The Rider

October 22, 2010

This Rider’s a Flyr

Filed under: My Ride — Tags: , — The Blog @ 9:26 AM

Here’s the rider report of Josh Flyr, who was inspired by the Pelotonia volunteers,  the cheering crowds who lined the roads, fellow rider Big Mamma … and discovered he really is a flyr.


The cheering was particularly inspiring because almost no one used the traditional “way to go” or “you can do it.” Rather, the most common cheer we heard was simply, “thank you,” quite often from someone holding a poster with the name or picture of a loved one lost to cancer. Easy to keep riding your silly bike when you hear that.

Here's Josh (L) and Dustin during a brief rest stop

The mile 55 rest stop immediately preceded the primary difficulty of the day, and we were climbing before I’d wiped all the PB&J off my face. It started at a comfy 3 to 4 percent grade through shady forest … (It then got a lot steeper and many) of the riders in sight had dismounted; most walking, some standing along the side of the road waiting for the summit to come down and fetch them. That almost never works. Between the bodies and the loose gravel, picking a line was a chore. I put my money on a boisterous woman near me … who kept shouting things like “Look out! Big Momma comin through!”


(On the second day) our plan was to take the first leg of the trip at an easy pace, take stock of our physical and psychological inventory, then consider our strategy for the hills to come. That plan went out the window about five minutes into the day, when my riding companion, Dustin Arnold, missed a turn. I sat up a bit to let him catch up, and sure enough, about 5 minutes later, he came blazing past me hanging on to the back end of a pace line being led by a tandem. If there is one cardinal rule in this sort of distance ride, it is that you do not let a 21 MPH pace line led by a tandem pass by without a fight. There’s no better way to gobble up the miles quickly and efficiently. I jumped out of the saddle, hooked on, and settled into the eerily quiet and effortless wind shadow of my hell-bent riding companions.


Our pace and numbers grew over the next few miles and soon enough we barreled flat stick into the first food stop – 30 strong, two abreast at 23 MPH – and were met with an explosion of cowbell cheers from the unfailingly brilliant volunteers. We had covered the first 14 miles in just over 40 minutes, and dove eagerly into our second breakfast, still laughing nervously from the rush of those first, crazy miles.


It is both a challenge and pleasure to eat well on a trip like this. The challenge is that you have to force yourself to eat even when don’t feel like it. When the lights go out from a hunger crisis, they stay out. The pleasure is that you can eat almost anything you want, in truly alarming quantities, and still not have to look towards heaven to button your trousers. An hour earlier, I’d had the following breakfast: two plates of scrambled eggs, a large Bob Evans sausage, two bananas, an orange, a bagel with cream cheese, two cups of coffee and a protein drink. I arrived at the first food stop with my stomach already grumbling from renewed hunger, so topped that off with a one and a half PB&J sandwiches, another banana, an orange, a cup full of trail mix and some Gatorade.

Here's the big hill that Big Mamma helped Josh climb. Trust us, it's steeper than it looks in this photo.

Dustin and I both felt unaccountably super on Sunday, and the lost roads of the Hocking Hills were a simple, if somewhat prolonged, pleasure. We spoke little, pedaled hard, quickly decimated another food stop, and before we knew it we were a mere twenty miles from home. Little more than a nice afternoon spin.


I’d barely dismounted (at the finish) and hugged my grime onto Laura before my bag was whisked into my possession by another amazing volunteer, and just like that, Pelotonia 10 was over.


There is a glow that comes from participating in these things, but there is no magic to them. You set a goal, you train hard, you pedal until it really hurts, then pedal just that little bit more. That’s how progress is made, both on the bike and in the fight against cancer. If you are lucky, like me, you also have a group of friends and family who humble and overwhelm you with their support and encouragement.



1 Comment »

  1. Thanks, Josh, for sharing your story. It said so much about Pelotonia, the spirit and energy are phenomenal. As a rider in both Pelotonia rides and non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor, I thank you.

    Comment by Madeleine Wharton — October 23, 2010 @ 10:23 AM

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