Monday, August 31, 2009

Rain, rain go away

We are back from a very wet, very cold ride. The good news is that the Killington Ride to Cure Diabetes raised over 1.3 million dollars. There were over 330 riders assembled in the Green Mountains of Vermont for this epic event. The route was very interesting and quite beautiful.

The bad news is it rained. A lot. And it was very cold. On Saturday we were picking up the remnants of tropical storm Danny and two storm fronts from the Midwest. It rained all day and it was cold. The high temperature maybe hit 54. Not exactly the best riding conditions. To top it off the ride started with a very steep, dangerously slick 4 mile long downhill. Then we crossed a busy intersection and went down for another 8 miles. The wind from that descent along with the wetness increased the feeling of cold. By the time we got to the first break point I was chilled to the bone. The cold, wet, wind and lack of pedaling conspired to give me a very bad day.

Frozen Tom and cheery Mary at the Metric Century turnaround.

By the second break point I was violently shaking. I wanted to turn around, but thought that if I could just pedal harder and get my heart rate up I'd be able to get my core temperature up. Didn't work. I just kept getting colder. I can't remember ever feeling so bad on a bike. Even when I ended up in the med tent after the '07 Death Valley Ride I didn't feel as bad.

The third rest stop was the turn around point for the metric century ride (100 kilometers or 62 miles). Mary was with me and we decided to head back. I was actually happy, knowing there would be some climbing on the way back, thinking I would finally get warm. With about 23 miles to go I was in very bad shape, probably close to hypothermia. Our coach, Mike Clark, happened upon us and traded me his jacket for my vest. That one small act probably enabled me to finish the ride under my own power instead of in the SAG wagon.

Finishing early in the day does have it's rewards. We were able to watch most of our team mates cross the finish line. It was great to see so many do so well under pretty rotten conditions. But at the same time, I felt a bit of emptiness. 62 miles on a bad day is a pretty decent accomplishment. But my goal was to do the full 100. As people that I've trained with all summer crossed the line, beaming at their just completed century, I didn't feel like I was fully sharing their joy.

Watching out for Vermont wildlife on one of the final climbs of the day.

I know that given what was happening to my body, the wisest thing to do was to cut my ride short. But what bothers me is that I was able to stop when I was having bad day. My son has bad days with diabetes and he doesn't have the option of stopping. He can't say "I'm tired of diabetes. I won't deal with it anymore today." So my Killington experience was not everything I had hoped for.

This was my fifth JDRF ride. It was the first time I didn't complete the century. I will be riding again next year and the year after and every year until we find a cure. Thanks again to all my team mates out there on the road and to all our sponsors and donors. And thanks most of all to the young man who inspires me to do this crazy ride thing. Love you Jake.

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