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.