Yesterday we had several instances where we said things like; "Three weeks from right now we'll be having breakfast in Death Valley." "Three weeks from right now we'll be riding toward Badwater." "Three weeks from right now we'll be done with climbing Jubilee Pass and on our way back." Do you get the idea that our big JDRF ride is in three weeks? Actually it's only 20 days from today. We leave from the airport in Grand Rapids on October 13th. Our flight takes us to Las Vegas where we board a bus for Death Valley. That night we have dinner under the stars and catch up with all the people we haven't seen since last year. On Friday morning, October 14th, there is a "rules of the road" meeting and then a short training ride. Friday afternoon we get acclimated to the desert climate and then have another outdoor dinner where the leading fundraisers are recognized. The West Michigan team has an after dinner get together during which we prepare our helmets for the big ride. It's also a chance for everyone to go around and talk about why they are participating in the ride. This is truly one of the highlights of the weekend.
Saturday, October 15th starts early. We are at breakfast at 5:00 a.m. and geared up and at the starting line by 6:30 a.m. The ride starts at (or just before) sunrise and then it's 105 miles of riding across the desert. With a little luck, and minimal wind, the ride takes about 10 hours. The scene at the finish line is one of overflowing emotion. Completing a century ride is an incredible feat in it's own. Completing a century in Death Valley takes it to another level. And doing it for a great cause... let's just say the tears are flowing faster than the beer.
This will be my sixth ride JDRF ride in Death Valley. It amazes me how our team has grown since 2005. It's also incredible to think about how much money we've raised to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Thanks to all who ride and those who support us. 20 days and counting.