Saturday, May 24, 2014

Going back to the valley

I am really looking forward to riding in Death Valley again this year. Don't get me wrong, the last two rides have been great. Lake Tahoe was probably the most beautiful bike ride I've ever been on and riding the Natchez Trace in Tennessee last year was a blast until I crashed. But there's just something about being in the desert that gets into your blood. Maybe it's because that was where my first JDRF ride was ten years ago. Maybe it's because of the adult summer camp vibe of the place. Maybe it's the stark beauty of an area that is so unlike Michigan. Whatever the reason I'm counting the days (and the miles) until I get to go back.

Ian, Mary and Tom before the 2011Ride in Death Valley.

Our last ride in DV was in 2011. It was very hot. In fact it was so hot that the organizers changed the route. Instead of riding 52 miles into the desert and climbing Jubilee Pass before turning around we rode out 25 miles and turned around. To get the full century you needed to complete the route twice. They didn't want anyone having a medical situation too far away from the starting line at Furnace Creek. That was good thinking. Some of the 350 people there completed the full 100 miles, but most took the weather advisories to heart and shortened their routes. Mary did 50 miles in 2011 and Ian an I did 73. One of the advantages of an out and back route is that at any point you're halfway done.

Nicole and Cliff get engaged during the 2011 ride.
But the heat and the changed route were not the most memorable part of the 2011 ride in Death Valley. That honor belongs to our team mates Cliff and Nicole for getting engaged at 25 miles into the ride. Cliff planned the whole thing out and let the team know so we were all there when he got down on one knee in the desert. Nicole cut a hole in her cycling glove so her new ring would show through. I don't know if 2014 will give us anything that exciting, but Death Valley has yet to let us leave without awe inspiring stories to bring back.

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