With little time to fundraise or have many practice rides, the big Bike MS event was approaching on Saturday, May 19th. I registered late, because I didn’t know if my tailbone could handle the pressure. I rode a total of two training rides in the past two months (neither more than 25-35 miles.) I didn’t have time to get my bike checked out before Saturday. I didn’t buy a replacement portable bicycle tire pump after the kids broke mine.
I had a lot of things going against me coming into the ride. An eventful day, to be sure.
The day started off a little hectic. I had planned to be ready, bike loaded up, and on the road by 6am. The site was about 50 mins away, started at 7am, and group photos sometime between 7-8am. My wife woke me up after I snoozed my alarm, sometime after 6am. Thankfully, I knew where most of my stuff was, and had laid most of it out the night before. I quickly dressed, got the rest of my stuff together, loaded everything up, and was on the road by 6:20am.
I arrived around 7am, and many people were just getting there. I parked, went inside the gym to the registration / sign-in tables, and met some of the team. After that, I had to get y rider number pinned to my bike and he back of my jersey, eat some breakfast, group photo, and get to the starting line.
The ride started at 8am after the national anthem and various opening ceremony speeches. The rest of the team was way up in the front, and I was somewhere in the middle. After we all started, I tried to catch up with them, but couldn’t find them. I resigned myself to riding solo for the entire 85 miles, and maybe finding another lonely soul on the road and riding together.
I did ride with various people at different stages of the ride, passing time by making conversation, including two people (one being from Team CentraState I met sometime on the ride last year, now riding with a close newbie friend of hers.) I rode with these two women for a good 30 miles, but the newbie was unfortunately ill-prepared for riding 85 miles. Not much experience, recent injuries. I advised her to not push herself for a charity ride. I ended up getting ahead and unfortunately losing both of them somewhere south of Lavallet, NJ. Overall, I met up and made conversations with different people over the course of the day. Including some people that I met around mile 73 that I also met last year in the same area. Funny. In the end, I hooked up (not like that) with a nice woman named Jessie from Illinois, and we rode together the rest of the ride.
As the miles progressed, my body was feeling new aches and pains, much like last year. It’s no so much an issue of lack of energy thing, because there is plenty of food and drinks. Instead, it’s the body itself struggling to assume the same position. As the day wore on, I felt the tiredness in my thighs, some knee pain, and some severe aching in my lower back, my wrist, my shoulder, and my neck. It’s a lot of work.
Jessie and I debated doing the 15 mile “Power Loop” to make it a full century ride. We arrived at the Pinelands school around 4pm. We gave our butts a short break, I signed up for the last bus leaving at 6pm, and we figured we could do the 15 miles in an hour if we kept a good pace.
Oh man, that was a long ride. In the 2nd half, we saw no other riders, and the clock ticked closer and closer to 6pm. Towards the end, we agreed to separate, and I would need to dig deep, power ahead, and try to get back to the school. By 5:50, I was panicking in no uncertain terms that I was going to miss the bus. I raced ahead with what little energy I had, and arrived at the school exactly at 6pm.
I rushed straight to the bus, jumped off the bike onto wobbly legs, and told them who I was. The bus was still there, but they had been looking for me. Call it luck or divine intervention, but I made it. Sheer exhaustion.
After the bus ride back to Monmouth University, I loaded up my bike, hit the porta-potty, and drove home. I was glad we had no further plans to go anywhere that night, because yeah, I was exhausted. After we got the kids to bed, my wife and I curled up on the couch to watch some Stanley Tucci / Tony Shalhoub movie on Netflix. I nodded off sometime later.
So final thoughts?
- It was a good ride overall. Well supported, fantastically nice weather
- Despite being on a team, I didn’t have any consistent company on the ride. I tried to catch up with the rest of the team early on, but they zoomed ahead. I’m a solo rider, so it’s not the worst thing that could happen.
- Although I had misgivings about what more I could take, I almost missed my bus, and I’m still aching badly a day later, I’m still pretty impressed and proud that I rode 100 miles in one day. I wanted to do it last year, but it was too much. I needed that other rider, Jessie, to encourage us both, but we did it.
I have to decide if I want to do the ride again next year, or work on another charity.