Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Four years in the making...

(this is long... go get yourself a refreshment and use the restroom before starting to read this)

Death Valley was awesome. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive about what being in Death Valley with ONLY 11 West Michigan team members there would be like. We've always had a big crew out there and I was nervous it wouldn't live up. I also had pressure of finally finishing my first century (which I had planned to do in the less extreme Killington, but extreme rain prevented). Killington was going to be it, and when it wasn't, I've been putting pressure on myself since the end of August to finish the century in Death Valley. It's time.

I will never forget the stars we saw on Thursday night. Most of the team, plus Coach Tim drove up to Zabriski Point. I cannot describe how dark it was. We trekked with minimal light from cell phones up to the top of the lookout. It was incredible. I have never been big into stars or astronomy, but MY WORD. You could see the milky way so clearly. The stars were incredible. We laughed up there. We joked. We enjoyed the serenity of what night in the valley is. We were "West Michigan". I missed the rest of the team, but I knew then that it didn't matter how many we had... we were going to have the same experience I remembered.

Friday broke like every day in the valley: sunny and warm. The tune up ride to Zabriski Point was easy for me this year. I've struggled in the past with blood sugar, and tired from climbing from Golden Canyon last year. It was a breeze this year. I felt ready. The tourists at Zabriski made for stories to tell, and although the West Michigan crowd was smaller, we all looked good in our pink pancreas cell jersey's (well, except for this one who decided to wear plaid bike shorts). Relaxing by the pool for the afternoon was great. I stuck to my "nothing but water" rule on Friday, even though Furnace Creek put in a service window where you can get margaritas at the pool (TALK ABOUT SELF CONTROL - I KNOW!). Having cars made it easy for the team to decide to run up to Artists Drive to see what that was all about late in the afternoon. The dinner on Friday was different this year as we stayed in the court yard instead of trekking through the coyotes to the palm grove. I actually think it was ok to stay... the atmosphere was just as good.

After dinner, we did the West Michigan thing and decorated our helmets. Even though Jasker grumbled about helmet desecration for months before the ride, he & Rob came through with decorations from Parumph after those sent by Mary were lost with Rob's clubs somewhere in the US. With candy and letters to each from Coach Nicole in hand, we all called it a night.

I woke up Saturday not in great shape. The Continuous Glucose Monitor (sensor) I was counting on to help me through the day was off... by 200. My finger poke said 330mg/dl, but the sensor said 120mg/dl. This was not good. It was too late to start a new sensor, so I had to try to get my BG down to better levels to calibrate and hope the sensor reported accurately after being calibrated. Time was not on my side. I spent the next two hours worried about blood glucose levels, sensor reporting and trying to eat a decent breakfast without overdosing with insulin which would cause me to go low. I checked my BG five times between getting up and starting the ride. By the time the ride started at 7 a.m., my finger poke and sensor were within 50 of each other. At this point, I was not planning on being able to use the sensor during the ride and did not feel good about riding 100 miles in Death Valley without that technology.

The Ride started. The excitement was there and it was nice and cool. The 17 miles to Badwater were awesome. I felt good. Really good. I played leap frog with two girls from the Novo Nordisk team trying to catch Pablo (I passed him once all day... he was on the side of the road waiting for SAG cause his tire or tube split - no worries, he passed me again in about 15 minutes). I rolled into Badwater with most of West Michigan team feeling really good. Finger poke and sensor were within 20 of each other (good enough for me) and I was in the low 100s. Took some pictures of first time riders Nick & Linda with the Sea Level sign. Ate a PB&J, refilled water & gatorade bottles and we were off. I tried to stick to Coach Mike & Tim's - get to Jubilee as fast as you can and we were averaging about 17 mph at this point (that's an easy stretch going out).

After watching Pablo take off with a group of riders, we all took off for Mormon Point break point. Rob took off and said "you'll catch me" (uh huh, sure) This next stretch is where we finally get in the sun, but because of our speed, we made it further in the shade than I ever have before. I rode most of this stretch with Pete Dow. Nothing much to say other than I felt really good and kept up that 17mph average.

It started getting warm by breakpoint two - Mormon Point - 34 miles. My plan going in had been to hydrate my insides but also my outside starting at Mormon Point in hopes of keeping cool. I took about a half a cold water bottle and dumped it on my head. Another PB&J and refill the water and Gatorade and Steve, Nick, J.D. Linda & I were off. I think Mike was in the area as well (he said he was coaching everyone, and he was - but I knew he was keeping an eye on us kids from the Great Lake state). Nick & I stayed together most of the next 11 miles to Ashford Mills. This is where we finally passed Pablo (who had Pete with him and knowing them... I figured we'd just keep going and they'd catch us). The water I dumped on my head felt like an air conditioner with the head wind we dealt with for those 11 miles. There is a long straight 3 or 4 mile hill that is straight and you can see forever. I was out of water to drink and dump on me at this point, and had about 1/4 gatorade left for the last few miles. Getting to Ashford Mills break point was an effort but we still had our average above 16mph.

I dumped Gatorade for both bottles having water at Ashford Mills. They also gave us towels that had been soaked in ice to put on our necks. That was a life saver. Another PB&J, a chocolate Gu and an entire water bottle downed at that breakpoint, and an entire bottle dumped on my head/arms and legs. Another dunk into the ice with my towel and I rode up the hill with it tucked in my jersey around my neck. I knew the next seven miles were going to make or break my plan. I knew I could not let my body get too hot. It was time.... A group of us head out, actually - most of the West Michigan team was together at this point. Rob went first but we also had Jasker, Danny, Linda, J.D., Nick, Steve & I (along with Coach Mike) in the pack. It was clear that it was hot. It was clear we were all going up Jubilee at our own pace. I was very happy to have Linda & J.D. going about my pace. We tried to keep drinking water. That hill is so long. We got to the first turn where the hill really starts and I told Linda - 1 down, 6 to go. I kept putting small amounts of water on my head through my helmet and taking small sips. About 30 minutes in, and not half way up, I knew Linda & I were in trouble. It was so hot. We were going sooo slow. Mike was there, and JD was up ahead just a bit. Out of no where, a SAG wagon. And they had ice cold water in a cooler. And some ice to soak our towels. The driver gave us a running push start to get going up the hill. Another 60 minutes later, and one or two more SAG refills I made it to the top of Jubilee Pass. I was in SOOOO much better shape than I had been in years past. Don't get me wrong, it was hot and miserable, but I was OK. The first glimmer of hope that I could make it. I had never felt this before at 52 miles in.

A few pictures later and a few soakings of my towel in ice and we were off. It was a bit chilly flying down Jubilee with the cold wet towel on my neck. A few times I almost lost the towel.

I have to admit, I don't remember much about seeing Ashford Mills again or the 11 mile trek back to Mormon Point. It happened, I was there, but it's fuzzy. I know I was at bottom by the time we got to Mormon Point. It was about 70 miles in and 104 degrees. My feet were on fire. I had started pouring water straight into my sandals at some point. Sitting on a chair under the tent I contemplated for a few minutes being finished, but a few soakings of my trusty towel in ice by the volunteers and putting it on my neck & head and a bottle of ice cold water to drink and I started feeling better. It was nice we had a bit of time to cool down and take a break and I thought maybe I could do this.

At this point, it was Steve, Mike, Danny & I. We had 34 miles to go. The stretch between Mormon and Badwater is horrendous in the afternoon. There are juts into and out away from the mountain base. There are supposedly 5 of these, but it seems like 9. You can see cars for FOREVER driving by and then back out and around. We missed the first SAG wagon that went by. I wanted to cry. It was so hot. We lost Danny right around this point. My drinking water was almost gone and my dump over head & body bottle was hot water. It took another few miles but we finally saw the SAG vehicle and stopped it. Refreshed with fresh ice cold water and freshly soaked towel on our necks (well, not Mike - he wasn't stooping to our level (yet!)). And low and behold... it was GLEN. AGAIN. Every time a SAG vehicle stopped(think about how many times I've mentioned sag vehicle so far), it was GLEN. Poor guy - he will hold with him forever me telling him I loved him over and over and over. Steve was like - woman - leave the poor guy alone. (Dont' worry, Glen and I got even closer later... keep reading).

So after Glen left, we took off. We came around the next bend, and there was another one. We got around that bend and there was another one. We go around the next bend and there was the 1 mile to break point sign. Supposedly. I never saw it. Nor did Steve. But Mike said it was there and that he pointed at it. I saw him point, I did not see a sign. I was totally ready to go around another bend and see another three mile stretch to the next bend. We got about 1/3 of the mile from the break point and my chain falls off but locks so that I can't even move the pedals. Mike says - "well we aren't stopping here, get up here and I'll push you". Mike... did ya hear the part about me not being able to pedal so it's hard for me to speed up to catch you? Anyway, Mike pushes me into Badwater. After kicking the volunteer out of her chair (sorry volunteer - I needed it) and getting some fresh water and a few soaks of ice towel again I felt like maybe I could possibly do this. We saw Rob & Nick at Badwater, but they refused to continue with us. They were done and were enjoying the view at Badwater. They looked too calm and carefree. I sooo wanted to be them. But I knew I had to keep going. I was 18 miles from the goal I had been striving towards for four years. I had to show Ellie that diabetes can not hold her back.

We were almost there. 7 miles to the next makeshift break point. 17 miles from the top of hill into the Ranch. 18 miles from the end.

Steve, Mike & I take off. There are not many people left on the road. Every SAG vehicle that goes by has people in it and bikes on the back. It is hot. Mike has given into my every whim of having SAG vehicles stop. I'm dumping water on my arms, my neck, my head, letting it run down my legs and then pouring it into my sandals. We are two miles from the break point and I need water. We hear a SAG and there he is, GLEN. Shout it with me. GLEN!!! He fills us up and I am ready to die I have to go SOOO bad. I tell Glen to stay over with the boys and pull down the shorts beside the van. (NICE!). Glen almost got an eyeful but thankfully Mike & Steve warned him to stay by them! ha! We get our towels dunked. Filled both water bottles and keep going. (I'm shocked Mike is more than willing to stop each time... he is not pushing us to keep going. I find it strange, but keep to myself). See ya, Glen.

Two miles to the somewhat uneventful breakpoint. It's so hot. The water pouring helps but it's miserable. It is SOOO hot. We spend a few minutes at the breakpoint. I hop in the van that the volunteer has running with air conditioning. Another group rolls in, and rolls out. But I wait. I know I need to cool down before continuing cause this is it. 7 miles with lots of climbing to do. The three of us again. We actually are going at a fast clip. My pump starts alarming a high BG (the first high of the day and I was 180mg/dl - I had no low alarms - that is AWESOME diabetes control people - 98 miles and my first "outside of norm" alarm!). I can't seem to make it stop beeping. It's keeps alarming. ne-nah-ne-nah-ne-nah. OVER AND OVER AND OVER. We stop and I can't get the buttons to press. The buttons on my pump are not working!! At all. Finally it comes up with an error: BUTTON ERROR. (that does seem good). Somehow, I get the alarm to stop.

We are up in the 14 to 16 mph range (which is insane). I feel really good and my legs are fine. We get to Golden Canyon in record time and refill water bottle one more time. The BG alarm goes off again and keeps going. I finally get it to stop (we are talking minutes of ne-nah-ne-nah-na-nah) 2 miles up, 1 mile down.

I cannot believe when we finally make it to the top of the hill. The three of us stop. We hug. I am amazed. I have done it. FINALLY. I HAVE DONE IT. I'm perfectly happy and we are laughing. I feel great. My legs are fine. (did I mention it's hot). We start down and Mike & Steve let me go first. Somewhere in that first 1/4 mile I look down and see Ellie on my bike card. I think: I did it, Elle & Anna. All of a sudden, crying. HARD. Harder than I've cried in I have no idea how long... years. We roll into the ranch and they announce our arrival and it's over. I'm gasping for air I'm crying so hard. Hugs to Steve and thanks to Steve & Mike for helping me. I could not have done it without my two Clarks, or Glen.

Some 'Katie quotes' from right after the ride:
"that sucked"
"I will NEVER ride my bike to the top of Jubilee Pass again"

both are true.

I will ride Death Valley every year, until the cure for Ellie, Tom, Jack, Rick, Nathen, Ken, Ann and all of my other friends who are affected by type 1 is found.

For anyone who wants to join us, Rob, Steve & I will be in the Valley on Oct 16th, 2010, riding 90+ miles. ;-)


Hey guys! The 2009 season might be winding down but there's still lots going on and let's face it...the 2010 season is right around that corner! (Many of us have a good start on our fund-raising for next year thanks to all the Van Andel events Cindy is setting up - you REALLY oughta catch that train!).

Here's a few things worth considering: (in chronological order instead of by coolness level)

Saturday 10/31 - Halloween Party @ Saugatuck Brewery w/ Last Call , Delilah and the Lost Boys and The Concussions. 8:00-Midnight

Sunday11/1 - 'Cross race @ Riverside Park - see some of your team mates suffer in the mud! 11:00-1:00 and there's chili and soup!

Sunday 11/8 - The "Chili Chilly Ride" here @ the shop! Meets @ 2:00, rolls for 30-40 miles and then there's the famous chili cook off!

Monday 11/9 - Jeff Bannink of Team Type One in GR - you should've gotten an e-mail about this, let me know if you haven't (or deleted it)

Tuesday 11/10 - Jeff Bannink in Holland - 4:00-6:00 @ New Holland Brewery - a chance to meet Race Across America Member and Holland native and chat him up about the race, the team, riding w/ Type 1 - you name it!

Saturday 11/14 - PARTY PARTY PARTY! It's time for our annual end of the season bash and blow out! You should have received an E-vite by now - lemme know if you don't have it!

Sunday 11/15 - 'Cross race @ Manhattan Park in GR - more mud, more suffering. Same time as the last one.

See? Lots of bike stuff and you don't even hafta ride for most of it! (Not to imply that's a good thing!)

I hope to see you guys at lotsa this stuff - and I realluy hope to see you @ Van Andel soon!

Coach Mike

Monday, October 19, 2009


You'd think that I'd get used to it. After all - this makes 4 Rides this season and 9 in the past 2 so you'd think that I'd be used to the weird conflicting feelings of joy, relief, sadness and exhaustion that fill me on the Sunday of a ride weekend.

You'd think that - but you'd be wrong. Way wrong.

It's hard to come back to the ranch (after a great morning of hiking - more later) and see the bare spot on the grass where the bike room tent was...w/ a few sliced zip ties and a valve nut or two mute testimony to the efforts of 5 guys to make sure 180 bikes were ready. It's weird-n-painful to realize that the cleaning lady came by and transformed room 512 from the nerve center of the whole weekend back into a plain ol' hotel room again.

It's just weird. It's like the circus has left town...again...and even though it was great and you can still feel the excitement and passion and sweat and tears in the very's.....still.....more than a little sad.

Hell, maybe it's just me.

Anyway - the aforementioned circus has for damnsure left town and by now the various players have re-scattered from Las Vegas to Denmark and everywhere in between. 'Cept us. "Us", in this particular case is Lin, Pablo, JD, Maggie and my-own-bad-self. We had a great day here today - we hiked out to the Natural Bridge, we drove up to Dante's View and hiked up to the viewpoint, we hung by the pool, we drove Artist's Canyon @ sunset and then drove down to Stovepipe Wells for dinner. Nice, nice, nice.

Tomorrow we all head home save for Pablo. (Repeat after me "he's here on a research project for school!") and before you know it........this 5th Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes for the West Michigan Team will be a fond memory.

But we all know that it'll forever be more than that - a LOT more! It was a statement of 200+ people's drive to cure diabetes and have a special, bonding, powerful time while doing so. It was Katie crossing the finish line, Chris poundin' out 90+ miles (mostly by himself), it was Pablo and John and Pete and Rob and Steve and JD and Linda and Nick all riding so well and showing the JDRF world that our Team doesn't hafta be the biggest to make the most noise! It was Maggie and Becky rockin' it out @ the top of the Pass at the #1 break point too!

Damn I love you guys!

So proud of everyone.
So happy for everyone.
(So tired)

I hope to see all of you @ the big party next month, I hope to see all of you online soon as we share pix and stories of this weekend and the whole dang season.

Let the wild rumpass begin!

Coach Mike

Sunday, October 18, 2009


So - not sure what happened to the hilarious and touching report I a-l-m-o-s-t got posted last night. Trust me when I say that you would've laughed, cried and mebbe even peed your pants. No way to re-create it though so you'll hafta settle for this. It's all I got.

Friday - Breakfast, pre-ride meeting and then tune-up ride. Since we're too cool to follow the crowd these days we decided as a team to take a pass on the lame lil' ride out to Golden Canyon and headed straight for Zabriskie Point. That climb is always a pisser - it's 5 miles up from here if you've not done it - and when we got to the lookout we were once again sharing it w/ approx 123, 584, 594 euro tourists. Still - always a sweet way to wake up travel-heavy legs. While we were all grouped for a photo op some dude grabbed my bike and started posing w/ it like we was a rider. That was weird enough, but harmless, so I was cool w/ it but then he freakin' climbed on and started weaving through all the other euro tourists! I was still tryin' to decide just what to do about it when he decided that his buds had enough shots of him bein' big bad bike guy and put it back. No harm no foul - I guess - but I was wonderin' how he'd feel if some dude climbing behind the wheel of his Ferrari and started pretending to drive it while folks took pics, And then fired it up for a few hot laps' 'round the parking lot.

Too weird.

After that we split up w/ J2, Pablo, dude from Indy and I heading up for a few more miles of climbing before enjoying a full 10 miles of descent back to the Ranch. After lunch we scattered a bit - Nick for the hike, a group for a drive through Artist's Canyon and a buncha us for the pool. After I did the bike seminar w/ TSC and Mike Malekoff 'twas dinner time. The "program" was short and sweet, they awarded the green and yellow jerseys and then we had our obigatory helmet session. Thanks to good ol' John "I hate helmet crap" Jasker for steppin' up after our stuff was lost w/ Rob's golf clubs on the way out. After a bit of that...and some sweet-n-serious "why & how we're here & what it means to us" chat most of us called it a night w/ JD, J2 and Maggie taking advantage of the free star gazing session over by the airstrip.

That brings us to Saturday. Ride day. We rolled out in perfect conditions, 170 strong. The ride to Badwater was the best ever as I rode w/ Lin, JD and Pablo. We grouped up again there and the bit to Mormon Point went smoothly as well. After that things got tougher - we had a really pissy headwind for all those l-o-n-g climbs leading up to the Ashford Mills breakpoint and that made things tough. From there we headed up the pass - I was w/ Lin, Katie, Steve & JD @ that point w/ everyone else up the road and Chris behind us. The climb was tough - by then you're in the full-on sun and heat and...well.....7 miles of climbing is just that - 7 frickin' miles of climbing! We all got there and after some recovery and pix we turned back for the return trip. Our group bid farewell to JD @ Ashford Mills and the 5 of us (Lin, Katie, Steve, Danny-from-Indy and I) made our way back to Mormon Point in decent time. We'd lost Lin to a sag wagon at that point, and would soon lose Danny as well, but the 3 other Clarks were kinda on a mission and that mission was to see Katie cross the line w/ not only her first-ever century but having completed this ride.

And I'm completely happy to say "Mission Accomplished". She was a rockstar all day - riding strong, hydrating, keeping cool. It was a great thing to see. Steve was his strong-n-steady self and we rolled in w/ 20 minutes to spare. The scene @ the line - w/ all of our team mates there in keeping w/ the West Michigan tradition - is something that'll give me goose bumps for a long time! (Oops - there they are now! See 'em?)

At dinner that night we enjoyed a slide show of the weekend and the twin highlights of Maggie and Becky's breakpoint winning the best rest stop award and then Katie receiving the polka dot "Spirit" jersey!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whatta great way to wrap up a great day! Then it was on to the hallparty where everyone but me enjoyed the now-traditional "watch MC roll around on the floor w/ cramps" show and talked about everything from yesterday to next year.

Congrats to everyone on the Team - everyone rode so well - JD got to the top of Jubilee, Lin rode 70 + miles in the brutal heat, Chris rode out to Ashford Mills and back (90 some miles!), Nick and Rob rode up to the top of the Pass and then all the way back to Badwater, J2 was his usual strong self, so was Pete and they rode the whole ride. Pablo rode his longest ride ever by over 40 miles and finished the whole course strong and...........well................I already toldja 'bout Steve and Katie.

I'm outta words to describe how I feel about everyone on this are ALL rockstars in my book - DV riders, VT riders, past've done so much and, well, I can't wait for 2010!

Talk to you all soon, hopefully.

Coach Mike


Okay so I had this 3/4 written and then I somehow deleted it. Too tired to re-do tonight - I'll do it tomorrow.

MC Fried

Friday, October 16, 2009


So - the 1st full day in the Valley. When we got here yesterday afternoon we couldn't unload the truck so we couldn't set up the Bike Room either. No worries - this ain't a bad place to be w/ nothing to do!
But - today was different. After breakfast we unloaded the truck and started assembling and tuning up the 170 some bikes. Everyone else on this crazy circus showed up either yesterday or today so by lunchtime the whole shebang was in place and Furnace Creek was once again Ride to Cure Central. Thanks to the stellar work of Berger, Glenn. Samuel and Chris Kegal we got every bike built tuned and aired up by about 7:30 tonight. Along the way our Team showed up....along w/ everyone else from all over the world. There's a big international contingent from Europe - Denmark, Spain, Poland.......mostly associated / Novo Nordisc. (Lotsa funky bikes too). Dinner was burgers, dogs and salad under the stars and then pretty much the entire team + Tim St. Clair headed up to Zabrieskie Point for some star gazing and it. Was. Awesome. Every star in the sky, just out of reach and there just for us.
'Twas a l-o-n-g day and I was glad to call it about 10:00. Tomorrow will be great - Coach's meeting, tune-up ride, more hanging by the pool. I can handle it.

Stay tuned - we miss all of you back home and we Sure As All Hell wish we had the whole team out here w/ us.

Many hugs!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Death Valley Bound's come to this, has it? 48 hours from now Lin and I as well as Bike Room Dudes Berger, Gleen and #1 Son Sam will be en route to DV, to be followed a day later by the Rest of The Team - John, JD, Pablo, Steve, Katie, Rob, Pete, Nick and Chris. Despite the fact that this will be the smallest presence that our Chapter has ever had in DV - we go knowing that our impact will be far greater than the number of riders we have 'cuz we'll be riding for all of you, just like you all did for us in VT.

No one could have forecast the impact that our lil' 'ol Chapter would have on the Ride Program when we started it 5 short years ago......Tom's movie, the title of "Largest Team, the title of "Fastest Growing Team", the impact our passion and friendliness and energy has had on the other the other teams and the staff is imeasurable and that's all 'cuz of you guys!

Just like the end of the movie - I can't wait for next year. I'm not lookin' past DV (or Tucson for that matter) but I'm also thinking about what we need to do in 2010 and what we can do better. Everyone knows it was a tough and challenging year for raising $ and 2010's not likely to be different. We're going to lose some riders - we always do - and we need to remember to cherish them as they move on to other challenges or maybe just take a break - they are our team mates forever, right? Let's be thinking about who we might recruit - let's be thinking about what Ride we wanna do in 2010 and............if you think of it...........@ about 2:00pm local time on Saturday howzabout you shoot a little positive energy and "bikema" (it's like "karma" on 2 wheels) westward for your team mates that'll be climbing up Jubilee Pass right about then? I'm sure that they'd appreciate it and I would too.

Even if I had the biggest Thesauras in the world sittin here on my desk I couldn't find the words to describe how proud I am to be a part of this w/ you all! It's been a wild and wondeful ride and I don't wanna ever get off!

You guys rock - but you know that, right?


Coach Mike

Friday, October 9, 2009

Big Weekend a-Comin'!

Hey Team!

Who's ridin' Colorburst on Saturday? The forecast could be better (but it could be worse too!) and I know that Did, Cath and I are on for sure and Brian J is a "likely". Anyone else?

As if that wasn't more-than-enough for one band is playin' the Saugatuck Brewery that night from 7:00 'til 11:00 or so. This will be the world debut of your team mate and mine Cathy Tahy (you might know her as "Priest") as guest-star vocalist!!!!!!!!! Just think - years from now you can say "I saw her @ her first-ever gig!"

Annnnnnnnnd - if you have anything left on Sunday - it's the Pineapple Bob Classic ride here @ the shop. We roll @ 2:00, there are 35 and 48 mile loops, both of which are at least 30% gravel and dirt roads. Homebrew and yummy munchies back here @ the shop!

Hope to see you @ one or all of these-here good times!

Coach Mike

Monday, October 5, 2009


Really? Is this really the last official post-ride report for 2009? Really?

We had a nice mapless and tip sheetless (we're so adventurous!) 40 miles to Grand Haven and back today...managed to avoid the rain, chat lots about the upcoming DV trip, and even celebrate Pablo's birthday! Most of us were able to avoid the disturbing number of roadkill items along our way...and only one flat for the group. All in all--a really nice way to wrap up the season, if I do say so myself.

These rockin' folks were part of our velo posse today:

Chris M
Rhonda (SGS co-piloting the tandem with Mike)
Stacey (SGS and quickly become a fast friend to all)
Berger (decidedly losing his SGS status...just because we love having him around so much!)

Afterward, we headed over to New Holland for pizza, apps, beer, diet coke, and a grand old time. Thanks for joining us, Clark #2 and Machuta families, too!'s now upon us. Just a couple of days until the truck whisks your bikes away to Death Valley, and just over a week until you all leave on jet planes to go there yourselves. I've made no secret of my immeasurable envy that this trip is coming up and I won't be able to hang with you this year. But....please know, especially you first-timers, that it's only because I have an idea of the incredible journey that you're about to undertake, and the gut-busting laughs you're about to have by the spring-fed pool as Rob paints his toenails.

Soak up every moment, and know that your long season of training, regardless of the number of miles you end up logging on ride day, is all worth it at the end of the day. Make lots of new friends, and laugh heartily with your old ones. And send lots of pictures back, would ya?