Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Death Valley Ride Recap

Ride day started with an incredible sunrise and proceeded to become an incredible day all the way around. This year's JDRF ride was quite different. The weather people were forecasting record high temperatures. The ride organizers were very concerned about sending riders out in heat that might approach 120 degrees so they changed the course. Normally we ride 52 miles out to Jubilee Pass and then 52 miles back. The turn around point is a six mile climb at a 6% grade. Last year the temperature hit 111 degrees on that climb and 1/3 of all the riders needed to be sagged back to the starting line. The organizers didn't want a repeat of that carnage so they changed the course. We rode toward Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, and then past it to a point 25 miles from the Furnace Creek Ranch. Here we turned around and came back. That made for a 50 mile loop. If someone wanted to do a full century ride in that heat they could ride the course twice. This kept everyone reasonably close to the Ranch and had the added benefit of allowing us to see our team mates frequently. When our group gets stretched out over a full 100 miles you often don't see people after the start until the finish line.

Tom, Mary and Ian at the finish line.

Having suffered through the heat last year, and getting sagged in, our little Team Scheidel was smarter this time around. Mary completed the whole course and ended up with 50 miles. Ian and I decided to go for the metric century and rode out to the first water stop. It was a bit farther than we remembered on the first loop so we ended up with 72 miles, 10 miles more than a metric. One of the best parts of the whole day happened on our way back. Golden Canyon is about three miles from the finish line. It became an unofficial oasis for our team members. As the group of West Michigan riders that included Ian and me approached the parking area of Golden Canyon we saw several of our team mates waiting for us. There was another group riding a few minutes behind us. We waited for them and then our group of over 15 cyclists from the West Michigan team all rode across the finish line together.

Cliff proposes to Nicole at Mile 25.

The most unique thing that happened during the ride was two of our team mates getting engaged. As the ride started a buzz began going through the team that Cliff was going to pop the question at the Mile 25 turn around point. Most of our team managed to get to that point at the same time as Nicole and Cliff. We got everyone together for a "group photo" but before we could assemble Cliff dropped to one knee and gave Nicole an engagement ring. She was surprised and the crowd went wild. Nicole even cut a hole in her cycling glove so that her new bling would show through.

The West Michigan Ride Team in our new team jerseys.

It is an honor to participate in this event each year. To do it with the team from West Michigan makes it all the more special. These are some of the coolest and most committed people I have ever met. We have riders who have Type 1 diabetes, riders who are the parents of children with Type 1, and riders who have no family connection to the disease. Yet we are all united in one purpose, to put an end to Type 1 diabetes. Thank you to my team mates for making this weekend another of the great experiences of my life.

More photos and stories about the rest of the weekend are coming in the days ahead. Keep watching this blog.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanks for your support

In just a couple of hours we will be getting on an airplane to fly to Las Vegas on the first leg of this year's Death Valley Experience. From LV we take a shuttle bus to DV, a 2 1/2 hour ride. We'll be traveling with 34 other riders from the West Michigan team. Tomorrow we'll have a tune-up ride and enjoy some desert relaxation. Saturday will start early, we'll be out of bed by 5:00 a.m. and riding at sunrise. Nine to eleven hours later we'll be done.

The big news however is not the laundry list of events stated above. It's that we have made our family goal of raising $12,000. We went over late last night and Team Scheidel wants to thank everyone who contributed to the cause. Especially the folks who made those late night pledges. Thanks again and watch this space early next week for all the details.

If you are a Twitter user you can follow the Death Valley ride at #bikeface.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WGVU-FM interview

In case you missed it I was on the WGVU-FM Morning Show with Shelley Irwin yesterday talking about the JDRF Ride for a Cure. You can find the interview at the WGVU web site or by clicking right here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race

Saturday was a great warm up for the Death Valley Ride. One of our fellow JDRF team members, Linda Thompson-Poeder, competed with me in the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race. Blue Monkey Adventure was our official team sponsor. This event takes place on the streets of Grand Rapids and is part adventure racing and part The Amazing Race TV show. The weather was perfect and the competition was friendly, yet intense.

The competitors assemble to hear instructions before the start of the race.
The course had a biking portion and a running portion. There were check points and challenges scattered all over the city. The object was to get to as many checkpoints as possible and get back to the start/finish line in four hours. Since Linda and I have a lot more experience riding as opposed to running we decided to do the bike portion first. This turned out to be a good plan since they were more points available on the bike portion and we got all but two of them.
Tom makes his way to a checkpoint suspended over a creek.
Linda studies the map and directions while on the bike portion.
We finished the biking in two and a half hours, which only left an hour and a half to do as much of running portion as possible. The run course took us to several ArtPrize venues and included challenges related to the art.We knew we couldn't get all the points so we concentrated on getting ones that didn't take us too far from the finish line. With 20 minutes left we were on top of Belknap Hill, a mile and a half from the finish line at Founder's Brewing. We knew we could make it if we only went after easy to find check points that were on our route back. Luckily we found two more as we ran and/or fast walked back to the finish line.

The Blue Monkey Adventure team on the Blue Bridge counting monkeys.
At the end we had completed 40 of a possible 51 check points and finished in 3 hours 58 minutes and 20 seconds. We had time to spare. Best of all we finished 27th out of 192 teams in the co-ed division and 64th out of 330 teams overall. If they had a masters division we would have done even better, considering that our combined age is 100. It was a fantastic day and a great way to stay in shape for Death Valley.

Linda and Tom, happy to be done!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Countdown Continues

In one day our bikes leave for Death Valley. In seven days our bodies leave for Death Valley. (Our minds left long ago.) In nine days we will be riding our bikes through Death Valley. After an entire season of training and fund raising it's a little hard to believe that THE ride is just around the corner. There will be 37 of us from West Michigan cycling through the desert next Saturday. 350 riders from around the USA and other countries will join us. Personally I have ridden almost 1,300 miles this summer in preparation for riding 105 miles on October 15th. Those have been a combination of solo rides, small group rides and epic excursions, everything from 2 miles on my mountain bike to 68 miles in the Allegrina 100. We've ridden in the heat, the rain, and the wind to get ready. And as a team we are ready.
Yesterday we received word that the Death Valley Ride for a Cure has already topped one million dollars in donations, and we haven't even ridden yet. Again on a personal note Team Scheidel is less than $800 from our family goal of $12,000. If you have already donated this year thank you very much. If you'd still like to donate click on one of the "Donate to..." links on the left side of this page. Pick your favorite Scheidel and help them go over the top.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Final Team Ride

This past Saturday was our final team ride of the season. The ride took place in Holland, leaving from Coach Mike Clark's house. There were two loops, an early morning "It's really cold out" 35 mile loop and a noon "It's sort of cold out" 41 mile loop. Many members of our team did one or both portions in anticipation of much warmer temperatures in Death Valley. We figured that the next time we all ride together it would be 50 to 60 degrees warmer.

The team assembles between loops one and two. Notice the many layers of clothing. 50 degrees at the start of loop 2 and quite windy.

John Jasker, Mike Clark and other team members at approximately the halfway point of loop 2.

The West Michigan Team rolls through West Michigan. Cliff Lewis is sporting the new team jersey.