Thank You, National Park Service

To celebrate Earth Day, the north end of Skyline Drive was closed to autos and opened for non-motorized vehicles.  What a great day for cycling!

Image may contain: cloud, sky, mountain, plant, outdoor and nature

This ride gave me a chance to practice ascents.  I am used to the short, steep hills of the Appalachians.  I want to be ready for the longer climbs in the Sierras and Rockies.  The climb into Shenandoah National Park is 6.5 miles.  With guidance from Rob Lea, I was able to settle into an easy cadence and accept the slow speed.  6500 feet is my PR for climbing.

  • 63.4mi
  • 4:42:24
  • 6,493ft
Avg Max
Speed 13.5mi/h 44.3mi/h
Elapsed Time 5:04:51
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Thanks to Tracy, Sid, and Rob Lea for sharing the ride and their entry pass.

Training Goals: Facing Intimidation

Remember, I started this year riding 3000 miles a year, usually in 24 mile increments.  I was a bit startled by these training outlines from PAC tour:

Three Months Before PAC Tour:

  • 150-200 miles per week
  • One day per week over 100 miles
  • One long 150 mile ride during the month
  • Hang in the back of a fast group (20+ MPH) 30 miles per week

Two Months Before PAC Tour:

  • 200-250 miles per week
  • One or two days per week over 100 miles
  • One 200 mile ride during the month
  • Ride in the middle of a fast group 30 miles per week

One Month Before PAC Tour:

  • 250 – 350 miles per week
  • Two days per week over 100 miles
  • Ride a 200 mile event under 14 hours
  • Ride in the front of a fast group for 30 miles per week

One Week Before PAC Tour:

  • Ride enough to keep your legs fit but rested
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Install a new chain, free wheel and tires
  • Pack your gearbag two days before you leave make sure it weighs less than 40 lbs.
  • If possible arrive at the start a day early so you are not feeling rushed before beginning your cross country tour.

I knew I couldn’t wait until 3 months before the tour to start my transformation.  Especially since I was considering riding my tt bike and knew that it was doubtful that my neck was strong enough to ride in the aero position for consecutive centuries.  So I added some preliminary steps.  I got a garmin edge bike computer for Christmas and started using it in January.  By February I was upping my frequency and mileage. Here are my additions to the training regimen:

Eight Months Before PAC Tour:

  • 50 mile ride
  • Ride in winter weather
  • Ride 450 in a month

Seven Months Before PAC Tour:

  • 50 miles on consecutive days
  • 100 miles on consecutive days
  • 100 miles in just over 6 hours
  • Ride 750 for the month

Six Months Before PAC Tour:

  • Lead weekly rides of 50 to 100 miles for the local bike club at 17 to 20 mph
  • Practice long ascents

So this is where I am now.  It has made me confident I can ride my Cervello for the tour, that I can handle the distance, and that my pace will be fine.  Now I can begin to face the training goals without intimidation.

Please, Mr. Cervelo

January 21, 2017

Phil White


42 Industrial Street

Toronto,ON M4G 1Y9


Dear Phil:

I want to tell you how much I love your bikes. I have bought 3 in the last 10 years.  They have given me some of the most satisfying memories of my life.   I got to train with my son in his postgraduate, pre-family days.  We did a 64 mile triathlon in which he was first off the bike and I was fifth.  We both got passed on the run.  But I have this picture of the 2 of us after finishing – satisfied, tired, and proud – companionably watching others cross the line.  I have qualified 3 times for age group nationals at the Olympic distance, this season as a 65 year old.  My Cervelo has been the perfect vehicle.

This year I have a new challenge, biking from San Diego to Savannah in 27 consecutive centuries.  It will be a fund-raiser; I will bike in cooperation with Rotary International to raise money to eradicate polio in my lifetime.  I have planned to do it on my P2.  I will admit that I am intimidated trying to keep company with Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo on some of the climbs.  So I have a request.

I would like to use a C5 for 2 months.  I would be a lot more secure with disk brakes and a wider gear range.  I would certainly be more comfortable.  In turn, I can offer you promotional commentary in my blog, field testing of any new equipment, a chance to contribute to a worthy cause, and my deep gratitude.  You are used to sponsoring professional cyclists.  This is a chance to sponsor a plugger trying to make the world a better place for children.

Let me know if you are intrigued by my proposal.  I look forward to your response.


John S. Crandell

I’ve not heard back.  What do you think?  Any suggestions to make it more persuasive? In truth, I’m glad to testify to my love for my Cervelo P2, even if I’m not sponsored.

Fitness Lifestyle

I am a clinical psychologist spending my days sitting in an office talking to people.  Paradoxically, it takes great fitness to generate the empathy and concentration needed to be a good therapist.  So I have always been a swimmer, doing a mile of laps 3 or 4 times a week.  When I completed 3000 miles in the local pool, there was a picture in the paper of me wet and smiling.  The backstory is that a child had just had an accident in the pool and so, for my moment of fame, I was literally covered in shit.

When my youngest left for college, I set the goal of completing an olympic distance triathlon: 1 mile swim, 24 bike, and 6 mile run.  Initially daunting, it became the inspiration for a renewal in my life.  I shed 40 pounds, found new structure for my time, and made wonderful new friends.  I discovered that running in winter is more comfortable than in summer heat.  Of course, there are exceptions.  The day of my 20 mile run in training for my first marathon, there was an ice storm.  Yet my friends took turns pacing me as we high-stepped gingerly across the ice for the whole distance.  The marathon itself was a pleasure.  The only surprise was when I tried to kick into my normal pace for the closing 10k and discovered there was no strength left in my legs.  So I staggered home like a drunk, throwing my arms in front of me and reflexively shifting my legs to keep from falling over.


I have enjoyed triathlons over the last 15 years: awakening in the dark of night to commute to the site, the nervous anticipation as the dawn arrives, being surrounded by hundreds of fit folk, admiring the new bikes in the transition zone, the careful set up of biking and running gear before peeling on the wet-suit, the exhilaration of banging bodies in the initial swim sprint, then settling into the rhythm of the body doing the work it was trained to do, the primal triumph of overtaking someone on the bike (never the run), and the deep satisfaction of crossing the finish line.  There is the easy camaraderie of athletes as we recover and await the trophy presentations.  Then there is the profound sleep of recovery the following night.  It feels so elemental and right.  The body is meant for such work.

The racing gives meaning to the ritual of training.  Depending on the season, I usually swim 4 times, run 10k 3 times, and bike 40k 2 or 3 times a week.  I am doing something at least 6 days a week.  One payoff is that I can eat whatever I like.  More important, I know and trust my body.  I know when I am injured, and respect that.  I know when I have reserves to tap for a sprint or another set.  And I do have reserves of energy.  That is a profound gift as I age.


Notice the title of my blog. Whoops!  My friend Chris suggests that the “cc” stands for consecutive centuries.  That may be true of the bike trip.  The spelling is just an error.  It is all part of celebrating imperfection!

Choosing the Tour

So many choices:

  • Supported or unsupported: I spent a long time trying to set up my own trip, with sag support from my wife, Pia.  Ultimately, it wasn’t fair to have her spend 6 weeks waiting for me to finish the day’s ride.  She wasn’t comfortable with me on the road alone.  There was no way to find a partner for the trip who would be available at the same time and ride at a similar pace.  I thought of advertising in Adventure Cyclist.  But I decided a commercial tour was best
  • Camp or hotels: A friend summed up this choice best as “tent or credit card.”  It is more expensive but I ultimately decided that it is better to sleep well after a long day in the saddle.
  • How long: I found cross-country tours lasting less than 3 weeks (elite tours) and up to 8 weeks.  It is a matter of how much daily mileage and how many rest days.  It is also a matter of expense (I found a range from $3000 to $18000), the longer trips being more expensive.  But this is also a tour, a chance to see the country and meet people; if you want to go fast, do the RAAM.  I found my best balance in PACtour which does the trip in 27 days of riding.
  • Which direction: Give me the prevailing winds and go from west to east
  • Which course: I would love to do several.  Portland to Portland sounds great.  But there is an advantage in the southern routes: they are shorter.
  • Commercial or fund-raising:  There are several options connected with different churches or causes.  They offer the advantage of another shared bond with the riders.  But they also tend to be done on the cheap, sleeping in church pews or camping.  My back will be sore enough just from riding.

I decided I wanted to do a century each day (30 days of riding), starting in September, and staying in hotels.  PACTour was the best fit.  Even so, I would wish there were some rest days.  I am trying to give myself permission to ride in the van for a day if I need to.


I will bike across America to raise funds to eradicate polio.  This crippling disease stalked my childhood summers, leaving my parents’ generation fearful for their children, generating gruesome images of children trapped in iron lungs, and leaving my cousin on crutches.  The polio vaccine was a triumph.  Polio now exists only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  It is time to remove this threat; it is time to eliminate another disease, as we have with smallpox.

I will bike across America to celebrate my mobility and to honor those who have lost it.

I will bike across America as a personal challenge.  After 43 years as a professional psychotherapist, I want to transition away from full-time work.  I want a meaningful challenge as I usher in the next phase of my life.  I hope I can inspire you to create your own challenges, give guidance to those entering the world of ultra-distance biking, and give an entertaining account of my progress.