Thirteen years and counting.....join us as we share our journey toward a cure for type 1 diabetes!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

2016 JDRF Death Valley Ride Summary


It’s hard to believe that another Death Valley ride has come and gone. This year, only three of us (Dave, Kevin and I) from central Indiana ventured west for an awesome weekend in the desert, riding our bikes to raise money for a great cause: to find a cure for diabetes and turn Type 1 into Type None. 


Early on Thursday morning, we flew into Vegas and then took a 2-hour bus ride into Death Valley. Once we settled in, we spent a little time tooling around in the desert sun and seeing some sights. We ended the day with a couple of beers and welcome dinner back at the ranch.

  

Greeted by a breathtaking sunrise on Friday, we got breakfast and attended the mandatory rider meeting before venturing a bit farther out to the edges of the park in a rented Jeep.

  

We managed to see some wildlife in its “natural" habitat…

  

…and take in some gorgeous views in the back country.

  

Saturday was ride day and we started off in good spirits…

  

…and happily reconnected with good friend John Oakes who has Type 1 and, at 81, was the oldest rider at the event.  What an inspiration!


In the pre-dawn light and cool desert air, I was overcome with joy as I looked down into the valley at the start of the ride. That joy was the first of several emotional moments during the ride. This is a very special place with extraordinary people doing something very big.

This was my ninth JDRF ride and the seventh in Death Valley. Over the years I’ve learned that the weather can be unpredictable but is always a factor in Death Valley. Some years it is extreme desert sun and heat. Last year we were greeted with clouds and rain and flooding. This year it was wind. Lots and lots of wind.

We rode under a wind advisory for most of the day with sustained winds at 25 to 35 mph and gusts to 55 mph. The first half of the ride was either directly into the wind or fighting dramatic cross-winds - so much so that some riders were blown off the road. In the morning, the rest stops had tents set up to shelter the volunteers and riders. By afternoon the tents were down - either blown down by the strong, gusty winds or taken down to avoid damage or injury.

Even with the wind, riding in the desert is amazing and awe-inspiring...

  

And with solitary miles, it is one of the quietest places on earth…


In spite of the strong winds, I managed to reach the top of the pass at 51 miles (another emotional moment) and return with an amazing tailwind all the way to the finish line.  

After 102 miles, I rode in - safe, sound, and smiling and under my own power - the goal of every JDRF rider.



Thank you, as always, for sharing in my ride; I truly appreciate your generous support of JDRF.  I may have been the one pedaling over the miles and into the wind, but I carried your thoughts, prayers and support with me on each mile. I would not have made it without you. Thank you! 

All my best,


Gary


Monday, November 2, 2015

2015 Death Valley Summary


It’s hard to believe that another Death Valley ride has come and gone.  Fifteen of us from central Indiana ventured west for an awesome weekend in the desert, riding our bikes to raise money for a great cause — to find a cure for diabetes and turn Type 1 into Type None.

Weather is always a factor in Death Valley - but this year, rather than being faced with extreme desert sun and heat, we were greeted with clouds and rain.  It was very unusual to see thick clouds on the mountains and standing water in the parking lots.

 


The two weeks prior had been tough on the park with heavy rains and flash floods that damaged many of the roads. As a result, we weren’t able to do much riding on the days leading up to the big event.  Last year we rode up to Dante’s view.  This year we drove rental cars in the rain, through standing water and across debris fields on the roads.  The view looked very different from the top this year!

 


The alternating clouds and sun meant that we got treated to some spectacular light and surreal landscapes as we traveled around the park.

  

Between rain storms, the team did a short ride to Zabriskie Point on Friday and to see the canyons like we’d never seen them before.

 

The course for Saturday was changed several times during the weekend until the organizers finally settled on a 70-mile route that would avoid the areas with major road damage.

On ride day, the start was delayed as we waited for the storms the pass.  But team Indiana was set to go!


 


The new course was relatively flat but still allowed us to appreciate the raw beauty of the valley.  And it was odd to ride with standing water beside the road!



I got a flat tire at mile 67 — apparently a cut tire from crossing one of the debris fields on the road.  It took a bit of time and two support vehicles to get me back on the road, but I finished the 70-mile course without further issue.



We saw this rainbow on our way out of the valley on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately, it was a harbinger of serious storms that hit the valley later in the day, causing 1000-year flooding and closing every road in the park.  It will take months and maybe years for the park to recover from all the damage.

My hope is that the park will be recovered enough that I can return next year for my ninth JDRF ride.  Thank you, as always, for sharing in my ride; I truly appreciate your generous support of JDRF.  I may have been the one pedaling over the miles, but I carried your thoughts, prayers and support with me on each mile, and I would not have made it without you.  Thank you!

Please visit my ride site to see how I did on my fundraising and for links to the stories of my past rides.

http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?fr_id=5201&pg=personal&px=1269511

All my best,

Gary

Indiana Cure Chasers 2010

Indiana Cure Chasers 2010
Death Valley October 2010

For more information about JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes...

Contact the Indianapolis office at 317-469-9604

Go to Indiana Cure Chasers website OR JDRF website.