Tuesday, May 13, 2008

EMS Memorial Ride, 2008

I hope everyone is following the Austin EMS cycle team this year. If you have arrived HERE, you are at the 2007 blog. Please click on the link to go to the 2008 blog:

Thank you for your support and please send a thought, a prayer and a thank you in the direction of Rita and Harlon. Eric's parents have maintained their utter poise, patience, grace and support in spite of the fact that the ATCEMS Cycle Team is riding the EMS Memorial Bike Ride because of Eric's death. Talk to Rita sometime and she'll be more than happy to share precious moments from Eric's LIFE.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

100 Club Honor

The Hill Country 100 Club honored the Austin Paramedic Bike Team this evening with a plaque. Below are several Marble Falls EMS members, the Bike Team and Eric's parents, Rita and Harlon Hansen. Commander Frank Urias was on hand to take photos - thanks, Frank. Marble Falls EMS also gave us a plaque at their Christmas Banquet. Both plaques will hang at EMS headquarters.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

My Thoughts...Aaron

I’m writing this as we are driving, well Mark is driving and I am riding, back to Austin. I have been reflecting on the events of the past week while riding home. While the ride has been long and tiresome, it has been nice to spend these past couple of days with the team. I feel that the past week has been truly life changing and the memories will be something that I carry with me always. The vast range of emotions that I experienced was unlike anything I had ever been subjected to. The honor I felt being a part of the team, the shear exhaustion and physical pain I felt after each day of riding, the incredible respect that I found for so many of my fellow cyclists and EMS family, the sadness and pain that I felt as I watched the families who had lost loved ones at the memorial ceremony receive the white rose and the folded flag. Though there were logistical issues with the ride coordinators which produced frustrations aplenty, I have never before been a part of such a tightly knit group of individuals with a single goal in mind – honoring EMT’s and Paramedics killed in the line of duty. I don’t believe that I could ever put into words how this past week has made me feel, what I have learned or friendships that I have made. One thing that I can describe is how proud I am to be a part of this amazing group of individuals who through their love to serve and help their fellow man in the times of greatest need that comprise this family of heroes we call Emergency Medical Services.

Thank you to my team: Mark, Susan, Cheryl and Tree…you guys are the best! To the friends I made while on the ride, you are all awesome and will always hold a special place in my heart. And to the families whose loved ones were the entire reason for the ride and the ceremony…YOU are my heroes! Your loved ones will never be forgotten…


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day 6....a little late in posting

I woke Friday morning in a lot pain. My newly acquired road rash I was sporting was not exactly the new summer wear everyone would be seeking this summer. My bike was in worse condition and would require the attention of a good bike mechanic before she would be road worthy.
Again the riders were divided into two groups. Mark was feeling a little under the weather with a stomach bug so he and I sagged in the truck- Tree and Aaron also were feeling poorly too and joined us as well. Cheryl was the only one to ride the entire ride from Texas today. She is an amazing and very strong women!
The terrain was difficult again with long steep hills. The riders again gained 3000 feet before lunch. The rolling hills and farm land was nothing short of amazing. The dairy cows and horses looking over the fences at the site of us in spandex racing by.
We stopped and had lunch in a small community that had the coolest tourist attractions. Across the street from the EMS/fire station was a zoo. It was kinda startling to be eating a sandwich and hear the screech of a monkey. Along with the zoo was a Dinosaur park and a replica of Stonehenge called Foamhenge. I was able to talk the group of riders to pose for a picture with Foamhenge in the background.
At lunch Mark worked on my bike. He had to change out the back wheel - one spoke was bent and anther was completely broken. The front right gear/break level was broken, the rear derail er was bent. All this was minded to the best that could be at he side of a back country Virginia road. I hopped on and did a little test ride. I don’t know what looked more pathetic my bike or me riding it with my hand in a cast and my arm bandaged up.
Though my bike was ride able I was still not in the best of condition. The road rash was oozing fluids and the bruising was beginning to develop over my entire body. The vicodine the doctor gave me was only taking the edge off the pain. I elected not to ride after lunch however Mark, Tree and Aaron joined the rest of the riders.
The town just outside Roanoke the group from Kentucky joined us. They had 7 riders. The last 10 miles of the last day all the riders rode together into Roanoke. We also gain about 2 dozen riders from in and around Roanoke. Just before we rode into Roanoke I got onto my bike so I could take part in the ceremonially ride into town.
I was not going to go all the way to NYC and start a 600 mile bike and not ride the last 5 miles of the ride.
The sidewalks of Roanoke were lined with people clapping and waving signs. I weaved past the newly added cyclist to catch up with our group of riders - my new best friends. Some of the most amazing people - I wanted to share this moment with them. Finally I caught up with my team mates and completed the ride with Tree. As we turned into the long driveway that lead to the hotel the crowds grew. We were greeted at the entrance of the hotel by EMTs/Paramedics from all over the country! There were family members of the people we were riding for- The Hanson's, there were Roanoke citizens, and tv and newspaper cameras.
We rode around the circle entrance of the hotel twice before getting off our bikes. We embraced one anther, tears flowed from our eyes and champagne was sprayed on us by the crowds. The emotions were an extreme mixture of sadness for our departed colleagues, happiness for what we had just accomplish, sadness b/c we wouldn’t be ridin' with the guys from Maine or the students from Minnesota or the guys from Georgia, or the guys from NYC. Our bodies hurt more than you could ever imagine just hours before now all the pain was temporally gone.
Six days ago getting my bike out of Mark’s truck at Jacob’s Hospital in NYC to get ready to begin this journey I never imagined how I would feel at this moment. Words can never explain the emotions we went through, the sights we saw and the nicest people we had met over the last 6 days.
I am thankful for all the people who have made this trip possible. I am truly blessed. My friends and family, the department, my colleagues and most of my teammates.

Another emsresponder.com article!

Some fabulous coverage of the ride, including the Texas Team:


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're Back, Ya'll! ... Tree

We finally made it back late last night to Austin! We still have have some posts to publish as well as photos from day 6 and the memorial service. The wifi service at the last (and best!) hotel was finicky and I apologize. Once we arrived in Roanoke, events were non-stop, as well.

I have also invited David Fernandez and the Hansons to write a post, if they wish.

We have a huge party in the planning stages which will probably be about two months from now.

In the 22 hour drive back to Austin, I put my thoughts down into a word document. It is seven pages, single spaced. Not short enough for the blog but maybe I'll make it a link or I can attach to an email.

You all are the best... Be safe...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Memorial Service Cheryl

Below is a copy of the story from the local newspaper on the Memorial Service on Saturday night.
Please read the article as it does have important information at the end.
What you won't find in the article are the words that tell you what a dignified and humbling ceremony it was. Our Honor Guard representatives, Mark Hawkins and Geoffrey Winslow, were exemplary. I was very proud of them.
NYFD Chief of EMS, John Peruggia said, "...the streets are our office. Our work is you..." He was referring in part to EMS Week, but also to the fact that we are memorializing people who died in the line of duty while serving their country here, in our own streets.

From the Roanoke Times:
Memorial service hallows sacrifice
The service honored 16 emergency medical professionals who were killed helping others.
By Neil Harvey 981-3340
The 16 subjects of Saturday's National EMS Memorial Service were people from all around the country:
Sparta, N.C., and Scranton, Pa.; Marble Falls, Texas, and Middletown, Ind.; Aurora, Colo., and Clarksville, Tenn. One was from the Bronx; one from Phoenix; three were from Seattle and five from Albuquerque, N.M.
Despite their diverse locations, they were united by the fact that they were emergency personnel who died in the act of helping others.
The memorial service, now in its 15th year and held at First Baptist Church on Third Street in Roanoke, honored the workers and their sacrifices. Saturday's ceremony brought their number of honorees to 350.
"We're thankful that there are those among us who had the willingness to lay their lives down," said the Rev. Bill Ashford, associate pastor of the church, in his invocation.
A.J. Heightman, editor of the Journal of Emergency Medical Service, presented an emotional keynote speech in which he reflected on new honoree Lt. John Buchner, who was killed on the job in 1981. Buchner was part of the same ambulance team as Heightman's father.
Others spotlighted by the ceremony were equally poignant: Deborah Reeve, a member of the New York City Fire Department EMS who died last year of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer doctors believe was caused by her exposure to chemicals at Ground Zero on 9/11; five members of a Med Flight Air Ambulance crew, including a husband and wife, who died in aircraft accidents in New Mexico in 2004 and 2007; Eric Hanson, a paramedic whose ambulance was struck by an oncoming truck; and many more.
"They were all taken too early; they all had unfulfilled dreams," Heightman said. "They all had an uncanny sense of humor, because you can't be an EMT without a sense of humor."
In the closing remarks, Chief Mary Beth Michos, of Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue, urged those in attendance to take their concerns further.
"We have to do more than just come here every year," Michos said. "We have to do a better job in developing a culture of safety."
She spoke of the lack of restraint systems in emergency vehicles and advocated safety training, increased knowledge and especially emergency prevention.
"We should be a business that strives to put itself out of business," she said.
The families of the honorees were presented with a medallion, a white rose and an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Adding to the melancholy of the evening was the possibility that this may be the last year the EMS memorial is held in Roanoke. Though the service will continue regardless, the 2006 folding of Roanoke's To the Rescue museum has raised the possibility that the event might be relocated next year. Kansas City, Mo., and Denver, among other cities, have already submitted proposals.
The ceremony ended outside the sanctuary, with music on the church steps -- "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes, then taps on trumpet -- and a flyover by Lifeguard 10.
The Mill Mountain Star was prominent on the horizon, and if Saturday's service does turn out to be the last held in Roanoke, the landmark offered visitors a warm and fitting farewell.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Roanoke News Footage Cheryl

There was a small related article in the local newspaper, but great footage on one of the television stations - practically the whole Austin team. Check it out!!!!

The news station is wdbj7

Sorry, this touch screen won't allow me to make a link, so you will have to type in wdbj7.com in your browser.

Thanks again to all our supporter's near and far. It is really wonderful to see a lot of people around here wearing our pins, and knowing that a lot of you back home are wearing them as well is so touching. Family, friends, co-workers, we could not have done this without you. Thank You Again!!!!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Day 6: With Love from Roanoke... Tree

WE ARE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

The day started off with a hot breakfast in the lobby. Read: HOT. We hit the road and eventually found a Walmart where Susan was able to buy some other clothes that didn't rub against all her road rash (what a trooper! She has a bruise that covers about half of her thigh). From there, we hooked up with the riders at the lunch stop which was about at mile 50. Or 40. Something like that. Cheryl ended up doing all 90 miles today. She's a rockstar, what can I say. Aaron, Mark and I did about 30 or so. Susan got dropped into the last 5 or miles of the ride -- another rockstar, broken finger and all!! The hills were just as frequent but today they were not as steep, just long and gradual.

The Kentucky riders (a different ride that started there) met us 12 miles outside of Roanoke. We also gained several riders from the area, as well. We made it to Roanoke at 5pm with a huge EMS and police escort as well as a helicopter flyover. Amazingly enough, the 12 miles into Roanoke was relatively flat (no complaints here). Our welcome at the Hotel Roanoke was complete with Harlin, Rita (complete with a welcome sign!), David, and Geoff Winslow. Vaughn, we are missing you and ask for an update everyday. We're sorry again that you are not here with us but we speak of you often to the other riders and you are in their thoughts and prayers.

The physical pain of the ride is now over and the emotional side is beginning to take over. The reunion hugs this evening were complete with not tears but deep sobs over the physical accomplishment -- climbing the next hill after you get to the top of the last one and say to yourself you can't make it any farther -- and the emotional pain of honoring Eric. He would be very embarassed by all this fuss. If he knew of this ride, I know it would be something he would have wanted to do.

We introduced David, Harlin, and Rita to some of our new family this evening at dinner – Team Maine and Team Minnesota. Team Minnesota has been filming the ride to make a video. They announced tonight at dinner that they are going to dedicate the film to Eric. These are friends we will have forever. When they wrote Eric’s name in chalk on the ground yesterday, we thought, “they get it.” Aside from listening to our stories about Eric and wearing the ride pin, that was by far the most thoughtful gesture. Blane, from Team Maine, watched Dave Page (from Team Minnesota), Susan, and Aaron cry in front of his name when they stopped to take a photo. Blane was driving the Team Maine vehicle at the time. He said he was sitting there trying to figure out what was going on when he finally saw Eric’s name written and that they were crying. He told us that he began to cry as well inside the vehicle and thought to himself, “this is what this ride is about.” It’s not about doing every single mile. It’s not about going super fast. It is ordinary people doing more than they think they can do to honor those that have died. People constantly tell me they would ‘never’ be able to do a ride like this. It is not true. Anyone can. It is not easy. But, you spend all day long pushing yourself and others (and being pushed) to accomplish what you think is the impossible. As you start to climb a hill, you tell yourself, just keep peddling. You focus on the pain and tell yourself it is only temporary. Sooner or later, you’re at the top. The sun shines down at you and you upshift a bit and hopefully enjoy a bit of coasting as the beautiful scenery refocuses your attention.

Tomorrow’s ceremony is not going to be easy. We have 60 more friends to lean on and the shoulders of Rita, Harlin, David, and Geoff.

Kyla, I miss you and wish you were here. Next year it is all you, girl – we’ll be back and we’d love to have you with us on the Team. You have been on my mind every day this week. Your courage inspires all of us. I have felt a void for you and Vaughn all this week. I especially missed you guys tonight. I think of our day in Marble Falls before you left. You rock. Thanks for getting me up all the hills.

I’ll get some photos up tomorrow… Technical wifi issues… Be safe out there…

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Day 5. We are so close but So Far Away!

This will be a short entry tonight…..as you can guess from the picture of the road rash was me. The front wheel of my bike got caught in the rail causing me to take a little spill. The right side of my body has some nice road rash and chipped a bone in my finger.

Prior to the fall the day started out great. We began much earlier today. We were in the rolling hills of the Shanadauha (sp I'm too tired to look it up)valley. The hills were not as bad as the past few days but after 4 days of riding my legs were spent - done. Each peddle stroke took all the energy I had.

The group got inspiration from a group of paramedic students from Minnesota. They took off ahead of the group and painted the route with words of encouragement. They also wrote the names of EMTs and Paramedics who we were riding for- when I passed Eric’s name all the emotions seemed to over take me. I returned back down the hill and joined Aaron and Dave Page from Minnesota. Dave took our picture next to Eric’s name. We took a few minutes to regain our composure climbed back on our bikes and hammered out the next 15 or so miles to our lunch spot. This simple gesture by the Minnesota students was very thoughtful - and will be something I will always carry with me.

When we arrive at the designated lunch spot I was physically and emotionally drained. My quads & hamstrings were killing me, 4 ½ days in the saddle were beginning to take its toll - I didn’t think I could go another mile much less the next 30 or so miles to the hotel. But for whatever reason I rode off with the group.

We were in a small college town of Hendersonberg. On the outskirts of the town I laid my bike down- this ended my day of riding and produced my 22nd broken bone and lots of road rash. The bike is in pretty bad shape but Mark seems to think he can fix it enough for me to ride tomorrow, though I don’t think I can ride the full 90 miles tomorrow I will ride the last few miles into Roanoke!

Day 5: Woodstock, VA to Staunton, VA... Tree

A good way to sum up today's ride... 68 miles of 3,000 (yes, three thousand) feet of elevation at an average speed of 12mph. Can I get a woop woop?!

For those back in Texas... the hills out here make Loop 360 look like speed bumps. Think 2222 but worse. Yeah.

We had a great day today... There is that minor part of today about Susan's spill... I will also let Susan tell her story... I'm not sure who won the bet back home but yes, there is a bone broken. We're going to get her bike fixed up and she will still ride into Roanoke with us!!

Today was absolutely exhilarting. Half of the riders left this morning earlier than usual in order to accomplish the goal of the 68 miles to Staunton. We didn't want anyone to feel any pressure they weren't going fast enough or that any portion of the ride had to be in a vehicle with their bike. The result? Success. Today would not had been what it was if it was not for Team Minnesota. The students put up rest stops every 10 miles to help us get through the hills and the heat and the hills. And the hills. And some more hills. They fed us well at the lunch stop and kept us super hydrated. The students have made it possible for Team Texas to be on the road together every day of the ride by driving Mark's truck otherwise we would have had to rotate off the bike to drive it. THEY ROCK!! They also surprised us today by writing words of encouragement in chalk on the road. Not only that but they also wrote all the inductees into Saturday's memorial throughout the course today. When the team came across Eric's name we had to stop and share the moment. The day did not go by without tears. I have often found myself this week climbing slowly up a hill and crying. Bicycle riding for myself like many others is a way to clear the mind and work through emotion. As the week has progressed, the physical and emotional aspects of the ride is of various different levels -- being here in Eric's honor, doing an event like this with other EMTs and paramedics from across the country, honoring those that have died in the line of duty. David Fernandez arrived at the hotel late this evening. He flew into Baltimore and drove a rental car to Stoughton. But, our little team seems incomplete without Vaughn. Vaughn, we are thinking of you and miss you dearly. We have heard updates from Scott Parker, Rita, and David. Your spirit is with us!

Aaron, Susan, and I were able to meet one of Eric's best friends at Coventry's peace pole and tree dedication to Eric last month. I don't think Mike considers himself a 'cyclist' but he very much is. He rides his bike rain or shine. I don't think he owns any lycra but he's hardcore in my book. Mike, we are thinking of you here this week and wish you could be here. Be safe out there on your bike!

Tomorrow's ride is 90 miles into Roanoke. We are supposed to take off at 0600 in order to hook up with the Kentucky riders and ride into Roanoke at 1700. Susan needs some rest and Mark has begun to not feel well. We're going to get some good rest tonight and hit the road in the truck and catch up to the ride in the vehicle. It's more important to us to take care of each other right now than make every 90 of the miles tomorrow. We'll all ride into Roanoke as a team...

We miss everyone back home and we're honored to be here. Thank you again for everyone's support -- here on the ride and everyone back in Texas.

Check us out on the local news


Number 22 Cheryl

This sign tells the cyclist to beware of the tracks. Susan was aware of them, but they got her anyway. She gave us a really big scare, but will be okay. I will leave it to her to tell you all about it...

The Three Little Bears Cheryl

My son Cyrus and his girlfriend Kimberly are here on the ride with me. Cy had to bring his work with him. Typically, he works in whatever hotel we are in until late checkout, then they drive to the next one to continue working. Late check-outs being one o’clock and check-ins being three, they have about two hours to fill. Cy plugs his laptop into the car and works as they drive to the new location. They took a long-cut through the forest from Westminster to Woodstock and WERE IN THE CAR when they came around the corner and caught the three baby bears scrambling down a tree as mama looked on.

Memorial Ride, Day Five Cheryl

Memorial Ride, Day Five Cheryl
The nicest thing about riding today is that no one was SERIOUSLY injured. The weather was cool to start, but as it warmed up, so did the winds. The hills were really just one big incline with wind blowing in our faces. The aroma and bouquet of flowers, fresh mowed fields and clean country air was replaced too many times by the odor of silage, hog farms and compost. I guess the odors went along with the territory…

Memorial Ride, Day Four Cheryl

Memorial Ride, Day Four Cheryl
I am skipping day three because it has already been written about quite a bit. Wednesday, day four was a really nice day. Not easy, not hard, lots of hills, and almost no wind. We started out cool and it almost seemed like it would not get warm and then all of a sudden it was sunny and beautiful. We rode through some gorgeous canopied woods, fragrant with honeysuckle and the like. We ate lunch on the banks of the Potomac and took a ride across White’s Ferry. We finished on a nine mile bike trail that was devoid of cars except for a few street crossings. Dinner was with the Woodstock Rescue Squad. Many volunteer fire departments have tax dollars to spend on buildings and equipment. Some volunteer fire and EMS must depend on community donations and fund drives. Woodstock sells apple butter as one of their major fund raisers, made from the fabulous apples grown locally. Apple butter was available on the table for sampling at dinner. I bought two jars and it is some of the best I have ever had. Four bucks for a pint and six for a quart.

Super Support Cheryl

Perhaps the picture suggests a new meaning to "emergency" support. There are many support people on our ride. They block intersections, lead us, protect us from behind, set up lunch, are the advance team for the breaks and much more than I can mention here or even know. There are folks on this ride from Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Georgia, and New Orleans (no, not a state, but deserves a mention, as I think he is the only one).
We love our supporters and can't give big enough thanks!!!

Ride, Day Two (I know, way behind) Cheryl

Day two of the EMS Memorial Bike Ride took us from Princeton to Philadelphia. The ride started out easy, fairly flat, then into gentle rolling hills and a few hills that were close enough together and difficult enough to simulate a decent interval workout. We rode through Philadelphia with a police escort all the way to our hotel next to the stadium. We all cleaned up and went over to the Collingdale Fire Company #1 , who treated us to Ziti, chicken, roast beef and an array of fabulous desserts. If you were or are feeling sorry for yourself in any way at all, or were just looking for some good old fashioned inspiration, here it is: The reason the ride stops in Collingdale is because they lost a member of theirs in a line of duty death about 20 years ago. He was only 38. He had a wife and 10 children, the oldest child being 16 and the youngest about 16 months. After his death, his wife bought the deli down the street and made it a success (the people say that there was a shooting or stabbing about once a month in the area at the time she bought it – and there has not been ONE since). Oh, those desserts? One of his daughters made most of them. She made the 3-layer strawberry cake, the chocolate cheesecake, another chocolate cake and the cookies.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Day 4: We're in Virginia!! ... Tree

Ok, so you already know that we rode from Westminister, Pennsylvania to Woodstock, Virginia today. The ride has been increasingly challenging. I woke up this morning severly dehydrated with a number of other systemic body issues. I decided to help Mike Pistachio (it's actually Postacio but we bonded over childhood nicknames we were given because of our last names) follow the riders in one of the FDNY mini buses. We had a full escort from Mt. Airy, PA fire/ems. Their station in Mt. Airy was our first rest stop -- see the classic ambulance photo. Mt. Airy's Mayor was there and read a proclamation of the ride from the city. His words were very moving as he praised the effort of the ride and EMS. All rest stops today were provided by local (and mostly volunteer based) fire/ems squads. Every squad that has provided a rest stop or meal has been more than accomodating and hospitable. There is excitement on their faces and many kind words when we arrive.

Today was very challenging. I go the mileage wrong for yesterday -- they actually completed 75 of the 108 miles. I'm not sure what we were supposed to do today but the ride ended up doing only about 65 miles. Our late starts probably have more to do with us having to pack up the ride early than the average speed of the ride. Going 35mph downhill is very nice.. Going 5mph uphill feels like you're about to start going backwards. Anyhow, we're all doing the best we can. The weather has been beautiful -- high 70s to mid 80s with a very negligible wind -- and the scenery even more beautiful than that. Driving with Mike today gave me plenty of opportunity to share some of those sites.

I got on my bike after lunch as we lined up to ride the ferry across the Potomac River. We made it to Virginia! You can only imagine how exhilating it is to cross our final state border. The guys from Maine are a constant source of inspiration. But, today, Carl got a taste of a road bike. The secret is out and he is now hooked. There is also a woman from Massachusetts doing the ride in triathlon shorts. Read: not enough padding. She's such a haus so I'm not surprised. As the ride got lost today out on the bikes, she found a bike shop and got a pair of bike shorts. The possibilities are truly endless now.

Icy hot patches have worked wonders on my back pain. Yay, icy hot patches. I wake up in the morning and I feel like a new woman. Pain and soreness aside, we are all having a great time. There are moments of frustration during the day due to getting lost, dehydration, hunger, getting lost, and the last two nights of getting to the hotel later than desired. We're all pushing through and giving each other the support we need -- not only on our small team level but to the larger team. The other riders are giving us a lot of support for doing the ride for Eric. They ask many questions and really look forward to meeting everyone this weekend. It means a lot for a fellow rider to ask about the accident. We were telling another rider from FDNY EMS about it tonight. The conversation moved to his cancer. He has been a source of inspiration for me in many ways but when he told me he was living with cancer I was beyond words.

There are a few more stories I wanted to share about today and then I must get some rest as we have an 0700 start tomorrow morning.

Our last rest stop was hosted by Hamilton fire/ems. When we arrived (our first rest stop in Virginia) they recognized the Texas Team and told us they were just looking at the blog before we got there. You guys were amazing and thank you!! I ate two more apples on the bus into Woodstock! Volunteer squads are the best, you guys are the real heroes of the community. Thank you for what you do the ride and thank you for serving your communities.

Vaughn will unfortunately not be joing us in Roanoke. Susan spoke to Scott Parker tonight after dinner and the accident was more serious than I thought. Please keep him, his family, and the family of the other vehicle in your prayers. Vaughn will pull through this but we were told he is still in the hospital. We are thinking of you, Vaughn! David will be meeting us at the hotel tomorrow night, please keep him in your thoughts as well during his travels.

Good night, Woodstock! Your squad served up a top-notch meal -- complete with cake. Cake! And, cobbler!! Thank you for supporting the ride. Your smiles and home cooking hit the spot. All the spots, actually!


Ride Day 4...Aaron

We only thought we had ridden big hills before today...the previous days were just small bumps! We rode 50+ miles of the most exhasuting yet breathtakingly beautiful terrain I have ever seen! Mile after mile of the country side looked like it had come straight out of a magazine. By lunchtime I was exhausted and decided to ride the first few miles after lunch in the van...well, that part took a little longer than anticipated and so we packed up and drove the rest of the way into town. We had a wonderful home cooked meal at the Woodstock EMS station. The food was refreshing and delicious and the people were so appreciative of our efforts.

We have an early start tomorrow and I'm exhausted so I will write more tomorrow...

You guys stay safe and we miss you all!



I am uploading all of the photos online.

Go to this website:


Email address: austinparamediccycleteam@yahoo.com
Password: bike07

Day 4.....

After the very hard day on the road yesterday I woke surprisingly well rested. My legs a bit sore but not too bad. The day began with a huge breakfast..........this was the first day we actually started out with food other than a doughnut.

We were instructed to be ready to leave the hotel at 8am. By 9:30 we were leaving the parking lot. We were divided into 2 groups again.

This was the first day that was well organized. A good route, scheduled breaks and we only got lost once. We climbed about 3000 feet before lunch. It was more tough hills. And lots of them. The hills were relentless. We kept climbing and climbing and climbing.

We ate lunch at a park on the Potomac River. A nice rest after lunch and then we loaded onto a fairy crossed the river and for the next few hours rode on rail to trails. Rails to trails are hike and bike trails that have been converted from old Rail roads. Ironically this was my Combined Charity contribution this year - I never thought I would get to ride on the converted rail road trails - The trail is paved, very wooded/shaded and FLAT! This was only supposed to be for about 10 miles however I along with half of the other riders did not see the sign to the next rest stop and missed the turn. We ended up 5 miles down the trail. The trail dead ended into a bike store. We all parked our bikes and went inside. We thought it was strange b/c we didn't have our usual 8-10 support vehicles. Finally Mike (from NY the ride coordinator) shows up and tells us we missed the turn. We get back on our bikes and ride the 5 miles back to the water stop at Hamilton EMS station.

In the town of Hamilton we had to load the bikes up - it was getting late- 5p and we still had 35 miles to Woodstock, VA were we are to stay the night. Woodstock EMS provided a lovely dinner of BBQ chicken, homemade mac-n-cheese and green beans - with homemade dinner rolls and homemade apple butter! Homemade cherry cobbler and large cake decorated with bikes.Yummy! Thank you Woodstock!

We are now in the South - the first little town in Virgina we saw a gun store and a trailer park.

Despite the hills we had an average speed of 12.7 mph before lunch and increased to 14.9 after lunch. The weather again was perfect. Mid 60's at the start and by the afternoon mid 70's.

Again the scenery was gorgeous. Farm land, horses, dairy farms, and old old old houses. The water stops were well timed at every 10-15 miles at different ems stations. The mayor of Clear Spring, Maryland was on hand at one of the water stations. He proclaimed today EMS Memorial Bike Ride day- read a nice speech about the ride, EMS week and the EMS memorial.

The riders all seemed to be in better spirits today after the long and hard day on the road yesterday. There were a few riders that had to sag out b/c of knee injuries but for the most part we all completed the day.

I talked to Scott Parker today and was informed that Vaughn, from Marble Falls was involved in an accident and will not be able to join us tomorrow. Vaughn if you are reading this - we will be thinking of you and you are in our prayers. We hope you make a speedy recovery.

One last thing to post.......................we have meet some really amazing people on the ride. There is a group of medics from Maine, NorthStar EMS. These guys are killing us - they are doing the ride on their mountain bikes! They are all very nice and a lot of fun to ride with. Their bike medic program is very well funded. They have a dedicated bike trailer, SUV and 6 custom bikes! Needless to say we have bike medic envy.

It is late and tomorrow is another early and long day on the road- we will be in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains - More HILLS! :) Two more days and we will be in Roanoke!

day 3........the day I met some hills

I awoke still a little sore from the day before. AND very hungry! We loaded up the bikes in the trucks and moved to the outskirts of Philly were we picked up another police escorts who got us thru the suburbs of Philly. For our breakfast we had Dunkin Doughnuts. Not my way of proper fuel to begin a 108 mile bike ride - but the rest of the groups seemed happy....when the bananas and yogurt were brought out this was a nice addition.

Our first rest stop about 20 miles out provided by Newcastle EMS. We were greeted with cold water and fruit and power bars! After a rest and a snack we headed out.

The ride was much tougher than every ones expectations. We began the hills. I love the hills. Going up. Climbing and climbing and still climbing. The down hill is always fast and when you get to the bottom you want to do it all over again.

We left Pennsylvania, rode into Delaware were we had lunch on the banks of the Sassaquana (sp?) river. Another beautiful spot to have lunch. We took a long lunch and got back to ridden.

Right off the bat we hit some gnarly hills. Very steep and very long. We lost a few riders. This killed our legs going from cold to hitting the hills. Finally we hit a flat area that took us along the bank of the river. The road was lined on both sides by giant trees. The shade from the trees protected us from the afternoon sun. We rode single file at a nice steady pace. AND then once we crossed the river and into Maryland we hit the hills again. But this time they were even steeper and longer. We went up the biggest hill I have ever rode on a bike- and the downhill I hit 46 mph! That is fast on a bike! This was grueling! I loved every minute of it. At the top of one of the steep hills we had a rest stop at Cliffs Cut Rate Liquor Store.

When we got to the top we all got off our bikes and rested in the shade. I think some people took advantage of the rest stop and made a purchase for later in the night.

We spent too long at the rest stop. I felt great when I got to the rest stop but they kept us at the rest stop for about an hour. My legs were cold and stiff. When we left the rest stop the hills did not stop. One right after another. My legs were so stiff and sore I could not manage the pace and was forced to sag out by the event organizers. At first this killed me emotionally. But after I cooled off in the AC and drank some water and stretched my sore legs I was glad I did....because we still had another 3 days of riding.

Again dinner was provided to us......by the local EMS. Tonight's dinner was provided by Westminster. We dined on hamburgers and hotdogs, potato salad and coleslaw, chips and pickles. Nice change from the pasta. I was so very tired and hungry by the time we made it to the Westminster EMS/Fire station. The food was great. I know we all appreciated the hospitality.

We finally made it back to the hotel at about 9 in the evening. The guys unloaded the truck and Tree and I did the laundry - how 2 strong independent women let the guys do all the lifting and moving and we did the laundry I don't know but it seemed like a good deal to us. I was just about the most tired and sore I had ever been. The team had to hold me up. They let me get a shower first. And Cheryl's kids provided the cold beer thank you Sy and Kim! Tree sent me to bed and took care of the laundry - now that is a true friend - washing all of our dirty bike shorts, shirts and socks! Thank you Tree.

I crawled into bed and fell asleep watching Jon Stewart.

Day 2........look out Philly here we come

With proper planning the night before we slept in till 8am for day two. We were instructed to be ready to roll out at 9 am. As we made our way out of the hotel and out into the parking lot everyone appeared well rested and was excited about the ride that would take us into Philadelphia.
We left Princeton, NJ into two groups. The first group was going to be the fast group of riders. The riders who could not be kept up with the pack would have to be picked up by the sag wagon and would not get to ride until the group meet up for lunch. The second group would go at it a little slower. Seeing on how we still had about 540 miles to go and we our legs were cold I elected to ride with the slower riders.
Once we got out town the ride was on small two-lane back country roads lined with large trees. These scenery of the rolling hills of Pennsylvania was beautiful. The large estates built in the 1800s gave away to farm houses. We still got the same looks from people as we rode into small Pennsylvania towns- looks of amazement of seeing ambulances followed by cyclist followed by more ambulances.
The ride organizers were very particular about how we rode. Single fill. No exceptions. Not too fast. And not to slow. This proved problematic for most of us who were used to riding in groups. This kept you from talking to anyone. Or passing. Or moving out of the way of a slower riders. And so of course I did not make their happy list of people. I should of elected to ride in the fast paced group. Lets just say I was glad I had my ipod today to get me through the 30 miles we did at an 11 mile and hour pace. If it weren’t for the gorgeous scenery and the tunes coming from my ipod I am sure I would have elected to ride in the sag.
Both groups meet at Washington Park on the Delaware. We dined like Kings and Queens on PP&G and sliced deli meat. After eating and resting up - the water bottles were filled up and we were off for the second part of the day.
This time we were kept in a single group. Some of the slower rides called it done for the day and loaded their bikes into the sag wagon. The first part of the ride was perfect riding weather - the temperature was about 60 degrees and warming slowly. The sun was out and the wind was none. After lunch the temperate began to climb into the mid 70’s and with this the wind began to pick up.
We were finally rode as a pack of riders - with a nice steady speed - and able to ride 2 x 2 - the ipod came off and I was able to strike up conversation with the other riders. The guy from the morning half of the ride who was so insistent about riding in single fill because of “safety” reasons was now at the front of the pack showing off by weaving his bike back-n-forth.

When we came into Philly we had another PD escort. The PD officer who was our escort/pace car was the best. He kept the group of 47 riders together - the pace was not too fast but not to slow. We went through some rough looking neighborhoods but we got many waves with all the fingers and many positive honks of horns in support of the ride.

About 5-8 miles from the hotel my cleat broke! I had to sag out the rest of the ride :( . Thank God we had a bike mechanic Ted (who is also the medical director from Maine) was able to fix my cleat! THANK YOU TED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dinner was provided by Collingwood Fire/EMS. We were welcomed us into their station for dinner. The station was none like I had ever scene. They had a Hall kinda like a VFW hall - there was a bar - yes a bar - they handed us a beer! :) Nice and cold after a long day on a bike. Dinner was a combination of philly steak sandwiches and pasta. And a dessert table as big as the dinner buffet!

The dinner was again outstanding their hospitality was wonderful. THANK YOU COLLINGWOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When we got back to the hotel a group of folks headed to the world famous Geno's for an originally Philly cheese steak sandwich. I was spent - but now after I had rested and let my first dinner digest I wish I had gone with them. I will have to remember this side trip for next year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ride Day 3, Philadelphia PA to Westminister MD... Tree

Hello, Everyone!! I'm loving the emails -- you guys are great! Hearing from you guys that you can't wait to see the blog everyday just adds to the love. THANK YOU!!

I can't believe we began the day in Philadelphia, it seems so long ago. We drove a little bit out of Philadelphia to the Delaware/Philadelphia border to start the ride. New Castle Delware PD and EMS gave us a huge welcome and escort. As we drove past the New Castle PD station, we had a huge group of fans cheering us on! My chain kept slipping as we were rolling through some of the downtown area and unfortunately had to hitch a ride. New Castle EMS hosted our first rest stop, about 25 miles into the ride. Mark and Dr. Ted (an ER director in Maine and a part-time bike mechanic -- can you believe it?!) were able to fix my bike issues and we were all on the road again. We were warned that today's 108 mile ride was hard and that the hills only get harder. And, it was all true. Delaware was beautiful and full of hills. Maryland was also beautiful and full of even bigger hills, high rollers, if you will. Long twisty, high rollers.

Did I mention big hills?

Our 108 mile ride unfortunately turned into about a 65 mile ride (whose counting miles with all these hills? 70 miles today is like 150 back home). The hills slowed us all down. Mark even mentioned to me that today was the hardest ride he has ever done, so I guess you guys can get a good idea of what day today was like. After 65 miles which was at 5pm, all the riders were forced to get into the vehicles. We travelled to two more rest stops hosted by FD companies. Around 9pm tonight we finally made it to the hotel. The team was exhausted but they really kicked it today. I got on and off the bike frequently today either from extreme fatigue or bike issues but my spirit isn't broken. You do what you can and you do it to the best of your ability. I saw an ad from Reebok on the NY subway that said (for running), "a 10 minute mile is the same distance as a 6 minute mile." There's a lot of truth to that statement!

So, the hills are bad in New York. Then worse in New Jersey. Then worse than that in Pennsylvania. Then worse in Maryland. Then, Virginia is the big whopper. There was a sign today that said "Scenic Route: Atlantic to Applachians." Can we take the non-scenic route to avoid the mountain range?

The challenge of the ride only makes the end and our purpose that more special. When you climb a hill on your bike, your upper body swings back and forth. I wear a necklace that Rita gave me and as I swing, the necklace gently hits my neck. Feeling the necklace hit my body diverts my attention from the physical pain of the hills to the Hansons and how much people back home are pushing for us.

I heard some unfortunately news tonight that Vaughn was involved in an MVA with his daughter. Rita mentioned in an email that he just needs the Doc's blessing to head to Roanoke -- our thoughts are with you!! Get well and we hope to see you Thursday! Everyone, be safe, life is precious, we love you!

Memorial Bike Ride - Day One by Cheryl

We started off the morning with a ceremony at the FDNY training academy at Fort Totten, the weather being cool and misty. The FDNY bagpipe crew did and excellant job. Amazing Grace always makes me cry, but especially so, when it is played on the bagpipes. Then we had a police escort that took us from the Bronx to downtown Manhattan, all the way to ground zero. The roads are not in the best of repair, so I spent a good deal of time out of the saddle, protecting my bike more than my butt. But how cool! A police escort, no stops, tourists snapping pictures of us, right through Times Square, past Central Park and THEN, a ride to Statten Island on the Statten Island Ferry, with a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty. By this time the weather was perfect for riding, having lost the mistiness and growing steadily warmer. We rode to another fire station, where we were fed lunch and then had to load up to drive across the bridge (no more police escort and too dangerous for bikes). We had biked about 30 miles by that time and had another 30 to go to Princeton, New Jersey. BUT, we got lost/seperated after about 20 miles and had to get in vehicles again for the final part of the day. Turns out, it was probably for the best, since I did see lightning just before the skies opened up with pounding rain and wind.We finished up at Hillsborough Fire Department, who fed us at least four different kinds of pasta, salad, fruit, beer and wine. Did I mention that the food was fabulous? It was.
For my Group Cycle and RPM people: Just think of a nice warm up, then LOTS of jumps. For the bagpipes, remember the Warp Brothers song in RPM 30? Or you can look for a song by Afro Celts that does have some nice bagpipes in it. Follow that with a flat, into gentle hills and end with a strong push as you head into an increasingly stronger wind. The network connection at this hotel won't let me "see" this page the way I would like and my son has to use his computer for work, so I will try to make up yesterday and today tonight.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Memorial Ride Day 2, Princeton NJ to Philadelphia PA... Tree

This was an absolutely beautiful day! The weather couldn't have been better -- around 75 degrees and sunny with a very calm wind (enough as a tailwind and not that noticeable as a headwind (others may beg to differ, especially those that I drafted off of)). The scenery through New Jersey and Pennsylvania was gorgeous! We even crossed the Delaware River! They did not allow bicycle riding over the bridge so unfortunately we had to walk them but we still crossed it! We hit Pennsylvania shortly before lunch. The total mileage today was about 65 miles. Yesterday we only did about 52 miles (was also supposed to be about 60 miles but the ride got lost...). The hills really started rolling today. The terrain gets hillier tomorrow into Maryland and well, you know what we're in for once we hit Virginia (more hills and nice mountain ranges).

Body parts are beginning to get very sore. All body parts. I could highlight a few but I bet you could guess. There is a team here from Maine that I think Susan is going to write about. Anyhow, they are a huge source of inspiration -- they're doing the ride on mountain bikes. Ya. They also have a cool trailer with their department bike team logo. We're taking photos to take back with us to Austin!! Today I even noticed they had their very own water bottles (with the department logo/bike team on it). Taking photos of that, too! Did I mention the trailer??!!

The student team from Minnesota helped us out today with driving Mark's truck so that our team could all ride. Yay, Minnesota!!

My friend Devon, from first grade, and her boyfriend Josh came and had dinner with us at the Collingdale FD station. They both live here in Philadelphia so it was cool to be able to see them this evening. The guys from the FD also gave/sold hats, patches, and most of all, beer mugs. Their homemade dinner and DESSERT was fabulous. Nothing like a great homecooked meal after a day of riding. One of the women their this evening lost her husband and he had been inducted into the Memorial. The Team gave her a pin and she mentioned she had heard of the team from Texas and thanked us for riding.

Riding through Philadelphia this afternoon was such a thrill. We had full police escorts and the honks and thumbs up and screams of encouragement from the public really pushed us on. Once the public sees the FDNY trucks and a bunch of people peddling, well, the encouragement just gushes. We even had a young rider off the sidewalk tag along for a bit.

I'm looking forward to Thursday when Vaughn and David will be here from Marble Falls. Eric's parents will be in Roanoke on Friday to see us all in, as well. Kyla and I have been corresponding over email since we left for the ride, her words of encouragment get me up some of those hills!! It really makes me smile when I have seen people in our department wearing the bike ride pins but it also makes me smile to see our fellow riders wear them -- something else that gets me up those hills. Yay, hills!

We're having a great time, miss everyone but we've made a lot of great friends here. Most are from Maine, New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts but there are others from Minnesota, Georgia, and Virginia.

We'll be able to post photos from today tomorrow -- there was some technical bike and shoe issues we had to deal with tonight that delayed the photo download... We have an early start tomorrow morning... Where's that tylenol????!!!
Mark and I left Texas Thursday May 17th. It was impressive sight to see us barreling down the interstate in his Ford F350 with four (very nice) bikes mounted in the bed of the truck - and all the gear that must accompany a bike team for a 600 mile ride.

Only having a couple of days to get to New York we didn't have time to stop and see the sights along the way - except when we got to Tennessee - we both had to stop and have our picture taken in front of the Wigs Sphere -aka the real name Suns Sphere.

We made great time until we got to Pennsylvania - the hills and trees - the scenery was so fantastic we totally missed out turn and it wasn't until we were in the Poconos we discovered we had missed our turn - this little detour put us an hour or so late into New York.

Once we were on the right track and had entered into New Jersey the beautiful country side faded to suburbs and then into the industrial complex you would associate with New Jersey. But I do have to say much of New Jersey was very beautiful and I now understand why they are the self proclaimed Garden State.

When we arrived in New York City - WOW! OMG! What a place. Needless to say we got lost again - but this time we were paying for toll roads (and when they saw Marks truck they would charges us double the amount of cars :( - you would think they had never seen a truck before).

When we had finally arrived at our hotel - The rest of the team greeted us and helped unload the truck - and most importantly they had us a cold beer- and after the drive we just had it was a well needed beer.

While we were unloading the truck we meet some other bike riders from New Hampshire. With our new friends we headed to Little Italy for some famous New York style pizza. We went to Lambarti's Pizza. This was the best pizza I had ever had!!!!!!!! To top the evening off we went to Ferrera's. This is an Italian dessert place- they had a three page menu of Italian desserts! I had to try the New York Cheese cake. It was the best I had ever had. From now on I will compare all pizza and cheese cake to this very night out.

The next morning we loaded the truck up again to meet up with the rest of the riders. I believe all together we are a group of 47 with about 8-10 support cars. FDNY bagpipes played, the FDNY EMS Commissioner gave us a send off farewell speech and the FDNY Father Chris blessed us, the ride - then we did a photo opt- it was a very quick breakfast provided in Thanks by FDNY EMS. And then we were off for the streets of NY to begin our bike ride to Honor Eric and the rest of the medics who have died in the line of duty.

We had a police escort through Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Harlem, Manhattan, Time Square, Ground Zero, and then to the ferry over to Staten Island. I guess we put in about 30-40 miles just riding around New York. The ride organizers were very thoughtful in this route- as many of us had never been to NY and we got to see many of the hot spots - Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Macy's - Several Churches- it was unfortunate that we didn't get to stop at any of the places along the way - but then this is a bike ride not a sight seeing tour. We did make a brief stop at ground zero.

Lunch was provided by FDNY EMS on Staten Island. From there our police escort said good bye and we were on our own. The days events from here were a little disorganized - the group of 47 split off into 3 groups and the route was not well marked. A thunderstorm rolled in and the rest stop closed because of the lightening. Everyone had to sag in the last 10-15 miles because of the lightening.

It was a quick shower and we went to dinner provided to us by Hillsbrough EMS. The food was fantastic! Pasta, Pasta and more pasta - and cold beer. Never thought I would have a cold beer in an EMS station. Our hosting EMS was very thankful of us doing this ride - and we were even more thankful for the great food. More photo opt and we loaded back up and headed to the hotel for the night.

What a day in NY. If you only had less than 24 hours to spend in NY I couldn't think of a better way to spend it. Eat the best pizza and cheese cake of your life and have a police escort around the City on a bike with 5 of your friends and 42 new friends. Thank You FDNY and NYPD!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Memorial Ride, Day 1 NYC to Princeton, NJ... Tree

As I described below, we left the hotel around 0630 and headed over to Fort Totten (sometimes it is hard to know when there is supposed to be an 'r' in words when they aren't actually pronounced, ;) !). At Fort Totten, the FDNY training center, we loaded up some vehicles and got to meet the rest of the riders. From there, we caravaned over to the EMS Station 20 for the Send-Off Ceremonies and Breakfast. The ceremonies included a word from the FDNY EMS Chief and FDNY EMS Chaplan. FDNY EMS recently lost a medic from the post 9/11 medical complications and this year's ride for FDNY was especially dedicated in her memory. Her family was there and her two small children rode with us out of the EMS Station a short distance. After a short breakfast and photo ops, we got on our bikes and rode through Manhatten. We literally rode from the most northern part of the city to the most southern part. Once in the southern part, we arrived at Ground Zero. Unfortunately, we were running late and had a ferry to catch to Staten Island. We were able to spend less than 10 minutes there. The photo we took was across from the site. Riding through Manhatten, especially for our Team, was a priceless experience -- what a rush to ride through Times Square -- the tourists lining the streets watching us and our police escort was amazing! They even took photos -- of us!! The weather had also been in the 60's and rainy the days preceding the ride. We had a bit of a chilly start but once we started riding, I wanted to shed my leg warmers and five layers of jerseys and jackets! It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and rolling hills.

Once at Staten Island, we rode for about another couple of hours where we arrived at another FDNY EMS Station for lunch. All of the squads that host lunch and dinner are all very significant as they have had at least one line of duty death. After lunch, we had to pack our bikes up and head over the Jersey border. Once in Jersey, we drove to a park, unloaded our bikes, and set out for the last portion of the ride into Princeton, NJ. The Jersey leg of the ride today was supposed to be about 32 miles. It ended up being half of that since the support cars and entire Team got seperated and then lost. Eventually we all made it back to the hotel, though!

We unloaded the cars and cleaned up quickly for dinner. A fabulous dinner was hosted by Hillsborough EMS, a small community here in New Jersey. We took several photos there that we will later post.

A really special part of today was having riders from all over the country come up to us and comment on our blog and Eric. Many riders commented on how the blog was a source of inspirtation for them to train and do the ride. That was the best part of today for the Team. We wear our pins everyday -- both on and off the bike. The student team from Minnesota was especially moved and wanted to add a link of our blog to their website where they are posting a movie they are making of the ride.

We thought of everyone tonight at the Awards Ceremony in Austin. I was able to at least give a verbal report of the ride to Jason over the phone. Unfortunately, our photos never made it on time for the actual ceremony. We tried several times to download them today but we not able to get a connection until our stuff arrived at the hotel (much later than we had hoped). Sorry!

Be safe out there, we miss everyone!

Memorial Ride, Day 1 morning... Tree

It's 0530 -- what are you doing right now? Aaron and I are sitting in the lobby with a small apartment's worth of bike and other ride items. Susan and Mark arrived here around 4:30 yesterday afternoon after a long unexpected tour of New York City. We unloaded Mark's truck and met a couple of guys from New Hampshire and headed to Little Italy for some great pizza and um, well, dessert. We're riding 600 miles, right? How could one resist the temptation of the cannoli (or cheesecake) in NYC?

We are all meeting at about 0700 at the FDNY training center. From there, we ride to an EMS station in the Bronx for breakfast and send-off ceremonies. We then ride to Ground Zero and spend some time there. Then, we take the ferry over to Staten Island. We visit another EMS station for lunch and then we pack up the stuff and drive over to the Jersey border. I believe that is how it goes. Did I mention it is 0530? Yes, no caffeine yet but there is a Dunkin' Donuts down the street. You can take the girl out of yankee-ville but you can't take the yankee out of the girl.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New York City, Day 3...Aaron

I awoke at 0530 and walked outside the hotel only to be greeted by a 20 mph wind, misting rain and temperatures in the 40's! Way too cold for this boy from Austin...so much for the Today Show plans! Instead, we slept in and then headed downtown. Tree and I spent a couple of hours wondering around the Metropolitan Museum. What an amazing and overwhelming compilation of pieces from around the world. We then had lunch at a Thai resturant in Upper Manhatten.

Planning to go out later for dinner...


New York City (almost) Cheryl

Cy, Kimberly and I drove 30 hours almost non-stop from Austin to NYC. We left Austin at 130 in the afternoon and managed to miss all major traffic in all major cities, that is, until we got to the DC and then Baltimore area. Then we spent 3 to 4 hours driving the 20 or so miles of that area. I might be exaggerating a little, but this was the toughest part. (and, yes, I relayed this information to Mark and Susan). By the time we found a place to stay, just less than an hour from NYC, we were all a little frazzeled. But we found a really nice room on our first attempt, food, then showers and sleep in fabulous beds. I am sure that I was asleep within 1 minute of hitting the pillow and didn't waken until 0600 - perfect!
I am doing laundry as I type, already had breakfast and coffee. Kimberly is running on the treadmill and Cy is working in the room (Cy had to bring his work with him to be able to make this trip :-(
We are set to leave the hotel in about an hour. We had some cell reception issues, but by a miracle, my brother Geoff's girlfriend Linda called us and offered a place to stay tonight. She lives out in the Hampton's, so we will be driving out Long Island this morning.
Also, we did stop just west of Roanoke to visit briefly with Kimberly's cousin, Jesse. From that point I was really paying attention to the terrain. The hills are gonna be a blast!!!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New York City, Day 2... Tree

Today, Susan and Mark began their journey North!

This morning Aaron and I set to see the Statue of Liberty. We saw her, but from far away. Oh, but we did see a few gentleman up close that were dressed like her! We didn't have much time to take the ferry over to Ellis Island so we decided to head over to Ground Zero.

No words can do our experience at Ground Zero justice. The site is under major construction/recovery which spans several city blocks both north to south and east to west. There were several large posters of what is being constructed on the site. The site is to be completed in 2010 which includes one large tower (the "Freedom Tower") and also a 9/11 memorial. The original WTC site included about 7 buildings, 2 of which were the twin towers. They have rebuilt only building 7 to date. FDNY station 10 (both an engine and ladder company) is directly across the street from the WTC site and was originally built because of the WTC. One firefighter was hanging out on the street in front of the bay so of course we started talking to him. He was very friendly and gave us a fabulous pizza place suggestion that we later tried. There was a 9/11 memorial inside the bay as well as one very large metal etching on the side of the building and one smaller one in between the two bays of the six firefighters of the station that died. We do have several photos of the area as well as the etchings which we will be able to post tomorrow. Walking around the bordering fence of the site, we eventually came up on the WTC subway station which has been restored and is now also a temporary memorial site. There are several large photos from 9/11 spanning the day of and days to weeks after. There is also a timeline, minute by minute, of the actual day. The emotions were overwhelming at this point as I thought about what that day meant for our nation's history, those that lost their lives -- not only fellow public safety personnel but also the citizens and visitors in the area, and how it has impacted our lives now. It is definately one thing to be living across the country but to be on the very concrete the dust and debris blew onto was something much more powerful.

I don't remember if Eric ever made it here after 9/11 but he was definately on our minds today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New York City, Day 1... Tree

The day began at 0430 to catch our (Aaron and Tree) flight from Austin to NYC. After our very early breakfast at the airport, we wandered over to the Bookpeople store in the terminal. I was still trying to wake up as I wondered through the aisles when Aaron pointed to one of the TVs and said, "Look!" I looked up to see our very own Susan Erwin in front of Medic 31's truck with Rita Hanson talking about the ride! From what I understand, News 8 Austin ran the segment throughout the morning. How cool was that?

We touched down in New York at 1140 this morning. We eventually ventured out to Manhatten and attempted to see some of the city when the skies abruptly turned black and it began downpouring. Aaron and I wondered around the NBC studies in Rockfeller Center while it continued to rain.

Aaron and I are going to try to go see Ground Zero before the ride on Sunday. In many ways, this ride fits our purpose. I'm sure Eric would have tried to do this ride once in his lifetime if he knew about it. He was not an avid cyclist but he did enjoy a good long ride for a great cause. Something I didn't think about until today was the start point of the ride -- Ground Zero. The events of 9/11 inspired Eric to be a paramedic.

We'll be seeing the sights as we patiently wait for Cheryl, Susan, and Mark...


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New York City or bust!

We're furioursly getting ready to head North! The ride is in 5 days -- the anticipation and excitement is building! Thank you for all of the support. We have been overwhelmed by the generousity of our sponsors and all the individuals that have bought pins and made donations -- THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Ride? Susan Erwin

October 10, 2007 - Eric Hanson was tragically killed in the line of duty. This was sobering to many of us who work in EMS. It reminded us that this job is not only physically and emotionally difficult but is dangerous as well. When the opportunity to ride 600 miles in 6 days from New York City to Roanoke, VA in memory of Eric was offered I was honored to ride. Though I never met Eric, I feel a great sense of dedication to committing his name in the National EMS Memorial. Together with my team we are riding for Eric Hanson.

Without the support of friends & family and colleagues & teachers, I would not be were I am at today. I ride for you.

I ride for my EMT instructors Maxine and Darryl and for my Paramedic instructors Jane, Dan, and Karen - without their patience in a young kid I never would have made it out of Paramedic school. Thank you for your confidence in me! This ride is for you.

I ride for Marty, Shawn, Russ, Kris, Molly, Nash, Terry, Scott, Gale, Traci, Dan, Desira - my classmates from the Austin Community College class of 1990 - this ride is for you.

I ride for the best partner I ever worked with, Dave Kingdon – Aloha, Dave, I hope you are living the dream in Maui! I will see you next year on the ride, but for now this ride is for you.

I ride for the best boss I ever had who taught me “we aren’t makin’ pencils here” - when I get done with this ride I think I will be ready to fish for awhile. This ride is for you.

I ride for all the strong women at Austin-Travis County EMS - Vikki, Dani, Cathy, Carol, Jan, Millie, Traci, Teresa, Heather, Kelli- You ladies are awesome and an inspiration to women in EMS! This ride is for you.

I ride for the late but never forgotten Mike Becker who taught us “there is no cryin’ in EMS.” This ride is for you.

I have many blessings and need to thank several people who have helped me train for the grueling 6 days 600 miles:

First off my team. Tree, Cheryl, Mark and Aaron you are the greatest!

Jason - Thanks for the great advice on how to get through a 6 day, 600 mile ride “just keep peddling.” Your spirit and dry humor will most definitely be with us on the ride.

Marie - you rock even though you can’t count. Thanks for pushing me beyond my capabilities to help me achieve this adventure.

Stacy and Shana - you are the 2 best friends a person can have. Thanks for always being there, your friendship means the world to me.

To my riding buddies, Tina and Kris - when I get back I think I will take up swimming for the summer.

To everyone who bought a Memorial Pin - your support will be the reason we will make it into Roanoke.

To Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin-Travis County EMS Employee Association, Bicycle Sport Shop, Jo’s Coffee, and CLEAT for supporting the team.

To my family, Nathan, my son, Mary, Joe, David and Daniel - my brothers and sister – Yes, I have lost my mind but thanks for supporting me anyhow. Nathan, you are the best son a mom could ever have! To my siblings, you rock - Clay and Deb, Vonda and Tanya I didn’t forget about you - thanks for being there, too!

And finally a big thanks to MJ - without your support I would never made it out of Paramedic school - Thanks for always being there through all the broken bones, surgeries, and enduring my dysfunctional family. Much love to you! When I get back I will be ready for some of your homebrew and a day at the spa.

Madonna del Ghisallo the patron saint of cyclist we pray to you - be with us while we ride. Protect us on the long roads, relieve us from dange r and lead us to safety. Amen.

Susan Erwin

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Highlander Newspaper Ride Coverage (Marble Falls, TX)

Paramedics plan memorial bike ride
Eric Hanson reason for Eastern seaboard ride

By Angela Timmons
Highland Lakes Newspapers

Enrolled in Austin Community College’s paramedic program, Eric Hanson was a quiet student.
But everything he did was kind and generous, said Tree Marsoobian, who graduated ACC’s program with Hanson in 2005.
“His passion for others was evident every day,” Marsoobian said.
Now, Marsoobian, an Austin-Travis County paramedic, has borrowed from that passion and formed a team to ride from New York City to Roanoke, Va., in May in honor of her classmate.
Hanson, a Marble Falls Area EMS paramedic from Austin, died Oct. 10, 2006, at the age of 26 while returning from an emergency call to Austin. With him was fellow MFAEMS paramedic Kyla Wilson, also of Austin, who suffered multiple injuries and has since elected to move to Oregon.
The MFAEMS ambulance Hanson was driving westbound on SH 71 early that morning was struck by Spicewood’s Troy McVey, 36, who was driving east on the highway and lost control of his pick-up truck. Hanson died at the scene and McVey died later that morning from accident-related injuries.
The May ride is part of an EMS Memorial Bike Ride which Marsoobian became aware of about a week after Hanson’s Oct. 13, 2006, funeral.
An avid cyclist, Marsoobian saw the memorial ride as a perfect way to commemorate her fallen classmate.
“On a personal level, I wanted to do this for Eric and I’ve always enjoyed taking something that affected me personally and coupling that with an incredible physical challenge,” Marsoobian said. “I think we were all affected by this one.”
So Marsoobian assembled colleagues Randy Vickery, Aaron Langford, Susan Erwin, Cheryl Bakhtiari and Mark Hawkins to form the team.
Also riding with Marsoobian is Heather Bucklin, a Guardian EMS paramedic. The team also welcomes additional riders for the May 20-26 event.
“I thought this was a great way to do something in honor of Eric,” Marsoobian said.
In the meantime, the team seeks donations to fund its participation in the ride. The team is selling pins in honor of Hanson and accepting tax-deductible donations.
“We need to raise as much as we can,” Marsoobian said.
The team updates its blog almost every day, Marsoobian said, and checks for donations.
MFAEMS Operations Director Johnny Campbell said the bike ride is an appropriate way for Hanson’s peers to commemorate his life.
“I think it’s great that they’re doing that,” he said. “It’s a wonderful tribute to Eric and his family.”

Monday, April 9, 2007

Why Ride? Aaron Langford

I have had the privilage of being a paramedic for the past 5 years. In that time, I have met a lot of amazing people and have been a part of two uniformed funerals. I didn't know Eric personally, but his influence and strong spirit is evident when talking with his coworkers and classmates. When I heard about this ride, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be a part of! What an amazing and special way to commemorate and honor those paramedics who have died in the line of duty. Although this year we will ride with Eric's memory foremost in our minds, we will carry with us in our hearts the memories of all those brave souls who have answered the calls on those dark, dreary nights… and who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It's participating in events like this that make me realize what an honor and privilage it is to be a part of this crazy, hectic, always changing and very often maddening life-style we know as EMS.

Aaron Langford

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Team Goes to First Thursday in April and May!

Come join the members of the Austin Paramedic Cycle Team at Jo's Coffee, 1300 South Congress Avenue, on Thursday, April 5th and Thursday, May 3rd. We'll be down there peddling our little hearts out on a trainer and selling our pins! Come listen to some great live music, enjoy great beverages and pastries, and watch us sweat -- all for a great cause! We'll be down there starting at 7pm!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why Ride? Cheryl Bakhtiari

When I heard about the EMS Memorial Bike Ride, I knew immediately that I should ride. I’ve been in the EMS business for a while and through the years I have known a few EMS folks who have died in the line of duty. This year, ATCEMS paramedics are riding to honor Eric Hanson. I did not know Eric. I have heard a lot about Eric. I know that Eric was young and had a lot of plans. Eric has a supportive family as well. And that is why I will ride. No one in our business lasts long and well without a supportive family. Eric’s family is still here and they must deal with his loss every day. I know personally what it is like to suddenly lose a son at a young age. Many people supported me at the time and now it is time to return the favor. Eric’s family needs to see that they are part of a very large EMS family that will be there for them, not just in the first hours, days and months, but for years to come.

Cheryl Bakhtiari

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 EMS Memorial Bike Ride

The Marble Falls EMS and A/TCEMS Cycling Team will join other EMT’s and Paramedics from all over the nation on Sunday, May 20th, when the 2007 EMS Memorial Bike Ride commences in New York City. The Team’s fundraising efforts will help the EMS Memorial Service achieve its mission in assisting the families of those EMS personnel who make the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the lives of the citizens of this country. The team will carry with them the memory of Eric Hanson, and will ride in his honor. Eric, a paramedic from nearby Marble Falls Emergency Medical Services, died late last year when the ambulance he was driving was struck head-on by another vehicle as he and his partner were returning from an early morning call.

The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride is an annual conscious and fund raising effort to elevate the public’s awareness of the National EMS Memorial Service, where the ride ends, and the sacrifices of EMS professionals throughout the nation. This year, the service will be held on Saturday, May 26, 2007. The National EMS Memorial Service located in Roanoke, Virginia honors the sacrifices of EMS Professionals who died in the performance of their duties each year.

Why Ride? Tree Marsoobian

There is a special bond created, in my opinion, to those you share an experience such as paramedic school. Eric was one of those individuals for me. Eric was one of the quieter in our class but his strong drive to help others was quite evident. He was extremely unique in his demeanor and his compassion for others and life was unlike any other.

The morning of October 10, 2006, I was getting off of work. We had received a page shortly before leaving the station stating an ambulance MVA in Travis County did not involve one of our (A/TCEMS) ambulances. The off-going and on-coming crews were both watching the TV at the station to see exactly what EMS service was involved in the accident. The news report stated that there was an accident working in southwest Travis County of a Marble Falls ambulance and a pick-up truck. They went on to further state that one of the paramedics in the ambulance had died on scene. The overwhelming sense of tragedy that one feels over an accident like this is beyond words, not only for it to be a fatality but a line of duty death of a fellow paramedic. It was during my drive home when I was calling several of my friends that worked out in Marble Falls that I learned Eric was the driver that had been killed and another friend of mine, Kyla Wilson (the paramedic passenger), was being rushed to the trauma center in Austin. The driver of the pick-up truck died later that morning in the emergency room.

Approximately a week after Eric’s funeral, I was reading an issue of JEMS (Journal of Emergency Medical Services) when I came across an article on the EMS Memorial Bike Ride. I have a personal history of coupling passionate social issues with long distance bike riding. So, riding my bike from New York City to Roanoke, VA, in Eric’s memory and to honor him at the EMS Memorial just seems like an appropriate thing to do. I solicited others to join me from our Employee Association. Over the course of a couple of months, the final team was formed.

Tree Marsoobian

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Two Articles: Hydration and Indoor Group Cycling

Whether exercising indoors or outdoors, water replacement is one of the most important things a person can do to maintain energy levels and fitness gains, as well as speed recovery.
You have heard it before, but it bears repeating: by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already compromised by the effects dehydration. Becoming dehydrated will decrease your energy and performance and increase your recovery time. Uncorrected dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness and heat exhaustion.
Guidelines for staying well-hydrated:

Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound you lose, you should replace it with about 500cc (16 ounces of water). For indoor cycling, most cycling disciplines recommend 40 ounces of water for 40 minutes of work. Some experts believe that indoor cyclists sweat more than outdoor cyclists because there is not as more air movement to cool the body, therefore more heat production and more sweat. Outdoors, however, the air movement will tend to dry/evaporate the sweat, so you may not think you are sweating much at all. In reality you could be sweating as much or more as indoors. So, if you are both an indoors and outdoors cyclist, weighing yourself could be very beneficial.

If you are using energy drinks to assist with hydration, look for those with 7 percent carbohydrate or less. These will provide about the same hydration benefits as plain water. Sweetened juices, commercial sports drinks and sodas have a higher sugar content which will delay gastric emptying, therefore making them undesirable for hydration. Keep in mind that recovery drinks and mixes are higher in carbohydrates, but you will be using those post-workout.

Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and should be avoided prior to a workout.

Urine should remain clear. Dark or cloudy urine tends to indicate dehydration. By the time you see this, you are probably behind the hydration schedule.

Cheryl Bakhtiari

Most gyms have a group indoor cycling program of some kind. Johnny G is probably the best known of these as he created the “spinning” program. Johnny G’s program is so well known that participants often refer to any and all indoor group cycling classes as “spinning” or “spin.” Other indoor group cycling programs are Precision Cycling, RPM, Schwinn, and Reebok to name a few. So what’s the difference? Not all that much. Most programs purport to mimic outdoor cycling and all tout their program as the best for various reasons. I started teaching group indoor cycling several years ago. I had taken one class when it was first introduced at my local gym in about 1992 and hated it. The class incorporated weights, resistance bands, and push-ups on the bike – crazy! I vowed I would never take another class. When I started teaching group fitness in 2001, however, my manager convinced me that I should teach group cycle. So against my better wishes and with many pre-conceived notions, I signed up. The instructor training was awesome and changed my mind completely. The whole concept of group indoor cycling had changed by that time and it really did feel like I could bring a little outdoors inside.
With all of that said, instructors vary greatly. When looking for a group indoor cycle class that works for you, you will need to ask yourself why you are going. Do you want to be entertained? Want to be in company during your misery? Want to get stronger? Improve your pedal stroke? Improve your cardiovascular capacity? Be indoors when it is too hot/cold/windy/rainy? Know why you are working out indoors to begin with. Try different classes/instructors until you find a good fit. We always recommend that you try a particular class at least three times before you make up your mind. Maybe that seems like a lot of work, but it is well worth it. Always bring a towel and water bottle to your class. Proper etiquette includes, wiping the bike down when you are done and raising the handlebars and seats. It also includes NOT carrying on a loud conversation with the person next to you. If you must answer your cell phone, take it out of the room. Try not to pass gas in class. If you have really strong BO when you sweat, take a shower before your class and use deodorant. Your instructor will not likely say anything to you if you violate one of these etiquette guidelines, but your fellow serious participants will have you tarred and feathered! If you have an issue, such as a knee problem and know you will not be able to do some of the drills, let the instructor know so they will understand that you are not ignoring them. If you know that you will have to leave early, also good to let the instructor know so that he/she won’t think you are leaving because you didn’t like the class. Finally, the instructor has the responsibility of bringing a class format that fits all fitness levels, but the bottom line is that it is your ride.

Cheryl Bakhtiari