  The weather is supposed  to dry out and break 60 next week ... longer rides here I come.  Leah left for Flordia for a week with my parents, so I hope to have even a little more time to spend on the bike.  I added a countdown clock to the web site as I am now less than 100 days from the strat of my ride!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week of 03/07/10 - Proposal Submitted, Blueberry Soup, Spring is Here? - Almost 165 miles

The snow continued it's slow and steady melt and by mid week it was pretty much gone.  Cool temperatures, lots of run off and my latest proposal kept me inside until the weekend.  The big proposal was delivered Wednesday morning followed by some long needed R&R.  I stayed focused on logging winter miles and sweating to my custom mp3 CDs ... Tuesday (23 miles), Wednesday (27 miles), and Thursday (20 miles).  Friday was an off day spent with the girls and banging away on my fund raising and web site.  A few neat things on that front:
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Spotlight - I was featured as the spring 2010 spotlight.  The feature includes an interview with the RPI Alumni Association and a discussion of Mark's Trek Across America, my inspiration, work-life balance issues, and community involvement.
  • Glenelg Country School - Press Release - tag day fundraiser for Mark's Trek Across America at Leah's school. Leah is speaking on ALA awareness and education to the lower school (2nd - 5th grade students) on March 12th.
The weekend brought my first real chance to get outside since late January.  On Saturday I headed to Glenelg near Leah's school and then meandored to Old Town Ellicott City.  From there I took the Grist Mill trail along the Patapsco and over to the Elkridge Furnance Inn.  These roads/route are among my most traveled offering good scenery, quieter roads, and typical mid-atlantic rolling hills.  Temperatures were in the high 40's by the time I headed out.  A slow, but rewarding 41 miles.

The girls spent the evening  at the pirate-themed 23rd Annual Girl Scouts' Columbia Mall Sleep-In. They were among the more than 2,000 Girl Scouts and 850 parent volunteers that showed up at 10:30 p.m. and stayed until 5 a.m. - not to shop, but to feed the hungry, foster friendships, mentor and earn badges. They took canned goods to benefit Harvest for the Hungry, the largest food drive in Maryland. Leah had a great time, earned several badges, bought some fun stuff at the booths, and had some tasty treats.  Around 6 am Sunday morning the tired duo arrived back home, just as I was heading out for the annual Washington Area Bicylist Association (WABA) Vasa ride from the Sweedish Embassy in Georgetown.

The WABA Vasa ride celebrates Sweden's famed ski race and festival, Vasaloppet, by bike.  The almost 60 mile route duplicated the Vasa race with a non-competitive ride through scenic upper Northwest Washington DC and into Montgomery County, MD.  It was a little chilly at the start, but warmed up nicely by the finish line. 

I rode with Karen's brother, Dave and Jim Clausen.  The terrain was flat in DC and hilly in Maryland.  We side tracked for some java and a muffin in Bethesda and then took a short cut (took out a huge climb and about 6 miles) down Beech Drive and past the Washington Zoo.  I fought a few charley horses in my quads, but still averaged almost 15.5 mph.  The ride finished with Ekströms famed blueberry soup.  Here is the route:

I had another steady week in the fundraising department with donations from the following:
  • Richard Stott - my old drama teacher
  • Andrew Vimini - one of Mike's fraternity brothers
  • Barry & Sandra Koltz - collected donation from some local Delray Beach businesses
  • Allison Menjivar - previous Northrop Grumman employee specializing in web design and usability
A big Gold Level donation came from Nancy Swift and Clark Woods.  Nancy and Clark are among our closest friends and helped introduce Karen and I way back in the early 90's.  They live in Flordia now and we don't get to see them too often.  We shared a great trip to Disney with them a few years back (see skinny picture of me below) and hope to see them again very soon.  Nancy's mom died from lung cancer after a long and courageous battle.  Nancy's sister quit smoking (a 35 year adiction) after her mom's passing.  I ride to help families like Nancy's ... they inspire me to raise awareness and critical funds for critical lung disease research.