Friday, August 30, 2013

Riders Notes: Rob on the MS150

[Here is a writeup from new rider Rob, new to both cycling and the MS150. Rob was one of those surprises that we always get every year - a random person signs up for the team and then fits right in.]

Finishing the 100 on day 1!
The MS Bike Ride was a pretty fantastic experience for me. It was a very satisfying validation of 14 months of very hard work. On July 3 of last year I moved to Albuquerque with the aid of a transitional assistance program run by the VA in order to work on getting into a Masters of Archaeology program at UNM, find work, broaden my pool of peers and possible friends, and get healthy in mind and body. I had recently been diagnosed with Asperger (something that made perfect sense once I understood what Asperger was) and I weighed 250 pounds, had high blood pressure, and was close to pre-diabetic. I did not get back into school, but I found a job and career that was completely unexpected based on my Naval nuclear experience and I engaged in physical conditioning and therapy (much of which was conducted in my own head during many solitary hours on hiking trails) with equal vigor, and when I started at Sandia in early June I saw the notice for the Penultimates in the Sandia newsletter and it was at just the right time. I have not been part of any kind of athletic team since I was forced to be in Junior High, I have not voluntarily joined clubs (except for utterly geeky ones like Sci-Fi clubs and history clubs) in my adult life, and I had never ridden more than 53 miles in a loop around Albuquerque. I was incredibly nervous about joining the team, about whether I would fit in, and I kept forgetting my helmet in the morning and such. I was pleasantly surprised that I fit right in, and that I had a really good time from start to finish. I have a very hard time feeling ‘part’ of anything that has very much to do with my Asperger, and though I was never aware of the Asperger during most of my life I was aware of that distantness. I can, however, feel connections with people, and however faint those connections may be, they made me feel better by participating with the team and those people on the ride. I very much want to thank everyone on the team for helping me feel a part of the team, and for welcoming me, however distant I may have seemed at times. This really meant a lot to me, and I intend to do the ride again next year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend's Ride: August 17 & 18th - Santa Fe and City Loop

The last training ride of the 2013 Bike MS training season.  We had a great time on Saturday - over 21 riders headed out for a little road time on the road to Santa Fe.  Sunday saw four riders head out.  Heading into the big ride, we have 45 registered riders, with probably 39 riders.  Go Domo! 

Saturday Ride:  The High Road to Santa Fe

We had 21 riders head out to get some miles on the last training Saturday of the year!  The official route today was our adventure ride heading out from O'Neill's in Nob Hill finishing up in Santa Fe to catch the train home (route here).  There were several combinations that riders did due to the time investment required for the main ride - from riding to Tijeras then down South 14, some rode from Tijeras to the hill over looking Madrid, others from the Smiths on Central to Heartbreak Hill, while others started at the JC train stop before the main start at 6 at O'Neills and ending in Santa Fe.  Whatever the combination though, it was a good day to ride.

After our first main rally at the Triangle, 18 of us headed north on 14.  It was a pretty quick trip on the downhill and then we separated into a few different groups. Most headed north, but a few brave ones headed up Heartbreak Hill before turning back to ABQ or heading on to Madrid. This leg saw one of the weirder things I have encountered on any bike ride - a mass migration of large caterpillars heading west that covered the road for about 4 miles.  Unfortunately, many of them met untimely ends bisected by bicycle tires.

The next rally saw 15 of us meet up in Madrid for refueling.  Lots of water and ice cream sandwiches were consumed.  Four riders headed back toward ABQ, heading up the long 4 mile uphill segment we just descended into Madrid (a harder ride than the full ride to Santa Fe). 

From there, eleven brave riders continued on to Santa Fe.  The last 23 miles were the test - with shifting wind, hot noon time temperatures, and the slow uphill grind.  But we persevered, because we knew what awaited us at the end - lunch at El Parasol.  We ate a wonderful lunch and waited for the four riders who overshot lunch by a few miles (lesson here - know the route!).  After a leisurely paced meal we wandered another mile over to the Santa Fe Brewing Company for a pint before heading over to the Railrunner stop for the hour long train ride home.  After a very packed train ride home (Spanish Market in SF), a few people headed east uphill to return home, with another 3 heading back to Nob Hill, the remainders getting picked up by sympathetic family or driving home.  All told, another great ride that I look forward to next year.

Heading out from the Triangle
The few, the crazy, that did Heartbreak Hill too
In Madrid 
At the Santa Fe Brewing company just before the train home

Sunday Ride: City Loop

The last Sunday ride was a different 35-mile loop around the city (route here).  Ali, Blythe, LeeAnn and Stacey headed out a little late due to making sure all our tires were inflated properly.  Thanks LeeAnn!  (Editor's note:  our delayed departure was also due to the late arrival of yours truly [sorry Chris].  Baby's do not seem to understand schedule or the importance of being timely - those jerks!) The goal, for me, for this ride was to approximate the actual ride time - with stops included - so we planned stops for every 10 miles to have a good idea. Super kudos go to Stacey for doing both rides this weekend!

Ride from diversion channel to Bosque
First "rest" stop at Passeo and Bosque
Starting to heat up:  A view from University by the Rental Car Return
The reward/motivation for the ride - milkshakes!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Wee Dram for Charity

Our third annual paired scotch dinner hosted by Two Fools went off like a Macallan 18 year - smooth and tasty.  Over 22 foodies and scotch aficionados joined us for my personal favorite fundraising event of the season.  Five courses of food each expertly paired with delicious scotch by the always impressive Russell of Two Fools.  The menu can be found here.  Check it out and then come back, but be warned you will be sorry you missed it!

We kicked off the food and scotch just after 6 pm and finished our 5 courses by 8:30 that night. Russell began the evening with a quick primer about Scotch.  With every new round he explaining a bit about the scotch, where it comes from, why it was paired with the food.  The best part of course was the always delicious Two Fools food and the expertly paired scotch. Three appetizer courses, a wonderful off menu Blackberry Whisky Pork Loin main course (Russell's personal recipe), followed by a delicious dessert.  Everyone had a great time, and we even had a few converts to the magical ways of Scotch Whisky!  The best part, we raised over $1000 for the National MS Society!
Happy patrons
The man of the hour

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekend's Ride: August 10th & 11th - Placitas + City Loop

Another training weekend in the books. To this point in the season we have ride over 350 training miles for the long rides, and 105 for the short rides.  This weekend saw over 24 riders head out on one or both days. One more training ride before the big event!

Saturday Ride: Ride to Placitas

The second to last training ride of the season!  Today we headed around the mountain the opposite direction, headed north out of ABQ on the way to Placitas (route here).  We had a record turnout of riders show up today - by my count 23 people (details below)!   We started off from Nob Hill with 21, collected another 2 at the Alameda open space, before heading north on 313 toward Bernalillo.  We kept a pretty good pace heading north rallying at the Conoco in Bernalillo around mile 25 mark.  My favorite moment of the day was the interaction with the other bike team that was also rallying there.  They were representing Day of the Tread.  We were representing Bike MS.  Uncomfortable staring, some tough talk.  Then a West Side Story gang war complete with "When you're a Jet, You're a Jet all the way, ..." and dance provided by Gary W.  Or it should have happened like that.

From there, we climbed the up the mountain toward Placitas, a gain of over 2000 feet by the end, way up in the cool mountain air.  We had a few riders peal back early, but all told we had 19 people at the top. We sat around at the end and watched Eric and Andrew attempt to fix Laura's front derailleur (unsuccessfully), before heading down to stop in Placitas for a refueling.  From there it was a free for all back to ABQ.  Several people peeled off to head home, but the majority of the riders made it back to Nob Hill.  Eric and Greg caught up with Stacy on the return trip and rode with her home to the bottom of the diversion trail (no rider left behind!).  Some of us met up at Serafin's (our great jersey sponsor) for some delicious breakfast!  Great morning!

Riders today: Greg V., Rob, Andrew, Gary C., Gary W., Brady, Danielle, Amber, Chris O., Laura, Eric, Olga, David, Daryl, LeeAnne, Maureen, Will, Matt, Michael, Stacy, Tammy, Peggy, Diane
Penultimates as far as the eye can see.
At the top
Breakfast at Serafin's
Sunday ride:  City Loop

Blythe wrote up today's ride, a 36 loop around the city (route here). 

Our ride around the city started with a cool, brisk morning thanks to the rain the night before.  Ali, Gary C., John M., Lee Ann, and Blythe.  Ali was a cheerful morning greeter in flip flops, as she explained that she would not be joining the ride due to baby Ethan affording her little sleep the night before. (Ed note: jerk baby!)

Our group of four headed east towards Smith at Tramway where we took a quick break as we texted Erica to let her know we were close to our rendezvous point at Indian School and Tramway, which received the response, "Ok Wow".  I think we were faster than anticipated!

After picking up Erica and Gary W we raced up Tramway until we got to the road leading up to the base of the Tram.  John M., feeling he should punish himself a bit more, asked if we would join him on an extra uphill jaunt up that road.  Only Gary C was brave enough to follow, and the two of them headed up for a bonus round of hills while the rest of us gleefully headed for the beckoning call of the Tramway downhill stretch. (note scenic view pic below)

When tramway ended at the roundabout we headed south on 4th, stopping once or twice to check on how to connect over to the diversion channel.  After passing our initially intended turn (oops!), we regrouped at Osuna (see pic of Gary W, Blythe, and Erica) and took that east to the diversion channel where we enjoyed a smooth and pleasant ride back.

All in all, a nice way to spend a Sunday morning, and excellent weather for riding!

The descent down toward the casino
Blythe, Gary W, and Erica (back in the saddle!)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekend's Ride: August 3rd & 4th - The Crest + City Loop

Another great weekend of riding.  Saturday saw 10 riders head up to the peak and Sunday's ride involved 6 riders and a great breakfast.  Two more weekends of training rides and the big event is here!

Saturday's Ride:  Crest Assault

We all met over at the Triangle in Sandia Park for a 7:30 departure, which meant we all got to sleep in for the first time past 5:15 am.  We had 10 riders today - Rob, Daniella, Greg, Brady, Calvin, Olga, Tammy, Gregg, Andrew, Jeff, and myself.  Today we headed up to the Crest (route here) - a long 13 mile slog with a gain of elevation of of 4000 feet.  Aside from a very brief down hill at the ski area, it is nothing but a long uphill climb.  As we headed out, the pack separated right away.  Well I say pack, but really, everyone went fast and I went slow (see also my rant about how evil physics is here).  After a long meditative haul up the mountain in the cool green mountain air, the first riders got there an hour before the rest (again, me).  After a quick picture at the top, the fun part - the long descent back down. There were some tales of 46 mph maximum speed and a flat tire discovered on a fast turn on the downhill, but all riders made it back safe around 11:30 am.  Not a bad morning!
Tire repair on the downhill.

Sunday's Ride: City Loop

Ride captain made executive decision to reverse ride route this morning (original orientation here).  In her brilliance, she determined a gear problem to be minor.  In reality the whole front derailleur needs replaced - so climbing was pretty much out.  Sorry guys!

Beautiful, if humid, morning for a ride. 6 riders started out from O'Neill's (Stacy, Gary C., Greg and Nellie V., LeeAnn and Ali).  We travelled through the university to the diversion channel to Indian School and down to Edith, across to Mountain and down to the Bosque.  Next: a quick trip down a pretty empty Bosque trail to Paseo, and up to the diversion channel. 

A quick stop at the top to refuel (and wait for ride captain to catch up) and we headed back along the diversion channel to the finish.  I managed to convince almost everyone, with promises of milkshakes and burritos, to stay and have breakfast.  Two little Penultimates joined us as well.

Breakfast at the Malt Shop
Post ride breakfast at the Malt Shop - yum!  The consensus was that chocolate banana milkshakes (with or without malt and/or peanut butter) may be the best recovery drink ever.  Great ride everyone.  And special shout out to Nellie for her first Penultimates ride!