Thursday, June 9, 2011


So I have a few days to let my experience SINK in!  WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!  I flew on Wednesday to DC to meet my WONDERFUL Friend Carrie.  I took in a few sights of the DC area...can you believe I have never been!  On Thursday we packed up her car with our bikes and gear and left for what would be one of the most bitter sweet experiences of MY LIFE! 

I was able to meet the coaches and a few team mates during our travel to Asheville North Carolina.  They were WONDERFUL of course allowing us to stop and take pictures of the trip up.  We passed through Virginia, Tennessee, and then into North Carolina.  Asheville is a GREAT kind of artsy town with lots to look at!

We attended an inspirational dinner put on by Team In Training and heard from survivors of the different types of blood cancers.  I heard about a member of the North Carolina Chapter that was training to ride with the group but because he was sick with a cold he was not able to make it to the actual event.  He WOULD ride the 100 miles on his trainer at home with the rest of the group...SIMPLY AMAZING!  Also of another rider that was diagnosed with Lymphoma when he was 24....he was celebrating his 5th year in remission with his fiancĂ© and a 100 mile bike ride.

I WAS SO NERVOUS the morning of the ride.  I doubted myself and all that I had learned.  We were up and going by 5 AM...met the team at 6 AM and then drove to the start of the race.  We waited around for about an hour...the official start did not start till 8AM!!    I could have started at 6 AM!  We finally got on our way...the first hour was pretty brutal.  I was unable to get into my groove because of all the riders.  Lots of tire tapping, break tapping...I was a nervous wreck!

Finally was able to find my groove and the ride really begun for me.  The course was full of rolling hills with a few climbs mingled in.  Not much in the way of flat...GUESS HOW MUCH I HATE HILLS! 

The weather continued to climb as well...IT WAS HOT AND HUMID!  Not a combination I am use to.  Hot and dry heat...yes.  Hot and HUMID...NO!  There was a point when I ran out of water at about mile 70 and was pretty miserable.  Our wonderful SAG wagon was there with some Gatorade and air conditioning.  I was able to cool off in the car and then walk off the desire to through UP!  I found out later that they were worried about me because I was pale...but we only had a few more miles to the rest stop.  So we kept pedaling.  Carrie realizing I was not in a good place SANG, and SANG just to lift my spirits.  She was definitely a LIFE SAVER during this ride!

We finally made it to the rest stop where Kate (our wonderful SAG volunteer) was waiting to take my bike and help me cool off.  They started packing ice on my neck, and legs to bring down my temperature and had me sit down.  After a few minutes of that I started to get up so we could get going.  I was quickly interrupted and told to sit.  What I didn't realize was that I was not sweating and very pale.  The beginnings of dehydration.  So I continued to rest, eat and drink.  After about 20 minutes I stood up and was ready to go.  The color was back in my face and I had a revived sense of energy.  We rode on!

The last portion is a blur...We made it to the very last rest stop.  Feeling weak but OK.  At about mile 94 we came to a stop light and then the DRAMA began.  Picture it!  Sylvia bent over throwing up in all her GLORY!  I FELT LIKE CRAP!  Riders and cars were stopping to make sure everything was OK.  I was waiving them off and Carrie was verbalizing my waive off's as "everything OK nothing to see here!"  I said to Carrie..."I think I am going to call it, I think I am done."  I hope everyone has a friend that knows you well enough to say NO!  Carrie knew that I would regret that decision for the rest of my she said NO!  "If we have to walk 6 miles YOU ARE FINISHING!"  With tears in my eyes I said OK and we walked for about 200 yards and got back on the bikes and pedaled.  She continued to sing, and provide me with words of encouragement to keep me going.  We stopped 1 more time because I was light headed...Carrie asked "how many fingers I am holding up?"  I said "2" as if I were making a guess.  She said'll make it!  She counted down the miles left and then there it was...the finish line.  You may think I am being overly dramatic but MY VISION WAS PRETTY BLURRY!  I began to CRY!  Crying for my Dad, Crying because I was exhausted, crying because I actually made it, crying because I missed my husband, crying because I got to get off my name it I was crying for it!

9 hours and 12 minutes later a girl who had never ridden more than 10 miles on a mountain bike rode her bike across a finish line enduring the weakness of her body in 110 to 115 Degree heat index and humidity.  She began her journey being inspired by her Friend Carrie's first 100 mile ride and her Dad's death.  She trained for 15 weeks with very little cardio ability and 2 veal for legs (meaning NO MUSCLE)!  She was afraid to fall off her bike and afraid of bike clips.  In the end she endured with a smile on her face (most of the time), thinking of her family members past struggles with Cancer.  Raising money for an organization that will continue to find treatments for this disease.

I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in this challenge.  Thanks to all that were supportive to my cause with donations and words of encouragement.  Thanks to my WONDERFUL friend Carrie for supporting me mentally the day of the ride!  Thanks to the Coaches in Phoenix for helping me get ready!  Thanks to the DC chapter for welcoming me with open arms!  Thanks to my Mom who helped me in my different fundraising activities.  Thanks to my Husband for being patient and supportive during the 15 weeks.  Thanks to my Dad who pulled me through it!

                                                        Finishing the ride with TEARS!

 DC chapter Team Photo the day before the ride!  Carrie is to the right of me...we are sitting on the ground.
                                                          Practice ride the day before!
                                                            It's official...I am a cyclist!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fountain Hills...GOODBYE!

Saturday was our last ride in Fountain Hills.  A typical morning starts at 4 AM.  I eat, get ready, fill up my camel pack, and Gatorade bottle.  Pack all of my biking stuff and get it into my car.  I am out the door by 5 AM to make it by 5:30AM.  I am not going to LIE...I it was a TOUGH morning.  I was looking for any excuse to quit.  I had woken up GROUCHY and still tired.  I have been riding during the week at 5 AM instead of after work.  I am not a morning person and I think it had taken its toll. 

The beginning of my ride I was pretty winded. and slower than usual.  The 3 sisters were my first challenges.  Last week I had not conquered the last sister and almost fell off my bike.  This week Coach Wanda took an attempt at getting my up that hill.  I had conquered the first 2 sisters and before we hit the last one she said "OK Sylvia, you are doing this for my uncle and your DAD!"  She was yelling "DON'T STOP PEDALLING...YOU ARE DOING IT!"  Between my Coach's and MY yelling we probably looked CRAZY...BUT I MADE IT!  I had conquered the 3 sisters!

It took me an hour to really warm up and I finally got into the groove.  The weather was cooler and I was going a little faster...I decided to that I was going make it to 71 miles.  I added a loop that had a nice down hill but an uphill that really STUNK!  I was 100 yards from the gas station...then I heard some air popping out.  I HAD A FLAT TIRE!!  Are you KIDDING ME!  Well I got the tire changed...ate my power bar as quick as I could.  Everyone else had already left the  station and I was behind.  Luckily Maryann (another novice rider) waited for me so I did not have to go back by myself.  SHE WAS AWESOME!  The heat really was beating down  enough for us to be drinking like crazy so we had to stop a little more frequently for water.  In the end we MADE IT to cheers from the rest of the team.  LAST BUT NOT LEAST!

I learned that regardless of how I am feeling mentally or physically I am able to push through it and achieve a goal.  I AM RIDING 100 MILES on June 5th in honor of my dad and collecting donations for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society to help them continue finding treatments and a possible cure for these blood cancers.

Please donate to my ride...Every little bit helps : D

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drama Free Fountain Hills!

Well my last 2 rides have been drama free and pretty darn good!  I am getting stronger every week and continue to out do myself each week.

This past Saturday we were introduced to the 3 sisters.  They are 3 large hills each one steeper than the next.  I am not going to lie...I was cussing  up a storm up the last sister!  My process up the hill I over heard another rider's chain lock up and down he went!  My coach was there to yell at me up the hill so the same thing would not happen to me...THANK GOODNESS!  Unfortunately she gave me a few pointers I tried that didn't work out so well with my coordination and I almost fell off my bike!  Thankfully I was able to unclip from my pedals and did not take that DIVE! 

My time up 9 mile has gotten faster...if you don't remember 9 mile is a steady incline for 9 miles.  Going down with the rest of the novice group I took the lead.  My descent was AWESOME!  I left them all in the dust and actually kept up with the advanced riders.  They must have been impressed because they actually talked to me.  Sometimes they are a little snobby!  Anyway...I thought for sure the novice group would catch up to me towards the end of the ride because I am SOOO SLOW up the hills.  THEY NEVER DID!  I was so proud of I HIGH FIVED myself when I got back!

Total miles for the day was 68...I didn't make it to 71.  My coach said "NOPE" because of the heat...kind of annoying but still a good ride.

I have been riding pretty much by myself but I am finding that I have time to reflect on life, family, and work...I wouldn't be me if I didn't think about work!  It has kind of been a nice break, especially surrounded by all the desert beauty.  Last week I actually saw 3 coyotes...gotta wonder what that means? 
I ride for my Dad, my Uncle Victor, my Aunt Carmela, and for my Cousin Rebecca (who is a survivor).  Each one had struggled with Cancer in its' different forms.  My thoughts of them get me through the hard parts of my ride and bring me peace.

Please join me in donating to the Luekemia Lymphoma Society...I will work hard for you donations!
Every little bit helps : D

As a side note...May 16th (Today) would have been my Dad's 59th Bithday....Happy Birthday :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

DRAMA in Fountain Hills :$

They weren't lying when they said Fountain Hills would be harder than Usery Pass!  Our goal today was to ride 64 miles and it seemed the wind was against us! It seemed to laugh at me  in every direction making every pedal stroke harder than normal!  Fountain Hills consists of MANY rolling hills of varying lengths and sizes.  I was pretty proud of myself that I was able to keep up with the group through the first half.

2/3's into the ride was a BEAST of an incline named by the coaches...9 mile.  I was hoping that it was the length of an Eminem song but no such luck.  It was truly 9 miles of steady incline in the middle of the desert.  I was doing pretty well riding up this beast and I seemed to get into a grove not realizing that I was all alone and almost out of water.  It did see further into the distance our SAG driver and thought to myself...good I can fill up!  So away I went and continued to pedal focusing on how pretty it was in the desert.

Well I think I went for another 20 minutes before I realized that the SAG driver was no where to be seen!  I looked around and thought I haven't seen another biker in a while..."am I on the right path?"  I rode up the the highest point of the hill and saw 2 more rolling hills and no one in front of me or behind me!  I called our SAG driver and no answer...tried another number and still no answer...I left a message and then the TEARS started.  I was out of water and didn't know if I was lost or not!   Being the wimp that I am, SYLVIA FREAKED OUT!  Thankfully just as I started the water works some of my team mates were coming down 9 mile.  One of the Mentors turned around and asked if I was OK?  I said well I am out of water and the SAG driver is not answering his phone.  I asked her if I was still on the right track and she said...You just need to get over the 2 hills and you will be at the end of 9 mile.  She gave me her water and said come back with us and we will get him to meet us at the bottom of 9 mile.  So I did...

So the SAG driver finally met up with us and I was able to fill up with water and Gatorade.  He apologized again and again because he did leave without making sure he had gotten to all the novice riders.  Although I didn't finish 9 mile I still felt good about my ride...I RODE 58 MILES and really could have made it the full 64 if I had not gotten stuck without water.

The ride back was a little more difficult considering the wind and the hills.  The last challenge was the "wailing walling."  Given the name many years ago because cyclist actually cried going up it.  I didn't cry...I noticed the Burger King Chimney smoking and knew I was close to finishing!  I got faster and FASTER!  I conquered the wailing wall, and my first nervous break down, LIFE WAS GOOD!  Checking my phone for messages I found LIFE WAS EVEN BETTER because my new Niece had been born and I had pictures waiting!  IT WAS A GREAT DAY!

Life has many challenges of ups and downs.  In no way am I comparing this experience to what my Dad or others have had to endure when fighting a disease that could take your life.  It had given me a better perspective on how small my problems really are.  Life is GREAT and we are LOVED by Heavenly Father, Jesus,Family and friends....what more do you need?

In memory of my Dad I am collecting donations for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society towards my 100 mile cycle ride on June 5th.  Please donate what you can...every little bit helps : D

Monday, April 25, 2011

Farwell Usery Pass!

Before we begin each ride we have what is called "Mission Moments"  stories are told about those who have battled Leukemia or Lymphoma and won and those who have passed.  I decided to share my reason for joining Team in Training.  Not being able to hold back my tears I told the story about how my Dad fought this illness without every complaining or feeling sorry for himself.  How he dealt with his sickness inspired me to join the team and how he continued to inspire me to never give up!  "I ride for my Dad today and everyday."  There was not a dry eye in the group.... 

Saturdays ride was BITTER SWEET.  Bitter that I was unable to do the 55 Miles.  SWEET that my ride was easier for me to complete!  I had enough energy after the ride to go another 9 miles.

There was another novice rider that had not completed Usery Pass for 1 reason or another.  Knowing that I was alone during most of our last ride and how hard it could be on someone struggling mentally, I told her I would stick with her during our ride.   We maintained our speed and it felt good especially when she made it.  It wasn't easy but she did it! 
Usery Pass had gotten easier for me...I am stronger mentally and physically by pushing through.  It's a GREAT feeling!!!

When we got back to the parking lot I checked my phone for messages.  I had gotten 3 phone calls during my ride and forgotten to turn off my ringer.  1 message was from my cousin Rebecca...
She said she thought she had seen me on Usery Pass. She wanted me to call her back to let her know if it was me so she could throw something at me.  If you know my Family you know we are ruthless teasers...but always with LOVE.  What are the odds of that??!  She later said that once she saw my smile she knew it was me.  When you think about it, it's kind of cool that someone saw what I was doing.  She said she was going to spread the news..."Sylvia really is riding her bike!"

So I bid farewell to Usery Pass...although she haunted me in the beginning I conquered her and became stronger for it!  Next up Fountain Hills!   We will be building up to 75 miles in the next 4 weeks!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dreaded Usery Pass!

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post.  3 weeks ago my team and I were introduced to Usery Pass.  It is a road that leads to the Salt River and is very popular with Motorcycle riders, Campers, and Cyclists.  Real DESERT BEAUTY!  Behind that beauty lies a ride that was SOOO challenging.  It consisted of a 3 and 1/2 mile steady incline along with rolling hills that I need to get up.  Let me start by saying I LOVE LOVE LOVE riding down hill at 44 miles per hour!  Pretty exhilarating!  What I DON'T  love...are those DANG HILLS that I need to conquer before my decent!

My ride yesterday was 46 miles!  I was quite a bit faster then the first time up dreaded usery pass and NO cussing was involved!  What is even funnier are the "real" cyclist  that continue to pass be up but have words of encouragement for me!  I am not going to lie I NEEDED IT!    On the decent back down from usery pass I noticed just how fast I was going and thought to myself..."I rode up this?"  Kind of amazing considering the "wimp" I am!  There were a few times when I found myself alone and really thought about stopping and turning around.  It was those times that I called on Heavenly Father for a little extra strength to make it and I found the will to push forward.  It may sound a little silly but it is all about endurance and the reasons I am doing this.

Everyone in 1 way or another has been effected by cancer.  Whether it was a personal battle to live or you were witnessing a loved one fight it...we have all been touched by it.

I am collecting donations for the Leukemia Lymphoma 100 mile cycle ride is in memory of my Dad who lost his battle with non Hopkins Lymphoma on November 16, 2010.  Please do what you can to help me raise money towards my ride.  Every little bit helps  ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Let me just start by saying I FELL OFF MY BIKE!!!  This past Saturday's ride was bitter SWEET!  Sweet that I managed to ride 37 miles getting faster and faster up the hills  and bitter with my first fall!

I recently invested in cycling shoes and clips for my bike which made me nervous because I DID NOT WANT TO FALL!  Anyway I practiced and practiced so I could appear as if I were an expert with my cycling group.  I had seen others fall and I did not want to be apart of "that group."  I made it the entire ride until 1 of the final stop signs.  There were 3 cars in front of us and 3 cars behind.  I unclipped my right shoe as I was coming to a stop but for some ODD reason I started to lean to my left.  I thought to my self "WAIT MY LEFT SHOE IS NOT UNCLIPPED!"  In true Sylvia fashion, fell in slow motion and quite gracefully, bike and all.  My mentor was nurturing and helpful checking me out to make sure there was "no blood" and asked if I needed to get off the road for a break.  I told her that I was OK and if I stopped now I would quit.

In the ended I came home with scrapped knees, a bruised ARSE and elbow.  Not too bad for my first fall!  It made for a nice face book picture and a funny story to tell my managers. 

As I look back on my day and what I have accomplished so far...I am kind of amazed.  I have always feared falling from my bike or skates...I am kind of a wimp.  I would have never "tried" this new adventure because of fear.  My Dad is pulling me through this experience.  He went through so much to fight for his life and even to stay a little longer for his Family.  If he or others can do that...I can fight through my fear.

If you get a moment and have the resources please donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my Dad and others who have passed or are still fighting.  Together we can continue to help find more treatments and a cure for blood cancers.  The website below will take you to my fundraising page.  All donations are tax deductible.  Thanks for the support!