Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thank you to our donors

Tomorrow morning we leave on a jet plane for Colorado. On Saturday we'll ride 100 miles in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Every pedal stroke we take will bring us a little closer to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. But we wouldn't be going if it wasn't for the people and companies that donated to the cause. Here then, in no particular order, are the people we would like to thank for making a monetary donation this year.

X-Cel Chemical Company
Tom & Florence Scheidel
Leo & Joyce Isaguirre
Marc & Jane Longstreet
Roy Dodman
Kim Summers
Patrick Scheidel
Randall Carlon
Bill & Norma Hayes
David Pasciak
Dennis & Kim Moline
Paul & Lisa Brown
Paul & Brenda Schab
Mary Ellen Kozoil
Jake's Music Festival attendees
Chris & Paula Briggs
Mike & Jean Oele
Christine Behrens

If we missed anyone it was not intentional, just poor record keeping.

We are only $251 from our goal of $10,000. If you've already given, thank you once again. If you'd like to help put us over the top, please use the "Donate to..." links on the top right of this page.

100 miles closer to a cure.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Always send the letter

When we have new riders join the team they are usually concerned about two things - the cycling and the fundraising. We have a great coaching staff that really helps get people to where they need to be in order to complete their desired mileage. The fundraising can be a bit trickier.

Our team has become very creative over the years when it comes to raising money for the cause. We host golf outing, music festivals, garage sales, bake sales, and plant sales. We run a stand at VanAndel Arena, man a food booth at the Grand Rapids Festival for the Arts, and organize the ODRAM and Holland Hundred. All those efforts have added up to over two million dollars raised since we started in 2005.

One of the staples of our fundraising is the donation request letter. This is one area that new riders are sometime reluctant to pursue. "I don't want to ask people for money," is a common refrain. "I know it's a good cause, but I feel weird asking people to send me a check," is another. The thing is, you never know who that letter is going to touch. You don't know what someone else may be going through and what that letter, and a donation, might mean to them.

The other day we received a sizable check in the mail from a long time donor. When she first sent us a donation it was because we had put something about the ride in our church bulletin. We didn't know her that well but we appreciated the donation. We sometimes question whether we should still send her a donation letter since  we don't attend the same church any more. But every year we send the letter. Her donation this year came in a card with a short note.

Mary Ellen's card
"30 years ago today that I lost my 34 year old sister to diabetes. So impressed by your fund raising and bike ride to find a cure for diabetes. Best of luck on your ride. God Bless. Mary Ellen." It's humbling to think that riding our bikes can have such an impact on people's lives.

When we sent her the first letter over a decade ago we had no idea about her personal connection to the devastating affects of Type 1 diabetes. We send her a letter every year and she sends a donation every year. Some day we won't have to send her a letter, because a cure for T1D will have been found. Until that day we'll send out that donation letter. We'll work at various fundraising events. We'll collect cans. We'll do whatever it takes to raise the money that's needed to find a cure. Thank you Mary Ellen and all our donors.

We ride in Loveland, Colorado in 12 days.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The countdown has begun

Another great day to ride.
We ride in 20 days. That statement is a bit misleading. We've been riding all along, but in 20 days we participate in the JDRF Ride in Loveland, Colorado. This will be my 13th ride with JDRF. Our West Michigan team got started in 2005 and we've ridden a lot of miles in that time. Like today for example. We rode 40 very hilly miles from the Ada area, north to Wabasis Lake, then back south on some of the route we rode last Tuesday. It was a fair amount of hills, a little over 1,400 feet of elevation gain. When we get to Loveland, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, we'll have about 5,000 feet of elevation gain over the 100 mile route.

I also rode on Saturday. Just a quick 20 mile solo ride in the morning. I took the White Pine Trail south of the ballpark, crossed the river and then rode Riverside Park to Ann Street before turning around and heading home. My goal has been to get 1,000 miles in before we left for Colorado. Because of work and travel I don't think I'm going to make it. As of tonight I have 817 miles. We still have a week and a half until our bikes leave, so it's not inconceivable that I could meet my goal, but I'll have to ride a lot in the next 10 days.

There's still time to donate to the ride. Click on the links on the left of this page.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ride and rest

I haven't been very consistent in my riding this summer. After that great stretch a couple of weeks ago, I then went six days without riding. I followed that with riding Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday. I don't think riding a lot and then not at all is a very good training regime.

A small portion of our team rolling through West Michigan.
The best ride was Sunday at the annual Tour de Taco in Holland. We ride from Coach Mike Clark's house and then have a massive taco feast afterwards. We had 30 riders turn out this year, as well as a handful more who came later just for the food. The group I rode with put in 56 miles in just about 4 hours. Not a blistering pace, but one that will serve us well when we get to Colorado.

Speaking of Colorado we lave for the JDRF ride three weeks from tomorrow. I'm looking forward to riding in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and maybe even seeing where they make Fat Tire.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

That's more like it

I was in Texas in early July for eight days to attend a convention. That meant I had eight days where I did not ride my bike. I did get a lot of steps in, but that's not the same as riding. I got back to Michigan 10 days ago and since then have ridden six times.

July 14 - 15 miles on the White Pine Trail
July 15 - 71 miles at the Holland Hundred
July 18 - 18 miles on the White Pine Trail
July 19 - Wine Wednesday, 16 miles
July 21 - 21 miles on one of my favorite loops north of Rockford
July 23 - 5 miles of mountain biking on the Rouge River Trail

That 146 miles over that 10 day period. That also gives me 650 miles for the year. I'd like to be close to 1,000 miles by the time we go to Colorado for the JDRF ride. I think that's doable. We have three team rides before we leave and those will all have 50+ mile options.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Holland Hundred 2017

Saturday was the most perfect cycling day in a long time. The temperatures were cool. The wind was non-existent. The riding partners were fun. It was a great day.

Our happy little pace line.
The Holland Hundred is a decades long cycling tradition in West Michigan. I've ridden it several times, usually with our JDRF team mates. This year we had a couple dozen folks who started out at various times with various distances in mind. Our group of eight decided on the metric century. A metric century is 100 kilometers, or 62 miles. The posted distance at HH was 67 miles. The actual distance was closer to 71 miles. That was my longest ride of the year by almost 30 miles. I felt pretty good all day. I did have one hill that gave me trouble, and my knees were pretty sore by the end, but i think I could have done 100 miles if I had to.

Part of proper training is knowing just how much to push yourself. While I think I could have done the full century I didn't want to push for that many miles and risk overextending myself and setting back my training. 71 miles was just right and I had something left at the finish. This lets me know that in five weeks I'll be ready to go for the full 100 in Colorado.

39 days until JDRF Ride #13.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A nice ride and a minor injury

First the nice ride. Mary and I both had the day off today. So we took advantage of the beautiful late Spring day and rode the White Pine Trail north to Sand Lake. Apparently it was "Retiree Cycling Day" on the WPT. Practically every cyclist we saw on the trail was older than we are. Admittedly we were out riding in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, so most of the younger folks were probably working. It was kind of cool to see dozens of older folks on their bikes.

As rides go it was pretty uneventful. 36 mile round trip with a stop for lunch at Rockford Brewing Company. We did climb the Childsdale Hill on the way home, because we need to get more hill work to be ready for Colorado.

Now on to the minor injury. On Thursday night I was going to do a quick 15-20 mile solo ride. I was about two miles from my house on Belmont Avenue when something kicked up from under my front wheel and hit me in the left shin. In the brief flash that I saw, it I thought it looked like a lens from a pair of eyeglasses. I was concerned that it might have damaged my front tire. So I pulled over and examined the tire. It was fine. I happened to glance down at my left shoe and saw that my sock had turned red with blood. The cut was only about an inch wide, but bleeding like crazy. Luckily there was a nice woman (Thanks Deb) at the house I stopped in front of. She helped me put a bandage on it. We both thought it looked like it might need some stitches, so I decided to ride home.

My shin and the 4 stitches.
When I got home I noticed the the edges of the bandage were starting to turn red, so it was time to head to Urgent Care. As I was sitting in triage the blood started pouring out from under the bandage. They changed that, but it bled out again in the patient room. Apparently I had nicked an artery and no amount of pressure or bandages were going to stop the bleeding. The doctor put four stitches in my shin and that did the trick. It was amazing that a tiny cut could bleed that much. Luckily it doesn't bother me to ride, but I can't submerge it for 10 days which means no swimming. So it's not my worst cycling injury, but it may be the silliest.

"My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of the times that life tried to break me, but failed."  
- Steve Maraboli

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hot rides

Even though summer is still officially a week away, the temperatures have been quite summer-like recently. Being this hot before the body has acclimated can make for some strenuous riding. No complaints though, I love hot weather.

On Friday I rode out to my parent's farm, north of Lowell. I take Cannonsburg/5 Mile Road when I go out there. It can be a busy street, but it has a wide shoulder and gets lots of cycling traffic. However, on Friday there was lots of vehicular traffic, more than you'd expect in the middle of a workday afternoon. It was a 32 mile round trip with over 1,100 feet of climbing. It doesn't seem like that much elevation gain when you're driving in a car, but we've learned that cars and bikes see the road differently.

Yesterday we had a JDRF team ride that left from Wahfield Park at 8 Mile and Alpine. It was very hot (90+ degrees) and windy (15 mph steady with gusts). But we had a good turnout and rode past the apple orchards of Alpine Township on our way to the Musketawa Trail and the city of Ravenna. The weather was not our friend, but we had a nice pace line and kept up a pretty good clip through most of the ride. We rode through three different counties, Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon. In all, 44 mile with just over 800 feet of climbing.

I keep mentioning the amount of elevation gain, because our JDRF Ride in August will be in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and we'll have over 5,000 feet of climbing to do on that one. So hill training is critical right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

Tom and Mary enjoying the beach in South Haven at the ride halfway point.
For the past three decades we have been getting together with the Hayes family on Memorial Day weekend. We had big group camp-outs, hung out at their cottage, gone hiking and boating, and played volleyball and many other sports. Susan and Elvin are also very into cycling, so when we visit their cottage we like to brings our bikes. On Sunday we did a ride with them that was absolutely glorious.

The Hayes cottage is on Paw Paw Lake in southwestern Michigan. We rode the backroads from the cottage to the beach in South Haven. It was sunny and cool, with fairly light winds. It was the perfect day to ride. It was one of those times where cycling felt absolutely effortless. We rode 36 miles in all and could have done more.

The Lake Michigan beach was also beautiful. Lots of boats cutting across the water. Not very many swimmers however, since the water temperature was only 58 degrees. After some time admiring the scenery we headed back, making part of the trip along a new trail that runs from South Haven to Van Buren State Park. We even chatted with a couple of park rangers about the trail when we got to the park.

In addition to the ride we also played a fair amount of volleyball and ate some very good food. All in all it was a fantastic holiday weekend.
The channel at South Haven State Park.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunday, Sunday

The Spring has been a bit bi-polar. 70 degrees and sunny one day, snow storm the next. Luckily the last two weekends have given us the 70 degree part. Perfect for riding bikes. Mary and I got out and did a little riding on the local rail trails.

Last week we did the Heartland Trail up in Greenville. We rode it once last year and really enjoyed it. The trail runs from Greenville to Alma, but we haven't ridden the whole thing yet. Last Sunday we just rode 20 miles. It's still early in the season and we are trying to ramp up slowly and smoothly. The exciting part was coming across a farmer that was burning the wild grass in his field right along the trail.

Two days ago we rode the White Pine Trail from our house up to 13 Mile Road. We then took Summit Road back into Rockford. We rode along the rain swollen Rogue River and buzzed into town on a nice curvy downhill. It was a beautiful day, which meant the trail was very busy with other cyclists, rollerbladers, and runners. We've done all flat rides so far, so I'm thinking our next ride will need to incorporate some hills.