Socializing the summit of my Mt. Sufferlandria

Hi.

I got a story for you.

I am a new member of the Sufferfest community. I am very grateful to be here. After three tries, I got the “ok” on my Full Frontal test, and I’m now on the 2nd week of the All Around 12 week training plan. I added Yoga and Mental Toughness.

The mental toughness program tells me to socialize my goal. So, here it is:

I’m going to bust my ass to the top of the Passo di Stelvio from Bormio in under 1 hour, 45 minutes.

If you want to know why or just feel like reading a lot more words, this is why.

I have history with the Stelvio. In the Summer of 2010 I took a trip with two friends to cycle some of the iconic climbs of the Giro - the Stelvio, both ways up in a day and the Mortirolo + Gavia in a day. There were others, but those were the big ones. I got a personal trainer to help get me prepared. I put in the work but improvement was minimal. I thought it because I was old or stressed or not putting in enough effort.

I arrived in Bormio eager to tackle the Stelvio. The day of suffering was a short-lived shit-show. I only got a couple of miles up the road before I had to tell my friends to go ahead. I tried to keep going but something felt really wrong. I was getting dizzy, feeling light-headed, couldn’t find a pace for sustained effort. So, I turned back and sat in my hotel room trying to understand what was happening. I decided it was an acclimation problem that would be better the next day. I told myself: this will be hard; you will suffer; but you are going to do it. I set out the next day to do it.

That day was the maximum amount of physical and mental suffering I had experienced in my life up to that point. I was at full maximum effort. I was gasping for air, blacking out, dizzy and light-headed on all the ups. My body was yelling at me, something is wrong. But I was in grind mode. I was not kind to myself. I was not compassionate with myself. I said I was going to do it. No negotiation. Later that week, I rode the Mortirolo + Gavia. Same experience. Something was definitely wrong with me.

It took a full year plus a few months after returning from that trip to learn what was wrong with me. I learned I had a fatal, progressive lung disease that was turning my lungs into scar tissue. That’s why I couldn’t breathe. It’s called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. At the time of diagnosis, you are given 3 to 5 years. No one gets better, and no one survives. It was a death sentence. The reason I was in such bad shape on the climb was that my disease restricts the ability of my lungs to oxygenate my blood. Two things exacerbate that problem: physical exertion and elevation. Two things you will absolutely encounter on the Stelvio.

My disease continued to get worse. Slowly, then rapidly. Ultimately I needed to be on machines to breathe. I tried to maintain an exercise program on rollers and a rowing machine. I could spin at little to no resistance while taking in 10 liters/minute of continuous flow of oxygen. I accepted my death. I grieved my own death. I have a beautiful wife and three precious children. Dying is an unmistakable feeling. And it sucks.

The only thing that would save my life is a transplant. But it’s not a cure. 50% of lung transplant recipients are dead in 6 years post-transplant. In 2019 I was put on the transplant list at University of Washington in Seattle. I received a double lung transplant on 14 February 2020. Receiving a lung transplant in what was then the epicenter of the Covid pandemic is a whole other story in itself. But I’m here. I’m alive. I feel great. I am just so damn happy to be alive and breathing. And my heart is overflowing with love for life.

I am able to push myself again. It brings me immeasurable joy and happiness. Suffering of this kind is a privilege. It is a blessing that tells me I am alive.

So I have to go back to the Stelvio. I have to do it right. I have to do it with love for my donor. I have to do it because I need to heal from that day. I need to suffer through it not because I’m dying but because I am alive.

That’s why. Thank you for reading this far.

David

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Chapeau. Your story is inspiring! And your Mt Sufferlandria sounds awesome. So when are you going to do it? I hope you will post updates along the way

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Thank you for responding. I’m thinking of doing it sometime between mid-July and mid-September 2022. I will share updates.

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An inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to watching you accomplish this.

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This is an amazing story, @David_Terry. Very inspirational. Please keep us posted and be sure to add photos! Wishing you all the best on your trip to the top of your Mt Sufferlandria!

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David, my heart is full after reading your story. With the utmost sincerity, I wish you glorious Suffering and stunning Victory.

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My god, David. I just can’t even with you. Your courage and commitment are flat-out humbling. I don’t have enough hats to tip, brother. And now I feel really guilty not going for that last additional on the ramp in Half Monty.

:cry:

And to hear U-Dub played a role…aww. Makes me homesick. Huskies doing me proud.

Good on you.

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That’s a great story, very inspiring.

Good luck with Stelvio, it’s a brute of a ride. A few years back we rode up Stelvio via Umbrail Pass, down in to Bormio then up over Gavia. It was hellish hard work without a lung transplant, nevermind with one!!

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Your story makes me humble and grateful. I can’t imagine how you felt/feel, but I can imagine how your wife feels. I do know how it feels when you think your significant other is about to die 6months to 3 years out. (Everything is fine with her now, because we had a 1 in a 1k luck). Buy her flowers and give her a kiss (yes, I know you did this already last week, but still :wink:)
While I do understand that you have to tackle the stelvio from Bormio, give it also a shot from Prato the next days when your already down there (doesn’t have to be in 1:45, the ride from Prato is just beautiful)

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@David_Terry incredibly inspiring and thank you for sharing. I reckon every Sufferlandrian will be willing you on as you bust your badass to the top of the Stelvio!!!

Is that all you got @David_Terry ? Seriously though, HOLY SH!& . I gotta say I got a little choked up here (no pun intended). WOW! Really inspirational. You can count on me to jeer and heckle you to the top of the Stelvio, a beast I have only done virtually. Also, for the record, Welcome to Sufferlandria. You can never leave :slight_smile:

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I don’t mean to make light of a clearly very serious situation and I am glad for you @David_Terry that you have done so well in your recovery but I must write that all these comments relating to a double lung transplant as “inspiring” must be contenders for unintended pun of year award.

:crazy_face:

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A+. I appreciate the humor. It’s the only adequate response to dying.

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Oh, you are right about the other side. I don’t think I mentioned that the first time I did it, after making the summit from Bormio, I descended the Umbrailpass into Switzerland and then came up via Prato. I remember being head down, crawling, heaving, but taking a second to look around and noticing how epically beautiful it is. Looking forward to seeing those mountains again.

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Progress update: I’m on the 3rd week of the 12 week All Around training plan. Today I encountered Nine Hammers. I got it done with good form. I had nothing left in the last 90 seconds of the ninth hammer.

I"m pushing through a lot of doubt about my goal. I’ve been estimating speed, power and power/weight ratios needed to complete my goal. I have a long ways to go. But I guess that’s what goals are for. My sustained power has to improve at least 100 watts. Is that insane? I know I can help it by safely losing weight, which I will do. But what range of sustained power increases do people experience? And over what periods of time? I’m starting at a relatively low base, so maybe the improvement will be significant. I’m just going to keep pedaling.

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Don’t overthink it.

My personal Mt. Sufferlandria is going to take a lot of work, but I am slowly making progress. I did set myself some intermediate goals along the way.

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Hi David,

Thats quite a story you got. It’s these kind of stories that give extra motivation to beat my own ass.
It is amazing to see it is even possible to work toward such a goal on a double long transplant.
As for your target, and I know I cant compare this probably, but i started out in March, and my first Half Monty gave me an FTP of 175, which was in line with what i got from some other trainer app.
Now I started with the free trial plan, did the full frontal preparation so i could start a real plan, which i just finished yesterday. Got my FTP up to 222 now, well thats nearly 50 points in 4 months.

So, given you got more than a year to train for your event, and the willpower you have, why wouldn’t that be possible? I believe you can!

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@David_Terry Not insane - I was up about 80 watts in about a year after starting SUF. Gains in the beginning can come fast and then they definitely get harder to achieve. I peaked a few months ago and have since dropped a few watts but will make another push after race season.

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This is an amazing story and we all want to see that Stelvio trip successful! I myself have ridden the Stelvio three times, twice from Prato, once from the Bormio side. I recall having a coffee after one of the rides from Prato and watching other cyclists come in. There was a small group of Americans who stopped in front of me and I chatted with them for a bit. Then I realized that one of the women had an artificial leg–she was a cancer survivor. The Stelvio brings out something special in us, it appears.

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