– By Patrick Ford
My name is Pat Ford and I’m the JDRF Greater Bay Area Ride Coach this year. I’m also a returning participant in the JDRF Lake Tahoe and Death Valley Rides. My son Lucca was diagnosed with T1D over Labor Day Weekend 2013 when he was 20 months old. Lucca is a happy and rambunctious little boy who has adapted very well to his daily T1D regimen, so we are very grateful for that. I like to ride; I live in San Francisco, and am I’m a regular commuter and enthusiast, both road and mountain. I’ve ridden centuries and have been attending one week bike camps for the last few years. So far, we have Greater Bay Area riders signed up for Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, and Tucson. It looks like we have a few returning riders and we may be on our way to a record turnout in Lake Tahoe this year.
In my role as coach, I help riders, especially first time riders, train and prepare and help answer any questions they might have about what to expect during the rides. On Ride day, the coaches participate in a variety of support roles (on and off the bike) to help riders finish and enjoy the ride. While I mostly ride in San Francisco and Marin, I hope to lead some training rides in the East Bay and down on the Peninsula. I am also on the lookout for some organized rides we can do as a group during the year.
On Ride weekend we meet people from all over the country, indeed the world; those with T1D, their families, friends and supporters. Ride weekend is a time of great comradery, of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Lake Tahoe and Death Valley are both beautiful and epic venues for the ride.
At Lake Tahoe I think people tend to be overly concerned about the elevation (lake elevation is about 6,200 feet). It’s a faster ride than people expect, however. On the actual ride there are a series of about four climbs along the west side on Hwy 89 and then it’s mostly easy rollers along with some flat terrain up and around the north-shore and past Incline Village. Then, there is a long seven-mile climb up Spooner on the east side; once you get to the summit at around mile 59 though, it’s more or less all downhill to Stateline (so I remind people to focus on making it to mile 59 rather than mile 72). In total, there is about 4,500 feet of climbing. The weather usually starts cold and ends hot.
While I did ride Death Valley last year, none of us got to experience the full 100 mile course; major rain-storms destroyed some of the roads in the run-up to the event, so it was shortened to 70. Also, given the rainy weather it was much cooler than usual. I’m looking forward to doing the whole 100 miles this year under “normal” conditions. As I understand it, the typical route is out and back (as was the shorter version we did), with a climb up to the turn-around point so that you get a nice descent to start the return segment. Much of the rest of the terrain is rolling, so you can keep a decent pace.
I’m inspired by my little boy (he’s my superhero) and all those living with T1D, including parents, family, friends and caregivers. If you have considered participating in any of the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes events, please sign up! There are still spots available in amazing destinations across the country. Click here learn more!