Tuesday, October 7, 2014


(Well..the last one a'fore Death Valley anyways! I think we oughta keep ridin' when we get back - we have folks a-goin' to Nashville y'know!)

Not gonna lie - 'twas a chilly (and for some of us muddy and weary) group that convened @ Townsend Park last Sunday for One More Ride before a goodly % of us head west to do battle w/ T1 AND the wilds of Death Valley. The weather was dry.....but there was a stiff wind and the temps were in the 40's (at best).  Despite that - this group of hardy riders saddled up and headed out into the hilly terrain around Cannonsburg:

Tom, Mary AND Ian Scheidel (Ian doin' his "One ride'll get me ready, no?" thing)
Kevin Carnes
Brad Spooner ("fresh" from the Manhattan Park CX race)
Megan Taylor
Vern VanHalm
S.G.S. John DesPres
S.G.S. Ginger Dykstra
Kirsten and Coach Did (also still muddy from the CX race)
Suzy Doyle (only somewhat recovered from racin' the Mi Mtn Mayhem gravel race w/ MC the day before)
And me - Coach MC (less-than-fresh from alla the aforementioned)

We set out on A 37 mile loop devised by Coach Did to show off the lovely riding in that area and - of course - give us just a tad more hill training. The weather held.....in that we stayed dry...but it never warmed up and the wind was a constant. The group ended up separating due to a variety of issues ranging from schedule constraints to blood sugars but we were all reunited (and it felt so good!) back at the park to feast on Ginger's killer brownies and Mary's awesome cupcakes.

And with that - after a moment to appreciate Did's cupcake eating technique - bikes went into or onto cars, warm clothing replaced damp lycra and a dozen or so of the World's Coolest Team went their separate ways.

Or did we?

Oh sure - the cars went east or south or north or west - taking the bodies with them. However - the spirits within those bodies (I would argue) did NOT go their separate ways. We're together. We've been together for 10 years now. In Burlington & La Crosse & Nashville & Whitefish & Tahoe & Asheville & Tucson and for sure in Death Valley! Not to mention here at home.


And we're gonna be....on the road, at the finish line, at the pool, back here in the 616.......

And that's JUST the way it oughta be!

Ride on you Rockstars.............ride on!

Coach MC

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Howdy Team!

Well - a buncha us will be heading out to DV in a couple of weeks to administer yet another whuppin' to T1d and there's a few NEW wrinkles that I wanna make sure we are all aware of. As you may have heard - the Park is under a new supervisor and she has initiated a complete Safety Review of every Special Event Request to use the park for any reason. Now - they like us, they really do. Our Ride's have always met standards of safely and organization far beyond their requirements. In fact - it wouldn't be a stretch to say that their new (and far more stringent) safety guidelines are based on stuff we've always done.

But. (you heard that comin', right?)

We will be under far more scrutiny that in years past. They really only have 2 requests. (demands, really) and they are these:

1. We MUST ride single-file.
2. We MUST NOT interfere w/ the ability of other guests to enjoy the park.

They will actually have staff assigned to do nothing on Saturday but watch us.....that's new.

So - please - go out there determined NOT to be the "Million Dollar Rider", okay? (we're gonna raise about 900k+ out there this year, DV is the birthplace and spiritual home of the Ride Program and we can't lose it because our riders can't follow the rules!)

I know that I can count on you guys. Ride single file at all times. Remind others to do the same. When stopping at the rest stops please make sure that you are off of the road and clear of traffic.

A couple of other new wrinkles:

We will not be able to ride up to Zabraskie Point this year. The area is undergoing a complete renovation and isn't open to anyone. (Yes - that means we'll hafta find another place to star-gaze - I bet we can!)

There will also be no going past the rest stop atop Jubilee to get your picture taken @ the infamous sign. The N.P.S. was adamant on that point. Chuck Hodge assures me that he has "something up his sleeve" that will suffice as a replacement - never fear!

Other than those few things...............it's gonna be "business as usual" out in the Valley! We're gonna have a BLAST, ride smart and well and give that big jerk T1d another big ol' kick in the crotch!

This is probably a good time to mention that DV is a great place to have a realistic distance goal. This can be a hard place to ride, not gonna lie, and not the best place to "go for it" and shoot for a personal best in either distance or time. Please roll off of the Start Line w/ a goal in mind that's within reach...and feel free to contact Derek, Kaat, Michelle or myself if you'd like some input on that. We'll all be out there - alongside 18 other coaches - with no agenda other than making sure that YOU have a great ride.

Be smart. Stay hydrated. Stay safe. We need you riding back safe, sound, smiling and under your own power 'cuz that equals a successful ride!

One more thing - please make sure that your bike's are up to the challenge. The Bike Room Gig in DV is extra-challenging 'cuz we can't run down to the local shop to get parts. There ain't no "local shop"! I'll have an extra-large crew and as many spare parts as possible...even spare bikes!....but there's no substitute for riding your own bike and knowing that it's gonna be ready to rock. So - if it's been awhile since you had it tuned up, looked over or had the chain, tires or brake pads checked for wear.....now'd be a good time!

Okay - that seems like a lot...but there's a lot to cover. Please check out the other DV posts here on the Blog for other advice and tips and - above all - please do not hesitate to reach out w/ ANY questions. Your coaching staff has a total of 20-some years of DV Ride experience....we can help!

So - I'll see you in the Valley if not before. I'm proud to be a member of this team and couldn't be more proud or thrilled to ride w/ you all.

You rock w/ a capital "R"....alla y'all!

Coach MC

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Team Ride 14 Report/Team Ride 15 Notice!

Wow, weather, dang. It truly does not get much better than mid-70's and sunny, does it?!?! Eleven good folk rode out of Ada Park today, and visited Saranac, the outskirts of Lowell and Ionia, and the metropolis of Lyons. Ice cream products were consumed with some gusto, though we'll have to note that the ice cream place in the laundromat closes in early September.

Making due with gas station choco-tacos and M&M cookie ice cream sandwiches were:

John J
Scott W
Kevin C
Suzy D
Linda C
Cindy A
Josh M
Kirsten D, giddilly making her maiden voyage on titanium
Special Guest Star Joe K (from 3CC!)
and li'l ol' me.

So,we're gonna have another TEAM RIDE next weekend - after your coaching staff and a fair number of your teammates do a bit of a cyclocross race which you should come watch!

The ride, we'll do from Townsend Park in Cannonsburg (that's here: https://goo.gl/maps/nQ91y). We'll roll at about 2 pm for something like 35-40 miles. As for the race, it's at Manhattan Park (here: https://goo.gl/maps/NYwXh), with an 11am race time. Shouting, heckling, and musical instrument honking would be most delightful!

We're inside 3 weeks to Death Valley, rockstars!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Death Valley Primer - 2014 edition

In exactly one month (October 18th) we will be riding in Death Valley. As Coach Did pointed out in his last post, we have 10 people who have never ridden there before. We also have about 20 more that haven't ridden in DV in at least three years. With that in mind we are posting the following tips for riding in Death Valley. These were originally written back in 2010. This version has been updated with new information and contains addendums that were added as comments to the original post. If any former DV riders have additions to this list please feel free to add them in the comments.

The Death Valley Primer - 2014 edition

1.    It will be hot. Very hot. Inside your oven kind of hot. But it is also dry. Very dry. 4% humidity kind of dry. Dry heat is wonderful in the sauna, not so great on the bicycle. This leads to point number 2…

2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Have some type of fluid (water, Gatorade, water, juice, water, watermelon, water, etc.) nearby at all times. Because of the lack of humidity your sweat evaporates instantly. So you are losing water all the time, but you don’t feel it. Always have a water bottle with you, even next to your bedside table while you sleep. Drink a lot and drink often. In fact, start now.

3. There is now cell phone coverage in the desert. Actually, it’s mostly just near the Ranch, but you are no longer digitally cut off from civilization. Although if you want to disconnect from the grid Death Valley is the place to do it.

4. Friday afternoon is free time, enjoy it. Go on a hike. Rent a jeep. Sit by the pool. Play golf. Just make sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids.

5. Hydrate. That means drink things, like water, ice tea, lemonade, Propel, and XS.

6. The ride will start before sunrise and, if the wind is calm-ish, end shortly before sunset. Plan on spending 9 to 11 hours out in the sun. As weird as it sounds, put on sunscreen before you come to the starting line. Yes, that means you’ll be slathering up in the dark when you can still see the moon. Once the sun pops up over the Funeral Mountains you will be in hot sunshine until the ride is over.

7. Speaking of sunscreen, bring a BIG tube and a small tube you can use on your bike. Use it often. Coach Did suggests you also use some moisturizer. His actual quote, “Your skin will thank you for it.” Bring some good SPF15+ lip balm stuff too.

8. “Drinking!” You will hear this call frequently on the ride. It means one of your team mates is drinking. Whenever you hear call of “Drinking!” you should respond in kind and take a drink. You’ll want to finish a solid 24 ounces of fluid every hour, at least – you should have to pee at every break point.

9. Breakfast starts at 5:00 a.m. Our first year in DV Mike Clark suggested eating early so that your body will have enough time to “properly digest” breakfast, if you know what I mean. It’s 17 miles from the start to the first break point without a tree to be seen.

10. Death Valley is a starkly beautiful landscape. At times it feels like you are on another planet. The air is so dry that you can see for over 20 or 30 miles down the valley. At times this can become a mental challenge. When you’ve ridden for half an hour and the scenery looks exactly the same you begin to wonder if you’re in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

11. The hotel accommodations resemble a college dorm more than a Marriott. This is a good thing. The very dorm-y post-ride, post-dinner hall party is something of a tradition.

12. Things to bring – Sunglasses, wide brimmed hat, swimsuit, light jacket or sweatshirt for the cool mornings/evenings, camera (have you seen the photos? The sky really is that blue out there).

13. What to Wear – T-shirts, tank tops and shorts will get you through most of the trip. For the Friday tune-up ride wear your West Michigan JDRF jersey. For dinner Friday night wear your team t-shirt. For the main ride Saturday wear your 2014 JDRF jersey. It might be a good idea to pack these in your carry-on.

14. The shuttle bus from the airport will stop in Pahrump for “supplies”. These “supplies” are usually found in the liquor aisle. Sadly, these supplies are not a particularly good way to hydrate, but you don’t want to be buying them at the convenience store at the Furnace Creek Ranch – they’ll cost twice as much there.

15. Other “supplies” you might want to grab in Pahrump: food for Friday lunch (that’s the only meal for which you’re on your own – there’s a restaurant at the Ranch, but it’ll be packed and expensive), non-water drinks other than the aforementioned booze, snacky foods, etc.

16. In case we haven’t mentioned it, it is very important to stay hydrated.

17. Maybe bring a flashlight. The Ranch is well-lit in public areas, not so much elsewhere.

18. If you’re a stargazing type, maybe bring binoculars. You’ll see why the first night we’re there. In fact, we’re hoping to get a mess of people up to Zabriskie Point Thursday night for just that purpose.

19. Ride day advice! Here’s the thing: assuming you’re doing the whole 105 miles, the halfway point in mileage terms isn’t necessarily the halfway point in terms of time. You might only be a third done, in fact – here’s some thoughts:

   a. Wind will more than likely be an issue. And it’ll be stronger in the afternoon. And it’ll probably be a headwind then, too. To minimize your exposure to that, the best “how to ride” advice we can give is get south fast. Now, don’t hammer in the morning and wipe yourself out – you gotta ride smart. But the further south you can get before the sun pops out from behind Funeral Peak, the better you’ll be.

   b. Don’t get overexcited in the morning! The first 18 miles to Badwater is a net downhill. It’s cool, you’re in the shade, and you’re with 349 of your closest friends – it’s waaaaay too easy to find yourself going faster than you ought to. Go fast, but not too fast!

   c. Climbing Jubilee Pass is all about rhythm – find a pace you can maintain, then find your Happy Place and keep chuggin’ and drinkin’. Take breaks if you need to. It’s a loooong climb, and it’ll be getting hot.

   d. Eat smart. There’s gonna be LOTS of food out there – if it weren’t for the dehydration you could gain weight on this ride! Don’t overstuff yourself or experiment with foods you’re not sure about.

   e. In the afternoon, especially if it’s windy, find a group to ride in and get a nice paceline going. Keep an eye on each other, especially as people fall to the back of the line – don’t drop anyone!

20. Did we mention the need to drink lots of water? No? Well, drink lots of water. Always!

21. More than anything, enjoy the experience.

The Katie Clark Addendum

1.    I found dumping some ice cold water on my body (head, shoulders, legs, arms, feet, WHOLE BODY) at each break point made for a refreshing first few miles out of each break point.

2.  One year they had towels stored in an ice chest. Get one, put it on your shoulders, tucked into your jersey and leave it there. Re-dunk at each checkpoint (and if you are dying and see a SAG vehicle - they had the coolers of ice in there as well). Refill water bottles too!

3. The name of the game is keeping your body hydrated and cool off at each break point. You will roll in thinking you are going to die, but if you can cool down and rest for a few minutes with a cold cloth on your head, you will be fine.


5. For those who go up Jubilee, come back down and continue onward... You are going to think you are dying between Ashford Mills (bottom of Jubilee) and Mormon Point. You'll be around 70 miles into the ride and it's going to be HOT. And straight. And you can see forever. Did I mention HOT?

6. Plan on just an extra minute or two under the tent at Mormon Point out of the sun. Drink an entire iced water bottle there and then refill it. Dump some ice water on your head. Redunk your towel in ice. This is make or break point at Mormon Point. This is the mentally challenging part. Cool down, breath deep and know that you can do this.

7. If you can get back to Badwater (17 miles from finish line), you will finish. But you have to be mentally prepared to go in and out around those bends about nine times before you get there. You'll see cars go by and you'll see them for a long distance.

8. This game is physically challenging. It will be far more mentally challenging than you ever thought possible. But you can do it, and if you go slow, I will do it with you.

The Mike Howard Addendum

1.    My mood changes as I dehydrate. I get depressed. If you find yourself getting that way stop and drink. It's not a race. If you see me scowling tell me to drink! Bring Ibuprofin too - I may need to ask you for some!

2.    On the way back from Mormon Point to Badwater it seems to take FOREVER. You think Badwater is around the next bend and it's not. I have 2 pictures from 2005 in that stretch, one from the front and one to the back and there's nobody in the pictures. I use it as a time of quiet reflection on what has brought me to that point ... and then Badwater appears around the bend.

The Derek Dykstra Addendum

1.    At the Ashford Mills break point before the Jubilee Pass climb, make sure your bottles are totally full and, if they have them, grab extra bottles and stick 'em in your jersey pockets.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Team Ride Thirteen Reeeeeeeporting for duty SIR

Aaaaaaaaaaand BAM IT'S AUTUMN. No, not Autumn, the girl who turned you down for Prom, quit living in the past you yobbo! We're talkin' about the season colloquially known as Fall! Golden trees! Wool knickers! Cyclocross! Funny-shaped sportsball!

Even though it isn't. It's still summer, no matter how much sheep fur was in our laundry Sunday night.

But we had a heck of nice ride, and a good solid productive one at that, with a hill or eight to climb and I'm pretty sure a headwind no matter what direction we went, and filled out a bit more than 57 miles to boot!

In attendance:
Hosts Megan* and Jordan and Ben and Zoe (or is it Zoë?)
Kevin C*
Scott W*
Tom S
Mary S
Suzy D*
Coach Michelle*
Provisionally approved Michelle-stealin' dude Chase
John J
Suzanne A*
Nick C
Paul C*
Cindy A
Linda TP
Josh M*
Jeremy P*
Special Guest Star Mandy
Special Guest Star Ginger (y'all know that's my mom, right?)
Linda C
Coach MC
Kirsten D
And me, your own hill-findin' did

Those asterisks up there? Those are people who, in one month and 3 days, will experience Death Valley for the first time. How cool is that?!?!?!

On that note - there's gonna be a lot of practical communication coming up in the next few weeks, so pay attention to your email First up, you should have had some info regarding the truck that'll be transporting our bikes out west. Didn't get it? Get in touch with your coaches or with the chapter office staff!

Keep on rocking and riding!

***D'oh! I forgot to write down CLIFF L! I was so excited about figuring out how to do the two little dots over the e in Zoë... I owe ya a Spotted Cow, sir!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Wow......Coach Did and I were chattin' after yesterday's ride and realized that - in the midst of gettin' ready for La Crosse n' all - neither of us ever wrote up a report after Tour de Taco!


Well - suffice to say that a good time was had by a whole buncha extra-fine folks, many calories both solid and fluid were consumed, many miles were ridden and once again The World's Coolest Team flexed its muscles and showed its stuff!

And that brings us to yesterday's ride....hosted by our good friends (and hopefully future teammates!) the Weningers at their lovely cottage down on Barlow Lake in Middleville. It was a perfect day to roll some miles, gobble some burgers n' brats n' dogs and play in the lake!

Doing egg-zac-lee that were:

Vern VH
Steve, Ellie and Anna C
Scott W
SGS Ginger D
Tom & Mary S
Suzy D
Paul & Nic C
Chris, Becky & Katelyn M
Coach Did
Linda C

and me!

(Joinin' us for eatin' and hangin' were Katie C and Cathy C!

We did a 30 and 20 mile loops - both of which were....umm....roll-y and then hit the deck and the lake!

It was a perfect day and we took full advantage!

Next Team Ride is 9/14 - hosted by Megan Taylor................watch for details!

Ride on Rockstars..........you're the best!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Post-Holland-Hundred ride report and whatnot

Hey, we missed you folks on Sunday! It was a seriously nice day, and you missed out on meeting our old neighbor Ed, who REALLY perks up when he hears the word "high" and was visibly disappointed to find out that it was a BG thing and not something more up his nose alley.

At least he had a shirt on.

Anyway, big congrats to Megan T, who completed her first 50 mile ride despite the aforementioned high (and a matching low) - way to stick it to T1!

Other folkses along for the ride were
MC (almost ready to head off to Burlington to kick off Ride Season!)
Linda C (doing her longest ride this year)
SGS GingerMom (doing her longest ride in a few years)
Kevin C (fresh off the Holland Hundred the day before)
Kirsten (also doing a Holland Hundred cool-down half-century)
John J (who gets a parenthetical note so he doesn't feel left out)
and little ol' me.

We rumbled up the Berry Junction and Hart-Montague trails all the way up to Rothbury, back down through Montague again for ice cream at Twisters, then over to Scenic Drive to see Lake Michigan and Blockhouse Hill. Back at Mullally Park there was the usual chips, salsa, shade, and chitchat. It was pretty dang nice!

So NEXT UP on the team ride schedule is the annual famous Casa de Clark Tour de Taco, on August 3. We're gonna have at least a couple of mileage options for any and all riders, we'll hear stories from the Burlington ride, we'll send off our Lacrosse riders with hearts full up to bursting, and we'll eat a whole mess of grilled chicken and stuff. Deets will be forthcoming, but get it up on your calendar now because we want big attendance!

Rock on, rockstars!