Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bye-bye 2016

The last day of the year seems like a good time to look back and reflect on what the past ride season has brought us. Personally I rode over 1,200 miles. In looking at past years, that's about my non-injury average. This year many of those miles came in one of the three tours I participated in; the Holland Hundred, the Grand Rapids ADA Tour de Cure, and the JDRF Ride for a Cure at Amelia Island. Three tours is the most I've done in several years, so I feel good about that.

Crossing the finish line at Amelia Island.
Participating in the JDRF Amelia Island was great because we set a couple of records. It was the largest JDRF ride ever with 750 riders. It was also the largest peer-to-peer fundraiser JDRF has ever done, raising $3,000,000. That's a chunk of change that will help the doctors and scientists find a cure to Type 1 diabetes even sooner.

This was our 12th year taking part in the JDRF Ride program. When we started Mary was riding a comfort bike and I was on an old (which I still ride) mountain bike. We thought we could do 100 miles on those bikes, even though a 12 mile training ride wiped us out. But a summer of training, an upgrade to road bikes, and the support of Coach Mike Clark and our other teammates helped us accomplish our initial goal. We both completed our first century ride on our first JDRF ride in Death Valley. That was 2005. Where we have come since then is amazing.

We've both ridden thousands and thousands of miles. We taken part in rides all over the country, in places like Lake Tahoe, Vermont, Nashville, and Florida, not to mention seven trips to Death Valley. We've met great people and forged bonds that will last a lifetime. Most importantly we've raised a heck of a lot of money for JDRF. Since we started doing the ride, our family has raised approximately $115,000. Our West Michigan team has raised close to two million dollars.

We sincerely thank everyone who has supported us over the years. We aren't done yet, but one day soon we will take part in the last JDRF Ride for a Cure, because a cure will have been found. And what a finish line celebration that will be.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ride to Cure Diabetes - Amelia Island

We've now done this for 12 years in a row. By this, I mean participating in a destination ride with the purpose of raising money to help fund research into a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Last weekend this adventure took us to Amelia Island in Florida. It was a great location, a great route, and even greater people.

The West Michigan Ride Team - Amelia Island Squad
There were 700 riders from across the country at the Amelia Island ride. Our West Michigan team was represented by 46 riders and about a dozen additional volunteers. Mary and I and a few of our team mates arrived about noon on Thursday. This gave us an opportunity to check out the hotel, which was situated right on the beach and featured a very nice pool area with hot tubs and a restaurant with a gorgeous view. As other people arrived we talked, swam, and caught up with JDRF friends we hadn't seen since last year. Thursday night dinner was good and big. With all the riders, staff and volunteers, there were 1,000 people in the ballroom.

Friday started with breakfast and a research update. It is amazing to see the advances that are being made because of the money raised by JDRF. Next was the "rule of the road" meeting and a quick tune up ride. It was quick for two reasons. First, we are just testing the bikes to make sure everything worked okay after the transport from Michigan to Florida. We'll get plenty of miles in on Saturday. Second, half the team was heading out for a guided kayak tour on the ocean and we needed to be to the put-in by noon.

At every JDRF ride they give us Friday afternoon off to explore the area. We've taken advantage of that on various trips by hiking in Death Valley, kayaking in Tennessee, and scrambling up the side of a mountain in Lake Tahoe. This kayak trip took us across the Intercoastal Waterway to Cumberland Island in Georgia. That's right, before we did a 100 mile bike ride we kayaked to another state. Sea kayaking is very different that the rivers we've been on in the past. While we didn't see any dolphins or manatees or sharks in the water, we did see wild horses, starfish, sand dollars, and all kinds of sea shells. Cumberland Island was beautiful and well worth the trip.

At dinner on Friday night they award jerseys to the top recruiter and fundraisers. Out of the 64 chapters represented at this ride, the West Michigan chapter was the #5 fund raiser. The ride in total brought in $3,000,000 - making this the largest ride ever, both in terms of number of riders and money raised.

Official JDRF Ride photo of the author.
Saturday was Ride Day. We've been training for this since April and now it's here. Even though I've done this 12 times, it's always a bit surreal to finally be at the starting line. The adrenaline is pumping. Everyone is taking photos. There's talking and laughing and crying. We're all waiting for the sun to come up so we can get started on a ride that is going to consume us for the next eight hours.

The course was interesting. One of the coaches said the challenge was creating a 100 mile long route on a 15 mile long island. We started by heading north to Clinch State Park. (Side note: that's where our kayak trip left from on Friday.) We worked our way over to the town of Fernandina Beach, where we were stopped by a train. That was a JDRF first. After some quick thinking by the coaches, we rerouted around the train and got back on the course.

Next we went over a big, busy bridge. It was the biggest climb of the day. We were in Florida after all. At first we thought a flat route would be easy. The problem with that type of route is you always have to be pedaling. With no downhills you never have the opportunity to just coast. However, we rode in a pace line of 8 to 15 people all day. If you weren't on the front you could soft pedal a little from time to time. But generally, we were always pedaling.

Speaking of pace lines, we rode with a great group. With 46 people on our team there is a wide variety of talent levels. After training together all year we kind of know who rides the same speed. So quickly after the start of the ride our team breaks up into six to eight smaller groups. Our group kept a pretty good pace all day. At one point before the second rest stop I was on thr front and someone behind me mentioned there were a lot of people behind us. I figured she meant the dozen or so of our team. When we rolled into the rest stop I found out our line had 50 riders in it.

The half way point rest stop was back at the start/finish line. This made it easy for people who were doing a 50 mile route. To get the full century we needed to ride south along the coast for about 13 miles, turn around at the rest stop and ride back to the start/finish/rest stop. Now we had 75 miles in and quite a few folks decided that their day was done. The rest of us headed back out on the same southern route to the same rest stop and then turned around and rode to the finish. So the entire route consisted of a 50 mile loop followed by two out and back legs on the same road. Like I said earlier - interesting.

Tom and Mary. Safe, sound and smiling for 12 years in a row.
We rolled across the finish line with our group of a dozen West Michigan riders. The scene was incredible. All of our team mates who had already finished were there, along with dozens of riders of other teams. They were yelling and applauding, giving high fives and hugs. Volunteers put medals around our necks and we had a celebratory beer. It was a great ending to a great day. And, most importantly, we helped raise millions of dollars to fund a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Thank to everyone who contributed to the cause. Because of you we are closer to the cure.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Last Team Ride before Amelia Island

It was a little soggy yesterday. All right, it was down right wet outside. It rained hard most of the night and morning, but by 10:00 a.m. the rain seemed to have stopped. We were hosting the final team ride before the JDRF Amelia Island Ride at our house. We had a 11:00 roll out time and things were looking good. 15 people showed up and we decided to do the sorter loop of 34 miles. (There was also a 45 mile option that get nixed because of the weather.) This is a really fun loop. We head out over the Rouge River, do a few short climbs before heading up Post Drive and then taking 9 Mile Road out to the apple orchards in Alpine Township. All was going according to plan. There was a little spray coming off the wet pavement, but the temperature was in the mid-60's, so we were good. And then...

Riding in northwestern Kent County on a sloppy day.
Then it started to rain, lightly at first, but getting harder as we rode. When we got to Sparta, the halfway point in the ride, we were drenched. Since we were as far north and west as the route was taking us there was also no way to shorten it. We were in for the whole 34 wet miles. We worked our way east on 12 Mile Road and hooked up with the White Pine Trail to travel home. About three miles from the finish the rain let up (of course). As we got into the house people were peeling off layers of soaked riding clothes. It was like a big locker room for awhile as we all put on dry clothes and then ate many snacks. Being the last ride of the season we were tasked with emptying the team snack box.

I also rode on Saturday. Just a quick 22 mile solo ride south on the WPT to Grand Rapids and back. I was concerned that we might get rained out on Sunday and I wanted to be sure I got another ride in. Our bikes leave for Amelia Island on Thursday and our bodies leave the following Thursday. Then on October 29, we mount up with 750 other cyclists for the largest JDRF ride ever. I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sometimes we ride just for fun

Sometimes we ride for fun, and sometimes we ride to train (which can also be fun).

Tom, Mary and LTP sporting fun glasses at the start of the Glow Ride.
On Friday night we had a strictly fun ride. Organized by the She Rides Her Own Way group, the Glow Ride left from Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids at sunset and traveled about 5 miles in a slow roll through the city. About 50 people participated and everyone had their bikes festooned with lights. When we've taken part in these types of rides in the past we've been frustrated by the pace. This time we brought our mountain bikes, but lights all over them, and just had a good time. Fellow JDRF rider Linda joined Mary and I and brought light-up glasses for us. Quite a few people commented on them. There was lots of friendly banter and some cool looking bicycle decorations. After the ride we had dinner at the Grand Rapids Brewing Company. A pretty fun night.

Mary leads a group on Sunday's team ride.
Sunday brought us a team training ride on a chilly, but sunny, morning. We left from a park along the Grand River near Lamont and rode to Spring Lake. It was a 35 mile, fairly flat, route. We stayed in a pace line most of the way and had an average speed of almost 15 miles an hour.  It was good to be out with the team, but it couldn't have been more different from the Friday night ride.

I've noticed that cyclists come in various levels of seriousness about the sport. On our JDRF team there are some very serious riders. Even those who are more into the social aspects of the team make sure to ride predictably, call out hazards and follow the rules of the road. On Friday's ride people were all over the place, some didn't wear helmets, and a few were jumping curbs and dodging in and out of the group. Not that there's anything wrong with this behavior, it's just such a radical difference from what we do as a team. I suppose that is pretty true of most sports. The people who are training for a competition or an event will be more focused than those who just participate for the fun of it.

I remember when I used to play a lot of basketball. We'd be having some good competitive games and then there would be a couple of guys who were just goofing around. This was very frustrating to me. I have always been quite competitive and if we were on the court the object was to win. I didn't like playing just "for the fun of it". As I've aged and gotten into cycling I've noticed that I'm not as competitive anymore. (Although my wife might argue that point.) I like riding with the team and doing things the "correct" way. But I don't need to race. I don't need to win. I don't need to lead. I enjoy just being a member of the team. I think that means I'm finally maturing.

19 days until the JDRF ride at Amelia Island.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

By the Numbers

1,000 - the number of miles Tom has ridden this year
36 - the number of miles Tom rode on Monday
12 - the number of miles Mary rode today
4,166 - dollars raised by Mary
834 - dollars needed by Mary to make her goal (click here to donate)
4,439 - dollars raised by Tom
561 - dollars needed by Tom to make his goal (click here to donate)
21 - days until we leave for Amelia Island
23 - days until our 12th JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes
1 - as in Type 1, the thing we are going to cure

Thursday, September 22, 2016

100 Mile Week

Mary at the rapidly shrinking Nordhouse Lake.
It was 107 miles actually. Last week was a good week of riding. Started Sunday by doing 69 miles in the ADA Tour de Cure. On Tuesday I did a quick 15 mile ride south on the White Pine Trail. Then on Saturday it was 23 mile ride north on the White Pine Trail. The two WPT rides were solo outings.

This week has been lighter in the number of miles. On Sunday Mary and I went mountain biking in the Nordhouse Dunes area. Great trails and old fire roads. We found our way back to a little lake that was much littler than it was last year. Last year the water level was low, this year it's maybe a quarter of it's previous size. This time next year it might be a meadow. We rode a total of 15 miles and then spent the rest of the day relaxing on the shore of lake Michigan.

Today marks five weeks until we leave for the JDRF ride on Amelia Island. If you have already donated - thank you very much. If you'd still like to donate you can do so by clicking here for Tom or here for Mary. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Riding to Cure Diabetes

On Sunday the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation cycling team took part in a ride organized by the American Diabetes Foundation. The ADA ride started from downtown Grand Rapids and incorporated their walk. (Side note: The JDRF Walk had been the day before on the opposite side of the Grand River.) The ADA organizers invited our JDRF team to take place in their ride. It was their first ride in this format and I think they were trying to build their numbers. Also, both groups are working to raise money and awareness around diabetes. So it's all good.

It was a beautiful day to ride, cool in the morning, warn in the afternoon, sunny, and no wind. We started in the shadow of the Calder sculpture. The route took us across the Grand River and toward Millennium Park. The important word in that sentence is "toward". I was on the lead and I thought we were riding "to" Millennium Park. This got us off route about 5 miles into the ride. Luckily we were paralleling the correct route so our detour only added two miles to the overall distance. Later in the day we (I) also missed another road mark and ended up taking the long way around to the second rest stop. I told everyone to stop following me.

We rode all the way to the Hudsonville/Zeeland area. It was a relatively flat ride, only 1,200 feet of climbing and most of that was on two climbs. The route was supposed to a metric century (62 miles) but was actually 67 miles. Or the way our team did it 69.5 miles. We had a good time and it was good to support our sister diabetes organization.

46 days until we ride at Amelia Island.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor Day Ride Weekend

Part of the West Michigan Team rolling through Hudsonville.
Three days, three rides. While I didn't necessarily get a lot of miles in over the long holiday weekend I did ride three times. On Saturday we had a team ride in Hudsonville. Because of the holiday we only had 10 people show up for the ride. Most of the group did the 32 mile loop. Two of us took the shorter option of 25 miles. However the shortcut also had the biggest hill on the route. So we had that going for us.

Mary and I went down to the Hayes cottage on Paw Paw Lake on Saturday evening to spend the rest of the weekend. Instead of doing just one 30+ mile ride like we usually do down there, we opted to do a shorter ride both Sunday and Monday. On Monday we started around the lake in a counterclockwise direction, then rode past Little Paw Paw Lake before heading farther west toward the big lake.We rode back through Coloma and finished with an easy 17 miles.

On Monday we rode clockwise around the lake, taking side trips down lots of dead-end roads to check out some very nice cottages. It was a very leisurely ride and we ended up with 13 pleasant miles. The weather on all three days was absolutely perfect for bicycling. Warm, but not hot temperatures, sunny skies, and very little wind. In all I rode 55 miles over the weekend. We also did some boating and had some great food and drink. Another successful summer holiday.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hope, Han, and a Red Cup

The cryptic title of this post will be explained at the end, see if you can figure it out before then. I got out to ride three times this week. On Sunday I took the White Pine Trail south and rode through the west side of Grand Rapids to the start of Kent Trails. I then rode that to Millennium Park. The park is in the midst of a major expansion. They are adding another pavilion, more parking and a few more miles of paved trails. I rode some of the new trails and ended up riding all the way along the outside of the park. On the way back north I rode the trail that goes through the former Butterworth dump. The area is very clean now, but there are no buildings and the path/road is a bit overgrown. It was a bit like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. I then rode through downtown Grand Rapids before hooking back up with the WPT and heading home. I also posted one of my best speeds of the year. 17.6 MPH for 36 miles.

On Wednesday I went out to ride some hills. I started by heading up Post Drive. There are two nice loops I can do by starting this way. One turns east on House and follows 131 north. Lots of twists and turns and dips on that route. I went west on 9 Mile this time and did a 23 mile loop that went north on Division, back east on 13 Mile, and then south on the WPT to home. 13 Mile has a couple of pretty significant climbs. A little over 800 feet of climbing on that route.

This morning I got out for a quick 14 miles before the tornado blew in. (Yes, we had a tornado touch down near Grand Rapids this afternoon.) I did one of my favorite quick loops. I rode past Rockford High School, out to Kies Road and past Luton Park, then south on Myers Lake Rd, west on 9 Mile and finish by going down 7 Mile hill. I hit 41 MPH on that downhill today. That ride gave me 73 miles for this week and 695 miles for the year.

So did you figure out the title of this post yet? All three of my rides this week were solo rides. Hope Solo is the goalie of the US National Women's Soccer Team. Han Solo is from Star Wars. The Red Cups we all use at parties are made by the Solo company.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ODRAM plus more

The One Day Ride Across Michigan: ODRAM is a major cycle event that benefits JDRF. ODRAM took place this past Saturday with riders starting in Montague and traveling 150 miles to Bay City. I've been on the organizing team for this event since 2010 but I've never done the ride. It's very difficult to work an event and also be a participant. Saturday was a pretty crappy day to ride. It started with monsoon like rains. These stopped for a while and then were replaced with light sprinkles. Then the sun came out and then the monsoons came back. This continued from 7:00 in the morning until 8:00 in the evening. We had almost 400 riders registered but only about 300 braved the conditions and rode. Even though it was a tough day most of the riders finished with big smiles and boundless enthusiasm.
An ODRAM group rolls through Gordonville during one of the day's few sunny moments.
Since I didn't get to ride Saturday I was very motivated to get out on Sunday. I took the White Pine Trail south toward Grand Rapids and then followed the marked city streets over to the start of Kent Trails on the west side of the city. From there I made my way to some brand new trails in Millennium Park. I rode around the entire park. There were lots of kayaks, paddleboards, and swimmers out on the lake on a perfect summer Sunday afternoon. I was keeping up a pretty good pace on my ride. When I got home I had logged 36 miles at an average speed of 17.6 MPH. That might be my best speed ever on a solo ride.

Amelia Island JDRF Ride in 74 days.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Another big team ride

Because of our work and travel schedule this summer Mary and I haven't made it to a lot of the JDRF team rides. Yesterday we were able to join the team for a very hilly ride in the Ada/Rockford area. We started with 16 of us doing a 25 mile loop that went east on Knapp Street near Forest Hills Eastern High School. It's a significant climb in the first mile of the ride. That was how the whole day would shake out. Climbing, then descending, a little bit of flat (emphasis on the little), and then we'd climb again. The loop took us north on Parnell Road and past St. Patrick's Church (where we attend) just as Mass was letting out. A bit of pedestrian and traffic dodging and, after a short easterly jog, we were headed north on Gavin Lake Road. We turned west on Belding Road, a busy street but with a w-i-d-e shoulder. Then it was south on Ramsdell Road going through the village of Cannonsburg and continuing south on Honey Creek Road. Lots and lots of hills on that 25 mile loop.

About eight more people joined us for the second half of the ride. We again started up Knapp Street, but this time we reversed the direction of the loop, going north on Honey Creek Road. The funny thing is there were just as many hills going in the other direction. A small group of us decided to do a 30 mile loop for the second time out which gave me 55 miles for the day. Mary opted for a second 25 mile loop and finished with 50 miles, her longest ride of the year so far.
Some people did two loops, some only did one. The photo above is after the first loop people got back and before we went out for the second loop. The people who are standing are the ones who only rode the second loop. The people sitting or laying down had already done the first very hilly loop and were preparing themselves for the second. How hilly was it? Approximately 2,900 feet of elevation gain in 55 miles.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Holland Hundred Update

Today was the 42nd annual Holland Hundred ride. I think it would be fair to say that today was one of the best days they've ever had, weather-wise. Temperatures were cool at the start and only hit the mid-70's by the end of the ride. There was a little bit of wind, but nothing too terrible. All in all, a great day to ride.

The JDRF team at the start of the 2016 Holland Hundred.
There were about 20 of us from the JDRF team that took part in the ride today. (Side note: Proceeds from the Holland Hundred support JDRF.) Although we started together we quickly broke up into four groups. We'd usually meet back up at the break points. I ended up riding with a group of 11 that were doing the metric century. A little clarification is in order here. A metric century is 100 kilometers or about 62 miles. The metric at the Holland Hundred was listed as being 67 miles (a bit long). The actual distance was just a smidgen under 71 miles. No complaints here, I need to get the miles in, but a little truth in advertising would be appreciated.

Between the ride Mary and I did on Sunday and the Holland Hundred, I logged 108 miles this week. That's a good place to be at this point of the season. 71 miles is my longest ride of the year. I'm feeling it a little bit, but that's a good thing as we train for the 100 mile JDRF ride on Amelia Island this October.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ice cream and beer

On Sunday Mary and I decided to ride north on the White Pine Trail to where the pavement end. That's also known as Sand Lake. From our house to downtown Sand Lake via the trail is 18.5 miles. It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride and we were in no hurry to get the miles in, so we had a nice easy ride. We also had ice cream. There is a nice little ice cream place in Sand Lake. Like every other small town in Michigan the employees are all high school girls. We had flurries and then started for home.

On the way south however we rode right by the relatively new Cedar Springs Brewing Company. Since we haven't been there yet we decided to stop in and try their wares. I had a a pale ale and Mary had a sangria. They were tasty and then it was time to get back on the bikes and resume our journey. We finished with 37 miles, 2 ice creams and 2 adult beverages. A very nice afternoon indeed.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Will Ride for Food

Recently our cycling has seemed to revolve around eating. It all started last Monday. I asked Mary if she wanted to go for a ride after work. She said she was tired and didn't want to go. I told her we could ride to Rockford and stop at the Corner Bar for hot dogs. She agreed, so we got in 20 miles and two bacon cheddar dogs each.

Two days later was our Wine Wednesday ride. We do a few of these every year. It's a very social event. 15-ish miles of riding, then wine and snacks on our patio. This week there were five of us that rode 17 miles and six of us that drank wine. 

Sunday morning there was supposed to be a team ride. 20 people showed up, but so did the rain. And not one of those light summer rains. This was one that showed yellow and red on everyone's phone weather app. We bagged the team ride and of course the weather turned beautiful later that day. Mary and I decided to ride into Grand Rapids to Mitten Brewing and have pizza and beer for dinner. A very easy 20 miles and great pizza.

We've gotten one ride in so far this week. No food was involved.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

3rd Coast Cycles Shop Ride

Mary and I need to get a tune-up and some other work done on our bikes. So I brought them in to our favorite bike shop - 3rd Coast Cycles in Hudsonville. The shop does a ride every Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. While that's a little earlier than I like to ride, by getting an early start I was able to get a ride in and get the bikes in and get a bunch of yard work done. All that led to a wonderful nap later in the afternoon.

The ride itself was pretty nice. 25 miles heading south of Hudsonville towards Jamestown. A fair amount of climbing with a small (only 9) but very peppy group. That gives me 215 miles for the season. A little on the light side, but with work and travel I haven't had a lot of opportunity to get on the bike. That should change in the next couple of months.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Riding that old abandoned highway

US-31 heads north from the Michigan/Indiana border. Shortly before it merges with with I-196 near Benton Harbor, all traffic is forced to exit onto a two lane surface road, then get onto I-94, travel about two miles and finally merge back onto I-196. The reason I'm giving a little southwest Michigan traffic lesson today is because there is a one mile potion of US-31 that is finished, but has never been used. Where traffic is forced onto the surface road the highway continues but is blocked off. The entrance and exit ramps are in place. There is a speed limit sign. There's even an "Adopt a Highway" litter prevention sign on the south bound lanes. All the trappings of a highway, with none of the automobiles. It looks like a scene from the Discovery Channel show "Life After People".

Abandoned US-31 near Benton Harbor
While we were visiting Susan and Elvin Hayes this Memorial Day weekend we decided to ride our bikes on that abandoned stretch on US-31. It's about 15 miles south of their cottage. The four of us rode past some very pretty Berrien County farms and small towns. Riding on the unused road was eerie. The highway is in great shape. No potholes or trash. And no vehicle traffic to bother us. We rode four abreast down the middle of the lane.

Tom, Elvin, Mary and Susan on the entrance ramp to the deserted highway.
There are barricades to stop cars from using the ramps. There is also a barricade to divert traffic off the northbound lands onto the surface road. But when you ride on the abandoned south bound lanes there is nothing to stop you from riding right out onto the very-much-in-use US-31. I guess the traffic engineers figure no one is going to make a hard left at the end of the ramp and drive the wrong way up the highway. But they could. It made us very nervous to have nothing between our bikes and 70 mph freeway traffic. So we headed back up the closed exit ramp and made our back to the cottage from our little "Twilight Zone" adventure. 33 miles in all.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A short post

It's been pretty busy the last few weeks, between working on the job, working on the yard, and working on Jake's Music Festival. I haven't had a lot of opportunities to ride, but Mary and I did get out for an easy 16 miles last night. We rode north on the White Pine Trail up to 13 Mile Road and then turned around and came home. Nothing eventful to report. No speed records were set. Just a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride on an absolutely beautiful day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Great Spring Weekend

This past weekend was so fantastic that it took me until today to write about it. To start with Jake and my buddy Roy both rolled into town last Thursday night. Jake was here for the music festival and Roy was here to visit with everyone he knows that lives east of the Mississippi River. We all went out to dinner Thursday night and had a good time.

On Friday, Roy headed north to visit his son and Jake and I were on two different radio stations to talk about Jake's Music Festival. We had lunch at Harmony Hall on Grand Rapids' west side. When we got home we did a little music festival work and then rode bikes up to Rockford Brewing and enjoyed a pint in the sun. It was a beautiful day for a 10 mile ride with a beer stop in the middle.

Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish at Jake's Music Festival
Saturday was the big day. Jake's Music Festival is our major fundraiser. The show takes place at Wealthy Theatre and we had 12 different acts performing. The crowd was fantastic and the bands did a great job. In this, our 12th year, we raised a little over $5,000. You can see more photos on our Facebook page.

Almost 50 people showed up for the first JDRF West Michigan outdoor team ride
Sunday was the best day we've had in months. Almost 80 degrees, sunny and very little wind. Sounds like a great day for a bike ride. So Mary and I headed headed to Grandville for the first JDRF team ride of the year. We had almost 50 people show up. That makes it the largest first ride ever and one of the largest team rides of all time. I'd say that bodes well for this upcoming season. We rode 29 miles, with the second half of the route being quite hilly. Check out the details from Map My Ride. As a side note, when we got home I power washed the patio.

Monday came. I went to work and Mary took Jake to the bus station so he could head back to Chicago. It was a long, very tiring, very fun weekend. 2016 is going to be a great year.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

First outdoor ride of 2016

The weather has been very un-March-like for the past week. Warm and sunny, not what you'd expect in Michigan this time of year. In fact, last year on this date we still had 4 foot high snow banks on the side of our driveway. Today, I finally got a chance to take advantage of the nice weather and hopped on my bike for a short ride.

It's almost become a tradition that my first ride of the year is on the White Pine Trail. I could feel the long layoff in my legs as I headed north toward Rockford on a very slight uphill grade. I've been on the trainer some over the winter, but I probably averaged 20 minutes a week. Not exactly keeping the fitness level up there. Today I rode up to 13 Mile Road before turning around. The way home is always easier because that slight uphill is now a slight downhill. When I'm in mid-season form I can usually do the homeward leg 5 miles per hour faster with about half the effort. Today, not so much. See my earlier comment about the long layoff.

It felt great to be riding outside again. It was partly sunny, no wind, and about 60 degrees. I ended up with 17 miles total. I always feel good when I can get some miles in while it's still technically winter. Yes, I know I could ride in the winter like several of my team mates. But when it's 20 degrees and snowing I'm staying inside.

33 weeks until the JDRF Ride on Amelia Island.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Back in the saddle

And we start year number 12 of riding to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. When we started this ride our son Jake was a 13 year old middle schooler who had been diagnosed with T1D seven years earlier. We heard about the Ride to Cure Diabetes and along with a dozen or so people from West Michigan we embarked on training for first ride in Death Valley. Along the way we ridden thousands of miles and raised tens of thousands of dollars for diabetes research.

This year we will be taking part in the JDRF ride on Amelia Island in Florida. This will be the largest ride ever for JDRF with 600 particpants. We took part in the largest ride ever up until now, that was in Nashville in 2013. That ride had a little over 500 riders. The Amelia Island ride has the potential to be the first ride to raise $2,000,000. That is something we want to be part of.

The weather still isn't conducive to outdoor cycling, but we have done some indoor training rides. We're hoping the groundhog was right and that we'll have an early Spring. I have a personal goal of 1,500 miles this season.

Speaking of goals, Mary and I have a fundraising goal of $5,000 each. That's $10,000 for the two of us. Ian is not riding this year, something about being in his senior year of college. So dear reader, you only have to pick between two of us this time around. On the left side of this page you'll see two links; Donate to Mary and Donate to Tom. Please make a contribution to the Scheidel you like best.

Eight months until JDRF Ride #12.