Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections on the Year - 2013


It was a year in which I once rode 109 straight days (a "ride" being defined as one of at least 10 miles), including breaking my collarbone only 10 days into the streak. And I didn't miss a ride. For the second straight year I went over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles). I finished with 6,350. But the year would end with incredible sadness.

In no particular order I present my Top Ten Moments of 2013

1. Meeting People on the Trail 

I met two groups of young people while riding along the W&OD. In May I met a lost group from the University of Illinois, the Illini 4,000. I rode with them to Vienna before saying goodbye. 

Riders from the Illini 4,000

In July I met a group of young Orthodox Jewish women biking from Miami to New York City with Bike 4 Friendship. When they told me they were riding to Baltimore on U.S. Rte 1 I told them I would take them on safe roads instead. I ended up giving them an impromptu tour of D.C. then taking them through the Anacostia Trail System up to Laurel, Maryland so they could avoid Rte 1.

Some of the Bike 4 Friendship Riders
in Front of the White House
Shaina Myers

2. Ride of Silence

I never participated in a Ride of Silence before and don't want to again but I organized one for a fallen cyclist, James Callahan, who was struck and killed by a 17 year old girl while he was riding on the bike path next to the road. I had never met Mr. Callahan but it seemed the right thing to do. Almost 40 riders including his family members joined us for a silent slow 13-mile ride that honored his memory.

Stopped at the accident scene where
a bagpiper played Amazing Grace

3. Trexlertown

Labor Day weekend I joined friends from Spokes of Hope at Trexlertown, Pa. to ride on the Velodrome as we honored pediatric cancer survivors. Our featured survivor was Duncan Mitcheltree. As I entered the track his mother, Andrea, called my name. We had met last year at Jake's funeral.

Barry, Duncan

4. Key to Keys

(Multiple Journal Entries)

In April I rode with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adult's inaugural Key to Keys ride, a fundraiser from Baltimore to Key West. There's nothing like the community of survivors and people who hate cancer who come together with a common cause. And when my group did not get a chance to ride across the Seven Mile Bridge, on Sunday after the ride I did my own solo century ride to and across the Seven Mile Bridge - twice.

5. Salisbury Trestle 

My dad had never ridden across the Salisbury trestle at Meyersdale so in July my sister, Betsy, and I rode with the octogenarian from Meyersdale to Rockwood.

Barry, Betsy, Dad
At the Rockwood Entrance

6. Mount Washington

I thought last year would be my last time up Mount Washington. Then I met the Gubinski family and they asked me to come back and ride with them so they would have someone to beat. And I complied. My sixth straight year on that climb.

Alexa, Barry, Vic, Lucas

7. 4K for Cancer
An organization that has become close to my heart is the 4K for Cancer. I rode with Team San Francisco on Day 1 from Baltimore to Alexandria; met Team Portland on the Pike to Bike abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike on Day 2; escorted them from Bedford to Ligonier on Day 3; and rode with them again in Muncie, Indiana on Day 17.

4K on Allegheny Mountain at former Ship Hotel

8. Jeremiah Bishop's Alpine Gran Fondo

Jeremiah Bishop's Alpine Gran Fondo is a beautiful ride and is sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project. As a prostate cancer survivor I was invited to ride off the front with pros, Jeremiah Bishop, Joe Dombrowski, Cameron Cogburn and Ben King.

Pros on the Start Line
9. Ride the Rockies

(Multiple Journal Entries)

Ride the Rockies is simply the best multi-day tour I have found. Awesome vistas with screaming descents - four times I went over 50 mph. I rode with six time Tour de France rider, Ron Kiefel, and met George Hincapie, Bob Roll, and Connie Carpenter-Phinney.

Ron Keifel, Barry Sherry

10. Save a Limb Ride

A man grabs my phone as I am looking at Jens Voigt and Ben King and says "jump in - I'll take your picture." And it was none other than Robbie Ventura. At the Save a Limb ride I met Jens, Ben, and Robbie. Too cool.

Jen Voigt, Barry, Ben King
Barry, Robbie Ventura

In Memory of Scott

In August, my friend, Scott Scudamore, invited me to Charlottesville for a practice ride with some kids from the Boys and Girls Club. They were getting in training miles to ride a Century (100 miles) in September and he promised me we would ride up Afton Mountain which "you will really enjoy." 

When the assignments were given out Scott was very apologetic because he was asked to mentor the youngest rider on a shorter route than the other kids. He encouraged me to go ride with the other kids up Afton Mountain. I chose to ride with Scott. He didn't quite understand it was more about who you were with than where you were going. It was my last ride with Scott.

On September 22 he was mountain biking at Bryce Ski resort in Virginia when he crashed and broke his neck. Very sadly and unexpectedly, he died from those injuries on December 29.

Barry, Eli, Scott

You taught me that life is short and to live every moment to the fullest
May you rest in peace, my friend.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Slow December


Mileage is not a goal. It is simply a byproduct of reaching other goals. And of having fun.
When I went to the 24 Hours of Booty in August and went over 4,000 miles I knew I wouldn't match last year's total of 6,500 miles since I had gone over 5,000 miles at the same point last year (and ended with 6,500). Yet I kept adding up the miles. And in late November when I went over 10,000 kilometers (6,231 miles) I needed only 10 miles per day for the next 30 days to set a personal best for a year.

But I got sick. I picked up an upper respiratory tract infection which grounded me. Literally. I went nowhere. I couldn't ride. Well, maybe I could but it was Zombie Riding. I couldn't feel my body. So I rested.

December was lost except for a ride near the end of the month. At our annual Sherry family gathering at Camp Harmony near Davidsville, Pa. (between Somerset and Johnstown), Saturday brought decent riding weather. There were still some patches of ice or slush on the road but with temperatures in the mid 40s it was an otherwise beautiful day to ride.

My "camp" ride was a typical ride that defines me. First, it was solo as 90% or more of my miles are simply by myself. Second, it had a plan - one that didn't work. Many of my rides go awry somewhere and, frankly, that is an enjoyable part of my riding.

Sherry Family Christmas
I had planned to circumvent the lake (Quemahoning Reservoir) and put in about 30 miles. I didn't want to go too much farther because I hadn't been riding for most of the month. My fitness level was gone.

As I got to the east side of the lake I came to the "Green Bridge" which was an open grate bridge over one section of the lake. And it was gone. In its place was a new bridge that wasn't yet opened. On this day there was no construction taking place and I looked for a place to safely cross walking my bike but it did not look safe to cross. And a freezing lake is the last place I would dare slip and fall.

(Why I didn't take a picture of the new Green Bridge, I do not know. Probably because I have taken so many pictures of the lake that I thought "nothing new here" except there was. There was ice formed in one section of the lake which would make a beautiful photo but I didn't stop. It's a fairly large reservoir with a decent size dam at the far end with a pretty impressive spillway.)

After a couple of minutes of looking at the bridge I followed the detour sign. I didn't know where the road would lead but that's sort of number three - go where the road leads. And it led up. Up the hill I went, crossed under US Rte 219 and as I neared the summit of the climb I reached a farm. Protected by a big dog. Running loose. I stopped. I turned around.

And that was number four. Go where the road leads but be prepared to change your plans. Especially where big dogs live. So I turned around and went back past the lake. I followed the road to Holsopple.

As I was riding through Holsopple I spotted a train station. A train station! Now there is one active track here but who knew there was a train station? And it was in excellent condition. I turned down a side street to get a closer look then saw a local. I asked him about the station and we probably talked for 15 minutes or so.

Train Station in Holsopple

And that was number five. Stop. Talk to a local.

The neighbor wasn't real thrilled with the station. Privately owned he said, he thought the families who maintain it could use their money in a more humanitarian way. Perhaps so but I love seeing old buildings maintained. I listened. I can't even say we had much of discussion.

The train station has its own Facebook page. Quite frankly, I like it.

From the Facebook Page for Hollsopple Station
Leaving Holsopple I rode to Hooversville. It's only four miles but with no shoulders and into the low afternoon December sun. I was not comfortable.

Halfway between the two small hamlets is a very small one named Blough. Only a handful of houses are here but there's a sign proudly proclaiming Blough to be the home of former major leaguer, Frank Kostro, who earned a World Series championship ring playing for the 1965 Minnesota Twins. I just know I hadn't heard of him which means he wasn't one of the 20 player cards I had for my Strat-O-Matic game for the '65 Twins.*

Card from Baseball-Almanac.com

In Hooversville there is a swinging bridge over the Stoney Creek River. I love riding my bike over that bridge. No pictures. Which was maybe number six. Drain the battery in the cell phone. Oh well.

After a month without any miles (just 144 miles) it was great to be back on the bike. I will miss setting a mileage total for a year but mileage is not a goal.

*Frank Kostro was 5 for 31 (.161) in 1965

EPILOGUE - Feb. 24, 2014 - I just got an unexpected email from the unofficial historian for the Holsopple Station. Who knew anyone read my blog?

"Holsopple Historical Building, Inc., our official name, is a registered nonprofit corporation composed of citizens who are interested in keeping our town’s history alive. We have a board that meets monthly; we also schedule activities throughout the year to involve the community.

"We’ve been working for over 20 years to restore the station. It was literally falling apart when we took over. We have replaced the roof, replaced the bay window, rewired and repainted the station, and installed a new floor—supports, joists, and all—in the freight room. We’ve raised money through chicken barbecues, basket parties, etc., but the largest amounts we received has come from Somerset County’s tourism grants. That enabled us to add outside lighting, sidewalks and landscaping, and paint the interior."

Their eventual goal is to open as a museum. It is a beautiful historic building. If you're in the area check it out.