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What a ride June 29, 2009

Posted by goirishgorebels in General.

I am back home from the ride.  What an awsome experience.  I met a group of great people who are dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes.  I learned a lot about cycling and the things people affected by type 1 diabetes have to deal with when pushing their bodies to the extreme.  It’s difficult enough to ride a century, but add to it the complications of managing blood sugar levels, you really need to know your body.  What you put in it and how to read the signs when trouble is approaching.  I was amazed at all the type 1 riders.  They were awesome.  We also found out that the Team Type 1 riders won the race across America.  Amazing.

The weekend was great.  I had lots of time to meet other riders from across the US.  I hooked up with a group of riders Friday morning who were going to take a warm up ride, so I went along.  We took a 34 mile tour through the vineyards in Sonoma County.  It was a beautiful day, sunny, mid 80’s.  Rolling hills with some of the biggest cedar and eucalyptus trees.

Saturday, ride day, we started off at 7:00 AM.  We could see hot air balloons floating with a backdrop of the mountains.  I’m not sure what the temperature was, but it was cool.  The first stop was pretty easy.  I reloaded on some water and headed back out pretty quickly.

 Stop 1

After the first stop, I ran into the first sustained climb.  It was surrounded with large trees.  The birds were singing and the scent from the trees were great.  I took it pretty slow on the climb by keeping the bike in a high gear.  Once to the top, it was time to come down the hill.  I found that I’m not very comfortable coming down hills.  You can hit some serious speeds and I just wasn’t that brave so I rode the brakes a good bit down.  I made it into the second stop, about mile 25 and got some fruit and more water.  At this point, we were in an area called Occidental.  The little town we stopped in was on Bohemian Hwy.  Neat place.

Stop 2

After this stop, we started to get into some open space.  There were less trees and more hills.  I was off on my own riding up Bodega Hwy toward the third stop.  Along the way, we went through the town where the film “The Birds” was shot.  I got a picture of the famous church in that movie.  Right up the road from the church is a surf shop, so you knew you were on your way to the coast.  Before you get to the third stop, there is one last turnaround.  This is where you choose to do the Century ride or the metric Century ride.  Once committed, there are no cut throughs.  I took the turn and was on my way toward the Century ride.  The scenery was great.  It was different in that the hills were golden instead of the green you see in our area.  With spots of green trees and huge rocks, it was something I had never seen and never appreciated.  Just before the third stop there was a serious sustained climb.  It was pretty tough.  I was at roughly mile 34 and had to walk some.  I wasn’t alone.  This one was a tough one.  Once at the top of the hill, we made a turn and the third stop was sitting in front of us.  So was a view of the coast.  A nice reward after that climb.

Stop 3

The ride between stop three and stop four was much easier.  Rolling hills and no sustained climbs.  Hills to the left, and coast to the right.  Remember me telling you about my concern regarding going down the hills, well, I decided to let it go and not ride the brakes on a couple hills.  At one point I looked down at the computer to see how fast I was going and I was at 39 mph.  Now that was on a rolling hill.  In Memphis, the fastest I had gone on a hill was 32 mph.  That should give you some insight into the grade of these hills.  I reached stop four and got some more fluids and some calories.  I was with two other riders and we headed out to stop five.

Stop 4

Pulling out of stop four, you are immediately placed on a sustained climb.  I have no idea how long this climb was, but we made probably four or five turns.  It seemed that after every turn, we were expecting to see the top.  Turn after turn presented more hill.  I know what people say when they tell you your mind will play tricks on you.  It was so defeating to think you made it to the top of a tough climb and there was more to go.  It just never seemed to end.  We all walked parts of the climb, but we did reach the top.  Just after reaching the top, there was a Caution sign.  This means you are entering a high traffic area, or steep grades with curves.  There was no traffic.  For most riders, the reward for climbing a tough hill is the decent afterward.  For me, it was just the opposite.  I would go down these hills feathering my brakes, riding them at times.  I just couldn’t let it go and ride.  I really feel like if I had, I would have hit 45-50 mph.  Add curves to that, and it was just too much.  Let me also say that the day before, another team witnessed a wreck where the other rider (not a JDRF rider) broke his arm.  When they looked at his speed, it was showing 39 mph.  That was in my head.  So, I would go about 20 mph down these hills.  I would be tense and my shoulders and hands would be hurting by the time I got to the bottom.  That doesn’t help your speed.  The other riders I was with loved the hills and they were gone.  A few miles later we hit our second sustained climb between stops.  I caught up to one of the riders and we made it up this hill together.  Two miles after eclipsing this hill we had made it to stop five.

Stop 5

Stop five brought us to mile 60.  The last 25 miles or so had very few trees and shade and the temperature was climbing.  It was starting to feel like Memphis.  I stayed at this stop a little longer soaking with some water and drinking a lot of fluids.  I decided to put on some sunblock because the sun was really beating down on me.  This is when I noticed all this grit on my arms, face, and legs.  It was all the salt from sweating.  I had never ridden in Memphis to the point where I had salt built up.  I made sure to get some electrolytes and eat some food. 

Stop 6

I left by myself thinking the others would catch up to me before the next stop and I could ride with them.  They never caught up to me.  It was a tough ride between stop 5 and stop 6.  Wide open hills and farms.  There were only two tough climbs but they weren’t very long ones.  At this point in the ride, I thought any climb was tough.  The SAG van drove by and gave me some water because the drink I gotten at the stop was horrible and I just wanted water and not electrolytes.  At the top of the last climb I saw the dreaded Caution sign.  The hill wasn’t too bad.  It was straight, but very rough and headed to a busy street.  No fun.  Another short climb and that brought me to stop six.

Stop 7

I’m now at roughly mile 75.  I am pretty beat, but I met up with another rider from Memphis and we headed out.  One more stop to go and we are headed to the finish line.  The final stop is about 13 miles away, then 12 or so miles to the finish.  I haven’t mentioned the time.  We were sitting at about nine hours when we left stop 6.  We had 10 hours to finish the ride, so it was not looking good.  Kyle (the other rider from Memphis) caught a second wind and started to pull away.  By the time I got to mile 85 I was totally spent.  It was a little after 5pm and it was time to shut down the ride.  The SAG van picked me up and took us to the final stop.  There it was decided that all of us, there were eight total, were at this point averaging 7 mph and would take two more hours to finish, so we were picked up and dropped off near the finish line where we rode in to cheers and music from all.


It was such a good experience.  I felt really bad about not getting the Century in, but I did the best I could for that day.  I learned a lot about pushing myself when it gets tough.  I also learned that I can and should train harder for the next try at completing a Century.  I will do it.  There isn’t a cure for diabetes yet, so I will keep on going.

Thank you all for following me along this journey.  Thank you for all the supportive words of encouragement.  Thanks to the bike coaches on the ride who kept us talking to keep our minds off the things in our heads telling us to stop.  And thanks to all the riders and volunteers at the ride who cheered us on at every stop.  Lastly, thanks to my girls at home, whom I called at various stops along the ride.  Hearing your voices and telling me I can do it carried me from one stop to the next.  I love you all.



1. Audrey - June 29, 2009

YOU ROCK!!!! We are so proud of you!!! Can’t wait to see the pictures. You did a great thing, Brian!

2. goirishgorebels - June 29, 2009

Thanks Audrey. I’m gonna get you off your feet and on a bike so you can train with me.

Take a look at the tab on top labeled “sonoma photos”.

3. Michelle Reynaud - July 4, 2009

Brian, I can’t put into words how deeply amazed and grateful my family is for your overwhelming commitment and dedication to the RIDE and helping us raise awareness and dollars that will soon assist JDRF in finding a cure for Type 1. It sounds like you had such an amazing experience that you will have in your heart forever.

Thank you!

Michelle Reynaud- Mother of Type 1
Son – Alex- Age 16 – Diagnosed at age 7

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