Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life is for the Living

Special thanks to Sarah & Katie for hosting the "Life is for the Living" movie & discussion @ the Wealthy Theater last night. You guys are my heroes. Thanks for standing up for such an important issue that gives people with Diabetes & other chronic illnesses such hope. Just when I think I am ensconced in a world of perverted morality, you guys stand up for true morality & what is right.

If you haven't figured out by now, we truly have an awesome team that goes so beyond riding bicycles, & Sarah & Katie are true icons of what this ride team stands for. Again, thanks a ton. It was truly a life-changing experience to see the movie & serves as a motivation for what we are doing throughout the year & the hope our fundraising holds for many people suffering other diseases than diabetes as well, because if we can cure diabetes through embryonic stem cells, we may also cure other diseases such as Parkinsons etc & vice versa.

If you haven't seen Life is for the Living, make a point of seeing it if it ever comes around again. You will get another 10 miles of inspiration, for sure.

"There's a battle going on in this earth every day. Work, School, Death & Birth. There are 6 billion people on this earth. Can you tell me what every single life is worth? Take a spliff, look around & see history. My weapon and my method is no mystery. I didn't come here to chill. I came here to rock. To smash the empire with my boombox." - Michael Franti (another one of my heroes, so Katie & Sarah, you have now entered the ranks Michael Franti awesomeness).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Haiku redux

Due to overwhelming awesome pics and great dialogue, Mike's post fell far down below, and I feel that there is still some creativity just bursting out there, in 5-7-5 format. Plus, I'm bored and want to write poetry with y'all.

From Mike....
Sick of limericks yet? (I am!) Howzabout a haiku?

pink lycra flashing
cherries sparkle in the sun
west michigan rolls on

From me...

ride season complete
how long until november?
team party will rock

Friday, October 24, 2008

Me Again!

I know, I know.....I said that I'd shut up and I will..............maybe...............someday. (No promises). I just spent some time back in the Valley courtesy of Katie and Nicole and all the other camera-freaks on the Team and I can't decide whether to laugh or cry.

I was tradin' e-mails w/ Tim St. Clair - just re-cappin' the season, talking about 2009 and such and he said something that kind of hit home. (Nothing new about that!) He said that it seemed like a dream, this Ride to Cure Season of '08 and that he and I are "damn lucky men" to have "gone where we've gone, seen what we've seen and met whom we've met".

I hope you guys know how lucky I feel to be a part of this Team. I don't know where I'd be if I'd said "thanks but no thanks" back in '05 like I had every intention to do. Wherever I'd be - I wouldn't trade it for where I am!

Wherever we ride next year will be great. Although we were (sort of) joking in the airport that cool places are cool 'cuz we're there...............there's a lot of truth in that! Anywhere that I get to hang w/ you guys is a cool place in my book!

Thanks for a great season, let's do it again soon, shall we?

Poll

Hey...just an opinion, but the poll should allow us to select multiple options when voting for next years ride.


Just a thought.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

P.S.

Hey, you all are on Facebook, right? You should be! Look for me (Derek Dykstra) or anyone else on the team there, and we'll get you set up with all the cool people...

Things I didn't know I was looking forward to that happened anyway

Getting up before my alarm went off Thursday morning
Hurrying through O'Hare with a bunch of other blue shirts
Seeing all the Wisconsin folks in Las Vegas
Driving across The Strip to get to the bus yard for our lunches
The nice old lady at Smiths in Pahrump who swiped her discount card for me

Y'know, I'm trying like the dickens to come up with a list like I did before we left, but I just can't. Nothing comes to me - because it all comes to me, all at once, in a huge rush. I mean, the worst part of this trip was probably the unavoidable fact that hotel beds aren't all that comfortable, and, really, who cares? I wasn't there to sleep (and lord knows I did as little of that as possible anyway). I would have been just as happy (maybe even happier) sleeping under the stars out on the driving range, with the coyotes.

Folks, that was a ludicrously, deliriously, magnificently good event. What else could make you and me and us want to go out and repeat such suffering? I've never felt as completely cashed out as I did on that last climb before rolling down to the ranch. Ross called this the hardest ride he's ever done - that's saying something, coming from Ross. I'd be back there doing it again right now if I could.

Well, let me qualify that. I'd be there if I could, IF you were there with me again. Cruising along with Brad and Rick and Ross was awesome, the best I've ever felt on a JDRF ride. We were, as they say, haulin' the mail, all the way down to Ashford Mills. But behind the joy and satisfaction of that was being a bit sad that I wasn't with other people on our team, too. You're the best people in the world, and I wanted to ride all the way with all of you. Such is life, I guess, and more, such is the true measure of a team.

We, West Michigan, are an incredible team, not only because we're so good within our group, but because we're so good for those who aren't with us at the airport. Once the ride day jerseys are on, we manage to embrace every rider out there. The concept of "us" grows so quickly - from, what 25 people in 2005 to 65 or so this year, to hundreds of riders and volunteers on ride day!

Somehow, every year with this team gets better - somehow, whatever we do next year will exceed what this year was. The thought of it stops me in my tracks.

You'll be there on November 22nd, right?

was that MSU water bottle stolen?!



..... Nope!

After I threw it at Nicole's spokes (missed her, darn it!), my Spartan water bottle had a hole in it. At Mormon Point, we came to realize there was a hole, and no amount of duct tape was going to stop the water.

This nice woman said she'd trade me hers since she was on a tandem and wasn't going up Jubilee Pass. They came and got their water bottle back from me after I crossed the finish line. They said they had mine in their room and I could get it from them. I told them to keep it. ;-)

AWESOME!

Take a look, a real look!

Have you seen the pics yet? I gotta say....despite the overall awesomeness of all the ride shots my favs so far are Tom's shots of the dinner Friday night. Look at those smiles!!!!!!! That is one happy buncha folks, huh?

It makes me choke up just looking at 'em, like the portrait montage @ the end of last years's Team Video does.

Sigh.............can we do it again asap? Please? I don't care "where" as much as I care "when" 'cuz I want "when" to be "soon"!!!!

Okay, I'll get ahold of myself, I promise. ( No Ted, not THAT way!)

MC

Haiku anyone?

Sick of limericks yet? (I am!) Howzabout a haiku?

pink lycra flashing
cherries sparkle in the sun
west michigan rolls on

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Death Valley Photos

Photos are starting to pop up on the Internet. There are many pictures posted on our Team Site with Photos page. You can click on the link to the right or here to see photos of the DV ride.

This our team photo taken right before the tune-up ride. The Pink Pelotan certainly made a splash in Death Valley.

We also "adopted" several riders (and at least one coach) along the way. Everyone who rode with us for a significant time was presented with a cherry tree sprig, which they all displayed proudly. One of our adoptees was Ian from North Carolina. He actually used to work with Mike Clark many years ago and is Type 1. Ian rode with us most of the day and finished with us. He has a Flickr account and posted some photos which feature the West Michigan team.

From Ian's Flickr page: "As an adopted member of the cherry orchard (West Michigan team), my bike was appropriately decked out with flair."

We may not have been the biggest team in Death Valley, but we were the loudest, the most fun, the most noticeable, and yes, the best.

Caption Contest

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ambulance Anyone?


Luckily, the EMT was there to save me at the top of Jubilee!



First Pic! Top of Zabriske. DV always amazes me with it's beauty and the great, quiet times I get along the route.
I remember pedaling in my least favorite part of the route - between Mormon Point and Badwater. I was on a long stretch, out in the sun, between the mountains with nothing but rocks and and quiet all around me. Both beautiful and desolate. It was a point of reflection for me. How fortunate am I to have this experence with these great people for this cause. How backward is it for me to say that I still hope that I never have to do it again? That said, Vermont Anyone?




DEATH VALLEY DAZE, PART 3 (?)

I know, I know..........I gotta be done at some point....I realize that. It's just hard to let go, y'know? There's such a weird mixture of relief, sadness and satisfaction that I carry around w/ me on the Sunday after a Ride - it's kinda like the circus is leaving town and our team won the Big Game and I didn't screw up.

All day on the plane yesterday I was thinking about Saturday......and mostly I was thinkinig about our Team and how everyone was SO THERE for everyone else. (Now - I'm gonna mention some names here, and these are just the instances that I either witnessed or heard about. I'm sure that there were more and I hope that folks w/ the first-hand scoop share!)

Maggie hangin' w/ Peggy when the going got tough....
Steve stayin' w/ Katie @ Ashford Mill after she and I decided that it was time to be done.....
Did interrupting his descent from the Pass everytime he spotted a Teammate en route to the top.....
John helping folks on the climb....
Ted goin' back out to Golden Canyon from the Ranch not once but twice w/ cold water and a helping hand....
J.D. helpin' Dan-from-Indiana (a guy he just met on Friday!) on the way back in......

and all the other moments, little and big, that made us a "Team" in every cool sense of the word. All the laughter and the tears @ the finish line, all the cheers for every rider (even Wisconsin!), all the pix and the poses and the Corvette and the "hall party" and the painful stretches and the pink jerseys and cherry trees and the pool and ..............and...............and................

and every damn minute of every day that we do this thing together. I'm so proud of our Team - I always have been you know - and everything I saw and felt and heard in DV was affirmation. Just like Asheville. Just like Whitefish and DV in 'o7 and '06 and AV and DV in '05 and all the training rides and Van Andel gigs and everything else that makes this Team what it is....a special group of people that, even though they're all plenty awesome enough as individuals become something much more than the sum of their parts when they get together.

So - congradulations to every West Michigan rider that made the trip to Asheville and/or Death Valley! Not to mention everyone that helped any of us, whether @ home, in the JDRF office or on the road. We've left our mark on the Ride to Cure Program and we're gonna leave our fingerprints on history 'cuz when there's a cure for Type 1 we're gonna be able to say "Yeah, we had a piece of that!".

I love you guys, let's do it again, huh?

See you next month for the party if not before!

Mike

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pictures

Well...I've noticed a complete lack of pictures so far.  Lame!


I'm stunned...I thought I'd be drowning in pics by now.  So...this is my attempt to call for pics.  JDRF Team photographers, time to make the magic happen!

Hello?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Death Valley Wrap Up

I wish you could see what I see if I lift my head up. I'm sitting in this little courtyard deal just inside the entrance to the ranch, the sun will be up in about 15-20 minutes so right now the hillside in front of me is backlit and glowing. It feels like it's about 75 degrees This is such a beautiful place in so many weird and different ways!

So......how to tell you about yesterday? Where to begin? Basically - it was incredible. We rolled out in cool (for here anyway) temps and calm air. The Team was awesome........SO many rode SO well and I think everyone went to bed last night feeling good about their day. (I sureashell hope they did anyway - they deserved to!) I rode out to the Pass w/ Maggie and Peggy, we were towards the back and saw many of our teammates in the course of the first 45 miles. The climb was long and hot and there was a significant W.M. presence as we spun up to the top. I spent some time "yo-yo-ing" up near the top until everyone was up, then we started the 7 mile 35-40mph descent. (Yep, that was as fun as it sounds like it'd be!) We hit a moderate headwind for a bit, but if that was the reason for the occasional cloud cover - fair enough! My group bid fairwell and Great Job to Peggy @ about mile 85 and it was Cindy, Maggie, Mary, JD and I 'til the end. As per usual we were greeted @ the Finish Line by pretty much hthe whole Team - 'cuz that's just how West Michigan rolls! Tears, hugs, pictures, laughs, salt-stains, cramps....we pretty much had it all!

Deborah had our only spill and it wasn't a bad one. Scott suffered our only flat and to make sure that he got the award - had another one just to make sure. EVERYONE rode so well and represented our chapter SO WELL and once again I received about a bazillion complements from other coaches and other JDRF staff about what a great bunch of folks we have on our Team.


(Okay - just in case you harbor the suspicion that I'm blowin' smoke at you I am 100% SERIOUS about this! Everywhere I'v gone in the JDRF universe this season I've had people gush to me about you guys. Truth!)

Dinner in the Palm Grove was great.......another beautiful post-ride party and due to what will no doubt revealed later as a miscount I was honored to receive the Most Motivational Coach Award which I think again is a reflection on our Team and how damn special we are.

Afterwards about 20 of us had a "hallway party" in our dorm and perhaps some of the details of that are best left unspecified. At least for now!

So. The 2008 Ride to Cure season is in the books. It was an incredible success in every way. After the first Ride back in Sonoma Trish, Aly, Tim St. Clair and I sat there in the hotel lobby late Saturday night and marveled at the great vibe and spirit of the weekend and wondered if we'd sen the high point of the season already. We wondered if we could keep it up and use that Ride's spirit as a starting point for the best year ever. Thanks to everyone involved, from the JDRF staff to the volunteers to the riders...........mission accomplished! The Program is in better shape than ever. We raised more $ for research, we touched more lives, we grew in numbers and spirit..............so thank you for everything you've done and thank you for allowing me to come along for the ride!

It's nearly sunrise time. Some folks are already enroute for Vegas and the airport on 6:00 shuttle. (I've been on that one - it's a quiet ride!) and the rest of us are heading to Sin City for a night or 2 of more being together. Then it's home, then the big end-o-the-season party next month and then...................on to 2009!

Thanks for reading, thanks for caring, you rock, have I mentioned that?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time to get it on!

4:39 AM. Almost time to go and "break fast". A coupla hours before the last Ride to Cure of '08. Team West Michigan is ready, methinks....bolstered by our adopted riders from Indiana and N. Carolina.

Yesterday was grand..............the "Tune Up Ride" had been switched from the climb up to Zabriske Point to a shorter and easier jaunt out to Gold Canyon but I got the okay for us to do both (bad-asses that we are) and most of the Team joined 7 buses of cigarette smokin' Euro-tourists at the Zabriske viewpoint. Lots of us went hiking and the rest of us hung-n-hydrated poolside. Last night's dinner lacked some of the emotional punch of past Rides........different speakers, different topics, etc.........but it was cool to have the '09 Ride schedule announced already - earlier than ever!
Here 'tis, by the way:
Sonoma - Late June
Vermont - Last weekend of Aug.
Whitefish - 1st weekend of Sept.
Death Valley -Mid Oct.
Tucson - Weekend before than Thanksgiving.

Two new Rides! Time to start thinking about which one(s), huh?

Anyway - to return to the task at hand.....we'll be rollin' out soon. My assignment as a coach is to get to the climb up to Jubilee Pass, stay on the climb 'til it's empty of riders and then try and get folks back to the Ranch before the course closes @ 6:00. It was my first choice, but it'll make for kind of a long day. The forecast calls for 100 degrees...and that'll be fine as long as the winds stay away. (Not counting on that).

Okay - time to get the feedbag on. I'll fill you in our day later...........wish us luck!

(Hey Michigan-folk - look at'cher watches around 9:00pm your time and send a little positive energy this-a-way, huh? we might be in need of it!)

See ya!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Death Valley JDRF Tune-Up Ride

Map of the tune up ride.

http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/ca/death-valley/724694951278

I know this will be a shocker...but, it's hot here.  Who knew?

Death Valley, Pt 1

It's 5:30 am DV time but my body still thinks that we're home and I've been up for a bit. Yesterday was a long day of travel w/ all the frustrations inherent in that statement and yet....the minute we (f-i-n-a-l-l-y !) stepped off the bus into the waiting arms of the desert and our JDRF family....all was way more than well! We're all present and accounted for 'cept Jason from Chicago, he arrives today. We hung by the pool, then hung out on the lawn next to our "dorm", then ate giant burgers under the stars ( Sorry Jack!) then hung some more. All together there was a whole lotta hangin' goin' on!

Today it's the "Tune Up" ride out to Golden Canyon and up the Zabrieske Point. The official ride is to the canyon but I got "clearance from the tower" to take our team up to Zabrieske since all the DV vets told the first-timers that it was not to be missed. Then a hike for some, the pool for others, and a few meetings for your trusty reporter. Tonight's dinner will have a few awards, some cool speakers and a brief discussion about Saturday while enjoying the near-surreal surrounds of the Palm Grove.

I can't wait for tomorrow! I think we're ready. Saturday will tell the tale....and then I'll tell ya'll.

Until then..........................

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 29 & Other Ramblings

On October 29 the film “Life is for the Living” will be played @ Wealthy Theater in Grand Rapids. Sarah sent out an e-mail regarding it a few weeks ago. I will be driving from the Muskegon area, so if anyone wants a ride, let me know.

I know that stem-cell research is a very touchy issue for a lot of people & I don’t pretend to understand or criticize those that oppose this for whatever reason. However, I believe that if we have the ability to end terminal diseases by using donated embryonic stem cells or blastocysts, then we have the moral obligation to do so. Embryonic stem cells will not fix your flat tire, or the click in Herb’s back wheel, but they offer significant hope of curing the disease for which we ride. I am opposed to vivisection, but support JDRF even though they are engaged in that practice, hopefully for the benefit of the human animals. If making vivisection illegal were on the ballot this year, I honestly would be torn about how I would vote, so all I am saying is that we all believe different things for different reasons, but I think it is best to be well informed & seeing this movie might be a great opportunity for anyone unsure about how they approach this issue & this proposal (2).


Health Care is also very important this November. I am lucky to have health insurance, but that has not always been the case. If I had to pay for my monthly prescriptions, it would cost me over $800 (over $1,000 is you include CGM materials). I go to the doctor 6 times a year, eye doctor once a year, dentist at least 3 times a year for routine check-ups, plus all of the other things that come up. I get my blood work taken 3 times a year. All that being said, if I paid this all myself I would be spending well over $20,000 a year to take care of my disease. Plus, if something happened to my pump & I had to purchase another one, that would be another $8,000. You get the picture. It’s expensive. When I did not have insurance, guess what I did. Yup, no doctor visits, rare blood sugar tests (100 test strips cost like $120), no blood work, etc. etc. And my health suffered. It is absolutely unacceptable to me that many people, including many diabetics, live in the greatest country on earth & cannot afford health insurance or receive adequate health care. Please keep the pressure on whatever candidates you support that health insurance must be made available to all citizens.

I hope the Death Valley riders are enjoying themselves. When you get back, it’s back to work & we expect a good attendance @ the Wealthy Theater on the 29th.

Sorry for rambling. “I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” – TS Eliot

http://www.lifeisfortheliving.org/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Jingle for the Ride

Please sing the following "jingle" to the tune of the old Oscar Meyer Wiener song...

Oh, I wish I was a going to Death Valley
Riding with my friends up Jubilee.
I'd be helping find a cure for Diabetes
So that finally my son could be pump free.

Somehow, this came to me after working at the VanAndel last night.

Happy trails to the whole West Michigan Team!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A picture is worth...

I'm not nearly as good with words as Rob or Derek. I'm more of a visual guy. So here are some photos to say my piece.

The first West Michigan Ride Team in Death Valley in 2005.

Zabriski Point, site of the annual warm-up ride. Like we need to get warmer.

Jubilation at the top of Jubilee Pass in 2007.

What I'm looking forward to

Seeing a horde of blue shirts at the gate in Grand Rapids
Flying over canyon country
Seeing the Vegas Strip from the air
Watching the Vegas suburbs dissolve into scrublands and desert
Seeing Furnace Creek Ranch for the first time - a square of green in a sea of brown
The mesquite tree near the bike mechanic's area
Snipping the zip ties and padding off of Ruby and going for a twirl around the parking lot
Watching the sun set over the Panamint range to the west as the fading light sets off the colors in the Funeral range to the east
The hall party (or wherever it happens)
The sky at night
Dawn
The breakfast buffet
The pre-tuneup-ride meeting
The Pink Peloton!
Plaid shorts!
The "Sea Level" sign
Climbing up to Zabriskie Point
The view
The pictures
The descent back to Furnace Creek Ranch
The Date Palm Grove
Pasta
Decorating our helmets
Not being able to sleep Friday night
Pancakes, eggs, and bacon Saturday morning
Everyone together in the dim
Purpose
Dawn
Setting off
That line of light coming down the western wall of the valley
Trying not to give in to the excitement and go too fast to early
Badwater
The volunteers
Wondering if Mormon Point is around this bend or the next one, or the next one after that
DRINKING!
Ashford Mills, then Turning Left and Going Up
And Up
And Up
And UP!
The top!
Wanting to go down, but not wanting to miss people getting to the top
Helping
Being helped
The wind - no matter where it comes from
The afternoon
Back to Badwater
Back to the Sea Level sign
Downhill back to the Ranch
Rolling in
Not wanting to be done
Sweat
Crust
Water
Tears
Smiles
Hugs
Me
You
Us
Next Year!

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.

Saturday

I like this forecast better, compliments of Weather.com....


High: 89
Low: 58

Wind: SW 9 mph



Be optimistic people!

Sunday Ride Report

There was a decent smattering of JDRF-ers amongst the 20-odd riders that showed up for an impromptu ride from Velo City yesterday. Present and accounted for were John J, Ross S, Derek D, Linda and my-own self. The weather was scary-good......82 degrees (IE 18 or so less than later this week!) and the wind was hopefully similar. We had a great ride - 47 miles around Hutchin's Lake w/ a stop @ Kilwins in Saugatuck for ice cream.

There's an ice cream stop 'tween Ashford Mill and Mormon Point, isn't there? Or did I dream that?

I don't recall EVER being more pumped for a Ride than I have been for the last 2 weeks or so! I CANNOT WAIT to see the Valley again and to meet up w/ everyone from our Team and everyone from "our" bigger Team as well............'cuz let's face it....everyone there this weekend is a Team Mate, if one we haven't met yet. Let's remember that when we get out there and try hard to remind folks why the West Michigan Team has made such an impact on the Program and folk's memories! (IE......everyone comin' across the line gets a cheer and maybe even a hug!) (Yep...even if they're all sweaty!)

I'm looking forward to seein' a buncha smiling faces and blue Team Tees @ the airport!

Until then.............(unless you have a question or anything else I can help you with).........have a great week, focus on hydration and getting some rest!

Mike

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Death Valley forecast

Oct 17
Sunny
High 100°F
Low 66°F
Precip 0 %
Oct 18
Sunny
High 99°F
Low 64°F
Precip 0 %

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Need some Help

Sorry to waste blog space on this...but, I am making a quick appeal for help to anyone I can think of...


If you have a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium on DVD, I desperately need to borrow it for an afternoon.  MS Tech Support needs it in order to repair Karin's (my wife) broken OS.

details at http://rossschueller.blogspot.com

I'd return it ASAP.  Shouldn't need it for more than an hour.  And, I've been assured by the people at MS Tech Support that this is completely legal.  So...no concerns about me pirate-ing your copy of the OS.  They just need the disk to replace some corrupted files.

Thanks to anyone who can help me out!

Gonna be a lovely weekend - wanna ride?

Anybody interested in a bike ride this weekend (assuming you've got a spare bike)? Looks like the weather will be really, really nice. I'm thinking 40-50 miles, nothing hot n' heavy hill-wise, location and time to be determined by whoever might be interested.

Helpful Hints

Ross reminded me over on Facebook (What? You're not on Facebook? C'mon over and join us there too!) of one of the funniest and one of my favorite blog posts ever. May these tips and tricks bring a smile to your face as the DV gang gets ready to leave (ONE WEEK! YAHOO!!!!!).

Monday, October 6, 2008

The (sob!) Last Training Ride of 2008!!!!!

......and it was a grand one! Sunny skies and crisp temps greeted us yesterday as we gathered @ the home of Sara and Lorna "No autographs please" Meinke for the final pre-DV ride of the season. The route, courtesy of Chris "I got'cher hardcore points right'chere!" Radford was challenging w/out being too gnarly and offered something for everyone.

Others in attendance were (in no particular order):

Maggie D, Peggy M, Team Scheidel, Ross S, John J, Cindy A, Brenda B, meself and Spoecial Guests Jeanine fro TC and a pair of Sara's neighbors whose names escape me. (Sorry!)

J2 and I had to split right after the ride but the cookies were good and the rest of the chow looked and smelled great.

No issues to report except for Cindy losin' a cleat bolt and Brenda gettin' a flat. (Any connection to those mechanicals and the 2 of them stayin' out too late the night before are purely theoretical!)

Bikes leave for DV tomorrow and folks leave for DV next Thursday! Hoo-lee cow!

I can't wait!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Stuff About Death Valley

I've had a couple of questions about what to bring to The Hot Place; that's probably enough to warrant putting up a blog post, so, in addition to what MC just posted:

First off, it can't be repeated enough: Hydration is everything out there - 100ยบ and 15% humidity will pull the water out of you even faster than you think. Living here in humidland, we just don't have a frame of reference for this. Check out the pictures of people from last year - that white crust is dried sweat. You won't even feel all that hot - your sweat will evaporate so fast it'll do a good job of keeping you relatively cool, but you gotta be putting the water back in pretty much constantly. You want to make sure you've got water with you all the time on Friday, the day before the ride. If you feel like you're in the bathroom every half hour on Friday afternoon, you're on the right track. A water bottle that you can carry with you comfortably might be a good idea, especially if you do one of Friday afternoon activities that will take you away from the Ranch.

Along the same "wow it's dry here" line, some skin lotion will feel nice.

For my feet, well, I'm wearing sandals to travel, and other than my bike shoes that's the only footwear I'll have along. A couple of years ago, I did the hike (from Zabriskie Point back down to the valley floor via the washes and gullies in the valley wall - VERY cool hike) in sandals, and was fine. I'm wearing jeans for the travelling, too, and that'll be the only pair of long pants I bring,
too, unless the weather points to some cooler evening and mornings in which case I'll bring my ultra-sexy purple fleece sweatpants. Up top, well, I find myself pretty dang well stocked with JDRF t-shirts, so, there you go. Furnace Creek Ranch ain't a formal kind of place.

For riding, I'll have arm warmers and knee warmers along, just in case. It can be chilly before the sun starts doin' its thing. If you bring some of those, label them in some way, like sharpie marker on the tag or something to ID them as yours. That'll increase the likelihood of getting them back at the end of the day. Also on the bike, in addition to the normal ride stuff (tubes/CO2 carts/tire levers/whatnot), I'll have a little tube of sunscreen and some chapstick with sunscreen in it.

Don't fergit yer sunglasses! Or yer swimsuit! Or yer camera(s) with extra memory cards and batteries! And, when we stop in Pahrump for the famous "supplies," you technically don't have to buy just alcoholic beverages; it's a full-size grocery store there.

One other thing: the airlines are pretty universally charging extra for you to check a bag. In order to avoid that (and to avoid the horror of lost luggage), I'm planning to avoid a checked bag at least on the way out. On the plane, you're allowed a carry-on bag and a personal bag. The carry-on bag has to be smaller than 45" in total size (length+width+height) and has to fit in the overhead compartment; the personal bag has to be smaller than 36" in total size, and fit under the seat. On smaller planes they might take the carry-on bag at the boarding gate and stash it in the cargo hold, then you reclaim it at the door when you get off the plane - that's pretty slick.

So, we've got a lot of serious Death Valley vets on this team - I'm sure there's plenty more good advisin' to come from them!

Death Valley Thoughts

Hey Team! I know that I covered a lot of this in that last e-mail.........just wanted to remind you I guess!

Stuff to send w/ your bike: CO2 cartridges can't be taken w/ you on the plane so pack 'em wit'cher bike if you want to have them in DV. Sending your helmet, shoes and other riding gear (assuming that you can spare it) on the truck means that you won't have to carry it on the plane or check it (and then hafta worry that it makes it!). Your bike needs to have 2 bottle cages (w/ bottles!) and ideally a seat bag w/ your flat tire stuff. (At minimum)

Note - If your bike has any "unusual" needs ( Unique sized tires or tubes, for instance) BRING THEM WITH YOU! (Or send on the truck) The Ride Mechanics may or may not have you covered!

Your bike should be in proper working order before you get there. In my 2 stints this season as Ride Mechanic I've been amazed at the condition of some of the bikes. The folks that are out there busting their butts for us in the Bike Room aren't there to give you a free tune-up. Nor will they have time to do so. They'll have more-than-enough to do assembling shipped bikes and dealing w/ unforeseen repairs.

Ride Day Strategy - We've gone over this so I'm not gonna beat it into the ground but.....I can't emphasize enough how important it will be to STAY HYDRATED!!! It's gonna be 109 degrees in DV today and it ain't gonna cool off all that much in 2 weeks! Your goal is to finish off that 2nd bottle as you roll into EVERY Break Point! You won't want to drink that much, you'll have to make a point to do it. A good trick is to take a swig every time you see someone take one.....or to say "Drinking" every time you do to remind your companions to do so as well. The general rule is that water itself won't be sufficient for the whole day...that you'll need the supplemental electrolytes that you'll get from the Heed or Gator-aid. That's probably accurate, unless you are popping those "E-Tabs" or eating lots of the electrolyte gel chews. ( Clif Bloks, Sharkies, etc). The point is to get them into your system however it works for you.
Other than that - if you ride smart, stay within your limits and keep an eye on your Team Mates....we'll all be fine!

(I'll leave the "Surviving Vegas" seminar to the experts!)

Okay - check out the calendar:
Saturday - Yoga ride and seminar in Saugatuck
Sunday - Team Ride @ Sara-n-Lorna's
Monday - bikes to the Office by 5:00
Next Friday - Last Call Band @ New Holland!
Next Saturday - ColorBurst Tour
Next Sunday - Open day - how did that happen? What should we do?
Saturday 11/22 - E-Nor-Mous End-O-The-Season Bash!

(Hey Did - how's that for a list?)

Ride On!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Excitement check

OK, I'm just wondering:

Am I the only one who's put together a spreadsheet of all the stuff I'm gonna pack, what bag it's going in, and what's gonna be stuffed in to what? And what I need to do before we leave?

We get on the plane in less than 354 hours!

Hardcore Points? Did someone mention "Hardcore Points?

There were plenty o' Hardcore Points for the takin' last night on the final official Velo City Tuesday Night Ride of the season. TeamFolk Ross S, Heather A and meself accompanied by 15 or 16 non-JDRF-ers (or as I prefer to think of 'em - potential Team mates!) rolled out into what APPEARED to be clearing skies and headed south west.

Oops.

Not!

The drizzle machine kicked on pretty much right away....then as we reached the "southern terminus" of the loop it changed over to full on rain. Then......as we started back towards Holland south of Saugatuck we had a spell of pretty-dang-awful downpour stuff - the kind where it's hard to see and there's so much water on the road that you hate to draft 'cuz of the spray. 'Twas a wet-n-chilled bunch that convened back @ the shop for pizza!

Despite the aforementioned 'Last Ride of the Season" status....we have decided by popular demand to continue the ride for the month of October (at least!). Still 6:00pm....but we won't have as many groups and front and rear lights are required.

Feel free to join us!

Hope to see everyone this weekend - either @ the Yoga Center for the ride and/or session or at Sara -n-Lorna's ride or both!

Death Valley take-off.......T minus 15 days and counting!

MC