Monday, October 13, 2008

Tick, tock, tick, tock...56 hours until we leave....

I’m starting to get that feeling…

It started when I read the Asheville blog postings...then I talked to Brian Bowe...I heard about Jack Clark’s speech...and I saw Cindy Aley’s pictures. Then we put the bikes on the truck…

Death Valley is here people…and I can’t tell you how excited I am! This will be my third trip to the desert and I can’t wait to suffer. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is so much more. Yes, the 105 mile round trip through Death Valley is the most physically and emotionally challenging thing I do all year (it is the most inhospitable place in the United States after all!), but there are so many other things that make it worth while. In 2006, at my first century attempt, I finished the entire route (with more than a little help from our present day Head Mentor Derek Dykstra). So last year, when I only completed 88 miles, I was pissed, I felt like I failed, and I was racked with guilt while I was being driven in from Badwater. I felt terrible sitting in the medic’s tent waiting for my approved dismissal. While sitting there though, I met the owner of the Whitefish lodge that hosts the Montana ride. He told me all about the Whitefish ride, what this program meant to him personally, and surprisingly, what high regard he had for the West Michigan Ride Team. When I left the tent I heard about Amy’s day and went to see her. I found her in the medical room hooked up to her 2nd (maybe 3rd?) IV bag, and when she saw me her first question was about her teammate, “How is Melanie doing out there?” As soon as I left the medical room, I found the rest of the West Michigan Team at the finish line. We cheered Kevin Owen, the McBride’s, and countless other non-West Michigan riders as they crossed the finish line. We watched Steve Clark finish his first complete century! I was so happy for our Team, and the entire Ride, that I forgot about my personal pity party. When the coaches finally crossed the finish line at dusk, it was a West Michigan party (I think our whole team was still at teh finish line!). In fact, our Team’s optimism, personality, charisma, and fellowship made the whole weekend (during the ride too!) seem like a party. So why wouldn’t I be looking forward to that again?!

To all of you Death Valley rookies, I can promise you four things. 1) The ride up Jubilee Pass will suck. 2) The ride home is going to be long and brutal, and will also suck. 3) Your perseverance and determination, not your fitness level, will be what decides whether you finish or not. 4) Numbers 1, 2, and 3, won’t matter at all once you are back at the ranch, because Saturday night we celebrate. We celebrate the decision we all made to help cure diabetes. We celebrate that we are, at that moment, surrounded by some of the greatest people, West Michigan or not, walking this earth. We celebrate all the work we did, and the money we raised. We celebrate the fact that all the work we did, and all the money we raised, got us one step closer to curing diabetes, and allowed us to ride our bikes in Death Valley National Park.

On a separate note…I want to thank all of you, Asheville riders too, for doing so much to help cure this disease. Most of you know my story…you know how diabetes has been a part of my family’s life for the last 37 years. Many of you though, came to this team without a personal connection, yet you do so much, so selflessly...you are all amazing. Diabetic or not, personal connection or not, I want to thank each and every one of you for being part of this great team…for allowing me to become a bigger part of the team this season…and for making my 2008, which hasn’t been the best, a lot better.

6 comments:

Katie said...

***wiping tears***

What he said.

John J said...

***wiping tears***

Rob, what an eloquent mentor you are...

See you all real soon!

club-velo said...

Rob-O...........as cool as this Team would be regardless - it's a MUCH cooler and more eloquent Team w/ you on it!

You da man!

(45 hours 'til lift-off!)

Cindy said...

Yeah, I didn't think I would shed tears until much later in this trip. Now you have me choking up before we leave home.

velocityted said...

Damn!

You know how to hit the money shot!

***wiping tears***
Damn!

Brian J. said...

Thanks for that, Rob. I didn't think I could still get this emotional thinking about A'ville this far from the event, but you really brought back what makes this such an amazing group of people, and what makes the Ride to Cure such a righteous thing to do with our time. Here's hoping you find the "magic gear" on your bike this weekend....