Sunday, July 28, 2013


So - the plan was to get back into my habit of posting about the day's events each really was. (I usta do that, really, you can look it up!)

As you might know - I kinda failed miserably at that. By the time I got back to my room - after a 14-16 hour day of hat-switching and bike-wrenchin' and what-all.....I was lucky to stay awake long enough to brush my teeth.


Imma gonna try harder from now on - you'll see.

But - anyway - all I can do at this point is try and fill you in on what was truly a stellar Ride to Cure weekend here in Burlington. The bar's been res-et yet again - higher than ever - and by any indications this is gonna be one All Time Show Stopper of a season! Drag up a chair (it's gonna take a few minutes) and lemme tell you why........

Tuesday - The crew assembled and rolled east. I picked up Tom Miller & New Main Guy Andy Grow @ Tom's and then we picked up Patti "Pea" Bills in GR on our way. It's about a 15 hour drive from the 616 to way 'round that but after the usual amount of road food, gas stops, GPS consults (there's no straightforward way to get here - think Holland to Kazoo for 800 miles) and a fantastic moonrise over Lake Charles we were here.

"Here" is the Burlington Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center...right offa the highway and about 5 miles from awesome downtown Burlington. Nothing special about it (unless we're here) but perfectly fine as home base for a week.

Wednesday - We were glad to find out that we only had about 30 bikes to assemble. That took some of the pressure off. We didn't have access to the "real" Bike Room until later that day so we set up shop in the loading dock. 2 selling points behind that decision (there was also a big tent set-up outside) were the MGR's promise of "no scheduled shipments" and "You won't be in the way".
We  were totally in the way! Hotel staff threaded their way through us every few minutes en route to the dumpster, recycling, kitchen and Lord-Knows-What-Else.....muttering under their breath or spilling beer from returnables. It got old pretty dang quick. And as for shipments..I guess he was "right" about that, unless you count the 2 each FedEx and UPS trucks backing into the dock.


Fortunately it was only for a few hours then we set up for real. With the 4 of us and virtually no interruptions from riders we had things pretty much well in hand by dinnertime, which felt great.

One set-back was the discovery that our go-to Mex joint down on the waterfront was gone...(sniff) but the discovery of a great lil' BBQ joint (mostly) fixed that.

Oh - and a stop @ Ben & Jerry's.

Thursday - Always a kick-ass day 'cuz the riders show up! It's so cool to see the faces, shake the hands and hug the folks that you haven't seen "since the last one"! One of the coolest things about this ride was that over half of the riders (88 outta 170) were first time riders so that was a hoot too! We did our thing....made folks feel welcome, tweaked some bikes, built the few that showed up on planes, etc and pretty soon it was time for the Welcoming Reception. Over paella, roast turkey and alla the fixin's I had the high honor of officially kicking off the 2013 Ride to Cure Season. The folks seemed ready and everything seemed to point towards a great weekend.

Friday - I was up early for the Coach's Ride @ 6am. The 12 of us rolled outta town, along the lake and here and there. (Sometimes a tad more "here and there" than the tip sheet called for perhaps but - hey - we all made it back, right?) Right after that was breakfast, Coach Meeting, Rider Meeting and then the Tune Up Ride. The Bike Room was swamped from 9:30-on so I never got back into my kit but the ride went fine and was uneventful. (Our fav kind!) I worked in the Bike Room until the seminars started @ 2:30. I led the Bike Fit one then teamed up w/ Ian for the "Everything You Wanted to Know About Cycling) one. By then it was almost 5:00 and I had to met w/ Aly about the program for dinner. For whatever reasons (mostly 'cuz she was gonna speak for the first time ever is my theory) she was extra-serious about making sure it rocked.

Kinda made me nervous, not gonna lie.

Soon enough 'twas dinner time. My role was to talk about Mile 23 and - most important - introduce the brand new "Promise" jersey. Not to mention award it! In addition I presented the Green and Yellow jerseys and kinda wrapped up the night. (For those of you wondering - the Promise jersey honors Rose Weisner, a lovely person and rider from Seattle who passed away from a brain tumor late last year. She came to Tahoe to do one more ride and upon receiving the Spirit Award Jersey asked us to keep riding after she was help her fulfill the promise she had made to her daughter to ride until there was a cure. (Damn - I have goosebumps again!) The jersey features a huge rose right above the heart and is given to whichever non T1D rider, coach, staff or volunteer who most personifies Rose's request.

Many of you know the story of Rose's visit to the Bike Room on the last day of the Ride last year...and what she said to me. Suffice to say I was well aware that presenting that jersey and talking about what it meant was gonna be a difficult thing to do.

But it's done now and it went well. I couldn't tell you what I said but I guess it was okay 'cuz people were alternately laughing and crying and.....well.....that was Rose. The winners were Tom and Nancy McManus who were here as volunteers. That's them on the new "Goosebumps Video", talking about the loss of their son Scott and their love for JDRF. (What?!?!? Haven't seen it yet!?!??! Go watch it right now. Seriously - go ahead, I'll wait) After doing that as well as talking about Mile 23...I was kinda wrung dry. I dunno if you can read the words on the sign in the picture I put up on the FB page but they go like this:
 "I wish you could have been there for the sun and the rain and the long hard hills.
 For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road.
 For the people laughing and crying and remembering at the end.
But mostly.....I wish you could have been there."

See what I mean...?

It was a great evening and a perfect setting for the 1st Ride of the year but......dang!

Saturday - Ride Day dawned crisp and clear. About 58 degrees w/ a high forecast in the mid 80's. In short - kinda perfect. So - off we rolled, 170 strong.
Bound for Middlebury.
Bound for 100 miles or 30.
Bound for glory.

There's really not much to say about the Ride. (not 'cuz I have an editor - I obviously don't!) It was pretty much perfect. The weather. The riders making smart decisions, the coaches working hard. The crew kicking butt. The medical staff and tech support bored (just as we want 'em!).

I spent the whole day 'tween the hotel and Breakpoint 2...keeping my VT record intact. (1 Killington and 4 Burlington's & I've never seen the last 1/3 of the route).

I saw tons of BikeFace, I saw people that didn't know each other 2 days ago riding together as if they had done som since they took the training wheels off. In short - I saw alla the stuff we had talked about last night - love, rage, passion, commitment, determination.....

(Dang! Goosebumps again, is it cold in here?!?)

I saw the Ride to Cure in all of its glory.

We had the last riders in by 5:15 - a mark of success by any measure - and then
twas time to celebrate!

I was lucky enough to get to present the Spirit Jersey(s) that night (one of my All Time Favorite Things to do) and I'm pleased as can be to report that our Teammate From Up North Lisa Boldray was one of the recipients! How cool is that!?!?!? Wasn't me pulling rank either - so don't go there! #1- I don't have any rank, or not that much and #2 - I didn't hafta. By the time I brought her name up she'd already been mentioned 2-3 times! Her co-winner was a young lady that is likely gonna be the first person ever to graduate from the Naval Academy w/ T1D next year!

2 worthy winners indeed!

After that the evening continued w/ a higher-than-usual number of glowing comments and thank yous. This was a HUGE success!

Sunday -  for those of you who have battled through my blatherscribble before this is where you'd expect me to attempt to wax poetic about the whole "The circus has left town" thing. Not gonna lie - it's always gonna feel that way but this weekend was so powerful and so awesome that it's different and easier somehow. We had tons of visitors down here as we packed up the bikes. We had 'em all done by lunchtime!!!!! That's a record for sure. After lunch we packed up the gear, loaded the JDRF trailer and our van. We were done by 2:30 and will be home tomorrow night - 12 hours ahead of schedule.

There's much more. And 3 weeks from now I'll be tellin' you about La Crosse and - hopefully - about how....somehow...the Ride there exceeded this one.

I hope so anyway.
But it ain't gonna be easy!

Thanks for reading alla this.....I tried to be succinct, I really did.

But mostly.......I wish you could have been here.........


Katie said...

Thanks for the run-down Coach. I'm excited to the season is open and with a great start!

Becky Machuta said...

Always feels like we are there when you describe each ride! Thanks!