Monday, November 2, 2015

Thank you to our donors

With the JDRF Ride season winding down and November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, this seemed like a good time to thank everyone who donated to our ride this year. The list below is probably not complete. For example, it doesn't show people who dropped cash into the donation jar at Jake's Music Festival. Remember though that we value each and every contribution. Every donation gets us one step closer to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. The people listed below helped us raise $9,000 this year. Thank you very much to each and every one.

Barbara Robinson
Thomas & Florence Scheidel
Christine Behrens
Paul & Brenda Schab
Chris Radford
Chris & Paula Briggs
Wayland Christian Reformed Church
Janet Englerth
Karen Klienheksel
Perrin Brewing Company
Jim & Susan Hayes
Michael & Nancy Walenta
Leo Isaguirre
Megan Bean
Tod More
Kim Summers
Amanda Schab
X-Cel Chemical Specialties Company
Stacy Woock
Daniel Dillion
David & Rebecca Behrens
David Pasciak
Mark & Maria Gillette
Michele & Dan Terpstra
Dennis & Kim Moline
Henry & Mary Wieten
Mary Ellen Koziol
Bill & Ginger Young
Mike & Jean Oele
Roy Dodman
Sue Helmer
Thinking of Kayla, Trevor and Vanessa
Joe & Mary Powell

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rain in the Valley

Last weekend the Death Valley version of the Ride to Cure Diabetes took place. Seven of the eleven JDRF rides I've done have been out there. I rode in LaCrosse this year, but 12 of our team mates were in DV. This year was unlike any other. They had rain. Lots of rain. In fact the LaCrosse ride was hotter and drier than Death Valley. Over a 10 day period Death Valley got as much rain as they normally get in three years. And the Ride to Cure Diabetes was right in the middle of that.

Clouds and puddles in Death Valley. Photo by Katie Clark. 
In a normal year the route heads out of the Furnace Creek Ranch and heads toward Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the world at 282 feet below sea level. After Badwater the route continues to the top of Jubilee Pass, which is 1,300 feet above sea level. The the riders all turn around and ride back to the ranch, finishing with 100 miles under their tires. This year however the road to Badwater was closed because of flooding. Flooding in the desert. We've hiked a few of the canyons in Death Valley and have seen the way the water carves our the rock. But we've hardly ever seen a cloud, much less any rain. The rain came down last weekend and the route had to be changed to roads that were mostly open.

As the riders exited Furnace Creek Ranch they turned left instead of the usual right and headed toward Stovepipe Wells. This took them by the sand dunes before they turned to ride to Scotty's Castle. Because of the weather the start of the ride was delayed and the route shortened. The full ride was only 70 miles. One of our riders wanted to go back out to get the full century, but the JDRF staff wasn't letting anyone back on the course once they finished. The weather was just too unpredictable. At one point the riders had to stop so a "mud plow" could scrap the mud and standing water off the road so the ride could continue. As soon as the road was cleared water started flowing over it again.

Last Saturday was not the typical Death Valley experience for the 300 riders who were there. But one thing was typical. The DV Ride raised $1,500,000 for diabetes research. A big thank you to all the riders and donors.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A beautiful day to ride

The problem with doing our big JDRF ride in August is that it lowers my motivation to do a lot of riding in September and October. If I was part of the group that will be riding in Death Valley this coming weekend I'd be training heavily. Since we got back from LaCrosse I've only been on my bike a few times (and I've posted here even less). Today it was just too nice not to be out on my bike. 73 and sunny in October is not to be missed. I planned on doing about 20 miles. As I started north on the White Pine Trail I really didn't have a route in mind. I passed through Rockford, carefully avoiding the seemingly thousands of people also out enjoying the sunshine. I decided to ride up to Indian Lakes Road and turn west. This meant travelling directly into a very strong wind. No problem since I would soon be turning south. I turned on Edgerton Road and realized I was riding one of my favorite loops backwards. I also noticed that the wind had shifted to the south. Again, no problem because this route has lots of turns and hills that should block the wind. Nope. Once I got off the WPT I pretty much had a headwind until I got to the home stretch. As I made my way through the loop to House Drive my odometer rolled to 20 miles and I was still at least five miles from home. Once again no problem, because after I climbed up to Pine Island Drive the rest of the route was downhill or flat. I ended up with 26 miles. That gives me 998 miles for the year. A fairly low total but if the weather stays like this I'm sure I'll be able to break 1,000.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mountain biking in the wilderness

Nurnberg Lake in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness
This past Sunday Mary and I went north to one of our favorite places in the world. We camped at the Lake Michigan Recreation Area, halfway between Ludington and Manistee and right next to the Nordhouse Dunes National Wilderness. We brought our mountain bikes and went riding along the old fire trails and dirt roads. It wasn't particularly strenuous but it was interesting, especially when we rode past a guy that was sighting in his rifle.

One of the spots I've always wanted to see up here in Nurnberg Lake. It's more like a large pond, but the only way to get to it is either by hiking or mountain bike. The lake is at the end of the wilderness area. If you go a couple hundred yards farther south you are in Ludington State Park. We parked our bikes along the shore of the lake and then walked along the "beach". The water level was very low, which is surprising since the Lake Michigan level is very high. After a few moments of sitting in the sun we got back on our bikes and returned to our campsite, ending up with 13.5 miles of riding.

Sunset on Lake Michigan
We finished the day by watching the sunset, having a delightful dinner of Dinty Moore beef stew, and caught an incredible sky show once it got dark. The moon had not risen and there is very little light pollution up there. We were able to lay out on the beach and gaze at the Milky Way and millions of stars. The most amazing thing was that the stars were so bright we could see a little bit, even without the moon. It was a great ending to a great day.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ride number 11 is in the books

Eleven years ago I was serving on the board of the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Our Executive Director came into a board meeting that spring and said "I'm riding for a cure in Death Valley in October. Who's going to do it with me?" And with that the West Michigan Team started. Last Saturday I did my eleventh ride for JDRF, this time in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

The official West Michigan team photo

West Michigan was well represented at the LaCrosse ride. There were 430 total riders and 43 of them were from our team. Most of us arrived on Thursday evening and got acclimated to the area. Our hotel was right along the Mississippi River and on Thursday night we were treated to a huge paddle wheel riverboat docked right outside our window.

The American Queen docked right outside our hotel.
Friday morning was the Rules of the Road meeting. This was much less intense than the meetings in Death Valley. I don't think they mentioned that you could die even once. After the meeting we did a little tune-up ride on a very nice bike path in downtown LaCrosse. A few of us also decided to ride across the bridge over the Mississippi that we would take on the official route Saturday morning. After the ride we changed and went up to the top of Granddad Bluff. This park offers a great view of the city and the surrounding valley. The Mississippi is not only an extremely long river, it's also very wide. In this part of Wisconsin the valley walls are studded with rock outcropping, very unlike you're typical upper Midwest topography. By the way, it was in the 90's on Friday afternoon. We took note of that in our planning for Saturday.

The view from Granddad Bluff of the bridge over the Mississippi.
Friday night we have the big pasta "carb-up" dinner and then the  West Michigan Team gets together to decorate our helmets. We discovered during our first JDRF ride in 2005 that when hundreds of cyclists are wearing the same jersey, black shorts and sunglasses its kind of hard to pick out your teammates on the road. So we starting adding matching sparkly decorations to our helmets to make ourselves more visible to each other. After we decorate we spend some time talking about why we do the ride. The stories are always inspiring, from the brand new cyclists on their first JDRF ride to the veterans that have been here since the beginning. We joke, we laugh, and even shed a few tears. Then it's to bed, because sunrise comes early.

Coach Kaat and Mary with their well decorated helmets.
As the sun came up Saturday morning over 400 JDRF riders were assembled along the banks of the Mississippi River. We rolled out in waves and headed for the bridge across the river. Once we crossed the Missisippi we were in Minnesota heading south toward Iowa. The irony of the Wisconsin ride is that the only part of the route that is in that state is the start and finish line. The route itself was relatively flat for a JDRF ride, with one notable exception. As you ride, the Mississippi is on your left and the hills and bluffs are to your right. Shortly after getting into Iowa we prepare for the "loop". This is a 20 mile stretch of road that serves to turn the riders back north. It starts with a three mile climb. It's not as steep or as long as the Jubilee Pass climb in Death Valley, but temperatures were getting to be Death Valley like. When we started climbing it was in the low 90's and the humidity was about six times what it is in DV. At times it felt like you were breathing hot soup. After the climb there was a series of rollers that got progressively higher. Then we made a right turn and were suddenly heading downhill at almost 40 miles per hour. All that elevation we gained was going away quickly and it was a blast.

Ian riding somewhere in Minnesota.
We had a plan when we started the ride. Go out quickly while it was cool, spend minimal time at the break points and get to the climb before the cut off time. We did all of that and then put the second half of the plan into place for the ride back. Slow down in the heat, use a pace line and cool down at the break points. This all went according to plan as well and we rolled back into LaCrosse with 16 members of the West Michigan Team. Mary and I both completed a full century. Ian wasn't feeling well but still rode 60 miles. Crossing the finish line and hearing all the cheers of the families, volunteers and our fellow riders was exhilarating.

Part of our paceline that eventually numbered 16 riders.
I also felt quite honored this year. The JDRF organization created a special jersey for everyone that had ridden in 10 rides or more. Mary and I, along with six of our teammates, received these jerseys. I don't know for sure, but I think we had more 10 ride jerseys than any other team at LaCrosse. We did some other amazing things as a team. Seven of our members completed their first century rides. We had five junior (under 18 years old) riders. Most importantly, we were part of a ride that raised $1,430,000 towards diabetes research.

10 ride jersey winners. Steve Clark, Mike Clark, Katie Clark, Derek Dykstra, Mary Scheidel, John Jasker, Tom Scheidel. Inset; Cindy Aley.
Thank you to everyone that has contributed and supported us, not just this year, but for the past 11 years. Our commitment is to keep riding until there is a cure for Type 1 diabetes. After a weekend like this we know the cure will be here soon.

Team Scheidel, Tom, Ian and Mary, riding to cure diabetes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Team Scheidel is ready to roll

We had our final pre-LaCrosse team ride yesterday. Mary, Ian and I rode 24 very pleasant miles in the Fruit Ridge area of Kent County with several members of the West Michigan team. According to Map My Ride our average speed was 15.3 mph. Considering that it was a group ride with some rolling hills that is a pretty peppy pace. While I'd like to have more miles in  by now (I'm only a little over 700) I do feel ready for the LaCrosse ride. Yesterday the group rode well together and I was feeling strong.

We leave Thursday morning for Wisconsin. We'll have dinner with the 400 other JDRF riders in attendance. On Friday morning there will be a Rules of the Road meeting and a short tune-up ride. Friday evening is the pre-ride dinner which is always very inspiring. Then at sun-up on Saturday morning we take the first pedal stroke of our 100 mile journey. Approximately 8 hours later we'll be done and a little bit closer to a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Ian, Mary and Tom are ready to ride in LaCrosse.
Thank you very much to everyone who has donated so far. We could still use a few more contributions before we head out. So if you are so inclined please click on one of the "Donate to..." links on the left side of this page. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Longest ride of the year

On Sunday evening a big storm blew across west Michigan knocking down trees and knocking out power. We didn't lose any tree but we did lose power for about 6 hours. Luckily we had done our team ride earlier in the day, so even though it was windy we didn't get caught in the storm. Did I say it was windy? That might be the understatement of the summer. 20 mph sustained winds from the west, and the south, and occasionally the north, with stronger gusts. It was also very warm Sunday, with the thermometer hitting 90 degrees. And we rode 71 miles with 2,300 feet of climbing. It was a day to test one's metal.

The route left from Spring Grove Park in Jamestown. The ride was split into two loops. The first 30 mile started at 8:00 a.m. and the second 40 mile loop started at 11:00 a.m. Since my longest ride to this point was only 45 miles I decided to do both loops. The wind was blowing as we started, but thankfully most of the route ran north and south. So you would think a cross wind wouldn't be as bad as a head wind. You would be wrong. It was very difficult to hold a line when fighting an intense cross wind. It felt like I was having mechanical problems with my bike. But it was just the wind.

After we finished the 30 mile loop Mary joined us for the second loop. This one was also mostly north and south but still pretty difficult. In fact the winds kept getting stronger all day. In the evening we would know why. Between the hills and the wind our 12 person group got pretty stretched out on the Ottawa and Allegan county roadways. But we managed to get back together at stop signs and finished at roughly the same time.

It is now only 11 days until we ride in LaCrosse. I rode 75 miles last week and 71 on Sunday alone. While I don't feel in my best cycling shape ever, I think I'm good for the LaCrosse ride.

Remember, this is a fundraiser to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Please click on one of the "Donate to" links on the left side of the page and follow the easy directions. Thank you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Three weeks and counting

It's actually 2 weeks and 5 days until we participate in the LaCrosse Ride to Cure Diabetes. This is only the second time in 11 years that we've done the ride in August. Usually it's in September or October. That's a month or two more training and fundraising. With our wet spring it feels like we've just gotten training underway and we have to do the ride in just a few weeks.

I got my longest ride of the year in on Sunday. It was a team ride from Millennium Park in Grand Rapids out to Spring Lake and back. A majority of the team put in a little over 60 miles. I had a time issue so I rode 44 miles. The first half, while I was riding with the team, was a blast. It wasn't too hot yet and we we're blasting along at 18 to 20 mph. However, then I turned around and headed back on my own. No one to draft on, wind in my face, and rising temperatures. My average on the way back was more in the 13-15 mph range.

Below is a short video of some of the team riding through Ottawa County on Sunday. Notice our very safe and legal two abreast riding.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 in a Row

Last week we didn't get a chance to ride at all. I was in Nashville for a conference and Mary came along. Regular readers may remember that the last time we were in Nashville was for the 2013 JDRF Ride for a Cure and that I crashed at the half way point and broke four ribs. This trip caused no injuries. We had wanted to go kayaking after the conference but the river levels were too high.
Hiking trail at Mammoth Cave National Park
So we did some hiking instead. We hiked in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Clifty Falls State Park in southern Indiana.

This week I've been trying to make up for lost time. I rode three days in a row. Sunday was just a short 4 mile ride on my mountain bike around the neighborhood. On Monday Mary and I rode the White Pine Trail up to Rockford and back for a little over 15 miles. Then on Tuesday I did a solo ride on one of my favorite loops. I went west out Post Drive and followed Edgerton north. This is a twisty, turny, hilly little road. A little pot holed this year, but that just hones the bike handling skills. I came back east on 13 Mile and then went south on Courtland before riding past Rockford High School on my way home. You can see the entire 22 mile route by clicking here. That route had 920 feet of elevation gain, which would work out to around 4,000 feet of climbing on a century ride.

The LaCrosse ride is three weeks from Saturday. I'm a little nervous that I don't have as many miles in as I'd like. My longest ride so far this year is only 38 miles. Although I do still have a couple more weeks to train and they tell me the LaCrosse route is "relatively flat". Of course I've learned never to believe a cyclist who tells you the route is flat.

"When cycling you never have a tailwind. It's either a headwind or a great day to ride." 
-unknown cyclist

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Big Week

We got a lot of riding in during the last week. Mary and I rode Monday, Wednesday, Friday and today. Monday was 20 miles and Wednesday was almost 15. On Friday we did separate rides. Mary rode 93 miles with team mates Linda and Cindy. They rode from Byron Center to Sand Lake and back via Kent Trails and the White Pine Trail. I did a solo ride of only 38 miles, so we can see who the stronger rider is in our family. My ride went west out 9 Mile Road and then north into Sparta before taking the WPT home. Today we did a team ride in Holland. We went north from the north side of Lake Macatawa and basically rode between US-31 and the lake shore. I could share the names of the roads, but I threw away the tip sheet. It was a fairly easy 32 miles, mostly flat, so we kept up a pretty good pace.

So when we add up the four days of riding this week I finished with 105 miles. Mary, thanks to her near century on Friday, ended up with 170 miles. Regular riding adds up to big miles. Which is good, since we are 6 weeks away from our JDRF Ride in LaCrosse.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Return of Wine Wednesday

We had our first Wine Wednesday ride of the year last night. Traditionally we ride an easy 15 miles and then have wine on our patio afterwards. It's more of a social event than a training ride. Last night was a bit different. Since we have new team jerseys courtesy of Perrin Brewing we decided to ride up to the brewey and show off our new gear. While we were there we ran into new team mates Scott and Pam who were at the tap room after a golf outing. We had beer and snack before heading back to the house.

Top photo: Cindy, Linda, Scott, Heather and Pam. Bottom photo: Tom, Mary and Tom.
I took us on kind of a twisty route as it was eight and a half miles to get there and only six miles to get back. Once we returned home the weather had cooled noticeably, so I started a fire and we sat around the patio having our traditional wine and snacks. A great way to kick off the 4th of July weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Urban Riding

Tonight I headed south on the White Pine Trail without a real plan on where or how far I was going to ride. When I got to the ball park I decided to cross the river and head through Riverside Park. Much to my surprise I found a new, paved, marked, two way bike lane trucked between the park and and North Monroe. I decided to see how far this new bike lane went. As I neared the south end of the park the bike lane split to a single lane on each side of the road. I continued following as this area has had sporadic lane markings in the past. Now I was able to get all the way to the 6th Street bridge and the bike lane continued on. But I needed to turn back for home. So I crossed the river and followed the bike lane that runs along Seward Street. The roadway lane ends, but it then becomes a paved path which takes the rider north to Ann Street. At this point there are several directional signs pointing to the White Pine Trail. I followed these and ended up back at the south end of Riverside Park. This time I traveled along the path near the river, crossed the Grand river again on North Park Street, and then hooked up with the south end of the WPT. The entire trip was 22 miles. The great part is that I can now ride from my house to downtown Grand Rapids on bike trails or marked bike lanes the entire way. All the talk about being a bike friendly city appears to be coming true.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

The best part of Father's Day was hearing from all three of my children, plus Colleen is home from D.C. for a few days, and we went out to visit my Dad in Lowell. We started the day with a 33 mile team ride. We left from team mate Mike Barnes house in Jenison. We traveled through little towns of eastern Ottawa County. I know they were towns because they had green road signs announcing their names. They was no other way to tell. The ride itself was good except for Mary getting three flats, two before we started, and having a tire almost explode. We were about 22 miles into the ride and were taking a quick break to get reassembled. Mary looked down at her front tire and said "Should my tire have a little bubble on the side like that?" She had a cut in the sidewall of her tire and the tube was starting to poke through. A quick field fix with an empty GU wrapper (thanks Coaches Mike and Derek) and she was good to go again. We finished the cycling part of the day with burgers on the grill on a beautiful Summer Solstice.

Mary and I also got out for a ride on Thursday, just 21 miles on the White Pine Trail through Rockford up to Russel Road. That's 54 miles for this weekend. After a couple weeks of very little riding because of work and weather it feels good to be getting some miles in.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A good week of riding

I got out three times this week on three very different rides. On Monday, which just happened to be Memorial Day, Mary and I went for a ride around Lake Paw Paw with Elvin and Susan Hayes. They have a cottage there and we have a tradition of getting together with them on Memorial Day weekend. 2105 marked our 30th consecutive get-together. Orignally we went camping, but for the last ten years we've mostly been to their cottage. The ride around the lake was 15 pretty flat miles at a leisurely pace. A really good holiday weekend type of ride.

On Friday morning I went out for a solo training ride. I did a sprint ride up to Rockford and back along the White Pine Trail. It was just put my head down a hammer for 15 miles.

Today we had a team ride from Sarah Andro's house in Ada. It was cold, windy, cloudy and quite hilly. We started by following the time trial route along Grand River Drive. Normally this wouldn't have been very difficult, but today there was a very stiff wind out of the east. If we were doing the time trial the wind would have been okay, because then we would have had a tailwind on the way back. But instead of turning around we turned right and climbed up to 36th Street. Heading back along that road brought us many hills. Nothing horrible, but a bit like a roller coaster, consistently up and down. We finished with 27 miles which gives me 57 for the week and 251 for the season.

Linda and Mary showing off the new West Michigan team jersey.

We also got our new team jerseys this week. Thanks to jersey sponsor Perrin Brewing Company and designer Terry VandenAkker. If you really like them (we do) you can get your own at the Perrin Brewing tap room in Comstock Park. The jerseys are made by Primal and $5 of each purchase is donated to JDRF.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tour de Taco

Once the riding season starts we have a team ride every two weeks. Because our team is spread out all over the western half of the lower peninsula (plus parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana) we move the team ride locations around. This past Sunday we started from Coach Mike Clark's house. This ride is affectionately known as the Tour de Taco because Mike fixes up a whole mess 'o tacos when we are done. Everyone brings a dish to pass, keeping with the theme where possible. It's good eats after a good ride.

This particular Sunday we had options of 22, 28 and 39 miles to choose from. Mary and I opted for the 38 mile route, making this our longest ride of the year so far. The route started in Holland, went south through Saugatuck/Douglas, west toward Fennville and then finally north back to the start. It was a very windy day. Luckily we had a large group and by keeping to a tight pace line we were acheiving pretty decent speeds. Until we turned north to head home. Then, glory of glories, we recieved the best gift a cyclist can get at the end of a ride - a tail wind. For the last 10 miles we had a pretty steady breeze blowing up our back sides. Our average speed went from around 15 to over 20 mph. There was a one mile split that clocked in at 23 mph. I believe Mary was on the front at that point. When we rolled through the little village of Graafshap it was a slight downhill with the wind at our backs. I stopped pedaling and coasted for several blocks at 21 mph. That was fun.

The JDRF West Michigan Ride Team assembles for the annual Tour de Taco ride.
This year we are riding in LaCrosse in mid August. Two months sooner than our usual Death Valley ride. That means two months less fund raising, so if you'd like to send a donation - now would be a good time. Just click on one of the "Donate to..." links on the left side of this page. Thanks.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth be with you

The overused Star Wars joke in the title has nothing to do with this post, it was just an opportunity to let my inner geek out for a stroll. The real reason for this post is that Mary and I got out for a little 13 mile tonight. She also rode 29 miles with the JDRF team yesterday and I got 14 miles in on Saturday evening. That gives me 110 miles for the year so far. Not a lot, but the weather is improving daily, so I see big miles in our future.

For some reason I missed posting in the entire month of April. The big news from last month is that we held Jake's Music Festival on April 11 and raised $5,000. I also rode a little bit. There will be more posts going forward. I promise.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Start of the Season

Apparently I haven't posted to this blog in 3 months. That changes today - for today I rode outside for the first time this year. The temperature topped 60 degrees and I got out for a 15 mile ride on the White Pine Trail. I have ridden the trainer a few times over the winter, but I hate it and don't do it very frequently. So it was great to get outdoors and get some real riding in. However I could tell that it has been a long winter and my cycling fitness is very low. But that will improve as the weather does. Of course we live in Michigan so we could have a blizzard in the next 24 hours.

Check out the Training Tracker over on the left. I will update this as the season goes along as I train for the JDRF ride in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. This year our West Michigan team is headed for the western edge of Wisconsin in August. The ride will be 100 miles, travel through three states and cross the mighty Mississippi River twice. Not exactly Death Valley like conditions, but anyone who has ever spent August in the Midwest knows that the humidity can be stifling.Which would you rather ride in - 100 degrees with 10% humidity or 85 degrees with 85% humidity? A new challenge for a new ride season.