OK, well maybe that is a bit overstated 🙂 … or maybe not.
Last Saturday September 23, Club 815 Powered by the EDPA Foundation saddled up to ride and to raise money for Mike and Janet Swartout. The event was the Eschelon Gran Fondo of Hood River.
To say that this event and everything leading up to it took on a life of its own would not be descriptive enough. This event became one of the most personally inspiring events of my life. And it was not just about the “day” of the ride.
From the outset, each team member took this ride very seriously. Serious in their training, serious in the way they raised funds, and serious in their understanding of why we were riding. We were riding for one of our own — much more than just a co-worker, associate, or friend. Everyone approached this ride like it was for a family member. And it was.
I wanted to acknowledge this TEAM of exceptional people:
- Tony “Layers” Ricci
- Betsy “Veggies” Ricci
- Greg “Marathon Man” Garrett
- Mel “Crash” White
- Dave “Weird Science” Brown
- Charlie “Super G” Shivel
- Joel “Grumps” Roy
- Grant “King Of The Mountain” Murrell
- And…myself Kevin “White Cheeks” Carty…don’t ask…cause I won’t tell
To my fellow riders — Proud, Honored, Inspired and Blessed are the words that come to mind when I try to describe how I feel about your participation, training, and dedication to the ride. You all are exceptional individuals that I am fortunate to count as friends in life.
Some particular comments….
Mel White…I am particularly proud of you my friend. You trained like no other. And it was not just that you were training for the ride. You really put your heart and soul into the “cause”– the real reason we all were there. Thank you!
For those of you who don’t know. Mel fell hard on one of the downhills and separated his shoulder. And kept riding!!
Dave Brown…Since I first mentioned this event, you were all in. During his training, Dave would send me his training ride stats. How far, how fast he rode, and how he felt during the training ride. One thing was always consistent. He would say “whenever it got hard I just kept telling myself this is nothing compared to what Mike is going through.”
Grant Murrell…my stepfather. Grant and my mother have been two of my biggest supporters, certainly in life, but especially when it comes to all things cancer related. When I told them about Mike, they both just said, “What can we do?” Thanks for always being so supportive. All my friends from the ride appreciated getting to know you both. Thanks Mom for being a “Mom” to us all on the day of the ride
Charlie Shivel…Dude, all I can say is that your source for inspiration on this ride “inspired” me. Referring to your fundraising letter in particular, it bled character! Thanks again for hanging with the slow rider for awhile at the beginning. It was fun riding together for 40 miles or so.
Joel Roy…I am been trying to get Joel to do one of my crazy events for years. Once he heard about this one and why we were doing it he committed immediately. Hopefully now that you have done one of these, you think I am a little less crazy than before.
Greg Garrett…Greg is an iron man. He came off riding across the entire State of Iowa for Rag Brai to do this event. And thankfully Greg shares a similar riding style as me. We essentially rode the entire 80 miles together. Good fun and great opportunity to get to know you even better my friend.
Tony and Betsy Ricci… Our resident couple on the ride. They flew all the way from Florida for the event. Granted they have recently adopted Oregon as their second home for vacations, but they both trained very hard on the flat lands of Florida for this mountain-filled ride. And they did amazing. Thanks for showing us how great it can be sharing events like this with the ones closest to you. Very cool!
Lastly from the entire team — Mike and Janet, you were our fuel. Seeing you at the start line in the morning gave us inspiration and motivation to attack the nearly 7000 feet of climbs. Then to actually see you out there on the course rooting us along as we topped the big climbs was awesome! Could not have asked for better cheerleaders.
In closing, one post ride comment: “We may have bit off more than we could chew.” Let me explain in case the other riders do not want to brag. This ride was so HARD. So hard that the organizers actually backed off from 100 miles to 80 in the final week or so. Along with there being 7000 feet in climbs, we were all greeted at the 50 mile marker by 45 mph winds. Not gusts! Steady wind. What does that look like? Here is the best way I can describe what that does to a rider.
As I came off the biggest climb (1400 ft and 6%-9% grade), we had a downhill that was nearly 6 miles long. Normally coasting time baby. But not when that wind shifted into a headwind. I literally had to peddle downhill for 6 long miles. As if the climb was not hard enough!
Anyway, I want to thank you all again for supporting our team. Without your generosity in donations, we would not have been talking about this today. You truly helped to make a difference not only for Mike and Janet, but also in the hearts and minds of all nine of us that rode. Thanks so much
To Jeff Provost, Dave Walens, and the entire team from the EDPA Foundation, thanks for your generous support in being the vehicle for our fundraising efforts
To the team, see you next year. We are already planning our next adventure.
Make sure you take a look at the slideshow here. You can see some of the beauty of our great state and the riders that took on the challenge.
Be well and have a wonderful weekend.