Cycling Over Cancer with John - Update 9 | Final Prep for Death Ride


When I began chemotherapy treatment for cancer 102 days ago, I did not have any idea what level of exercise I would be able to do over the 6 month program. Things started out as expected, sick and weak. But, I learned over the first 2 of 6 treatment cycles that I would be very limited in my activities for the first 5-6 days of the cycle (6 hours of chemo followed by 1 hour day 2 and a shot to boost white blood cells day 3 then 3 days with flu-like symptoms). However, after those 6 days, I am able to begin exercising in the same way I have done in the past after week long illness - start building back up for 7-14 days, then back to a pre-illness fitness level. It is not exactly the same because one of my symptoms of cancer and the treatment is anemia and fatigue which will not resolve until after treatment.

After I realized I could actually train while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, I began to assess how close to normal I could get during the second half of the cycle (again - this isn't back to "normal", but back to not feeling the effects of chemo and also benefiting from the treatment improving my physical condition and killing the cancer). Towards the end of cycle 2 I decided that I would see if I could get in good enough shape to at least try to do the Death Ride in Markleeville July 17. I have done the death ride a few times before, all without much trouble (other than 2015 when I did White Mountain/Onion Valley/Whitney Portal/Horseshoe Meadows [20,000'] 2 days before the ride + Lake Sabrina [5,000'] the day before and to top it off drank stupid the night before and started the thing with a hangover - seems like a good test for how the body will hold up trying the Death Ride during chemotherapy treatment).

The Death Ride is a little over 100 miles and a little under 15,000' of climbing. The problem is going to be the heat - it will be in the high 80's to low 90's as California is experiencing an extraordinary heatwave this summer. I do horribly in the heat, but can probably gut out anything that doesn't approach 100 so I hope the forecast is fairly accurate.

I had not been doing much distance or significant altitude training for some time, but I was able to bump my fitness up to a level where I could do 5,000' 2 weeks ago, 7,000' a week ago and 9,160' Sunday July 10. This Sunday's ride (5 repeats on Geysers Road - 4.1 miles / 2,000') was a good test. I was able to complete the 5 repeats, but it was almost impossible getting up the hill for the final climb as the temperatures at the top were close to 110 degrees - corroboration for the intense summer heat in this area during the summer is the name of an abandoned town in the area - Mercuryville!

If the heat is close to 100 next Sunday, I'm all but doomed. But, if it doesn't rise above the low 90's I have a decent chance of finishing. I hope to finish this test because it is a qualifier to my next 3 challenges, all of which get progressively harder.

I'll be wearing my lavender Cycling Over Cancer jersey on the Death Ride so be sure to say hello if you are on the course July 17.

Here's a video of the 5 passes as mother nature turned up the heat on me 😟.


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