Wednesday, June 8, 2022

GR Ride is this Weekend

Tour de Taco team ride last Sunday.
It seems really early in the season to be talking about our JDRF Ride Weekend. That's because it is. Normally we do our big ride in the fall, after a spring and summer's worth of training and fundraising. This year the ride season is kicking off in June (a month earlier than usual) here in Grand Rapids. It's great to have the whole JDRF road show here in our town, but my legs would have appreciated a couple of more months to train.

Considering the short time frame for getting prepped, Mary and I have adjusted our mileage goal for this ride. We usually attempt a century ride, which is 100 miles. In fact, our first JDRF ride ever was a century ride in Death Valley in 2005. The Grand Rapids ride will have two starting locations. The main start is at Millennium Park and the route heads out to Lake Michigan south of Grand Haven. If a rider does that entire route it's 100 miles. Also, since it's an out-and-back route, a rider is halfway done at any point. Just turn around and head back. This is how to get a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles), turn around when you've ridden 31 miles.The second starting line is actually on the Lake Michigan shore. Riders who start from there will ride back to Millennium Park. It is a 44 mile route, with no way to shorten it. That's the route Mary and I have decided to do. Although it's not our usual amount of miles, it will be the longest ride we've done in 2022.

We are looking forward to everyone arriving here tomorrow and riding on Saturday. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. Watch for ride day photos soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Back in the Saddle

Mary and Tom at a training ride in May
I haven't written much on this blog in the last couple of years because the JDRF Ride Program has been in kind of a holding pattern as a result of the pandemic. Sure, we were still raising money, but there were no destination rides for two years. But we are back at it for 2022 and we are very excited. This is our 18th year of riding to cure Type 1 Diabetes and we have set a pretty big goal for ourselves. But before we get to our goal, let us give you a little background. 

In September of 1997 our oldest son Jake was diagnosed with T1D as he was entering first grade. Our lives changed overnight. We had to carefully watch what Jake ate, check his blood sugars several times a day, give him shots of insulin, and worry about the long-term complications of the disease. Would our little six-year-old someday go blind or have to have an amputation because of diabetes? We couldn’t sit back, we had to do something to help hasten a cure for this terrible disease. So, we got involved with the local chapter of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

We started by participated in the Walk to Cure Diabetes. We also took part in the Promise Gala. We started Jake’s Music Festival to use music and a positive atmosphere to raise funds and bring the message of JDRF to a new audience. Then, 18 years ago, a small group of us from West Michigan started our ride team. Since then, we have raised over 2.5 million dollars for diabetes research.

The money raised by JDRF has helped immensely. Things like the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitor exist today because of JDRF donations and advocacy. We feel very proud to be part of an organization that is helping to improve the lives of people with T1D.

This year JDRF will be holding one of its national destination rides right here in Grand Rapids on June 11 and we will be there. Our goal for the Grand Rapids ride is $4,000. We have also set a stretch goal for ourselves. JDRF is hosting a ride in Tucson, Arizona on November 19. If we can raise an additional $8,000, we will be riding there as well. That’s a lot of money and we can’t do it without your support.

Donating is simple. Checks can be made out to JDRF (or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and sent to us at 6184 Archer St. NE, Rockford, MI 49341. You can also donate over on the left side of the page, click on “Donate to Tom” or “Donate to Mary” and follow the easy directions.  You can also track our training progress and see photos of the ride.

On behalf of Jake and everyone suffering with diabetes, we thank you for your support.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Good bye and good riddance

Tom and Mary not riding with the team
I haven't written much on this blog this year. It's difficult to write about training for a destination ride where there is almost no training and no ride. The entire JDRF ride season was cancelled because of the pandemic. While the national staff tried to do virtual events, it just wasn't the same. After raising money to cure type 1 diabetes, one of the biggest parts of the ride is getting to be with dedicated people from across the country. We couldn't do that in 2020. I missed riding with my team mates here in Michigan. I missed seeing Aly and Tara and Lindsay from the national office. I missed Jerry from Jersey, Ian from North Carolina, and Moira and Brock and that guy who dresses up like a pickle. I missed the goosebumps at the starting line and the cheers and beers at the finish line. I missed hiking in a new area on the Friday before the ride and the hall party on Saturday night after the ride. I missed all of it and I am hopeful that 2021 will bring it all back - bigger and better.

Even though the ride was cancelled we still did the fundraising, and that's the most important part. Tom raised $5,225 and Mary raised $2,020. Every one of those dollars will go toward helping find a cure for type 1 diabetes. See you next year and i promise to write more often.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Not a JDRF Ride

We are not happy to not be riding in a JDRF event today.
Today was supposed to be the first ride of the 2020 JDRF ride season. That ride was supposed to be right here in Grand Rapids. But because of the pandemic the entire JDRF ride program was cancelled. It's been disappointing not to be able to get together with our team mates all spring and summer to train and hang out. But today it's even more poignant. Before the plug was pulled on the season, the Grand Rapids ride was on pace to be the largest JDRF ride ever. That would have been quite a feather in the Michigan team's cap. We've been doing this since 2005 in rides across the country. Death Valley. Lake Tahoe. Nashville. Florida. Colorado. And many more. To kick off the 2020 season with a huge ride in our hometown would have been awesome.

We should have been toeing the line with hundreds of cyclists in the blue JDRF jerseys this morning. We should have met up with old friends and gotten motivated at the group dinner last night. Tonight we should be having the celebration dinner and giving out awards. And having the after-the-festivities hall party. Lots of shoulds, that have all been pushed back to next year.

Now here's the important point. The ride was cancelled, but Type 1 diabetes was not cancelled. We still need to raise funds to help find a cure for this disease. If you have donated to our ride in the past we thank you. Even though we are not riding this year we would ask you to still consider a donation. The need is as great as ever and your support is crucial.

Thank you.

365 days until the next JDRF ride.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ride Location Update

As I mentioned in the last post this is going to be a very strange ride season because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Since then the JDRF national office has decided to cancel all of this year's rides. That means no ride in Grand Rapids this July. While we are saddened by this news we understand that the safety of the riders comes first. JDRF is currently developing a virtual ride program for this year. Here's what we know:
No JDRF in-person events until July 1 at the earliest, which means no training rides for those of us in west Michigan.
There will probably be some kind of Michigan team event later in the summer or early fall, if conditions allow.
While the rides are cancelled the need for fundraising continues.

At one of our team Zoom get togethers recently it was mentioned that, while the rides are cancelled, diabetes has NOT been cancelled. The disease is still out there and affecting our loved ones every day. So while we won't be participating in a destination ride this year, we will keep fundraising, because we need to have a world without diabetes.

If you have donated to our rides in the past we ask you to do so again this year. Please click on this link to donate to Mary. Tom has already reached his fundraising goal so our efforts are to get Mary to $2,000 of donations. Only $1,900 to go.

Thanks for your support over the years and we look forward to whatever this ride season brings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Riding During Quarantine

This has started off as the strangest ride season in recent memory. Michigan has been on lockdown because the Coronavirus crisis for the past month. That means no team training rides or even getting together for a ride with a couple of other people. I've been solo riding, which is fine, but that's not as much fun as riding with friends.

As of now the Grand Rapids JDRF ride in July is still on the schedule. However, as the crisis develops the ride may get pushed into the fall or cancelled completely. There is no way of knowing, but the national ride folks are on top of the situation and keeping us informed.

Plus, we've had pretty typical April weather in Michigan. Sunny and 60 degrees one day, followed by temperatures in the 30's with snow the next. That definitely impacts the amount of riding I do. Hopefully the whether will even out soon and the virus will abate so that we can start putting in some serious miles.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

2020 Ride Season has begun

16 years ago I was on the board of the West Michigan chapter of JDRF. Our Executive Director walked into a board meeting one day and said "I'm riding in Death Valley this year. Who's riding with me?" And with that the West Michigan (now Michigan) Team was born.

Mary and Tom at the start of the 2019 JDRF Ride in Saratoga Springs
Since 2005, our team has raised over $2,500,000 for type 1 diabetes research. This year we are very excited because the Ride to Cure Diabetes is coming to Grand Rapids. On July 25 over 700 riders decked out in JDRF blue will pedal through some of the most beautiful parts of West Michigan as we raise funds to find a cure for T1D.

Our son Jake was diagnosed with T1D 22 years ago when he was only six years old. We have seen great strides in the treatment of disease, thanks in no small part to the efforts of JDRF. But there still is no cure and that's why we keep riding.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

December Riding

At the dam in downtown Rockford.
I have several riding friends who are outside on their bikes, regardless of the weather. Once the temperatures are consistently 45 or below, and there is snow on the ground, my bike stays indoors until Spring.  But today - today was beautiful. Sunny skies and sixty degrees - practically unheard of in Michigan in December. Since I had the day off I decided to saddle up the trusty steed and go for a little ride.

I rode one of my usual routes, north on the White Pine Trail, through Rockford and then home. Today I went up to 13 Mile Road and turned around, but took Summit Road south for about a mile so I could ride along the Rogue River. I turned on 12 Mile so I could rejoin the WPT. The trail was so busy today. It was like riding on a summer Saturday afternoon. Bikes, joggers, dog walkers, and skate boards all jockeying for position. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the trail and the weather.

I ended up with 17 miles, leaving me just a bit short of 1,200 miles for the season. Another day like this and I may make that goal.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

5 x 35

When you train a lot and ride long distances for a cause, sometimes it's nice just to do a fun ride. Last Saturday was one of those. A group of us rode the White Pine Trail, stopping at breweries along the way. We did a couple of rides similar to this a few years ago and we finally were able to get folks together to do it again.

Cedar Springs Brewing - the halfway point
The 5 x 35 is 35 miles of riding with stops at five breweries along the trail. Our friend Susan and Elvin from Chicago (the originators of the idea) came up to join us. It was rainy in the morning, but by the time we pulled out of Comstock Park at noon the rain had stopped, although it was still a little damp. As the day went on the weather warmed and the sun came out. It was a beautiful day to ride.

For the first stop we didn't even get out of Comstock Park. It was three miles to the Bier Distillery. This stop required us to hop off the WPT and cut thru a small side path and across West River Drive. Bier Distillery makes beer and spirits. We had a drink and got back on the trail heading north to Rockford.

Stop 2 was at Depot 36, part of Kayla Rae Cellars. They make mostly wine, but a couple of beers as well. Rockford was full of people participating in Harvest Days. Anyone want to build a scarecrow?

We stopped for lunch at Cedar Springs Brewing, our turnaround spot. At this point we were 16.5 miles into the ride. We sat out on their back patio and drank German beers and ate giant pretzels in the sunshine.

On our way back south we stopped at Rockford Brewing. Because of Harvest Days they had a beer tent set up, which meant music and a party atmosphere. Also, in my humble opinion, this was some of the best beer of the day.

We finished up back in Comstock Park at Elk Brewing. We had started the ride at noon and it was now after 6:30 p.m., which means it was almost dark when we left the brewery. Luckily it was only a mile back to the cars and there are street lamps along that section of the trail. All in all, a great day and were looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saratoga Spring Ride Report

Mary and I getting ready to start our 15th JDRF ride.
The ride was great. Getting to Saratoga Springs was anything but. I don't want to go into a lot of detail, but because of weather in Chicago we missed our connection and ended up spending over 10 hours in O'Hare airport. We finally checked into our hotel room shortly before midnight, so we lost our entire Thursday prep day.

On Friday morning we had the rules of the road meeting. There were almost 400 riders at this JDRF ride and 30 of them were from our Michigan team. We then did a quick shakedown ride to make sure the bikes were in good shape after their trip. In the afternoon a group of us went into the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains for a short hike. We hiked around Lake Bonita, a 2.5 mile jaunt. The scenery was beautiful. There was one spot where we stopped and sat on a big rock that sloped into the lake.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy with the threat of light rain. Mary and I decided on different goals for the day. I was going to try for the century (100 miles) and Mary wanted to try the metric century (100 kilometers). We ended up getting separated right after the start line. The group I was riding with was moving a little faster, so I would see Mary's group rolling into the break points as my group was rolling out. Our group kept adding riders, and as we left break point 3 (about 42 miles in) there were 10 of us. We also decided that we needed a team name. Because of things that happened Thursday (while I was in the airport) we became Team Grandpa Shots.

Team Grandpa Shots at Break Point 3
The route was very hilly. That shouldn't be a surprise since we were riding on the southern edge of the Adirondacks. There was over 4000 feet of climbing. Normally I'm a pretty decent climber, but in the second half of the ride I could hardly climb at all. I developed pain on the top of my calves on both legs. The entire Grandpa Shots team passed me on every climb. On the downhills I was doing great. In fact I was coasting past people who were already pedaling at the bottom of the hills. But then we'd start going up again and I would slow to a pace that barely kept me upright. I'm not sure what was happening, but I stayed with the team and moved closer to my goal.

We finished as a group about 10 hours after we started. Another century ride in the books. Mary had a finished her metric century two hours earlier and was waiting for me, already showered and changed. The Michigan team did very well. We had six people that set personal distance records. But most importantly, the ride raised $1.5 million for diabetes research.

This marked the 15th year and 15th ride for Mary and me. Thank you to everyone that has donated this year and for the past decade and a half. Because of you, we will one day soon be able to celebrate the end of Type 1 diabetes.