Wednesday, October 26, 2011

These are the best months of the year to run on the Seacoast | SeacoastOnline.com

These are the best months of the year to run on the Seacoast | SeacoastOnline.com

By Bob Wiles
October 26, 2011 2:00 AM
A couple of weeks ago I sang the praises of the local running community. Individually we are modest and easy to forget when a car passes us along the side of the road, but collectively we are an awesome sub-culture of healthy and passionate souls.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as I ran out around New Castle and down into Rye with a couple of friends. Exchanging subtle waves with dozens of other runners out on a Sunday morning enjoying the beautiful fall morning along the coast convinced me that we are in the middle of the "Perfect Storm" in terms of running...right now!

We have smoothly transitioned from hot summer days and nights into the cool, dry autumn months. Sure, we now have to wear a shirt most of the time and even a hat or gloves on some mornings, but in my book, October and November are a couple of the best months of the year to run on the Seacoast.

Visually, we get to watch the amazing scenery evolve right before our eyes as leaves transition from bright green to all sorts of beautiful hues, from electric yellow to fiery red. A variety of migratory birds chirp greetings down to us as they pass overhead, destined for warmer vacation spots in Florida or the Outer Banks. Tangent: Geese offer us a great example of working together in packs. They take turns up front and enthusiastically offer each other constant encouragement. They draft off each other and help each other re-connect with the main pack when someone falls off the back.

In terms of weather, there is a reason why fall marathons usually see the fastest times. Cooler temperatures and low humidity offer perfect conditions for comfortable running. My standard approach for dressing to run in the fall is that I want to be chilly standing around before I start moving and after a couple of miles it usually feels perfect.

To really overload your senses with everything that is majestic about the fall, I'd recommend venturing into the woods for a few miles. One of my normal routes consists of a combination of roads and trails, and this time of year it is always a treat to slide into the woods and run along trails lined with freshly fallen leaves.

With trails behind Portsmouth High School, the Urban Forestry Center, Mount Agamenticus, Odiorne Point State Park and countless others, you could check out a new trail system each week throughout the fall and never repeat yourself!

Another great aspect of fall is the opportunity to try cross country racing! For folks who took up running as adults, we missed out on the delight that is XC. However, there are dozens of cross country races within a short drive of us and it is an experience that every runner should enjoy. Something about dashing through the fields and woods with trees close on each side really reinforces the pleasure of just being outside and having fun.

Yes, I'm quite sure that fall on the Seacoast is a perfect combination of ingredients to cook up some amazing running. Great people, amazing scenery and beautiful weather ...; what else could we possibly need?

I've just had a great idea! Anyone who wants to meet me at Portsmouth High School this Saturday can join me for a run through the cross country trails and through the Urban Forestry Center. Heck, maybe we'll run down to Odiorne State Park as well! I'll be there and ready to go at 8 a.m. See you soon!

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at bob.wiles@gmail.com.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Great Bay 5K could see season-best times from runners | SeacoastOnline.com

Great Bay 5K could see season-best times from runners | SeacoastOnline.com

Great Bay 5K could see season-best times from runners

By Bob Wiles
October 19, 2011 2:00 AM
With only one race remaining in the 2011 Seacoast Road Race Series, hundreds of local athletes have trained and raced their way through the wet spring, a hot summer and now into a cool fall. The real reward for any race is the journey itself, but the cumulative effects of a well-executed racing season also generally bring runners to their finest form in the fall. That generally being the case, I'm excited to see how many locals turn up for the Great Bay 5K on Oct. 29 and run a season-best time.

To help the well-seasoned SRRS participants demonstrate their fitness, the scenic Stratham course features one of the fastest 5K layouts in the area. By starting and finishing at different venues, the Great Bay race does not have to go up as much as it goes down, making for a fast scamper along flat and gently downhill roads with just one minor bump in the final mile to keep runners under the legal speed limit.

The starting location for this race has been modified in recent years, but the course is certified and is assuredly a full five kilometers. Next weekend, runners will start in the parking lot at Stratham Hill Park, not even a stone's throw from the starting line of the Stratham Fair Road Race just a couple of months ago.

After escaping the parking lot with a couple of right-hand turns, the course offers a fast straight section down the left side of Route 33, turning left onto Stratham Lane just before the first mile marker. And it isn't just any mile marker ... it is the Mackenzie Mile. This race is one of the few races to offer prize money for the first man and woman to reach the mile. Why do they do it? To instigate a fast pace and ensure that runners and spectators enjoy an exciting race!

The second mile on this course is arguably one of the fastest around. With about a third of a mile on Stratham Lane before turning left onto Dearborn Road, there isn't a bump in sight to slow runners down. Just be sure to cut tangents and run the shortest possible route, as Dearborn winds a little bit and staying on the same side of the road the whole time will add distance to your route.

The final mile will turn left onto Orchard Hill road and then right onto Tidewater Farm Road. From there you will have basically a straight shot through some nice residential neighborhoods and down into the driveway to the Great Bay Discovery Center. The finish line is on a quick downhill section, so there is no reason to hold anything back as you cross the line.

With the start and finish in different locations, runners will want to choose their parking spot wisely. There is just over a mile separating the beginning from the end, and the easiest way to cover the span is by taking Depot Road.

When I park for this race, I choose somewhere near the start. This makes registering and checking in very easy, and then after the race I use the mile back to my car as part of my cool-down. Late October can be pretty cool and windy, so someone more clever than I am once suggested taking a jacket down to the finish during your warm-up as a good way to avoid getting chilly immediately after the race ends.

The awards ceremony is at the Great Bay Discovery Center, and being the finale of the SRRS, it usually serves as the awards venue for the overall series as well. Whether she chooses to run the finale or not, Durham's Nicole Toye has already done enough this summer to claim the overall series crown on the women's side. In fact, she has completed the series with the minimum possible points total to emphatically announce her return to the local racing scene this year.

On the men's side, things are slightly more interesting. Nick Crowell of Portsmouth has run just five of the first seven events, meaning he needs to race the Great Bay 5K in order to fulfill the requirement of doing at least six events. If he does race, he needs to finish in the top five to claim the series title. Considering he won this race last year, it is a fairly safe bet that he will be able to complete the task if he undertakes it.

If for some reason Crowell does not race, Somersworth's Rob Levey will win the men's title, having already completed the obligatory six races with a sufficient point cushion over third-place runner Chris Ritchie of Hampton.

Regardless of how the final race plays out, the 2011 Seacoast Road Race Series has been another exciting one, and with the Seacoast Half Marathon serving as the bonus race again this year, the excitement will continue into November for hundreds of the SRRS participants who are registered.

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at bob.wiles@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

HubSpot part 2: Crazy in a good way

My thoughts about inbound marketing pioneer HubSpot had to be broken into two installments when I realized that my head was full of too many observations to stuff into one entry. In part 1 I talked mostly about HubSpot’s people and what makes them unconventional. In part 2 I’ll look at some of the remarkable and bold things they are doing that makes them crazy (crazy in a good way, not ‘eating an airplane' crazy).

Traditional businesses might act tough and believe passionately in their goods or services, but how many of them are TRULY unafraid of their competitors? Know many who have the guts to re-tweet their competitors if they see something that would be helpful to their customers? HubSpot will. Every company keeps tabs on the other guys. Most will convince themselves that the other guys aren’t doing anything good. It makes selling this idea to customers easier. But when HubSpot sees an idea from a competitor that they think their customers would benefit from, they’ll share it.

This confidence reminds me of another Boston superstar…Larry Bird. Larry Legend was perhaps the best trash-talker in the game and there is a famous story of Bird telling his opponents exactly where he was going to take the game winning shot from at the end of a close game. Then, moments later he came down the court, got the ball exactly where he said he would and proceeded to knock down the game winning shot in the defender’s face. When you know you’ve got the goods you don’t have to keep secrets. You can throw the other guys a bone and then still wipe the floor with them.

This leads into product confidence. When you believe in your product as strongly as HubSpot does, you can stand behind a simple and firm pricing model without going through round after round of heated negotiations which usually result in relatively meaningless concessions on each side. It generally accomplishes little, other than satisfying an egotistical need to ‘win’ a pricing battle. By putting out products which have the capability to make an amazing impact on customers’ businesses, HubSpot can offer possibly the simplest and most straightforward pricing model I’ve ever seen. And in my opinion the prices are cheap! Combining a top shelf product with a simple and reasonable pricing model means less time squabbling over money and a quicker transition from lead to customer.

Another example of HubSpot’s confidence is their transparency. Not only is the kimono wide open…its laying on the floor around their ankles. I guess a simple example is this blog. Everything I’m writing about is stuff that I saw while walking around at HubSpot and from chatting with HubSpotters. A more tangible example is their content-rich website and the efforts they make to give away content. HubSpot creates and gives away more content than most companies sell. Because they are a software company and not a social media consultancy, they tell you exactly how to do everything it takes to be successful in the new arena. Once you’ve digested all the free content you’ll see that their software tools will help you put your new ideas into action.

In a world where people say, ‘Not my job’ far too often and people get slapped for not driving in their own lanes, HubSpot encourages people to develop new ideas and give them a try. Their VAR program is a perfect example of this, but it isn’t the only one. Employees are constantly thinking like innovators rather than merely punching in each day to do the tasks that are clearly defined in a job description. While traditional companies drive change and innovation from the top down (if at all), Hubspot has a culture of innovation which leads to new ideas all the time. Not every new idea will be a winner, but by encouraging people to be creative and granting them the freedom and tools to test their ideas, HubSpot has greatly accelerated the rate of innovation.

So, from what I can see, Hubspot is complimenting the competition, giving away tons of stuff, telling everyone exactly what they are doing, and constantly trying new things when they already have something that works great. See why I called them crazy?

Injury Causes New Perspective on World of Running | SeacoastOnline.com

Injury causes new perspective on world of running

By Bob Wiles
October 12, 2011 2:00 AM

I used to think that the cliché, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" applied only to ice cream or playoff baseball, but a recent running injury has shown me that it can hit much closer to home.

Running is such a habit for all of us that we sometimes go through our daily routine without appreciating the beauty of the fall foliage we're running past or even the health benefits we're realizing for ourselves. Sometimes we just run because we're runners.

Like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, I've started noticing great things happening everywhere I turn. For starters, you guys are everywhere! Because I took my own running for granted, I think seeing runners out on the road while driving somewhere didn't even register with me. Now I'm hyper-aware of how many dedicated soldiers are out putting in the miles every single day, and I'm admiring (and envying) every one of you.

My house is 6 miles from Great Island Common in New Castle, and my son insists on visiting the playground there at least once per week. Last Thursday evening I passed exactly 17 runners on our way there! The weather wasn't even that great last Thursday, but you were all out there. More of you like to run in small groups than I realized. Some like to fly solo, but packs of 2-5 are very common as well.

Collectively, our Seacoast running community is a powerhouse. When we put our minds to it, we can turn a first-year event from a smattering of runners who all have a loose connection to the cause into an instant classic with over 1,000 runners. Take the Turkey Trot in Portsmouth as an example. In its first year the new race had nearly 1,000 finishers and then last year grew by 30 percent. I can't wait to see how many folks turn up this year to earn their pumpkin pie later in the day!

The Seacoast Road Race Series is probably the best display of our local running obsession. With almost 900 runners taking part in the series this year, participating events can almost bank on more than 1,000 entries preregistered and another few hundred showing up on race day.

In fact, I was volunteering at the latest installment of the series last Sunday at the Great Island 5K and saw the amazing force of our local running community in action. Hopefully I'm not unique in this regard, but I have to admit that when I show up at a race to run I sometimes get a serious case of tunnel vision. I block out most of what is going on around me as I warm up and prepare for the race. We have all run races with thousands of other athletes but the combination of nerves, focus and preparation usually makes me pretty oblivious to everything else that is going on if it doesn't affect me at the moment.

But as a spectator all of that goes away and I got to take it all in with amazement. In fact, I was able to enjoy some nice conversations with folks that I normally wouldn't get to if I was preparing to race. While I was out on the course and runners started flooding by me, I had a startling realization about the volume and diversity of our running community.

I don't think it really matters if you are at the front of the pack, in the middle, or in the back. When the gun goes off we all get into our own zone and focus on the task at hand. Even if you make an effort to notice the folks running alongside you, you'll notice only a few because for the most part you'll all be moving along together. It wasn't until I stood in one spot and watched the entire progression of 1,200 runners whip by that I appreciated what an awesome army we have.

By taking up a spot on the course, I was able to see the entire forest rather than just focusing selfishly on the singular tree that I am. It gave me a new perspective on the entire world of running, and admitting that is slightly uncomfortable.

While running is a largely individual sport and training can sometimes be a lonely task, I'll never again forget that each of us is an important part of a community of runners on New Hampshire's Seacoast, and that community is a large and powerful force.

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at bob.wiles@gmail.com

Saturday, October 8, 2011

HubSpot: Making or Breaking All the Rules? Part 1

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours at inbound marketing pioneer, Hubspot's offices in Cambridge, MA to get a tour from UX Director Josh Porter. While I was there I was lucky enough to catch a recording of HubSpotTV and take in happy hour with 20-30 other Hubspotters at a nearby bar. But it was much more than a tour and a beer. It was a shocking flood of ideas and observations that left me wondering if what I had just seen was real, and if so...how on earth is Hubspot thriving despite breaking almost every rule of business that I've learned over the last decade???

Don't get me wrong...I love the company I work for and we do a ton of great things. It's just that almost every rule of office behavior and business practices that I thought were typical from my own experiences and from talking with other businesspeople over the course of my career seem to have been thrown out the second story windows at Hubspot.

Skipping the very obvious low hanging fruit, I won't even delve into the fully stocked beer coolers (yes, plural) that make their home in the cafeteria. At 4 PM on a Friday afternoon when I arrived, dozens of young professionals were congregating in the cafe to watch the recording of this week's HubSpotTV segment. Some were grabbing beer from the complimentary coolers and taking a seat to listen to the panel discussion. Others were having a water or soda and others were quietly working on laptops. But the first striking observation that I made was that this company is made up of young people. At 34 yeras old, I felt (and looked!) like a dinosaur at Hubspot. While I'd estimate the average age at my company to be somewhere north of 45, I'd bet my Return of the Jedi lunchbox that the average Hubspotter is less than 26.

As I was introduced to a few people and started talking with them, I also quickly noticed another common trend...they're all new! Extremely smart and knowledgeable about inbound marketing, but new. Granted, at a company that has only been around for 5 years there aren't going to be people at Hubspot with 10 year anniversary plaques on their desks, but other than CEO Brian Halligan, I didn't meet anyone who has been there longer than a year. At most companies, employees don't even really know what they are doing until they've been there for a year.

Yes, that's right...I met the CEO on my first tour of the building. Its probably because he was situated at a cubicle like everyone else and not hidden in an office the size of my house, far removed from the ground troops. Aren't CEO's supposed to signify their superiority in a multitude of manners, starting with real estate? Not at Hubspot. As Josh walked me around the building I was caught quite off guard when we stopped along a row of desks and he said, "Hey Brian, this is my friend Bob." He stopped what he was doing and we had a brief conversation, but to be honest I spend the whole time trying to wrap my head around the whole scene.

At this point, my head is spinning and I'm wondering, "WHERE AM I???"

Over the last decade I've seen paranoid employees hoarding knowledge, often to the detriment of projects or relationships, in the name of maintaining exclusivity and job security. "If I'm the only guy who knows how to do X, I can't be replaced." Definitely not the mindset at Hubspot. I was talking with a NJ native named John over a Belgian beer at trendy Artbar and he shared an anecdote about information sharing at Hubspot. He called it crowd-sourcing and basically someone had thrown an open question to the rest of the folks via their internal Wiki about a tool to help a customer and he got 4 good answers from co-workers in a matter of minutes. Working together synergistically to get results for customers without fear or hesitation seems to be the collective mindset at Hubspot.

This might be partly because every Hubspotter I spoke to at some point in the conversation said, "Everyone here is smarter than I am." After I heard that statement for the fourth time I stopped the person and said, "You know, everyone here says that. I'm sure someone holds that dubious distinction, but I bet it isn't you or any of the other people who claim ownership of the title." But I think the statement is a manifestation of two ideas that the folks at Hubspot seem to share. First, they are a humble group. I mean, they are only setting the marketing world on fire...why would you get a big head??? And second, they all admire and appreciate the value of their peers. Quite different from companies where the SOP is knocking down co-workers to make sure you look good in comparison, even if you aren't pulling your own weight.

So far we've established that Hubspot is a company made up of young, fresh, smart people with a mutual respect for each other and a willingness to collaborate for the good of the company and their customers.

In part 2, I'll share the other half of my observations from my visit to Hubspot, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes to share his remarkable story in Portsmouth | SeacoastOnline.com

Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes to share his remarkable story in Portsmouth | SeacoastOnline.com

By Bob Wiles
September 28, 2011 2:00 AM
Earlier this year, ultrarunner Dean Karnazes ran from California to New York, covering almost 3,000 miles in 75 days and raising $178,000 for anti-obesity charity Action for Healthy Kids. In 2006, he ran 50 marathons in 50 days, one in each state. Karnazes has also ran across the five greatest deserts on the planet, and he's accomplished countless other mind-boggling endurance running feats.

Through it all, Karnazes has never lost his joy for running. It's his job and race-specific training can be a grind at times, but he keeps it fresh.

"Sometimes if I need a mental and physical recovery day, I'll just throw my credit card and a cell phone in my backpack and go out wandering for a six- or eight-hour run," Karnazes said. "If I feel like stopping at a coffee shop along the way, I do. I don't worry about pace, I just go exploring. I never run the same route twice."

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Karnazes will speak at The Music Hall in Portsmouth as part of The North Face "Never Stop Exploring" speaker series. Runner's Alley is also a presenter of the event.

Karnazes' motivational talks are fascinating and inspirational. Through his epic adventures, he has experienced life to the fullest and continued to find happiness out on the roads and trails of America and beyond.

When he speaks about the joy of running, the sincerity and enthusiasm easily sneaks into his relaxed southern California voice, "When you see kids running, they are experiencing joy and being free. They love to race and run fast, and they learn to find joy along the way."

During his Run Across America, Karnazes stopped at 15 schools to speak with children and inspire them to lead active lifestyles and never stop exploring. "Stopping to speak to a group of children right after running 40 miles was an interesting juxtaposition mentally, but their excitement was always unbelievable," he said.

Karnazes started running at age 6 as an easier way to get back and forth from school to help his mom. "I fell in love with running and have continued to explore and push the boundaries," he said.

The thought of running for six or eight hours to help recovery seems insane to most runners, but Karnazes has built his body into an ultrarunning machine over the years. His bones and muscles have adapted to requirements of his activities, and his body's ability to clear lactic acid has baffled scientists. But Karnazes believes that our bodies were designed for running and that by being very active at an early age we can stay strong and help avoid injuries.

In addition to the amazing sights he's seen along the way, Karnazes has also met some amazing people. On day 67 of his 75-day run across America, Karnazes literally ran into the White House to meet Michelle Obama. The two of them teamed up to promote "Let's Move," the first lady's campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids.

Not content to just run across his home country, Karnazes is currently planning a global expedition in conjunction with his 50th birthday next year. "The United Nations recognized 204 countries, and my goal is to run a marathon in each of them."

With a focus on raising money for an important cause in each country, Karnazes hopes political differences among nations can be set aside. "Running unites people," he said. "Some countries will use the money to create clean water systems or to fight malaria and others might focus on anti-obesity programs."

Karnazes ran a marathon in Bristol in 2006 during his Endurance 50 and noticed that New England is a beautiful place. "I'm hoping that the leaves have started changing when I'm in New Hampshire next week."

"We're super excited to have Dean coming to Portsmouth," Runner's Alley owner Jeanine Sylvester said. "Dean is such an inspirational and well-known figure, and we are very happy to be able to share his story with the Seacoast running community."

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Portsmouth Track Boosters Club, Sylvester said.

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at bob.wiles@gmail.com.

This week's column; Great Island 5K brings out best in runners | SeacoastOnline.com

Great Island 5K brings out best in runners | SeacoastOnline.com

By Bob Wiles
October 05, 2011 2:00 AM
Throughout the spring and summer I have tried to provide useful race previews for the Seacoast Road Race Series events. Well, now fall is upon us and there are only a couple of events remaining on the schedule. This week we'll take a look at the Great Island 5K!

First conceived in 1993, the race will be run for the 18th time on Sunday. Start time for the 5K is 10 a.m., followed by a kids fun run at 10:45.

Like all SRRS events, this race attracts a bunch of people. With over 1,100 preregistered runners, parking will spill out of the Great Island Common parking lots and onto Route 1B as well as some side streets. If you are attending the race as a spectator I would recommend parking to the south of the entrance to the Common, as this is the side that is not on the race route. This will make more room for runners along the course and also allow you to leave early if necessary.

For the runners, registration is standard 5K pricing at $20 for early birds and $25 on race day. You can register and pick up your race number on Saturday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. or on race day starting at 8 a.m. Both take place in the Great Island Common Recreation Building. You can also sign up for the fun run at those times.

When the gun goes off at 10 a.m., runners will make a lap around the common before heading out onto the scenic roads of New Castle. Turning left out of the parking lot onto Wentworth Road (1B), the course gently rolls toward the water.

Hugging the coast as you turn left onto Walbach Street, the first-mile marker awaits immediately after a right turn onto Piscataqua Street. Still running with the water on your right, the course bears left and spills back onto 1B for a moment before cutting back onto the water along River Street. Here is a quick drop in elevation and a great spot for making a move on anyone you're racing against.

A short climb up Oliver Street brings you back onto 1B for another quick section before touring the neighborhood on Locke Road. You will find a water stop and the second-mile marker in this rolling neighborhood before once again taking a few strides on 1B.

The race course goes cross country for a while as it turns onto Neals Lane for about half a mile of dirt road. This is another great place to surge and make a break from your competitors if you like dashing on the dirt.

When the dirt road spills out onto 1B for the last time you can tell the finish is getting close, and a left turn brings you back into the Great Island Common for another lap around the fields before approaching the finish line.

I can't really explain it, but this race is one of those 5Ks that seems to fly by. It isn't a short course and it isn't the flattest course in America, but because you are not on the same road for any long stretches, the time just seems to go by very quickly.

With tremendous community support and a very strong reputation, this is one of the races where you feel the crowd support, particularly for the first and last half-miles on the Common's grounds. Last year I distinctly recall being carried from second place into first by the feverish support of the spectators urging me to pass the out-of-towner who was making a valiant bid for glory on a course that I consider home turf. It is still the most exciting and satisfying finish to a race that I've been a part of.

In addition to the vibe you'll feel before and during the race, the post-race atmosphere is also first class. With great food and the excitement that kids' fun runs bring, a wonderful awards ceremony with the coastal backdrop is among the best around. And with cash and lobsters up for grabs, there are usually some impressive times posted at this race. It isn't uncommon for semi-professional runners to drive up from New York to try for the course record, which is worth an extra $400 for both men and women.

Proceeds from the Great Island 5K have supported great projects such as the skating rink and playground at the Common among others over the years. This year's proceeds will go toward funding two scholarships that have been established in memory of race co-founder Dr. Tom Quinn.

For more information or to register for the race, visit the race website at www.greatisland5K.com.

Bob Wiles lives in Kittery, Maine. He can be reached at bob.wiles@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Krempels King of the Road Challenge

As some of you know I've been doing some cycling lately to cross train and give some lingering running injuries time to heal. I've been having a blast doing it and I'm starting to think that cycling will remain part of my normal exercise regimen even once the abs are back to normal.

Anywhoo...I am putting together a team to participate in a local charity ride taking place in Stratham, NH on October 15th. It is the Krempels King of the Road Challenge and it benefits the Krempels Center, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor or stroke.

"Great Bob, what do you want from me???"

Good question. Below is a short list of requests in order of preference. Choose one, all, or none, but keep in mind that the quality of future holiday greeting cards you receive from me may depend on your choice. Choose wisely.

1. Join me! I'm hoping to put together a team of 10 riders and the date is quickly approaching! I can promise you that Team Wilesthing will be the coolest team in the challenge, if coolness is determined by the amount of riders wearing denim bib shorts. If you're interested in joining me, register at www.kingchallenge.org and choose Team Wilesthing from the drop-down menu when you get to the step for joining an existing team. I can promise you that this will be one of the best days of your life, especially if you aren't married, don't have kids, and never saw Vanilla Ice live in concert.

2. Sponsor me! I'm sure somewhere along the way I must have loaned you $10. Here's your chance to pay me back. (I expect at least $20 from you, Paradis!) Even if you loaned me money and you're still waiting for me to repay you, just add another $10 or $20 to my tab and bill me at a later date. Much later please. If you want to help me meet my fundraising obligation, please visit MY PAGE. Any help is awesome, and the more you help the more awesome you are. My goal is to raise $500 and I've only got three weeks left to get there, so if you think that the Krempels Center might be worth skipping a couple of cups of coffee for (trust me, it is), send me your Dunkin Donuts money and I'll buy you a coffee the next time I see you! (It's tax deductible! Here's the receipt form.)

3. If you aren't a cyclist but know someone who is, please forward this to them! Make sure you tell them that local pro, Teddy King of team Liquigas-Cannondale and his brother Robbie King are leading the charge on this and will be riding along with several other pros.

I know everyone gets hit up for money all the time for this various causes, so I appreciate any support I can get!

Thanks in advance for supporting this great cause!