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,