Our team was split among riders doing different routes from 25, 50, and 100 miles. The weather was fantastic, and everyone finished successfully and without incident, despite the windy conditions, and many riders pushing the limits of their abilities. As team captain, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Out of the five consecutive years I have participated in this event, this team was one of the most dynamic, enthusiastic, and energetic teams I have had the pleasure of captaining. We had the benefit of an entire family (more like a clan!) participating together, brothers, sisters, children, in-laws. We had a young couple riding with us who first met at the Tour de Cure two years ago. And even a good friend who flew all the way out from Chicago to join us. We had a guy riding the 50 miles on a fixed gear bicycle this year again. And yes, we even had a newlywed couple riding a unique tandem bicycle. If you ever wanted to make a bike ride a memorable one, all these aspects are a good start.
This was by far one of the bigger projects I have tackled in awhile, bringing together a fundraising team, doing my own fundraising, and rebuilding a bicycle built for two. But there’s something about the Tour de Cure that brings it out in me. Knowing that it is all for the well-being and health of so many people affected by Diabetes. over 21 million people in American alone, it is easy to make the time for that. Plus, as my wife has come to learn, there’s always going to be something on my plate. She understands and respects that so much , in fact, that she agreed to ride the 50 miles with me on the back of a tandem. A tandem, which as far as she knew at the time, could not even roll out of the garage.
By deciding to bring the tandem back to life after 15 years of being dormant and neglected, I took on a huge undertaking. Putting a bike together properly is a task unto itself, but the fact that it was a tandem, and custom, made it exponentially harder. It really seemed like a battle at times, trying to locate obsolete parts in bins at a recycling center, or dealing with grouchy bike shop clerks who could care less about my special needs, or wiping chain grease off my hands for the tenth time in 5 days, it really took some drive. I am eternally thankful to my wife, Alicia, for encouraging me through this project and supporting my efforts, even though it meant many late nights in a garage.
All the while, there had to be some bike riding and fundraising going on, for both of us.
With the support of my friends and family, I raised over $2800 in donations towards fighting Diabetes. It is their generosity, kindness, and encouragement which pushes me to channel my energy into all of this, and I thank them all for making it happen. Once again earning the distinction of “Champion for Diabetes”, I was told this entitled me the opportunity to hang out with cycling legend Greg LeMond after the ride. I was very excited about this, because it was many years ago as a teen that I saw Greg on TV racing in the Tour de France, which gave me a deeper inspiration for cycling. He was the first American to win the Tour de France, and he did it with panache. Now years later, he’s the honorary chairperson for the Tour de Cure. In anticipation of meeting him, I had brought a copy of his book and some snapshots I had taken of him racing in San Francisco to sign.
The logic of staying the night before made sense, because we’d get to sleep in a little longer as opposed to driving all he way up from home. However, the sense slowly melted away as we realized we got to the starting point about 30 minutes later than we had hoped. I blame the crazy flush toilets, and the fact that the tandem takes awhile to take down from the rack.
Unfortunately, our late timing would have a cascading effect on other events of the day. Several other Wheely Coolers had arrived much earlier than us, some starting earlier for the 100 mile route, and some just normal, punctual people. So we missed the opportunity to ride with much of the club. We also missed the opportunity to ride along with greg LeMond, who did ride the 50 mile route, but started about 30 minutes before us. Doh! We found out later that Stephanie actually was on time, and got to start the ride with him.
We did get to ride with Don, Elaine, Rajsh, and Jeff. So it was a good sized group for the long haul.
Ready to roll. A quick photo, in case we come back in several pieces… You never know with custom prototypes.
Here’s the view most riders get after being passed by us. Comments abounded, from “That’s different” to “Sick!!”. Alicia had a lot of explaining to do back there.
Looks pretty normal from the front, eh? That’s why we call it the Double-Take!
The ride went very well, and the 50 miles ticked off before we knew it. The only mechanical issues were a chain derailment after going over a bump, and another one from shifting during frame flex. I have determined that the steel frame is too flexible for such a long frame, and combined with long shift cables, makes for sometimes unpredictable shifting performance. Once I was aware of this, I could actively compensate my shift patterns, along with a hint of voodoo, to keep the chain on. So my hands only got greasy a few times. So I’d say mechanically y work was a success. The drivetrain, gearing, braking, and seat modifcations were all just right to get us through the route and have an enjoyable ride.
The only thing out of our control was the strong gusty winds blasting through the valley all day. We’d feel a nice tailwind one minute, and then a strong headwind the next. Luckily, with the power of two, we prevailed the course without a hitch.
Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the Wheely Cool riders. I also found out that Greg LeMond had to leave the event early due to a family emergency. So I missed my chance to meet him.
And there they are! After 100 miles and finishing into a killer headwind, Peter, Michelle, Paige, Patricia (so fast she’s riding out of the frame) and Mike (already out of frame) finished in smiles and good cheer. I apologize for the poor quality photo, I blame the camera!
And here’s a bigger group shot:
Willis,, Alicia, Rajsh, Peter, Paige, Patricia, Paul, Mike, Jill, Paul, Stephanie, Christal, Catherine, Stephanie
The only thing I could improve now is the frame itself. It could be about 50% stiffer and have all eccentric bottom bracket shells to adjust chain tension and allow the option for synchronized pedaling. But that’s another project, possibly for another person. As long as we can ride together, and turn some heads, that would be Wheely Cool.
Thanks David and Eva for their time and assistance. And Ming for miscellaneous parts and tools. Most importantly, I thank my sponsors for their support of this cause, and finally thanks to Alicia for trusting me to make it happen and joining me for the ride of my life.