This year I was fortunate enough to ride this event with my father. Here is the tale in 2 parts.
Last year I rode the 2012 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello and I had a lot of fun. You can read the report here. I decided then that I would ride this event again this year. It was a great ride and I loved starting in the dark and seeing the strip all lit up as we rode down it.
My father had done numerous bike rides with us as we were growing up in Michigan in support of the March of Dimes. We had ridden several 50 mile rides and even done a 100 mile ride from Detroit, MI to Flint Michigan and back. The thing was the last of these was over 30 years ago.
Back in May as I was talking about the upcoming rides I had planned, I knew that my dad had started riding a bit again and I threw out the idea of him riding in this event this September. At first there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. It must have stuck, though as there was more discussion and eventually my dad said he might be interested in doing it, but he wasn't sure if he could do the distance.
My wife and I decided that as a bit of incentive, we would gift him with a registration as a combination Father's day and birthday gift. My thinking was that it might keep him motivated to ride knowing that we had gotten his registration for him. It seemed to do the trick.
He started riding almost every day throughout the summer in Michigan. Personally I think it was a good thing this summer in Michigan was a bit cooler than normal as it kept him out there riding.
As August rolled around both he and my mom decided to take me up on my August Challenge. My dad rode every day and my mom walked on the treadmill every day in the month of August. In fact in terms of total miles, my dad actually rode 2 miles farther than I did for the month. His longest ride of the year was only 12.8 miles, though. He was still was leery of the 17.3 mile distance.
Finally on September 12, he got in a 17 mile ride. and was satisfied that he could make it the distance.
Now Mom and dad had to get from Michigan to Las Vegas in order to ride in the event. They don't like to fly, so they loaded up the motorhome and started a leisurely 6 day trip across the country. They left on on Friday, September 13. Unfortunately this would prove to have been an unlucky choice as there were several challenges on the way.
The first challenge was a leaking air line. Fortunately, my dad being a mechanic and always prepared was able to make the repair and keep on going.
The second challenge happened on Tuesday, September 17and was a blown tire near Winslow Arizona. It was the left front tire and not only was it blown, but as it blew it tore apart some of the wiring. They stopped for the night in Winslow after the courtesy patrol helped him change the tire, putting on the spare.
On Wednesday, after a stop at an auto part store, they made it to Williams Arizona where they had planned on staying for 2 days to possibly do a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Then they were planning on rolling into Las Vegas Thursday evening. Well, that day after they got set-up in the campground my dad set to repairing the wiring and making sure the motorhome would make it the rest of the way here. He got it taken care of in a couple of hours.
Unfortunately Wednesday evening my mother started having severe abdominal pains which continued to get worse. So my dad called the emergency numbers at the campground. No answer. He went back to the unit and started packing things up and getting ready to move. Then he called 911. The closest emergency room was 30 miles away in Flagstaff so rather than wait for them to come to him, that's where he went.
11:00 Wednesday evening I heard from him that they were there and getting her checked in but had no idea what was wrong as yet. Eventually after an examination and a cat scan it was determined that she had a kidney stone. The plan at 2:00 am was to fill her with fluids and hope that it would pass.
There was concern since my mom is 74 years old, has asthma and is diabetic.
By 9:00 am, it hadn't passed. So the day attending brought in the urologist who was concerned that there might be infection behind the stone. He determined that the best course was to put in a stent and use a laser to break up the stone so that it would pass. He said he would get her in as soon as he could. Surgery was just after lunch and everything went well.
With her medical history, they decided to play it cautious and kept her overnight to make sure there weren't any complications from the anesthetic nor the medications.
Friday morning they determined she could, in fact, leave. With the need for release signatures, etc. they didn't get out of the hospital until after 11:00 and headed towards Las Vegas.
Now there was a bit of a time deadline as packet pickup was only open until 7:00 pm and the ride was Saturday morning. The original plan had been to arrive Thursday evening and then we would have had time on Friday for a tune up ride to check the bikes and then take our time heading over to packet pick-up. Obviously that didn't happen.
Getting away when they did, and with the need to stop for gas and lunch, we figured they would be showing up between 4:00 and 5:00 with plenty of time to do what we needed to. At 2:40 I got a text that they were near Kingman, AZ and still on schedule.
Unfortunately Tom Tom led them a bit astray and at 4:52 my mom called for directions to get beck on track. For some reason instead of coming all the way across the 215, Tom Tom had sent them on the 15 north. They got turned back around and I had them come the most direct route via Blue Diamond Road.
At 5:11 I got another call, this time from my dad that they were off the side of the road near Blue Diamond and Buffalo (less than 2 miles from the house) and that they had blown a transmission line. The motorhome was out of traffic so we decided that Michele and I would pick them up, get to packet pick up, drop off my mom's prescription at CVS, and then have dinner before attending to the motorhome.
We got to packet pick up and as usual things went smoothly. I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and on of the volunteers suggested I wear it for the ride hte next day. I told her I had last year and will again this year.( you can see it in my photo here).
We then dropped off the prescription to be filled and had a great dinner at Montana Meat Company where our daughter met us. The girls then left to pick up the prescription while my dad and I went to the motorhome for what was hoped to be a 5 minute fix. Unfortunately it took a bit longer as the line had to be replaced and then the engine cover had to be removed to put enough transmission fluid in to get moving. It took about 45 minutes, but the repairs were successful and the motorhome finally made it to the house.
More on this tomorrow.