Yes, we did in fact successfully complete the 2013 Tour de Cure event yesterday! Mother Nature tried her best to keep us and hundreds of other riders from making it to the finish, but we persevered!!
As a recap on our fund-raising, we received donations from 38 sponsors totaling $2,789 that, when combined with our own contributions of $463, provided the American Diabetes Assn. with $3,252 for their continued work to find a cure for Diabetes. WooHoo! That was a new record for us by a long shot ($1,700 was our previous high mark) and I’m pretty sure it put us at the top of the leader board for our Lockheed Martin Team and within the top 20 for the overall Atlanta Tour de Cure.
Our Lockheed Martin Team had a total of 72 rider sign-ups and as of the day of the event had raised almost $40,000, a number we will most certainly surpass as all of the funds collected on the day of the event are tallied.
The Atlanta Tour de Cure event had a total of 1,266 rider sign-ups and as of Sunday had raised over $702,000! Again, I expect to see that number go up a bit as the funds collected during rider check-in are tallied and noting that contributions can still be made through June 19th. Yes, that means Team Livingood would still welcome any additional contributions!!! Just click HERE to visit my Tour de Cure page and then select “Donate to Mark” from the button bar.
As for the event itself, after participating in the Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR) in and around Covington, Georgia located to the east of Atlanta on Friday & Saturday where we dodged rain showers on Saturday, we woke up to severe thunderstorms scattered across areas to the north and east of Atlanta on Sunday morning. In fact, the weather never did improve in Covington and Sunday’s ride at GTR was cancelled. However, over to the west side of Atlanta where the Tour de Cure was being held things looked a little better. Therefore, and given we had our Tour de Cure commitment on the agenda for Sunday, we headed off at 7:00am from Covington and arrived at the Boundary Waters Park around 8:00am where only cloudy skies and wet roads remained after early morning showers had subsided and moved to the north and east.
After arriving we quickly got ourselves signed-in for the event, picked up our Lockheed Martin team jerseys and rolled up to the starting line right at 8:30am as the first group of 65-mile route riders – the Tour de Cure “Red Riders” (cyclists with diabetes) – were sent off; the 100-mile riders had gone out at 7:00am. We left in the 3rd wave and within 3-4 miles found ourselves a comfortable place in the group where we stayed for the remainder of the ride, somewhere between the club and sport riders. Of course, by this time the still wet roads had soaked our shoes and socks… but at least it wasn’t raining!
While the skies didn’t look all that bad as we rode to the southwest and southeast for the first 30 miles, once we began to head back north I had a sinking feeling we’d be getting wet before we finished. As expected, our rain-free ride only lasted until around 11:45am when, with 56 miles behind us and just 9 more to go until the finish, the winds began to howl and a blast of sideways rain and hail began to pelt us as we crossed Bear Creek on Campbellton Redwine Road.
I felt really awful for the “citizen cyclists” who had gotten out on the shorter routes later in the morning and who had likely never ridden in the rain, never mind a severe thunderstorms. Unlike the seasoned cyclists who were dressed in synthetic cycling apparel which handles moisture well, most of citizen cyclists were wearing cotton T-shirts and shorts, which literally pulls the heat out of your bodies when it gets cold, wet and heavy. And, to add insult to injury, the last 9 miles of the Tour de Cure route all riders had to take – noting it was also the most direct route – wasanything but flat and included several 5% – 8% grade climbs.
I also felt awful for and want to send out a huge “God love ’em and thank you” to the Newton County Sheriffs, Douglasville Police, and other law enforcement officers who were out there making all of the major intersections safe for the Tour de Cure riders throughout the day and in the midst of the torrential down pours. They truly had a mess on their hands as they worked to shepherd fatigued cyclists through grid-locked, flooded streets and intersections near the final mile of the ride route but to a person were patient and professional.
As lightning shot across the skies and the thunder rumbled we rode through 1” deep running water as it cascaded down the hills and across the flat sections of road in between the hills. On the 25-30 mph descents the wind and rain pelted my face while Debbie simply kept her head down and behind my back where it was shielded from the worst of the elements. As we rode through the open areas where there was no tree coverage you could see the heavy rain moving along the road in bands as winds buffeted us and pushed the front wheel around. We tried to do our best to carefully move past the other riders as they struggled against the wind and driving rain, as well as well-intended Tour de Cure support vehicles who were driving slowly behind larger clusters of riders with their four-way lights flashing to afford them protection from traffic. It was truly a mess and all I wanted to do was to get to the finish so I could get my sweet Debbie off the bike, out of the rain and under cover.
As we got within the final mile of Boundary Waters Park we definitely entered the danger zone as the ride route merged with major roadways. Police officers and Sheriffs worked hard to keep cars, semi-tractors and bicyclists out of each others way on roads that were now backed up with motorists trying to move past the slow-moving cyclists along flooded roads. We even found ourselves having to pass slow-moving cars on the right while fording 3” deep water along the final ½ mile of Highway 92 as most of the other riders walked their bikes alongside the road. We finally pulled into the park around 12:15pm and were never so happy to be done with a ride. A short time later Debbie and I were headed for home with the heat on high and looking forward to a warm shower and meal!
From a seasoned cyclist’s perspective it was an “epic ride” to be sure; one we’ll talk about for some time. From a Tour de Cure participant’s perspective it was an organizer’s and rider’s nightmare! I really feel for the Tour organizers who rolled the dice on their “rain or shine” event and found themselves with hundreds of riders on 40 miles of roads with little to no place for them to find cover in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, never mind having their “tent city” blown-away. I feel especially bad for the riders who were caught out in the weather for far-longer than we were, even though our 30 minutes felt like an eternity: it was the longest 9 miles we’ve ever ridden! I’ve kept my fingers crossed that, despite the harsh conditions, everyone was able to get back to the park safely and were no worse for wear once they got out of the weather and into warm clothing. Thus far, there have not been any stories to the contrary.
In closing, hopefully this year’s weather event won’t put a damper on turn-out for future events. It’s easy to second-guess event organizers so I won’t go down that rabbit hole other than to say, when it comes to cycling events weather is always the wild card. Sadly, this year Mother Nature did not cooperate.
Thanks again for all of your support. We were proud to ride for our sponsors and will do so again!
2013 Hall of Fame. Thanks SO Very Much!!!
- Kevin & Linda, TX (Tandem Cycling)
- Ashton & Rene, MS (Tandem Cycling)
- Bret & Ruth, GA (LM)
- Jim & Diana, GA (LM)
- Kanwal & Diane, GA (LM)
- Andy & Yong Sim, GA (LM)
- Ed & Cindy, GA (LM)
- Shan & Eddie, GA (LM)
- Linda & Bill, GA (LM Ret.)
- Mark & Tracy, GA (LM)
- Scott & Beth, GA (LM)
- Max & Catherine, GA (LM)
- Rainia & Sammie, GA (LM)
- Johnny & Nancy, GA (LM)
- Tom & Cheryl, PA (Tandem Cycling)
- Tom & Melody, GA (LM)
- Fred & Audean, GA (LM)
- Debbie & Joe, TN (Tandem Cycling)
- Mary & Ken, FL (Tandem Cycling)
- Scott & Babbett, GA (LM)
- Kurt & Sloan, GA (LM)
- George & Lisa, GA (LM)
- Carl & Missy, GA (Tandem Cycling)
- Jay & Joan, PA (Tandem Cycling)
- Oscar & Lucy, TN (Tandem Cycling)
- John & Margaret, MN (Tandem Cycling)
- MTBTandems.com / Alex & Kim (Tandem Cycling)
- Duncan & Laura, NC (Tandem Cycling)
- Lisa & Paul W, GA (Tandem Cycling)
- Shelley P. (Buddy Bike), FL (Tandem Cycling)
- Tony & Kay C., GA (LM)
- Mark & Karen W., AK (Tandem Cycling)
- Heidi & Al P., FL (Tandem Cycling)
- My Big Sister Betsy, IL (Family)
- Walt & Nancy M., GA (Tandem Cycling)
- Randy & Chris J., KY (Tandem Cycling)
- Marv & Mary B., IL (Tandem Cycling
- Eve K. & Roger S., GA (Tandem Cycling)