Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yeah, I know.



video
Thus far, I have heard more Forrest Gump references than I can count. But I'm not upset nor perturbed by this. I mean, that guy was straight-up B-A. Not necessarily smart, but he did accomplish a ton. I needed a bit of a refresher to this scene so I have provided it for you. Now please, bring on the references. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

THE WHEN

START: MAY 10th, 2010
FINSIH: JULY, 2010

I‘ve planned on a solid seventy two days of riding, but honestly, it’s hard to say how long it will actually take. Perhaps the hills in Pennsylvania will be steeper than I think. Perhaps the wind will howl through Kansas. I know I’ll rest in Colorado before tackling the Rockies. Bottom line - it all begins on May 10th and it’ll be over when it’s over.

THE WHAT

What is A Ride Against Lymphoma you ask? Well, it’s simple really. It is a cross-country charity bike ride that starts in New York City and ends in San Francisco. At the moment it is a solo ride but anyone and everyone are more than welcome to join up for a leg or two or even seventy-two.

The charity you ask, well that would be the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). The LRF will benefit directly from the ride. Now, the LRF did not set-up the ride, nor are they organizing or supporting the ride, but they have have been generous enough to work with me and accept donations on my behalf as well as throw a little social media marketing my way. One hundred precent of donations will go directly the the LRF. Learn more about the LRF at www.lymphoma.org.

Now here comes the meat and potatoes. My dad died in 2001 after a nine month battle with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, hence the cause, charity and title for this ride. He was an avid cyclist and yearned for long treks and journeys. I imagine if he were still around he’d join me and pedal every single mile of the way. So as much as this ride is for me, it is for my dad, my family and all those affected by the illness.

Welcome Axis Labs! My First Sponsor!

Finally these stick legs of mine are getting some help thanks to my friends over at Axis Labs.

Obviously diet is very important when it comes to sports training. If you've been watching me eat, and smash food into my face for the last two months you may think that I'm not consuming the right foods. And you know what, you'd be right. I ate an entire pizza this evening. I'm definitely not watching what I'm eating nor do I really care. The only nutrient I'm really concentrating on is protein because I need to get these legs of mine boosted and really growing. I can pretty much eat whatever right now because in a month I'll begin wasting away while the quads grow. They'll grow so big i'll have to wear a fanny pack because I won't be able squeeze my hands into my pockets they'll be stretched so tight. You've seen Hulk Hogan right?

If any of you live in NYC you know that food is incredibly expensive and buying meat is even more so. Where does protein live? IN MEAT!! (and eggs and beans of course) but meat is where the gold is. It's what I try to include in every meal, but jeeubs, it's pricey. I was speaking with a great friend of mine a couple weeks ago and we were talking about nutrition. He stressed the importance of protein to help build and replenish the muscles worked while cycling - the legs of course. And it just so happens that my friend works at Axis Labs and he was able to convince them to sponsor my nutritional needs before and throughout the ride.

At the moment a 5 lb tub of muscle producing man power is chilling on my tiny little kitchen counter top, thanks to Axis. I couldn't be more thankful to these guys for helping out. During the ride they're going to send out care packages to scheduled stops and stays. Now you may ask yourself, "how do they know where you'll be and when?" Well it just so happens that I've recently acquired another sponsor who is going to help with accommodations. But that's a post for another time. For the time being show my friends at Axis some love. www.axislabs.com

Grow legs grow!!


A Bit of Style and Flavor is Now on Sale


So you haven't donated yet - no problem, that is not a requirement. But if you're looking to literally show your support for A Ride Against Lymphoma, I've put some designs and logos onto t-shirts and hoodies and am now slangin' em like flapjacks at ihop.

I'm selling this attire in an effort to raise funds for all things associated with the ride, such as, gear, the thousands of calories I'll need to consume as well as dinero for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Now you may think that the pricing on the t-shirts is a bit high. I know I would think that if I were just buying a shirt. But the beauty here is that you're buying more than just a shirt. You're buying something that stands for something. You're buying something with character and value. And it's original to boot.

I'll be straight-up with you guys. Due to the nature of the made-to-order work flow and the production costs of Cafe Press, I'll be making $8/t-shirt and $10/hoodie. I actually think the hoodies are fairly priced.

So have a look, grab something unique and help the cause. CLICK HERE.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

80 miles - To Stony Point and Back.


This morning welcomed the first long ride of the season. There were hundreds of cyclists out all trying get their own piece of pavement. With temperatures in the low seventies and nothing but sun shining, today couldn't have been a better day for some real distance.

I set out this morning, cruised up West End Dr, crossed over the George Washington Bridge and headed up route 9w with Stony Point in my head. I have done this ride before but I was wearing a thirty pound pack so my speed was a bit slower. I felt like I was flying today and it was great to be out of Central Park looping over and over again. Then suddenly I was passed by nearly 15 cyclists and someone looked at me as they passed and remarked, "you need to get some cleats on that thing." Perhaps that will help my speed, apparently those things increase efficiency but the price tag on those is not so efficient on a banking account. Decisions, decisions.

I pressed on, enjoying every downhill (that is in fact the very best part of cycling. the speed that is gained during a descent) and before I knew it I was in Stony Point. Must have been the fastest three hours of my life. Of course, I took a couple of wrong turns as I explored the area, but nonetheless, I found myself sitting in a bagel joint enjoying one of my favorite meals - a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich accompanied by an ice cold Mountain Dew. I love cycling, you can eat whatever you want.

After a 20 minute break, I was pedaling again and heading back to the city. But instead of heading south on West End Dr. I cruised through Harlem down Ft. Washington Ave. - seems like a pretty cool place, people were everywhere enjoying the good weather. Was a great day and I can definitely tell my legs getting stronger while my endurance improves.

Another ride awaits for tomorrow, but where?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An EPK for Your Eyes.


Yup, that's right, an EPK, (electronic press kit). No joking around here. Get the low-down on the who,w hat, where, when and why of A Ride Against Lymphoma. There is just over a month before this adventure kicks-off and it is important to spread the word as much as possible. That's where the EPK comes in. If you happen to know anyone who might be interested in this adventure please shout at me and I'll clog your email inbox with a pdf. (I won't really clog it. Don't be afraid). Do you know a reporter, a blogger, an editor, a columnist, a story-teller or anybody who enjoys a little reading? If you answered yes to any of these, please ask me for a copy. Just comment below. And when you download your copy, please send it out to any of the above. Thank you to those following along with this blog or telling people about it.

Oh, and someone in Ethiopia has been to the site. BAM! keep on spreading it. Over and over.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Gear Box

Here it is, my gear box. This one cardboard will house my supplies and necessities for the adventure. Seems a bit barren, right? It's gonna take a fair bit of work and dinero to fill this thing up but bring it on. Fortunately, I've landed a gig working with NBC to edit some commercials for Canada Tourism - yeah, I know, Canada...but I kid.

Thanks to Bonktown I've acquired three recent items: that bike pump you see there on top and two pairs of 'real' bike shorts with padding - chamois butter to come. The next thing I wanna put in this box is a couple of moisture wicking shirts. Any suggestions? Maybe some tights, i guess? The most important things are in here though - a tent, sleeping bag (not in the box, but close) helmet, stove, utensils and a water purifier.

Though now that I think about it, the next purchase will be some panniers. Anybody have any experience with those? I can see it now, fully loaded bike, friends standing outside to see me off, I ride about 100 feet wobbling incessantly, and smack, the bike and I hit the pavement. Can't wait! Gear, gear, gear - though need to stay light. Perhaps I'll cut the handle off my toothbrush. That'll do it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Beautiful Morning Ride.

Well, 2 months out and still plenty to do and even more to accomplish.

I had a dream last night, in which, I was departing for Ireland. My newest and closest friends were there. I said all my goodbyes and headed towards the door. At the last moment I couldn't leave because I had forgotten something. The only problem was that I had no idea what that 'something' was, and of course, because it was a dream, I struggled and struggled without ever figuring it out. I know you all have had one of these dreams, they are probably one of the most annoying dreams you can have. The best part about them is when you wake up and experience an impressive relief because it has all, in fact, been a dream and none of it was real.

Well, as I struggled, my alarm went off at a severely early six a.m. to which I responded with a swift snooze slap. "5 more minutes please." Now, it's not as if I was getting up for work, but instead to ride before going to work. Time and time again, I have slapped my hand against the snooze every five minutes for over an hour to try to get an extra bit of shut-eye, only to leave my morning ride short and dissatisfying, all for that extra hour of sleep.

But this morning was different. I immediately thought of my dream and how I had forgotten something. I thought three months out was a long time but the last month has flown by before my eyes. Now only two months remain. My training must improve: my rides must grow longer, my legs must grow stronger, gear needs to be purchased, maps made, bike tuned, press distributed. Before the alarm could wake up for a second time I was putting on my socks, shoes, shorts, helmet, all that jazz and walked outside into the grey-steel morning light.

Now, it would be a lie if I said the 25 miles I rode this morning were a breeze. I was just cruising along and suddenly a peloton of 5 dudes cruise past me with lightning speed. What are they doing that I'm not? What do they know that I don't? How does everyone in central park in the morning move so quickly? So sure, it wasn't my body that was struggling, but my brain. The mental wheels were spinning realizing a bit of the actual situation I'm getting myself into. I felt like I was busting ass and that my legs possibly couldn't spin any faster and here this group seemed to effortlessly slingshot right by. As I pondered I remembered immediately something my roommate said to me last night, "It's a marathon, not a sprint." Instantly I stopped being concerned and just tried and pushed a bit harder.

I know I don't have to be the fastest guy out there or race across the country as fast as I can. It's all about a nice steady pace so I can ride nearly everyday for long distances. I just need to stop pressing that damn snooze button.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Who


I now realize that many of you have no idea who I am or what I'm about.  You are just joining a fan page or following Tweets blindly.  I definitely appreciate the support but let me fill you in.  My name is Andrew Ratzlaff.

So, currently I find myself residing in NYC on the upper east side hanging with old-money and Central Park.  I’ve only been in the city since April of 2009 but since my move I have been constantly on-the-go.  Whether it be working, traveling, traveling for work or riding my bike through the city or on overnight trips out on Long Island or up-state, I can not seem to satisfy my passion for adventure nor am I trying.  

I was born in Virginia, but as a military brat, my family didn’t settle down until I was ten years old in Parker, Colorado.  Colorado is the place I call home, where I grew up and became a person, and where I tell people I am from.  

It definitely surprised a bunch of people when I decided to leave the outdoor playground that is Colorado and head to the concrete jungle, but I must admit, the change has been liberating for both my life and spirit.  It is cliche to say, but nyc provides unlimited inspiration and energy.  And honestly, I feel that it has changed my outlook on life.  It has made me see anything is possible with some hard work and determination - can you say ‘cheeeeeeeyyyyeeessseee.’  But honestly, nyc is the dope spot.

So yeah, I grew up in Parker, CO, graduated from Ponderosa HS, packed my things and moved a whopping 60 miles from home up to Boulder for some schooling at the University of Colorado.  I definitely struggled a bit to figure out what-the-hell I was going to do with myself, so I tried some electrical engineering (I sucked at it), moved over to business (was bored out of my mind) and then one day I was sitting around watching a snowboard movie and decided I would go to film school and make ski films (I went to film school but I have yet to make a ski film). I seemed to be decent at making films thanks to a one, Mr. Jerry Aronson, my film teacher, so I stuck with it and after five years at CU I earned a bachelor of fine arts with an empahsis in film.

It was during my first semester of freshman year that my dad passed away after a nine-month battle with Burkitt’s Lymphoma and briefly sent my life into a tail spin.  My dad and I were close as I was growing up: always playing sports, going backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting and venturing out into the outdoors.  To lose a person who had always been there  for me was a devastating blow and something I really was not prepared for.  Fortunately I have a very close family.  My mom is the absolute best and has always given me nothing but support.  And I have a brother who is two years younger than I and we all just stuck together and pushed onward.  

Even with the support, and at 18 years old, I became more confused than ever.  I began to question life:  what’s it all about?  what’s the reason for anything?  why struggle?  Why not just do what I like? So, I turned to film school as something to do and to study.  Now, I'm pretty sure I haven't answered all the questions above, but I've been trying to figure them out.  Since my dad passed, I have definitely taken risks and basically traveled as much as possible.  I've been backpacking through Yellowstone, back-country snowboarding, taken cross-country road trips (in a car), spent six months studying and traveling in New Zealand and most recently went to Costa Rica for some surf action. The bike ride across the country is just the next step to answer questions, which are, possibly unanswerable. 

Here I am these days, a freelance video editor hanging out in nyc without a stable job and am about to enter a brief period of unemployment.  Fortunately it will give me the time necessary to continue planning and training for this ride as well as actively searching for sponsorship - but not for cash but potentially for gear or even some social media support.  Just need to to keep spreading the word.  Over and over.