Saturday, June 30, 2007

The MS-15(7) Report

Hi all,

Sorry for the delay in posting. Been a busy week!

Well, the MS-157 Mile Bike Tour is complete. Yes, I said 157 miles. (I had a little navigation problem on Saturday morning when I left the Franklin, ID aid station.)
Before I get going with the events of the weekend, I want to thank all of you who supported me both financially and physically on this ride. Together, we raised $1,090.00 dollars towards the fight to end multiple sclerosis. The grand total as of Saturday evening for the entire bike tour was $1,400,000.00!

Thanks very much to my contributors: Becky, Dean, Ted, Mark, Cindy, Keith, Patsy and Rick, Nancy, Kathy, Charles, Kelly, Valerie, MaryAnn, Gary and Madeline, Kim and Pete, Pilar, Jim, Cindy, and Lisa. You folks are the best!
I had been told by many people that this ride was far and above the best supported ride in Utah, and, they were right. The aid stations were well staffed, full of food and supplies, and there were SAG wagons with ham radio operators throughout the course on both days. Also, Bingham’s Cycles provided bike mobile mechanics towing BOB trailers shuttling between aid stations helping out the lost and forlorn with flat tires and all manner of maintenance issues.
Tent City at the Cache County Fairgrounds

Crowding to the start line...

Team ATK is ready to go!
Day #1 started out with over 4,000 riders crowded to the start line at the Cache County Fairgrounds. Team ATK was lucky as we had ended up near the actual start line and would have little or no delay. Right from the beginning I was able to ride at or greater than my planned pace and eased my way onto a large pace line as we headed north to Richmond, UT. Some of the more serious road bike racing types were not at all pleased to see a recumbent in the group, but most were accepting as I was able to hold my line and speed. One rider was upset with me, and cursed my actual presence. (See note #6 below) Ahh well; they eventually merged several pace groups into one huge peloton and I let them all pass me by leaving me in peace and quiet. And yes, I did take a wrong turn in Franklin.
Even bikes need rest!
After my quick pit stop, I blithely followed a huge group out the exit and turned right, and headed up the century route. Silly me. About 3.5 miles up the hill, I realized my mistake. Wanting to keep with my plan for the weekend, I reversed course, headed back to Franklin, and back west on the 75 mile route.
Saturday morning I broke several personal bests for 20 mile, 32 mile, 50 mile, and 60 mile splits. In April, you may recall I rode 60 miles in 4 hours flat. Well, on this day, with pace line support and lots of mental get up and go, I rode 60 miles in 3+25! But, then the temperature rose dramatically above 90 degrees, and the wind came up a bit, and I sort of ran out of gas. It was a fun speed run while it lasted. My total riding time for the day was 4+50.

A lovely ride up Blacksmith Fork

Day #2 started with temperatures about 10 degrees cooler, and my adrenaline level down in the single digits. With cold and sore legs, it took me 2 hours to climb the 23 miles to Hardware Ranch at the top of Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
At Hardware Ranch.
After a nice break and great cruise back down the canyon, I finally found my legs. About 30 miles in I was glad to join up with a group from the Bad Ass Coffee Cycling Team. Nice people! They invited me to join them, and I had a great time learning tactics of a rotating pace line for 5-7 miles. Then after a short and steep uphill, I fell off the back and wished them well as they sped happily into the distance. Later at the Minden, UT lunch stop I was able to catch up with the same folks and they welcomed me back into their line. What fun! - 18-20 riders and one recumbent. It must have been quite a sight. We held a 19-21 mph pace the last 25 miles to the finish line. I was quite proud to take my turn at the front and pull my weight. Wasn’t really fair to the rider behind me, as she had to pull twice due to no draft from me! The upshot of all this is that it took me 2 hours to ride the first 23 miles, and 2:45 to ride the last 52! At the top of Hardware Ranch, my average speed was 11.4 mph, and nearly 3 hours later at the finish line, my average speed had risen to 15.5 mph! A great afternoon of riding!

Great bikes stay together!
All in all, it was a great weekend. I learned a lot about MS; Learned a lot about riding long distances on successive days; Learned how to ride in a pace line: and learned that there is more gas in my tank than I previously thought.

Thanks again to all who supported me on this grand adventure. The 2008 MS1-50 Mile Bike Tour is scheduled for June 28 & 29, 2008. Expect to see me there!

And Finally…

The Top Ten comments I heard about my recumbent on the tour:

10: Is that thing comfortable?
9. You call that a draft?
8. I didn’t know recumbent bikes could ride this fast.
7. Dude, I couldn’t keep up with you on that downhill.
6. What the F(*&k are you doing in this pace line! (Response: “The same speed as you, Pal!”)
5. (Overheard as a pace line went by in the canyon): “Could you ride that thing up this hill?”
4. (From a ‘bent rider riding an old Bike E): “That’s what I’m talking about!”
3. Cool bike mister! (from any number of kids)
2. That’s not fair! (As I coasted past a road bike at 30 mph down the canyon)
1. Is that one of Bill Cook’s bikes? (A long conversation immediately followed!)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Harmon's MS-150

Hi all,

This weekend brings the long awaited Harmon’s MS-150 Mile Bike Ride to benefit the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. Along with being a great charity benefit and a good cause, this weekends ride will serve as a barometer to measure whether or not I am ready for a two day double century, or perhaps a 300 km brevet in 2008. The entire spring season has been devoted to training for June 9th’s brevet, and the MS-150 this weekend. I am already excited to ride in two days. Many thanks to all who sponsored me; I broke $1,000 dollars in donations today!

The MS-150 will start both days at the Logan, UT Fairgrounds, with a 75 mile north loop on day #1, and a 75 mile south loop including a 13 mile ride up Blacksmith Fork to Hardware Ranch. As of this posting, there are over 2700 riders signed up. Also, this year, through a mutual acquaintance in our Walk to Emmaus group, I have joined a large team sponsored by ATK. (A large aerospace/rocket corporation here in Utah.) They and other sponsors have generously donated 100 bike jerseys for our event, plus free food Friday night! I am looking forward to the group picture on Saturday morning with all 93 of us in our regalia.

One concern of the day will be the temperature. The forecast for Saturday is for highs in the mid to upper 90’s! So, I will carry my 50 oz. Camelback behind the seatback, plus two 24 oz. water bottles. The ride is the most supported bike event in Utah and unlike the brevet two weeks ago, there will be plenty of food, water, aid and sag wagons on the route.

Mirror, Mirror, on the causeway

I have taken great care to rest the past ten days, only going out for a few spins, and one nice 30 mile ride last Monday. Hopefully, my legs will have plenty of zip in them this weekend.

Look for an update and report with pictures next week. And one more point to share; some you may have noticed the blue hyperlinks in my text. If you haven’t tried them out, they are pointers to the associated website. Give them a try!

Here are a few more snaps from my sunrise hike in Bryce Canyon.

Happy summer riding, all.

PS: The statue in the post two weeks ago is non-other than Jefferson Davis!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Bryce Canyon 200k

Well folks, here is my report of not only my first brevet, but the first official brevet in the State of Utah.

The 200 km ride started at 0700 in Panguitch, Utah, which is 20 miles west of Bryce Canyon National Park. There were 10 riders, and two no-shows. Most of the riders were veteran distance types, but new to brevet riding. Lonnie Wolff, the RBA and his riding partner, Claire Jenson, are aiming to be the first Utahans to ride PBP this summer. Lonnie’s license plates even read: PBP 2007! For me, it was my first 200k, and was also going to be longest single day ride I have ever attempted.

All ready for the adventure!

The riders completing their pre-ride routines
The day dawned cold and clear, temperature around 32F at the start. The only problem this caused was that I wore tights and a wool base layer to start the day. I noticed that most of the other riders had just put on knee warmers, as they pack smaller and lighter. A good hint for next time! Of course 25 miles later I had to store this stuff and lug it around all day. My seat bag isn’t very big and I struggled with managing my stuff all day. Every time I unzipped my bag, stuff fell out everywhere, and that got old very quick. Later in the day it warmed up nicely to around 82 F.

The first 50k or so had two long climbs; 8 miles into the day, a long, steady, 10 mile climb up Red Canyon. It is probably a manageable climb for most, but on the Little Red Bike and not the best legs to start the day with, I seemed to struggle into it. Some days, it just isn’t going to be your day. Then over the plateau past Bryce Canyon at 7,800 ft above sea level, and a 7 mile- 8% thunderous descent around the east edge of Bryce Canyon to Tropic and the first control. 48 mph and I never touched the pedals! I made the control with 45 minutes to spare on the clock. After getting my card signed, and eating a snack, it was time to go back up the big hill to the plateau and the northward turn to Antimony. It took me 1+15 to make it up the hill, with lots of careful spinning at 4-5 mph. Sometimes it was all I could muster, and other times it was to protect my knee for the whole day. So, 36 miles in 3 +15 and an average speed of 10.9 mph; still in the game but I was already worried about the long day ahead.

Looking west, back down Red Canyon

The knee, what about the knee? Last week, I stupidly went for a steep climb. The rear set wouldn’t shift right so I ended up mashing up 5 steep km. The knee protested loudly and I hadn’t really healed yet. Hence the problems of the day. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not the best way to peak for my first 200k.

Climbing west at about the 30 mile point.

The middle 55 miles was the section that I learned about being a distance rider. 55 miles of long gentle climbs, descents, gritty isolated roads, no cell coverage, and no one around for miles and miles. I worked hard at managing pace, coasting all downhill’s, and making up time. 30 miles into this section is a great canyon descent to Black Canyon. What fun! Coasting at 30 mph is very efficient. I stopped in Antimony (pop. 183) for more sunscreen, food, fill up water, and a few moments of pondering about the day. The owners of “The Merc” in Antimony mentioned to me that “the other crazy riders” had passed through for lunch about an hour before. I rode 17 miles further to Junction and the second control. Average speed now 14.0 mph, so, I figured I must have averaged 17 mph or so for the past 55 miles.

By now the afternoon wind is up and strong out of the south. Now, at the Junction control at 1500, I am 2 hours ahead. Even with the horrible south winds I know I am going to complete. But the wind! Long gentle (very gentle) climbs back to Panguitch, but I couldn’t make headway through the wind. 9-11 mph was all I could do.

On Rt. 62 between Antimony and Junction

Anyways, after 2.5 hours of struggling home, the wind switched out of the west for the last 10k. The RBA came out to check on me at 7 miles to go. After encouraging words, Advil and a friendly wave, I am on my way. Thanks Lonnie!

11+30 and I made it! A bit off my planned time, but hey, it’s about COMPLETING!

Here are 10 things I learned both during the ride, and from key advice from a few experienced brevet riders:

1. Coast (or spin) as much as possible on downhills.
2. I was very careful to spin while climbing. This caused a slow pace, but I needed it.
3. I never used the53t ring the last 50 miles; more efficient spinning, no mashing.
4. I drank over 100 oz. of water, ate all my snacks, and was still starving at the finish.
5. Sunscreen. I used just enough, missed one spot on my arm, but hey, I’ve got Aloe Vera.
6. I kept to the clock knowing that I had 13.5 hours, and that no one else’s time mattered.
7. Be sure to take only what you need, and be able to manage it all. I can do better at this.
8. Self sufficient means self sufficient. It’s quite a feeling to be all alone, 40 miles from everywhere.
9. Ride YOUR ride and pace.
10. Have fun!

Next up. MS-150 in two weeks!


Saturday, June 02, 2007

7 Days to Go..

The SR-71 at Hazy Center - near Dulles Airport

And the Concorde

Sunrise this morning at the island

Well friends, it’s been a busy week of riding and bike preparations for next Saturday’s first 200k brevet. This morning I enjoyed a lovely 48 mile sunrise ride to the island. I broke my personal best for the 18 miles by over a minute! 57.10 for the 18 miles was a wonderful time. I then enjoyed some loops there before heading home. I was thinking as I was riding that it is possible that I am not in sufficient condition for the big ride and that I hadn’t done much conditioning. Funny, I have 9 rides of over 40 miles this year. It’s been the best spring conditioning season ever, and still I am concerned.

In the bike preparation department, I replaced the front tire as the old one was showing a lot of wear and had some minor damage to the sidewalls, and having a tire fail 30 miles from nowhere is not something I want to endure. I also purchased a new Crank Bros. tool that has a lot more usable tools.

I have been going over the bike; mechanically, equipment, water, storage, and all the little things I think I need, but don’t have room to take. I literally stripped down the bike and started from scratch. Do I have tubes? patches? tools? room for my camera? The list goes on and on. Looking at the route, it is definitely a “get away from it all” route. The towns on the route are very small and well spread apart. The middle 40+ miles of the brevet will be without any type of services, so I will carry a little bit of everything, especially lots of snacks!

In the MS-150 department, I want to thank the following friends: Ted, Mary Ann, Pilar, Patsy, Gary and Madeline, Becky, and Dean for their thoughtful contributions to the fight against MS, and for showing support of my efforts on the MS-150 in three weeks. You folks are the best! There is still plenty of time for you to get on board and send your contribution too. If you need more information, drop me a comment and I will get in touch with you.

And lastly, please enjoy a few travelogue pictures from our April trip to Virginia and Washington DC. I will put some Chicago pics in the next post.

Happy riding.


Mr. Lincoln is an amazing figure.

Trivia Time: Anyone recognize him?