Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Video Review of 2014

2014 was a great year. We rode a lot of miles and raised a lot of money. The West Michigan team raised $143,000 this year. That brings our ten year total to $1,660,000. Thank you to all the donors that have made this possible. Last Saturday night our team celebrated this remarkable year. One of the things we watched was a video highlight I produced of the 2014 ride season. Have a look.

Also, over on the left side you'll see a new slideshow called "A Decade of the Ride". That includes some of the more fun photos from the past ten years of riding for the cure. Just click on it to see larger versions of the photos.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

JDRF Ride #10 is in the books

One week ago today the sun came up over the Funeral Mountains in Death Valley and 300 cyclists headed out on the Ride to Cure Diabetes. 38 of those riders were affiliated with our West Michigan team. This was the tenth year for our team. Our first rides were in Death Valley and Ashville, North Carolina in 2005. With a few exceptions we were a fairly novice group of cyclists. But the experiences of that first year propelled us to grow as a team and as riders. When all the numbers are counted up at the end of this year the West Michigan team will have raised over $1,600,000 for diabetes research.

The official West Michigan team photo
Ride day was beautiful. In the seven times I've been to Death Valley it was the best weather we've ever had. The morning started cool and temperatures stayed below 90 until mid-afternoon. Temps did top out at around 100 out near Jubilee Pass. There was very little wind and that was a godsend. Normally we fight a strong headwind for the second half of the ride, but not this year.

Ian at Badwater Basin. 282 feet below sea level.

Our plan as a family was to do the entire 100 miles, including the climb up to the top of Jubilee Pass. Ian and I started out riding with a faster group and Mary was riding with a fast group so we got separated early on. Our group arrived at the Badwater Basin break point in a very good time. Just as we were getting ready to pull out for the next leg of the ride another group of our team mates rolled in and told us that Mary had been in a crash at the 8 mile mark. We got a hold of one of the volunteers (Thanks very much to all the volunteers.) and radioed back to where the crash had been. It seems that a teenage girl rider had stopped on the course and then turned right in front of Mary on a downhill. Mary couldn't avoid her and crashed into the girl. Luckily they both only suffered minor scraps and bruises. Although Mary cut her lip and bled for quite awhile. After she was bandaged up she got back on her bike (which was fine) and continued the ride. Since I knew she was coming but didn't know how bad she was injured I decided to wait at Badwater and told Ian to ride on. I knew this would mean I probably wouldn't complete the entire 100 miles, but I've gotten the century in Death Valley before. Ian still hadn't finished a century here and this was his third try. He took off with our original group and I waited for a hour for Mary to show up at Badwater.

Mary leading the pace line after her crash.
 Mary rolled into the break point banged up but determined to continue the ride. It turns out that a couple miles after the crash she also had a flat tire. This put us way behind schedule. There was no way we could make to cut-off time to do the whole 100 miles, so we decided to go for the metric century, which is 100 kilometers, or about 63 miles. We had a group of about a dozen riders that were all going the same distance. In a ride like this, with many different ability levels, the group would break up into smaller groups and then we would reconstitute at the next break point.

Our group on the way from Badwater to the finish line.

Our head coach, Mike Clark, calls the last mile of the Death Valley ride "the best mile in cycling". You've ridden many, many miles through the desert. It's very hot, you're very tired. The sea level sign is at the turn to head back down to Furnace Creek Ranch and the finish line. However, you have to ride about a two mile climb before you get to that point. Once you're at the sign, you take a photo with your riding partners and then coast the last mile into the ranch and cross the finish line to the cheers of the staff, volunteers and fellow riders. This was my seventh time riding that "best mile" and I teared up again as we crossed the finish line.

Megan, Jeremy, Tom, Linda, Mary and Sarah at the sea level sign. One mile to go.

By "only" riding a metric century we finished in the mid afternoon instead of close to sunset. For the first time ever I had a chance to quickly run back to the room and shower before returning to the finish line to cheer on our team mates who had ridden longer distances. One of the West Michigan traditions is that we stay at the finish line and cheer for all the riders as they come across. It's always one of the more emotional moments of the weekend. One of those riders was our son Ian. He completed his first century in Death Valley. He got a century in Nashville last year and had one other on a non-JDRF ride. But this was his first one in Death Valley and a great accomplishment

Ian crossing the finish line of his first Death valley century ride.

As powerful as riding in Death Valley is, the true purpose is to raise money to fund research into Type One diabetes. In that respect this ride was a huge success. The Death Valley Ride for a Cure raised over $900,000. The JDRF ride program for 2014 is on track to raise over five million dollars. Thank you once again to everyone who donated to the cause. Great strides are being made and soon we WILL have a cure, thanks in part to the dedication of the people I had the honor of riding with last weekend.

Team Scheidel - safe, sound and smiling

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thank you to our donors

We leave for Death Valley in 36 hours. To say we are all pretty excited would be an understatement. We've been training and fundraising since early spring and now the time of the ride is almost upon us. The best news is that Team Scheidel has exceeded our goal. As of tonight we are at $12,141. Thank you to everyone who has helped out with a donation to the cause. In no particular order here are the people who have helped us get one step closer to finding a cure for diabetes.

Tom and Mary wearing jerseys from sponsor XS Energy Drinks
Dan Ayers                   
Tom & Florence Scheidel                                 
David Pasciak                   
Allison Wheeler                   
Daniel Dillon                   
Christine Behrens                   
Mike Oele                   
Paula Briggs                   
Henry & Mari Wieten                   
John Despres                   
Kim Summers                   
Dennis & Kim Moline                                       
Pam Hanson                   
Tru Vue                    
Susanne Aldridge                                       
Patrick Scheidel                                       
Bill & Ginger Young                                       
Michelle Bassett                   
Pam Murray                   
Kim Summers                   
Anne Goetz                   
Linda Milanowski                                                        
Kim Monks                   
Catrina Chambers                   
Mary Koziol                   
Miriam Wyatt                   
Stacey Woock                   
Lake Michigan Credit Union                   
Anna Kirvan                   
Sally Story                   
Kimberely Markoff                   
Karen Sterling                   
Leo Isaguirre                   
Jacquelyn McCarty                   
Roy Dodman                   
Therese Kent                   
Michelle DeVries                   
William Totten                   
Debra Shaffer                   
Derek Dykstra                   
Stonecrest Productions                   
X- Cel Chemical Specialties                   
Chris Radford  

And all the people who made cash donations at Jake's Music Festival. We don't have your names but thanks for helping out anonymously.                

We roll at sun up on Saturday morning. Thanks again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The stretch run

We are in the final countdown for this year's JDRF Death Valley ride. Our bikes leave tomorrow. We get on a plane to head for DV a week from tomorrow. A week from Saturday we'll be riding 105 miles in predicted 102 degree heat. After over 1,200 miles of training and almost $12,000 of fundraising it's almost time to ride. I am very excited.

My first JDRF ride was in Death Valley in 2005. It was also my first ever century ride and happened on my 48th birthday. October 18, 2014 will be the tenth annual ride I've done with JDRF. Death Valley seems like a great place to commemorate a decade of riding for the cure. There will be about 35 of us from West Michigan out in the desert. 10 years ago there were 14. We've gone from a confused little group of mostly casual riders to one of the top teams in all of JDRF. Since 2005 we've raised over 1.5 million dollars for diabetes research. That is exhilirating and humbling at the same time.

I'm going to try and get a little more riding in on my mountain bike before we go to Death Valley. I have done two rides on my road bike this week. Sunday was a 30 mile team ride in the Cannonsburg area. Quite cold and windy with over 1,100 feet of climbing, but at least it didn't rain. Yesterday I did a quick solo ride on the White Pine Trail south to the ballpark. It was one of the best average speeds I've had in awhile, 15.6 mph. Now that's not going to win many races, but I've been hovering in the 14 mph range for most of the summer, so it was good to see that better time. Of course, it might also be because of the new bibs and sunglasses I got from 3rd Coast Cycles.

10 days until ride number 10.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A 100 mile week

According to Map My Ride I rode 100 miles last week. That's right where I need to be at this point in my training. I rode three times last week. I already wrote about the first two rides in my most recent post. Saturday I took part in the Cog to the Fly ride. It's a 14 mile ride from Brewery Vivant (a red rooster for a logo) in Grand Rapids to Rockford Brewing (a fishing fly logo). I started by riding from our house to Brewery Vivant. Before the official ride start we had Vivant's version of the offical beer of the ride. About 150 cyclists on a great variety of bikes headed through downtown GR and up the White Pine Trail to Rockford. Once at their beer tent we had RBC's version of the official beer. I then rode home for a total of 31 miles and a very happy belly.

Today I took a quick after work ride of 17 miles. It's getting more difficult to get those types of rides in. The sun sets about 7:30 which only gives me about an hour and a half of cycling time. That means we need to do longer rides on the weekends. But I do have almost 1,200 miles in so far this year and only two and a half weeks until the Death Valley ride, so a few less riding opportunities shouldn't be a big deal.

Finally, we got some good news this week. We are almost at our team goal. Mary, Ian and I each have personal fundraising goals of $4,000. That makes $12,000 for the family. As of today I am at $4,009. Mary is at $3,759 and Ian is at$3,848. That means we only need $393 to make the goal. You can help us reach that by clicking on Mary or Ian's name on the left side of this page.

17 days until we ride in Death Valley.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Different days, different rides

I've ridden Sunday and Tuesday so far this week and the two rides couldn't have been more different. On Sunday, Mary, LTP and I started early with the intention of doing a "simple century". It's a term the ladies came up with last year. They ride 100 miles but all along bike trails, so very little climbing and plenty of opportunities to stop, rest and eat.

LTP, Tom and Mary. Wet, cold and still happy.
We started out at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids and rode north along the White Pine Trail to Sand Lake. It was about 50 degrees when we started, but thankfully not raining. However, after we turned around and started heading back our luck ran out and the skies opened up. We had 25 miles in and we were 25 miles from our cars. The original plan was to stop at the cars for lunch and then ride south on Kent Trails to Byron Center and back. When we got to the cars we had the lunch and tried to dry out and warm up. It was time to head out again but the wind had kicked up significantly and the sky was still drizzling occasionally. Plus we were still cold and wet. We decided to call it at a half century and go home to warm up.

Yesterday I went out for a solo ride with the intent of staying off bike trails. I did one of my favorite loops which starts with climbing Post Drive to Pine Island Road. Then taking House Road which twists and turns, climbs and dips before ending at 10 Mile Road. I next made my way north to 12 Mile Road and took that until I turned south on Summit. Once I got into Rockford I either had to ride the WPT for a short section or venture onto a very busy section of 10 Mile. I did the short trail piece and got off quickly to ride up the Childsdale hill on my way back home. In all it was a shade over 19 miles with about 825 feet of elevation gain. If I were to extrapolate that out over a full century it would be over 4,100 feet of climbing. That was some pretty serious work.

We leave for Death Valley 3 weeks from tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Longest Ride of the Year (so far)

On Sunday we did a three county team ride. We started south of Byron Center and ended up riding through parts of Ottawa, Allegan and Kent counties. We rode just a shade under 58 miles. That is my longest ride of the year by over 10 miles. The route also had over 1,900 feet of elevation gain. Plus the wind was out of the south west, so we had a stiff head wind for a good part of the day. However that also made for a really quick pace on the northbound legs. I had a couple of mile splits where I was doing over 20 mph. Rather than give you a turn by turn analysis here's a link to the Map My Ride page with all the info.

One month and one day until we ride in Death Valley.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

1000 in 2014

Make that 1,001 miles to be accurate. On Tuesday night Mary and I rode south on the White Pine Trail until it ended at North Park bridge. We crossed the river and continued south through Riverside Park. We then took the new trail "connector" east along Ann Street. We then followed the new sharrow markings to Seward Street and rode all the way to Bridge Street before turning around and heading home. In all it was a 23 mile ride and gives me 1,001 miles for this cycling season. Last year I hit 1,000 on August 31, so I'm a few days later. But last year our JDRF ride was in mid-September and this year it isn't until mid-October, so I'm actually ahead of last year's pace.

I put the word connector in quotes above because I question the wisdom of making Ann Street the connecting link between the White Pine/Riverside trails and the west side of Grand Rapids. Cyclists have to navigate a busy 4 lane bridge over the river, then cross an expressway entrance/exit ramp, and finally cross the Ann/Turner intersection which includes a separate right turn lane that avoids the traffic light. While this route eventually gets the cyclist over to Seward Street, there is no flow to the riding and it doesn't feel particularly safe. While I applaud the city of Grand Rapids for trying to tie the trails and surface streets together, this particular connection could use some work.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Three rides in three days

Now that was a weekend. I got a lot of riding in. On Friday I did an 18 mile solo ride. I went south on Grand River Drive to Knapp. Took Knapp to Pettis and then north to Cannonsburg. I then climbed up Blakely so I could get the 7 Mile Hill descent. By the way, the descent of 7 Mile is much more fun than the climb.

On Saturday I rode at Merrill Trails with Scott and Linda Poeder. It was only about six and a half miles, but Merrill is a very technical trail, so it was quite a workout. Plus it was a beautiful day to ride. We toasted our success with a frosty beverage on the deck at Rockford Brewing Company.

Yesterday, we had a small group of five that went out for what turned out to be a 33 mile ride. We started east and went past Luton Park. Then we went north past Meyers Lake and turned west on 12 Mile. We had to make several turns to keep moving west, but we eventually ended up out on the ridge among overflowing apple orchards. We also happened upon Schwallier's Country Basket, a farm store that was giving away free samples of freshly picked apples. They were so good.

In the final tally I rode three consecutive days for a total of 57 miles. On top of that I feel like I could ride today. I think that means that my bike fitness level has finally returned. Which is about on schedule since they say it takes a year to come back from a major injury and it was last September that I crashed in Nashville. So it's good to be feeling good and I'm looking forward to riding in Death Vally in 5 1/2 weeks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day

Last week was a good week for riding. I got out three times for a total of 83 miles. That's right where I need to be in training at this point in the season. Today Mary and I decided to ride up to Sand Lake via the White Pine Trail. The weather people were predicting thunderstorms around 2:00 so we decided to head out about 11:00 a.m. It's a 38 mile round trip so we figured we could make it easily before the storms rolled in. It was warm and sunny when we started, but we could see some gray clouds to the west. As we rolled through Cedar Springs on our way north we felt a dew raindrops but nothing significant. Our original plan was to stop for ice cream in Sand Lake, but once we got there we decided that we better keep moving. So we stopped long enough to use the rest room and eat a snack. Then it was back on the bikes to head south and try to beat the storm. We failed. As we got back to Cedar Springs the winds kicked up and we luckily found a little gazebo along the trail, just as the heavy rain hit. We stayed relatively dry, but the air was cooling off considerably. As we waited for the storm to pass we saw several other bicyclists who had been out on the trail when the storm hit. They were soaked. After we waited about a half hour the rain stopped. We headed back south although there was some intermittent thunder and lighting. Bikes have rubber tires so we were safe, right? The weather kept getting better and warmer as we got closer to home. When we rolled into our neighborhood it was as sunny and warm as when we left. And we haven't had any rain since. I guess we should have waited and done an afternoon ride.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Riding not writing

Although I've been absent from this blog recently, I haven't been absent from the road. I've been logging some serious miles recently. In the last week I've ridden over 96 miles, as you can see by my Map My Ride report below.

On Sunday we had a team ride out near Barlow Lake, which is in northern Barry County. It was 49 very hilly miles, featuring 1,700 feet of climbing. It was a gorgeous route past farm fields and small lakes. It wasn't especially hot and we did have some cloud cover in the morning, but it was very humid. We started with a 30 mile loop that had most of the climbing. We returned back to our host's (Thanks Paul and Kami) cottage and then the hard core group went out for 19 more miles. When we finished we had a cookout and swam in the lake. It was a great end to a beautiful day.

The Death Valley Ride is only 53 days away. If you haven't made a donation yet, please consider doing so now. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The reason why

We have been participating in the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes for ten years. When we started our son Jake, who was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 6, was only 13 years old. He's now 23, lives in Chicago and has a great life despite his disease. Since 2005 we've logged thousands of miles and raised thousands of dollars to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Sometimes with all the riding, fundraising, and advocating we can lose sight of the main reason we are doing all this. Then a gentle reminder shows up.

As part of our fundraising we send out donation request letters. Yesterday we received a donation from a woman who has contributed before. She included a short note.

Dear Mary, Tom and Ian,
    Continued blessing on your JDRF Ride. I cannot believe that August 8 marks the 27th anniversary of my 34 year old sister's death due to Juvenile Diabetes. Our baby sister, who is a JD survivor, is doing well due to the research. God bless your journey.
    Mary Ellen

You never know who's life you are going to impact when you participate in a JDRF ride. Thank you Mary Ellen for your words of support and your financial contribution. We will keep riding, for our son, for your sisters, and for the millions of people with Type 1, until we find a cure.

Ride on and God bless.

Monday, August 4, 2014

That's more like it

When I last posted less then a week ago I was whining about not getting enough miles in. That changed quickly. Since Tuesday of last week I've logged 85 miles. That's what I need to be doing this time of year. I rode three times and each ride was different.

On July 29 Mary and I did a leisurely ride up the White Pine Trail to Rockford. We stopped by the dam to listen to some of the Blues by the River music, but it wasn't doing it for us, so we moved on. We ended up with just over 15 miles.

Last Friday I went out for a solo ride, intending to do about 20 miles. I ended up with 30 due to road conditions. I started out on a route I've done before, heading west through Belmont and up Post Drive. I then take 9 Mile until I feel like turning north. The route loops around Rockford without going through the city. This time I went north on Division, east on Fonger, and then north on Algoma. I planned on turning east again on 12 Mile, but the road had just been chip sealed. There was probably 2 inches on loose gravel on the road surface. I would have had a hard time getting thru that on my mountain bike. So I rode up to 13 Mile and continued east past Northland Drive with the intention on turning south toward home on Courtland. Wrong. The chip seal folks had hit that street as well. Even more loose gravel. So I continued east, getting farther from home with every pedal stroke. I finally turned south on Shaner. When I got to 11 Mile there was a sign that said 10 Mile (the next road I was planning on taking) was closed to the east. No problem, since I would be turning west. However when I got to 10 Mile I realized that the sign should have read "10 Mile Road is gone." The whole road was torn up and being readied for new pavement. I really didn't want to back track and fortunately the dirt where the road used to be was pretty hard packed. So I rode about a mile and a half of dirt road on my skinny tires before getting to the non chip sealed potion of Courtland. There I turned south again before riding past Rockford High School and finally home. My 20 mile ride had turned into a 30 mile adventure.

The West Michigan Ride Team and friends after the "Tour de Taco" team ride.

Yesterday we had a team ride out in Holland. The annual "Tour de Taco" from Coach Mike Clark's house. There was a 25 mile loop in the morning which we didn't do. Our group did a 40 mile loop that left around noon. The route basically followed parts of the Holland Hundred through Fennville, around Hutchin's Lake and Douglas/Saugatuck. It was a beautiful day to ride and we kept up a pretty good pace for a team ride, a 14.5 mile per hour average. The best part was the cookout at the end. Grilled chicken tacos with all the fixin's, plus chips, salsa and cupcakes. That was also my longest ride of the year so far and I felt pretty good at the end of it. That's a very encouraging sign.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm still here

I just realized it's been a month since I published anything to this blog. The combination of work, vacation, and not very summery weather has conspired to limit my riding opportunities this July. I have been getting out some, but usually only once or twice a week. In years past I'd be out cycling three or four times a week in July. When I look at my ride logs I'm averaging between 20 and 40 miles a week, when I should be averaging around 60 miles a week. This is causing me a little bit of concern, since my fitness level is down after last September's accident. However, that also may be why my total mileage is low, and as my fitness level returns my mileage should increase as well. At least I hope so.

I did a 36 mile ride up to Sand Lake and back with Ian about a week ago. That was my longest ride of the year so far and I was feeling pretty bad near the end of it. The bottom line is that I just need to get out and ride more. Team rides, mountain bike rides, wine Wednesday rides, solo rides. I just need to do it, frequently.

On the fundraising front we are tracking about the same as last year. Our family goal is $12,000 and we are currently at $7,356. Which means we have $4,644 to raise between now and October 18th. So if you are inclined to make a tax deductible contribution we would greatly appreciate it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bike riding is better than working

I took a little time off from work this past week. We didn't go anywhere on vacation so I used the opportunity to ride my bike, a lot. There were team rides, solo rides, even mountain bike rides. All told I put in over 85 miles on my bike. I would have like to ride more but I did have a few things I needed to get done around the house and we did have some rain to contend with. What follows is a breakdown of my week+ of riding.

Saturday 6/21: Connie's Cakes to home
I was helping Mary out at the cake shop. They are very busy in June with many, many weddings. After the shop closed I rode east on Fulton Street toward Ada. A pretty high traffic area but with broad road shoulders. I then turned north on Grand River Avenue and took that until it ended at Northland Drive which I took home. Again Northland was very busy with vehicle traffic, but there are only a few spots to get across the river to get home. It ended up being a relatively easy 14 mile ride.

Sunday 6/22: JDRF Team Ride from Sietsma's Orchard
This ride could also be called "25 miles of pain". With our team rides there are usually two mileage options. My original plan had been to ride the 40 mile option. However this route was in the Egypt Valley, Pettis, Honey Creek triangle. Anyone who rides in this area knows this is one of the hilliest places to ride in all of west Michigan. We actually went both north and south on Egypt Valley. I'm not one to complain about hills, but that was a tough route. When I got to the 25/40 cutoff I decided that riding 25 miles was a much better idea. The post ride lunch and cider made all the work worthwhile.

Tuesday 6/24: North on the White Pine Trail
This was a 20 mile solo ride. Just a basic training ride. I took the trail up thru Rockford and up to Russell Road. It's a pretty flat route, especially when compared with our Sunday team ride. Nothing very interesting to report, just puttin' in the miles.

Wednesday 6/25: Luton Park
The old barn at Luton Park.
I decided to take my mountain bike out for a spin. This is an "old" bike. I first purchased it in the late 80's. It has a steel frame and no suspension. I feel kind of jealous when I see the newer, cooler mountain bikes some of my teammates ride. But my Raleigh M50 has served me well for decades and will go through anything. I rode the blue, orange, black and red loops at Luton for a 6 mile total. The thing I really notice out there is that it's more of an upper body workout than road cycling. Now that might be because I'm pushing the bike equivalent of a tank through the narrow trails. But Luton is a blast, tight turns, rock gardens, log piles, and on this day more than a few mud puddles. Watch for a full review of Luton Park coming soon on my Examiner page.

Sunday 6/29: The modified Western loop
I didn't get to ride on Friday or Saturday because I was busy with volunteering at a couple of events. So I was putting up tents and selling cupcakes instead of pedaling my bike. Today Mary went with me and we headed out for one of our favorite loops. We started by heading west through Belmont and then making the big climb up Post Drive. We continued westward along 9 Mile Road. This is a very pretty twisty little road that takes you out toward the northern Kent County apple orchards. Today our plan was to do a shorter version by riding up Division to 12 Mile and then heading home via the White Pine Trail. About a 25 mile route. However at 12 miles into the ride Mary's front tire exploded. She noticed that a bulge had developed on the tire so we stopped to see if I could do a field repair job. Before we could get off the road to a safe place to fix the tire the tube exploded and left a two inch long hole in the tire. Since we don't carry spare tires, I had to cut the route short and ride home to get the car to bring Mary and her bike back home. Mary ended up with 12 miles for the day and I was at 19.

I've now ridden 420 miles since the start of the season. Not great but we'll get there. I'd like to be between 1,200 and 1,500 miles when we head to Death Valley in October.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Death Valley Training

It was hot and windy this afternoon, perfect training for Death Valley. Just replace the trees with mountains and the grass with desert and this would have been just like DV. Since the winds were about 20 mph from the southwest I decided to ride south and west first so I could work hard at the start and use the wind to my advantage when I got tired. I took the White Pine Trail down to WhiteCaps BallPark. They were getting set up for tonight's Class A Baseball All-Star Game. Since I didn't have a ticket I rode past the park, through Comstock Park and then turned north and headed toward home. Going north was much easier. I had a pretty good average speed, 15.3 mph. The last few rides I've tracked have all had plus 15 mph averages. I think that means that I'm starting to get my fitness back. I'm glad for that. I felt really bad at the start of the season after having been off the bike for so long. Now I'm starting to feel like I'll be able to do this Death valley thing after all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Three different rides

I'm starting to rack up the miles. The past few days I've done three short rides which were each quite different.

On Saturday I was helping out Mary at Connie's Cakes. I decided to ride my bike home from the shop. It's only about 12 miles but you have to make your way through the city so it's not a real fast route. Plus I had eaten something for breakfast that didn't agree with me and that affected my performance. Plus it was really hot. Plus I had a flat tire. I rolled out all those excuses to explain why a 12 mile ride took me almost an hour and a half.

Near my parents house north of Lowell there is an old railroad bed that has been converted to the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail. It runs from Lowell to Greenville, but it's not a cycling trail yet. The ground is covered with sharp stones about the size of a child's fist. So it's a good trail to hike, not so good for mountain bikes. Mary and I gave it a try on Sunday. We only rode about a mile on the trail and then rode some dirt country roads. We got in a little over 6 miles. I'd love to try it with a fat bike.

Today I decided to do some speed training. I rode the White Pine Trail up to Rockford and back, a 15 mile round trip in just under an hour. That's a 15.5 mph average speed. That might not sound like much, but it's  my best speed so far this year. I felt like I was working pretty hard to maintain that speed, but I was able to maintain it, which I haven't been able to do yet this year. Every time I go it it seems like I get a little confidence back and a little skill returns.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day Ride

We have been spending Memorial Day weekend with our friends the Hayes' for 29 years. We've been camping, spent time in Chicago and Grand Rapids, and also at their cottage on Lake Paw Paw. The lake is near Watervliet in southwestern Michigan. It's a great place to ride bikes. Lots of fairly flat country roads that lead to quaint beach towns along Lake Michigan. This year's ride took us from the cottage, through blooming blueberry fields to the north side of Benton Harbor. We rode around a golf course that had just hosted a senior PGA event. The golf tournament finished Sunday and we didn't ride by until Monday. So the golfers and spectators were all gone, but the camera platform, fences, and grand stands were still there. It was an easy ride without all the golf commotion, but would have been interesting to ride through as well. On the way back to the cottage we had a bit of a tail wind which made the last of our 36 mile round trip a bit easier. It turned out being my longest ride of the year so far and gives me over 200 total miles. That's not a lot but with spring finally here I should be able to start getting more miles in,

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Going back to the valley

I am really looking forward to riding in Death Valley again this year. Don't get me wrong, the last two rides have been great. Lake Tahoe was probably the most beautiful bike ride I've ever been on and riding the Natchez Trace in Tennessee last year was a blast until I crashed. But there's just something about being in the desert that gets into your blood. Maybe it's because that was where my first JDRF ride was ten years ago. Maybe it's because of the adult summer camp vibe of the place. Maybe it's the stark beauty of an area that is so unlike Michigan. Whatever the reason I'm counting the days (and the miles) until I get to go back.

Ian, Mary and Tom before the 2011Ride in Death Valley.

Our last ride in DV was in 2011. It was very hot. In fact it was so hot that the organizers changed the route. Instead of riding 52 miles into the desert and climbing Jubilee Pass before turning around we rode out 25 miles and turned around. To get the full century you needed to complete the route twice. They didn't want anyone having a medical situation too far away from the starting line at Furnace Creek. That was good thinking. Some of the 350 people there completed the full 100 miles, but most took the weather advisories to heart and shortened their routes. Mary did 50 miles in 2011 and Ian an I did 73. One of the advantages of an out and back route is that at any point you're halfway done.

Nicole and Cliff get engaged during the 2011 ride.
But the heat and the changed route were not the most memorable part of the 2011 ride in Death Valley. That honor belongs to our team mates Cliff and Nicole for getting engaged at 25 miles into the ride. Cliff planned the whole thing out and let the team know so we were all there when he got down on one knee in the desert. Nicole cut a hole in her cycling glove so her new ring would show through. I don't know if 2014 will give us anything that exciting, but Death Valley has yet to let us leave without awe inspiring stories to bring back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A beautiful evening for a ride

It looks like the weather has FINALLY turned springlike. Mary and I took advantage of a warm May evening last night to do a little 17 mile ride. We rode out past Rockford High School and then on past Luton Park. We then took 10 Mile out to Young and that south to 9 Mile. We then turned south again on Blakely before turning west on 7 Mile and getting to finish our ride by going down 7 Mile hill. Mary commented that when we get in better shape we'll need to ride up that hill. She was actually doing quite well on the hill climbs last night. We had almost 650 feet of climbing along the route and she stayed with me for most of it. I'm looking forward to getting a lot of miules in over the next few weeks and months.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Best week so far this season

Yesterday felt great. Once I was done with the obligatory Mother's Day festivities; making breakfast for Mary, calling my Mom, and going to the in-laws; I headed out for my most difficult ride of the year. The funny thing is, I felt great doing it. 26 miles with almost 900 feet of climbing. Most of the routes I've done this year have been pretty flat and only one was longer. But I felt really good on the bike yesterday. Even with a very hilly course my average speed was 14.8 miles per hour. That's almost 2 mph better than I've been doing so far. It probably has something to do with starting to get back into shape (although I'm not there yet). Last Sunday we did a 30 mile team ride (see the post below). Then on Thursday Mary and I rode up to Rockford and got a  couple hot dogs at the Corner Bar. That was a 17 mile round trip. Then yesterday I rode 26 miles. That's a total of 73 miles in eight days. Not exactly record setting, but a pretty good total for this time of year.

Yesterday's route took me up Post Drive, which is a pretty significant climb near the start. Then I took 9 Mile Road out to Alpine Avenue and went north to near Sparta then turning east on 13 Mile Road. Every time I made a turn it seems like I was facing another climb. That's probably because until I got a couple of miles down 13 Mile I was going up. That was about the halfway point of the ride. After that there was only one more significant climb as I rolled into Rockford via Summit Avenue and then took the White Pine Trail home. The map of my route is on the left and you can click here for all the route details, if you're the sort of person who likes that kind of thing.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Another team ride, another mileage marker

JDRF team mates Chris and Tom discuss bike stuff.
It has been slow going for me this riding reason. Between injury recovery and pretty crappy weather I haven't put a lot of miles in yet. On Sunday we had a team ride that left from Ada Park and traveled to Saranac. This is a pretty flat route. The first half is the same route that the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club uses for their weekly time trials. There were 10 of us riding in the high winds yesterday and we finished with 30 miles under our tires. Thanks to the mostly westerly wind the ride out was very zippy, we probably averaged about 20 mph. However the way back, into the headwind, was considerably slower. Despite the wind, the 30 miles was the longest ride I've completed this year. I'm feeling better on the bike, but my mental state still isn't back to pre-crash confidence. That will come as I get in more, much needed, mileage.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Team Scheidel Ride #1

Easter Sunday was probably the nicest day we've had yet this year. Ian was home from college for the holiday, so he, Mary and I headed out on the White Pine Trail for our first family ride of the year. We wanted to avoid what we figured would be a very crowded trail up in Rockford, so we went south toward Whitecaps Ballpark. There were several people on the trail, but not too busy. Then we crossed the Grand River and rode into Riverside Park in northern Grand Rapids. Lots of walkers, strollers, skateboarders and dogs in the park. While these are all fine activities, they often don't mesh well with people riding bikes at 15+ mph. So after we got to the end of the park we turned back for home and took Monroe Street north. It was a bit dicey because of the rough winter which has created very rough roads around here. We finished with 17.5 miles, which gives me 60 miles total for the year. The progress is slow, but each ride is a little longer than the one before.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

First Ride of the Season

I'm back, baby!   - Bender, Futurama

After six months out of the saddle I finally got a chance to ride outdoors again. Monday was a gloriously warm early spring day. The sun was shining, the temperature topped 60 degrees, and I got out on the road for a 10 mile ride. Ten miles doesn't sound like much, but after crashing in September and breaking four ribs, then spending the better part of the fall and winter recuperating, ten miles was about all I could handle. I figured out that the six months off my bike was the longest I ever haven't ridden since I learned how to ride a bike. My fitness level is shot. It's going to be a long climb (pun intended) to get back in shape, but I'm really looking forward to the work. After I did my little ride down the White Pine Trail I felt great. My legs were a bit tired and I was perspiring more than I should have been on a flat, slow-ish ride, but I still felt great. Just being outdoors on my bike was fantastic. I'm very excited to start riding more often and getting ready for our October JDRF ride in Death Valley.

Thanks very much to Coach Mike and Berger over at Third Coast Cycles for fixing my bike. It needed some serious work after the crash and the guys made my bike ride like it was new.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Back to the Desert

Team Scheidel is heading back to Death Valley for the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes.

Last week we had the opportunity to register for this year's ride and we decided on Death Valley. We have a large contingent from West Michigan heading to the desert. In fact, 38 of the 300 riders in Death Valley will be from our team. We are really hitting some milestones this year. This will be the tenth year of the JDRF West Michigan team. It will also be my and Mary's tenth JDRF ride, our seventh in Death Valley. Ian will be doing his fifth JDRF ride and third in DV. It's hard to believe that this will be his fifth ride. He'll be 19 when this year's ride rolls out. He started doing this with us when he was 14. It's amazing how much he has grown and how fast he's gotten on a bike.

Finally, the West Michigan team has raised over 1.5 million dollars since 2005. If you'd like to contribute to this year's fundraising effort please click here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mid-winter cycling graphic

It's the middle of winter so there isn't a lot to talk about cycling-wise. So enjoy this bicycling graphic from Daily Infographic.