Dear friends and family,
With your generous support and encouragement, I completed my first 100 miles for the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in La Crosse, Wisconsin!
Inspiring. Amazing. Emotional.
The weekend began with a fun road trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin with six of us from the Indiana State JDRF Team: Kevin Garner, Jim Malone, Matt Kriech, John Harkey and Maureen Mullen.
Golden Oreos and Coke Zero offset laughter-filled misdirection and some slow traffic! We stopped at Fair Oaks (a first for me) for a quick break and had tasty grilled cheese sandwiches. We arrived late Thursday, registered, and checked in our bikes. Our bikes were stored together in one large room…it was motivating to see so many in one place for one reason. We visited the local brewery and were off to a nice welcome dinner by JDRF. Heading to bed early was a must after a long day.
Friday started out with breakfast and the Ride Safety Meeting…a little longer and more detailed than Coach Kevin’s normal pre-ride safety talk! The team tune-up ride was wonderful. Sunny but cool temperatures, gorgeous scenery, and a short ride through UWLC.
It was a great pre-ride dinner celebration on Friday evening.
One of our team members, Meredith Shevitz, was honored as one of the top 5 fundraisers for the La Crosse Ride. Gary Martindale was honored with his JDRF Silver Jersey for riding in more than 10 JDRF rides …the whole team whooped and hollered, even though Gary couldn’t be there. The team gave Kevin Garner a big shout out as the Indiana State Team Coach. We raised more the $1.5 million on this ride alone! It is making a difference…there were riders with the artificial pancreas, more youth riders than last year, and more than 190 new riders.
Saturday morning – Ride Day – dawned early with a 4am alarm!
We met as a group for breakfast at 5 and then set off for the bike room to get ready. We were lucky enough to be in the front row as we waited for the ride to start. What an experience! The morning was beautiful…cool, mid 50s, and with a light mist settled over the Mississippi River.
The ride was more than I imagined…we were focused on maintaining an even pace in a single file line, and yet trying to warm up. The beautiful light mist over the river developed into a much heavier fog as the ride started, keeping visibility to a minimum. It clouded our glasses, bathed us in a light sheen of water, and made us more than a bit chilly!
We stayed together.
The sun climbed higher, and the fog dissipated. We warmed up. The beauty of Wisconsin unfolded in front of us: the green hills, the swirling waters of the Mississippi River, the reflection of the sun as it shone through the trees to the river... even the roar of the trains! It was breathtaking.
We stayed together.
The ride would take us through parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. It was relatively flat with small hills here and there…until about mile 45 and the middle loop to head back towards the start. Then began the hills….who knew Iowa was hilly? There was a long slow hill to start…energy zapping! Then a few rolling hills…and then the big one! We reached the top! One of the supporters greeted us “You’ve reached the top. It’s all downhill from here!” NOT! I have a completely different definition of downhill than she did J…there were a few more hills to go. The downhills were fast and the rumble strips were bumpy!
And we stayed together.
We were more than halfway…and I was hungry and getting tired. Have I mentioned the SAG stops? And the wonderful supporters? PBJs, pickles, cookies (including Fig Newtons!), and lots and lots of water. Everyone was very nice and so helpful! We’d stop, fuel up, get in line, and GO! They became even more important this late in the ride.
At 75 miles, my legs were hurting…I wanted to keep going. Someone reminded me as I left for the ride, “You’ve got this!”, and I kept saying it …over and over in my head. I reminded myself of the people who helped me get here. Gary who inspired me with his Death Valley rides and blogs, and encouraged me when I so needed it. Kevin who stuck with me through flat tires, upended seats, and a few tears. The team! The humor and camaraderie that made the training rides so much fun. Cycling tips from all! Learning more about T1D. Now more than team mates… friends and family.
The countdown of the last 10 miles… we turned out of the wind…yay! It was easier and the excitement of the finish line was so near. All of a sudden there it was! We rode over the finish line…together, as a team. The tears! The emotions…so overwhelming to be a part of something so, so amazing! I don’t think I can describe what this ride meant to me. I was so inspired…I want to ride again NOW. I definitely want to do it again… sooner than I originally thought!
Thank you again for your truly generous support in my fundraising efforts and for supporting me on my ride. Together we did this, and together we are making a difference!