May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In 2018, the challenge was getting JJ to be able to ride the entire 180 miles in 48 hours without having to call for a ride from the support van.

(The SAG wagon?)

Yes.

(What does SAG mean?)

It stands for Support And Gear.

(So you were saying about training.)

In 2019 the challenge was supporting JJ, Yehuda and Yossi, all on the same ride.

Three cyclists, each with their specific list of needs to make them be able to complete the ride.

(How were you going to be able to be in three places at once?)

Naturally I was going to violate the laws of physics and time travel.

(Naturally.)

When my second child was born, my wife and I switched our defense from zone coverage to man to man coverage.

(So you stayed with JJ because he has one leg)

Actually, no. JJ is a father, a husband and works a full time job as a sous chef.

Yossi required the most support from me.

Yossi has cerebral palsy and had never ridden more than two hours at a shot.

(And most riders go…)

For six to eight hours on the first day.

Yossi wanted me to ride next to him and keep him from pedaling too fast.

(Don’t you want him to win?)

This is a charity fund raising event, not a race. Besides I don’t want him to pass out. I’m not in the business of carrying people on my back.

(But doesn’t Bike4chai provide support vehicles for tired riders?)

Good point, forget I said anything about carrying him on my back.

Training Yossi was a completely different experience for me.

Training JJ meant I had to orient myself around converting cycling leg training for his arms.

Yossi was born with cerebral palsy.

So his muscles don’t work as efficiently as a healthy person.

(He can’t ride?)

He can, it just takes so much out of him.

(In what way?)

We measure cycling performance in watts.

I average 118 for a three hour ride.

(I don’t know what that means.)

Grab a comfy seat, this may take a while, but before I do that, the issue with Yossi is his wattage output is in the 50s.

Furthermore he has incredible drive.

(That’s a good thing right?)

It is and it isn’t.

Have you ever gone to the gym to try exercising only to quit after five minutes because it was too tough?

(Yeah…and?)

You were probably going at it as hard-and-fast as you could.

I had to convince my athletes to embrace ideas like: taking it easy, recovery rides, days off during training season.

From the point we started training together, Yossi and I agreed that the goal was to have him ride as far as possible without getting him in the SAG wagon.

On day one, we rolled out at 7:30 a.m.. By 12:30 p.m., we were only at mile 35. That’s when I made the call.

As Yossi says, “Coach, you remind me to eat and drink, plus you are my eyes behind my back.”

(Why is food so important? It seems all you guys do is ride and eat.)

Cycling requires a constant calorie flow. That requires a constant flow of food. No food, no fuel, no pedaling.

(So, it’s 12:30, you’ve called a SAG Wagon for Yossi. Did you get in?)

No, now I had to ride ahead to catch up to JJ.

I took off at 22 mph and held that pace for the next seven miles. I rolled into the mile 42 rest stop. Bike4Chai has rest stops for riders about every 20 miles.

JJ had just rolled out, so I estimated that I had six minutes to eat and refill my water bottles. With food in hand, I looked down at my watch and I waited.

One minute, two minutes, three minutes, four….

Tuli Weiss, the first escort rider rolled in and said,

“Thank you for pushing those last couple miles. It was fun riding with you.”

Then the second escort rider rolled in, breathing heavy.

“Everything hurts, I’m done. Call the wagon.”

(That’s horrible, you almost killed a man.)

Nah, he was just experiencing muscle fatigue. He would be fully recovered in 30 minutes. Putting him in the van meant that he would be eating lunch with Yossi.

I walked over to the food table. Cyclists need salty foods. We like pickle juice.

(Ewww.)

It works like a charm.

(So did you have a pickle juice cocktail?)

No, I had an olive juice martini.

(YOU HAD VODKA?)

No, just olive juice, two olives and my imagination.

With that consumed, I took off after JJ, with Scott Farrell and Tuli Weiss in tow.

To hear JJ’s inspiring life story of triumph over cancer and adversity, at your school or venue he can be reached at [email protected]

David Roher is a USAT certified marathon and triathlon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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