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.

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