Monday, June 30, 2014

H-140: Louise's Ride, Part Three: The End

Mason, watching with binoculars so everyone could get out and cheer me on!
Mason, waiting just before I got to the next-to-last rest stop

So, most of the ride was over now, and I could say to myself, "Forty miles? I can ride forty miles!" Then, "Thirty miles? I can ride thirty miles!" And so on, all the way to the last nine or ten miles or however far it is from the last rest stop to the finish.

I missed these arrows near the last rest-stop
The last two rest stops were officially closed, but the porta-potties were still there. Good.
But it wasn't clear which way to go after that. Also good, because it gave me an excuse to walk with my bike talking to Don for a few meters before Cassie figured out which way to go. And so I started off, with a good run-along-side and push from Don.

Speaking of pushing: I had to push the pain and exhaustion way to the back of my mind now. I mean, I had been doing that for the last 50 miles or so, but it was getting harder.

Here's where I thought, "Well, hey, I've gone 130 miles now, 20 miles farther than I've ever gone before, so maybe this is a good time to quit. I can do the whole thing next year." But then the words of Derek, my trainer, came to my mind, as they had two weeks earlier on that 105-mile ride: "You've come this far, why are you even thinking of quitting now!"

Here's where Don realized I needed a good laugh, so he started talking about how sad he was that no one was acknowledging his pain --- his chafed nipples, among other things. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my bike, but it made me ride better.

Then here's where Jared and Mason and Jason took turns with Don running alongside me again, with an occasional push. Those pushes were great: such a relief to stop pedaling for a moment and let their momentum take me a few feet farther.

And then here's where, a few miles after that, all of a sudden, Talena's husband Greg was alongside me, jogging. He said it was just part of his PT and it was "fun." I had to laugh again. He jogged and talked to me about many things. Though we didn't get to sealing wax and cabbages and kings, we agreed that crying is not the appropriate response to pain, though it's okay for expressing emotions like love.

Anyway, a while after that, I saw a line of cars behind and beside me on the left (AABAHOM), and a line of people ahead of me on the right, because other members of Team Sandra had lined up to jog alongside me and give me some pushes, up that last hill and into the parking lot at the Huntsman.

The volunteers there had indeed left the finish line open for us. There were about ten volunteers waiting for us, and they made a big deal out of it. Thanks again, volunteers!

It had taken me 14 hours---that's an average of about 10 miles per hour, way slower than I thought it should take---but I made it.  Everyone else from Team Sandra had stuck around, too, and there was lots of hugging and laughing and crying. And then we went to a meetinghouse near Don and Cassie's home and ate and talked and watched the kids play. Perfect ending for a very long day.

Finally, here's where the story ends for now, for this year. Next year, though, it will be a whole new story. I'm back in the saddle, going to keep training and cross-training and conditioning. And writing about all this on my training blog. And maybe going to get some more people to join us, some more people to contribute.

H-140: Louise's Ride, Part Two: The Middle

Jason and I took off from the chalk place before the others. After last year's ride, Neva had pointed out that this year we should all go at our own pace, and I totally agreed. I had repeatedly begged her and Laura last year to go on ahead since they were riding faster than me, and they had repeatedly refused, staying with me instead, until the very end. But this year I knew they would go ahead and do their best, not waiting around; and that they wouldn't mind my doing the same.

Besides, I knew that if I hung around that place, crying, it wouldn't do me any good. So we took off. Jason offered to draft for me, and I gladly accepted. Pretty soon Reo caught up with us, and then a little while later Jason had to stop because his back was hurting and his  knee brace was killing him.

Well, not killing him. Just making his leg bleed.

So here's where I want to say something about my wonderful husband Jeff, AKA Jason (long story). Ever since I seriously started training for the 2013 Huntsman 140, in January 2013, he has supported me more than anyone could have imagined possible. He agreed that I needed a personal trainer and so we budgeted that in; he agreed that I needed a real bike instead of the 20-year-old mountain bike I'd brought here from Virginia and so we budgeted that in; he agreed that I needed to ride on the road and not just in spin classes in the gym and so we budgeted in the time and driving for that; and he even reluctantly agreed that he needed a decent bike too and so we budgeted that in; and then he rode with me whenever possible and drove me to places where I could ride and drove alongside and behind and ahead of me (from now on abbreviated as AABAHOM) to encourage me wherever he could. So last year he drove me to Utah for the Huntsman 140 and drove AABAHOM and this year he drove me to Utah for the Huntsman 140 and drove AABAHOM and ALSO rode his bike with me as much as he could, knees and knee brace and back be darned.

So Jason got back in the car with Jared and Mason; Reo kept on with me to the first rest stop, and then pressed on.
At the first rest stop
And here's where I want to say something about Jared and Mason. Jared drove up from L.A. to help out, took his precious vacation time and even more precious time with his son Mason to help out, and he drove that car for miles and miles and miles, AABAHOM, aggravating his own back problem, and stopped frequently to make sure I had water, sports drink, and food.

And stopped and got out and ran alongside me and gave me pushes when he thought I needed them.

Mason, same thing, except for the back problems. He took some of the best photos from that day. And one of my best memories that day is of him handing me a bottle of chocolate milk from the car window, watching me drink it in what seemed like two gulps, and saying, "Wow, I didn't know you could chug it down like that." (I said, "Me neither.")

Watching for me with binoculars so everyone could get out and cheer for me
Don and Cassie and their little ones,  Gabriel and Micah and Liliana, caught up with us before Eureka, after very little sleep the night before, with their sign that said "Go Grandma! We Love You!" on one side and "Team Sandra is Awesome!" on the other.

I cried again when I realized the effort and the love that went into preparing those beautiful children to spend their whole day driving in their van AABAHOM to cheer for Team Sandra. Cassie drove most of the time so that Don could get out and run alongside me, sometimes giving me a push, too. (You can see them holding the sign throughout Laura's video.)

When I started up those hills, Jason got out of the car and got his bike off the rack and rode with me again. He did that all the way to the top of the hill in Eureka and then rode down with me. Our top speed was 39 MPH, pretty exhilarating, no?!?!

At the bottom of that hill was Elberta, and the 30 miles of "rollers" into the town of Saratoga Springs, where lunch was waiting. I waited for Laura to start with me from Elberta, but it soon became clear that she needed to ride faster than me, so I encouraged her to go ahead.

Ugly? You betcha!

Three SAG vehicles came up on me about halfway to Saratoga Springs and encouraged me to be sagged forward---to give up.

Give up? Are you kidding me? They warned me, "Okay, you'll be on your own." I said, "I have my own support crew and two vehicles." They shrugged and left me there. Good.

Those rollers took so much energy and will and grit that sometimes I thought I would have nothing left for the rest of the trip. But, again, Jason got on his bike and rode with me the last few miles into the town.

And here's where I want to say something more about Don and Cassie. They took care of me when I came out to Utah a couple of weeks earlier to do that 105-mile conditioning ride with Neva; and then they took care of Jason and me the week before the big ride when we were also doing conditioning rides and jogs every day. And then when I needed it most, during the 140, they had ice and cold sports drinks and snacks and encouragement at every point along the way, without my even having to ask for any of it. Plus there was all that driving and jogging and pushing and hugging. 

We got to the lunch place about half an hour after it was supposed to be closed. But the volunteers had waited there for us! One lady said, "We knew you were coming, so we just kept saying, 'We'll wait another 15 minutes.'" I couldn't even look at food by that time, but the volunteers fed everyone in our crew since they had enough leftovers to do that.

Please read Ellen's post about the volunteers that day. There are not enough kind words to be said about how they helped us and so many people. And please also read Laura's recap of the day. She writes there some details that didn't fit into the movie about all the people and their contributions.

One of the volunteers there asked Jason if we were going to press on all the way to the finish, and he, bless his heart, said, "Of course." 

H-140: Louise's Ride, Part One: The Beginning

And now finally I'm feeling like I can tell my story of that day, June 21, 2014, the longest day of the year (and not just in daylight hours!) and the birthday of one of my sons and the first time I rode 140 miles in a whole day.

Yes, still mostly asleep!
We started at 5:25 from the parking lot of the Delta Days Inn. It was dark, but not too dark too ride. Nancy drove ahead and Jared drove behind us, hazard lights flashing. Mason had a camera and a directive to take as many photos as he could.

Starting off
About 10 minutes into the ride, just barely out of town, I got a flat tire. Are you kidding me? What did this mean about how the whole rest of the day was going to go? Ellen told everyone to stop while we fixed the tire, but I countermanded her order and told them to go on ahead. James stayed behind to help Jason fix the tire, and Jim turned back around in his car to shine the headlights on the bike so they could do it. (No, I didn't help fix the tire. I don't fix tires. I used to, when I was a little kid, and I've tried to, more recently, but that morning I just stood there and watched.)

About 15 minutes later we were back on the road, James leading the way.

Jason (Jeff)
The rest of the crew were waiting for us at the chalk place.

We had to write too many people's names there. We cried. 
Somebody's got to do something about cancer. That's why we were riding that day. And besides all the people who rode their bikes that day, and the people who drove in cars in front of and behind and alongside us, and the volunteers throughout the whole course and especially those who stayed extra time at lunch and the finish line for us, there were those people back home who were wearing Team Sandra shirts and who had donated generously to the cause.

Our little Team Sandra raised $5,439 for the Huntsman Cancer Institute's research.

Between all the riders and teams, a total of  $362,820 was raised.

Just think, what if someone's life will be saved someday in the not-too-distant future because of research done and paid for by this day's ride!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Team Sandra: Jason's Story

I've promised to write my version of the 2014 Huntsman 140, and I will, I really will. But, first, Jason has let me use his story of the day, from the journal entry he wrote late night on June 21 (actually, early morning on June 22):

We hardly slept at all I estimate less than three hours. We finally got up at 3:30am, and showered and dressed in bike gear. We each had a single hard-boiled egg provided by Neva, and not much else, and met in the parking lot, where Reo gave a blessing before we started the Huntsman-140 in the dark. 

We biked west through Delta, and at the 2-mile point, Louise got a flat in her front tire. James Walker and his dad Jim stopped and James and I did the repair in quick order and were back on the road. James is such a kind and helpful person I gave him a hug.The three of us were back on the road again in 15 or 20 minutes, with Jared and Mason following in the car with the lights on to help us see in the dark. 

It was cold, but we saw an amazingly beautiful sunrise as we biked up to the remote power plant and the "chalk place" - a site off the road where people use chalk to write the names they are riding for. This included a huge name of Sandra (we are all "Team Sandra"), surrounded by names of sick or dead people important to us.  These included Pepe (Jared wrote that one in) and Lerrys (Louise and I did this one together, and we started crying. In fact, Louise's tears were so heavy that it altered the letters). 

We headed west to Highway 6, and Reo caught up with us soon after that, but my leg brace had slipped and was chaffing so badly (there was blood on my right thigh) that I stopped there after 20 miles. I took it off and waved Louise and Reo forward.  

 I rode with Jared and Mason until the start of the hard climb up to Eureka. Here I went with Louise, sometimes drafting for her. There were over 4,000 total feet of relief with the rolling hills leading to it. The ride down was awesome: I hit 68 kph. At Elberta we loaded Louise with water and ice (a three-man operation requiring Don, Jared, and I, videotaped by Cassie), and hurried her up so she wouldn't be sagged forward. 

The pain in my lower back was terrible, so I got back in the car until Louise was part way into the "desert rollers", then rejoined her to draft for her again. We made it to the West Side lunch station 30 minutes after they had closed - but the volunteers had held it open just for Louise! My upper-left C-7 nerve was so painful that I got off the bike at Westfield high school (the lunch place) at 100 km total distance. This is now my personal distance record. 

Louise's endurance is absolutely incomprehensible she just keeps going through the pain and exhaustion cant even eat candy anymore now. From this point on, Jared and Mason and I in the black Honda, and Don & Cassie and the kids in their Toyota van, got out every 3 miles (or every turn) to cheer Louise on and give her quick route directions. It clearly helped. Don started pushing Louise up hills, then Jared and I started waiting en echelon to give Louise a running push at each hill, and Mason helped, too. 

As we crossed the Jordan River in Salt Lake City, the rest of the extended Pratt family saw what we were doing and joined in. I met Greg (Talena's amazing husband) this way, as we crunched together into half of the back seat between "boost runs". At one point I counted 7 different people helping Louise on one long hill stretch. We would all space ourselves out and help her up a long hill together. It brought tears to a number of people to see this, including me. This really IS Team Sandra. 

At the Finish Line, we realized that the H-140 volunteers had held the line open an extra hour just for Louise. She finished in just over 14 hours total time to an amazing, extended roaring cheer from at least 60 people. As she finished, the H-140 support people started playing a "Eye of the Tiger" for her. Her GPS showed 139.22 miles, so I quietly took her bike and pedaled back and forth on the parking lot to get it up to 140 miles. 

At the end, we all got photos of Louise hoisting her bike over her head, and a huge group photo of the whole team of support crew with the riders and the children down in front. We drove to a meetinghouse pavilion for a huge family dinner, and after about 90 minutes I peeled Jared and Mason away, and with Louise and I sharing a half a seat we drove to Don & Cassie's house. 

There Jared and Mason and I emptied the trunk and the back seat of everything, and I began breaking down the bikes and stashing them in the emptied trunk. We did this with just a porch light bulb. I chopped two new divots in my left thumb from one of the sprockets, but otherwise we did a wonderful packing job. Jared and Mason packed up Jared's car so they could leave the same time we did.

Cassie and Don were also bushed - they had gotten to bed at 1 am after all their food and Go Grandma! sign preparations, then got up at 6:30am to bring the kids to support Louise (we encountered them at Silver City). To keep Louise's spirits up he was his funniest self. (At one point he told her that his personal sacrifice was not being adequately recognized... that he had serious nipple chafe. :-) 

After we got the car loaded, we had a family prayer, and started driving at 11 pm. We stopped to rest (but not sleep much) in Snowville, UT. We drove into Burley, ID, on a terrifying road - the IDOT is repaving about 60 miles of highway and there were just pole markers on the left side. The speed limit was 80 up till that started, but at night I felt I was only safe at 70 mph.  We found a Motel-8 at 3:30 am, where the night clerk gave me what she said was the best rate she had given that day.  I stayed up another hour setting up the chargers and getting my photos off to Laura. I finally crawled into bed at 4:30am.

Fiction Friday: June 27, 2014: The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

Madame L liked this book best of all of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" books so far. Our heroine Precious Ramotswe, the founder of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, has to deal with Grace Makutsi's pregnancy and maternity leave as she works on two perplexing cases: a farmer's will which his lawyer thinks may be giving a legacy to a nephew who is an imposter, and some evil rumors being spread to malign the newly opened Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon.

The Globe and Mail reports that author Alexander McCall Smith is "...the scholar who wrote the leading (and only) work on criminal law in Botswana, where he lived for a few years setting up the law faculty with the University of Botswana... He was a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh [and] an expert on medical ethical issues" before his writing career took off.

If you didn't already know his background, you'd soon figure it out when you read passages like this one, in which Precious Ramotswe is thinking about the fact that Mma Makutsi has asked that her pregnancy not be discussed and hasn't mentioned maternity leave yet:

"She would have to speak to Mma Makutsi that day. At least she did not have to broach the subject of pregnancy itself...It would be far more difficult for an employer if the employee had not said anything about being pregnant. That would not be easy, she thought, because if you went up to somebody and said, Are you pregnant? the question might be taken the wrong way. It might sound as if you had said, Are you pregnant yet? Or, Are you pregnant yet again? Both of these could be considered rude by some people, and would almost be so viewed by Mma Makutsi....You could ... give somebody a cup of tea and then say something like, Would you like a piece of cake as well--now that you're pregnant? That would allow the other person to answer, Well, cake is always welcome when one is eating for two. Or she might say, What makes you think I'm pregnant? That could be awkward, because you could hardly say, I thought you were pregnant because you're looking so large..."

Madame L laughed out loud as she read this passage, which continues at length and with humorous awareness that strikes a chord with anyone who has ever asked someone if she was pregnant only to be told the person (a) was having a PMS day or (b) had actually given birth three months ago or (c) had been dealing with hormone problems that were making her gain a lot of unwanted weight, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

And if you didn't already know he loves his characters, you'd realize that when you read passages like this one, in which Precious Ramotswe is getting a free facial treatment at the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon and thinking about Mma Makutsi:

"...And beauty, she reminded herself, was both an inside and an outside quality. You could be very glamorous and beautiful on the outside, but if inside you were filled with human faults---jealousy, spite, and the like---then no amount of exterior beauty would make up for that. Perhaps there was some sort of lemon juice for inside beauty...And even as she thought of it, she realised what it was: love and kindness. Love was the lemon juice that cleansed and kindness was the aloe that healed."

Madame L got her copy of the book at a Costco store for 25% off the regular price of $14.95. It's also available at for about the same price.

Alexander McCall Smith's official Web site has lots more information about his books. He writes on the front page, "The books featured here represent the range of things I would like to say about the world. We have Precious Ramotswe, and her friends from Botswana, we have the intriguing Isabel Dalhousie from Edinburgh, and we have those three curious German professors."

And this reminds Madame L that she has greatly enjoyed the Isabel Dalhousie and German professor novels, and hopes that you, Dear Readers, will also enjoy them! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 21, 2014: Our Acrazing Day

First, here is Laura telling her version of the story:

Don't you love the way she made the story about all of us? Because that's what it was all about, wasn't it: After all the hard work and preparation, and keeping on pedaling, "one pedal stroke at a time," as Laura put it, for as long as your legs, lungs, and equipment will take you, there were the indescribable extras, short words with more meaning than any of the other things we did to prepare and to ride that day: will, love, family, support. None of us on that ride had to fight alone.

So, you saw in the video how the whole family supported me as I came in, very last, 14 hours after starting, to the finish line.

"Wait," you may be saying, "Isn't that cheating, having people push you along part of the way?"

And my answer is: "No way. No more than working with a trainer or getting the most streamlined bike you can afford or padded gloves and a helmet. No more than having all those people cheer for you and laugh with you and cry with you."  No way.

Later, I'll be posting more about this, with a few more photos, the story of the flat tire, and a little bit about the Wynn family section of Team Sandra. I'll also be posting some of my thoughts about getting ready for this ride, on my Training blog.

Until then, just this thought: When Greg started jogging along with me and then asked if he could give me a push, too, I was blown away. And then when everyone else started helping, and I saw the relay of people waiting in line to give me a push, with the cars lined up along the road to pick them up and move them forward to give me another push, there aren't words for how much I felt the love of family. I am positive that Elaine and Hurley Pratt and Sandra Hall were somewhere nearby watching and crying along with us all.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fiction Friday: June 20, 2014: Edge of Tomorrow

Madame L saw this movie in spite of the fact that Tom Cruise is the star, and she's glad she saw it, not just because the character he plays has to die so many times, but because he did a really good job of acting in it, and it was a good movie. Here's the official trailer:

Plot holes? Cheesy ending? Unrealistic violence? Of course. It's Hollywood. But it had great characters, an exciting and well-structured plot, and moments of tension, humor, and pathos---which is all Madame really asks for in a movie.

The IMDb description of the movie: "An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy."

 Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 90% rating and describes it this way: "Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller."

So, even if, like Madame L, you're not a big Tom Cruise fan, Madame L thinks you'll enjoy this movie. Please, Dear Readers of Aunt Louise's blog, write and let her and Madame L know what you thought of it. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Birds Along Bike Trail

We found an incredibly beautiful bike trail to ride along, with a bonus: a creek running next to it, with beaver dams and lodges and all kinds of beautiful water birds and other birds and animals.

Brewer's blackbird


Mallard duckling

Beaver lodge

Family of Canada geese

Barn swallows and violet-green swallows all over the area

Yellow-headed blackbird

Can't get enough of these beautiful and raucous birds!

More From the Mountains of Utah

To answer Ellen's question about the cone-shaped mountains we saw in Utah: No, these ones are not. Jason says, "They're granite intrusions shoving earlier sediments up and out of the way (uplifting)."

While we were there, we had some snow, which covered the mountain tops to the east of Salt Lake like powdered sugar and started melting the very next morning.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Conical Mountain Shapes Like These...

...In Washington, you would probably be correct in assuming were some volcanic structures.

But in Utah, they're just called ... wait for it ...  

Add caption
(Photos taken from a car, through a raindrop-smeared windshield, going about 65 mph....that's my excuse, THIS time.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Love Amazon, Don't You?

And I love the other people who buy books there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff about the brick-and-mortar bookstores being demolished by mean ol' But I think the brick-and-mortar bookstores did it to themselves by being greedy and not giving customers what they want.

Anyway, here's what I'm thinking of right now: I read an article on Berkson's fallacy (which Madame L will be writing about, soon, very soon) which had a link to the book "How Not to be Wrong," by the same guy who wrote about Berkson's fallacy.

So I followed that link, which led, inevitably, to the Web site, where I read a couple of reviews of the book.

And then, because I'm easily bored and easily distracted, I skipped on down to the section called "What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?" and found the following four books:

Think Like a Freak,
The Fault in Our Stars,
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and
The Vacationers: A Novel.

I guess because people who love to read about math and statistics also love YA novels, poetry, and summer-beach-fast-read novels.

So that's one of the many reasons I love and the people who buy books there.

P.S. Madame L is also going to write about the term "brick and mortar," sometime, soon, very soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Zoo in SLC

We had such a fun day with the kids at the zoo on Monday. Some highlights: