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What Do You Do on a Bike Friday

Ted Campbell's Air Glide has served him well.

Ted Campbell's Air Glide


Of all the fascinating Bike Friday folk we've met on a Friday, Ted Campbell, computer guy by day and cyclist by 24/7 and then some, stands on a podium of his own.

With challenging health issues since birth, this quietly-spoken Air Glide owner pushes the phrase 'Just Do It' to a whole new level.

Read about Ted's life, shelve your druthers and get your Friday out of hibernation ...

Story and photos by Lynette Chaing

In Ted's words:

I started road biking back in 1977 after graduating from high school.

I was doing between 6,000 to 10,000 miles a year up to 1982.

By 1982 I started having serious vision problems brought about by Type I diabetes.

I ended up going blind in my left eye and for a while only had 20/200 vision in the right. Let me tell you it was a little tricky trying to ride under those conditions!

After I got the diabetes better under control my vision improved to 20/40. I continued to ride over the years but had lost a good bit of strength and speed due to the illness.

1988: I got the idea to ride from Colorado back to San Antonio. I started doing some additional 2-3 day bike tours into the local countryside here to test out my equipment and get into shape. I then flew up to Aspen, CO to start the trip. I planned on staying in Aspen for two days and then start riding.

At the end of the second day I had ridden down to a grocery store to get some food but as I was riding out of the parking lot I ran straight into a curb. I had advanced cataracts at the time and my vision was rather poor. I bent the frame so I returned to San Antonio and bought another.

After rebuilding the bike I took a bus up to Glenwood Springs, CO -- about 50 miles north of Aspen. The first day's ride was pretty easy, no real climbs.

But on the second day I climbed up over Independence Pass at 12,095 feet. After doing that, I didn't have any concerns about being able to climb any other mountains on the way.

My route went across Colorado to Walsenburg, then west to Fort Garland, then down into New Mexico through Taos. I picked this route because it was more scenic. I made it across the mountains of New Mexico into the plains of north Texas and then eventually back into the Hill Country of central and south Texas. It ended up being 1,200 miles done in 3 weeks.

By the early 90's I was starting to suffer from kidney disease, again due to diabetes. Year by year the condition worsened. I had been doing around 6,000 miles a year, but by the middle 90's I was down to around 2,500 miles a year. It was almost impossible to ride over 25 miles due to my health.

1990: I did another trip. I started in Missoula, MT and planned to end in Grand Junction, CO. I picked this route for its mountains and sparse population.

While catching a plane in San Antonio to leave, I missed my flight and had to catch a later flight. I ended up arriving in Missoula at around 11 p.m. and stayed at a motel that I assumed was on the south side of Missoula.

I left the following morning and rode 25 miles, enjoying the scenery. When I stopped in a small town along the way for lunch I asked the waitress about some road construction I spotted. She said it was 'just north of here,' in the direction I'd been traveling in. I then realized I had traveled 25 miles in the opposite direction! That's what I get for looking at the scenery and not the map!

After that, the trip went well. I rode down into Idaho over the Lost Trail pass, down through Salmon, ID and eventually over to Wyoming. I climbed over the Teton Pass into Jackson Hole. I rode down through Wyoming into the upper corner of Utah and over to the upper north west corner of Colorado. I continued on down to Grand Junction. This trip took 2.5 weeks and covered 1,000 miles.

After 1990 when I did that trip, my performance on the bike was noticably declining.

In 1993 I did a group ride with some people from up in Austin. We drove out to Durango, CO and did the "San Juans Skyway" loop. The man who ran it worked at the YMCA in Round Rock, Texas (just north of Austin). He drove the van with the luggage and he provided SAG support for us.

I was riding quite weak on this trip but enjoyed it nontheless. I redid this same route on a supported tour with my cousin Marian in 2004.

By 1998 I had lost all kidney function. I started on hemo-dialysis which involves three trips a week to a clinic for treatment. This requires having them filter my blood by machine for over four hours a visit. Due to doing dialysis my health improved and my riding went back up to levels in previous years.

On Jan 1, 2003 I got a kidney and pancreas transplant. Due to complications there was problems with the kidney but the pancreas worked and I was dialysis-free for two years and am still diabetes-free.

It took about a month to recover from some very major surgery. I was able to start riding again but had to start all over. I started with about a 15-mile ride and worked my way back up.

Now that I was diabetes-free I don't have to worry about my blood sugars anymore. I used to have to check them 10 times a day to try to keep them from either going either too high or too low. There was one instance in which I almost died on the side of the road while out bicycling. I was out on a ride after work and my blood sugars went real low without me noticing it. I finally stopped on the side of the road and passed out. I wasn't discovered by some passing motorist for several hours and when I awoke I was in the emergency room. My body temperature had cooled down to in the 80's and heart rate was real slow.

The last several years I've now managed to get my riding up to over 8,000 miles a year thanks to both the pancreas transplant and also doing some bicycle commuting.

In the beginning of 2005 my transplanted kidney gave out, I'm still diabetes free, but currently waiting for another kidney transplant.

In 2005 I did two tours, both while on dialysis. The first one was here locally through the Texas hill country. The other was up in Colorado where I road thru Rocky Mountains National Park.

Despite being back on dialysis I still rode 9,500 miles, my second highest year ever. Now that I have my BF Air Glide equipped for touring I'm looking forward to doing more touring over the coming years.

I'm still diabetes free since 2003 and am currently back on the waiting list for another kidney transplant ...

For someone who needs to read a computer screen with a magnifying glass through his good eye, Ted is a voracious reader and can recount practically everything written on the Bike Friday website.


Lynette interviews Ted

BF: Ted, to give people a sense of your mettle, what does dialysis involve?

TED: A dialysis session starts with a weigh-in. This determines how much fluid you've drunk and eaten since the last visit. Once this is done they insert two large diameter 15 gauge needles (same diameter as a bike spoke) into a vein in my upper left arm. Although I've been doing dialysis for a total of over six years I still flinch when the needle goes in -- IT HURTS!!

The needles are attached to clear plastic tubes that go up to the dialysis machine. The machine draws the blood out, filters it, and then brings it back into the other line in my arm. This is a slow process, I spend 4.25 hours each visit, three visits per week.

The process also extracts the extra water that has built up since the last dialysis treatment. Depending on how much water is extracted my blood pressure can drop to very low levels. I tend to be pretty tolerant of some very low pressures, sometimes down to 60-70 over 30-40.

This always surprises the nurse as they think that I shouldn't be able to stand up and walk around with it that low. The real price is paid the next day. That's when the weakness hits me. I'll be feeling the low blood pressures (dizziness and light headed) and also weakness. It's most obvious when doing hard exercise, such as riding a bike.

After about 24 hours I've usually recovered from the weakness and the following day I'm feeling pretty normal. However, on weekends there's an extra day spent between dialysis treatments. By Monday I'm starting to feel the effects of the toxins building up, like my whole system is out of whack. My stomach feels slightly upset. The good news is that after I get back on dialysis this goes away pretty quickly.

BF: Do you have any advice for people who feel 'hamstrung' by work, time pressures, family etc, in that they make excuses for not riding more?

TED: I always feel better after I get on my bike and start riding. I'm afraid I'm fighting a losing battle trying to convince people to ride. I know a couple of people who I keep trying to get to ride but keep making up excuses not to. (And you know who you are if you're reading this!)

BF: Tell us a bit about yourself -- age, married?, kids, job etc.

TED: I'm 46 years old, single, no kids, work as computer programmer. Just the right combo for doing lots of riding!

BF: Tell is about your other bikes -- how much do you ride your Air Glide compared to them

TED: I have a Bike Friday Air Glide with a Shimano Ultegra crankset 32-44-52 with a Capreo 9-26 cassette, giving me a gear range of 23 to 108 inches. I have a Carradice Nelson longflap saddlebag attached with a SQL Uplift. I also just bought a new Bike Friday folding rear rack for touring. This bike is used for every type of riding: 1. unloaded & light 2. Bike Commuting 3. Bike Touring.

I also have a 2004 Seven Axiom titanium, used for my weekend 'go out and do some long rides' bike.

I have a 1980 Colnago currently built up with Campy equipment dating from the 90's. I use this bike now only for commuting.

BF: Ted, what keeps you going?

TED: One pedal stroke after another!