Monday, December 17, 2012

WHY I WORK @ VAN ANDEL (In case you were curious)

As we head into winter (once referred to quaintly as the "off season") I've already seen evidence that as a Team we're at risk of letting a great fund-raising opportunity slip through our fingers.

And that would be a shame!

Over the past 5 (?) seasons working the concession stands @ The Van Andel Arena in downtown GR has been a Godsend - and the primary if not only source of $ for a goodly # of our riders.

"Working VA" offers up some other perks as well.......and as someone that is no longer required to raise money (shhhh!) I thought maybe I'd entertain you for a few minutes as to why I'm there 3-4 times a month all winter:

#1 - Show Me The Money! - Let's not beat around the bush some point this whole project is about raising dough, yes? The fact is that by crankin' some nachos or $1 beers @ VA you 'll be compensated to the tune of $10-$12 an hour. (It varies) That go right into your Ride Account, no muss, no fuss. And here's the real hot set up - this is a great way for your friends and fam to help you out! Maybe your sister can't stroke you a big check every season - but maybe she can work VA w/ you? Now you've doubled your $, just like that. (Bring more workers - make more coin. Pretty simple, huh?)

#2 - You Get to Hang w/cher Teammies - This is my fav reason! Let's face it - not all of us are gonna ride all Winter - inside or out - and I'd hate to go all wi9nter not seeing as many of your smilin' faces as I can. The camaraderie (and potential pre and post shift social opportunities) more than make up for the sweat and the grease!

#3 - It's Kinda a Weird Kinda Way - I gotta 'fess up here.....I kinda like it. The people watching is off-the-hook and there's just enough food service in my past and my DNA that I actually dig it. Usually. (And besides - as I may have mentioned - I get to hang wit'choo guys!)

#4 - You Occasionally Get To Hear Good Bands (for free!) - Okay....not gonna lie...for a Dedicated Music Snob such as yours truly...that's kind of a stretch. (Mark Knoffler was awesome last month though when he opened for Dylan) but could happen! They get quite a few Honest To Goodness Big Names there - and although you can't see 'em you can for dang sure hear'em just fine!

That about sums it up (plus I reckon I've reached the end of your attention span / tolerance / interest!)

I hate to see Cindy struggling every week to fill the spots they've allotted for us and it'd be a HUGE DRAG for some of your team mates if we lost this method of fund raising.

So - give it a try if you've not done so. Maybe try it again if it's been awhile (there have been some positive changes!). Feel free to ask me or one of the other regulars (Cindy, Tom Miller, LTP, Mike Howard) for the scoop and a few tips about where to park, what to wear, how to get in, etc and think about joining us.

Did I mention the free "food"?

You guys rock - have I ever told you that?

Have a wonderful and safe holiday and ride on!

Coach MC

Saturday, December 8, 2012


So - one of the hottest topics every winter (no - it's not "How long will Katie wait to get on her bike?") is that ever popular party game "Where We Gonna Ride This Year?" In the interest of furthering the conversation, stimulating the discussion, fuelin' the fire n' fannin' the's what I have to offer on the topic:

(and I'm gonna try and keep it simple and [somewhat] brief).....

Burlinton VT -  July 25-28. 4th year venue. 1600' of elevation gain. Low point approx 100' / high point 500'. Mostly 2 lane country roads. Nice route out along Lake Champlan. Nice hotel and way-cool granola-y college town. Out and back ride.

La Crosse Wi - August 15-18. 4th year venue. 1920' of elevation gain. Low point approx 700' / high point approx 1175'. Mostly 2 lane country roads in Wi, Mn and Io. No climbing if you don't do the century. Route travels alongside the Mississippi River. Mixed reviews on the hotels (there are several) and the convention center is slightly seedy. Semi-grubby and "blue collar" downtown w/ TONS of bars. Out and back ride.

Lake Tahoe Ca - Sept 6-9. 3rd year venue. 2800' of elevation gain. Low of 6300' / high of 7100'. No century option - routes of 36 or 72 miles. 2 lane roads w/ fairly high traffic on the 1st half , wider roads on the back side. Gorgeous scenery (the lake is within view 80% of the time). Hotel is sweet (Embassy Suites, har!) and the town is way cool in a California Dreamin' kinda way. Good restaurants and brew pubs, etc. (As long as you stay on the Ca. side of the state line! Loop ride - and a "piggy-back" ride (we are part of the Tour of Tahoe - 1900+ riders)

Nashville Tn - Sept 19-22. New ride! 4420' of elevation gain. (Yep, most by far!) Low of approx 450" / high of approx 1050'. At this point I haven't seen or ridden the route (that might change in Jan) so I have no wisdom to offer as to the roads or the route. Or the hotel for that matter. Or the town. Stay tuned!!!!! Out and back ride.

Death Vallley Ca - Oct 17-20. The original JDRF Ride, 14 years? 2670' of elevation gain. Low of -280" / high of 1270'. HOT! All 2-lane roads w/ minimal (but sorta high-speed) traffic. Significant climb up to the turn-around, otherwise roll-y at best. (worst?) Hotel is okay in a "college dorm room" sorta way. The Furnace Creek Ranch is kinda cool, certainly unique and isolated. No good restaurant options or "town" nearby. (Great pool though!) Most challenging Ride- usually by a significant margin - due to the weather. (Did I mention that it's hot?)  Out and back ride.

Tucson Az - Nov 21-24. 5th year venue. 2290' of elevation gain. Low of approx 2100" / high of 3074'. Route includes some truly CRAPPY roads (as well as 2 "hike-a-bike" sections. Everything from back road to city streets. Hotel is off-the-hook sweet - best place I've ever stayed in. Food is awesome. Hotel is a 20 minute drive from town. Great time of the year to be there and not here. Piggy-back ride w/ 'el Tour de Tucson and lots of logistical complications. 8500+ riders. Route options of 42, 65, 85 and 111 miles. Loop ride.

So - there ya have it, as devoid of editorial comment as I am capable of. Please feel free to ask me anything about any of these Ride venues - w/ the exception of Nashville I've ridden, coached and crewed at all of 'em.

Dang! Now I'm ALL SORTS OF FIRED UP AGAIN! Can we go now, can we, can we, huh, huh?

Stay in touch, see you soon, have a fantastic Holiday if I'm not lucky enough to see you before then!

Coach MC

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 / WRAP UP / 2013 KICK OFF......WHATEVER!!

Hey y'all!

So - as hard as is it for me to fathom...another season of JDRF-ed-ness is drawing to a close. Man, when I think back.....

The Ultimate Cycle Challenge in February,
Outdoor Training rides starting in April, as well as DuneCross and Jake's Music Fest,
The craziness of the Hope on 2 Wheels Ride in June,
Burlington in July,
La Crosse in August,
ODRAM too!
Lake Tahoe in September,
Death Valley in October,
Tucson in November,
and our freakin' awesome party in December!!!!!! (just last week in fact)

And woven in, around and between alla that stuff all those training rides, and nights @ Van Andel and golf outings and trail rides and flat tires and (sadly) busted body parts, and laughter and tears and meetings and (for our T1D folks in particular) the highs and lows* of another great season.

*no pun intended

Dang - makes me kinda goose-bumpy to just sit here and ponder alla that for a sec..........whew!

We had our last meeting of the 2012 Ride Committee this morning. I wanna thank (again and again and again) Nicole for herding the cats for the last buncha years and we all wish her nothin' but tailwinds and downhills as she finishes her long pull on the front and sits in for awhile. The committee is super excited to welcome Rookie of the Year Michelle Carpenter and JDRF Regional Endurance Program Big Cheese Kim Monk (who's also gonna ride w/ us!) to the RC Breakfast Table joining current-and-unable-to-think-up-a-good-excuse continuing members Cindy "Van Andel Queen" Aley, Becky "I wanted to be the Chair but settled for Secretary" Machuta, Cathy "the real boss" Coury, Rob "I can't believe I missed Death Valley" Andro, Katie "Web Mistress" Clark, Derek "Coach Did" Dykstra and my-own-self.

The Ride Commitee is ready-to-rock, that's all I'm sayin'.

For those of you that had to miss the party - we missed you too! We had 50+ people there, we ate wings and chips-n-salsa and cupcakes and such. We watched an awesome video (courtesy of Tom Scheidel) and we talked about 2012 - both from a Chapter (Top $ Team in Tahoe, White Jersey Winner Nick C there too) and National (5.2 million dollars raised, best year ever, most money ever, most riders ever!) standpoint.

We also handed out the 2012 Team Awards - custom Road ID bracelets - and they went like-so:

Top Fund-Raiser : John Jasker
Rookie of the Year : Michelle Carpenter
Comeback Rider, Death Valley : Dave "Ninja" Berkimer
Comeback Rider, Lake Tahoe : Ross Schueller
Longest Pull Award : John Jasker  (From 2013 on this award - basically a "Team MVP"- will be known as the "Jasker Award"
Ride Committee MVP - Nicole Lewis

Then we talked about 2013 - where to ride, who's gonna ride, etc. We had a buncha potential new riders there (mucho exciting) and I'm 100% convinced that 2013's gonna rock SO hard that T1D ain't never gonna know what hit it!

So - stay tuned. Lots of stuff comin' around the bend soon. We're gonna keep it in the big ring alllll winter long - training (if you're into that sort of thing), fund-raising, scheming about MORE fund-raising, hangin' out, gettin' together and alla that stuff that helps make this The World's Coolest Team.

Soon - like this week - I'll post what I've learned about the Nashville Ride route - as well as a quick synopsis of the other venues as well - so we'll be ready to get things started as soon as they open Registration (which oughta be soon after the New Year)

Until then.........................ride on!

Coach MC