Saturday, July 25, 2020

Not a JDRF Ride

We are not happy to not be riding in a JDRF event today.
Today was supposed to be the first ride of the 2020 JDRF ride season. That ride was supposed to be right here in Grand Rapids. But because of the pandemic the entire JDRF ride program was cancelled. It's been disappointing not to be able to get together with our team mates all spring and summer to train and hang out. But today it's even more poignant. Before the plug was pulled on the season, the Grand Rapids ride was on pace to be the largest JDRF ride ever. That would have been quite a feather in the Michigan team's cap. We've been doing this since 2005 in rides across the country. Death Valley. Lake Tahoe. Nashville. Florida. Colorado. And many more. To kick off the 2020 season with a huge ride in our hometown would have been awesome.

We should have been toeing the line with hundreds of cyclists in the blue JDRF jerseys this morning. We should have met up with old friends and gotten motivated at the group dinner last night. Tonight we should be having the celebration dinner and giving out awards. And having the after-the-festivities hall party. Lots of shoulds, that have all been pushed back to next year.

Now here's the important point. The ride was cancelled, but Type 1 diabetes was not cancelled. We still need to raise funds to help find a cure for this disease. If you have donated to our ride in the past we thank you. Even though we are not riding this year we would ask you to still consider a donation. The need is as great as ever and your support is crucial.

Thank you.

365 days until the next JDRF ride.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ride Location Update

As I mentioned in the last post this is going to be a very strange ride season because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Since then the JDRF national office has decided to cancel all of this year's rides. That means no ride in Grand Rapids this July. While we are saddened by this news we understand that the safety of the riders comes first. JDRF is currently developing a virtual ride program for this year. Here's what we know:
No JDRF in-person events until July 1 at the earliest, which means no training rides for those of us in west Michigan.
There will probably be some kind of Michigan team event later in the summer or early fall, if conditions allow.
While the rides are cancelled the need for fundraising continues.

At one of our team Zoom get togethers recently it was mentioned that, while the rides are cancelled, diabetes has NOT been cancelled. The disease is still out there and affecting our loved ones every day. So while we won't be participating in a destination ride this year, we will keep fundraising, because we need to have a world without diabetes.

If you have donated to our rides in the past we ask you to do so again this year. Please click on this link to donate to Mary. Tom has already reached his fundraising goal so our efforts are to get Mary to $2,000 of donations. Only $1,900 to go.

Thanks for your support over the years and we look forward to whatever this ride season brings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Riding During Quarantine

This has started off as the strangest ride season in recent memory. Michigan has been on lockdown because the Coronavirus crisis for the past month. That means no team training rides or even getting together for a ride with a couple of other people. I've been solo riding, which is fine, but that's not as much fun as riding with friends.

As of now the Grand Rapids JDRF ride in July is still on the schedule. However, as the crisis develops the ride may get pushed into the fall or cancelled completely. There is no way of knowing, but the national ride folks are on top of the situation and keeping us informed.

Plus, we've had pretty typical April weather in Michigan. Sunny and 60 degrees one day, followed by temperatures in the 30's with snow the next. That definitely impacts the amount of riding I do. Hopefully the whether will even out soon and the virus will abate so that we can start putting in some serious miles.
quarentine

Sunday, March 8, 2020

2020 Ride Season has begun

16 years ago I was on the board of the West Michigan chapter of JDRF. Our Executive Director walked into a board meeting one day and said "I'm riding in Death Valley this year. Who's riding with me?" And with that the West Michigan (now Michigan) Team was born.

Mary and Tom at the start of the 2019 JDRF Ride in Saratoga Springs
Since 2005, our team has raised over $2,500,000 for type 1 diabetes research. This year we are very excited because the Ride to Cure Diabetes is coming to Grand Rapids. On July 25 over 700 riders decked out in JDRF blue will pedal through some of the most beautiful parts of West Michigan as we raise funds to find a cure for T1D.

Our son Jake was diagnosed with T1D 22 years ago when he was only six years old. We have seen great strides in the treatment of disease, thanks in no small part to the efforts of JDRF. But there still is no cure and that's why we keep riding.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

December Riding

At the dam in downtown Rockford.
I have several riding friends who are outside on their bikes, regardless of the weather. Once the temperatures are consistently 45 or below, and there is snow on the ground, my bike stays indoors until Spring.  But today - today was beautiful. Sunny skies and sixty degrees - practically unheard of in Michigan in December. Since I had the day off I decided to saddle up the trusty steed and go for a little ride.

I rode one of my usual routes, north on the White Pine Trail, through Rockford and then home. Today I went up to 13 Mile Road and turned around, but took Summit Road south for about a mile so I could ride along the Rogue River. I turned on 12 Mile so I could rejoin the WPT. The trail was so busy today. It was like riding on a summer Saturday afternoon. Bikes, joggers, dog walkers, and skate boards all jockeying for position. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the trail and the weather.

I ended up with 17 miles, leaving me just a bit short of 1,200 miles for the season. Another day like this and I may make that goal.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

5 x 35

When you train a lot and ride long distances for a cause, sometimes it's nice just to do a fun ride. Last Saturday was one of those. A group of us rode the White Pine Trail, stopping at breweries along the way. We did a couple of rides similar to this a few years ago and we finally were able to get folks together to do it again.

Cedar Springs Brewing - the halfway point
The 5 x 35 is 35 miles of riding with stops at five breweries along the trail. Our friend Susan and Elvin from Chicago (the originators of the idea) came up to join us. It was rainy in the morning, but by the time we pulled out of Comstock Park at noon the rain had stopped, although it was still a little damp. As the day went on the weather warmed and the sun came out. It was a beautiful day to ride.

For the first stop we didn't even get out of Comstock Park. It was three miles to the Bier Distillery. This stop required us to hop off the WPT and cut thru a small side path and across West River Drive. Bier Distillery makes beer and spirits. We had a drink and got back on the trail heading north to Rockford.

Stop 2 was at Depot 36, part of Kayla Rae Cellars. They make mostly wine, but a couple of beers as well. Rockford was full of people participating in Harvest Days. Anyone want to build a scarecrow?

We stopped for lunch at Cedar Springs Brewing, our turnaround spot. At this point we were 16.5 miles into the ride. We sat out on their back patio and drank German beers and ate giant pretzels in the sunshine.

On our way back south we stopped at Rockford Brewing. Because of Harvest Days they had a beer tent set up, which meant music and a party atmosphere. Also, in my humble opinion, this was some of the best beer of the day.

We finished up back in Comstock Park at Elk Brewing. We had started the ride at noon and it was now after 6:30 p.m., which means it was almost dark when we left the brewery. Luckily it was only a mile back to the cars and there are street lamps along that section of the trail. All in all, a great day and were looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saratoga Spring Ride Report

Mary and I getting ready to start our 15th JDRF ride.
The ride was great. Getting to Saratoga Springs was anything but. I don't want to go into a lot of detail, but because of weather in Chicago we missed our connection and ended up spending over 10 hours in O'Hare airport. We finally checked into our hotel room shortly before midnight, so we lost our entire Thursday prep day.

On Friday morning we had the rules of the road meeting. There were almost 400 riders at this JDRF ride and 30 of them were from our Michigan team. We then did a quick shakedown ride to make sure the bikes were in good shape after their trip. In the afternoon a group of us went into the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains for a short hike. We hiked around Lake Bonita, a 2.5 mile jaunt. The scenery was beautiful. There was one spot where we stopped and sat on a big rock that sloped into the lake.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy with the threat of light rain. Mary and I decided on different goals for the day. I was going to try for the century (100 miles) and Mary wanted to try the metric century (100 kilometers). We ended up getting separated right after the start line. The group I was riding with was moving a little faster, so I would see Mary's group rolling into the break points as my group was rolling out. Our group kept adding riders, and as we left break point 3 (about 42 miles in) there were 10 of us. We also decided that we needed a team name. Because of things that happened Thursday (while I was in the airport) we became Team Grandpa Shots.

Team Grandpa Shots at Break Point 3
The route was very hilly. That shouldn't be a surprise since we were riding on the southern edge of the Adirondacks. There was over 4000 feet of climbing. Normally I'm a pretty decent climber, but in the second half of the ride I could hardly climb at all. I developed pain on the top of my calves on both legs. The entire Grandpa Shots team passed me on every climb. On the downhills I was doing great. In fact I was coasting past people who were already pedaling at the bottom of the hills. But then we'd start going up again and I would slow to a pace that barely kept me upright. I'm not sure what was happening, but I stayed with the team and moved closer to my goal.

We finished as a group about 10 hours after we started. Another century ride in the books. Mary had a finished her metric century two hours earlier and was waiting for me, already showered and changed. The Michigan team did very well. We had six people that set personal distance records. But most importantly, the ride raised $1.5 million for diabetes research.

This marked the 15th year and 15th ride for Mary and me. Thank you to everyone that has donated this year and for the past decade and a half. Because of you, we will one day soon be able to celebrate the end of Type 1 diabetes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Last Ride Before Saratoga Springs

Yesterday afternoon I did a 25 mile solo ride on the White Pine Trail, traveling north to 17 Mile Road in Cedar Springs before turning around. Since my new Cannondale Topstone is on it's way to Saratoga Springs (as I will be tomorrow) I had to ride my 15 year old Cannondale SR500. It is amazing how quickly I have adapted to my new bike. I knew that my old bike was, well, old, but I didn't realize how much better the new bike is. On the first stop on the old bike I really noticed the lack of disc brakes. I had to work a lot harder to stop the bike. Speaking of working harder, the old bike just isn't as smooth as the new bike. 15 years and over 15,000 miles probably have a lot to do with that. I'm really looking forward to being on the new Cannondale this weekend.

That's right, this weekend is what we've been training for all year. We registered back in January, did a some perfunctionary indoor training in February and March, and then got outside in April. It's been a hit or miss year for riding because of the weather. I've only got 900 miles in so far and my goal was to be well over 1,000 before we headed out to New York. Oh well, I still feel pretty good and think I'll be able to ride the full century.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support our ride this year. If you'd like to make a donation to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes please click here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sartoga on the Horizon

Back in January we signed up for our 15th JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. This time we'd be riding in Saratoga Springs, New York. The town is in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, an area I'm quite familiar with. I've gone rock climbing and hiking out there, but never ridden a bike. In April we started our training. It was tough to get a lot of miles in this spring because it seemed to rain every day. Once summer hit we were able to ride more often and in July we purchased new Cannondale bikes. After 15 years in the same saddle it was time.

Now we are just over two weeks away from the ride. We leave for New York in 15 days. This is always the part of the season where the questions start popping into my head. Did I train enough? Can I do 100 miles this year? Am I going to make my fund-raising goal? How is my bike getting to the starting line? Usually a deep breath and the knowledge that I've done this before calms my mind.

So, on September 14th, Mary and I will be mounting our bicycles in Saratoga Springs for our 15th ride. I have fond memories of the previous 14 and I'm sure this one will create more of the same. If you've already made a donation - I thank you. If you'd still like to donate you can click where it says Donate to Tom in the upper left hand corner of this page.

Riding to turn Type One into Type None.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Riding the gravel

Since we bought gravel bikes it makes sense to ride some some gravel. Sunday we headed north on the White Pine Trail, something we do often. But our farthest north point has always been Sand Lake, because that's where the pavement ends. However, on our new bikes that doesn't matter. We kept riding north on the now cinder and gravel trail bed. The Topstones handled very well. It was slower on the gravel than on the pavement, and a little bumpier, but we were able to keep going with ease. Something we couldn't have done with our skinny tire bikes. We rode past the little burg of Pierson and turned around in Howard City. We then stopped at Cedar Springs Brewing Company for a pretzel and a pint (and a few chicken wings). When we arrived at home we'd put 50 miles under our tires, with 14 of those being on gravel. These bikes are really going to open up our cycling opportunities. We talked about several trails we've seen where these bikes would be perfect. Travel awaits.