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. 

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