Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So what's this all about?

I'm an engineer and part-time professor, a husband, a volleyball player, a rookie cyclist, and a student learning how to be a high school physics teacher. Yup, I agree, that's a lot. So when a recent Drexel University class assignment turned up to explore a field-component of multimedia and emerging technology in education, a light bulb went on in my head and said (in a rather scratchy lightbulb-ish voice),

"Why don't you save yourself some time, and create a blog detailing your bike training as you prepare for a 100-mile charity ride in June, which you can also use to satisfy part of your course requirements as you learn more about the technology?"

"Great idea," I told the light bulb, gently extinguishing its existence in my subconscious in a completely respectful and non-offensive, non-discriminatory, politically correct manner. The end result is exactly what you are perusing right now.

Last fall, my (then) fiance told me about a duathlon being held locally, consisting of a rather hilly 2-mile cross country run, a 10-mile trail and road bike ride, and a repeat of the 2-mile cross country course. Figuring it was something we could do together, we joined a local team coached by trainer-extraordinaire Frank (from Iron Butterfly) to train for several months before the big event.
Coming down the home stretch as a team!

An unintended outcome of the training, however, involved my getting hooked on riding my bike. I've never been much for running or jogging, but had a great time on the bike, and started biking longer and longer distances. My wife would join me for some of these, but I also had fun just hopping on the bike and going for a couple hours.

Realizing I needed something to keep me in shape besides my weekly volleyball game, and starting to get a bit long in the tooth to compete with the young whippersnappers in the weekend volleyball tournaments, I learned that biking was low impact, great for cardio, and also burned quite a few calories. I decided I was going to make it my "keep in shape" hobby, and struck a deal with the Mrs. If I biked several hundred miles in 2007 and completed the duathlon with her, I could purchase a basic road bike. We completed the duathlon together, had a great time, I picked up a decent road bike after some minor negotiations with the bike shop, and I set a goal for myself for 2008 -- I wanted to complete a century bike ride (100 miles in a day).

Initially, I planned on doing a solo century, figuring out a route that started and ended at my house, and just picking a day in the summer to give it a whirl. Some acquaintances from BikeForums.Net changed my mind, however, recommending I combine my goal with community service by joining in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure to raise money to fight diabetes. Discussing it with Mrs. Beagle, we decided to start a team for this event, as we had family and friends from both our sides affected by this disease. She's wonderfully supportive in most all crazy things I push us into. Our next step -- recruiting.

We started off by running it past the fun and faithful volleyball team, not expecting a tremendous amount of support, but hoping a few would join us. To our amazement, the response was tremendous, and we had the beginnings of a large team already on the way. I should have expected such a response in hindsight -- the volleyball gang is really an extended family -- of course we pick and play amongst ourselves constantly, but we're truly blessed to have such great friends who have always been there when we've needed them. My brother-in-law, a great guy with an amazing sense of humor, also joined us right off. Our team, "Beats Running," was a go! Our next step -- fund raising.

And that, I think, is enough Beagle windage to set the stage for why we're here and what we're doing.

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