Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comedy Night Fundraiser! and more Death Ride training

Ok, so I'm still not so great at keeping this blog updated......I'm already doing better than last year!

Comedy Night Fundraiser!

This Sunday, March 13, I will be hosting a comedy night fundraiser at Bunjo's Comedy Lounge in Dublin.  This year we will have a professional magician/comedian, Timothy James, as the headliner along with John DeKoven and other great comedians.  This is always a fun night - and all proceeds will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Tickets are $20 at the door, or by donation to my fundraising website.  Bunjo's is at 6513 Regional St in Dublin (in The Willow Tree Restaurant).  I hope to see you there!

Training Update:

What can I say - we're training for the Death Ride!  Our distances are getting longer - we're consistently riding 50 - 60 miles, with lots of climbing.  The last few rides have had 100 feet/mile of climbing - usually an indicator of a hard, mountainous ride.  I had to miss the last team ride - I was actually there, but I had the kids with me.  Their mom had gone out of town on business so the bike ride had to play 2nd fiddle for the day.  It's a shame, because it's one of my favorite East Bay rides - doing lots of the great climbs through the Oakland hills.  However, it's a long season and missing a ride or two is not a disaster.

Fund-raising update:

My fund-raising this year got off to a very strong start.  I'm only about 1/3rd of the way through my address book and we've already raised almost $1,000 (the total on the website does not include checks I've received, and several donors also will get matching funds donated by their companies).  A great start, but not even 1/3rd of what I hope to raise.  For everyone who has already donated, a hearty thank you!  I hope the Comedy Night will put another big dent in the target, and I know everyone will continue to be as generous supporting me as I raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

Please consider making a donation to support finding a cure for Leukemia & Lymphoma at my website.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, old resolutions

Part of the 2008 Team in Training Death Ride Team

Wow, it's been a long time since I last updated this - 18 months! Obviously, I'm not the best blogger in the world. Ok, resolution #1 - keep this thing updated at least every couple of weeks.

Resolution #2 is a familiar one - do the Death Ride with Team in Training. Yup, returning for another go at a really tough one day ride. This time around, I'll be an assistant coach. I guess the idea is that I've been through every kind of difficulty on this ride, so I should be able to help the participants through pretty much anything. More info on this ride is here:

Make your own Countdown Clocks

For anyone not familiar with Team in Training, they are a fund-raising arm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising money that directly benefits patients and also helps fund research. Training programs and coaching is provided to enable beginner and experienced endurance athletes get ready for their events. More information can be found here.

I'll be putting my fund raising page up shortly, and will post the link soon. If anyone is interested in riding with us or maybe doing the Tahoe Century or Seattle to Portland rides, information meeting are happening throughout January. Our season starts up in February, and the training works. In my first year, I went from not working out or riding for 15 years to being in shape for the Death Ride in 6 months. The success rate of TnT participants is phenomenal - in general, a much higher percentage of TnT participants finish events than the overall average.

There will also be hiking, marathon and triathlon teams forming up. I'll be at information meetings on 1/19 at the Orinda Community Center and 1/20 at the Pleasant Hill Community Center. Both will start at 6:30 - come out and say hello and find out more! If you can't make those, there are other meetings happening all month - check out the TnT website for more information.

On a 2008 training ride with Michelle S.

I'll be dedicating this season to a Team in Training teammate from the 2008 Death Ride team - Michelle S. Michelle completed all 5 passes in her first try and is a great teammate. However, Michelle was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and is undergoing treatment. Michelle is always positive and a true fighter - she'll provide the kind of inspiration I'll need as we train on some of the toughest hills in the Bay Area. All the best wishes to Michelle as she continues her battle.

2008 TnT Death Ride Teammates
Michelle S. is on the right

Michelle is obviously a very special person, and I'll be proud to be riding for her this year. I'd also like to remember a couple of other very special people who are no longer with us. The first is Shira, a teammate from my 2nd Team in Training season, who died of complications related to the treatment of her leukemia last year. The other is Mary Buckley, my brother Matt's deceased wife. All will be close to my heart as I train with the team this year.

Resolution #3 - some of you (if anyone is actually reading this after the long break in posts!) may remember that I was getting ready to try my first double century, in Death Valley, back in 2009. That didn't go so well, as the desert conditions got to me and I suffered from cramps in my legs and only did 145 miles. However, I did the Solvang Double last spring and really enjoyed it so I'll go back and try another one this year. I'm thinking about the Central Coast Double, based out of Paso Robles wine country (anyone remember that movie Sideways?). If that goes well, I'll do a couple of more in the fall to get my triple crown (I wanted to last year, but since I was out of work spending the money to do these rides just didn't seem so smart!).

So, for anyone who actually reads this, please consider donating at my fundraising webpage!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Comedy Night Fundraiser

Hi, everyone,

On June 19, I will be co-hosting a comedy night fund raiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The location is the new Bunjo’s Comedy Club in Dublin, which shares space with the Willow Tree restaurant on Regional Street. Our headliner is Robin Cee, a very funny and well known SF comedian. The cost is $15 per person, half of which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. More information is can be found at and tickets can be ordered at

This fund raiser is capping off my fund-raising with Team in Training for the 2009 Death Ride. Once again, I will take on a 129 mile ride with more than 15,000 feet of climbing (kind of like climbing Mt. Diablo 5 times, but at altitude!), with the goal of raising funds to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I have had the pleasure of training for and riding this event with several cancer survivors, and it always amazes me just how much joy they find in every day life, and how they can take an event that’s downright painful to most rational people and turn it into a celebration. This event may be called the Death Ride, but it really is a celebration of life for those of us privileged enough to know and ride with these very special people!

This year’s fund raising has taken on an even more personal meaning for me. In January, a close friend and someone that I’ve done a lot of work with in the past was diagnosed with CML – Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy with a drug called Gleevec. This drug is very effective for many CML patients, and was developed under a grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – a grant that in large part was possible because of all the donations made over the years to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via Team in Training! We are making a difference – and you can too by participating in this event.

So far, her treatment is progressing well and she has not suffered serious side effects. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she will be one of the lucky ones. However, with continued support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will achieve it’s goal of wiping out blood cancers, so there won’t need to be lucky ones. I’m honored to be in a position to help the society make progress towards that goal.

My friend’s experience has also highlighted another, equally important role the LLS plays. They provide a stipend to patients who are undergoing treatment, and are unable to work, or to those who have used up all of their insurance benefits (those multi-million dollar lifetime maximums really don’t go far when you consider the cost of some of these treatments!). They provide counseling and other forms of support. In short, they are a lifeline, a ray of hope, while these patients are undergoing some of the most trying and painful experiences a person can go through. Knowing how strong each of these patients has to be helps keep me going when I’m suffering on those long, steep hills (and I always suffer on those long, steep hills!).

So please, come out and help us celebrate another successful season – great training with a great group of teammates, and lots of fun while raising funds for a great cause. I look forward to seeing you on Friday the 19th!

Best regards,

Jon Buckley
Find out how I’m helping to fight cancer one mile at a time!

If you are not able to join us at the comedy night, please consider making a donation using the link above. Thank you so much for all the support over the years!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Death Ride training

Well, after reading my friend Steve's latest blog post (it's not about the back!) I realized that I've been horribly lax in updating my own cycling blog. So here's the latest and greatest:

TnT team

This season we are training in a combined team with the Redwood/Wine Country TnT team. This has been a fantastic experience, as we've met new folks, trained with some new coaches and done some rides in an area I don't get to visit anywhere near often enough. We've spent some time on some familiar training hills (Mt. Diablo, the Oakland Hills, Mt. Hamilton, Sierra Road) and we got to ride in the Wine Country Double Metric Century (124 miles for those of you keeping track).

The season has been a lot of fun, and for the first time I've felt prepared for each of the team rides (more on that below). Of course, it can't all be fun and games - after a few days of unusual stiffness, my back went out on Sierra Road - one of the most difficult Bay Area climbs. The 100 degree weather wasn't helping, but my back has been a source of ongoing concern in my riding, so this was a step backwards. It feels better today, so hopefully I'll be back on my bike for an easy week in a few days.

Coach Kim

As some of you know, I've hired Coach Kim Collier to help me get in better cycling shape and lose some weight. The weight loss has been slow but steady (I think she's more frustrated by my progress in this area than I am), and I've definitely gotten to be a noticeably stronger rider on the climbs. Yesterday, on the back of Mt. Hamilton (a notoriously tough local climb, and rated HC for the pros in the Tour of California) I was able to climb it almost entirely in heartrate zone 3, but still going faster and stronger than I did last time I tried it. For those of you who are old fashioned, heart rate zone 3 meant I was still in my aerobic training zone (ie, I didn't go anaerobic). While I wouldn't want to ride at that level of effort for a full century, it is a sustainable pace for me on these long, tough climbs. My coach likes to call it a tempo climb. I'm more realistic - it's still a darned slow tempo climb.

Margie and leukemia

Early in the year, a good friend told me that she had just been diagnosed with CML, a form of leukemia. She is responding well so far to the chemo, which has consisted of a drug developed under grants from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This has taken the fund raising that I've been doing with Team in Training to a far more personal level.

I met Margie through some volunteer work I was doing. She is an energetic, vital and driven woman - and someone making a huge difference for our kids. I've always admired the passion and energy she brings to her work - now I also admire how she's taken on this new challenge head on.

Fund Raising

That brings me to one of the big reasons I got involved with Team in Training in the first place - a chance to make a difference. The money raised is donated directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and helps to fund the development of new treatments while also helping to directly ease the financial burden of patients. Please consider supporting me and the Leukemia & Lympoma Society for this year's season:

Special thanks to Joy and Alan Brooks, who were able to take care of my kids during yesterday's unbelievably long training ride!


Friday, January 23, 2009

2009 Plans and Aspirations

After sitting down for a while, I quickly realized that my original goal of doing one or more double centuries this spring were probably unrealistic - I hadn't been riding consistently, much less the kind of disciplined training it would take to do a distance I'd never done before.

So, I needed some structure and some accountability to get my butt on my bike when the weather isn't perfect. I hired Kim Collier, a local cycling coach and nutritionist. She looked at my eating log for a week, highlighting anything that was just plain bad in pink. It probably would have been easier to print the damn thing on pink paper to begin with. However, she then took me through Whole Foods and showed me how to replace all that (What do you mean, no pizza or bagels? I'm from New York, damn it!) with healthy, but still good tasting alternatives that I'll have a fighting chance of getting my kids to eat.

She also introduced me to the joys of SFR's. I have no idea what the initials stand for, but these are hill repeats - not looking to go at lung busting speeds, but rather to build strength. Climb a hill for 5 minutes, at a slow cadence in a big gear that you'd normally use on flat roads. The goal is to keep your heart rate low (I failed miserably at that the first time, but I'm getting better!), and really work the muscles in your legs. Repeat 5 times, then spin easy for 30 minutes. For the last two years I'd worked really hard at learning how to spin up hills, using small gears and a high cadence. This training will build strength while giving me much more flexibility on how I attack a hill.

So, with all this going on, I also signed up for the Death Ride again. No, I'm not bored with it yet. I'm going to do it with Team in Training again, although this season will be quite different. Over the last two years there'd been lots of continuity on the Death Ride teams - same coaches, lots of participants and mentors did it both years, etc. It will seem strange, especially without some of the close friends I've made (and without coaches Jacqui and Mike, who showed me how I could get off the couch and get in shape to do this in 6 months). However, the new coaches are all great, and I'm going to be a mentor - I'll provide kind of a point person that team members can use to answer questions about administrative stuff and fund raising, while I'll also be asked to provide ride support - something I've never done before. All in all, this should be a fun and exciting season.

Further on in the year, I'll revisit that double century goal. I suspect it won't be a problem if I can stick with Kim's plan (especially combined with the TnT Death Ride training). Kim even mentioned as a possible the Everest Challenge, a 2 day race in Southern California that got it's name because over the 2 days you climb as much as if you'd ridden your bike up that mountain with the same name. Aspirational? You bet. But it's fun to think that I could still get in that kind of shape.....

So, stay tuned - I'll be riding a bunch again this year!


Friday, November 14, 2008

Enough, already!

Ok, kids - I guess some folks really are reading this blog! I've gotten a surprising number of requests (as in more than one) to actually update this more frequently than once every 4 months, so here goes:

Crater Lake Century

This was fun! A small group of Death Ride alumni got together and rode this ride in south-eastern Oregon at the beginning of August. It goes around the crater in Crater Lake National Park, and features some good (but not Death Ride-ish) climbs. The one up to the crater itself really isn't bad - long but gradual. The ride around the rim is another story - I figured it would all be easy-ish rollers. Nope - these were pretty steep, and there's quite a few of them. My legs definitely knew I'd been on a bike ride after this one! There's almost 30 miles of flat easy riding at the very beginning, and another 20+ plus of descent and flat to end the ride, meaning there's more than 7,000 feet of climbing crammed into the middle 45 miles or so of the ride. Beautiful scenery, and fun camping with some old friends. Of course, I've got some pictures:

Bunny Ears!

Laziness sets in

So, now that you've done the Death Ride, what's next? Well, it wasn't Disneyland, and it wasn't a whole lot more bike riding either. Sure, I did a few rides with friends - around the Livermore hills, up Mt. Hamilton (where it became very clear I was rapidly loosing my base fitness), messing around on some flat rides. However, on the weekends I spent most of my time involved with my kids' soccer teams and hardly rode at all.

Lighthouse Century

This ride is billed as a tour of the lighthouses near San Luis Obispo at the end of September. The weather is pretty unpredictable (with all due apologies to my fave meteorologist) on the coast this time of year. Well, the fog rolled in, and as a result the only lighthouse I saw was this one at lunch:

The ride itself is pretty nice - we did the hilly option, which gave us a nice climb up about 2,000 feet, before dropping us back down to the coast and then the rolling hills along Rte. 1. Some parts were clear, but we were fog-bound for quite a bit of the ride. I did ok, but my lack of fitness started to show as we headed for home, and I got consistently dropped over the last 25 miles.

Here we are on the morning climb (I'm in the blue jersey):

So, what now?

Interesting question! I've ridden exactly 6 times now since the beginning of October - all that hard won fitness is out the window! I went on a 60 mile ride yesterday, part of it with some friends, and I felt ok - but I was taking it very easy. Time to get back on the horse (er, bike) and start riding again! I'm trying to figure out next year's goals - I'd like to do one or more double centuries (there - it's in print (blogged?) so now I have to do it!). I'd also like to do the Death Ride again, minus the back pain (and hail!). Plus there's a whole lot of Spring and Summer centuries in Nor Cal that I haven't even thought of doing. Plus dropping a whole bunch of weight, so I don't get dropped so much on those BF rides! I guess I'll turn this list into my New Year resolutions, although I better get started on the riding now!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Well, it's over - the Death Ride for 2008 is in the books - and I finished all 5 passes. Thanks to everyone who has supported me for the last 18 months as I decided to get back into cycling with a bang - by training for the '07 Death Ride.

Special thanks to everyone who donated to one or more of my TnT fundraising campaigns. This not only supported my training, but helped raise funds to fight blood cancers. I've personally helped raise over $10,000 now, and the teams I've been involved with have raised more than $600,000!!!!! This money not only supports research into new treatments, but also helps support the patients financially while they are being treated.

Extra special thanks also to Brian and Kevin, my 2 sons who were very understanding as my training caused me to miss more baseball games, soccer games and swim meets than I care to admit. And special thanks to Karen, Valerie and Michael, and Anne and Kris, who all helped watch the boys for so many of those Saturday training rides that all seemed to start at 6 am and go all day.

And of course I have to mention the coaches, who showed me that I could go from couch potato to being able to do this ride in 6 short months, then kept me motivated to do it again after last year's ride got derailed by, well, a broken dérailleur.

So, how'd that ride go?

Starting out in the dark was both surreal and interesting. The sky soon started showing signs of light.

I figured I might have a shot at doing this ride leaving at the "official" start time of 5:30, but it would be a close thing and everything would have to go right. After the fiasco of last year, I wasn't counting on that! A whole group of us started riding at 4:00 am. Early. Dark. But really not that cold - not like last year. A vest, arm warmers and knee warmers on top of my regular jersey and shorts were sufficient, and I took most of the extra layer off once we started climbing. I started out with a large group of TnT cyclists, but it became pretty clear that there were a few of us going about the same pace, and we ended up riding more or less together all day. K. Sue in particular was inspirational several times when I was struggling, and Sue agreed to ride with me when conditions were worst.

Climbing up Monitor Pass to the sunrise - getting closer!

Starting out, I felt pretty good - considering I'd waken up at 2:30 and tried to convince myself it was just a normal morning ride..... We finished the first climb right on schedule, at about 6:00 am and just as the sun came over the crest of the pass. The Death Ride puts stickers on the number for each rider for each pass, to keep track of which ones you've done. First one down, 4 more to go!

One pass done - the summit of Monitor at sunrise!

Teammate Kimberly is all grins after the fast and fun descent down Monitor towards Nevada.

The descent down Monitor Pass was fast and fun. There weren't that many other riders out there yet, and we were able to go as fast as we wanted. The road is really good, wide and was closed to auto traffic - perfect conditions to have some fun. The only spoiler was that nagging thought that when we got to the bottom, we'd have to turn around and go right back up (the Death Ride does the front side and back side of 2 passes - Monitor and Ebbets. The last climb, Carson, just goes up one side). Anytime you can go that fast on a descent you just know the climb will be steep.

Climbing up the backside of Monitor Pass - steep and long.

Sure enough, it was steep and long (the climb up the back took 2 hours), but our training was paying off. It was hard, but do-able. I ran into a friend who goes by the handle "BenRidin" on a couple of internet cycling forums. I was doing well, but he went by effortlessly.

The 2nd summit of Monitor - haven't we been here before?

By 8:00 or so, we'd gotten to the top of Monitor again. 4 hours of riding time, 2 passes down and most of the civilized world hadn't even had their 2nd cup of coffee yet. We were doing well.

The descent down the front side of Monitor is also a good, fast one. It was getting more crowded now, so we all took it kind of easy, but it is always a good fast descent on Monitor. At the bottom, we regrouped, took a left and rolled over to Ebbets, the next pass. It was while we were doing the gentle part of the climb (for about 4 miles or so) that I realized I didn't feel as good as I might. My legs felt dead, my back was tight and kind of painful and my heart rate was much higher than I'd expect it to be - we were going up, but it wasn't steep or hard.

A Death Ride tradition - just past the last rest stop before the Ebbets climb gets serious, a group of women get all dressed up and cheer on the riders.

Climbing Ebbets - long and steep, many consider this the hardest climb of the day.

At the last rest stop before the climb to Ebbets got serious, we all stopped to refuel a bit and fill our water bottles. Then we started the climb. Having done this a couple of times in our training, I knew what to expect - except this was my first time after having already done 2 hard climbs. It was hard. It was long. Some of it was steep. My back hurt. A lot. Coach Jacqui and Coach Kim both had words of encouragement that helped keep me going (I'd long since lost touch with K. Sue, Sue and the rest of the crew I'd been riding with). And I made it to the top. I was mildly disappointed that the sticker crew at the top was not wearing angels wings like in years past (Ebbets is the highest elevation of the day).

Descending on Ebbets is challenging at the best of times. With hundreds of other riders both descending and climbing at the same time, it was kind of crazy. Ebbets is really a single lane road for the most part, so if riders are 3 abreast, they end up taking more than half the road. Given different climbing abilities, that was bound to happen. We all took the descent carefully, and made it safely.

At the Hermit Valley rest stop, we saw the Death Ride mascot (complete with helmet, beer and bra) being towed by the "Rolling Bones" cycling team.

I took my time at the rest stop. I didn't feel good, but I was able to eat. I ate some oranges, a banana and a PBJ. After a while, I started to feel better and I saw Sue and K. Sue grab their bikes, so I got on mine and started climbing, hoping to catch them. I never quite did (I got close to K. Sue just as a back spasm forced me to stop and stretch - the first time I'd stopped on a climb in a long time). Turns out I was only a half mile from the top (at this point, we were climbing the backside of Ebbets, for our 4th pass). I got to the top and spent a good 15 - 20 minutes stretching. Kaya, who also had been riding with us, rolled up - she was struggling also. We quickly decided to ride back to our cars together for lunch (we'd all decided to skip the official lunch stop, and the lines that go with it, and had lunch in coolers waiting in our cars). Another long, fast descent (most of the climbers had cleared the front side of Ebbets by this point, so the descent wasn't quite as hair-raising as going down the back side), and then we regrouped at the official lunch stop.

The ride back to Turtle Rock Park (the official start/finish and where our cars were) is an interesting one. The first 5 miles or so are mostly downhill, and it is very tempting to go fast and hard. Not on Saturday, not after 4 passes of pain. We took our time, hooked up with one gentleman who pulled us for a while. Eventually, we rolled into Markleeville, where I think all 600 residents were out on the main street cheering us on. A really nice feeling.

Teammate Kaya soaking her feet - it got hot enough in the early afternoon to make hot spots a real problem.

So we got back to our cars, and Kaya immediately starts soaking her feet. At this point I really couldn't eat much, but knew I had to try. It was already a tough day - if I didn't keep eating I'd really be in trouble. So I forced down half a turkey and cheese sandwich, drank a Coke (not something I normally do, but sugar and caffeine can help you do remarkable things sometimes), and we rolled out of there. Kaya decided to rest some more, so I left with K. Sue and Sue. At Woodford (a little town at the base of the final climb to Carson Pass), a volunteer at the rest stop was hosing down cyclists. It was hot enough that I couldn't resist that - Sue and K. Sue kept going. Ironically, it wouldn't be long before I was wishing I was warmer and drier.

I caught up to Sue and K. Sue just as Sue got a flat. I stopped to help, and it started to rain (we'd been hearing distant thunder for a while). Sherry, our SAG captain all season, happened to be driving by (looking for her husband) and stopped to let us use here pump. Little did we know that she'd parked in quick sand and would need help later to get her car out.....

By the time we were back on our bikes, it was raining pretty hard. We were soaked through and through by the time we got to Picketts Junction. The rest stop there had a large canopy setup, and we joined the throng underneath. Unfortunately, I'd left my wind vest and jacket in my car, since at lunch it was all blue skies and 85 degrees. I was wet and cold - it finally got to a point where I told Sue and K. Sue that I wanted to go on. At that point, it started hailing. K. Sue thought it was too dangerous, so Sue and I started to head to the top (I really wanted to finish this ride this time, and I was only going to get colder sitting around).

The Summit of Carsons Pass - a very welcome sight! 5 passes done, just a fun, fast descent to go! Now, where's my ice cream?!!

It turned out to be a good choice. I warmed up while we were pedalling, and after a couple of miles the rain stopped. For a while. We had intermittent rain and hail all the way up, but it was better than sitting around waiting for it to end. My back was really bothering me by now, so I stopped and stretched a couple of times, but once again we made it. It was clearing at the top, so we were able to dry out a bit. While we were waiting, K. Sue rolled up - no way was she going to let us finish without her! Then another ride group came in - one we were worried might not make it. So it was fun at the top, even if it was still a little too cold and wet to be comfortable.

Teammate Kaya and her boyfriend Josh showing off freshly shaved legs and TnT tattoos. Notice that there's still snow on those mountains in the background!

We got to do the descent on dry roads - many of the earlier riders were trying to descend in the same lousy weather we'd climbed in. After a nice, relaxing descent (ok, it was pretty fast), we then had our last couple of climbs to Turtle Rock Park. Not hard in and of themselves, by this point they just hurt. We got up them and rolled into a great reception at the TnT tent.

It was a great finish to a tough ride and a great season.

I'm not sure what my next cycling adventures will be, but there will be plenty more!


Wet and kind of cold, celebrating at the top of Carsons Pass.