The weekend was absolutely wonderful even though I came home with some kind of bug. Below are a few memories from my wonderful RftR weekend experience:
Finally getting a chance to meet THE MAN in person was a treat. Of course I am talking about my fellow Cyclists Combating Cancer member Eric "I'm not going home until the beer is gone" Miller. Eric had just returned from riding across the country with Lance in the Tour of Hope and was in demand in Austin. Singer Jo Dee Messina took quite a liking to him. How to describe Eric...he is a slightly less crude, slightly shorter, slightly less famous (only slightly), slightly less wealthy, slightly less hairy (ok, a lot less hairy) Robin Williams. He is the CCC version of the Energizer Bunny, the comedic spokesperson (more like spokespeople, I think he is possessed) of the CCC and ToH. But bigger than his bulbous calves is his huge heart. I had a wonderful time goofing around with him all weekend and am blessed to know him. If you have a moment check out the foundation he created in honor of his son at www.rushmillerfoundation.org.
I am "accidentally" the owner of a new bike after the weekend, and my wife is not very pleased. During the silent auction at the Peloton dinner Friday night (held at the "Texas Disposal Systems exotic game ranch"!!) for some reason I put a sticker down to start the bidding on a HOTTA TT7000 donated and signed by Robin Williams. Maybe it was because I confused Robin and Eric? Guess what - I was the only bid. So $3,000 later I am the owner of a bike supposedly worth $6,000. It will probably be the centerpiece of my fundraising for RftR04. Anybody know anything about this bike?
Talking with Lance again and meeting Tyler Hamilton were very exciting. But the highlights were seeing and meeting CCC members, and meeting other Peloton Project members with incredible survivorship determination. One of the most moving was the police officer who rode a tandem with a teenage survivor behind him and another on a tag-a-long! Mitch (third seat) from Wisconsin has three inoperable Astrocytomas (brain tumors) on his spine. Don't ask me to explain that one but I got that directly from his mother. He has been fighting cancer for over five years and is a spunky, energetic, brave kid. This is the type of tumor that my sleepy Oligodendroglioma was probably changing into before chemo halted its progress this year. Mitch is undergoing his third or fourth round, this time with Temodar, the same drug I just finished. I pray that he gets the same positive results.
Dano, Mike Sclimenti and Lori Tilton were on my flight and the first people I saw. Wonderful to spend a lot time with them! Lori, you are one incredible woman and you will be in my thoughts and prayers as you continue your treatment. Scott, you will be right there too. I have passed on the information about your Bone Marrow Registry Drive and we already have the word out here to get registered. We hope to have an official drive once we catch our breath. It was great to see you again!
Davis Phinney was there and it was great to spend time talking with him. I had met Davis in Minneapolis in 1999 right after getting out of the hospital for the second time. I had been talking to a local storeowner and him for a while explaining why I had no hair and had been puffed up 35 lbs by steroids before we were finally introduced. While we were talking this weekend at the autograph session he asked me if I could get him a CCC jersey to wear on Sunday "to honor Pops." I had a long sleeved one that just fit him and he wore it on Sunday. At one point Lance leaned over to him and asked how he could get one (I believe it was CB who told me this). Hope it is not to late to get one ordered for him.
On Friday I had a great Private Ride...with my brother John, Joann, Lori, Dano, and others. That is what really matters I had to remind myself. At first I was unhappy to have missed riding with Lance for the second year in a row. I think I was most upset that he didn't ride with Lori. But Lance has so many people to ride with I know it is challenging. That is ok. This is after all a weekend of survivorship, not of hero worship. If your primary motivation for joining the PP and raising a lot of money is to spend a lot of time with Lance, you will be disappointed. But if it is to meet Stacey, Vicky, Tom (Downs), Alex (and see his great new tattoo), and others, and see old friends and make new inspirational ones, it's your place.
Saturday was kind of a blur. I had three interviews with local TV starting at 6:00 AM. The first was just me speaking into a bright light and camera with an earpiece linked back to the live studio interviewer on NBC. I understand that it was picked up in a number areas of the country on the early morning shows and even sold to CNN. Then I did two conventional interviews directly with reporters at the Expo, which were easier. Both were cut down and the dorkiest 15-45 seconds of the interviews were aired, but that's life. I am a bit upset that neither included my plea for people to get registered into the bone marrow registry, but I had no control over that either. It was great to see everyone at Scholz. Martha, we made a special toast to you (Joann?). All the rest of CCC was on our mind as well.
The Yellow Jersey reception was very fun, especially meeting Tyler Hamilton and Chris Carmichael. I told Lance at the autograph session about my accidentally buying Robin Williams bike and Barb's displeasure, and he got a great laugh out of it. When we were getting our picture taken with Lance at the reception, my wife said, "Hi, we now own a Robin Williams bike" and Lance exclaimed, "I heard about you!" Barb will get a lot of mileage out of telling this story to people. I promised her that she definitely gets a new bike next year.
The ride was COLD! The biggest problem was that I wasn't prepared for it and it took me about 20 miles to warm up. I had some serious concerns that I might have to sag to avoid hypothermia. But once I got cranking it was ok. I just couldn't stop for long. Five of the six of Team Owens made it 75 miles, and I am especially proud of my wife for going that distance which I think doubled her total riding distance since July.
About 30 minutes after finishing I was shaking and in trouble. I got wrapped up in a blanket and sat down by Barb, John and the Mitch's mother (from the tag-a-long story above). A number of people helped load our bikes, gear and me onto the bus. Thank you to you all!
I think I need to get home and back to bed. Wonderful to see you all this weekend and for all that weren't there we missed you. I have signed up for 2004 and hope to see a sea of CCC'ers and friends in the Peloton!