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.