Sunday, October 28, 2007

More thoughts on the ride

After we returned from Death Valley our team was swapping emails about the ride. We are reposting here the one that Tom sent out on Wednesday

I’ve been looking at photos, watching videos and reading emails this morning and I am amazed at what this team has accomplished in three short years. Our first year, 2005, we had 14 riders in Death Valley and 12 more in Ashville. We were all “newbies”. We had no idea about the Death Valley terrain or the route. “Jubilee Pass is how high?” We didn’t know about posters on the room doors or identifying markings on our helmets. And why do we need a “supply” stop in Parhrump? Today we are the rock stars of the Valley. The un-official coolest team at the ride. My sides hurt all weekend. Sometimes from the riding, but more often from the laughs we shared around the pool and dinner. I will take away many memories from this ride that will last the rest of my life.

Carmen’s incredible enthusiasm for every part of the experience.

John Jasker riding up to the top of Jubilee twice to help other riders on our team achieve their goals.

Sean and Rob and Ted’s four letter shout outs.

The dorm party on Saturday night.

Our little pace line on the way back from Ashford Mills. Patti, Nicole, Carmen, Melanie and I. Plus the guys we picked up along the way, Micah from Israel and the kid whose name I forgot.

Helmet stars? A great idea. Bunny ears and a tail? It looked good on Rob.

Did I mention that Melanie Williamson is a monster climber?

Seeing Mark and Terry Hereen on Friday night and then out on the road on Saturday. And in Vegas on Sunday and Monday. Thanks for all the rides.

Underwater photography by Kevin Owens.

Sitting around for hours in the hot tub at the Flamingo in Vegas, discussing the ride.

The convenience store lunch on Friday with Katie, Steve and Nicole.

The crash and my interesting scar.

Dave the Ninja.

Finishing the ride in a sandstorm. Is that what normal people do on a Saturday night?

Turning 50 surrounded by some of the most positive people I have ever met in my life.

And to the two people who made this whole weekend possible, Coach Mike and Cruise Director Mary. While we were having fun before the ride they were working behind the scenes to make sure everything went off without a hitch. Thanks to them and Linda Clark and Sophie, our West Michigan support team.

One last thought. With 98 miles completed I was done. The wind was too strong. It was too hot. My body had nothing left. There were other riders on our team, much stronger than me, who had already sagged in. I looked up to see another long climb on the stretch between Badwater and the turn for Furnace Creek. I was done. I then looked down at the little card that had been on my handlebars since the start. One quote caught my eye. “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” At that point I looked at the photo of my son and said, “Well Jake, I’ve got no more energy, I guess we’ll have to use a double dose of persistence.” And our little pace line crossed the finish line together. Thanks to everyone who participated. You are all rock stars in my book. And if we can conquer the ride in Death Valley, I have no doubt that we can also conquer diabetes.

Ride On.


Friday, October 26, 2007

More Ride News

Those of us who rode in Death Valley have been sharing emails and photos this week. It's great to relive those great memories. Obviously that doesn't include the winds and heat. Our team is great. Not only great cyclists, but great people as well. Our bikes arrived back on the Gainey Transportation truck this morning. We had half a dozen people show up early to help unload. We are already starting to plan for next year.
Here's a photo of us at the top of Jubilee Pass. We are smiling because we think we've accomplished the hardest part of the ride. The winds haven't started yet and the temperature is still below 90.For more photos from us and the rest of the team click on the new link to the left under the 2007 Ride Photos headline. Or click here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Photos from the 2007 Ride

The West Michigan Ride Team on Friday morning, just before the training ride up to Zabriski Point.

Dust storm at sunset. The end of the 2007 Death Valley Ride.

Tom and Mary, very happy to have completed another adventure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We are home

This year's Death Valley Ride was incredible. We just got home after three fantastic days in DV and a couple of birthday celebration days in Las Vegas. There will be several more posts over the next couple of days with all the details and many photos. But first here are the basics.
We fought a head wind on the way back from Jubilee Pass again this year. This time it was a sustained 30 MPH with gusts to 40. The last 5 miles were ridden in a sandstorm! It was also hotter than last year. The temperature peaked at 3:40 in the afternoon at 104 degrees. The heat and the wind took their toll on Mary as she completed 88 miles of the route. Tom rode the entire 105, but it took 11 hours. Many people on our team and Death Valley ride veterans from other teams said it was the hardest thing they have ever done. More on that later...

This week's ride totals:
10/19 - 10 miles; Tune up ride to Zabriske Point and back
10/20 - 88 miles; Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes (Mary)
10/20 - 105 miles; Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes (Tom)
Total: 98 miles (Mary)
Total: 115 miles (Tom)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bye bye

Tomorrow is fly away day. We board our flight at 8:30 Thursday morning, change planes in Chicago, pick up a rental car in Las Vegas, and arrive in Death Valley about 2:00 PDT. That is providing the big midwest storm doesn't mess up our plans. Right now there is rain in the forecast for Death Valley on Saturday. Rain?!? In Death Valley?!? The last time it rained there there were floods and roads got washed away. Then there were flowers.
This is probably the last post until we return. But then we'll have lots to talk about and tons of cool photos.

Here's a memory from 2006.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Just days away

We have been training since March. We have logged hundreds, probably over 1000, miles. The air has turned cold in Michigan. Our bikes are gone! It must be time to head to Death Valley.
On Thursday morning, 36 people from the West Michigan Bike Team will board airplanes and fly to Las Vegas. From there we will catch shuttle buses out to the Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley. On Friday morning there will be a 10 mile, get reacquainted with your bike seat ride. On Saturday we will pedal 105 miles across Death Valley for JDRF. On Sunday, we sleep by the pool in Las Vegas. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this worthy cause. We'll have more reports on the actual ride in the days ahead.

This week's ride totals:
10/8 - 37 miles; WPT north to Sand Lake (Mary)
10/8 - 32.7 miles; WPT north to Cedar Springs (Tom)
Total: 37 miles - Mary
Total: 32.7 miles - Tom

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Riding the trail

We both rode the White Pine Trail yesterday, but at separate time. Mary took off in the 86 degree heat around lunch time and rode all the way to Sand Lake. The new paving has added eight miles to the WPT. Of course it does go all the way to Cadillac, but after Sand Lake the trail becomes dirt. Mary did the paved portion and logged 37 miles. Later in the day Tom rode to Cedar Springs on the trail, putting in 32.6 miles. The additional paving will allow us to put in some great training miles next year, as this ride season is just about done. Our bikes leave for Death Valley tomorrow and the weather has turned colder. We might get out for a short mountain bike ride between now and the 18th, but the next time we'll be on the roadies will be in Death Valley, California.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Two weeks to DV-Day

Yesterday was our final team ride of the season. In two weeks we will be pedaling across Death Valley. And the temperatures yesterday were quite Death Valley-like. It was over 85 degrees at ride time as 12 of the West Michigan team headed out from Sue and Pete Dow's house. The Dow's treated us to several hills on our way out to Wabasis Lake. But hills and heat are what we need. We broke away from the group at the lake to take care of kid duties, but then hooked back up post-ride at the Dow's for chili and beer. Yum.

This week's ride totals:
10/4 - 15.6 miles; WPT north (Tom)
10/4 - 8 miles; WPT south (Mary)
10/6 - 31.4 miles; Forest Hills to Wabasis Lake to home
Total: 47 miles (Tom)
Total: 39.4 miles (Mary)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

80 degrees in October???

We have been having some beautiful weather here in Michigan so far this fall. It's been in the 70's or 80's every day. Although it is getting into the 40's at night. Tom and Mary both went on separate rides today. With the sun setting so much earlier now it's tough to get in long rides during the week. Tom took the White Pine Trail north to 12 Mile Road for a 15.6 mile round trip. Just before nightfall Mary took the WPT south for a quick 8 miler. The good news is our rear ends felt no effects after getting back on the bike after the century ride on Sunday. Coach Mike would call that "good saddle fitness."
Two weeks from today we head out to Death Valley!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Apple Cider Century photos

Our group about to start at 7:45 a.m. Eddie, Bill, Elvin, Clark, Tom, Mary, Chan, and Susan.

Susan and Mary spinning thru the quiet streets of New Buffalo, almost half-way to the 100.

Here we are at the end of the ride. One century done, looking forward to the next one in Death Valley.