Thursday, October 21, 2010

Death Valley 2010 - Part 1

So much happened during this year's JDRF ride that this will be a multi-part post. There were more riders than ever in Death Valley; 350 riders in total, 42 of them from West Michigan. The temperatures were very hot, but the winds were much lighter than most years.

Ian, Mary and Tom Scheidel at Zabriski Point on the Friday morning training ride.

It was great to have Ian in Death Valley with Mary and I. Over the years we have told the kids a lot about our rides out there. So when Ian said he wanted to do the ride this year we were pleased but cautious. This is quite the endeavor for a trained athlete. A 15 year old soccer player who had never ridden more than 18 miles could have been trouble. But Ian trained hard all spring and summer and he absolutely rocked Death Valley. Despite the 111 degree heat, Ian (and Tom) completed 88 miles in the desert.

Ian riding between Ashford Mills and Mormon Point.

Ian led our group on many occasions. He impressed the more veteran riders with his ability and his toughness. He even made friends with a nationally ranked mountain bike rider. She rode up to him and the two of them rode together up a hill just chatting away for several miles. The rest of us were working to hard to talk. The kid can definitely ride a bike.

Mary, Ian and Tom with Don Milanowski's bike on top of Jubilee Pass.

The highlight of the ride had to be at the top of Jubilee Pass. This is a six mile climb up a 6% grade. Very similar to some of the climbs on the Tour De France, except that this one is in a desert. The three of us made it to the top, at almost the same time. We wanted to get a group picture holding the bike Ian has been riding. That bike is very special. It belonged to Don Milanowski, a good friend of ours who had ridden with the JDRF team in Whitefish, Montana in 2007 and Death Valley in 2008. Don passed away due to a heart attack in 2009. When we were looking for a bike for Ian this past spring Don's wife Linda suggested Ian use Don's bike. To say we were honored would be an understatement. Ian trained on that bike all summer and on October 16, 2010 Don Milanowski's bike was once again on top of Jubilee Pass, this time powered by the youthful legs of Ian Scheidel. Thanks Linda and Don for helping Ian reach the top.

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