Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rider

WE DID IT!!

Tour de Cure 2008 is over. Sunday morning, Aaron and I participated in the 25-mile bike ride out of Brighton. This was an ambitious ride for Aaron; he'd never gone more than 15 before. And, it would be a special challenge, as predictions called for extreme heat.

Everything in the basic setup for the right involves a bit of nerves. There's the fundraising, of course (and there's still time for a bit more of that). The liability waivers and emergency contact forms. And... the bike rack.

When I was 16, my dad loaded me up in the station wagon to go off to summer school in Massachusetts, and we loaded my 10-speed bike up on the rack. Out the driveway he backed, oblivious to the angle of descent in to the road and the many little bumper scrapes over the years. I remember feeling a repetitive bumping sensation in the car, followed by a scream to dad to stop the car! But it was too late, my bicycle resembled Curious George's after he hit the rock. Only worse.

So, when the bikes are strapped on, I'm watching the rear view mirror the whole way. Last year a bump on Orchard Lake Road nearly unlodged them, but fortunately this time around we had no such problems.

We arrived at 9am, lathered up the sun screen, signed in, and... went back to the car to deposit the t-shirts (one must have a supply of Tour de Cure t-shirts!). By this time, the riders had been allowed to leave already and Aaron was anxious to go; finally we were on the trail just before 9:30. We got to the first turn: 7 & 15 mile riders, go straight. Tour, go right. We went right. Then, another sign: 50 & 75 mile riders, go straight. What about the 25 mile riders? Fortunately, this was the only major snafu on the path markings, and as it turned out both choices led to the same rest stop.

As the morning wore on the heat began to affect. The temperature was already nearly 80 degrees F at the start of the ride, though it was still damp from a violent storm earlier in the morning. It would quickly dry out, and the temperature surpassed 90 before we were done riding. Unlike last year, all rest stops would be mandatory this time around.

The route of the 25-mile ride. The actual distance is about 24 miles; I ended up at 25.01 including two round trips from the parking lot to the ride area

We kept on a reasonable pace throughout the first 15 miles or so, until we crossed over in to Kensington Metro Park and encountered some significant hills. After that distance, Aaron walked the bike up (as did many other cyclists). Also, the 25-mile ride was entirely on roads, even though there are plenty of bike paths throughout Island Lake and Kensington Parks; I find this annoying and unnecessarily risky, and also found that the road was bathed far more in sunlight than was the path. But we continued forward, and finally, just before 1:30pm, we made it past the finish line as the one of the Tour photographers snapped our picture.

Needless to say, we are very proud of Aaron for going the distance! The last picture is just after we finished. As for me, I re-learned that during a bike ride it is possible to get a sunburn on the back of the legs; I also got burned around the edges of my bike jersey. I drank about a quart and a half of water during the ride, and Aaron probably took in a quart of Gatorade. After getting home, it was all I could do to peel the jersey off.

Later on Sunday, horrific storms uprooted trees throughout nearby neighborhoods and left thousands without power. But we got the ride in. 25 miles.

For anyone who may be interested in donating toward the ride, donations may be made via the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure website. My page is at http://tinyurl.com/yp6hax, and Aaron's page is at http://tinyurl.com/3ygh2k. Donations may be made through June 23, 2008.