For Father's Day five years ago, Mike Asher's three grown daughters and his wife presented him with a gleaming, tuned up version of his trusty Trek 750 hybrid road bike.
Having undergone quadruple bypass surgery only five months earlier in the wake of a major heart attack, he was soon back on the road as part of his rehabilitation program.
"Now I've got to get back on that bike again," Asher, now 55, recalls telling himself that wonderful day, adding, "This bike is good as new. It's a really cool gift."
All of which explains how Paula Asher and daughters Lyndsay (now 32), Nicole (28) and Taylor (23) wound up cheering wildly at Mike's finish in the road bike leg of his first Ski to Sea two years ago. He competed for the What's On Your List? team sponsored by Mike's employer, Fred Meyer One Stop Shopping.
It also explains why Mike will be enthusiastically back on his bike for What's On Your List? in the 2014 Ski to Sea. His team was unable to compete last year when a teammate backed out on Saturday night before the Sunday event.
All of Mike's daughters were Sehome athletes. Asher - who has coached for more than two decades including a decade with the Mariners' girls' basketball and softball programs - currently coaches C basketball and junior varsity softball.
Asher was delighted when Fred Meyer, for which he has now worked 36 years, decided to start sponsoring Ski to Sea teams in 2012.
"I put myself down as the road bike guy when the call came out for our first team (in the Recreational Division) and, lo and behold, I wound up as the road bike guy," he said in a phone interview. "It was a bucket-list thing."
Mike, a member of Sehome's Class of 1977, played on the football team and did not discover road biking until he was in his 30s.
He did the legendary Seattle to Portland Ride three times in the mid-1990s but life got in the way of further rides until well after he had a major heart attack on Dec. 4, 2008. He had surgery the following Jan. 22, and the next day learned he is a Type II diabetic.
"I'm 5-foot-8 and I weighed 210 pounds when I had my heart attack," he said.
Cycling helped him get down to 153 pounds and he said he now feels healthy and vibrant at 165.
"I did the Seattle to Portland Ride, which is 204 miles, last year and I plan to do it once more this year," he said. "I think this will probably be my last Ski to Sea. I'm a pretty competitive person, so I want my time to be better than it was in my first Ski to Sea. I did the (approximately 42-mile) leg in about 2 1/2 hours."
Does he recommend road biking to stay healthy?
"I absolutely recommend it," he said.