Friday, May 21, 2010

Joyful Evening For Team Strong Heart Supporters -- May 20, 2010

The Thur. night regulars (riders) who ride out of TRAILHEAD CYCLING AND FITNESS (the sponsor of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Team Strong Heart) were surprised by the rider turnout at the shop parking lot -- no food, no pastries, no drinks -- that doesn't matter. Our guest photographer from Saint Paul Pioneer Press was impressed and very apologetic for his late arrival due to the massive cross-town traffic jam from the east surburb to the west suburb of the Twin Cities, MN. If you think the large turnout is for a photo on paper, you are dead wrong. In fact, the riders were hiding away from the camera lens. Yet, it was totally a heart-felt "send-off" rider party for Team Strong Heart 2010. Representing TSH 2007, 2008, 2009, riders and supporters just laughed, chuckled, bonded with memories, warmed up, then faced off at its summer monthly Fletcher Time Trial Series (#2) fun race.

Event Director, Jay Thompson (2008 TSH RAAM team rider) reported that the course record was tied (22:10) for the 9.7-mile, 4-corner course on the countryside roads. 15 out of 21 riders (15 racers, 2 "lead-offs", 4 timers/helpers/supporters). It was a wonderful evening. Memories will sure be replayed in June, particularly on June 20, somewhere in West Virginia.

Go Team, and "Remember this Night".

Monday, May 17, 2010

Team Strong Heart in CO -- May 15, 2010

Higher elevation training seems to be a must for riders particularly for me to acclimate the 100,000+ feet of climbing during RAAM's 3,000+ miles coast to coast journey. The mile-high cities in CO provide the great opportunities for such training.

Last weekend, Team Strong Heart organized a fundraising event in Boulder CO, and I had an opportunity to hit the road after rain/snow moved out of the Boulder area. After missing a turn towards the Carter Lake which was supposed to my route with some good rolling hills in the 5,000+ feet condition, I later found myself accidentally climbing west towards the Estes Park --a few snow patches appeared after a 20-mile steady climb!!! The good thing was that the slope was gentle and I was able to stay in a low HR zone. The best part of this was coming back down, literally, a 20-mile downhill. The beautiful mt. views, clouds, falling rocks, melting snow into the riverfall made the best of this experience -- I'm very grateful for being in the nature while knowing the best is yet to come in June.

Amy Xu (Dorsey & Whitney, partner)
Team Strong Heart 2008 (team) and 2010 (solo)

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Journey to RAAM (Race Across America) 2010: OCEANSIDE, CA

April 16-17, 2010 -- see below Michelle's summary about our RAAM simulation ride. It was a wonderful weekend testing many things out with my crew chiefs.

Michelle reports --

"I would imagine that most of us have ridden a bike at some point in our lives. The first time you learned how to pedal, and keep your balance was such a euphoric moment. Then maybe you did your first 10 mile ride whether it be to work or with your family, or something bigger like a weekend club ride preparing for a 100 mile century or triathlon. At some point, most of us have experienced some perception of what it means to ride your bike, but can you just imagine for one second, riding your bike for 20 hours, then sleeping for 3 hours, and then getting up and doing it again for 13 days? This past weekend was a big benchmark for Team Strong Heart in the preparation for the Race Across America. The alarms went off around 4:30 am in Colorado and Minnesota, and by 10:45 am, Amy, Michelle, and Sandy met in Los Angeles airport for our first big simulation ride. Friday was filled with a lot of errands which included putting Amy's bike together out of the bike box, food shopping, and planning of nutritional and navigation strategies before we started the ride.By 6:30 pm, we had driven past the start line in Oceanside, scanned the starting parade route, and there we were on Old Castle Rd when Amy started the first of over 200 miles ahead of her. Sandy drove while Michelle sat in the back seat of the rental caravan mixing liquid nutrition, and giving navigation directions down to the 0.1 mile marker. The first section of the race that was practiced is where Amy will only be given leapfrog support, which means we go ahead of the racer about 7 miles at a time, and then wait for us to come to that point to give support, which could be a bottle of water, or just a plain cheering for encouragement. The first climb out of Oceanside is not forgiving at all, of which the climbing starts immediately. Amy started strong through this section, and set the pace for what became an incredible night.Even though this was a simulation ride, the adrenaline for the crew starts immediately, and you become very focused into the details of your job, to make sure there are no mistakes.The dark came on quickly, and before we knew it we were riding into the night. Lake Henshaw was our first goal which came up quickly. Before we knew it, we were dropping down what's called the "Glass Elevator", which is a 9 mile stretch of 8% downgrades that drop with hairpin turns into the desert. A few sips of Red Bull with a boost of adrenaline, and I never let the headlights leave Amy for a second. She tucked down into an aerodynamic position fighting some warm crosswinds and getting to the bottom safety, with then a big thumbs up. The route became more and more familiar as Sandy and I both crewed in 2008. Fond memories started to come up, along with many ideas for the best strategies. A few hours later which included a near dog attack on Amy, two large hairs jumping across the road, several semis sending a startling beep across the road, and we decided to stop at the 140 mile marker, as we had all been up for 24 hours. The Brawley Inn is where we set up shop, and Amy was in great spirits, especially after we let her know that she just averaged 16.1 mph over the last 89 mile stretch. By 4 am we were all headed into a deep sleep, and before we knew it, we all saying good morning by 8:30 am.Breakfast was a good time to talk about what we liked, didn't like, and had to work on. A morning massage and stretch session, and by mid day we were off to our last planned 89 mile stretch towards Blythe, Ca. The day started off warm, with temps reading 89 degrees by 10 am. This next section put us through these magnificent sand dunes where we got to see several people racing their dune buggies. The typography changed quickly, and views became more spectacular by the second.Amy performed like a machine. Her focus and cadence we incredible, along with her cooperation and appreciation of the crew. Sandy and I started to feel our rhythm. Fine tuning bottle hands offs, keeping an accurate nutrition log, and monitoring Amy's needs while riding. We already have a nickname for Amy, which is "Mocha Mama", since she just loves her Hammer Perpetuum mixed with a mocha recipe that will be top secret for now. This stuff was like serious rocket fuel for her, and after most big sips she would just pop out of her saddle, and take off. It was great to watch. Experiencing the heat was intense but good for all of us to practice, and we figured out what works well for Amy.With an impressive average of 17.1 mph, which included only 9 minutes total off the bike in 5.25 hours, we made our goal but 5:15 at night pulling into the Alberton's parking lot on Blythe, Ca. Amy was in great spirits, with a big smile. She was still motivated to practice with a device designed for her in the event that Shermer's neck were to develop during the race, which is a condition in which the neck muscles decide to stop working. A walk through Alberton's to satisfy her watermelon craving, and we hopped into the car, and headed back over 200 miles towards Laguna Hills where we started this adventure. I was pretty exhausted at this point, fighting to keep my eyes open. Although at the same time we were all so excited by the success of this simulation, that we just couldn't stop talking. A stop for some dinner, and before we knew it, what seemed like the most comfortable bed in the whole entire world offered a well needed night of rest. Today was spent well with a little time pool side, and a great hour spent at Laguna Beach where the feeling of sand between my toes, and the smell of the salt water was so healing, not to mention the honor of seeing a school of dolphin just a few feet from us. A few great goodbyes at the airport, and we were all off back to life, and each of our personal responsibilities in continuing the preparations for the race.At this point Team Strong Heart is very bonded, and prepared for this incredible mission. Our team has recently had some very exciting additions including several additions to crew that will be announced within the next few weeks. Most importantly we continue to stay very focused on our mission, which is to complete the Race safely while raising awareness and funds for the incredible children of Camp Odayin.Our next big landmark will be the weekend of May 15th when Amy flies in Boulder for another big ride prepared by her coach Erik Kenney, and Team Strong Heart hosts a large fundraising party hosted at the TREK Bicycle Store in Louisville. I hope you can all be there. Stay tuned..."

Monday, March 22, 2010

"It's about the mission"-- by Erin Lewison, a 7th grader student of Maple Grove Junior High and winner of Team Strong Heart mission contest

"The winner of the inaugual Team Strong Heart mission contest is the 7th grader student, Erin Lewison", announced by the mission contest director Bill Beckman, a social science teacher at Maple Grove Junior High, who was also the crew chief for 2008 Race Across America 4-member Team Strong Heart. The 7th grader's parents told us that Erin gave a lot of thoughts, spent many evenings and weekends of research time, "she learned a lot about Team Strong Heart, Camp Odayin, Race Across American, and many things that we do not know about". After Erin explained to us how she heard about the Team Strong Heart's mission, SILENT SPORTS FOUNDATION proudly presented Erin an award sponsored by the FOUNDATION.

Mr. Beckman applauded Erin's dedication, research skills, and depth of understanding of the ultimate Team Strong Heart's mission in the Race Across America, "Erin did a very good job presenting her a tri-fold poster to all of us, including her classmates and the Team Strong Heart supporters."
Erin, her parents, and Mr. Beckman have been invited to visit Camp Odayin on August 12, 1010. Mr. Beckman is planning to direct this mission contest again next year. If you are interested in being a part of it, please contact Mr. Beckman at:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tenacious race and race preparation (3/13/2010)

Living in Minnesota for almost 20 years (after moving from Shanghai, China during my college), I met many people with tenacious characters. One of many evidence is at a glance of last Sat.'s annual winter triathlon, 21st Pole Pedal Pant winter triathlon (xc ski, bike, run) held at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Minnesota (3/13/2010). If RAAM has its fame of being the toughest bike race in the world, the 2010 version of the Pole Pedal Pant winter triathlon is the toughest winter triathlon in its 21 years of history. As one once said, it is not about a race, it is about tenacity, a focused mission, and preparation. I learned a lot from those who participated in this year's winter triathlon race ( and )
(Picture: 2009 American Birkebiner xc ski champion Matt Liebsch on his bike segment of the 2010 Pole Pedal Pant winter triathlon race, 3/13/2010)

2010 RAAM preparation is going into the stage of 80+ days-to-start. Training in all aspects has become a norm. More testing has showed that my power outage/HR zones are on course.

Thanks for your continous support and encouragement by showing me your tenacity, passion, and vision.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Training progress -- 99 Days to Start (3-1-2010)

It seems harder to describe my training progress than understanding one's invention and then writing a patent for it -- my "day" job. To write a patent on an invention, one needs to describe the "state of the art", existing problems, and the solutions one came up that are novel and not obvious to the others so that one is rewarded with 20 years of exclusive rights to what one describes in the patent.

Well, enough of that -- let me begin describing what are those progress factors -- LT, PE, HR, PW: LT - lactate threshold; PE - perceived exertion; HR - Heart Rate; PW - power wattage.

After about 3 months of training, data has showed improvement of 20%. I was told it was good -- drop me a note if you can -- love to hear your encouraging words.

Indeed it is less than 99 days to start, and I'll find out how hard is hard if I have not yet.