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, May 30, 2010

Week of 05/30/10 - Back to 200 Even with Crazy Schedule at Work

I am trying to quickly catch up on the last few weeks of training and preparation ... so three posts coming at you.  During my ride I hope to get into a standard daily routine of posting (internet permitting).  Work remained crazy with the final touches on a challenging proposal.  I was not able to get out for a ride until Thursday, but made the best of four nice days.  Hit the 200 mile mark for the week.  Thursday saw a 40+ mile ride to Ellicott City, the Grist Mill Trail, Elkridge Furnance Inn, and around Arundel Mills Mall. Not too much climbing on that route.  Friday saw almost another 40 miles toward western Howard County.  Nice mixture of rolling hills and quietier country roads are norm out here.  My motivation was high toward home ... did three hill repeats (up/down/up/down/up) on Harriet Tubman Road.  It is about a 150 foot climb with a solid 10% grade.

The weekend included back-to-back metric centuries around Greenbelt, Lanham, Bowie, and College Park.  125 miles of warm weather riding ... good practice for thr trip and a good chance for a couple longer rides.  Stopped in on Michael on Sunday thanks to some new roads I had never tried with a spin past the College Park Aviation Museum.

Fundraising was a little slow due to the heavy load at work.  Inched past $13,500 with donations from Arthur & Elaine Kagno (my next door neigbors growing up) and Andy Greenleaf (co-worker at Northroup Grumman).  The next few weeks will see a big push to hit my goal before I head out to Oregon.  The proposal at work took a bite out of my PR plans, but I hope to make some more progress on that the next few weeks as well.

My bike is definitely ready for the big trip.  The offical bike sponsor of my ride, Princeton Sports, completed a full overhaul of my bike with complete disassembly, a new cassette, and new chain.  I also had the crank arms replaced under warranty by FSA.  The bike looked so nice and clean!  Rode really sweet.  Amazing how a few less pounds and higher-end components can make such a huge difference.  My winter ride (Trek 1500) has been a great fill in and training companion.  That said, it was very nice to get back on my Serotta.  A huge thanks to Alan Davis and his staff for all their support and help.  Princeton is also providing me with a huge amount of gear and supplies for the trip and will pack my bike for travel and help ward off any abusive TSA agents!

I made one additional change to my bike as well ... a new custom wheel set.  That is not a task I would trust to just anyone.  I called on Travis Evans of the Just Riding Along Bike Shop in Laytonsville, Maryland.  Travis opened a small shop last year that focuses on top quality service.  Travis is a master mechanic and skilled wheelsmith.  He joined the ranks of Gold Sponsorship by building me up a rock solid set of wheels at his cost.  The wheels consist of White Industries H2 (front) and H3 (rear) hubs with Velocity Aerohead (front) and Aerohead O/C (rear) rims.  Finished off with DT Swiss spokes in a triple laced pattern with 32 front and rear ... can you say solid.  Thanks Travis.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week of 05/23/10 - Training Takes a Hit; Donations Remain Strong - Only 115 Miles

200+ mile weeks came to an abrupt end this week, thanks to an intense proposal effort at work.  I was only able to get in three rides and I had to squeeze every mile out of each of them.  My first ride was on Wednesday and I went on a hill scavenger hunt to Marriottsville, Woodstock and Ellicott City ... climbs up Sand Hill, Henryton Road, Old Court Road, Davis Road, Dogwood Road, and Old Frederick ... almost 50 miles and some good grades/efforts.  On Thursday I got in 35 miles to Sandy Spring and Brighton Dam including a few more climbs up Ednor Road, Brighton Dam Road, and Sanner Road.  Work really took control the rest of the week.  I managed a quick two hour 50k at the Gateway Office Park including 8 laps with a few other cyclists that set a blistering pace.  Sunday saw more work ... I had hoped to ride to the office, but the weather did not cooperate.  Good thing, as I did not get home to well after 10. 

Only 115 miles.  Not a bad thing I guess.  Can't hurt to step back a little ... I plan to do that the week before I leave too.

My donors did not seem bothered by the crazy week at work.  I received over $500 in new donations!  My neighbors really made themselves heard this week including three great silver level donations from Steve & Linda Rothfield, Chris & Joan Clark, and Mike & Michelle Hewitt.  Chris & Joan joined my four year club.  I also received a silver level donation from one of best friends from high school, Mike Fallman.  Two years in a row at this level!  Mike is one of the owners of the British Beer Company in Massacusetts.  They have 8 great locations and offer a classic british pub feel.

Thank yous also go out to Howie Shaw (another old friend from high school), Bill Fanelli (RPI alum and old co-worker), and Lisa Landolina (close friend and my hair dresser for the last 15+ years!). With all the help and support , I pushed through the $13,000 mark ... my goal of $15,000 in well within sight.  Next week promises to be another grind at work.  My Serotta should finally be ready ... hope I get to use it and not just look at it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week of 05/16/10 - Thao, Inc. Makes Corporate Sponsorship, RPI Alumni Send Off - 210 Miles

Finally trying to catch up on my blog after a super busy spell at work.  Writing about things in real time will be a nice change this summer ... need to get into a routine of posting each night during my ride.  So here is what happened the week of 5/16 ...

Wow!! Thao Sofo has me speechless.  And as most of you know, that is a pretty hard feat to accomplish.  Thao's new company, appropriately named Thao, Inc., made a corporate level donation to Mark's Trek Across America for the American Lung Association.  Thao joins the Bunson Family Foundation at this extremely generous level.  And now for a plug ...

Thao, Inc. is a new IT and marketing consulting firm with strong expertise in healthcare financial systems, revenue cycle management, and automated billing solutions. They have successfully supported the Military Health System, Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, US Air Force, and Food and Drug Administration on key programs. Thao, Inc. has also provided extensive business process reengineering support to the Department of Defense TRICARE program. Additional experience and expertise includes competitive analysis, capture management, and performance improvement.  I wish Thao and her team the best of luck with their new venture.

My donor list keeps growing.  An updated list can be found on the My Donors page of my web site.  This week saw donations from Brad & Cathy Wilson (neighbors - they own the dubious distinction of having moved from one street in our neighborhood to another, just a mere 8 houses away), Ryan Hevner (RPI alum who lives close by), Rodney George (new Facebook friend who reached out thanks to some other new friends ... 6 degrees of separation coming soon), Earl & Sandy Wilensky (long-time and close friends of parents), and Buddy & Barbara Marcus (also long-time and close friends of my parents).  Thanks to all for your help!

I have been talking in the last few weekly posts about my new cycling jersey design.  A big thanks to Jason Kamps at Woof Designs & Woof Cycling for helping to layout a great new logo and concept that ties in the Trek Across Maine, my cross country trek, the American Lung Association, Leo's Legacy (my family's team name in honor of my father-in-law, LeoLambert), and a dragonfly.  Without further ado, here it is:
Hope you can see it ok.  My corporate and platinum sponsors are shown on the sleeves and shoulders.  My Gold level sponsors are shown on the back pocket area.  The map depicts my actual route from Astoia, OR to Portsmouth, NH.  A Lambert family team would not be complete without a dragonfly somewhere ... the dragonfly is a symbol of light, adaptability and transformation.  It has been an important symbol in our close friend Sue Firlotte's battle with cancer.  Leo would be proud!

On the training front, I had to work around several long days at the office and a few days of rain. I put in four solid 40-50+ mile rides including a nice hill seeking route in and around Ellicott City, Oella, and finishing up the 12% grade on Harriet Tubman Road.  Another hill "scavenger hunt" to around Granite, Liberty Dam, and home via the long grind up Old Frederick Road in Ellicott City.  The other rides included a run to Elkridge Furnance and BWI and another to Goddard Space Flight Center and Bowie.  I spun on the trainer one night to push my weekly total to 210 miles.

Another highlight of the week was an RPI alumni event in my honor.  Several alumni from the 70's, 80's, and 00's came out for a nice night of appetizers and drinks at McCormick & Schmick's in Bethesda.  We chatted about Rensselaer, my ride, and caught up on each other's lives.  Thanks to local chapter president Michael Branford '06 for coordinating the event.  RPI ran an alumni spotlight on me earlier this year ... check it out ... Mark Koltz - Spring 2010 Alumni Spotlight
Work is really getting busy ... it will be hard to get in 200 miles next week (easy to type when you know you didn't hit the mark!).  Five weeks until I leave.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week of 05/09/10 - Portsmouth with the Boys, Tour de Cure, Sarah's Wedding, and Mother's Day - 175 Miles

With the drive back to Maryland, my friend Sarah's wedding, and Mother's Day, I knew 200 miles was going to be a tough goal to meet this week.  No complaints ... I still managed to get out for five rides and logged 175 miles.

On Monday, I headed back to Portsmouth to follow the Cycle the Seacoast 50 mile route with my brother-in-laws (Dave and Steve) and John Fischer.  John is an institution ... at least with the American Lung Association of New England and the Trek Across Maine.  He has been riding for ALA for 15 years and has gone cross country three times.  This year he will make his fourth cross country trip following the Northern Tier with the Adventure Cycling Association.  John's trip is self supported ... he carries all his own gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking items.  He rides a recumberant bike and tows a trailer.  All that would be enough to give him institutional status, but his real claim to fame is his fundraising.  This year he has raised over $30,000 and is within striking distance of an amazing milestone ... $250,000 over his 15 years of riding!  John and I have been communicating quite a bit and really wanted to get together before each of us headed west to start our rides.  Leah initially called John my "arch-nemesis" because we were number one and number two on the fund raising list for the Trek Across Maine. A more appropriate term is "mentor" ... 15 years of stories, ideas, adventures, and great conversation.  It was fun to meet up and ride together.  The fact that Steve and Dave could join us made the day even better.  We missed a road marking and passed the same British car shop (Brit Bits) three times, but that did not bother us at all ... provided a nice 40+ mile loop around Portsmouth and Rye including some windy stretches along the ocean.  An easy pace enabled good conversation and a nice stop for pastry and coffee.  After the ride, we grabbed lunch in Portsmouth at The Rusty Hammer.  A great day all around.

After a nice night with Joel and Rachel (and Lindsey too), I headed back to Maryland on Tuesday.  Wednesday saw some catch up at work and a quick 50k in and around Laytonsville including some great back roads near Goshen Branch Stream Valley Park.  On the way home (via car), the transmission started to slip on my van ... new car on the horizon!  On Thursday I squeezed in another 50k after work around Fulton and River Hill with a return home via Centennial Park and the Columbia Mall.  Lots of new proposals kept me busy at work.  Headed out late on Friday for a nice 40 mile ride to West Friendship past the Howard County Fair Grounds and then Glenelg before retuning home.

With the van dead in the water (transmission needs replacing ... with 165k miles, that won't happen ... new car when I get back from my big trip), we are down to one car.  That made logistics a challenge for what was an action packed Saturday.  The Howard County Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association had 100k and 50k rides from Glenwood.  As a type-2 diabetic and new member of the Adventures for the Cure (AFC) cycling team, it is an event I try not to miss.  In order to make my friend Sarah's wedding reception, I opted to ride the 50k.  Karen dropped me off around 8am so I could meet up with the AFC gang for a few photo opportunities.  Easy to spot me in the "Red Rider" jersey ... all type-1 and type-2 riders get one.  It is a nice contrast to the AFC polka dots!  See my 03/28/2010 post on AFC and our captain, Adam Driscoll.  My AFC jersey should arrive soon.  First picture is of me, Adam, and his dad, Ed.


The ride was amazingly windy ... 25+ mph the whole day, with gusts of 35+.  That made the first 20 miles pretty challenging.  The rolling hills of Western Howard County seemed a little harder than usual!  That all changed when we finally turned with the wind after the last rest stop for a wonderfully quick 15 miles back to the starting line.  Great lunch and another great event.  AFC was the top club/organizational fundraiser with almost $6,000.  The event raised over $230,000 for diabetes education, advocacy, research, and programs like the Camp Glyndon at Lions Camp Merrick (ADA's summer camp for children with diabetes).  Karen and Leah picked me up around noon and we quickly headed to our friend Melissa's house so I could shower and change for the wedding reception.  Leah stayed the afternoon, while Karen and I headed to a proper English Tea to honor my friend Sarah Worthing's marriage to Gary Holt.  The high tea was held at the Inn at Buckeystown.  The Inn was built in 1897 and is one of the few great local spots for tea (one of Sarah's favorite things).  A great assortment of teas, scones, and sandwiches gave way to a cake cutting ceremony and the traditional first dance.  The reception actually came before the wedding (held the next day), but none of us noticed.  A fun afternoon!



In honor of Mother's Day, I refrained from riding my bike.  We spent the morning at Sarah and Gary's ceremony in Frederick complete with a rock and roll revival group and lots of bubbles.  Leah enjoyed the service and another cake reception afterwards.  The bride and groom did not stay long ... had to catch their cruise ship in Baltimore Harbor.  We took a nice drive in and around Middletown and Braddock Heights to look at a few houses new to the market.  Some day we will find the right one.  We saw one exquisite 1867 house, but alas it was on the "wrong" side of the town and was too close to multi-family units to warrant an appointment.  Karen had her choice of eating establishment and chose one of our favorites ... Beef ‘n Buns ‘n Paradise.  Not a fancy sit down place, but a great local establishment we have been frequenting for many years.  Great burgers, fries, and milkshakes.  Happy Mother's Day!

A busy week for sure ... a long posting for sure.  Another solid week on the fundraising front with almost $650 to help families impacted by lung disease.  A big thank you to Ernie Prete and his staff at Auto Engineering of Lexington (Massachusetts) for their Gold Level donation. Auto Engineering specializes in the service and sales of German cars including Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, AUDI and Volkswagen. They have been taking care of my brother Joel's cars for many years.  They have a pretty nice bookkeeper too ... my sister-in-law Rachel.  A great Silver donation from my cousins Henry & Alberta Strage from England.  Henry recounted his bicycling adventure from 50 plus years ago ... he self supported and well ... a sign of the times ... check out the photo for the attire (not sure he really rode like this!).

Shout outs also go out to the following bronze donors:
  • Karen Locke - Karen works with fellow bronze donor, Craig Wehr, at PROTEUS Technologies. She was inspired by his account of my ride.  Thanks for reaching out.
  • Dr. Richard Levine - Dr. Levine is my father's primary doctor in Florida and has made a big difference in his health the past year.
  • Chuck Wilson - Chuck rode with America By Bicycle in 2009.  He has been a great help to me over the past year and provided great insight into what I can expect this summer.
  • Chris & Shaun Borsh - Chris & Shaun are my neighbors.  Our daughters are very close friends and spend a lot of time together.
  • Ernest & Chao Gotthardt - my mom's brother (my uncle) added to his previous donation.  He is one of only a select few that have supported me every year I have ridden for ALA.
Six weeks away ... look for the final mock up of my cycling jersey next week.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week of 05/02/10 - Cycle the Seacoast Century - Broke $11k in Donations - 225+ Miles

The long anticipated start of May ... my first century of the season and a fun long weekend in New England. Throw in almost $600 of donations, and you have another great week of preparation for Mark's Trek Across America for the American Lung Association.  The week started as most do, with no riding on Monday.  Work kept me busy with a quick turn around cost proposal the first part of the week.  I squeezed in a fast 50k at the Columbia Gateway Business Park, including seven laps of the 2.1 mile loop. The loop is a popular training spot for cyclists and triathletes and has a nice mixture of hills and flats.  The Park is also home to the 24 Hours of Booty.

24 Hours of Booty is a nation-wide event for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and helps raise critical funds for cancer research and survivorship. The Columbia event will celebrate its third year in 2010.  The event is scheduled for August 28-29 and also supports the Ulman Cancer Fund. It poured the entire time last year ... hopefully, we will have nice dry weather this year.

A busy Wednesday kept me off the bike again.  On Thursday, I put in a two hour ride (almost 30 miles) after work from Laytonsville.  I am still riding my winter bike (Trek 1500) while Princeton Sports completes an overhaul of my Serotta Nove for the big trip.  They are waiting on a new SLK light crank arm from FSA.  The overhaul will result in almost a new bike ... disassembly, repacking of the hubs, bottom bracket, and headset; new cables, new chain, new cassette; complete drive train and brakes cleaning and adjustment; wheel truing and lube; new bar tape; and a shiny coat of polish.

I made the drive to Massachusetts on Friday in a little over 7 hours ... no dog, kid, or wife stops!  Had a nice dinner out with Amy, Rebecca, and Amy's friend Pete.  Lots of food for the dollar at TGI Fridays.  On Saturday I took a nice 60 mile spin south from my sister's through Easton, Taunton, Norton, Mansfield, and Sharon.  It was much flatter than the rolling hills of Maryland, so even with an easy pace, my average speed was pretty good (almost 16 mph).  After savoring a black raspberry cone at locally famous Crescent Ridge Dairy, I headed to my brother Joel's house for the night.

Up and out early on Sunday to drive to Portsmouth, NH for the 1st Annual Cycle the Seacoast for the American Lung Association.  A little cool and overcast at the start and even a few sprinkles.  No worries ... a great route, great staff, and energized volunteers made for a nice day.  The 100 mile route started on the coast and then headed inland.  Very flat and fast at the start.  I led a nice group of 9 along the ocean at 18 mph.  I hung with the group for the first 60 miles but they were just a little too fast and I finally fell off the back.  Picked up the last 30 or so with a nice couple from Massachusetts that also been in the group.  Then had 200 riders, over 100 volunteers and raised almost $60,000 for the American Lung Association.  It was a great chance to see all the ALA staff that has been helping me with my trek.

The century ended up being almost 110 miles thanks to a bridge detour and a few missed road markings.  Great practice for the cross country trip. Over 225 miles for the week.

On the way back to Joel's I stopped at America by Bicycle and chatted with the owner, Doug Torosian.  We have 48 people signed up for the coast-to-coast ride and several additional segment riders.  Less than 2 months until departure.

A blog entry would not be complete without a discussion of my great sponsors and donors.  This week saw almost $600 in new donations bringing my total over $11,000!  Thanks to following Bronze donors:  Lesa Pollard Davis (new Facebook friend fighting with COPD), Michael & Barbara Kaner (long-time high school and USY friend), Caryln Samuels (good friend of my parents in Florida), and Sandra Grant (childhood friends of my parents).  Special shout outs to my Silver donors Rakesh Malek of Infinite Computer Solutions and Toby Mauer at The Brandinghouse. And last, but not least, a big thank you to Sophia Parker and her team at DSFederal, Inc. for their gold donation.  This marks the second year in a row that DSFederal has supported my ride for the American Lung Association at this level. DSFederal is an up and coming technical and management consulting firm with offices in Bethesda, MD and Atlanta, GA. Thanks for helping make a difference!