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January 4, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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January 4, 2012
 

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bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter REGIONAL Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 1B Taking your dream out for a spin C 0 Seneca Healthcare District CEO Doug Self begins his 2,610-mile cross-country ride to Florida from the shores of the Pacific Ocean. His wife, Shelley, rode with him his first day out during the 26-mile leg from San Diego to Lakeside. Photos submitted Reaching&apos;the Atlantic Ocean Nov. 18 after a cross-county bicycle ride is: a duo of firsts for Doug Self (left) and his dad, Ralph. While Doug! spent much of his time submerged under oceans as a submarine! officer, this was the first glimpse of the Atlantic for the senior Self.: M. Kate West Chester Editor chesternews@plumasnews.com "I've been a cyclist since I was a young teen. I bought my first bike, a Schwinn model, for $150, with money I earned working 30 hours a week in a fast food restaurant," said Seneca Healthcare District Chief Executive Officer Doug Self. He grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, where there is an annual bike ride called the "Hotter than Hell 100." "It occurs the last week of August when it is hotter than hell," he added. Depending on the year the ride drew an average of 10,000 - 11,000 cyclists and Self said he rode the century (100-mile) route nearly every year. "There are a lot of cyclists out there that do century or multiple day rides totaling 150 miles. Lots of cyclists talk and dream about riding cross- country and it's something I've thought about for a while. "I got serious about the dream two or three years ago when one thing kind of hit me. In the North State there were a couple of my col- leagues, hospital CEOs, that developed cancer around the same period of time and took between two- and four-month leaves of absence. "I thought to myself, you never know when something is going to strike and when you will have the chance to accomplish your dream." He said he thought it would be a shame for someone to think about his dream and want to do it and then have a serious life event happen that would prevent him from doing it -- ever. "From the perspective of my job and responsibilities; you see many good things in the health care world but you also see people in their 40s and 50s that appear they are as healthy as can be but later learn they have brain mass or fatal heart attack. I see this often on my job," he said. In his opinion, a lot of people think they are going to wait until they retire to fulfill their dream. But, "You just never know if you will be healthy, enough to accomplish your dream." Push start "I had initially planned for this trip to happen in the spring of 2010 and also felt it was a large undertaking. I had started talking with our board and hospital managers and then I chickened out and put it off until the fall," Self said. He said as the summer was passing and fall began to close he again thought he about locations, hotels and would put the trip off until campgrounds, all of which spring 2012. are very helpful as you try to He then said there were a replenish your supplies along couple of people who kept the way." asking hm about the plan- His said his only bad nin for his trip,.. ,, ............... ,. oxpcrinces with the map ...... "With my talkiir b0ut ..... arid inforthation occurred in another postponement Dr. Arizona and New Mexico. Mark Nielsen called me on the carpet and asked me why I was putting it off. The other person who asked about my planning, by far more than anyone else, was our board president, Ron Longacre," Self said. "He told me he wanted to see me go on the trip. Those were really the two people who kept me honest, kept me from chickening out." Plotting the course Self said he chose San Diego as a departure point for his cross-country ride because it is the key location to the popular southern route. "It is the beginning of the Southern Tier as listed by AdventureCycling.org, a nonprofit organization that promotes long-distance cycling. This website offers 22 routes that crisscross the United States." He also said, "The website sells very nice maps that list distances, bike shops, restaurants, information After cycling for more than two months across the southern United States, Seneca Healthcare District CEO Doug Self treats himself to a bit of well-earned fun in the surf when he reaches his destination Nov. 18: Jacksonville Beach, Fla. "Some of the places on the map only had one small business listed and then I learned upon arrival they had closed their doors four to six months ago. This re- quired me to travel another 20 miles down the road and, when thirsty, that's a very difficult 20 miles," Self said. Another major component to his travel plan was making arrangements for his nightly stays and rest stops. "There's a website called warmshowers.org. When you sign up on their list, you are signing up to have the ability to contact people to stay at their houses on long-distance rides," he said. He said when you sign up on the list you are simul- taneously offering your house and host services to long<listance cyclists. "The interesting thing to Chester is there is an Adven- ture Cycling route that goes right through Chester. It's called the Sierra Cascade route that goes from the Southern California border to the Canadian border in Washington state. It's a very difficult route," he said. "When I flew home for a one-week stay, a Belgium . couple called from Mt. Shasta trying to contact us. They were cycling from Canada to Southern California. Unfortunately we weren't able to make the connection." He said the website is a really neat thing for people in Chester to sign up for even if they are not cyclists. He said all the people on the list have profiles and posted comments so you can learn about both the hosts and riders. "From a bicyclist perspec- tive it was terrific. The orga- nization lets you volunteer for different levels of hosting from pitching a tent in backyard to offering to let someone sleep in your guest bedroom. "Some hosts make wonder- ful dinners and loan their washing machines. If you are camping on the road, sleep ing in a bed, having a hot shower and a good meal is just great," Self said. He said that during his journey rest breaks and nightly layovers found him either camping out or staying at hosted warmshowers.org home. Imperial Valley, around the Brawley-E1 Centro area, occurred during the first week of my ride. My muscles were not used to riding, my right hamstring was very ...... ..... thllal,t4ae temperature very .................... " ........... . '" "hot and :this was Day 6, the Ride ehallenlge$ .... Self said at the onset of the trip, which began Sept. 11, 2011, the first two challenges he faced were the physical demands of the ride and the unrelenting heat of the Southern California desert. "I started in San Diego with normal temperate conditions, just about as close to paradise as you are going to find, Then, I was climbing up to 4,500 feet in the California mountains. "The highs there were in the 80s and then I descended into the Imperial Valley desert area where the temperature was hitting about 110 degrees as I passed through the valley's sand dune area." He said the first big challenge he faced was the initial climbing up the mountains and riding on a daily basis versus riding every three to four days. "My body wasn't used to it. And then my body was blasted with heat." He said he was constantly riding in 110-degree heat with many days of no shade and not being able to escape the sun. "I did my training in Chester, where it was, at the most, 85-degree weather. Now I was riding in weather 25 degrees hotter. "The 20-mile day in the day before my first rest day. "I really did not have enough in me to go any further; my body was just not in the swing of it yet." He said after the first two weeks his body adjusted and he had no further physical problems for the rest of ride. "Then I got my first break from the heat just east of Tucson, Ariz., when the temperature fell from about 103 to 95 degrees. At that time it felt wonderful." Looking back he said that after all he had experienced on his journey he wottl revise his challenge, "I would now say the first thing that is a challenge is that you sit at home planning your trip and know pretty much that during the month of August it is hot every. where. "You focus on the 116- degree temperature of Brawley and all you think of is heat, heat, heat. You don't necessarily think about end- ing your trip in November with cold fronts and rain com'mg through." He said the only cross- country climate change that tested his mettle was the desert. "The heat was like the challenge to my muscles and See Self, page 13B Ride facts Seneca Healthcare District Chief Executive Officer Doug Self completed his bicycle ride across America Nov. 18, 2011, at Jacksonville Beach, Fla. Over the course of his journey, he: Ccled 2,610 miles. Traveled across eight states. Averaged 60 miles a day. Had a highest daily mileage of 110. Had a lowest daily mileage of 20. Maintained a daily ride log at usabikeride.blogspot.com. Self, who began his ride Sept. 11 in San Diego, said he is entertaining the thought of tackling another coast-to-coast ride after he retires.