Monday, August 31, 2009

Rain, rain go away

We are back from a very wet, very cold ride. The good news is that the Killington Ride to Cure Diabetes raised over 1.3 million dollars. There were over 330 riders assembled in the Green Mountains of Vermont for this epic event. The route was very interesting and quite beautiful.

The bad news is it rained. A lot. And it was very cold. On Saturday we were picking up the remnants of tropical storm Danny and two storm fronts from the Midwest. It rained all day and it was cold. The high temperature maybe hit 54. Not exactly the best riding conditions. To top it off the ride started with a very steep, dangerously slick 4 mile long downhill. Then we crossed a busy intersection and went down for another 8 miles. The wind from that descent along with the wetness increased the feeling of cold. By the time we got to the first break point I was chilled to the bone. The cold, wet, wind and lack of pedaling conspired to give me a very bad day.

Frozen Tom and cheery Mary at the Metric Century turnaround.

By the second break point I was violently shaking. I wanted to turn around, but thought that if I could just pedal harder and get my heart rate up I'd be able to get my core temperature up. Didn't work. I just kept getting colder. I can't remember ever feeling so bad on a bike. Even when I ended up in the med tent after the '07 Death Valley Ride I didn't feel as bad.

The third rest stop was the turn around point for the metric century ride (100 kilometers or 62 miles). Mary was with me and we decided to head back. I was actually happy, knowing there would be some climbing on the way back, thinking I would finally get warm. With about 23 miles to go I was in very bad shape, probably close to hypothermia. Our coach, Mike Clark, happened upon us and traded me his jacket for my vest. That one small act probably enabled me to finish the ride under my own power instead of in the SAG wagon.

Finishing early in the day does have it's rewards. We were able to watch most of our team mates cross the finish line. It was great to see so many do so well under pretty rotten conditions. But at the same time, I felt a bit of emptiness. 62 miles on a bad day is a pretty decent accomplishment. But my goal was to do the full 100. As people that I've trained with all summer crossed the line, beaming at their just completed century, I didn't feel like I was fully sharing their joy.

Watching out for Vermont wildlife on one of the final climbs of the day.

I know that given what was happening to my body, the wisest thing to do was to cut my ride short. But what bothers me is that I was able to stop when I was having bad day. My son has bad days with diabetes and he doesn't have the option of stopping. He can't say "I'm tired of diabetes. I won't deal with it anymore today." So my Killington experience was not everything I had hoped for.

This was my fifth JDRF ride. It was the first time I didn't complete the century. I will be riding again next year and the year after and every year until we find a cure. Thanks again to all my team mates out there on the road and to all our sponsors and donors. And thanks most of all to the young man who inspires me to do this crazy ride thing. Love you Jake.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Killington here we come!

We have finished six months of training in preparation for this Saturday. That's over 1000 miles in the saddle and over $6,000 raised. It's all for one purpose, to find a cure for diabetes.

Twelve years ago, on September 19, 1997, we were told that our then six year old son Jake had Type 1 diabetes. We were, like most parents, completely unprepared for that diagnosis. The following year was a blur as we learned the procedures we would need to follow in order to keep our son alive. The carefree days of Jake's childhood had suddenly turned into a life and death struggle. One of the most insidious aspects of diabetes is that on the outside the diabetic looks fine. But without daily insulin injections that person will die. Even with proper care the diabetic may develop complications that can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

We have never been the type of people who sit back and say "Why us?" when we get thrown life's curve balls. We are more likely to say "How do we fix it?" So when Jake was diagnosed, we set out to fix the problem. Neither Mary or I are doctors so we aren't going to find the cure on our own, but we can help raise money and awareness so that the doctors who will find the cure will have the resources to accomplish that goal. Therefore, we ride our bikes through the desert or the mountains in order to raise money to fund research. The donations of our family, friends and people we don't even know have already helped immeasurably.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year and in past years. Whether you are a rider, a researcher, or a financial supporter remember this - we will be known as the people who cured diabetes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bye Bye Bikes

We dropped our bikes off at VeloCity Cycles in Holland last night. Today they get loaded in the bike trailer and start the trip to Vermont. Coach Mike and Jeremy will be driving them through Canada to save time. That could make for an interesting exchange with the border guard. "Anything to declare?" "Just these 40 expensive road bikes." "How long will you be in Canada?" "Just a few hours." "Step out of the vehicle, please."
Then at midnight on Wednesday the majority of the team will follow in a charter bus. With any luck we'll probably get the same customs agent. "Anything to declare?" "Yeah, some guys stole all our bikes. Have you seen them?" "Step out of the bus, please."

Monday, August 24, 2009

WGVU-FM interview

Here is a link to the interview I did on WGVU-FM last Friday. Thanks to Shelly Irwin of the Morning Show for supporting our ride. There is also a link in the link list on the left.
Tom, Mary, Susan and Elvin at Lake Michigan halfway through our 39 mile ride.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coming soon

Or should I say leaving soon? Our bikes leave Tuesday, we have to drop them off tomorrow. And we leave Wednesday at midnight. More on the trip later. Today was our last ride before Killington. We missed the team ride because we were visiting our friends down on Lake Paw Paw. Susan and Elvin have a cottage there and we rode with them today. It was a 39 mile ride from their cottage over to St. Joseph on Lake Michigan. It was a little cool but a great day to ride. That gives me 1064 miles for this season. A little less than last year, but we are also doing the JDRF ride 6 weeks earlier. So I'll probably get more miles in post-ride. I'll have more thoughts on the Killington ride before we leave.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1000 ! ! !

One of my goals for this ride season was to put in 1000 miles before we left for Killington. Yesterday I did a little 16 mile route that included a fair number of rolling hills and a pretty stiff westerly wind. At the halfway point of the ride I rolled over 1000 miles for the year. We board the bus for Vermont a week from tonight so I'm not sure how many more miles I'll get in, but it's nice to know I hit one goal. The next goal is to raise at least $3000 for diabetes research and I'm only about $500 short of that. Goal number three is to complete the entire route in Killington. I'm sure the miles I've already put in, especially the ones on the hills, will help toward this last goal.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tune in Friday morning

This Friday I will be on the WGVU-FM Morning Show with Shelly Irwin talking about the Ride to Cure Diabetes. This live interview will start right after the 9:00 a.m. news, so about 9:05. Interviews usually take about 15-20 minutes. So tune in to 88.5 FM on Friday morning for many stories about this great event.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's not the heat, it's the... okay it is the heat

Wow, it was a scorcher today. So what did we do? Rode bikes of course. Scott and Linda Poeder from our ride team met us at our house this morning and we took off south on the White Pine Trail heading to Grand Rapids. Once we got downtown we made our way across the West Side to John Ball Park and started on the newly repaved Kent Trails. We took that all the way to Byron Center where we stopped for a lovely Subway lunch. It was sunny and hot, 85 to 90 degrees, the whole way there. However when we started heading back north we found lots of puddles in the road, especially where Kent Trails runs along the Grand River. Apparently there was a pretty substantial rain storm near us. We never got wet, unless you count the puddle spray off the trail.
When we arrived back home in Rockford we had put 54 miles under our wheels. Or a bit better than half the distance we'll be riding in 13 days. It's amazing how quick this is coming up on us.

If you haven't donated yet there is still time. Click on the "Donate to Tom" or "Donate to Mary" links on the left and follow the simple directions. Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekend photos

Tom and Elvin at the start of the 6 x 46. The day started cool and rainy and ended up warm and sunny.

From Team Ride 080909
The West Michigan Ride Team on Sunday, somewhere west of Sparta. For me the weekend added up to 96 miles of riding in two days.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What a Weekend!

Saturday started out rainy. Okay, that's a bit of an understatement. The weather radar showed heavy (the orange and red kind) rain showers and thunderstorms from Michigan stretching west to the middle of Iowa. My first thought was that we were going to have to cancel the 6 x 46. But when I spoke with co-coordinator Elvin Hayes he said that the Chicago and Detroit folks were already on the way. So we decided to meet at Vitalie's as planned but then wait inside the bar to see if the storm would pass. Upon arriving and seeing everyone huddled under umbrellas and minivan lift gates, Elvin dubbed the ride the 2 x 0, two bars, no miles. So 17 of us, clad in spandex, entered Vitalie's when they opened at 11:00 a.m. and proceeded to start drinking beer. We got them to put the Weather Channel up on one of the big sports screens. We watched the storm for about two hours and then figured we had a small window of opportunity to ride. We saddled up and hoped to get to Rockford before the rain dumped on us again. To our surprise it didn't rain another drop all day. The 6 x 46 was a rousing success. Six bars (7 if we count the two hours in Vitalie's before the start) and 46 miles along the White Pine Trail. It turned into a beautiful day to ride and we picked up friends along the way who were doing the more traditional motor vehicle style pub crawl. Derek even made some new friends at The Corner Bar in Rockford, but that's a story for another time.

Today we had a team ride from Cindy Ally's house in Cedar Springs. Part of the route was on the same White Pine Trail we had ridden the day before, but for some reason it looked very different. It was very hot, very humid and we had sustained westerly winds of about 20 mph. I completed 50 miles in about 4 1/2 hours, including rest stops. That would be a nine hour century ride if I can maintain the pace, which would be my best time ever. Three weeks until Killington and I almost feel ready.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Now on IMDB

Great news. The documentary is now listed on the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB). You can click on this link to see our listing. IMDB is a very extensive web site that lists movies and TV shows from all over the world. These are usually the big budget, well promoted type of films. So it's great when the little guy gets noticed. I've spent so much time working on this film over the past year that it's kind of hard to believe that in just three weeks I'll be doing another JDRF ride in Killington. It seems like we just got back from Death Valley. Of course watching and editing hours of footage over the last several months may have something to do with that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Weekend Ride

I'm a little late getting this posted, but Mary and I had an interesting ride on Sunday. We rode to Spring Lake for my nephew's birthday party. It's 31 miles and relatively flat once we get away from the river valleys. So I'm thinking an easy two hours. The problem was the route is straight west. On Sunday the wind was from the west at about 20 mph. So our easy two hour ride became a strenuous 2 1/2 hour ride. But what's a little wind to a couple of Death Valley veterans?

This weekend is chock full of riding opportunities. Saturday is our 6 x 46 Ride. 6 bars in 46 miles along the White Pine Trail. Last year we did the 5 x 55 Ride along the Musketawa Trail. Join us for a very silly, totally fun riding experience. Roll out is 11:00 a.m. from behind Vitalies in Comstock park. On Sunday we have a team ride in Cedar Springs. That's going to be a bit more serious and in the 60 to 70 mile range. It will also probably take less time than the Saturday ride. These are good long miles, because Killington is three weeks from this Saturday. Yowza!