Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The MS-150 in Review.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who sponsored me for this year's MS-150. I had a goal of raising $250, and I surpassed that easily with $465. I thank you, the National MS Society thanks you, and most importantly, those diagnosed with MS thank you. Next year, I'm going to try to raise my goal to at least $600.

Thanks also to Mike and Jenny for putting me up at their place on Saturday night.

A quick recap:

Heather and I left our place at about 6:05 on Saturday morning, stopping at Chris's house to pick up him and his bike. Then we headed up to Cranberry...

The ride started at 7:30, but we didn't actually get going until about 8:20. There are a few reasons for this. Reason No.1: We got there at about 7:15. I still had to get checked in, and Chris still had to get registered. I picked up my stuff and walked back to the car, but then I decided that I should use the bathroom before we left. A lot of other people decided the same thing. Unfortunately, there were only four porta-potties available. I stood in line for about twenty minutes. At least. When I finally got done, we still had to get everything out of the car, get our numbers pinned on, etc... Heather pulled away at 8:00.

Now for Reason No.2: As Heather pulled away, we hopped on our bikes and started making our way out of the parking area. And then Chris realized that his rear tire was flat. It would seem like a flat right at the beginning of the ride would be a bad omen or something, but it actually was pretty great timing, as far as something like that could go. We went back to the registration area, and the bike shops that had brought trucks full of stuff were still there. Chris was able to get a new tube and use a stand pump to get filled up to the right pressure.

If we had gone a few miles down the road before he got the flat, it would have sucked because the hole in the tube ended up being right at the valve stem, so a patch kit wouldn't have been any good. I had a spare tube, but even then, we'd have had to use my hand pump to get it inflated, and my pump can only get up to about 100 psi before forcibly popping itself off of the valve stem. By the time we did end up leaving there were only eight other stragglers.

The rest of the day went well, although we did come across two ambulances attending to cyclists. Hopefully both are doing okay by now. Cars didn't appear to be involved in either crash, so that's good, at least. We just pedaled on and pedaled on, passing people as we went. Especially on the ascents, some of which were pretty crazy. I swear that the last ten or fifteen miles before we finished for the day were all uphill. We arrived in Meadville at 3:30pm. Our ride time was exactly five hours, for an average speed of 16 mph. Not too shabby.

Chris said he felt pretty wrecked, but I felt great, aside from some noticeable soreness, uh, down there. That was to be a harbinger of things to come for Sunday's ride. Rachel (Chris's girlfriend) came and picked Chris up and they headed to her grandma's house in Jamestown for the night. I wandered around Allegheny College for a little bit after they left before calling Mike. He walked down to meet me, I walked up to meet him, we met halfway, we headed back to his place.

I was able to get a nice shower and finally eat some real food after a day of Clif Bars, Clif Shot, and Clif Shot Bloks (along with plenty of water and electrolytes). Jenny made some great pasta salad and Mike's mom brought some awesome bean soup. We went and fired off some rockets with Mike's dad and the kids, and I also got to play Wii for the first time ever. My shoulder is still sore. And my Wii Fit age is 42. What's up with that?

Chris and I got off to a better start on Sunday. No flat tires, no bathroom lines to worry about. I even ran into my good friend/ex-coworker Jon before things got underway. Pretty amazing considering all of the people running around.

We actually left somewhere in the middle of the pack. It's funny, because we didn't really get a sense as to how many people were riding when we left the day before because we were already so far behind the group when we got started. As I mentioned before, I was pretty sore, and getting back on the saddle wasn't too awesome. Still, once I settled in, I was mostly okay.

Chris, on the other hand, maybe because it was his birthday, had received a second wind. He was pretty much in front of me for most of the day, which is the opposite of the first day. The terrain for the second day was a lot more even, and through the 40 mile mark, which took us to the lunch rest stop, we were averaging 18.7 mph, with high 20s on the flats.

After that rest stop, though, we hit this span of twelve miles or so that was just hell. The worst stretch of either day, as far as I was concerned. It was all constant ups and downs (more ups than downs), and a headwind that kept our speed at about 12 mph even when we were on flats. And I was still in some serious pain. If I wasn't riding with someone, I might have just wussed out and taken the sag wagon for awhile.

We finally got to the last rest stop at about 52 miles and just sat in the shade for awhile. After that, the last 13 miles were much better, and I was glad that I stayed in it. I would have hated for Chris to have to finish on his own, and really, I would have felt like a big jerk. When we got to Conneaut, there were lots of people waiting at the finish line, clapping for everyone as they passed. It really felt great to finish.

Rachel drove up to get us, and the three of us walked around Lake Erie for a bit before heading back to Pittsburgh. They dropped me off at home, I got a shower, and then the four of us met up again at P.F. Chang's at the Waterfront for dinner. It was a pretty great day, all things considered, and an awesome weekend.

In the aftermath, I've already picked up a new saddle that will hopefully prevent the issues I had over the weekend. I rode it to work yesterday, and it felt pretty good, but then the saddle that came with my bike was also fine for commuting distances.

I'm going to have to take this one out for a fifty or sixty mile ride sometime soon and see how it feels. It's nice that Trek/Bontrager gives you 90 days to try it out and make sure it works for you. I really hope it works out. I can't wait to do the ride again next year, but I'd like to cut out some of the pain and suffering of the second day if at all possible.