QMDC Blog


Sunday October 25th
Well today we relayed the ½ ironman.  We met some great people!  I met pro cyclist Floyd Landis, who recommended I keep riding through Mexico to get rid of my belly.  He is quite the joker.  My friend Carrie came down and crushed the handcycle section of the race!  I think she is hooked.  After finishing the race I sat for lunch with a group of heroes!  Anthony Smith: an amputee war veteran, Sian Welch: Triathlon world champ and all around super cool chick, Carrie Finale: Paralympic hopeful and one tough chick, David Lee: handcyclist that rode with me and had a top speed of 58 mph, and Lisa Jennings: Super fast and looks good doing it bicyclist.  What a great day.

As I sat on the ocean front deck of my place at La Jolla Cove I got a phone call that said I need to return to work right away.  Turns out I am going to be recognized by the State for my work in emergency preparedness!  This weekend gets better and better!!  Thank you all again for your help and I look forward to making you proud in my future endeavors!!



Friday October 23rd
So we got up this morning to a foggy day in Newport Beach.  I was so tired I decided to skip breakfast.  Let’s just say the miles were catching up to my body and my body wasn’t very happy.  After getting up very slowly, we started our journey down to San Diego.  In San Clemente we ran in to an old family friend Don Mork.  Don is a wonderful man and made a huge impression on me as a person.  Don made so many efforts towards this ride that they are too many to list.  This day he waited for every rider to go by so that he could cheer them on with a sign.  I didn’t want to leave after meeting him.  Brandon Abo was along for the ride today!  It was super fun riding along with him.  His poor mom got a dead car battery but otherwise their trip was flawless.  While in San Clemente we ran in to Casey Maze.  It was apparently a surprise and he asked us to pretend not to see him while he got set up down the street.  He is quite the character. 

It was a tough day of riding and the finish was going to be the hardest part.  2.5 miles at 6% grade.  I felt like I was climbing to the sun.  It seemed to never end!  Timing was right as I climbed with Melia, Brandon, and mike Jennings (another QMDC rider) when my brother caught up to us and we climbed the hill as a team.  A very poetic ending to such a journey.  Crossing the finish line I was able to reflect on the many things I learned on this trip.  I still believe my cheeks hurt more from laughing with Super Dave and Melia than my arms do from the miles.  Melia's parents have names.  They are Al and Charlotte.  Down is better than up in most circumstances.  I like sitting in my bike more than I do my wheelchair.  I am so fortunate to have so many friends and family that care about me so much.  I am so honored and grateful to have you.  What an amazing ride and I am so sad it has come to a close.  I want to go to it all over again.  For now I get a day off and then I relay the San Diego ½ Ironman.


Friday October 23rd
So we got up this morning to a foggy day in Newport Beach.  I was so tired I decided to skip breakfast.  Let’s just say the miles were catching up to my body and my body wasn’t very happy.  After getting up very slowly, we started our journey down to San Diego.  In San Clemente we ran in to an old family friend Don Mork.  Don is a wonderful man and made a huge impression on me as a person.  Don made so many efforts towards this ride that they are too many to list.  This day he waited for every rider to go by so that he could cheer them on with a sign.  I didn’t want to leave after meeting him.  Brandon Abo was along for the ride today!  It was super fun riding along with him.  His poor mom got a dead car battery but otherwise their trip was flawless.  While in San Clemente we ran in to Casey Maze.  It was apparently a surprise and he asked us to pretend not to see him while he got set up down the street.  He is quite the character. 

It was a tough day of riding and the finish was going to be the hardest part.  2.5 miles at 6% grade.  I felt like I was climbing to the sun.  It seemed to never end!  Timing was right as I climbed with Melia, Brandon, and mike Jennings (another QMDC rider) when my brother caught up to us and we climbed the hill as a team.  A very poetic ending to such a journey.  Crossing the finish line I was able to reflect on the many things I learned on this trip.  I still believe my cheeks hurt more from laughing with Super Dave and Melia than my arms do from the miles.  Melia's parents have names.  They are Al and Charlotte.  Down is better than up in most circumstances.  I like sitting in my bike more than I do my wheelchair.  I am so fortunate to have so many friends and family that care about me so much.  I am so honored and grateful to have you.  What an amazing ride and I am so sad it has come to a close.  I want to go to it all over again.  For now I get a day off and then I relay the San Diego ½ Ironman.

Thursday, Oct 22 - Day 6

We woke up to great weather in Marina Del Ray for the coastal ride through my hometown, Huntington Beach. The ride through Seal Beach and Bolsa Chica was not windy at all, which made traveling through those areas faster than expected.  I was definitely showing signs of arm fatigue as I was coming through the bluffs in northern .  I arrived at the HB Pier to a grand welcome from about 30 friends and family with signs, banners and balloons.  One of the highlights was that Coach Dave White and Harry Schmidt were at the pier.  Dave was my football coach at Edison High School , and is that man that coined the phrase "everyday in every way you get a little better."  It is a phrase that carried me through my recovery.  Another highlight of the noon-time stop was having lunch with my family and friends, and sitting next to my 91-year young grandma, who brought a special batch of homemade candy called divinity.  Delicious! It was great to see friends from high school, elementary school and even kindergarten.  After lunch, I hopped on my handcycle, and Melia, Michele and I journeyed down the coast.  We took the Balboa coastal route because it was a beautiful day and we ended up taking the ferry across . We finished at the hotel after climbing Jamboree Road as the other riders were starting dinner, which seems to be a reoccurring theme for this trip. It was great to see professional athletes like Floyd Landis and Christian Vande Velde at dinner again.  Tomorrow, we finish in !



Wednesday, Oct 21 - Day 5
We started in beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara. We made it into Ventura where we met up with Uncle Dan and Aunt Lou for a short visit, including water and homemade cookies (Dave thinks they were the best cookies he has ever eaten). We journeyed down the coast of Malibu where we rode by ritzy homes under sunny skies - couldn't have asked for a better day. While riding through Malibu, I noticed an open garage filled with Garmin Slipstream professional cyclists. Malia and I stopped and chatted with them for about 15 minutes, and they were as interested in my handcycle as I was in their bicycles. Entering Marina Del Ray, we met up with another challenged athlete riding down the bike path. He stopped and asked us what we were riding for.  We told him about Challenged Athletes Foundation and the events coming this weekend in San Diego and he said he would come down.  I hope to see Brian at the San Diego Triathlon Challenge on Saturday where I will complete the 26.2 run in my handcycle. Also, Sarah Reinertsen spoke at dinner tonight about her new book "In a Single Bound."

Ending in Newport Beach tomorrow, but we'll see you at Chamayo in Huntington Beach for lunch tomorrow at noon!


Tuesday, Oct 20 – Day 4
Today started off with a bang.  We were up and rolling long before 11 am.  Stacie and Randall Hill showed up to do some pedaling with us.  We road along the coast and went on the Pismo Beach Pier where we had to opportunity to let 8 people know about challenged athletes.  Traveling further down the coast, we actually bumped into a recent CAF grant recipient. Rodney, who has an amputated leg, received a surf board this year.  Rodney is pictured to the left with Stacie, Randall, and me.  We stopped in at Old Juan’s Cantina to have lunch with the Hills, the Duttons, Garrett, and Team Simonson.  Super Dave tackled the largest hill climb of the ride through the Santa Ynez Valley.  It was an extremely windy day. We arrived at the Fess Parker Double Tree Hotel to a wonderful surprise of a six pack of Coronas on ice and a plate full of chocolate chip cookies.  Today ended with a long awaited pizza dinner, this satisfied a three day long craving.  Ahhh! Life is good.  Tomorrow LA . . . . . . . .

Monday, Oct 19 - Day 3
This morning started off great.  Dave left early to chase the Garmin Slipstream, a professional cycling team, through Big Sur.  Melia and I waved him on from under the warm and comfortable covers.  Friend and fellow handcyclists, David Lee, got two flat tires at 7 miles of a 119 mile ride to Pismo Beach.  I was able to supply him with two new fresh tires.  This is important to me because it is not very often that a quadriplegic is able to help a paraplegic.  So now, I tease David Lee claiming bragging rights for the rest of the year.  Melia and I skipped a rather dangerous section of Big Sur.   As we were driving through, we saw Super Dave at the side of the road and pulled over to talk to him.  He asked if we could drive him back about 15 miles, so that he could ride next to David Lee.  This is small example of how he got his nickname . . . Super Dave. 
One of the most beautiful sections of the ride today was coming down the mountain into Cayucos.  There was of beautiful view of Morro Bay and Morro Rock.  So beautiful in fact, we stopped there, ate ice cream, and road on the pier.  The timing could not have been more perfect for my brother to call and when he asked what I was doing, instead of telling him I was grinding up a 15% grade, I was shoving a pralines and cream ice cream cone down my throat.  You got to refuel somehow. 
We met up with Bob Dutton to ride into Morro Bay.  Thanks Bob for coming out to ride with me. 
Team Simonson is super tired and is ready for some sleep.  Have a great night. 



Sunday, Oct 18 - Day 2
Greetings from Big Sur Lodge!  The morning started off with a slow and painful exit from bed, as I looked around the room and tried to find my arm...the one that fell off on the ride the day before.  My rest was restless, since I was sandwiched between a mummy sleeper and something that sounded like a wood chipper.  We met my former neighbors from Santa Cruz, Forest and Marianne, for breakfast.  It was great to see them. 


After breakfast, we began our beautiful ride down the coast, first experiencing the rolling sand dunes of Seaside, then travelling down the main boardwalk of cannery row in Monterrey.  We passed through Pacific Grove and moved on to the Monterrey Peninsula’s world-famous 17-mile drive, with its scenic golf course on the left and jagged coastline on the right.  It was beautiful and sunny and you could smell the redwoods, ocean, and lavender. We also saw seals, sea lions and sea otters. There were some unexpectedly steep climbs on the coast...and Melia and I have created a new form of bicycle dancing, worthy of a cirque du soleil audition.  It involves a lot of hip movement and arm flailing.

We finished the day by meeting up with my camping friends, The Duttons.  They’re camping in their RV right out in front of our lodge as I write this.  We’re charging him 10 cents for a shower and 5 cents for a shave.  Now I have to get some sleep because tomorrow is a very hilly day riding south down the scenic Big Sur coast, ending at the dunes of Pismo Beach.  I’ll post pictures tomorrow when I get better internet service.  If you're wondering about how much fun we're having, all I can say is:  my face hurts more from laughing than my arms do from riding.


Saturday, Oct 17 - Day 1

The morning started with fog in San Francisco and by midday the sun was out and we were riding along the coast past pumpkin patches and beautiful ocean views.  We met up with Bronwen Lacey (wearing the red jersey in the picture to the left) at Wilder Ranch and she rode down with me to the city of Santa Cruz.  Thanks Bronwen!  We took a short detour to see the Surf Museum, a lighthouse and downtown Santa Cruz.  There were a lot more hills along the coast than you would think. 

After the ride I had a great massage.  Sat down to a great dinner and got to chat with Sian Welch (legendary triathlete) and Virginia Tinley.  Operation Rebound was the focus of the dinner so I was asked to join a panel to discuss the importance of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The highlight of the evening was meeting Julie Moss, legendary Ironman triathlete (she's wearing white in the picture to the left.  OK off to bed now.  Tomorrow we are at it again!
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I will be riding as many miles as I can each day during the ride to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation and raise awareness of disabled athletics. The money raised will purchase handcycles, racing chairs, sports chairs and sports prosthetics for challenged athletes, as well as help subsidize competition and training expenses.  To date, due to generous friends, family and sponsors, I've raised over $17,000. 

This is where I ask you for your help.  Every dollar counts and you will have a profound effect on so many peoples lives! Your donation is completely tax deductible (tax i.d. #33-0739596). 


To donate please visit:



http://mdc2009.kintera.org/seansimonson  




















































































Here are my daily updates from the 2009 Qualcomm Million Dollar Challenge which started on Saturday, October 17 in San Francisco and ended on October 23 in San Diego.