Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ride #13 is in the books

What a great weekend. 31 riders from West Michigan traveled to Loveland, Colorado to take part in the first JDRF Ride there. There were 450 riders from across the U.S.A. and from several other countries. All together we raised $1.8 million dollars for diabetes research. For Mary and I this would be our 13th JDRF ride.

JDRF West Michigan Loveland Team
On Thursday we had an opportunity to take in some of the local flavor. This whole area lies at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Looking to the east you see flat prairie lands. Looking to the west you see 14,000 foot high peaks. A bunch of us visited New Belgium Brewing in nearby Fort Collins. We tried some of their beers and had a rousing match of Rolle Bolle - a very strange game involving large rubber pucks and a concrete trough.

Friday morning started with the Rules of the Road meeting. That's where we get all the particulars of the route and things to watch for. We also took our bikes out for a little spin. There was a mile long loop near the hotel and we went around twice. It's basically just a chance to make sure your bike is okay before the big ride on Saturday. A bunch of us then went out to a spot called The Devil's Backbone and took a 3 mile hike. The area was beautiful with large, jagged pieces of rock sticking up out of the hillside like a long exposed spine. After the hike it was back to the hotel for the pre-ride dinner and an early bedtime.

Mary crossing a bridge before a big climb up to a very large reservoir.
Saturday dawned cool and sunny, but it wouldn't stay that way. It got hot, topping out at 93 degrees. Although it stayed sunny most of the day, we did get caught in a few light rain showers. Those felt great. We started the ride strong, heading west toward the mountains. Our West Michigan group broke into several smaller groups based on speed of the riders and desired distance. Mary and I were in a group of about a dozen that planned on doing the entire 101 miles. About 20 miles into the ride we made a 90 degree left turn and headed south. We now had the mountains on our right and the views were fantastic. The terrain was starting to roll. There were several extended gradual climbs. The grade wasn't very steep, but the climbs were two to three miles long. Because the route was basically T-shaped, everyone one of those long climbs on the way out became a great downhill on the way back. We turned around at the south end of the T, rode north past the base of the T, and out to a 12 mile loop on the northern most end of the route.

Safe, sound, and smiling. Ride #13 is done.
All the climbing and the altitude (5,000 feet above sea level) started to take their toll on Mary at about the 50 mile mark. She bonked pretty hard and fell off the back of our group. I stayed with her and we rode easy until she recovered and we eventually caught up with our group about 80 miles in. That enabled us to all finish together.

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Then again, that could have been the altitude. We rode by large reservoirs, through stone encrusted valleys, and past dozens of ranches. All the hill training this year definitely paid off. I was tired at the end of the ride, but not completely exhausted. The Loveland ride was well organized and one of the prettiest JDRF rides we've done.

Thanks once again to all our supporters. Because to all of you we are closer than ever to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thank you to our donors

Tomorrow morning we leave on a jet plane for Colorado. On Saturday we'll ride 100 miles in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Every pedal stroke we take will bring us a little closer to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. But we wouldn't be going if it wasn't for the people and companies that donated to the cause. Here then, in no particular order, are the people we would like to thank for making a monetary donation this year.

X-Cel Chemical Company
Tom & Florence Scheidel
Leo & Joyce Isaguirre
Marc & Jane Longstreet
Roy Dodman
Kim Summers
Patrick Scheidel
Randall Carlon
Bill & Norma Hayes
David Pasciak
Dennis & Kim Moline
Paul & Lisa Brown
Paul & Brenda Schab
Mary Ellen Kozoil
Jake's Music Festival attendees
Chris & Paula Briggs
Mike & Jean Oele
Christine Behrens

If we missed anyone it was not intentional, just poor record keeping.

We are only $251 from our goal of $10,000. If you've already given, thank you once again. If you'd like to help put us over the top, please use the "Donate to..." links on the top right of this page.

100 miles closer to a cure.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Always send the letter

When we have new riders join the team they are usually concerned about two things - the cycling and the fundraising. We have a great coaching staff that really helps get people to where they need to be in order to complete their desired mileage. The fundraising can be a bit trickier.

Our team has become very creative over the years when it comes to raising money for the cause. We host golf outing, music festivals, garage sales, bake sales, and plant sales. We run a stand at VanAndel Arena, man a food booth at the Grand Rapids Festival for the Arts, and organize the ODRAM and Holland Hundred. All those efforts have added up to over two million dollars raised since we started in 2005.

One of the staples of our fundraising is the donation request letter. This is one area that new riders are sometime reluctant to pursue. "I don't want to ask people for money," is a common refrain. "I know it's a good cause, but I feel weird asking people to send me a check," is another. The thing is, you never know who that letter is going to touch. You don't know what someone else may be going through and what that letter, and a donation, might mean to them.

The other day we received a sizable check in the mail from a long time donor. When she first sent us a donation it was because we had put something about the ride in our church bulletin. We didn't know her that well but we appreciated the donation. We sometimes question whether we should still send her a donation letter since  we don't attend the same church any more. But every year we send the letter. Her donation this year came in a card with a short note.

Mary Ellen's card
"30 years ago today that I lost my 34 year old sister to diabetes. So impressed by your fund raising and bike ride to find a cure for diabetes. Best of luck on your ride. God Bless. Mary Ellen." It's humbling to think that riding our bikes can have such an impact on people's lives.

When we sent her the first letter over a decade ago we had no idea about her personal connection to the devastating affects of Type 1 diabetes. We send her a letter every year and she sends a donation every year. Some day we won't have to send her a letter, because a cure for T1D will have been found. Until that day we'll send out that donation letter. We'll work at various fundraising events. We'll collect cans. We'll do whatever it takes to raise the money that's needed to find a cure. Thank you Mary Ellen and all our donors.

We ride in Loveland, Colorado in 12 days.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The countdown has begun

Another great day to ride.
We ride in 20 days. That statement is a bit misleading. We've been riding all along, but in 20 days we participate in the JDRF Ride in Loveland, Colorado. This will be my 13th ride with JDRF. Our West Michigan team got started in 2005 and we've ridden a lot of miles in that time. Like today for example. We rode 40 very hilly miles from the Ada area, north to Wabasis Lake, then back south on some of the route we rode last Tuesday. It was a fair amount of hills, a little over 1,400 feet of elevation gain. When we get to Loveland, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, we'll have about 5,000 feet of elevation gain over the 100 mile route.

I also rode on Saturday. Just a quick 20 mile solo ride in the morning. I took the White Pine Trail south of the ballpark, crossed the river and then rode Riverside Park to Ann Street before turning around and heading home. My goal has been to get 1,000 miles in before we left for Colorado. Because of work and travel I don't think I'm going to make it. As of tonight I have 817 miles. We still have a week and a half until our bikes leave, so it's not inconceivable that I could meet my goal, but I'll have to ride a lot in the next 10 days.

There's still time to donate to the ride. Click on the links on the left of this page.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ride and rest

I haven't been very consistent in my riding this summer. After that great stretch a couple of weeks ago, I then went six days without riding. I followed that with riding Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday. I don't think riding a lot and then not at all is a very good training regime.

A small portion of our team rolling through West Michigan.
The best ride was Sunday at the annual Tour de Taco in Holland. We ride from Coach Mike Clark's house and then have a massive taco feast afterwards. We had 30 riders turn out this year, as well as a handful more who came later just for the food. The group I rode with put in 56 miles in just about 4 hours. Not a blistering pace, but one that will serve us well when we get to Colorado.

Speaking of Colorado we lave for the JDRF ride three weeks from tomorrow. I'm looking forward to riding in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and maybe even seeing where they make Fat Tire.