John Mahoney Tackles Ride Allegheny 2017

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

John completed his grand off-road cycling adventure and came very close to reaching his fundraising goal. Many thanks to everyone who had supported him, 

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Please help support Team Standing Cyclist friend, John Mahoney, as he and a team of 100 other cyclists prep for an extraordinary adventure, for an important cause.

RIDE ALLEGHENY 2017

On Oct 5th, John will begin his 4-day, 300+ mi bike ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC, to raise funds and awareness for Operation Second Chance.

For more than a decade OSC has been committed to supporting injured and ill combat veterans as they transition back to active duty or civilian life. Their goal this year is to continue Ride Allegheny's track record of success and raise $500,000! 

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With this money OSC can continue to provide items like advanced prosthetics so our veterans can run, swim, or even ride a bike again, to retrofitting homes to accommodate these veterans' new life realities of being wheelchair-bound or impaired otherwise.

Click through to learn more about John's altruistic, athletic endeavor. Many Thanks! 

https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx…

Introducing Standing Cyclist The Book

Some exciting news to report from our Team Standing Cyclist camp! Early in 2013, encouraged by a handful of interested supporters, I had begun compiling my various Standing Cyclist trip notes and soon after organized them into a simple manuscript. The content developed as part adventure-log, part memoir with regards to my own personal struggle with Allergic Asthma.

65_RedRoses: Discovering Warrior Sage Eva Markvoort

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We’ve all been there. It’s the end of a long day, everyone’s asleep, and it’s time to thumb through new movies streaming on Netflix or available on iTunes. There’s always that one compelling movie that begs to be clicked on. Still, you pass it by, night after night. Once in a while you may click through for more information, but you never end up watching it. You’re just not feeling the title, promo photo, or subject matter itself. It’s a little too heavy or hits too close to home. Then, one night, something deep inside tells you to go for it, or rather, makes you go for it. You click on the play symbol without even realizing it and the results are life changing. For me, that night was last night and that movie was called 65_RedRoses. 65_RedRoses is a very true story. A documentary. A work of art. A teaching. It’s a very real representation of perhaps the most challenging period in the lives of three special young women, all suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF). This is not Reality TV, this is reality. A raw view into the out-of-control chest congestion and lengthy hospital stays that often accompany CF. In 65_RedRoses, Eva Markvoort, part warrior, part sage, exposes her great pain and vulnerability but also her great zest for life. She opens up and extends her creative mind and adventurous heart for us all to experience. We are brought deep within her inner circle to ride a roller coaster of emotions.

Eva, along with her loving and supportive family and two fellow CF fighters Meg Moore (aka megmucus) and Kina Boyce (aka Spirit_of_Kina), helps us to better understand this disease and the organ donation process associated with a skillful but risky double lung transplant. A process full of on-call waiting, waiting and more waiting. Through online journal entries and footage shot during excruciating moments, we share in their struggles, join along in their friendships and cry with relief when they shine. Shine, a good word. Even in her worst condition, Eva couldn't help but shine on family, friends and everyone else who crossed her path.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with CF, in short simple terms, it’s a disease that causes heavy mucus to accumulate in the lungs and other organs, eventually impacting the digestive system. Among other things, this results in severe breathing issues, infections and fatigue. Treatments are improving and the miracle of organ donations and lung transplants may extend a Cystic Fibrosis patient’s life, however, as the American Lung Association puts it, “People with CF have a shorter-than-normal life expectancy.” That means, that as of today, there is no known cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

Through my Standing Cyclist projects and my own Allergic Asthma challenges, I was somewhat familiar with CF, but my understanding was very limited. I only knew that CF patients had trouble breathing. That’s all. But it’s far more than that. During one of my adventure cycling fundraising trips, I had the opportunity to meet a child with Cystic Fibrosis. I chatted, trailside, with his parents. I listened to their story, impressed by their positive attitude and strength. In that moment, I got to know them, but I never really got to know CF first hand. Not until now. Not until I clicked on that one movie I had been passing on for many months.

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In June 2014, Eva’s 65-year old father Bill Markvoort participated in a 9-day cycling event called GearUp4CF. He rode in honor of his daughter and to raise awareness and funds for the CF cause. This was Bill’s second time riding in this particular Cystic Fibrosis event. His first ride back in 2008 was a celebration of Eva’s successful double lung transplant. Eva later joined the team as chief cheerleader while still recovering from surgery. This year, Bill and 21 other team riders completed the 1,200km route from Vancouver to Banff, Canada on June 29th. This was the 9th annual GearUp4CF. This year’s event was a great success, thanks to Bill, his team members and the many generous people who donated. Over $370,000 was raised for CF research and care.

While here with us on this Earth, Eva wanted to make a difference. She wanted to raise awareness for CF and for the organ donation process. As it turned out, she accomplished this, but so much more as well. Beyond the 1 million plus dollars raised as a result of Eva’s story, she has made an even deeper impact on millions of people. Anyone who sees this movie, anyone with even the slightest hint of empathy and compassion within them, will see life differently going forward. Eva’s challenges will inspire young people to never take their ability to dance, work, study, laugh, love and breathe for granted. Parents will hug their children just a little tighter and a bit longer because of her willingness to share both her pain and her magical smile. For generations to come, Eva’s perseverance, potent triumphs and her brilliant shine will remind us all to live this magnificent life to its very fullest, each and every moment, with every single breath we take.

You can find the film on iTunes, purchase it via the official movie website, or stream it via Netflix. To learn more about Eva, 65_RedRoses The Movie, her dad’s tribute ride and CF, visit:

65_RedRoses Movie - http://65redroses.com/

More About Cystic Fibrosis - http://www.cff.org/

Eva’s 65_RedRoses Online Journal - http://65redroses.livejournal.com/

Bill Markvoort’s GearUp4CF Ride - http://65for65roses.blogspot.ca/

Article - Bill Markvoort Rides for Daughter Eva - http://www.newwestnewsleader.com/news/252329451.html

Great Strides – CFF Walking Events - http://fightcf.cff.org/site/PageServer?pagename=gs_homepage

The Longest Wheelie

Many of us have fond memories of childhood bicycle antics, way back when life was far more simple. Most of mine include three of my closest childhood friends, Brian Salerno, Joe Russo and Bryan Stanton. There were mud bogs, obstacles, jumps, demolition derbies, bloody wounds and epic daylong rides, all on homemade BMX and road bikes, and gutsy choppers with fork extensions pressed loosely into place. I can still remember us modifying my Huffy LeGrande ten-speed, with its thin little tires and delicate white paint, then ripping through our local forest long before the term mountain biking was coined. We were all doing it, although we didn't really understand what "it" exactly was. A rolling freedom from grownups and chores I suppose. It just felt right. It was creative, challenging and fun, and we couldn't get enough of it. It was perfect. It was magical. All of it. Liquid Wrenching rusty bolts, muddy trail fixes, spray can paint jobs, trading stem and handlebar pads, but most of all, our friendships. Friendships based around carefree cycling, and the challenge and peace of the outdoors. Expressing ourselves on two wheels at a time when drivers’ licenses and cars were still far out of reach.

Sure there were others that came and went but we four were at the core of this bicycle daydream, and at the center of the center was the most talented dreamer of us all, Bryan Stanton. Bryan rode the fastest, jumped the steepest ramps, built the coolest bikes and pulled the longest wheelies. Bryan was also the ladies’ man (boy) of the group. The envy of us all. Most importantly, he was a great friend who would do anything for his buddies.

Now fast forward...well let me see...thirty-six years or so. I find myself traveling to the famed Allegrippis Trail System in West-Central Pennsylvania for a much needed solo cycling getaway and potential tribute ride. I had just completed a local fundraising cycling event that morning, riding my modified bicycle for ninety minutes standing up, without a saddle, for Safe Haven of Pike County. I train and tour this way for fun, for the added challenge, often as a tribute, and to raise awareness for special causes under the umbrella of Team Standing Cyclist. Five hours and three cups of coffee later, I needed to find a spot to camp and get geared up for the next several days of riding. I didn't have a definitive goal or time limit for my Standing Allegrippis Epic. Deep inside I felt this should be a tribute ride of some sort but I was exhausted and unfocused before even beginning, and decided to roll on loosely, remain open and just experience...the experience. Just ride in the present moment and see what happens, I thought. The next three days would prove both grueling and liberating. Some locals I met along the way called it crazy. Riding a single-speed, fixed-gear, seatless bicycle on the roller-coaster trails of Allegrippis. Huh? One brake, skinny tires and no coasting. No rest, much like trail running. In fact I measure my "rolling" (a cross between running and cycling, as I've come to call it) in running terms. At Allegrippis, I would end up rolling the equivalent of three one-half marathons off-road, over thirteen miles, each day for three consecutive days. I had never attempted something quite like this. By the morning of day two, I didn't know what would break first, my frame, my rims, my body or my brain. Would my Allergic Asthma take me out? Fear started to play into the mix. There were some long, gut wrenching sections where I seriously doubted my ability and stamina. I had considered bailing out and heading home more than once.

That first day, I still hadn't decided quite how to view this trip. I considered possible tributes and came up with nothing that stuck. Later about halfway into day two, however, I began to just let go. I decided to stop searching for a tribute, and simply let the tribute find me, if it was even meant to. As it turned out, it did. It wasn't a sudden epiphany. It was more of a gradual unfolding. A feeling of fun and friendship slowly surrounded me. I was deeply inspired, as I was when I was ten. I found myself thinking back on Bryan Stanton and what he had indirectly taught me about cycling, adventure, perseverance, camaraderie, courage, strength and freedom. I wasn't trying to think about anything at all, except maybe not flying off the trail into a tree. The right thoughts and feelings were finding me as I suspected they eventually would after finally letting go. What I didn't expect was that I would be sharing this particular epic with the bold essence of my old friend. I couldn't resist my wishful thinking. I imagined us flying between those trees and over those roots and rocks, shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel, just having a blast. He would have loved that forest, the winding trail, the amazing view of Raystown Lake, the sheer speed, and I suspect my ridiculous lime green seatless fixed-gear bike. Whatever fear and doubt I had experienced earlier, was now long gone.

For the remainder of that trip, both under the stars back at camp and riding more trails come sunrise, I was honored with the memory and energy of a childhood inspiration. Bryan inspired me at a young age to ride and live fearlessly, by riding and living fearlessly himself. As a tribute to him, I will try to do the same each day and along every mile of my own journey. Both as a child and a man, he inspired many others in the way he carried himself, remained positive through adversity, and served others. Even through the hardest of hard times, through chronic illness, pain and exhaustion, he wouldn't complain. It simply wasn't his way. Bryan has since moved on to a bigger place.  I believe it’s a place where the trails are fast, smiles are plentiful, and wheelies go on forever.

Athletic Tribute Events: Stepping Stone or Final Destination?

So what’s the difference between an athletic event fundraiser and an athletic tribute event? The obvious difference is of course…money. An athletic event fundraiser involves raising funds for a particular cause, charitable organization or to assist someone with medical bills, etc. It’s an amazing, usually well-organized, win-win experience that everyone should explore at some point in their lives. In 2012, participants in athletic event fundraising programs raised almost 2 billion dollars, in the U.S. alone. In contrast, an athletic tribute event, whether it be a track walk, bike tour, swim meet or marathon, has a simpler, often informal purpose behind it - to celebrate, honor or draw attention to a special hero or group of inspirational individuals. It may be a family member, a friend or even a group of people you haven't even met. Some participants may focus on the environment as they muscle through their challenge. It’s an effort not particularly geared toward raising money but more toward raising spirits, elevating attitudes, nurturing forgiveness, encouraging tolerance and inspiring gratitude. It may not even be a public endeavor. Many amateur athletes walk, golf, run, cycle and trek all around the world, in private tribute of someone special, everyday. They may journal about it afterwards, share it with close friends and family via Social Media, or they may even keep it to themselves.

An athletic tribute event is a point where athletic endeavors intersect with meditation, passion, prayer, and pilgrimage. Whether it’s public or private, any time someone trains for and participates in a physical activity they are truly passionate about, for a greater purpose, the result is pure magic. It elevates every action and person involved. At times, the thought of approaching friends and family for money turns off prospective participants, driving them to turn back before ever beginning on their fundraising journey. If you've ever been inspired by another’s courage, recovery, persistence, ethics or spiritual nature, consider launching your own tribute event or solo activity as a stepping stone toward a formal fundraising effort.

An athletic tribute event doesn’t require extensive planning, a crowd of participants, expensive gear or complex promotions. It doesn't even need to be “official” to hold great value. Even the simplest physical effort can be dedicated, in your own mind and heart, to someone or something special in your life. You may share your future intentions or keep them to yourself. Either way, rest assured, your kindness and compassion will make a difference.

In some cases, a tribute may even find you. Go ahead and plan a special athletic activity and as it unfolds, be mindful of lost friends, motivational family members, and charitable causes that have impacted your life, but don’t commit to one in particular. See how the cards play out. Often, something will click along the way and inspire the remainder of your participation.

The icing on the cake is often what you discover about yourself in the process of any athletic tribute. Large scale or small, completing a tribute ride, run, walk or swim can impact you in a positive way, for the rest of your life.

For more info on athletic event fundraising programs, athletic tribute events and adventure cycling for special causes, visit www.standingcyclist.com.

On Lance Armstrong: It's Not About the Bike...or the Dope

Lately, a day doesn't pass without someone asking me about Lance Armstrong and doping. Do you think he did it? How could he do such a thing? Or...how can they do this to him? It's not fair. Why don't they just leave him alone? Everyone has an opinion and some are compelled to ask me for mine. I suppose when people find out about Team Standing Cyclist and bicycling for a cause, they automatically assume I follow Lance's every move. Am I anti-doping, pro-doping or do I even care at all? They're either looking for someone to support their hero or crush him for allegedly cheating. Sure, I admire Lance and his achievements on and off the bike. I've read his books including "It's Not About the Bike" and yes, they moved me. They still move me. Beyond that, I haven't given it much thought. When each chance meeting leads to the question of doping, Lance and the future of bicycle racing, my brain turns to the bigger picture. I think about how rare it is nowadays that Cancer enters into the discussion. Not a mention of the 500 million raised by Lance and his Livestrong Foundation. Nothing about him beating incredible odds by coming back to life after being riddled by Cancer. No kind words about inspiration and motivation. No tender stories about loss and survivorship. Not lately. So, what's my position on Lance? Not that Lance Armstrong needs yet another opinionated cyclist (or anyone else) critiquing his life. I think the following story sums it up well. Last week, after finishing up a Standing Cyclist training ride, I hit up a sub shop to refuel. As I watched the kid at the counter layer my veggies and cheese, I happened to notice that familiar yellow bracelet on his wrist. I asked him, "So, are you a cyclist?" He answered firmly, "No, why do you ask?" "Well, I spotted your Livestrong bracelet and assumed..." He interrupted me and quickly explained, with passion, why he wears it. His Grandmother is battling Cancer. He wears it for her. To show her and others that he cares. To show support in some small way. I could tell he was a little choked up. No, he didn't ride or follow the Tour. He's never heard of the USADA, EPO and couldn't care less. His grandma was fighting for her life. At that moment I had my answer. My position for whomever cares. "It's Not About the Bike or the Dope." It's not even about Lance. Not anymore. It's much bigger than that. It's about compassion on a global scale and the willingness to make a positive difference in the lives of others and that has nothing to do with competition, blood tests and yellow jerseys. Let's move on. There is much to do.

Farewell: 813 Words on Larry Davis & Mesothelioma Cancer

This week we say farewell to a friend. Larry Davis, father, husband, elite runner, activist, fundraiser and Mesothelioma cancer survivor is now at peace. His six-year struggle with this incurable disease, caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, ended on Monday morning, July 2nd, 2012. There has already been much written about Larry Davis. How could we not. Larry’s fight brought out the best in all of us who were fortunate to have crossed paths with him. We may have met him, heard about him or were moved by his web posts and interviews. Maybe we were impacted by his family, equally strong and active in the cause to ban asbestos and find a cure for the Mesothelioma cancer that has taken his life. Perhaps his efforts to explore reasonable, non-chemo/non-radiation treatment options got our attention. Or maybe it was simply his life-long passion for running and fitness that stoked our fire. As some of you know, I was lucky enough to team with Larry and his daughter Courtney back in 2010 on a special Standing Cyclist bicycle tour to raise awareness for the cause. I symbolically rode standing up without a saddle from Pittsburgh to Washington DC to encourage others to stand up against asbestos and to encourage donations to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation on Larry’s behalf. Although ill and weakened, Larry ran beside me during those last miles as I rolled into DC. It was truly a pleasure and privilege to tribute Larry’s efforts and help raise awareness for an often misunderstood disease. In my travels, I was surprised at how many people had never heard of Mesothelioma or didn’t know that it’s caused by asbestos. Asbestos, a known health hazard for almost a century, has been woven into various products such as building materials, textiles, automotive brakes, adhesives and fire proofing. Many businesses who had manufactured asbestos products failed to educate their employees on the dangers of this known carcinogen. Asbestos exposure has been a common occurrence, in various industrial settings for generations in the USA and abroad. From pipe fitters to shipyard workers to construction laborers - most often, the portion of our population responsible for building our country from the ground up. This cancer hits hard and takes no prisoners. It's not if it will take your life, it’s simply a matter of when. Among the many victims, the notable include actor Steve McQueen, musician Warren Zevon, NFL player and actor Merlin Olsen and US Congressman Bruce Vento. Even more disturbing, spouses and young people can be exposed to these dangerous fibers while working in factories, transferred from clothing, or inhaled during simple home renovations. As the time bomb ticks on, sometimes over 10 to 50 years, the disease sits quiet and slowly spreads until that day you receive a seemingly hopeless prognosis. My own late father welded boilers in NYC for over 20 years. For all we know, he could have been exposed 40 years back…along with my mother and me… The saddest part of this story is that it could all have been avoided and still can be. There is still not a 100% ban on the manufacturing and use of asbestos in the United States and the rest of the world. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. This fight remained one of Larry’s greatest until the time of his death earlier this week. If Larry was here today, I believe he would continue to tell his story and the story of other Meso victims. He would ask you to contact your local and federal government representatives. He would ask you to raise funds for Meso education, family support services, non-chemo treatment options and for a cure. He would not want others to suffer as he and his family have. We live in “busy” times with big responsibilities and economic uncertainty. I know it’s easy for us to read this and say, it’s very sad and Larry was amazing, but I have so many other concerns. There’s no time and money for a cause I can’t directly connect with. Maybe poisoning ourselves is not enough of a concern. We could almost take that risk and push it out of our heads, but let’s remember that children exposed today may not experience symptoms of this disease for many decades down the road. Let’s consider how our decision to disengage today may adversely affect them, tomorrow. Larry Davis remains a personal hero of mine and continues to inspire me to engage and make a difference in whatever way that I can. Thank you Larry for your strength, your voice, and your willingness to step out on a limb and buck the system. A system that, for various reasons, has failed us in this area and inevitably cost you and many others their lives. Rest easy Larry. Now it’s our turn to stand up and continue to make a difference.

For more information on how you can stand up and take action, while honoring Larry’s efforts, please visit:

http://actionagainstasbestos.com

http://www.curemeso.org

http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/

http://www.banasbestosnow.com/about-ban/why

http://actionagainstasbestos/donate

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunsentinel/obituary.aspx?pid=158377708

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Cycling and the Ego: My BFF?

It’s early morning, 5am. It’s still dark and the air is cold. A few bites of an energy bar and I’m off to battle the rolling hills, rain and the skunks and other little critters creeping around the narrow roadside shoulders. Sound familiar? Not to me. I don’t do mornings. Never had and probably never will. But many cyclists do. What makes us different? What fuels some of us to rise early and others to sleep in and ride later? Why do some of us choose to race toward a finish line, while others tour along perfectly content with passing scenery. How bad do you want that personal best? How bad do you want to win? More importantly, why? I used to think I rode for fun, adventure, the physical challenge, the sense of accomplishment, the camaraderie, and for my overall health and well-being. To help control my stress level, weight, and my allergic asthma. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Well, not my entire story. There’s one more reason I have spent my life training, riding, building bikes, and touring. My Ego. Yes, my BFF and I have traveled the world together, through thick and thin, wind and snow, from the Rockies to Iceland. So much time and so many miles, that I began to take him for granted. Until, one day recently, on a long 90 mile “seatless” tribute ride, when I saw him for what he really is and left him behind. Well, tried at least. He was a tough one to shake off my wheel. At times, when he was out of sight, I felt terribly alone and exhausted. I never realized just how much he fueled my efforts, until he was gone. It was actually frightening at times. After a long while, I became more comfortable with being truly alone and pushing myself forward by sheer will, belief in my purpose, and memories of why I started to ride in the first place, way back when. Suddenly, things got much simpler both on the road and in my head. Is this Soul Work, I wondered. My years of meditation, both on and off the bike, were telling me this was my true nature. Wow, enlightenment. Wink, wink. Very cool. I rolled back to my car in the dark at the end of that long, chilly 12 hour day. I, the Standing Cyclist, had cycled standing up without a seat/seatpost for 90 miles. I was flying high, feeling free and loving life without my old friend. As I was gearing down and locking my bike up to my roof racks, a New York State Trooper pulled up to check on me. I explained what I had done and it blew his mind. He asked more questions and I provided the answers, with speed and excitement. As he drove off, I realized I wasn’t alone on the dark roadside shoulder. Yep, you guessed it. My ugly BFF was back. Ah life, a work in progress…

Practicing Patience: Touring Iceland Standing Cyclist Style

Back in 2006 while bouncing back from severe allergic asthma attacks and a 2-year back injury, my worn spirit began to once again crave adventure. I was always interested in polar regions and thought how challenging it would be to journey on a seatless cycling expedition in chilling, remote locations such as Antarctica or up north above the Yukon. After researching the possibilities for several months, Greenland became the obvious choice. The old military base and permafrost trails would be a perfect combination of isolation and social experience. I put a plan together and began my training. The universe had other plans for me, though. When it came time for me to purchase my airline tickets, I was informed that due to a lack of interest, flights from the US to Northwest Greenland (my target destination) were no longer available. I would have to fly to Greenland via Europe at four times the cost. This was not an option. I went back to the drawing board and revisited my second choice, Iceland. It was an easy decision and one I would not regret. I've always felt that my choice of bicycle touring destinations held great meaning in my life, at that particular point in time. This trip would be no exception. Iceland proved to be a brutal test of my ability to travel alone, in severe weather, in my typical seatless, standing cycling position. Everything was difficult. Even simple things like cooking (in 50 mph winds) resulted in great frustration. My patience was stretched thinner than ever before. In fact, patience soon became the theme or lesson of this trip. For me, this was the ultimate practice. My lack of patience has always been my greatest personality challenge. This trip isolated me, slowed me down, and gave me no choice but to look inside, remain calm, and be very patient. In terms of difficulty, one day stands out the most. I had to cover 40 miles seatless over a mountain pass in strong winds, with gear. For hours, gusts would toss me off my bike and into a ditch along the roadside. Each time I had to regroup, reorganize my panniers, remount and get rolling once again into the high winds and driving horizontal rain. The scrapes and blood stains would remind me of each battle lost to gravity. Talk about patience. After a while I was humbled by mother nature's attempt to demolish me physically and mentally. In fact, eventually I truly enjoyed the challenge I was presented with. Patience was no longer an issue. I had passed my test, for that day anyway. So remember, when picking a destination and building a game plan for your next bikepacking adventure, consider the bigger lessons looming in the background. You never know what you may learn along the way. Happy trails! 

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Exercise as Medicine: Asthma Management, Cycling and Adventure Touring

With modern medicine promoting itself during almost every commercial break, many of us tend to forget that simple has its place within our circle of wellness. I'm not saying that pills do not save lives but it is becoming more clear everyday that pills are often incorrectly prescribed and misused. I, for one, remember a time when the words "rare" and "minor" were used to describe side-effects. More often these days we see "common" and "serious" popping up in fast talking summaries and small print. Again, not to knock modern, traditional medicine. I believe there is a place for many different methods of healing...as long as they address root causes rather than mask symptoms. Providing they add more healing power than side-effects. Case in point. I am asthmatic. Specifically, I suffer from Allergic Asthma which means environmental triggers such as chemical vapors, pet dander, and pollen can significantly impair my ability to breathe. This is usually accompanied by severe sinus pain and pressure (sinusitis). The most common treatment for this sort of discomfort includes pills and inhalers that open up the lungs. I myself have used many of these to control my allergic asthma. For me, however, the best medicine was a bit more...organic. My body and often my mind did not react well to manufactured medication. As a life long cyclist,  I reenlisted exercise, in the form of cycling and later adventure cycling/touring, to rediscover my own personal wellness. Exercise became my primary source of healing, along with dietary changes, meditation and the more spiritual side of cycling, Adventure Touring. I found this combination of effort most effective for me. I not only began healing my body, but my mind and spirit as well. As my energy increased, my passion for cycling returned. This passion eventually transformed into www.TeamStandingCyclist.com and fueled my seatless "cycling for a cause" activities. Often when out on a charity bike tour, I meet individuals, parents, and children who become confused when they learn of my asthma. I hear comments like "You shouldn't be able to..." and "My doctor told me I would never..."  I take the opportunity to tell my story and provide a bit of hope. I am concerned that too many children are hearing the message that asthma is the end. I am proof that it can in fact be the beginning. Some simple requests to parents and doctors. Don't write us off...before we even get started. Don't drug us up...when drugs may not be the best solution. As for us, please take the initiative to learn about your own body and mind. Are you leading a healthy lifestyle? What environmental triggers are you sensitive to? How will you avoid them? Is your fitness level where it should be? Are you eating healthy foods? Do you have food allergies? Are you managing your stress level? Are you following your passions? First address what is right in front of you and within your control, before looking off into the distance for complex solutions. Use your intuition. Often the simplest solutions are our best solutions. I suspect that will remain true, always, no matter where technology takes us. Peace.

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The Inspiration Behind Cycling for a Cause

This past week I had the opportunity to go back and review an interview I did during my Pittsburgh to DC Standing Cyclist Mesothelioma Challenge Event in September of 2010. One section in particular stood out to me. At one point I stated that "we don't need to be afflicted with something to get involved and make a difference". I've since played that section over in my mind many times, to better understand exactly what I meant (I had just completed a 320 mi "seatless" bicycle tour on a single-speed, fixed-gear bike, for the cause and was a bit fried to say the least). I've revisited this subject with several supporters since and have decided to blog about this topic to add clarity and depth to my point. When it comes to supporting non-profit organizations, we tend to get involved because we ourselves or someone close to us has suffered from a related challenge. I believe this to be an important reason behind our actions and it should be encouraged whenever possible. But there are other, more subtle, reasons to get involved. I would like to encourage everyone, cyclists and non-cyclists alike, to consider the strangers you encounter on your life's journey and their challenges. Open your mind and hearts and consider how they inspire you. Imagine how you can get involved and make a difference in their lives, in your own unique way. Like the young person with a prosthetic leg you pass on the street. Perhaps you can get involved with CAF (the Challenged Athletes Foundation), a wonderful organization that helps physically challenged athletes pursue their passions. Consider the article you read about the visually impaired mountain bikers who stay on-track by reading the sounds reflecting off passing objects. You may be inspired to Google - blind mountain bikers - where you will discover the World Access for the Blind, an organization that hosts a special event called Mountain Biking with the Blind, that you can contribute to. You don't need to personally know a challenged individual or physically connect with a cause to "feel" something or to "do" something. Often, these random connections and amazing people I meet in passing are my greatest inspiration and fuel my adventures. Let's strive to open our eyes and see past our own lives. Then...get on your bike and ride! Make a positive difference in the world around you.

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The True Spirit of Standing Cyclist

Cyclists come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. Some of us shred, some meander, others camp. For true self-propelled fanatics, it doesn’t much matter which flavor is favored. In the end, we are all simply cyclists. Through the years, I’ve enjoyed labeling myself a downhill mountain biker, bikepacker, racer, adventure cyclist, roadie, bicycle tourist, and most recently…a Standing Cyclist. A riding style I sometimes catch heat for practicing. For those of you who do not know me personally, and do not follow my Standing Cyclist web site, this may sound a bit confusing. To set the record straight, let’s start with the basics. I had been riding since I was 9 and loved every form of the sport. I rode hard and frequently and I was bulletproof. I rode for the personal rush and reward of it. For me, it was a self-oriented activity. It was a rush, a freedom, and all about…me. Then, in my late thirties, I began to lag. My heart and lungs were working overtime, with not much to show for it. Then came my first attack and the brick wall behind it. I was soon diagnosed with Allergic Asthma and my wheels slowed to a halt. Many months, pounds and meds later, I was totally wrecked. A pathetic echo of my former self. After about two years of doctor appointments, “poor me” syndrome, and damaging side effects from powerful asthma meds, I hit bottom. On the bounce back up, I knew I had to do something special both mentally and physically. I turned to natural mind/body remedies and focused back on my true passion of cycling. It was always my best medicine. First, I tried to ride as I always had. In a seated, hunched over position. Between my weight gain and lung issues, I literally couldn’t breathe well enough to propel myself forward and still avoid an attack. As a seasoned product developer, I tapped my experience and intuition and began modifying my bike. Nothing helped until…I removed my seat and seatpost, and raised my handlebars. This opened up my diaphragm and allowed me to use gravity more to my advantage. A few miles led to ten miles which later led to overnights and eventually international bicycle tours. I just kept standing. Many pounds less, with a rock solid positive attitude, I became The Standing Cyclist. Somewhere along the way though I realized I was no longer the same cyclist, or person, I was before my diagnosis. I wasn’t enjoying the rush and attention I was receiving while out on the road, saddleless. I was changing. I found I was now riding more for the pure experience rather than for the achievement and bragging rights over beers and pizza. I no longer tracked my miles as carefully as I tracked my attitude, road relationships, lessons learned and the sharing of my asthma experiences with children and adults with similar challenges. I became more self-aware, grateful and like many other “bouncebacks” I decided to redirect my energy, from my own ego, to the needs of others. I began riding to raise awareness and funds for special causes such as Stand Up To Cancer and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. I founded www.teamstandingcyclist.com to encourage other cyclists to train for, participate in, and even organize bicycle fundraising events. Now I could redirect the attention I was receiving, while training and touring in my standing position, to more important pursuits. I had found my new niche and I felt, and feel, better than ever. Through it all, I still admit, it’s all fueled primarily by my raw, child-like love of a bicycle. Any type of bicycle. The icing on the cake is doing what I love for causes that can benefit from how I do it, and that is the true spirit of Standing Cyclist. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Peace.

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Seatless Cycling – Revolution or Oddity

2010 brought us several new developments in cycling. Advances in electric bike tech and suspension systems have led to more options for two-wheel enthusiasts. A lesser known movement is the seatless or standing design. As a seasoned “seatless” bicycle tourist (www.teamstandingcyclist.com) and product developer, the are two designs in particular that interest me. The Elliptigo features an elliptical style propulsion system, much like the exercise equipment used at your local gym, which is appealing to many runners as well as cyclists. The other style is called the Dreamslide. This cycle looks and functions more like a traditional bicycle, but offers an innovative drivetrain with independent cranks and a coupling system with variable lever arms. From an engineering viewpoint, both styles appear progressive but have been met with mixed reviews. The pros include zippy handling, less fatigue and reduced back and knee stress during extended use. The cons circle mostly around the missing seat, a “silly” riding profile, limited off-road capabilities, reduced reliability and high relative cost. I would recommend forming an opinion based upon your particular riding style. If you are a long haul bicycle tourist, hopelessly attached to your perfectly worn twenty-year old Brooks leather saddle, these machines may not be for you. However, if you appreciate technological advancements in cycling mated up with new and exciting ways to work your legs on two wheels, you may have found your future rig. As for me, the Standing Cyclist, I see value in both tradition and progress. Is seatless a revolution or simply an oddity? I think you know where I STAND on the subject.

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Larry Davis does it again!

On Sunday February 13th, 2011, StandingCyclist.com friend Larry Davis will direct and participate in a very special event. The 2011 Boca Raton Road Runners Miles for Meso 8K Run and 4K Tribute Run/Walk. This event is to be held in South Florida to raise awareness and funds for mesothelioma cancer research and treatment. Larry and his daughter Courtney have been special friends of and collaborators with StandingCyclist. Earlier in 2010, Larry was the inspiration and supporter of our "standing" bike adventure from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, to raise awareness for the ban on asbestos and funding to cure mesothelioma, the deadly disease resulting from asbestos exposure. A disease that Larry himself suffers from and battles everyday. Please join us in supporting Larry, Courtney and their amazing event this February. 

 

 

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StandingCyclist now on Twitter!

Well it's about time, right? I had been getting a lot of flack about not Tweeting during my seat-less, fundraising adventures. You can follow me at @standingcyclist beginning this holiday season. Mostly training and researching new trips right now, but you never know what interesting tidbit will pop up. Happy Holidays everyone! Peace.