Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crossing the Medicine Line Day One

The Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

We left Whitefish, Montana near sunrise and headed into Glacier National Park. I had to scamper to catch up to the back wheel of Mark and Karen's tandem. Mark Bettinger is President of the Central Indiana Bicycling Association and his wife, Karen Iseminger is a nurse ethicist at St. Vincent Health System in Indianapolis.

Mark captains "team tandem." Karen is his wife and co-captain on the tandem. They are well known around Indiana and the midwest for their skilled, fast, and adventurous bicycle rides. The only thing they love more than cycling is each other. They invited me on this trip of a lifetime to help with my training for the Ride to Remember.

Other bicycle riders who see them at the start of area rides, covet the draft position behind their tandem's rear wheel. That is where I positioned myself on our first day up Logan Pass, through Glacier and into Alberta, Canada. I'll try to stay positioned there for a good part of this trip and I'm very happy that they don't mind me tucking in behind them!

Mark Bettinger and Karen Iseminger, Indiana's Team Tandem

We had a great first day getting to know the other riders and having a relaxing dinner at the Bayshore Inn at Waterton-Glacier. As only serendipity would have it, I met Dr. David Wilkes and his daughter, Kristen in the lounge after dinner. David is the new Executive Associate Dean for Research at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) and an avid, strong bicycle rider. He was riding with Kristen on a TREK bike tour before she starts medical school next month at IUSM. Small world indeed!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crossing the Medicine Line

Tomorrow, a small group of cyclists will leave Whitefish, Montana on a seven-day, 880 mile ride called "Crossing the Medicine Line." This ride, organized by Mike Case as part of the Longriders Collaborative will be THE TEST for my fitness exactly two months before we begin the "Ride to Remember."

Over the next seven days, we will be riding more than 100 miles per day with lots of climbing...nearly 30,000 feet in total as we cross the Continental Divide three times. Our first day takes us over the "Going-to-the-Sun Road" and one of the most scenic vistas in the entire US.

Tomorrow, we will start our 124 miles day with a 52 mile stretch uphill to the Logan Pass. We must arrive by 11 AM before the road is closed to bikes. After a fast and fun descent, we leave Glacier National Park and cross the Blackfeet Indian Reservation before crossing into Canada.

Our first night will be at the Bayshore Inn in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. If not too exhausted, I'll post some pictures of this beautiful spot. Thanks to my home team for making this trip possible. I'll be thinking of you and our patients during the ride tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

"I must be crazy."

What makes a middle age guy like me who commutes by bike only 18-20 miles per day think that he can ride across the country? To be truthful, I’m more than a weekend rider and over the past two years, I’ve logged more than 4000 miles per year. Also, as a member of the Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA), I’ve done my share of hard weekly training rides and long weekend club rides around Indianapolis. What I haven’t done is ride at least 100 miles per day for even two consecutive days much less 36! And unlike the TREK bike route across the country, central Indiana is flat!

To think that I can cover 3280 miles and 170,000 feet of climbing in 36 days of riding…I must be crazy!

Getting Started

“You’re a good man. You have taught us a lot about how to live our lives. We won’t forget you.”

Over the past 10 years I’ve repeated these words many times to our dying patients. Now it is time to make good on the promise that we haven’t forgotten. On September 14, 2009 I will begin a 3280 mile cross-country bicycle “ride to remember” in order celebrate our 10th anniversary and to commemorate the lives of more than 3000 patients who have been touched by Wishard Health Service’s palliative care program.

This blog will focus some attention on the preparation, adventure and challenge of trying to pedal across the country (“the ride”), but primarily, we will center our story on the lives of our patients (“to remember”). Patients call us into being as health care professionals. If people did not get sick or need help, we would not need doctors, hospitals or palliative care programs.

Patients will always remain at the center of what we do. Despite our work with the dying, we believe that what matters most is the living—and the difference that each of these people have made, not only to us, but to their family and friends—and to those who have loved them.