Monday, May 2, 2011

BikeMS: Frisco to (Almost) Ft.Worth

If you've been following this blog then you know that when it comes to the BikeMS ride that I had a score to settle.  So, did I settle it?  Well, sort of. (Warning: This may get a bit long, but hey - it's a long ride!)

Pre-Ride
The boys were picked up from school by my dad (thanks!), the dogs dropped off at the Pet Bed & Breakfast, and the car was loaded to head to Frisco.  Most locals don't stay at a hotel the night before but we're a fair drive away and with all the extra stuff associated with a multi-day ride (luggage and such) we find the morning to be a lot less stressful if we're right around the corner.  Last year we didn't get there in time for the expo so we made a point of it this year.  Yeah, not exactly a great expo.  Really minimal considering the size of the rally so it was off for dinner and sleep.  Well, the sleep part didn't exactly work out.  Ever stay in a hotel where the room looks nice but the bed is a relic from a medieval torture chamber?  That's where we stayed.  All was well until we laid down.  You could feel every coil in the mattress and if that wasn't enough to keep you up then the whistling, whipping wind outside could do it.  Ugh.

After no rest and listening to the wind howl all night (which doesn't help mentally) we got up at 5am, threw on our cycling kit, and loaded the car back up to head over to Dr.Pepper Ballpark.  We did this ride last year so the routine was a lot less stressful this time around.  Park by the truck, get the tires pumped up, hand the luggage off to the volunteers, ride over to the start line.  One advantage of being part of a larger team that is always near the top in fundraising is that we get to start near the front of the field.  So, even though thousands of cyclists were already there we just joined our group near the start line.  There were two Cheesy Riders in particular I had planned on riding with, Francis and Jessica (who you may recall from the TMS Duathlon).  Luckily, we had the same game plan for the route which was to hit 3 of the 7 possible stops at miles 27, 47 (lunch), and 71.  Angelia had signed up for the lunch route which involves riding 47mi then catching a shuttle to the finish.  She found a couple riders to hook up with that we knew from the Wish100 and Livestrong Challenge and before we knew it, we were off .......


The Ride
Anyone who has done a large rally knows the start can be a bit dicey.  Usually, starting up front is the solution but for whatever reason I managed to plant myself behind every rider having issues (trouble clipping in, swerving erratically, braking too forcefully, etc.).  I was constantly losing touch with the group and playing catch up.  When we finally settled in I thought all would be well but nope, off the back again.  What the heck?  All the training and I can't stick with my teammates through the first segment?  You've got to be kidding me.  Looks like I'll be riding alone.  I kept chugging along riding my pace when a very large team came flying by on my left.  Here's my chance!  I latched on to the back and rode their slipstream all the way to the 3rd rest stop 27 miles in.  I ended up pulling into the stop mere moments after my fellow Cheesy Riders.

Back together again we took off on the 20mi leg to the lunch stop.  This time things were much better.  We had a solid group working together.  Here we are crossing the dam at Lake Ray Roberts (after the solo rider is Francis, Jessica, then me).
Shortly after that, things changed.  Francis moved off the front for a rest and Jessica took a pull ..... and pull she did.  Pull away that is.  The pace immediately picked up and I gently let her know about it.  Too gently as it turns out because she kept hammering away.  With this being a long ride that I ended up injured after the previous year, I had no intention of going hard at any point.  A little unsure of whether to keep pushing the pace behind her or just ease into my game-plan (it's still early after all), I ended up gapped.  I kept waiting for someone to pull around me to fill the gap and after an extended stretch 2 riders finally did.  I looked behind me to check on the situation and was surprised to see no other Cheesy Riders were there.  It appeared that while I was gapped, many more were flat out dropped.  Wow.  The 4 of us continued onward at a more controlled pace all the way to lunch which we hit just before 9:30am (20mph avg).  Hungry yet?  Francis and several others started streaming in with Francis exclaiming, "I seriously got chicked back there."
Jessica is all smiles after "chicking" the group.
We all knew it from the very beginning but the ride was going to change after lunch.  The winds were coming straight out of the south and we'd be heading directly into them the remainder of the day.  That amount of wind obviously slowed the pace dramatically but it also meant the group was going to splinter repeatedly.  Three of us managed to stay together for the vast majority of the final 37 miles - Jessica, myself, and another Cheesy named Aaron.  Here we are crossing through a town just before our final rest stop 71 miles in.  The roads in this area had recently been scraped for construction.  That combined with the headwind and subtle grades had me muttering some less than flattering words.
At the final rest stop.
The final stretch took us to Texas Motor Speedway and when we hit the loop around the parking lot it felt a bit like home.  It was the opposite direction from the duathlon but that was for the better as it gave us the benefit of a tailwind just before the finish.  I cruised around that 5 mile loop feeling great.  Well, until Aaron sprinted by me in the final stretch.  It caught me off guard and without time to respond hence crossing the line 2nd in the video below.  That was it - 86 miles completed in under 5hrs of saddle time for a 17.5mph average!  Not bad considering the last 40mi was all headwind and we were never really pushing it.
86 miles complete!
Angelia's Ride
Angelia's shuttle delivered her to the finish line minutes before I crossed so we got to see each other right away and chat about the day's events.  She had a VERY successful ride completing 48 miles in a hair over 3 hours, a big improvement over last year.  She said her legs felt great and she probably could've done the whole thing.  In fact, she was leaning very strongly towards doing the full 78mi route on day 2.
Angelia (in last year's jersey) with fellow Cheesy Riders at rest stop 2.
Post-Ride
First up .... a shower, some food, and a massage (or two actually).  My neck and left shoulder had tightened up early in the day.  It's a pain I've ridden with before but it is very frustrating as it limits my ability to look behind me.  I wanted to give it some attention to keep it in check for day 2.

One surprise we got post ride was a visit to our tent from Phil Keoghan of The Amazing Race.  Angelia and I had seen him once before at a special showing of his film "The Ride" (highly recommend you check it out - it's downloadable here).  He was very personable joking with us about who wore the pants in the family and he seemed genuinely amazed at our boys' athletic exploits.

Back at the hotel we all met up for dinner at Joe's, a little pizza and sub place where Angelia and I had discovered some awesome meatball subs the year before.
Aaron and Jessica, my riding buddies most of the day.Francis, his wife, and Pak (who served as a Ride Marshall).
Day 2
Wow, this is a long blog post and I'm just now getting to day 2?  Never fear, this is all that was seen on day 2:

Yep, rained out.  Well, not just rain.  There was lightning, hail in the area, tornado watches, the temperature dropped 20 degrees in an instant, etc.  Mother Nature foiled my attempt to settle the score, but even though I still have yet to cross that finish line in Sundance Square, I consider this ride a major victory.  I felt fresh and ready for day 2 which is a far cry from last year when I was barely able to walk out of the hotel room.  Angelia feeling ready to tackle the full distance on day 2 was the icing on the cake.  We weren't questioning how we'd do on day 2 ...... we were confident it would be a great ride.

4 comments:

Ken said...

Great job. I am sure that you would have finished if not for the weather. Congrats.

Michael said...

Well I wasn't reading your blog back then, but it sounds like you did have a score to settle....even if you didn't get the chance to settle it due to weather - I still say you did a great job and were certainly ready for day 2. Congrats on a solid ride. Love all the pics.

B.o.B. said...

Again, I am in so much awe over these looooong rides. I am glad to have found your blog. I'm such a newbie on the bike that it's great to see these epic rides and get a peek at how they work. I'd totally be the person in the front with clipping issues. LOL! GREAT JOB!

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