Chef John Malik

a writer trapped in a cook's body

Racing Butterflies

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The sweat is stinging my eyes, rolling across my lips, drenching the back of my neck, and clouding my glasses. My heart is thumping along at 175 beats per minute, a few beats over my recommended maximum, and I’m fighting for every pedal stroke while gulping air like nobody’s business. I’m gripping the bars and twisting, pushing myself to my limits and I’m maxed out. I cannot go any faster.

my occasional racing partner

And still this damn butterfly is outrunning me.

It’s a big one, one of those pretty swallowtails that fan out across the upstate this time of the year. It’s lazily fluttering around me and I’m determined to beat it to the top of the mountain, yet right now he definitely has the upper hand. That’s what a 6% incline can do to a cyclist.

It’s the constant tug of friction and gravity and climbing never gets easier, you just get faster. I’ve been on big climbs such as Caesar’s Head where it just goes on and on and my 185 pounds feels like 300 and my 19 pound Trek more like an anvil. And still I drag that anvil to the top of the mountain, grunting and sweating, racing the butterflies all the way.

Training ride with Dan Ripley, Chris Nordmeyer and Brian Kenna

It’s been a good cycling year and in a few weeks, when I line up for the start of my fifth consecutive Ride to Remember, I should have 2200 miles under my 2018 belt. And it won’t be enough.

Because it’s really about raising money and not about cycling. It’s not about the miles but the diagnosis, it’s not about my heart beat, it’s about the slowing heart beat of the 200,000 people in the United States with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the 5.7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, and the approximately 85,000 that will die from Alzheimer’s this year.

What can I do about it?

The amount of money consumed by Alzheimer’s is staggering. Research and clinical trials burn through 500+ million dollars a year and yet Alzheimer’s remains the 6th largest killer of Americans with no end in sight. Americans will spend about 275 billion dollars this year caring for people with Alzheimer’s, and our group of cyclists will net about $700,000.

End of day two, 2016

$700,000. And to raise that we’ll cycle across the middle of South Carolina in the middle of damn July. When someone calculates charitable donations raised versus sweat expended, our group will surely be in the top ten.

Lining up for the start of day three, 100 miles, Orangeburg to Charleston, 2017

Surely there’s a better way to raise $700,000 for the SC Alzheimer’s Association, and when you figure it out, let me know.

Until then, I’ll be racing that butterfly to the top of the mountain.

And since we’re talking about money, please drop me a few dollars by clicking here. All of it goes to the fight.

Team Coast Busters at the finish of the 2017 Ride to Remember. Melissa Grinnell, Brian Hale, Brian Kenna, Julian Loue, me, Steven and Emily Banks

Thank you.

Author: ChefJohn

Cook without tattoo, writer without a pen

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