Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MS-150: Check!

Beauty! I've completed my first MS-150 ride. The first day was hell~ish. We left Houston at around 6:30 am, joining a massive, rolling, multi-colored sea of bike helmets and jerseys. The morning was fine, and we booked it to the mid-way lunch point in no time at all (about 50 miles in). However in the afternoon, the winds picked up from the NNW, and as we were headed in that general direction, it made for a shocker of an afternoon. I later found out the head winds were around 20-25 MPH! I was zonked by the time I reached the finish line at La Grange, at around 3PM, my right leg was cramping like mad. The finish at La Grange was great as folks lined the streets and welcomed us with high fives and cowbells!

The second day was MUCH better. The winds were not as strong as expected, and I was able to join different pace lines to help break down the resistance of the wind. Due to my right leg problems I had little faith in my performance for the second day, but once I got rolling I felt pretty good and just decided to finish the ride as quickly as I could. I only stopped about three times, including lunch and two rest stops. I crossed the Austin finish line bang on 1PM to a massive crowd of cheering supporters who lined the streets. It was what it must feel like to come across the finish line at a major European race. It definitely felt like a bit of a hero moment, actually, and I was rather chuffed with myself for finishing the ride and not killing myself in the process.

My wife and her riding buddy did very well as well. They suffered on the first day like the rest of us, but crossed the Austin finish line on Sunday at a good pace and should be proud of themselves.

There were around 13,500 cyclists in this one, and I think that makes it the biggest ride event in the US. There were several accidents, two of which I saw and they were quite nasty. Thankfully nothing serious is being reported on the news at this time. Overall, the ride was very well organized and supported, with rest stops full of food and drink every ten miles or so. The lunch stops were great, with sandwiches, ice cream, fruit and other snacks available to all riders. A big thumbs up to the ride organizers!

I'm happy with my performance. Although it's not a race, I did push myself a bit and attacked most hills standing up. I also rode much more strategically on this ride, utilizing pace lines where I could while pulling other pace lines when the chance arose. I'm starting to enjoy that sort of riding. I didn't feel at all exhausted when I reached Austin, just a bit sore in the legs and shoulders. Maybe I've crossed a new threshold... The best feeling of all, though, was knowing I'd done something good for a worthy ride. Along the route were people who suffered from MS cheering on the riders. It was great to ride for them.

Looking forward to next year...