This is a story I’m very proud to publish.
Yesterday afternoon I went to visit my friend Bill Lang and his wife before they head back home to Illinois for the summer. Bill’s story is an inspiring one if you every get a chance to meet him. How he overcame cancer (multiple myeloma) and continues to ride is just amazing. It is obvious that his wife is a stabilizing force in his life. Just this last week Bill contacted me and wanted some route help for a century…at that point I knew he would do it and wished him well. That is Bill in the center on his trike. So here is his story.
See you next fall when you come back to the RGV, Bill. Ride on my friend!!
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Back then, I had no idea how it would affect my bicycling. Six and one-half years ago I bicycled my last century with my friends in Illinois, well, up until yesterday, April 20, 2016.
Last week my Texas cycling friends wanted me to plan and lead a100-mile bicycle ride. We chose Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The weather forecast was not promising for that day. I really did not want to do the ride.
I was hoping it would rain then I would have an excuse to not ride the 100 miles. The reason I did not want to do the ride is because I was afraid. Afraid of not being able to ride that far. Afraid. Just afraid.
Monday the weather forecast was for rain. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I developed the route and then sent it to my friend that is familiar with the roads in the area I wanted to ride. He tweaked the route.
So now I had a 101-mile route. Also rain was removed from the forecast, and, we decided the ride was a go. I was up at 530 am Wednesday morning so I could leave at 645 am, to meet
Betty, Mark, Luann, Carolyn, Steve, Charlie, at Alamo Country Club for a 7 am departure.
Larry (Betty’ husband) and Jeff (Luann’s husband) would be on standby in case of an emergency. The plan was to complete the ride in 12 hours, finishing 7 pm. We did have until 8 pm, sunset.
We departed Alamo Country Club at 705 am. The weather was a cool 73 degrees with light winds
out of the east-southeast, and mostly clear skies. We headed east from Alamo passing through Donna, Weslaco, Mercedes, and LaFeria as we headed to Harlingen. We cycled Business 83.
There was a section of Business 83 under construction. Fortunately for us the new lanes were completely paved but still blocked off for vehicles. There were no construction crews working. Perfect for us.
We took our first break at the Texas Welcome Center in Harlingen. They have nice clean restrooms and cold water. We had completed 28 miles with 73 miles to go. We were able to leave the rest area at 10 am, right on schedule.
We then headed south to Los Indios where we then turned East on Military Highway (US 281). As we headed south the winds began to increase. I began to wilt so I had to stop and take a five-minute
break and drink some cold Gatorade. That was all I needed and I was able to get up to my cruising speed of 12 MPH, with the help of my friends riding in front of me so I could draft them.
When heading east of Military Highway, we passed an old home that the owners were rebuilding.
We also could see the border fence as we headed east on Military Highway.
Heading east from Los Indios we passed through LaPolma Junction and Villa Cavazos as we headed to Olmito, where we would break for lunch at Sub-way. We arrived there around 1 pm with 55 miles in and 46 miles to go.
By the time we arrived at the lunch break, Betty was beginning to show signs of wilting. She really needed that lunch break, and so did I. We were now 25 minutes behind schedule when we departed Olmito.
However, we would now have a tailwind. Now the weather was hot! In the 90’s with dewpoints in the 70’s. Humid!
We traveled northwest on the frontage road of I-69E US 77, headed back to the travel center in Harlingen, passing through San Benito.
We arrived the travel center around 4 pm, back on schedule, with 74 miles in, and 28 miles to go. It was hot and shade was at a premium.
Departing Harlingen with an almost direct tailwind, we were able to cruise between 12 and 15 MPH as we traveled on the frontage road of I-2, US 83. This road had a new fresh layer of tar and coarse chip. Black.
Now with the heat coming off the pavement and traveling with the wind at the same speed of the wind, it really got very hot! I was somewhat dehydrated. I pushed on. We decided to stop at the What-a-Burger at the
Mercedes Outlet Center for our next break. I ordered french fries as I needed the salt. I was not able to finish them.
My stomach would not let me. Some ordered a root beer float. It took them thirty minutes to make those floats. We really didn’t complain as we needed to get our body temperatures down. We were now ahead of schedule and
we figured we would be back home around 630 pm. We now had 88 miles in with 15 miles to go. Three miles down the road that estimate time of arrival was pushed back when Betty blew out her front tire. Charlie put a
boot in the tire and a new tube, pumped it up, and we continued on. Being this close to home, we had to repair her tire so she could finish her first 100-miler.
We got off the frontage road in Mercedes and traveled Business 83 the rest of the way back. There are many traffic signals on Business 83 as we passed through Weslaco and Donna. I think we hit every one red.
That just made it more difficult for me to get back up to cruising speed again, and using up all my energy.
I arrived home at 7 pm. Right on schedule. However, I just sat there on my trike as I needed to get energy to get up and go inside. Once home, I drank 1/2 gallon of water. I ate a few pretzel peanut butter nuggets, but that was it.
My stomach would not allow me to eat anything else. I was nauseated. I was dehydrated. I went to bed at my usual time, 1030 pm. I was up every 90 minutes to go pee. Today Thursday I feel fine and went for a trike ride.
Strava (smart phone exercise app) shows I cycled 103.1 miles, 9:25 riding time for 11 MPH average. Elapsed time 12:15.
My wired bicycle computer showed 103.9 miles with 11.3 MPH average. Strava and my wired bicycle computer never agree. Sometimes Strava shows more and other times less.
I had to prove to myself that I could still ride 100 miles in one day. I had to do it now since I was in the best condition since my stem cell transplant, five years ago. Also the cancer is back and I may never get the chance again.
Yes, I was in pain. The pain is now gone and I feel fine. If I would have quit, the pain would have lasted until I die.
Congratulations to Betty for her completing her first century (100-mi ride).
Again I thank Larry and Jeff for being on stand-by in case of emergency. I thank Mark, Charlie, Steve, Carolyn, Luann and Betty for accompanying me and encouraging me to take them on this great adventure.
I also want to thank my friend, Richard Cavin for assisting me in developing the route.
This is my link to my Strava link.