Back in February in pancake-flat Florida it seemed like a good idea, but I’m now thinking that, um, Ride the Rockies might hurt a bit. I’ve read all about the distance, mountains, etc. and I’m pumped that I’m finally going to get my chance. But please help me understand Thin Air? Almost every comment on my Facebook page mentioned it: ”You’ll get headaches”, “drink lots of water”, “try to spend a few days at altitude before the ride”, or “get an iron lung.” No kidding, someone posted that! Is this intimidating or what?
Well, no backing out now, particularly since I thought it would be fun to do a blog from the perspective of a legitimate Flatlander. In Florida, we define the word. We have biking jerseys identifying ourselves at Flatlanders. Flatlanders get 10% off at the local Tropical Smoothie shop, so we are the real deal. If you doubt it, take a trip here. Half of the state is a swamp, and the highest point is up in the panhandle at all of 345 ft elevation. I live in the south, right next to the everglades, in Thick Air.
Now, about this blog. After agreeing to do this, it dawned on me that I usually don’t write much, if at all. Not good.
I’m an aerospace engineer turned MBA. I do stuff with numbers, not words. I’m also retired, and retirees don’t usually write, do they? So decided I needed a role model to try to emulate. After an exhaustive search of almost 5 minutes, I realized that Jason Gay, sportswriter for the Wall Street Journal, would be perfect because his columns are entertaining and humorous. The only downside is that Jason’s a die-hard Wisconsin Badger who hates Michigan Wolverines, and I’m a Wolverine. I think he might be a little OCD because writes about Michigan all the time. My Michigan status runs pretty deep since my entire family went to Michigan, my son is president of the UM Alumni Club of D.C., and, my wife taught at St Francis in Ann Arbor, which is UM Coach Harbaugh’s old school, and where his kids are going now. I’m confident Jason doesn’t like me or my family. Regardless, I still think he’s a good writer. Plus, does a lot of his reporting in the field and he’s done articles on cycling!
That got me thinking, why doesn’t Jason take a trip to Colorado to experience a day with Ride the Rockies? This is one of the premier cycling events in the country. Even though the ride is open for up to 2,000 cyclists, it still requires a lottery to get in. It’s on almost every cyclist’s Bucket List, right up there with the Tour de France.
So what do you think Jason? A little time out of the Big City and in the mountains of Colorado to report on an epic bike ride could be a fun gig! June 10-17. Write it down on your calendar. We’ll be here!
Now that I have that off my chest, you’ve probably guessed that my nickname, “Gator Greg,” refers to my status as a Florida resident paying tribute to our state reptile. True, but there’s more: The alligator has been around for over 150 million years. It’s a living fossil. Check, I’m almost as old. Gators will also eat about anything. Check that box too. Gators do a lot of grunting and groaning. Yep, that’s me. Brain the size of a quarter. OK, let’s stop there. So there you have it, “Gator Greg.” I’m quite anxious to see how this ol’ gator acclimates to mountains and Thin Air.
None of my fellow Gators down here could figure out how to fit this ride into their schedule, but I was able to talk my cousin Ann’s husband, Love Shack Dave, into signing up. Dave’s a health care consultant in Kansas and also a great athlete: He ran cross country for Simpson College in Iowa, won lots of races and marathons, completed an Ironman, done RAGBRAI (bike ride across Iowa) about 20 times, and he’s ten years younger than me. I’m counting on Dave to drag me up the mountains. After all, that’s what he did for me last summer, when he convinced me that a two-day 200 mile ride in 100 degree heat through Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa was a good idea before tackling RAGBRAI – which was another 460 miles! Really, we did do that! My 84-year old dad, a decorated Korean War vet, thinks I should stay away from Dave. He actually told me that. Several times.
Between Love Shack Dave’s training in Kansas and Iowa, and my Flatlander cycling in Florida, I’ll try to keep you up to date on our prep, or lack thereof, in the coming weeks. I’ll attempt to keep the info at least moderately entertaining and perhaps even informative, and if you’ve read this far, maybe you’ll agree?