Seems like #GatorGreg and I have one thing in common… our love for adventure (and maybe self-torture depending how the ride goes!)
I’m a first time rider, mostly because I never had the physical ability to do this before. To bring you up to speed, on October 21, 2016, I received a heart transplant. I’m one of the lucky ones. My donor was found before it was too late. Unfortunately that’s not the case for many patients.
Here’s one thing that motivates me… I imagine the headline, “He rides 447 miles on his own bike, with a heart he received from a donor just eight months ago”. I’m riding Ride the Rockies because my disease kept me from exercising for the last 18 years. I’m riding as part of my recovery. I’m riding to inspire people everywhere to never give up on their dreams. I’m riding to prove that it can be done. I’m riding as a thank you to the donor’s family, to my doctors, nurses, cardiac therapists, and entire medical community. And most of all, I’m riding for my wife and our two girls, as we continue to #TakeOurLifeBack!
A huge thank you to my family for giving me the time and flexibility I need to train.
My training started in early February. My first ride on the trainer was for 35 minutes, averaging 10mph and a dismal 50 watt output. And to think I was actually pleased with that. Why you ask? Because I was only 3 1/2 months removed from my heart transplant surgery! Cardiac rehab was winding down and I needed a new goal to get me into shape. RTR became that goal. Some smart people have told me the best way to get in shape is to ‘ride your bike’ so that’s what I’ve done. My training to date includes 65 rides totaling nearly 80 hours, 900 miles, and well over 30k feet climbed (which sounds like a lot until I remember that we’ll be gaining that many vertical feet in seven days, gulp). I’m not in the shape I want to be in, but I’m a heck of a lot better than I’ve been in literally years so you won’t find me complaining even on the steepest climbs (but I maintain the right to complain about the wind…).
One thing that #GatorGreg and I don’t have in common is that I pretty much only have mountains to train in. A typical ride for me is a long time spent going uphill (grades often between 6-9%), and then a really fast downhill back home! The hills seem steeper going down than they do going up so I think that’s a good sign. And I’m even learning to corner faster and safer. Only once did I think I was going to end up over the guardrail. That got my heart beating.
Being a MBA/software/service kinda guy I’m always looking at numbers and process improvement. So I’ve come up with a calculation that seems to work for my climbs. It seems like a reasonable pace for me, and it’s (mostly) sustainable. The calculation is: Grade x MPH > 40. So, 6% x 7mph > 40. Or 7% x 6mph > 40. It seems to work for 5-10% grades. I’m sure many of you will ride faster, and maybe a few will be slower. But it’s not a race and speed doesn’t matter. Unless the keg is running low or the afternoon storms are building!
I can’t wait for the ride to begin! And yet strangely I look forward to the end too. If I can complete RTR less than 8 months after receiving a new heart then I think I can do just about anything!
Now, if you’ve read this far you must be interested in my story. So just a little more info… I’m raising money for two causes that are near and dear to my heart.
The disease I suffered from is called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia. ARVD is a rare genetic disease, and while much progress has been made in recent years there is still so much to learn about the disease and how to treat it. Therefore I’m raising money for ARVD research which is led by Johns Hopkins University. Finding a cure for this disease is critically important to my family. If you care to donate, go to https://secure.jhu.edu/form/heart and choose ARVD from the drop down list and then make your donation in honor of Steve Ast.
Just as important is increasing the number of organ and tissue donors so that people don’t die while waiting for a transplant. Thus, I’m raising money for the Chris Klug Foundation whose mission is to raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donor registration. You can donate to the cause at https://www.crowdrise.com/steve-asts-ride-the-rockies-challenge/fundraiser/chrisklugfoundation.
Donations to both organizations are 100% tax deductible! And if we meet on the ride and you tell me that you made a donation, the first beer is on me!