Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ride to Defeat ALS - Wayland, MA

Let me start this ride report by saying that it was an honor to ride for and help raise money and awareness for ALS. Reminding myself what I was riding for was the only thing that kept me going during this ride. The account of the ride that I am about to write, is in no way a complaint about the ride. Given the exact same circumstances I would happily do the ride again. Next year I will be much better prepared.

SO, the day before this ride I did a 64 mile ride along the New England coast from Newburyport, MA to Kittery Point, ME and back. The temp was a little cooler than I expected, but I figured that was because I was right on the water, and it was windy. This coordinator for the ALS ride sent out an email on Friday that mentioned the forecast was for 73 degrees and sunny. Dress accordingly. I figured with 73 as a high, lower to mid 50’s should be ‘roughly’ the overnight temps, and once the sun came out, and I was on the bike, I’d warm up pretty quickly. A base layer, a short sleeve jersey, shorts and arm warmers should be fine. I expected I would be chilly at the start, but would soon be removing the arm warmers. WOW,  I could not have been more wrong. I did not know the actual temperature at the time, but it was teeth chatteringly cold. At 6:00 a.m. I registered at the tent, got my bike together and sat in the car to stay warm. I looked around and saw that a lot of other riders had softshell jackets and much warmer attire than I did. What did they know that I didn’t? Well, they were all the local riders that had their entire cycling wardrobe at their disposal. I only had what I brought with me (based on a much higher temperature). I should have bought more.

As I approached the starting line with the others, I kept repeating in my mind… “Rule #5… Rule #5… Rule #5…” trying to summons my inner Jens Voigt.  (For those unfamiliar with the reference Rue #5 please see http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/)  It was not working, I was cold. 7:00 came and we were off. We took a right turn out of the parking lot onto a nice downhill. GREAT, now I can add wind chill to my already cold body. I have never prayed for an uphill so much in my life.
The course made a sharp right turn at the bottom of the hill, and there was a volunteer that was supposed to be making us aware of the right hand turn. However, she was too frozen to do that, as she tried to get every last ounce of heat from the coffee cup she was hugging. So the first 8 people missed the turn, I was number 9, so I followed them.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw no one behind me. 5 seconds ago there were 80 people there… now no one. I stopped, looked at the cue sheet and sure enough, we missed the turn. The other 8 people didn’t realize it, so they kept going. I turned around and got back onto the course. So the group that was behind me was now in front of me, and the other 8 people that missed the turn are now going to be behind me. I am riding alone, which for me, is actually my preference.

My plan to have the sun come out and warm things up was thwarted by the heavy tree cover on the route. My ride on Saturday was wide open, right along the ocean, plenty of radiant heat from the sun. This ride was on the back roads of rural Massachusetts. There was a FULL canopy of old pines, oaks and even a few chestnut trees (I know, because I tried to avoid the prickly pods that the chestnuts come in). So the best I could hope for was filtered sunlight. At all of the rest stops, the groups of people did not huddle around the food (peanut butter and jelly, banana’s, pretzels, goo gels and ICE water and COLD Gatorade) they huddled in the spots of sunshine.

The scenery on the ride was very nice and the back roads had very few cars on them. The course was hillier than I anticipated. The beauty of riding alone on a hillier course is that there is nobody’s pace but my own that I had to worry about. Because of this, I did not mind the hills at all. My knees over the past few days were not so excited about them, but they are better now.
All in all, it was a great ride. I did check weather underground and found that the temp at the start of the ride  was 33.6 degrees. In shorts, a short sleeve jersey,  arm warmers and a wind breaker that was pretty cold, but like I mentioned at the start of this report, given the exact same circumstances I would do the ride again in a heartbeat.

I would consider the miles I rode on this ride to be the most rewarding that I have ridden. For those of you who ride, or run, or swim, or just walk, I would encourage you, and dare I say “challenge” you to find a charity that you are passionate about, or that has affected you, or a family member, or a friend and do something to help them. I am able to ride a bike, and the fact that I was able to help raise money and awareness for ALS by riding my bike made the cold, and the hills and the sore knees 
seem SO insignificant.

Thank you for all that donated.

Thanks for reading. 

Coastal Cruise (East)

On Saturday I rode perm # 2364 Coastal Cruise (east). It is a 103k perm from Newburyport, MA to Kittery Point, ME and back. The route covers 3 states (MA, NH and ME) and runs right along the scenic New England Coast. I was in New England to a charity ride on Sunday (ride report to follow) so I wanted to do the 100k to work towards the RUSA American Explorer award.
I nearly did not finish this ride because of my own arrogance. I arrived at the starting control with plenty of time to get my bike out of the vehicle, put the front wheel on it, put the Garmin on it, water bottles etc. But instead, I waited in the car because it was cold. The forecast tem was to be in the mid 50’s… it was 45 with a breeze coming off the water. “It’s only 100k, and I have nearly 7 hours to complete it…I’ll be fine”.

I bought the requisite banana and water from The Plum Island Coffee Roasters at 7:01. I walked back to the car to put myself and the bike together. It was cold and windy, but I brought a newspaper from the hotel to help block the wind from my body. So it was base layer, USA today, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers and wind breaker. I pushed off to start the ride at 7:30. I figured, no problem… 6 ½ hours for 65 miles, I’ll be fine.

As I headed to the ocean front, I could feel the wind blowing me towards the curb. I knew, in order for the wind to be able to move me, it had to be pretty strong. I also knew that as soon as I made the left hand turn at the ocean front that the strong wind would be directly in my face. I tried to judge the wind speed based on the flags on the flag poles. I saw somewhere on the internet that you could do this, but I am apparently not real good at it. I estimated the wind speed (based on the flags) to be between 10 – 15 mph with gust of up to 20 mph. Based on how I felt trying to pedal into that wind, I estimated t at 50 – 60 mph sustained. (Weather underground had the winds between 5-8 mph with gusts up to 12 mph).

I was doing fine despite the wind. The sun had come out and I had warmed up rather nicely and I had some beautiful scenery to take in while I rode. For some reason I started thinking about y control card. I knew I had it with me (that is always a fear of mine). I thought about how long it had been since I had a control card and how this one was a little different, because the open and close times of the controls were “running times” after your departure. OK, so the first timed control closed at 2:28. Doing the math, that meant 9:28, but 30 minutes of that time had been wasted. With the head wind, I was not making great time. I did the math in my head and I figured that I was NOT going to make it. Fortunately, the route took me away from the ocean and into some roads that had trees and shelter to block the wind. I was able to make it to the first control with 5 minutes to spare. I quickly grabbed a bottle of water and hit the road again.

The next control, the turnaround control, in Kittery Point is very familiar to me. I lived there while in the Navy and this area is where my oldest daughter was born. It is amazing how things have changed there. I made it to the control, turned around and on my way back, took a little detour to the apartment in Navy Housing where we brought Amanda home to. It is fun to reminisce.
The trip back to Newburyport took basically the same route. So, you guessed it. I made very good time getting back with the wind at my back. I would be riding at a nice easy pace and look at the Garmin and find that I was doing 20 mph. I was happy that I faced the headwind on the way out, so that the ride back was made much easier.

I made it back to the Plum Island Coffee Roasters at 12:30. It felt good to a RUSA ride again. I am looking forward to the 100k in October.