Overcast and cool morning yields brilliant sunshine and heat in the afternoon. In my fifth year as Ride Director, I decided that I needed a change of routine. Normally, I ride the 65-mile course, chat with riders and rest stop volunteers, and feel how the event is going from the saddle. It lets me see what’s working, and more importantly what’s not working, from a rider perspective. But that means I’ve always been one of the “late riders” arriving at the finish line party. Riders start coming back at 11am, with all of the shorter routes done by 1pm. So I experience what the distance riders see – a mostly empty stadium, the band winding down, and the vendors packing up and going home. We have the “Last Rider Oasis”, which is a mini-party specifically for these last 50 or so riders, which is a huge morale boost for them. But I only hear second-hand the reports of the “victory dances” that take place earlier in the day.
This year, I decided to captain the 5-mile Family Ride. It’s the last of five routes to leave the stadium, the first to get back. It allowed me to see the half of the event I hadn’t seen – ALL of the rider sendoffs, and all of the lunch and stadium party. Margo joined me on the loop, riding caboose for the first lap. I rode a second lap to pick up stragglers (the kids on trikes). Before riding, I sent off the four waves of distance riders with the safety talk.
After the riding, we were eventually joined by our 9 other team members, sharing a well earned Team Tent for the first time.
I don’t know what the final numbers will be this year. Whether we made our number goals or not. But I can say for certain that this was the most emotionally satisfying Tour I have managed in the 5 years. Seeing all of the families and new riders participating in the shorter distances, walking through the stadium party, watching the kids, sitting at my overflowing TeamNakagawa tent (shared by team, friends, and riders from our Training Rides). And I lost count at the number of people who thanked me for all the work that I had done during the year.
It was a record year for TeamNakagawa. As of ride day, we had 11 riders, two Champions ($1000+ fundraisers), and had the 7th largest team fundraiser of the event, at over $5300. And for another year, Margo and I have a great set of donors that combined gave $1500+ on our behalf.
I know I always tell folks that Tour de Cure Oregon isn’t about me and what I do. I only do a fraction of the work that it takes to pull it off. It doesn’t happen without the great people I work with every year. My grandfather always told me not to get a big head over the praise I’d receive about my grades in school, and I think I always took that to heart with everything I do. But every now and then, I need to let it in, and restock the batteries.
My lesson from 2013 Tour de Cure. I’m ready for another year 🙂
My full collection of pictures from Tour de Cure is now available on Smugmug