Ride day started with an incredible sunrise and proceeded to become an incredible day all the way around. This year's JDRF ride was quite different. The weather people were forecasting record high temperatures. The ride organizers were very concerned about sending riders out in heat that might approach 120 degrees so they changed the course. Normally we ride 52 miles out to Jubilee Pass and then 52 miles back. The turn around point is a six mile climb at a 6% grade. Last year the temperature hit 111 degrees on that climb and 1/3 of all the riders needed to be sagged back to the starting line. The organizers didn't want a repeat of that carnage so they changed the course. We rode toward Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, and then past it to a point 25 miles from the Furnace Creek Ranch. Here we turned around and came back. That made for a 50 mile loop. If someone wanted to do a full century ride in that heat they could ride the course twice. This kept everyone reasonably close to the Ranch and had the added benefit of allowing us to see our team mates frequently. When our group gets stretched out over a full 100 miles you often don't see people after the start until the finish line.
|Tom, Mary and Ian at the finish line.|
Having suffered through the heat last year, and getting sagged in, our little Team Scheidel was smarter this time around. Mary completed the whole course and ended up with 50 miles. Ian and I decided to go for the metric century and rode out to the first water stop. It was a bit farther than we remembered on the first loop so we ended up with 72 miles, 10 miles more than a metric. One of the best parts of the whole day happened on our way back. Golden Canyon is about three miles from the finish line. It became an unofficial oasis for our team members. As the group of West Michigan riders that included Ian and me approached the parking area of Golden Canyon we saw several of our team mates waiting for us. There was another group riding a few minutes behind us. We waited for them and then our group of over 15 cyclists from the West Michigan team all rode across the finish line together.
|Cliff proposes to Nicole at Mile 25.|
The most unique thing that happened during the ride was two of our team mates getting engaged. As the ride started a buzz began going through the team that Cliff was going to pop the question at the Mile 25 turn around point. Most of our team managed to get to that point at the same time as Nicole and Cliff. We got everyone together for a "group photo" but before we could assemble Cliff dropped to one knee and gave Nicole an engagement ring. She was surprised and the crowd went wild. Nicole even cut a hole in her cycling glove so that her new bling would show through.
|The West Michigan Ride Team in our new team jerseys.|
It is an honor to participate in this event each year. To do it with the team from West Michigan makes it all the more special. These are some of the coolest and most committed people I have ever met. We have riders who have Type 1 diabetes, riders who are the parents of children with Type 1, and riders who have no family connection to the disease. Yet we are all united in one purpose, to put an end to Type 1 diabetes. Thank you to my team mates for making this weekend another of the great experiences of my life.
More photos and stories about the rest of the weekend are coming in the days ahead. Keep watching this blog.