Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lake Tahoe by the numbers

The West Michigan team, Lake Tahoe contingent, poses before the tune-up ride.
As great as the JDRF Lake Tahoe ride was from a cycling perspective, it's important we don't lose site of the main reason we were out there. Our mission is to raise money to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. And raise money we did. Our little team from West Michigan was the number one fundraising team at the Lake Tahoe ride. We did that by manning the concession stands at VanAndel Arena, sending out a lot of emails and snail mail letters, having music festivals and golf outings and scrap metal drives. Someone may have even done a pop can drive. Ten cents at a time does add up after a while. Our own family group, Team Scheidel, raised quite a bit of money as well. We'd like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, whether you gave a couple of dollars or a couple thousand, every donation is appreciated and every one gets us that much closer to finding a cure.

JDRF Lake Tahoe Ride to Cure Diabetes - by the numbers:
Team Scheidel - $12,500
The West Michigan Team - $60,500
Total for Lake Tahoe - over $500,000

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Best Ride Ever

The view of Lake Tahoe from the trail behind our hotel.
We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to ride. The temperatures started in the mid 40's for our 6:30 a.m. start and by the time most of us finished around 3:30 p.m. the temp was in the mid-70's. The sky was dotted with soft, fluffy clouds. And the views were incredible. After the Emerald Bay rest stop we had a little more climbing to do and then had a descent all the way back down to lake level. Lots of us had downhill speeds of over 40 miles per hour. At least one of our team mates went over 50 MPH. After that exhilarating downhill it was a mostly flat ride until the second rest stop. The weather was warming up so we all started shedding our outer layers. The jackets, arm warmers and leg warmers of the starting line were removed, replaced by the warm sun and steady pace. Our team stayed together pretty well on the flat stretches and, just like at home, got split up on the hills.

Mary climbing toward the Emerald Bay switchbacks.

The lunch stop was glorious. It was right on a beach with views of the surrounding mountains. There were sandwiches, chips, fruit and snacks to eat. JDRF medical guy Brock was there giving out mini-massages. It was hard to leave, especially knowing that there was a significant climb right after lunch. We got most of our team together and headed up the hill.

King's Beach, the JDRF Tour de Tahoe lunch stop.

Team West Michigan reassembled and ready for the second half of the ride.

The second half of the ride is most notable for the climb up to Spooner Junction. It's a 1000 foot climb in about 5 miles. This is the highest point on the route, topping out at 7,044 feet. This was one of the more difficult parts of the ride but made us appreciate all the hills we had been climbing during our training. Everyone on the team did a great job getting up the hills. Actually, everyone on our team did a great job all day long. We could really see the benefits of spending the last several months training together and getting to know each other. When it was all over the JDRF Tour de Tahoe raised over $500,000 for diabetes research. Over $50,000 of that came from the West Michigan team. While the ride was great the main reason we are there is to raise money to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. After this weekend we a half a million steps closer to that cure.

Team Scheidel at the finish line. Safe, sound and smiling.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Yesterday may just have been the most beautiful ride I've ever done. Lake Tahoe is absolutely  gorgeous and we rode around the whole thing. 73 miles and over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Plus we started at 6,200 feet of elevation, so there were some sections where we were breathing pretty hard. But the weather was perfect and the views were incredible. This is one of those places that words and even pictures can't do justice to. Although I will be posting a bunch of photos in the next few days.
There were 18 of us from West Michigan who participated in this ride, out of 135 JDRF riders overall. There were 1,800 riders in total at the Tour de Tahoe. The JDRF group started first at 6:30 a.m. Then the throng came upon us. As we approached the first climb at about the 10 mile mark it was like picking your way through a grand tour peloton. There were cyclists everywhere, of varying abilities and etiquette. As we started climbing the switchbacks near Emerald Bay the crowd started to thin out. The first rest stop was at an overlook of Emerald Bay. This is known as the prettiest spot on the lake for good reason. You are surrounded by mountains with the lake and bay a thousand feet below you. Huge pine trees and boulders dot the landscape. It was already an epic ride on a great day and we were only about an hour into it.

More on the rest of the ride in the days to come.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ride day: T minus 1

Great day so far in Lake Tahoe. We had an excellent breakfast at the Embassy Suites where we are staying. Then there was the rules of the road meeting followed by a short tune up ride. Lake Tahoe is beautiful and the tune up ride got me real excited for tomorrow's main event. 72 miles. Over 4,000 feet of vertical climb. And the elevation here is over 6,000 feet, so I am definitely feeling the effects of the thinner air. Luckily I have one more day to get acclimated.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Our next great adventure starts now

We are currently waiting at Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids for leg one of our journey to Lake Tahoe for the JDRF ride. We go to Chicago first, then fly to San Francisco, then another plane to Reno, and finally a bus to Tahoe. If all goes as planned we should be in Tahoe by 3:30 PDT. Tonight we will meet up with all of our West Michigan teammates and get reacquainted with the larger JDRF ride community. Tomorrow morning we have a training ride to check out our bicycles and then an afternoon to explore the area. I'm thinking a ridge line hike above the lake. Then on Sunday we RIDE! The start will probably be cold, less than 45 degrees, with temperatures climbing into the high 70's. We'll have a celebration banquet on Sunday night and then head home on Monday. If you want to follow along with our adventure watch this blog or keep an eye on Facebook.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Leaving soon

This will be the eighth year I've participated in a JDRF ride. This week, the week right before we ride, is always a strange week. Our bikes have already been sent ahead. Our minds have gone on ahead as well, waiting for our bodies to follow in a few days. I would venture to say that for members of our team, this is a low productivity week at our various places of work. We are about to embark upon a great adventure. We have been training for months. We are putting the finishing touches on our fundraising. We are making packing lists and trying on our new JDRF ride jerseys. It is an exciting time. On Friday we fly to Lake Tahoe. On Sunday we ride, and then next Monday we travel back to Michigan. It is an intense weekend, made all the more meaningful by the cause we are there to support. If you have made a donation to JDRF this year, thank you very much. You will be in our thoughts next Sunday as we circumnavigate Lake Tahoe in the name of finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.