Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tenth Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for the Jasper County Community Food Bank

Yesterday’s century for October was the Ferst Annual Lewis Grizzard & Catfish Bike Ride.  It had special significance for several reasons.  First, I rode on behalf of my October charity in A Year of Centuries, which is the Jasper County Community Food Bank.  At the same time, it allowed me to support my September charity again, the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, because the ride was a benefit for the Ferst Foundation in Coweta County:

Furthermore, the Lewis Grizzard & Catfish ride has a personal connection for me.  I did it a few times a number of years ago when it was sponsored by the Coweta County Chamber of Commerce.  In fact, it was the very first century I ever did, which happened to be on my 30th birthday that year.  I’ve saved the T-shirt from that ride, which I wore to yesterday’s event.  The Ferst Foundation organizers were tickled because they had never seen it before:

Lewis Grizzard & Catfish
I have always enjoyed Lewis Grizzard’s writing.  For many years he wrote a humorous column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution until his too-early death from heart disease in 1994.  Lewis had a beloved black Labrador retriever named Catfish, who preceded him in death by only a few months.  When Lewis died, AJC editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich created a wonderfully poignant comic strip.  I’ve had a print of this strip hanging in my office for years:
I suffer from an incurable affliction known as book lust.  This means that even though I already have dozens of books waiting for me to read them, I can’t resist buying even more.  I’m especially susceptible to used book sales.  A few years ago I picked up some Lewis Grizzard books at a used book sale.  I finally read them last year when I was recovering from my crash.  (My local library had a summer reading program that challenged patrons to read at least 20 books over a 10-week period.  Working toward – and reaching! – this goal helped me get through my long recovery.)  All of Lewis Grizzard’s books have wackily entertaining titles, like the ones I read last year for the library program:  When My Love Returns from the Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old to Care?; Won’t You Come Home, Billy Bob Bailey?; and Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night.
Wake Up Call, Part I
Sweet husband Robert accompanied me on yesterday’s century.   Even sweeter, he drove us to Moreland, which is Lewis Grizzard’s hometown and the ride staging location.  I especially appreciated Robert driving because we had to leave about 5:30 A.M for the hour-and-a-half drive.  I closed my eyes before we left Jasper County, and the next thing I knew, we were about five minutes from Moreland!
Wake Up Call, Part II
We checked in for the ride and went to change into our kits and get our gear together.  All of a sudden, I had a case of déjà vu when I saw this route marker near our car:
It was from the Pedal for Pets ride, which was my July century.  Until I saw this pavement marking, I didn’t realize that we were at one of the rest stops for that ride.
Robert and I were ready to ride a little before the official start time of 8:00 A.M., and so we went ahead and got on the road.  It was just slightly cool when we began – cool enough for some beautiful morning fog:
Less than 30 minutes later, the fog had already burned off.  The weather on yesterday’s ride was just about ideal.  I was particularly glad that tropical storm Karen degenerated and didn’t rain on us.
Robert and I pedaled along at a steady but not crazy pace.  We encountered rolling hills similar to the ones near home.  At about mile 13, we were going up one of the steepest climbs of the day.  All of a sudden, a group of guys briskly passed us.  We recognized their kits from the Beck Cycling racing team, who often go to the same races that Robert and I do.  They invited Robert and me to hop onto their pace line.  I had been in kind of a dreamy state of cycling up to that point, but once I snapped out of it, I agreed with Robert that we should join them.  By that time, they had gotten a little way down the road, and so we had to chase on.  I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad thing.  I’m proud that we did catch up, thanks primarily to Robert’s bridging efforts, but I really should have known better than to let my heart rate get that high for that long during a century.
Joe Friel, a fitness expert, has devised a very useful guide to training intensity based on heart rate zones.  The zones correspond to a percentage of your threshold level, i.e., the highest intensity that you can maintain for one hour.  Note that the old method of calculating your maximum heart rate as 220 minus your age is not a good gauge.  Your maximum heart rate, which is genetic, is likely a different number than this calculation, and you really can’t determine your true maximum heart rate without extreme danger.  However, you can determine your threshold level from a test in which you ride as hard as you can for 20 minutes.  Additionally, you can increase your threshold level with training.  Here’s a summary of heart rate zones and how long you can maintain each one:
Level                     Name                                    Max. Duration
Level 1                  Recovery            

Level 2                  Endurance                            All day

Level 3                  Tempo                                  1-5 hours

Level 4                  Subthreshold                       45-120 minutes

Level 5a                Superthreshold                   15-60 minutes

Level 5b               Anaerobic Endurance         3-7 minutes
Level 6                  Power                                   1 minute

Level 7                  Sprint                                    15 seconds
When Robert and I chased onto the Beck pace line and rode with them for about the next 12 miles, I noticed that during much of that time, my heart rate monitor indicated Level 4.5 to 4.8.  I knew that I couldn’t sustain this for very long.  At first, I hoped to hang on until the next rest stop at mile 34, but at about mile 25, I had to give up the ghost.  That subthreshold effort made the rest of my ride more tiring that it would have been otherwise.  At the next rest stop, Robert and I learned that one of the Beck team members that we had been riding with was Jon Atkins.  Jon is a super strong rider that has won the masters category at the Macon Cycling Classic criterium, hosted by Robert’s and my team, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute.  Additionally, when we first saw the Beck group, Robert and I were averaging about 17.5 mph.  When I dropped off, I was averaging about 19.5 mph.  That means that during the time I was riding with them, we averaged about 24 mph.  Yowza!
Poetry in Motion
The rest of Robert’s and my ride was fairly uneventful.  Well, we did have one bit of excitement toward the end.  On an organized ride, each turn should have at least two pavement markings.  The first should be at least 25 feet before the intersection to give cyclists time to prepare for the turn.  The second marking should be at the intersection.  A third “comfort arrow” after the turn, confirming that you went in the correct direction, is optimal.   Some of yesterday’s pavement markings didn’t give us much advance notice.  We caught ourselves on a few almost-missed turns, but one pavement marker must have slipped by us.  We got back to the Moreland city limits and were only at mile 85.  We decided that the most prudent way to get our last 15 miles was to start over on the course, ride out 7½ miles, and come back.
It’s like déjà vu all over again.
It’s kind of poetic that I had to do this extra mileage to get my century.  Back when I did the Lewis Grizzard & Catfish Ride for my first century, I went to the ride prepared to do the 100-mile route.  There had always been a 100-mile option in previous years.  When I got to the ride, however, I found out that they weren’t offering a century that year!  So, I made my own.  I did the 60-something-mile route, followed by the 20-something-mile route, followed by the 12-mile route, giving me a little over 100 miles.  Robert was with me then, too.  He didn’t ride all 100 miles with me that year, but he waited at the staging area to check in with me as I completed each loop, making sure that I was OK.
Feed Your Head
On yesterday’s ride the first rest stop was at mile 17, but we didn’t stop.  We didn’t need to yet, and that was also during our ride on the Beck Cycling train.  I definitely needed to fuel at the next rest stop at mile 34, though.  The very friendly rest stop volunteer apologized that there were no more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I didn’t really want one of those anyway, but the rest of the pickings were rather slim, too.  It turns out that the 25-mile and 62-mile riders had already come through and put a serious hurting on the provisions.  It was like the locusts had descended!  Even so, Robert and I had enough to eat and were thankful for it.
I’ve found that about three rest stops work well for me on centuries.  Robert’s and my second rest stop was at mile 56.  For the third one, I suggested that we stop at either mile 80 or 89, depending on how we felt.  As we continued, I started getting fatigued, particularly because of my earlier Level 4 foray, and so I started anticipating the rest stop at mile 80.  We got to mile 82, then mile 83, and didn’t see any rest stop.  That should have been my first clue that we had missed a turn on the course, but I just figured we’d catch the rest stop at mile 89.  In the meantime, my earworm for the day, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, kept playing in my mind.  I wasn’t quite seeing fantastical images of rabbits, hookah-smoking caterpillars, and red queens, but the dormouse saying “Feed your head” seemed quite a propos.
When we prematurely found ourselves back in Moreland at mile 85, we stopped by our car, where Robert had an extra Hammer bar.  What a difference that made!  As we rode the last part of our ride, I thought about how vital food is for an endurance ride, contrasting that with people who are hungry every day.  My momentary need for food made me grateful for the Jasper County Community Food Bank, which serves people who need food at the most basic level.

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