Monday, January 27, 2014

A Cold Cold January

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

I'm not sure what the final numbers will show but this was probably the coldest January in 20 years. It was not a good month for riding.




In the middle of the month it warmed to about 40 degrees (5 C). I went "exploring" in Alexandria. The new Woodrow Wilson Bridge has a bike/pedestrian lane which connects Alexandria to National Harbor in Prince George's County, Maryland. The bridge is the only one in the country the goes through three jurisdictions. Starting in Virginia, it cuts through the District of Columbia for about 100 meters and 95% of the structure is in Maryland.


Woodrow Wilson Bridge
Maryland side
It wasn't an epic ride, but still, sort of fun. On the Maryland side is a crushed gravel/shell path for about 400 meters or so. It's very ridable. At the National Harbor is the sculpture the Awakening.

The Awakening
National Harbor



There's always something majestic about being on a large bridge crossing over the Potomac River.



W&OD at Gallows Road
Fake Snowflakes

The rest of the month was, well, cold. Today was to be the "warm" day. It was 42 degrees when I left the house and went to the W&OD at Gallows Road. I was expecting a clear trail. Instead, it was snow covered.



So I went to Hains Point in D.C. and it was closed. I couldn't catch a break. I rode some lightly used roads around Hains Point then crossed the 14th Street Bridge. At first, the Mount Vernon Trail looked clear but as I rode I encountered patches of snow and ice. It was scary on a road bike. I turned around just south of Reagan National Airport. So I just rode. The streets in D.C. were clear.


Ice on the Potomac River


Hard to think in 6-7 weeks spring will be here and this lost month will simply be in the past. Can't wait. 2014 is going to be great!



Monday, January 6, 2014

Superman

First Batman, now Superman.

We are different from other living creatures because at an early age we understand there is a beginning and an end, that we will all die. I am not of an age that I think about it (much) but the last week has made me face it a lot. When you lose a close friend close in age that will happen.

Scott Scudamore loved life. He was the life of the party and where there was anyone and Scott there was a party. When I heard the news on Sept. 23 that he was on life support I had a hard time accepting that. But over three months we saw, I saw, that smile. And at Kessler he told me that he was lucky because he didn't have brain damage. The entire time I believed that he would beat this in some way.



Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
West Orange, NJ

We looked for signs of movement returning. We were all excited the day Scott moved his thumb. But we never saw anything more. And if he were confined to that wheelchair with no movement below his neck I knew that he would somehow make a difference in other people's life in his new condition.

He was Superman. He was the guy we kiddingly said we all aspired to be. But I never wanted to be like Scott and I doubt that anyone else did either. For Scott was unique. There was room for only one Scott.

At the start line with the kids from the
Boys and Girls Club, Sept. 15

And confession time: I never called him Scud and I never ate a Scudfry (although they may not exist in the singular - just the plural, Scudfries). He was always Scott to me.

Scott would call me at the strangest times. "Barry Sherry," accenting each syllable equally, "How the heck are you?" And I'd ask "Where in the heck are you?" Traveling between events, skiing in Colorado, visiting his daughter, Krista, in San Diego, or in the living room with Jeremiah and Erin Bishop, he was always planning our next adventure.

Scott was a legend in the mountain bike world. And I am not a mountain biker. But he made time for me. He dragged my butt to Iowa for RAGBRAI two years ago. He came with me to Altoona for a cancer recovery ride. He invited me to ride with him and the kids from the Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville in August. And he supported every one of my many cancer-fighting charity rides.



Barry, Eli, Scott
August 29, 2013

Scott was a proud husband, father and grandfather. He worried about the health of his wife, "St. Margaret," also a cancer survivor. He was proud of his daughter, Jen and her husband, Carl, and their two kids. He always let me know what Kyle and Marie were doing. And he was proud of his daughter, Krista, making a career of serving in the U.S. Navy.

Sweating in Altoona
April 2010

Scott didn't just (re)learn to talk when he went to Kessler -- that blinking stuff was for the birds after all -- he SANG. When I saw him and asked about his voice he said it was so strong he could sing and he BELTED out LA LA LA LA LA LA LA going up then down the scales. Everyone who could look did and he was grinning from ear to ear. That was Scott.

If anyone could beat this injury, it was Scott. Yet, looking back, even the few hours I was with Scott, I saw the optimism one needs to overcome the injuries but also the frustration and disappointment. The physical therapist moved his shoulders and asked him if he could feel that. He smiled and said yes. And then realization set in as he realized that he did not feel his shoulders move. And the frustration and maybe even anger at being trapped in this body, Superman's body, that didn't work. 



Altoona ride, April 2009

It shocked me, and probably most of Scott's friends, because we saw, we believed, the ever smiling Scott would beat this. But unless you had a personal visit and saw the downs as well as the ups, you wouldn't know any better.

Then there was "the bike." Whether it was designed for Christopher Reeve (that other Superman) or he just used it at Kessler, I do not recall. But even with limbs not working Scott's rehab equipment of choice was the bike. His feet would be strapped to the pedals and a motor would move his legs. The therapist explained that with his blood pressure "all over the place" they could not risk putting him on this machine. And he was quite dejected.

I showed him the picture with me and Kyle's soccer team, all wearing their new Scud's Courage jerseys. He proudly told his physical therapists how Kyle's team got special permission from the club to wear those and "they're going to wear them next year too." Such a proud grandfather.



Kyle's team honoring "Scud's Courage"
Kyle is next to me, my hand on his shoulder

When I told Jen that story today she said "sounds like Dad made that part up."

Still, I left Kessler remembering the smile. The proud grandfather. The promise I made that I would be back to visit and that when he went home I would come stay and visit.

I forgot that during my time visiting that he had some down moments. He was someone you would remember the good times. And, in my case, ignore the signs that all was not well.

When I had arrived for my visit, Margaret and I talked and she told me that she almost asked me not to come because of Scott's ups and downs. But Scott had vetoed that idea because he wanted me to come. However, just two weeks ago she did ask me not to come because he needed his rest. 


Superman
Picture from TrailsForYouth.org


The signs were there for me to see but this was Superman. I ignored them.



video
This video is from the tribute Scott's
colleagues at the
Lake Monticello Rescue Squad
gave him at his funeral.

 

If there was one person to beat this horrific injury it was Scott. But in the end it was too much even for him. All of a sudden you realize that we don't live forever. If death can snatch someone so energetic and vibrant, and in reality he was a cross between Superman and the Energizer Bunny, then I am left to realize that it will catch us all. It's something we don't like to think about but it is real.





A great man. A great friend. He will be sorely missed but his memory and his legend lives on.
 

Maybe Jen was right and her dad made up the part about Kyle's team wearing those jerseys next year. But as Director of Referees for his soccer club, I talked to the administrator today and told them Scott's story.

They will be wearing those uniforms in the spring.

Superman lives on.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Royal Order of the Iron Crotch

WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA

My local cycling club, Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, has an award, which may be tongue in cheek, but it is called the Iron Crotch Award. This recognition goes to anyone who rides 5,000 miles in a year. And I qualified.

  • TOTAL MILES: 6,350
  • LONGEST RIDE - Ride the Rockies - Pagosa Springs to Alamosa CO. 104.20 miles with a new max speed of 54 mph
  • % MILES COMMUTING -- 0%. I retired but did ride on Bike to Work Day because it was fun.
  • % MILES PPTC RIDES -- 0%. Although I did organize a Ride of Silence in honor of James Callahan and advertised it to PPTC as an Impromptu Ride that drew 40 riders.  Those 13 miles count so 0.2%.
  • Date on which 5,000 was achieved - Sept. 29 at the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo
  • Most miles in a Month -- 1,066 (June)
  • Most miles in a week -- 579 - in Colorado, during Ride the Rockies
  • Number of Zero mile weeks - None
  • Number of 100 mile days - Six
  • Most interesting story - I was looking at the autograph table with Jens Voigt and Ben King at the Save a Limb Ride when someone grabbed my phone and said "jump in and I'll take your picture." That someone was former pro rider now TV commentator, Robbie Ventura.