Monday, June 24, 2013

ADA Tour de Cure, 6/9/2013

By Dennis Pedersen

Whew... that's all I can say! After all of the groundwork laying the foundation for the HP Tour de Cure team, making sure HP would host the event at our Palo Alto campus again; helping spread the word in various ways; recruiting key people to help; trying to get HP team jerseys; helping new teammates get up to speed; and much more, the day of the ride itself is a big relief. But I love using cycling as a way to help people, and fighting diabetes with the American Diabetes Association is so rewarding.

Me and Fast Freddie on the Champions Celebration ride.
This year was my 6th as the Captain of the HP team (my 7th tour),  and it was one of the most fun. One thing that made this year so fun was that we were joined by "Fast Freddie" Rodriguez, the current USA Cycling Pro Road Race National Champion! He's a class act who's giving back to the community through his professional cycling career. His mom has type 2 diabetes and that inspired him to sign up.

Fortunately my fund-raising went well and I improved by 40% over last year for $1,499 total -- thanks, donors! Since HP teammate Bill Kacmarsky (our top fund-raiser this year at $2,537.00!) and I had raised over $1000, as we did last year, we could attend the ADA's "Champions Celebration" on May 30th, at beautiful Silver Creek Country Club in San Jose. (Steve Andrews, Jeff Baltazar and Terri Carter also qualified but didn't attend.) The event included a ride with Fast Freddie who had won Nationals just days earlier; that was pretty cool! We rode out at a moderate pace from the Club, and along San Felipe Road, east of San Jose, through some gorgeous scenery. Check out some video I took with my cell phone during the ride (being careful not to crash him out!). Afterward we had good food and drink, raffles, door-prizes and Freddie and others gave nice speeches.

This year I had more support from HP's upper management than ever, with Executive VP Dave Donatelli, Senior VP Stephen DeWitt and others helping to spread the word, and even join the ride! I wish I could say the HP team set new fund-raising records, but it seems we will be a bit short of last year's amazing total: $21,389.76 so far in 2013 vs. $32,626.74 in 2012. But last year's total was a major record; we still did great and the important thing to remember is that we raised thousands of dollars that will help real people living with diabetes. Next year we hope to get HP's CEO Meg Whitman on board!

HP's Meg Whitman and
ADA's Allyson Schloming...
both hard at work!
And there's still time to donate: Click here to help!

While we weren't able to obtain free HP Cycling jerseys for the team, we did offer the option for people to buy their own jerseys at a good price. Still, because the production date was scheduled very close to the date of our ride it was very nerve-wracking and some people didn't get their jerseys until after the ride. The process is complicated and I was forced to balance between available production dates, getting the order placed in time, and not placing it too early so people signing up later wouldn't get a chance to order. All I can say is I'm very sorry about how it worked out.

The Tour de Cure ride was on June 9th and I chose the longest route option: 120k (74.5 miles). That route took me from HP's Palo Alto campus over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the foggy, drizzly Pacific Ocean coast and back. Because of my "Champion" status I had a special gold bib number (they have red ones for riders with diabetes too).

The morning of the ride I left Santa Cruz at 5:00 AM in foggy darkness. I was worried the weather would be the same in Pescadero during our ride. At HP's Palo Alto campus I got ready, had a bite to eat, some coffee, and handed out jerseys to Executive VP George Kadifa and a few other teammates. I had to leave the rest of the jerseys in a box under our HP awning and hoped the others would be able to collect their jerseys themselves. I left a clipboard with their names and jersey sizes, and that sort of worked.

I joined teammates Steve Andrews, Bill Rainey, Paul Roeder and others at the start line for the 6:30 AM opening of the 120k route. We had a few short speeches, from the ADA's Richard Alejandro; Allyson Schloming; and Fast Freddie. And off we rode to the cheers of the volunteers. Paul and I ended up riding with Freddie and the lead pack all the way to the base of Kings Mountain Road. The group was surprisingly well behaved, all things considered, though I joked to him that he really needed to protect his front wheel in this crowd. We laughed.

I usually ride the steep climb up Kings Mountain as an interval, but not this year. Still, I went up fairly fast. But Paul is a fast rider and got to the top of Kings Mountain ahead of me, and while I was pigging out at the first 120k rest station there he took off and I rode mostly alone for the rest of the day. Food really does slow you down!

Riding south on Skyline Boulevard (HWY 35) I was passed by a Sheriff with his siren on... that's never good. It turned out one of the Tour cyclists got hit by a car at the junction with La Honda Road (HWY 84). I heard that the motorist was confused by the various islands and ramps of the junction. That was scary, and it turned out the rider was badly banged up, possibly with broken ribs. That's the worst I've ever seen on this ride, or maybe any ride ever. I hope he is recovering well... and glad it wasn't Paul.

I descended down HWY 84 through what proved to be very nice weather down to the junction with Pescadero Road. The climb up Haskins Hill was also nice, and I had another long descent to Pescadero. I briefly joined a paceline of riders who however scared me enough that I dropped back and let them power on. Just as we neared Pescadero the fog greeted us and was so heavy my lenses needed wiper blades. Oh well. I skipped the rest station there, partly because they'd chosen a new location and I kind of missed it, partly because I was trying to avoid pigging out too much.

Stage Road, leading north out of Pescadero, is gorgeous, even in the fog. And I rode at a nice mellow pace up and over to San Gregorio (on HWY 84). Another pretty valley with another climb, up to HWY 1, awaited me. The weather was much better just in that short distance, and I dropped down HWY 1 to the junction with Tunitas Creek Road. Up the road a mile or so I stopped at The Bike Hut for another rest station break. Perfect timing for the start up the really long climb up Tunitas Creek Road in perfect weather with light cloud cover keeping the heat away. I went pretty fast, but again not all-out, and even managed to take some photos and videos of the amazingly beautiful redwood-lined creek and canyon.

At the top of Tunitas Creek Road we joined Skyline right by the first rest station again. I had a bit more food, I think in uncharacteristically moderate quantities for me, and took off down Kings Mountain Road at a rapid pace. There I ended up riding with John from Yahoo, whom I had met at the Champions Celebration, and on the ride with Fast Freddie. Nice guy. We ended up riding together a lot of the way from Woodside back to HP, passing tons of other riders along Alameda de Las Pulgas and Junipero Serra.

The turnout for the HP lunch and team photo was lower than usual, even though we had an HP awning this year and the weather was perfect. Not sure why, but I do know some HP'ers had to leave and go to HP Discover in Las Vegas. Senior VP Sue Barsamian even delayed her departure so she could join the ride! Wow! So while our team photo may not look impressive, keep in mind that our HP team had 54 riders, which is still a huge contribution to the Tour de Cure!

ADA's Richard Alejandro, Fast Freddie Rodriguez, and me. I can honestly say this was the hard-partying HP'ers!
  • Bill Kacmarsky: Thanks for doing double duty as HP's representative on the ADA's Tour de Cure Committee, plus raising the most funds of any HP team rider; $2,511.00 to date! 
  • Senior VP Sue Barsamian, Senior VP Stephen DeWitt, Executive VP Dave Donatelli, Executive VP George Kadifa, Executive VP Bill Veghte: Thanks so much for your efforts to promote the Tour de Cure. Executive support is vital to HP's ability to give back to the community. 
  • John Laforga, Kathleen Lindenmuth, Anita Reid, Glen Elliott, Chris Beauchesne: Thanks for reaching out to offer me a helping hand; I sure needed it! 
  • Fast Freddie Rodriguez: Thanks for giving back in this way and keeping it real! 
Thanks again; I am already looking forward to next year's ride!

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