History Of The B.A.R.R.

For those who that know me, you know that I cycle.  I ride a bike.  A lot.  I ride for causes.  I ride for adventure.  I ride for sanity.  It is my passion.  For all of these reasons, The B.A.R.R. as we know it today came into being.

The B.A.R.R., Big Audacious Research Ride came into being in the early spring of 2015 created by my good friend  John Hoctor.  As I know the story, John, who works for the American Cancer Society, was in Atlanta meeting with colleagues when they decided to go out and have a few adult beverages (research) after a day of meetings.

Conversation started about the PA Hope Ride an ACS event of which both John and I have participated in for 2 years.  For the 2015 edition of the ride, John boasted that he would ride his bike from Columbus to Hershey, PA and then complete the PA Hope Ride that went from Hershey to Philadelphia.

Someone called his bluff.  That someone is Jean Nagy, and she basically double dog dared John to do that ride.   And all of us fans of “The Christmas Story” know that you can not back down from a double dog dare.  So John is now compelled to do this ride.  Jean was nice about it though.  So volunteered to support the ride as SAG and also volunteered her husband, Chris,  to ride with John from Pittsburgh on.  To this day I do not know when Chris found out about his “volunteerism.”

It was a week or so that John posted on Facebook about what he was planning to do.  When I saw it, well, you know, I wanted to go.

A quick sidebar.   There is a quick way to find out if someone enjoys the same hobby or passion as you do.  In this example, those that like to cycle.   When you tell someone you are going to cycle from Columbus to Philadelphia and they cycle, they remark “How cool, that sound like an epic ride.”  If they do not cycle they will remark, “What?  Are you out of your mind?  I don’t even driving that far, let alone biking that far!”

We all know what I said when I saw John’s post.  I quickly texted him that I would love to join him on this adventure and he just as quickly said hell yeah.  And after a few rides together and quite a few “planning” meetings (research), we had come up with a name for the ride.  And then we were off on the grand adventure that was the 1st B.A.R.R.  We went through rain, wind, dogs, the Amish and the Alleghenies to meet John’s boast to ride from Columbus to Philly.  Many legends were made during that ride.

Unfortunately, that was the only B.A.R.R. that John or Chris ever participated in to date.  But I unabashedly stole John’s idea of an epic ride and been a part of one every year since.  With the help and planning of many good friends, there has been a B.A.R.R. every year since 2015.  I am fortunate to be a part of each one.  Each year has brought a new adventure and new and broadening experiences.

The first year was Columbus to Philly.  The second was a bucket list item of mine.  I wanted to ride around Lake Erie.  So with much help From Sandy, her husband Tedd, Paul, Sandy’s dad Bob, whom provided support and myself, pedaled 9 days, over 850 miles, 4 states and 2 countries for B.A.R.R. 2016.  Lake Erie is very impressive from the saddle of a bike!

B.A.R.R. #3 was an entirely different ride.  I was joined on this version of the ride by Phil, Gregg and returning for more punishment, Tedd.  This ride took us on the Northern Tier or part of it.  There are three “tiers” that cyclists us to cross the country.  Guess where this one is.  Anyway, Phil was doing cross-country, just a section of the tier at a time and this year he wanted to go from Fargo, N.D. to Muscatine, Iowa. Another 8 day 830ish mile adventure.  The twist this time is that we were self carry.  No support.  We carried every thing we needed.  And there were hills.  And rain. And cold.  But the Mississippi river basin…absolutely beautiful.

B.A.R.R. #4.  Again a totally different adventure.   This took Tedd, myself, Sandy and Pat over the Greater Allegheny Passage and also the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath that goes from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.  It is a mecca ride for cyclist and was a must on Sandy’s bucket list.  This ride was different bikes, camping and mosquitoes.  Also a lot of mud.  More stories on this forthcoming as we just ended the ride.

So that it is so far.  I would like you to know that there is a B.A.R.R. #5 on the horizon.  Maybe even some off shoots of the B.A.R.R. as we all go off and find our own stories and adventures.  But that is for a later post.

The most important part of all of this that even though we are small in nature on these rides, all of our friends are with us as we ride, just like flat Emily.

John and Chris will always be apart of this ride regardless of if they ride or not.  Sandy is always with me as is all of my friends.  Another reason of why I do these rides.  To take you along.


A New Way

Back in March of this year, Facebook changed their privacy policies which no longer allowed many things such as WordPress and Garmin to share your information and blog posts to the site.  However, there is a new way to do this.

So, tada!  The World According To Toph now has it’s own Facebook page.  So I hope you like the page.  I am new at this so bear with me.

I also have some exciting news that I will be sharing with you soon (I know, shameless teaser.) that will make following the page worthwhile.

I also have some stories from this years installment of the BARR to share.

Thanks for bearing with me through the bout of writer’s block and through all of the changes.

It’s Just A Little Wet!!

Well, here we are. Just a week away from my 10th Pan Ohio Hope Ride. You all know me. I live to ride. I also ride to live. 15 years ago, I dedicated part of my life to riding a bike and fighting cancer.

During this journey and fight, I have seen my share of victories, but sadly, that is always tempered by defeat. I have lost many to this disease and I have seen many of my friends and loved one’s suffer the same as I.

The one thing I have never seen is a loss of hope. Of courage. Of “I got this shit and I am going to win.”

My journey over the last 15 years has been one of eye opening truth’s and heart warming success stories. It has also brought me into a beautiful community where we all have common goals and believe’s. I love the cycling community.

I have been asked repeatedly over the past week if I ever ride in the rain. The reason being is that many know I am going on a bike ride and they wonder. It’s okay. I would ask the same question if I were in their shoes.

Answer: Yes. I ride in the rain. I ride in the wind . I ride. Why?
Because to not ride would be a bail out on what I fight for. Those with cancer can not choose to ride or not, so why should I get that luxury? Think about it.

So given the choice…I choose the rain. FYI, one of my favorite R.E.M. songs…

If you feel like joining the fight, you can donate here:: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/ChrisMeadows18

Enjoy one of my favorite bands and songs!

Let’s Climb!!

Well, Flat Emily and I will be heading East to Hershey, Pennsylvania to ride in the 6th Annual PA Hope Ride.  The ride may include a hill or two, maybe even a mountain or two.  So it is a climbing weekend.  This is the 6th time I have participated in this ride.

I embrace the philosophy of just get to the top of the climb, dumb ass.  That means I climb slow.  I’m not in a race, but I get to each and every top of the mountain.

So when I saw this video, I thought, ‘Yep.  I’ve said this, thought this and now it’s verified.’


Just A Day

Every now and again, you just need to take a day off.  You have been burning the candle at both ends.  You have been working hard, playing hard.  Whew…time for a breath.

That is what I am doing today.  I know I should be out riding.  Or doing at least something since the weather is finally warm.  But I just can’t get motivated.

It is Memorial week, meaning I will be working my ass off this week.  We (meaning my job, you know, cooking for folks) cater for the staff and volunteers at the Memorial Golf Tournament next week.  It is a lot of folks to feed.  We are talking 5-6 hundred per day starting Monday.  Bottom line…a lot of food.

Then there is the stress of food ordering.  Did I order enough?  Did I order the right stuff?  If I didn’t, where can I find it if I need it?

So, that is my world right now.  I think I will take today and chill.  Tomorrow I will ride, because that is what I do.  And Monday I will jump into the shit, because I also do that.

Let’s just mark it up to the joys of chefdom.

Thank You Ohio Lottery

In the kitchen where I work, we listen to Pandora on the radio for our musical pleasure.  It offers a wide variety of genres and we can normally find a common ground between all of those that work in the kitchen and their listening preferences.  But since we are too cheap to pay for premium Pandora, we must endure a few advertisements during the day.  One the ads caught my attention recently.  It was an ad for the Ohio Lottery.

The advertisement started by saying how everyone should start playing instant tickets and was suggesting how easy it was to win hundreds if not thousands of dollars if you do.  I’m okay with this so far.  I have played instant tickets before.

As a matter of fact, a former co-worker and I used to play multiple tickets every week while we worked together.  And for the record, we did normally break even while playing.  So as you can see, I am not opposed to playing the lottery.  I will even play when the mega millions and those type of lotteries get up into the millions of dollars.  And for the record, I am not breaking even on this front.

Anyway, the ad that caught my attention did go on to say that we could all win and now it is even easier to play instant tickets because you can now purchase game tickets, that could win you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, by using your credit or debit card.  The lottery made easy.  The advertisement then ends by saying please gamble responsibly.

I am going to let this sink in for a moment.

So be sure to gamble responsibly.  Use your credit card to buy lottery tickets.  That is the way to go.  Put yourself in more debt to gamble so you might win hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars.

“Honey!  Let’s retire and play the lottery!  We can put it on the credit card and not have to pay for it for at least a month…or more if we want to pay interest on it, but it is responsible gambling!  We could win hundreds or even thousands!”

Am I the only one seeing the irony of this logic?

I’m not a big gambler.  Will I gamble?  Yes. Do I feel the need to visit the local casino?  Nope, not really.  Will I gamble if I have to use my credit card?  Probably not.  I get that carrying cash is not that popular anymore.  Everyone uses a credit card for just about everything.  It is a convenience thing, I get that.  Call me old school, or just old, but to encourage debt in order to play the lottery just might not be responsible gambling.

Anyone know any lucky numbers?




Slow Down and Meander

There are times that you just need to slow down. Just meander down the road.  I’ll stop short of saying “smell the roses” (okay, I guess I just did it anyway).  This can mean when you are at work. It could mean when you are in a relationship. It can mean just walking. Seriously. The Zombies have slowed walking way down. I have often meandered walking with a limp just like Hollywood portrays the walking dead.  I often wonder if they copied me with that walk after seeing me after a few 12 hour shifts in the kitchen!

This also applies to biking. Sometimes, slow is good. There are times when it is best to beat hell on a bike and just go as fast as you can. There are also times when you just need to say “Whoa, back off cowboy, take a look around!”

This past weekend was an example of that. I went on a ride with the usual suspects, (Tedd and Sandy) and we just meandered.  It had just rained about 2 inches in the surrounding area.

The amount of water that we encountered was amazing.  We did not encounter any road blockage, but the evidence of the amount of rain was everywhere.

I was also packing my good camera, so we would stop and take pictures where it seemed the scenery seemed to be good.  I took about 50 pictures.  Two were good, or at least in my eye.  I’m posting both here so you can tell me they both sucked.  I’m okay with that.

None the less, it was a good February jaunt across flooded plains of Delaware County.  And being slow is not bad.  Being aware of the surrounding beauty is a gift and sharing that with friends is priceless.

A Bittersweet Day

Valentine’s Day has never been a favorite holiday of mine. And a few years ago, it became a bittersweet holiday at best. I lost a family member to suicide. Yes, a very tragic event that shook the entire family.

But because of this tragedy, our family drew closer. I was able to re-establish ties with family members that I had lost years before.  I was able to form new bonds with my brothers and sister and also renew a kinship with a family that had been lost to me.  So while I lost a family member, I regained a family.

I have posted this song every year since we lost Ben.  It is a great way for me to remember him.



The Olympics or How I Spent My Weekend.

I am not going to lie. I got very little sleep over this past weekend because I have been sucked in by the Olympics.  There was also this little cold I picked up that made breathing, well, difficult, but we will ignore that fact for the sake of this story and blame my insomnia on the Olympics.

I missed the first two nights.  I didn’t see the spectacle that was the opening ceremonies on Friday.  From the highlights that I saw, I think I would have liked the drones. I picked up on the coverage late Saturday afternoon, but only saw a little bit of the action as I had to leave for a get together with friends.

When I arrived back home, I turned on the Olympics and, boom, I was hooked.  I wasn’t watching the skating on NBC, but I tuned into NBCSN on my computer so I could watch in bed and fall asleep to the boring sport of curling.  Yep, the good old boring sport of curling.  The one that combines ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool.  Well, forget the boring part.  I was hooked and enthralled.  Not was it only all of the above, but it was mixed curling meaning that there was a male and female partnered on a team.  Brilliant.

42 pounds of thunder

So now we have the chess match that is ice, bowling, shuffle board and pool coupled with…couples.  Not as in married couples, although there were brothers and sisters, but just two paired together.  Now, mix in the high pressure that is inherent in competing in the Olympics and you have better drama than any reality show.

In curling, they have brooms in order to sweep the ice to effect the stone on its path and length.  So you have one person on the team telling the other player to sweep “harder” or not at all.  All the while, the players are miked up for the crowd to hear and the add in the tension from the competition.  As you can imagine, not all was well with the competing partners.  Since they were speaking languages I could not understand, I had to interpret the conversations the best I could.  This is what I came up with.

Female:  I thought we agreed you would curl that stone left to take out that other stone!!

Male:  I gave it my best shot, I thought the ice was faster.

Female:  I told you to throw harder, but did you listen…no!!!

Male:  We are on ice, how could I have thrown it harder???

Female:  Thought you had more in you.

Male:  I thought I told you to sweep the damn ice harder!

At this point we take a commercial break (of which there are many), and leave it to the audience’s imagination of just where that next 42 pound stone will be placed.

Yes, this is no lie.  I really was thinking this while watching the couples perform.

My next thing I watched was the luge.  I watched the men’s single live and it was very exciting.  But what crazy people!!  Who thought this stuff up?  It had to be a bunch of guys sitting around drinking one day during the winter, since all the farming chores were probably done, yes, probably.  Anyway, one brilliant guy says to the rest, “Hey, lets build an ice hill, grab a board, put a couple of runners on it and slide down this ice hill at 80 mph!!”  The rest of the guys look at each other, grab another beer and yell “Dilly Dilly” while running for the hill.  The rest is history.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was looking forward to the ice skating because, well, I only watch it every four years so I tend to forget why I don’t watch it.

I will tell you it was not because of the looks of Johnny Weir or the outfits some of the skaters had on, though, I must admit, I was scratching my head a bit.  Mr. Weir looked like he was straight out of the movie “The Hunger Games” with his hair-do.  I did do a “YIKES!” when I first saw him.  But I later saw a commercial with him mocking himself and I did like his commentary on the skating.  Not that I understood a single thing he said or did I understand how this damn sport is scored.

I back my claim by this.  How in the hell does the one guy who falls twice during his performance, win?  Even the commentators were at a loss to explain.  They fawned over the excellence of the American skater, yet he scored low and he didn’t fall.  Next up was the Canadian skater, he fell twice and won the event.  So at that point, I was done and went to bed. I fired up the computer and only had commercials to watch with a few snowboarders thrown in order to fill in the time between commercials.

So as I went back to work this morning, bleary eyed and weary, I realized there was something missing from this edition of the winter Olympics.  The one thing that made 2014 in Sochi so real.

It is Bob Costas and his pink eyes.

But His EYES!

I felt so bad for him during the last Olympics, but damn, how easy it was to make fun of him.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Mr. Costas and his work.  But that was just good stuff.  I tuned in just to see how he was recovering.

Bottom line.  I know we are just getting started and I may need to take a break and get some sleep some nights, but you can count on me watching and injecting my own warped sense of humor into  this great show.



Light That Torch! The Olympics Are Here!

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of the Olympics. Yep, bring it on.  Speed skating. Downhill skiing. Bobsled.  Luge.  And yes, figure skating.  I will admit I like to watch figure skating.  Every four years.   I like the grace and athleticism of the skaters.  I have no idea how they are judged or how the scoring goes.  Might as well figure out the NFL bobbled catch rule and then you might understand figure skating.

The cross country skiing and shoot arrows…yep, not sure about that.  Or the one that shoots rifle instead of arrows.   Um, well I’m sure the Greeks had a reason for that…

So I will watch these coming 2 weeks with fun.  It will actually be live.  8PM here is actually 10 am there.  So the live feeds should be fun.

But most of of all, I look forward to the backstories.  The ones that will make my eyes misty.  You know what I am talking about.  “She/he was raised in poverty and rose up to meet the challenge and became a Olympian…and so forth.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love that story.  But why not this…”Kid was motivated a worked his ass off and became an Olympian”  I like that also…