Sunday, September 30, 2012

Can You See Us Now? Ride 2012

This year a few of us participated in the Can You See Us Now bike rally.  The ride is to raise awareness of bicyclists on the road, and it is a slow bike rally from Nob Hill down along old Route 66 for 5 miles finishing at Old Town. I heard numbers anywhere from 350 to 500 riders this year.  We had 4 full Penultimates (Peggy, David, Ali and myself) and one partial Penultimate (Connor).

Its a pretty fun ride - biking down Route 66 gives you a new view of the city!  After a slow 45 minute ride down Central to Old Town we hung around at the ride end as they raffled off prizes.  After a little bit (enough time to give the small Penultimate some time at the park) we then rode back to Nob Hill by heading down Mountain, up Indian School, and then to the diversion channel and back along Silver.  We were meeting a lot of other Penultimates (a total of 12) for dinner at what was supposed to be Serafin's, but they were closed.  But we moved across the street to the Route 66 Malt Shop for delicious burgers and milkshakes and enjoyed a nice fall evening.  At the end of the pictures below is the blurb from the local news.  If you look closely you can see Captain Snookums just over the interviewed lady's shoulder at 15 seconds.

At the ride start
Bikes as far as the eye can see!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Raffle Results

The drawing results are in!  We sold 67 tickets for our super awesome raffle - a total of $1340 raised for the National MS Society!  Four of us met for beer at Tractor Brewing (our great jersey sponsors) on September 7th to do the drawing.  The ticket list was randomized and everyone was assigned a number.  The numbers were all placed in a hat and drawn at random by our lovely drawing picker TJ. 

The lucky winner goes to Jesse Gore and the ticket seller were Blythe and Andrew!  Between the two of them, they sold 18 tickets.  Bravo!  We plan on doing a raffle again next year, and we kindly thank all our wonderful donors that contributed to this years drawing - Rainbow Ryders, Heritage Hotels and Resort's beautiful Hotel Albuquerque, and High Desert Yoga!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rider's Notes: Ali on MS150 Day 1

[Here is a special writeup from Ali who rode her longest ride to date at 60 miles on day 1 of the MS150.  Sounds like they had a great ride!]

So, putting aside the fact that this is only the second time I've ridden with a big group and that this would be my longest ride to date, I think I was in great spirits.  The day was beautiful, everyone else was really excited, and I was set to ride with a great group of women.
Captain Snookums with Ali and Val in pursuit!
Owing to a very disorganized start, Val and I got separated from the rest of our group.  We tried valiantly to catch up with the Flying Scotsman, but he proved too elusive.  Instead we agreed to make our way to the first stop together and catch up with everyone there.  We arrived in time to see a pack of Penultimates take off, find Margaret, and realize that we had somehow already lost Jen (sorry Justin).

So, the three of us headed off together with newly introduced Margaret and Val totally hitting it off.  I rode a bit ahead with some great ladies and had my first experience having to fend off chasing (large) dogs.  Thankfully I was with a group and not alone.

We caught up with Jen at rest stop 2.  She had been in such a groove she didn't feel like stopping.  We had time for Val and Margaret to stretch, down a couple fabulous cookies and contemplate chasing them with pickles (more on that later).  The next 10 miles, while mostly uphill and against the wind, I found truly hilarious.  I think Val found her true calling.  Instead of training dogs, she should switch to training people.  Remarks of note, and by no means in entirety, include: "you need to peddle faster", "If I see you with straight arms again I will smack you".  I laugh, but only because most of the harassing was not directed towards me.

We reached our turn around time in order to cheer on Buddy, Dave and Peggy who were just leaving.  More stretching, some amazing muffins and more hydrating.  At this point we had a discussion about the irony of being thanked by the many volunteers.  This is humbling to me because I feel like I have the easy job.  I get to ride my bike, with amazing people through beautiful scenery, stopping at my leisure to quickly inhale all food and liquid in my way.  They have to sit in the heat, in the same spot, for 6 hours taking care of sweaty, stinky, tired riders.  I totally have the easy job.

At rest stop 3!
Moving on, we'd been warned about some stray dogs chasing riders on the return.  Witness Val aka:  Mama Bear - fending off dogs armed with sticks, and continued harassment about form.  Amazing!  We made back to rest stop two in really good time.  More stretching, cookies and pickles and off we go!  Not my favorite stretch of road ahead.  Although it had a wide shoulder it also featured several inch deep rumble strips which made the inevitable switching back and forth a little teeth-rattling.

Our last stop of the day was by far my favorite for atmosphere.  The family in charge of the Walk MS in Santa Fe decorates tents in a luau theme, complete with Tiki bar and dancing hula boys (coconut bras optional).  Not only did they offer mango juice, chocolate covered strawberries and brownies, but it was a great boost to spirits for the last 10 miles.  In a happy turn of events, we met up with Peggy, Dave and Buddy, who had been slowed by Buddy's tire trouble.  Margaret also needed a quick tune up and we were soon revved up to finish.

It was nice to ride in a good sized group as we headed back into Espanola, giving us a bit more visibility.  Our Tiki stop revving lasted, at least for me, until the last climb into Pojaque.  A quick stop for fortification for the last 3 miles and it was smooth sailing into the Casino parking lot with the 7 of us finishing together.  That was pretty cool, I must say.
the seven of us finishing strong
We probably spent the next hour talking about how amazing Fritos, popcorn and creamsicles are.  I believe the words "life changing" may have been used.  The simple pleasures.

Regrets: only ate one muffin at rest stop 3, didn't bring extra chamois butter, having tutu envy

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rider's Notes: Larry on the MS150

[Here is a special writeup from our mystery rider from Colorado, Larry.  I am so glad he could join us on the ride this year and I hope he returns to ride with us next year!  By far the strongest rider in our pack, he hung with us - Team C - the first day through all our tire troubles and general slowness to finish the whole 100 miles with the Penultimates!  Thanks Larry, we had a great time!]

Looking fast on the descent!
Any MSer who is reasonably adept at riding a bike owes it to themselves to try this ride. The challenge this ride offers, the phenomenal organization, and the relatively limited number of riders make it a real gem among MS bike rides. Thank you Maggie, Krista and Dave for once again putting on such an incredible Bike MS experience.

It can truly be said that Pedal los Pueblos is a ride for “Those Who Dare”. If I had been on my own I probably would not have done the century on the first day but of course, whenever you put 4 guys and one girl together the dares get bigger, even when two of those guys have MS, (me and our team captain). Screw the MS, screw the heat, never mind the piles of loose gravel on the road and who cares if we add a few hundred more feet to the climb that day. The century was not an option, it was a given.

Almost as soon as we got down from the out and back century and headed up the last hill before the lunch stop, our strongest rider had a flat tire. Could be the reason he was fish tailing around on the century loop descent. Everybody stopped but I figured that 4 guys and one girl were 4 people more than enough to fix a flat, so I headed on up that hill planning to wait at the lunch stop just over the top. Turned out I might have been wrong.  Although bike repair on a hill, in the midday sun isn’t my idea of a good time, it’s possible my presence could have been valuable and had I stuck around we might have had an easier time later on.

At the top of the hill was a temporary, mobile rest stop manned by two very energetic guys. I generally don’t dismount right away when I stop after a relatively arduous ride and true to form, I pulled up to this rest stop unclipping one foot to rest for a few minutes before I dismounted. As I was standing over my bike, one of the guys came over and began to spray me with a misting bottle, a lightly scented misting bottle. A moment later, the other guy came over and offered to refill my water bottle, an offer I of course couldn’t refuse. When he brought my water bottle back he offered to clean my glasses. That was such an unusual offer that I didn’t understand it at first, but, when I figured it out, and as I’m sure anyone who’s ridden 58 miles uphill knows, they were covered in sweat and grime, I was ecstatic to have an opportunity to get them cleaned up. As a final FĂȘte de la rĂ©sistance , he offered a cold wash cloth to wrap around my neck. Wow! These guys are like super heroes or something, number 1 in the Nation, maybe the world. The fact of the matter is, after the pain of climbing the hills, enduring the heat and pedaling the miles fades away, it is all of the fantastic volunteers with a mobile rest area, or home made carrot cake cup cakes or banana bread and cookies that sticks in my mind.

Our little group met back up at the lunch stop and we all left together for the mostly down hill ride to the finish, hitting every rest stop along the way. The flat tire reared its head again in the form of a slow leak this time. We stopped to pump it up 5 or 6 times before we reached a rest stop where we could affect a permanent fix. The wind came up in the last 15 or so miles, getting pretty nasty at times with 20 to 25 mph gusts, but when you know your that close to the finish, a little wind won’t stop you. I finished the first day’s 101.5 miles in 7:20 saddle time, 10:08 elapsed time (yes, the rest stops were that good) with about 3,500 feet of ascent. I was tired and hungry and sore but I refused to contemplate what effect today’s century could have on tomorrow’s climb.

Day 2, the Truchas Hill Climb, or Why Selective Memory is a Wonderful Thing.

You have to ride about 12 miles and climb about 1,000 feet just to get to the Truchas hill and that’s good because it gives you a chance to work out the last of the stiffness from the previous day. The first five miles of Truchas are a wake up call for sure but they’re manageable, maybe the steeper grades in there don’t seem that tough because the morning air is so exhilarating and the legs are still reasonably fresh. But all of that changes rather abruptly when, at a certain point, you look up and see an impossibly steep hill looming just ahead. 

This isn’t the kind of hill that you try to stare down, thinking “You’re not so tough, I’ve got you”. No, this is the kind of hill that says “I will eat you alive, I will bring you to your knees and make you weep and beg for air and strength”. Fortunately, I remembered this hill and I knew, although it was steep, 11% as I recalled, it was less than a quarter of a mile long. Yes, it was finite, it was possible, I had done it the year before, I could do it again. I humbly bowed my head and stared just ahead of my front wheel and I climbed that hill, slowly, very slowly.

What I did not remember was that this was only the first of the big hills on the way to Truchas, and they followed in rather too rapid succession. Over the next two miles there were 5 or 6 more hills ranging from 8% to 10% grade. I began to realize that my memory had tricked me and I started to scramble for some new thoughts on just exactly why I wanted to keep climbing these outrageous hills. What I finally settled on was that the descent of these inclines would be more than worth the climb. 3 miles and 40 minutes later I was in Truchas.

I can’t just jump off my bike after a climb like that, my legs would not be happy about it. Fortunately I didn’t have to though because almost as soon as I stopped and unclipped one foot, one of the rest stop volunteers presented me with a cyclotini, gatorade in a martini glass complete with a green olive on a skewer. A few minutes later and I did lay my bike down and stumble through the crowd to refill my water bottle. Oh, and BTW, I was not DFL, not by 20 or 30 riders.

The descent was indeed worth the climb. I reached speeds of over 49 mph without ever having a death grip on the handlebars. My bike performed flawlessly, it was comfortably solid at those speeds. The road surface was very good, the curves were broad and sweeping and there wasn’t any wind to worry about. It was pretty much just a matter of tuck and go, go as fast as you can, as fast as you dare. After all, it was why you climbed that hill in the first place.

I finished the second day’s 55.5 miles in 4:06 saddle time, 4:39 elapsed time, with 3,484 feet of ascent.

Pedal los Pueblos, for those who dare,


2012 Ride by the Numbers

As always it was a great training season and wonderful ride!  I still can't believe how much we have grown this year, and how much we accomplished.  This year's breakdown:
38 total teammates (a 100% increase over 2011)
3 fundraising events
$4290 raised at fundraisers to fight MS!
Training season:
0 - number of bike free weekends since June 23 (team wide)
1 - case of Fig Neumans (a huge thank you to Newman's Own Organics)
1 - bowl of posole (don't ask)
7 - breakfasts at Serafin's (team wide)
1 - crash
13 - days of training rides
5325 - Miles of training miles (team wide)
At the MS Ride:
31 - riders Day 1
27 - riders Day 2
21 - riders to completed the Century ride Day 1!
23 - riders to make it to Truches on Day 2
28 - riders in Penultimate jerseys
6 flat tires (team wide)
30 Domo dolls on bikes, helmets, and backpacks
54 temporary Domo tattoos (team wide)
14 Penultimate supporter buttons distributed
1 cigar
1 fast rider (go Bryan go!)
4276 miles rode a the MS150 (team wide)
8 top fundraisers

$23,955.45 (and counting) raised by the Penultimates!

$169,486.55 (and counting) raised to fight MS at the Pedal los Pueblos!

MS150 Day 2: Captain's Log

Despite passing out at 9 pm the night before, the morning still came way too early!  We were to the ride headquarters by 6:15 to get our calorie load for today's ride.  You could tell from the way everyone was moving - slower with a few more grimaces or groans - that yesterday's ride had taken its toll.  But, even though the flesh may have been weak (and sore and abused), the spirit was willing!  Smiles all around, and everyone was looking forward to the days ride.  A map of todays route can be found here.

Always so beautiful and so epic!
The first 10 miles of today's ride is my favorite stretch of ride of the whole MS150.  As you slowly wind your way up hill from Espanola you bike through some spectacular scenery.  Farmlands and pastures, past an old mission church, on to gorgeous red rock and finally to a thrilling downhill into Chimayo.  Another great part is that early in the morning, there is no road traffic so the bikes take over, and you bike through this beauty accompanied by cyclist before and behind you.  Ali and I rode with each other the whole way enjoying the morning and the view.  Rest stop 1 also has some great food with coffee and donuts from Napoli Coffee.  Yum.

On the ride up to Truches.  This is actually a movie - this is how slow I was going.
Next up is the real work of the day - the brutal up hill to Truches.  It is almost a 9 mile uninterrupted uphill with longs segments of 8% and 10% grade.  Ali (sanely) decided to get a sag ride up to the top to see everyone, but I headed off for the climb.  I was lucky to be able to ride with fellow Penultimates John and Diane for most of the long hill, until we got separated in the last miles.  But I kept telling myself as we went up, that however hard going up, it will be that much more fun on the downhill.  I also take comfort in knowing my inability to do hills well is really due to physics. Yep, just physics and not overall lack of ability.  Seriously, read my discussion of it here if you dare.  My first year of riding, this was the hill that haunted me all training season, but I have found that as I ride more the hill becomes less of a big deal.  Yes, it is long and steep and difficult, but every year it become less "the hill" and more "a hill".

Cycle-tini in hand before I could even dismount.
Pulling into reststop 2 at the top of Truches,  I was excited to see the large bulk of the Penultimates at the top!  Counting the three fast riders that we saw descending as we were climbing up (Bryan, Danny and Larry), I think we had a 23 of our 27 riders make it to the top of Truches.  I also attribute this to superior captaining!   The sense of accomplishment of making it to the top, combined with the excellent  reststop personell and food - cycle-tins (gatorade with an olive on a skewer), tropical fruit cups, and pickles - made this a great stop.  Another plus?  Ali was up there to join everyone, having been sagged to the top. 

Go Domo!
We all posed for a quick victorious photo, before the long and fun ride back down to the bottom - a long 13 mile down hill to the next rest stop.  It was a blast!  It is fairly straight and long with a beautiful road that was resurfaced 2 year ago.  All conditions conducive to going really fast.  I topped out around 49 mph, which is pretty close to my theoretical terminal velocity (again, it's all physics - read about it here).  Many miles later with Calvin still close behind even after me trying to lose him for the last 13 miles, we pulled into rest stop 3 to see the rest of the team waiting for us.

At this point of the ride, you only have 20 miles left.  I was really looking forward to the next little go - to be able to ride both with Ali and most of the team.  But fate was against me, and my back tire exploded about 5 minutes after arriving for still unclear reasons. Lots of wear on the back tire, so maybe the tube got too hot?  All I can say is thank goodness it happened then, and not when I was bombing down at almost 50 mph!  No mechanic here, so I got sagged to the next stop to leave everyone else to pedal the 10 miles to catch up with me.

Got there and got my wheel all fixed up and ready to go with some time to chat with some fellow riders.  Finally everyone arrived, and I headed off with Ali on the final 8 miles of the day.  Fairly uneventful, but we crossed the finish line together which was really nice.  All told, a very successful end to the 2012 Pedal los Pueblos season!