Sunday, November 25, 2012

Death Ride 2013

So, I have come to the conclusion that I am absolutely out of my mind.

I think my wife agrees with me.

A few days back, I had some actual free time on my hands (never ends well for anyone) and was surfing the web, unsupervised (never, ever a good idea), and happened upon the Death Ride Tour. It's a three day bike ride through the mountains of Southwest Colorado. The ride begins in Silverton, CO, and passes through the towns of Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride and Durango, before closing the loop in Silverton. The total distance is roughly 230 miles, with climbs up and over passes that rise well above 11,000 feet.

The website describes it as a "pleasurable tour" through the mountains.

Wait just a second. Since when did hauling yourself 230 miles through the winding Colorado Rockies with over 16,000 feet of elevation gain equate with "pleasurable"?

The Death Ride Tour website cites Michael Seeberg's Road Biking Colorado, and describes the Death Ride Loop in Southwest Colorado as one of the most difficult in the state. It's supposed to be a one day loop, but they're going to do this thing over the course of three days.

Oh, well, that's makes it all better, doesn't it?

So, why am I doing this to myself?

Belive it or not, there are some really strong personal motivations to join the ride.

First off, the ride's theme, tzedakah. In hebrew, tzedakah means to give back more than you have received. It's often seen as a call to give charity to those in need, but is also a paradigm for shaping one's lifestyle. It's a basic principle with which I have always tried to align my life. As a young boy I was enlisted into the Boy Scouts by my parents and indoctrinated with the philosophy of service to others. As an adult, this idea followed me into the military where service to others is a major part of being a Soldier.

Second, the race organizer, Barry Sopinsky, set up the ride as a fundraiser in honor of his parents. I've seen many people riding or running in memory of someone they lost, but always felt insecure about the idea. Would I really be honoring their memory in a way that would make them proud?

14 years ago, my grandmother lost her decade long battle with breast cancer. Less than a year ago I lost my grandfather. He didn't have cancer or any exotic disease, but simply had reached a point in his life where he was ready to pass on. Their memory is not one of suffering, of fighting a disease for more life. It's one of living life, every day, of helping others in the community, of raising and watching a family grow. Both spent much of their life together farming and were both respected leaders in the local community. Both volunteered with the local 4H and fire department. Even after their deaths, their legacy of service lives on. During the recent Wetmore Fire, the fire department discovered a CD my grandfather had dedicated to help potential victims of fire disaster. They did just that, cashing it in to help those who had recently lost their homes to the fire.

Both he and my grandmother have left behind such an amazing history full of serving others. They were both dedicated to their community, friends and family. I spent much of my life growing up on their farm, learning first hand what it meant to create life and take care of others in need.

The Death Ride Tour is a fundraising event, supporting the Children's Hospital Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of ALS. Both are charities that support organizations and people living in Colorado, so what better way to honor my grandparents than to continue their legacy of charitable support and community service to others.

So, now I'm committed, or at least should be committed (to an institution that is), and here's the deal. I have to raise at least $250 before June 8th and I need everyone's help to do it.

I've set up a fundraising page here. You can donate whatever amount you feel comfortable with and together I'm sure we can all reach the goal of $250 easily.

I'll be riding in honor of my grandparents, Dorothy and Jerome Weigel, and I want to know if you are donating in memory of anyone. The point of this ride isn't just to raise money, but to honor the lives of those we have lost. I will carry the names with me during the ride so that everyone we want to remember and honor will be part of the ride.

I will keep updates on the fundraising, the growing list of names, and my training on this blog.

Tzedakah!


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