OLPH Pedaling Padres

Please contribute to my benefit ride for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home here in Atlanta! Every dollar counts!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Final Countdown

Yesterday was an incredible day.  There's nothing like the Holy Trinity to fight off a funk!  I had the great privilege of attending Fr. Richard Morrow's Mass of Thanksgiving for 60 years of ordained ministry, celebrated at Christ the King in Buckhead.   He is such a bastion of joy and hope, and a solid example of priestly fidelity and service.  Not many men live to see their 60th anniversary of anything, but there was a priest of Jesus Christ, celebrating the grace of God active in his life and through his ministry for 6 decades.

I also took the opportunity to get to confession.  Priests need confession, btw, just as much as any Christian.  God provided that Msgr. Lopez would process out of the Mass right in front of me, so I took that a sign that he was the one I should ask, and it was completely the right decision.

Fr. Lopez has a way of getting right to the heart of the matter in the confessional.  I imagine it's because of his 40+ years of priesthood.  He gets it, he knows the human soul and he knows both the ways that the enemy tries to trip us up and the ways that the Holy Spirit is calling us back to the Heart of the Savior and the love of the Father.  Thank you Lord for the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation!

Also got a good short ride in yesterday, and it was the first time I've ever used "clipless pedals," which, I feel I need to add, seem to be somewhat of a misnomer, even though I know the historical development foot-fastening functionality.  "Clipless pedals" actually have you "clip in" to a bracket on the pedal via a cleat on the bottom of special cycling shoes.  They are called "clipless" because, in the old days, there was actually a big clip that one's whole front of the foot would "clip" into.  Think of a cage that you slip your foot into and you'll get the idea.  Any pedal that lacks this cage clip thing is called "clipless"...even though all pro cyclists (and now novices like myself) "clip" into these newfangled brackets.  The benefit, so I'm learning, is that you can take advantage of various pedaling techniques, employing different muscles to make your efforts more efficient.

I think dad was impressed by how quickly I picked up the rather awkward movements of clipping in and unclipping.  So I think I'm going to keep taking smallish rides each day this week to stay loose and get all the more used to these things.  Practical wisdom advices that a cyclist not change anything drastic in the week leading up to a major event.  We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Last weekend Dad and I were going to attempt our longest ride yet...70+ miles on the "Tour of Faith" near Peachtree City.  48 miles in, I heard a sound I've grown to hate: it's a metallic pop from the rear wheel, the sound of a spoke breaking.

The wheel goes out of true immediately and the bike becomes unrideable.

The frustration of the moment was complex and therefore hard to capture all in words.  Indulge me while I try.

Not only had this incident meant that that particular ride was over, it also meant I'd have to either see if the spoke could be replaced or if I'd have to buy a new wheel.  This was also the THIRD TIME this has happened.  When I bought the bike, I was very transparent with the salesman, letting him know that I weigh more than I look like I weigh, but he said it shouldn't be a problem--these were high quality wheels.  True enough, as the front wheel has been a beast and given me no trouble.  But I busted spokes on the back wheel twice before I realized I needed something a little more...substantial.  More spokes, slightly wider base.  And it cost me a pretty penny.  Add to this that on the day of that ride, we were exactly two weeks out from THE ride, so any time that the bike would be in the shop meant less miles in training in these crucial last days.  Add to this that the likely reason my spokes keep breaking is that I'm simply too heavy...and I don't know anyone who likes sever and repeated reminders that he is overweight.  Add to this that I felt like I was letting dad down.  Add to this that I began to seriously wonder if we'd be able to complete the ride.

In a word, I was broken, perhaps even more so than the spoke.  Anger, frustration, self-pity, and doubt can wound a heart so much more than unequal distribution of body weight on a rotating rod of aluminum can untrue a bike wheel.

Getting it fixed proved to be much more difficult than I imagined it could be.  My local bike shop had so many repairs lined up before me that they said they wouldn't be able to get to mine until this weekend (May 30th).  Unacceptable.  So I found a shop in Buford that could get me in.  Long story short, they replaced the spoke and suggested that I "stand when I go over rough terrain" to keep the stress off the back wheel.

So anyway, the call of the moment is to release expectation and rejoice in the successes of the past and to hold on to eager hope for the future.  Please keep me and dad in your prayers!  Please pray especially for the patients at OLPH Cancer Home!  And you can try to cheer me up by making a donation!!!

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on you, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tour de Zombie

I felt like a zombie this morning...it has been an incredibly hectic past couple of weeks, and, in all honesty, I haven't been taking very good care of myself lately...binge eating, late nights, and very early mornings.  It's been emotionally draining as well, with the sadness of the recent deaths in the Pius family juxtaposed to the extreme excitement of both my brothers' graduations (William from high school and Patrick from law school) AND of the seniors from St. Pius... #allthefeels.

After a great "welcome to the block" party for Fr. Michael Revak, the new Parochial Vicar at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Johns Creek that went to the late hours of the evening, I came down to Peachtree City for the weekend to celebrate William's achievements.  As has become my custom when I visit my parents, after a little time of playing Call of Duty with my brother I fell asleep on the floor, and despite everyone's best efforts to get me upstairs, there I remained.

Dad woke me up with a plate of kiska and eggs and an invitation to ride.  Feeling stiff-necked (in many senses) and tired, I begrudgingly accepted.  But, as my mother would be very quick to point out, the things I complain the most about doing are generally the things through which there is the most to be gained.

We only did 18.35 miles, but it was a great 18.35 miles.  We took a newish route that brought us down to Senoia, which Walking Dead fans will recognize as the locus of much of the show's filming.  Downtown Senoia was used for the Governor's town of Woodbury, and just across the tracks is the walled town of Alexandria where there is active filming for the upcoming season.  Dozens of tourists were walking the streets of what used to be a very sleepy southern town.  We rode past Alexandria's entrance, which is guarded by a plain-clothed security dude, and then over to a row of fancy trailers, which I assumed are the actors' on-set residences.

You can see from the map at the left how close my parents live to zombie land.  They are at the stop sign and the Senoia set is right at mile marker 10.  It's very likely that if a real zombie apocalypse were to break out, my family would be among the first know.  I think they'd survive.  William, the recent high school grad, is an expert bb gun marksman and is also very handy with a pickax and tactical shovel.

We're going to do a big ride tomorrow.  I'm hoping for something in the 70s range. The ride is two weeks from tomorrow!

Make a donation if you haven't already!  CLICK HERE to do so!  I'm almost to $3000!

Ride on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Up the creek without a pedal...

Last weekend, dad and I made history...we participated in (and freakin finished!!!) the 25th Annual "Up the Creek Without a Pedal" ride in Rome, GA.

For me, this was not only my first organized cycling event, it was also the first time I've ever ridden a bike with more than 3 other people!  We got to Rome with about 25 minutes to prep before the ride, pumped up our tires (btw--why do I need to pump my tires EVERY time I ride? I don't recall having to do that on my mountain bike...), got our swag, and joined the masses.  We're talking hundreds of cyclists, everything from imitation Under Armour-wearing noobs like me all the way to Lance Armstrong wannabes wearing more latex themselves than a whole Richard Simmons Sweatin' to the Oldies cast combined.  They call it "performance wear".

The ride starts in downtown Rome.  We had a police escort for the first three miles, which was pretty cool.  Always better to be chasing the police than the other way around.  Dad and I were in the back, probably 3/4 of the way back.  We set a nice pace and just kept going.

The event provided a 30, 53, 75, and 100 mile option.  We simply couldn't spoil things by going for the century just yet, and 75 miles of hills just kind of seemed a little too intense, and 30 miles was too whimpy (no disrespect to anyone reading this who chose the 30 mile ride), so 53 it was.  53 gorgeous miles, made even more glorious by awesome sag stops -- PB&J, beef jerky, bananas, and the final stop had...wait for it...homemade strawberry ice cream.  It makes it so much easier to ride when you know there's some tasty calories and refreshingly cold beverages waiting for you just a few more miles down the road.

Now, dad and I aren't very speedy...we generally average 10 mph.  While this was our best long-distance average at 12.4 mph, we still got passed by all those Euro-Pro "Performance" guys (and a few ladies).  There was one guy in a Cookie Monster jersey who, though he took really long breaks enjoying the goodies at the sag stops, always seemed to catch up to us and let us know he was passing...again.  It became a source of motivation for me, to stay ahead of Cookie Monster for as long as we could.  I'm fairly certain he passed one final time about 2 miles out, but we made it all the way, up some gruelling hills of "the Pocket" (a nestled valley that follows Johns Creek (not the Alpharetta one, a different one), hence the name of the ride, and across the finish line back in downtown Rome. Out there, there were stunning views and powerful perfumes of honeysuckles.  It's not quite my vision of Heaven, but it's pretty close.  I don't think there will be bike seats in Heaven.

Last week, my heart was heavy over the loss of that man who passed after complications from his bone marrow transplant.  This time, as we cruised past the Richard B. Russell municipal airport and an ultralight came in for a landing right on top of us, my heart went out to the families who lost their loved ones in that tragic plane crash on Atlanta's I-285 the day before.  As it turned out, one of the victims and I are connected: the young woman who died is the sister of a man whose wedding I celebrated a few years back.  Again, the theme of cherishing each moment with those around us became abundantly clear to me.  We will all experience the loss of loved ones.  Sometimes it will be foreseen and expected.  Other times it will be sudden and tragic.  It wont always seem fair and it often doesn't make sense.  We will question why God allowed this to happen, and we probably won't get any answers.  All we have is the reality of the loss.  That, and the Lord's promise that He will be with us always, and that He is victor over sin and death.

God doesn't promise that those who love Him will be free of sorrow.  The Cross has always lead me to believe that Christians will necessarily suffer more than those around us, because we have been called to love.  Love hurts.  When you pour yourself out for someone, and then that someone is suddenly gone, it truly is like part of your own existence is gone, like part of you dies with them.  When the beloved hurts, the lover hurts.  Loving guarantees that we will suffer.

But herein lies the "mystery of faith," that Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father, entered into death for us, that He took on our death, that God himself went to the lengths of God-forsakenness for us, to show that He is with us, close to us and not far from us, in suffering.  It may not take away the sting, the ache, the deep and never-ending sense of loss we feel when someone we love dies, but, at the very least, hopefully helps us to see we're not up the creek without a paddle, hopelessly being dragged down stream; rather, we're in a boat captained by the Savior, who leads us through the storm.


My old record, that is!!

On May 3, Dad and I rode the Silver Comet Trail from the trailhead all the way out to Coots Lake near Rockmart, then turned around and came home.  All told, it was a 66.55 mile ride, shattering my previous record for longest ride ever by more than 20 miles.  In fact, had we not turned back and done all 66 miles heading west, we would have crossed over the state line into Alabama!

The trail is mostly flat, which you'd think gives the rider an easier ride than road riding...but that's not exactly true.  Because it's so flat, you really never stop pedaling.  Add to that the fact that there are some longish uphill climbs, and you've got yourself a decent training ride.

I'm really proud of what Dad and I are accomplishing.  We push, we sweat, we rest, and we just keep going.  For me the best part of all this is getting to spend time with my dad.  66 miles took just over 6 hours to complete.  I can't remember ever in my life having 6 hours to spend with alone with my dad.  We talk about stuff...faith, politics, education, life, family.  I told him about a man I had visited in the hospital the day before our ride who, very tragically and sadly, lost his battle to cancer.  He was in the process of recovering from his bone marrow transplant just two or three doors down the hall from where dad himself recovered from his back in 2010.  As a priest, I was there to intercede for the deceased and to be there for the family; as a man, my heart broke for this family whose hopes for their dad's healing were unfulfilled.  I have no answers for why some people win their battle with cancer and some people lose.  I'll leave that to the doctors and to the Lord who knows the day and hour we will go home to meet Him.  But it made me appreciate the fact that the people who are here in our lives now should be loved now, cherished now, not later.  Every moment really is a gift.

These are the kinds of things we get to talk about...when we're not gasping for breath on those long, gradual inclines.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Record!

40.06 MILES BABY!!!!

That's the longest bike ride I've ever made in my life!

I had three Masses up at St. Benedict's in Duluth, GA, this Sunday and got down to Peachtree City where my folks live right at about 3PM.  We grabbed a quick bite and then suited up for what we knew was going to be an endurance ride.  Four hours later, we had pounded out just a smidge over 40 miles!

It's hard being on a bike seat that long.  I invested in some quality cycling shorts that have a seat-shaped gel cushion sewn into them.  It helps, but after 4 hours, let's just say you're really ready to be out of the saddle.

This was the first ride I've done where donations were on the line.  I've currently only got two pledges, but I kept thinking to myself, "If you hit 40 miles, that's $20 that the Cancer Home gets!" and I keep pedaling away.

Besides the "saddle sore," I wasn't too exhausted post-ride.  If dad would have wanted to go another 10, I probably would have groaned and pushed on.  But I need to be able to that 40 mile ride TWICE, plus some.  I've got a lot of work to do!

If you'd like to help me train harder click this link to go to my donations page!  Even if you pledge a penny for every mile I train, it will encourage me to push harder!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A little easier

Praise the Lord for Google Forms!

You can now fill out this online form to make donating to my century ride for OLPH Cancer Home all the easier.  No need to email me, just fill out the form.

Click HERE to register your donation!

Your donation goes to support the efforts of the Dominican Sisters who run a cancer home for the terminally ill.  They rely on God's providence to support them as most of their patients cannot afford insurance or quality medical care, and I am certain the Lord put them on my heart as worthy recipients of these fundraising efforts.  

Thanks for supporting the patients, the Sisters, and me and my dad!!!  Every mile counts.  Every dollar counts.

Peace in Christ,