Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Remembering Brian

It was one year ago last Friday that I got the phone call from Joe C: Brian had collapsed while out on a bike ride. (He'd heard that from Mike U, another friend and a neighbor of Brian's, who happened to drive past the accident scene.) Did I know anything? Was he OK? I tried calling the hospital, got nowhere -- privacy rules, yadda yadda -- and finally just called his cell phone. His neighbor answered, crying, crying so hard I could barely understand her but I knew what she was saying. I still couldn't believe it, and I made her say it clearly and out loud: "Brian's dead."
The first time we met was probably about 1994 or 1995, at one of our first trail maintenance events at Jacobsburg. (This was before I joined the Chain Gang, so it was probably under the auspices of the Jacobsburg Trail Volunteer Association.) Colette was there, a mutual friend, and I was talking to her about biking or whatever, just hanging in the parking lot waiting for things to start, and Brian came up and said hello. I don't think we hit it off right away or anything, I just sort of knew him as "Colette's really tall friend."
Over the next year I saw him at a number of races; I remember bumping into him at Lewis Morris just after he bought Tomias's extra-large Super-V. I had my first, normal-sized Super-Vat the time, and I sort of knew both him and Tomias, so though that would be a good icebreaker, and I asked "Hey, wow isn't that Tomias's bike?"
He laughed and said "Not anymore!"
I remember when the bad news was going around the old Chain Gang phone tree, there was a lot of uncertainty: Who found him, who called 911? Did it happen near home, how did Mike happen on the scene? And (this is the part that still hurts) did they really resuscitate him at the crash scene, only to lose him? At the time I really didn't care about details -- the key fact wouldn't change by rearranging the timeline or whatever, but over the past year I did sort of piece together a timeline, and I am kind of glad I did. Sometimes I think it's important that I know what happened, other times I go back to my original attitude: he's gone, there's not much point embellishing.
As the club's perennial bachelors, Brian and I often ended up rooming together on Chain Gang group vacations, and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that that guy could snore!
Brian and I were sharing a room with Eric once, on a weekend trip to race the Vermont 50-Miler.  We had an early start planned, so we went to bed not long after we arrived at the hotel. (The room had twin beds for Eric and me, but Brian, at 6'-7" brought his own extra-large folding cot.) Some time in the middle of the night, Eric and I were both awakened by Brian sawing logs  -- and it was so incredibly, ludicrously loud that we both started giggling. This woke Brian, and he sort of mumbled "Oh, you guys couldn't sleep either, huh?"
The heart stuff started maybe five or so years ago, at least as far as his bike friends knew: he'd been having some chest pains, went for a checkup, and the doctors sent him to the hospital to get a stent, to alleviate the "blockage" they thought they'd found. That didn't work, he really didn't have any blockage -- which Brian took as a vindication that he didn't have "couch potato disease." Next diagnosis dealt with possible valve damage, possibly caused by a virus, and they put him on some kind of medication that limited his maximum heart rate, like a governor on a car. (This was probably the start of his  withdrawal from the bike scene.) He seemed OK for a while, then had more problems; this time the doctors diagnosed some kind of neuro-electrical cause, and he had a procedure to cauterize certain locations on his heart that were screwing up the synchronization. He didn't tell anyone about this procedure until a few weeks afterward... At the funeral someone told me that his heart troubles actually started in the eighties, and now I remember how he once told me about some EKG monitoring he had to have done years ago. At the time (long before his final heart trouble), it was just a throw-away part of some humorous story he was telling, and I didn't think anything of it until his funeral.

Doug and Brian and I used to like hanging at Weyerbacher back when it was a brewpub, and we each secretly thought we'd corrupted the other two babes in the woods -- this came out one night, and we were all very surprised when we finally compared notes on our pasts.
Allamuchy: 1996, 1997, 1998 (teammates), 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 (teammates), 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008
Canaan: 1998, 1999
Slatyfork: 1998
Staunton: 1999
Crested Butte: 1999
Moab: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008. The general plan was to go every even-numbered year.
Downieville: 2001
PPRAC: 2003, 2005, 2007
The last time I saw him was at his surprise 50th birthday party, just a few weeks before his death.

Standing Six Foot One

Morning weigh-in: 175.5#, 10% BF
Not bad, considering I had a chicken cheese steak and a couple of Black & Blues for dinner last night...
Yes I am back on my cheese game, and also my wheat, milk, egg, and soy games; new, more accurate allergy test results were negative for what seemed (in earlier tests) to be problem foods. I still have to deal with whatever is the root cause of my skin issue, but at least I can eat normal foods again, including my favorite: pizza. Pizza! Ahhhh, life is good, even if the scale doesn't always agree.
I found this out last night at the first visit to my new allergist, who was highly recommended by a friend, and I think she's going to live up to the recommendation. I was there for about three hours (the skin tests take a while) and the woman conducted a friendly & personable, but very intense, consultation/interrogation: general health, past history, current problems, things that work and things that don't. She seemed very on top of her game, almost knew ahead of time a lot of the nuances of my case. I was very impressed, and now we'll see how things pan out.
 Tonight is a training ride, something shorter and a little different: an hour of "endurance miles" with some intervals of high-cadence pedaling thrown in. I'll probably bust out the singlespeed and do this on the towpath, rain or shine. Gotta work these new calories off somehow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Counting Down

Morning weigh-in: 174#, 12% BF
Pretty good weekend. Friday was a rest day, and an evening out at the Velodrome. Saturday was an impromptu rest day because it was pouring out, so we stayed home and made beer, and in the evening we hit an art opening in Easton. Yesterday Anne and I rode with Donna, and another couple Anne knew from work, up on the Broad Mountain loop. Total fun! Last night was Paul & Mary's Heritage Day party, also very fun.
This is week 8 of my training regimen, the final week building week (there another several weeks of workouts, but they are all for maintenance, I am supposed to be at my peak at the end of this week). We shall see -- Anne's heading out of town to visit Ben this weekend, and I may do a road century, or some long offroad ride, just to see how things stand.
In Memoriam: Brian passed away a year ago Friday. It's strange, so many of the things we did this weekend (the Velodrome, biking on Broad Mountain, Mary's party) were things I did, many times, with Brian over the years --  I spent a lot of time thinking about him this weekend. Hard to believe he's been gone a year.