By Dennis Pedersen
The American Diabetes Association organizes this bicycle ride every year, in 80 cities, as a way to raise funds to fight diabetes. This disease is exploding across the country and many of us have been touched by it: Friends, family, co-workers, so many are fighting the battle. This ride event gives me a way to use my love of cycling to give back to the community by fighting against diabetes.
This year's ride marked my fourth, and my third term as captain of the Hewlett-Packard corporate team. Last year the team declined in spite of my best efforts. Perhaps the recession was to blame but I took it hard. Fortunately our individual fund-raising went well, as did the ride.
But this year restored my optimism as we set new records in both team size and in fund-raising: 27 members raised almost $20,000, putting us in fifth place overall in corporate teams! I am so proud of what we accomplished! My own contribution was $2,101.06... plus Margaret who worked the event as a volunteer! Thanks to you all! (p.s. You can still donate!)
Oh yeah, the ride... First we had to get up at 4:45AM to get to the ride headquarters at HP in Palo Alto. Margaret checked in for her volunteer duties while I checked in for my ride and got my rider number. The weather was perfect, and, after some coffee and cake from event-sponsor Hobee's, I was ready to attack the first leg of our 75-mile ride.
There were five of us who met up at the start line at 6:30AM for the 120k route: Michael Gaballah, Mark Uram, Andy Clipsham, Nate Binkert and l'il ol' me. We used our fancy custom HP cycling jerseys to spot each other! These jerseys, with the HP "Let's do Amazing" campaign design, were a fun way to raise HP's visibility and our team spirit. We rode off at a nice pace up to Alpine Road and through Portola Valley. Volunteers with flags stationed at intersections, plus adhesive arrows on the pavement, made sure we didn't get lost on the confusing country roads.
I was also using this ride for training, so when we reached King's Mountain Road I hammered up to Skyline Blvd. at the top as hard as I could, passing lots of riders... I'm much more used to being passed, trust me! At the top was our first rest station where I continued my breakfast and texted my progress to Margaret. There was no sign of coastal fog: Perfect weather!
Mark and Michael had to stop for bike repairs, so Andy, Nathan and I were soon dropping down Highway 84 at 40 MPH! Then left on Pescadero Road and up Haskins Hill before descending through the gorgeous redwoods and past small farms and into historic Pescadero town... and another rest station.
After snacking some more we rode out of town on Stage Road in the best of weather, just a bit of wind as we rode over the rolling hills lined with huge eucalyptus trees and pastures. Then through San Gregorio before we turned onto Highway 1 on the coast for about 3/4 mile where we turned inland on beautiful Tunitas Creek Road. We stopped briefly at The Bike Hut for snacks in preparation for the last big climb; about 7 miles of steep road. I used Tunitas Creek for my second training interval. It's amazing how easy these hills are when we ride them to help other people; my legs and soul felt truly awesome!
We were then back at King's Mountain rest station (more food, burp). Margaret texted me that she was serving hot dogs back at HP; I doubted I'd have room for them! We rode back downhill and into Woodside where it was getting over 90 degrees. What a contrast to the pleasant coastal weather: We were glad we did our big climbs in the cooler temperatures, unlike many of the riders on the shorter routes. We rode onto Alameda de las Pulgas and back on Junipero Serra to Page Mill Road; we could almost smell the Wahoo's fish tacos awaiting us!
It's always special to ride under that balloon arch at the end of the ride to the cheers of the waiting volunteers, and teammate Erika Wilhelm took my picture! Time to party! I found Margaret busy in the lunch line so I grabbed some food and listened to teammate Tony Prophet (our own HP SVP!) address the crowd. Then some socializing at our HP awning followed by our team photo. (My photos here.)
Riding to help others. What a neat way to spend the day!