Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our Coach - The Hero

Just another story of how Coach Mike is totally awesome. About 77 miles into the ride, I realize my rear tire has just gone flat. I was prepared and quickly pulled out my spare tube, tire wrenches and air cylinder (I carried 2 air cartridges and Scott carried a hand pump). Unfortunately, try as I might, I was having alot of trouble getting the tire off the rim. Mike appears within minutes and quickly has the tube changed - a pinch flat. True to my history, I end up with a second flat as the tube is pinched during reinstallation. Mike again changes my tube and the foot pump from the SAG wagon helps this time. Once again we are off and riding. Without the support of Mike, I may have still been there trying to change that tire when the ride was supposed to end at 5:30. My lesson: practice changing you own tire (especially after you get a new one) and bring along an awesome Coach to help you out.
Smiles possible because of the Coach!


Jack said...

Here, here Chris. We are VERY fortunate to have Coach Mike as OUR coach. His commitment to the riders & JDRF is a blessing. His humor (that gaddang toilet joke still leaves me chuckling at all hours of the day), attitude & devotion to us & our cause are incredible.

Chris - make sure you tell your son how freaking awesome he is. What a kid. A real inspiration to see a young diabetic do what he did (& hardly break a sweat it seemed). He is really special & it is an honor to have him a part of the West Michigan team.

Paul said...

I thought I'd chime in here to tell the story of my first impression of Mike Clark. I myself have been type 1 for over 35 years now and have been into cycling for about 20 years. I have used cycling as a way to help me control my diabetes. Anyway back in '05 I was looking for a way to motivate myself to ride more since I was starting to ride less and less over the years. I knew about the JDRF ride program and I looked into it. Reading the info about the rides I was thinking this sounds pretty cool until I got to the fundraising requirement and thought "you gotta raise how much???" I came to a point in my life that I had to do something to help eliminate this disease and I decided to committ myself to the cause and sign up for these rides. So I signed up for the Asheville ride in '05.

At each of these rides they have a meeting for diabetic riders and this is where my first impression of Mike comes in. At first I wasn't going to go to the meeting in Asheville because I knew what I was doing and thought I wouldn't get much out of it. Also throughout my life I have known very few other type 1's and the ones I knew weren't exactly what I'd call positive role models. I decided since I was there I might as well take everything in and go to this meeting. I remember walking into this room and thinking "whoa". The room was filled with extremely fit people with a very determined look on their faces. I remember thinking this is pretty cool and I could hang out with these people. I said to the guy sitting next to me I have never seen so many diabetics in my life and he said that was true for him also. I thought this is what it must be like to be stranded on a deserted island for a long time and finally seeing your own kind again. As I was looking at the people in the room there was this one guy with a shaved head, goatee and glasses and my sixth sense kicked in and thought that guy is not diabetic. So I was watching him and he was listening very attentively to everything that was being said and was taking notes. You could tell he was there to learn. I thought maybe he has a kid with diabetes or something. I later learned that he was the coach of the West Michigan team. Out of all the coaches that were at this ride he was the only coach that was at this meeting and I thought that was pretty cool.

The next year I did the Death Valley ride and saw him there running around with boundless energy and enthusiasm and thinking those people from West Michigan sure know how to have a good time. The tune up ride up to Zabriskie point he was shouting out encouragement and when I saw him I thought where in the hell do you get plaid cycling shorts?

Now with this ride being my 5th ride I get it. I see why the West Michigan chapter is the most successful chapter in the bike program. These past few months with the weekly emails and team rides I can see why the chapter is so successful. If the National Ride to Cure program followed the West Michigan model a hundred rides wouldn't be enough because they would all sell out. I have decided that I no longer live in Illinois.... I live in west west west michigan now.

Also as a final note since I started doing the JDRF rides my cycling has improved tremendously. This year I did the Asheville ride 1 hour faster than the ride I did in '05. The program works.

Katie said...

Paul - I love it! You hit it on the head about Mike. Boundless energy, a serious desire to learn what us type 1s need/are going and he not only HAS plaid bike shorts, he wears them with pride.

We love Coach Mike. I surely wouldn't be where I am without him.