Sunday, September 15, 2013

No rest for the wicked

I still needed one more ride to finish my R-12 award so I decided to do a 200K on Saturday. With the MS-150 I haven't had a day off the bike for almost 2 weeks. I decided to do the Cape Girardeau and Back route. Miles warned me that the route was hilly but I wasn't worried.

There was construction on I-64 so I started the ride a little bit late. It was a little chilly at the start but I decided to leave my jacket behind. I knew it would warm up later.

I had a little trouble at the information control at 15 miles. I texted Miles and I got back on track. This meant the I had did not have much of a time cushion for the rest of the ride.I got the the Dongola control (mile 40) at 10:30, 45 minutes before the cutoff.

I got to Cape Girardeau (mile 65) at 12:45, 1:15 before the cutoff. I was making up time but still didn't have the amount of cushion that I would have liked. There were a few reasons that I was not going as fast as I would have liked to: I was still tired from last week. The route was hilly. Much of the route was very bumpy. This meant that after fighting up some of the steep hills I had to ride the brakes on the way down.

I also managed to miss a few turns. I can't blame any of my mistakes on the route sheet. They were just due to a lack of concentration. Fortunately none of my errors were very large and I was able to get back on course within a few minutes.

My second visit to Dongola (mile 91) was at 3:00 , about 1:40 ahead of the cutoff. By this point I was not worried about finishing time, barring a major mechanical failure. After eating and resting for 30 minutes I still had 5 hours to finish the remaining 37 miles.

I wasn't trying to set any speed records. I wasn't even trying to limit the amount of time I spent in controls. I just wanted to finish with as little trouble as possible.

There were still a bunch of hills to climb but nothing insurmountable. When I turned onto route 37 for the last 10 miles I was surprised by how much my speed increased. I think I averaged 18 mph in this section with no help from the wind. The smooth pavement and the lack of huge hills made things a lot easier.

I finished at 6:30. I was more tired than I expected but glad to have finished the ride and my R-12. That is the last of my cycling goals for this year so now I can start looking ahead. My goal for next year is to do a 1200K ride.

Monday, September 9, 2013

MS-150 Day Two

As predicted it started raining about 3:30 am. Nothing severe, just enough to let you know it was there. It was still warm. I never even got in my sleeping back on Saturday night.

I ate breakfast and was hoping to get on the road at 7:00 when the routes opened. I was still planning to do the 100 mile route on Sunday. Just before 7:00 I heard that they were delaying the start by at least an hour. I waited inside the hub when a large storm cell moved through.

Because of the delay I decided to only do the 75 mile route. I went back to my tent to get my cell phone and let Helen know. When I got to my tent I discovered that it had apparently tried to roll away. I hadn't brought the stakes to stake it down so a large gust of wind had sent it rolling. Even with my clothes and sleeping bag in it. Some one had seen it and removed the poles so that it wouldn't catch the wind. This was a good idea but it did make it difficult to get things out off the tent since it was now flat on the ground.

This was also very discouraging to me. At this point I felt like just going home. Fortunately this wasn't an option because Helen was still in Kansas City. I called her to let her know what was going on. She said that she was about to have breakfast and start packing up. I told her that I was going to ride the 40 mile route and that she she should head towards Columbia and soon as she was packed.

At 8:00 I started on the 40 mile route. It had stopped raining briefly. A friend of mine who was planning on riding couldn't ride because of a bad back, but I met his wife on the route. We road together for a while. At some points it was raining so hard that it hurt your face.

At 12 miles she took the turn to go on the 100 mile route. I had decided that I was not going to feel about only doing 40 miles. Every time it started raining I felt good about my decision and every time it started to clear up I was second guessing myself.

I was by myself most of the route. I didn't stop at any of the rest stops because I didn't need anything. I started seeing more people once I joined back up with the 20 mile route. By the time I finished around 10:30 the day looked like it was going to clear up, but it was also going to get hotter.

After I got done I dug fresh clothes out of my tent and took a shower. After Helen got there to pick me up we packed up the tent and headed home.

MS-150 Day One

I had participated in the MS-150 three times before, in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Each time I was a part of the Anheuser-Busch team. In 2009 I decided not to participate because I wasn't sure that I would still be working for AB in September. In fact I didn't get laid off until October.

Some other people at Asynchrony were planning on doing the MS-150 this year so I decided to do it as well. There was not an official team or anything.

Helen picked me up from work on the Friday before and she dropped me off at the campsite in Columbia. She then drove on to Kansas City to take the kids to the Renaissance Fair. It almost dark as I was putting up my tent. Fortunately some people offered help in putting it up so it was not too difficult. It's a pretty easy tent to set up but you do need someone to hold up the middle while putting the poles in.

My plan was to ride the 100 mile route each day. I woke up early on Saturday morning and ate breakfast. I started the ride at 7:24. I decided that I would try to ride fast at first and see how things went. Since I was only riding 100 miles, I figure that even if I burnt out from going too fast, I could just rest a while and continue.

I was flying along early in the ride. I rode with some fast people, chatted a while and was doing great. I didn't even stop until 35 miles in. I made my second stop at 55 miles. At this point it was starting to get hot. After this the route turned back towards the south and the wind that had been helping me all morning was now a headwind.

The next 15 miles were probably the hardest part of the ride. I was by myself for most of this section. It seemed like all of the other people on the 100 mile route were either ahead of me of behind me. I stopped at the next rest are at 70 miles and had a nice long rest in the shade. I was drinking a lot of water and trying to eat enough to keep my body going. You could tell it was hot: there were lines for water but no lines for the porta-potties. It reportedly got up the 96° on Saturday.

I decided to stop at the two remaining rest stops at 80 and 90 miles. At this point the 100 miles route had joined back with the 75 mile route so there were more riders. This made me feel better. At each stop I drank a lot of water and refilled my bottles. That ice water tasted so good.

During the last 10 miles I saw a lot of riders waiting on the side of the road. I don't know if they were resting, had mechanical problems, or were waiting to be picked up. There were SAG vehicles patrolling the route so I knew that they would be taken care of.

Near the finish there was a photographer. At an earlier photo station I think I was behind another rider so I wanted to be by myself here. I sprinted for a bit to get some separation. I guess someone behind me took this as a challenge and started to sprint for the finish. I decided that I had to respond so I stood on the pedals and started hammering. I managed to cross the finish about half a bike length in front of him. We were both doing over 30 mph at the time. I finished at 2:47.

After the ride I knew I still needed to rehydrate. I kept eating and snacking until dinner. I made sure that I ate a lot of dinner and had full water bottles to take back to the tent. I didn't want to wake up in the middle of the night hungry and thirsty.

Before going to sleep I put the rain fly on the tent. There were supposed to be thunderstorms moving into the area.