Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rider's Notes: Larry on the MS150

[This excellent write up is from our friend Larry who travels down from Colorado to do this ride.  I had the pleasure of riding with him last year, but he was too fast for me this year!  Another example of why this ride is so special - a great cyclist and all around great guy who rides in defiance of his diagnosis.  An inspiration!]

It had everything, wind and rain, heat and hills, and miles and miles and miles of open road, a cyclist’s dream come true. I had it in my mind to do the century but I needed to find a group to ride with.  Our team captain, who I rode with last year, wasn’t in for the century this year and I was afraid that on my own it would be too easy to back out, not that I would ever do that of course.  But still, a group does seem to have a positive effect on will power and it always adds to the fun quotient.  

I crossed the start line at the front of the pack, the desert colors radiating in all their magnificence in the crisp dry air on the morning of day 1.  My plan was to look for a group that I could keep up with or maybe even lead a little and who was set on the century.  I had only gone a few miles when I came across Beth, a girl I met last year and a fellow MSer no less.   She was wearing the jersey, “I have MS, This is Why I Ride" so we were visibly represented.  She was riding with her friend, also from last year, and I learned there wasn’t any question in their minds, they wanted the 100 miles.  She invited me to join them and we got down to business right away, and stayed together for the rest of the ride.  We didn’t hit every rest stop but the volunteers, the homemade banana bread and myriad of homemade cookies and all of the other tasty treats were spectacular at the ones we did hit.  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, for the great volunteers who care enough to bake home made goodies and bring them to the rest stops they tend.  You are the largest part of the cyclists dream come true.

Larry (left) talking strategy with Ron.
I believe Beth’s friend may be my new idol, she really knew how to do a long ride in style.  I don’t want to give away her secrets but lets just say that we wanted for nothing over that entire ride, including the occasional massage.  Riding in style with a fellow MSer, respectable cyclists all of us, I liked that a lot.  It made a statement, don't count us out just because we have been diagnosed with MS.

I have to compliment Maggie, the ride organizer or whoever laid out the century spur of the ride.  It was gorgeous, the black top was flawless and in spite of the fact that it gave the impression we were descending into a hole which we would have to climb out of, that wasn’t the case.  In fact, the ride back was a fabulous descent to rejoin the main route.

Beth is a marathoner and a genuine thoroughbred on a bike, however, she kept herself in check to ride with the rest of us except on a couple of the hills which she used to stretched her legs a bit.  But, on the longest and steepest hill, I noticed I was actually catching up to her and had to wonder if there might be a problem.  When I did catch her, I saw she was riding on a badly deflated back tire.  I don’t know how far she had been riding like that but it was an 8 mile long hill and we were almost at the top, so it could have been quite a while.  That’s not the first flat I’ve had experience with on that hill either, perhaps we should call that hill Tire Eater Rise.  Anyway, no sooner did we pull over and I began to set about fixing the tire (I mean, it was the classic damsel in distress situation that I always try to be a sucker for) than the Support and Gear crew came along and got us on our way again, headed for the lunch stop.

At the lunch stop, it was a shot of pickle juice, a little rehydration, sandwiches made to order, more home made cookies, a quick shoulder massage, and back on the bikes for the down hill run with at least somewhat of a tail wind most of the time....until the last 10 miles.  

What it is about those last 10 miles?  In some demonic way the wind twists itself around until it’s blasting right on the nose.  And it amplifies itself by an order of magnitude or two.  It was the same last year but maybe only one order of magnitude as opposed to this year’s two.  And it happens just as you start the last uphill stretch.  Now, I love the wind, at least that’s what I tell myself, but this particular stretch has it’s own unavoidable idiosyncrasy which works kind of like this.  At 15 miles from the finish you notice your average speed is around 15 mph and you calculate you’ve only got an hour to go.  When you’re 10 miles out, you see your speed is down to 10 and you recalculate that you still have an hour to go.  And with only 5 miles left, on the steepest part of the hill, still riding into the wind, you’re down to 5 miles per hour fearing you have yet another hour to go.  At this point, you must summon a little faith that the finish line does exist and will eventually appear.  If you can do that, you WILL be rewarded, it WILL happen.  The three of us did cross the finish line together side by side not too long after that last steep little pitch but there was a moment of doubt and small test of faith to be passed there, for sure.

How do you make a great ride even better? add a beer truck of course!  Yep, there it was in all it’s glory exactly where it needed to be, right at the end of the first day’s ride.  The beer truck arrived soon after the last century riders crossed the finish line and about half an hour before dinner.  If I wasn’t the first guy in line I was close.  I’d run into Dave Bexfield, the evening’s speaker, and his wife Laura on my way across the parking lot to the tent.  We both spotted the beer truck as we were saying our hello’s and automatically turned and headed in that direction.  They had just finished pouring the foam off of the freshly tapped kegs as we arrived.  Shortly after, Maggie and Krista materialized too.  That golden nectar of hops was indeed the perfect ending to a 100+ mile day.  Nice touch Maggie and Krista, and thank you John and Matt et al. for somehow making that happen.  And it was great to see you again Dave and Laura, and thank you everyone, for another unforgettable Bike MS experience.

Day 2, Truchas…what can I say?  Far be it from me to discourage anyone from riding up this hill so let’s just say that for the third year in a row, even I, the slowest of the slow, the worlds worst climber, made it to the top, on the bike, under my own power.  And furthermore, I wasn’t DFL.  In fact, I might not have been quite as hypoxic as the two previous years.  

There is a segment of the Truchas hill, which can bring a cyclist to their knees, and make them weep, and it did stop me this year.  I had finished the 4 or 5 eight to ten percent hills leading up to it and was starting to get pretty hot when I spotted the road's path up that massive overhang.  I was grateful for the rain cloud that sprinkled lightly, cooling things down as I started to pedal up it.  But, it stopped me anyway, right in the middle of the last section of that steep little pitch (with a “p”, or a “b”, choose one).  Now I didn’t break down and weep but, for a minute or so, I did beg for air and strength.  And while I was regaining my composure and perhaps entertaining just the slightest thought of turning around and going back down, I heard my Denver bike buddy’s voice in the back of my mind.  She said quite clearly, in her take no prisoners voice, “Get your butt up the hill!”, so, I spun an elongated 360 in the middle of the road, got a little speed up and with surprising vigor and ease, peddled my way to the crest.

By the way, thanks to all of you who commented on my “I Ride With MS” jersey and gave me words of encouragement, and thanks in particular for supporting the MS cause.

In Truchas, I was presented with the traditional cyclotini, Gatorade in a martini glass with a grape this year, on a skewer.  Without dismounting and after a few minutes, I topped off my water bottles, downed a chocolate covered banana and headed back down the hill.

I can’t imagine the thrill of that descent ever getting old.  If I live to be 90 I’ll SAG to the top of Truchas just to re-live the trip back down.  On a set of good tires and riding well maintained equipment, you can reach some mighty impressive speeds on that descent.  It’s also fun to hang around the rest stop after that hill and listen to the riders talk about the speeds they hit as they came down.
In the end, I trimmed about 20 minutes off last year’s time on the first day but I added 15 to my saddle time the second day.  I’ll have to think about why that might be but I already know the real test will come when I do it all again next year.

“Pedal los Pueblos”, an MS 150 ride for those who dare!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Favorite Photos of the MS150 2013

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this years ride.  Summarizes nicely our great team!

Rider's Notes: Captain's Log Day 2

The second day of a 150 mile mike ride is both the worst day and the best day of the ride.  The worst day because the cumulative effect of riding 90 miles on the first day makes getting in the saddle the hardest thing to do.  The best day because these first tortured 10 miles of the ride is truly spectacular - mission churches, farm land, gorgeous south western vistas - and knowing that today's is shorter.  My goal today was only the 40 miles, so I could get back early enough to enjoy a dip in the pool with the toddler before we headed home for the weekend.  I missed the Truchas spur, but getting back early enough to get a descent lunch, massage, and a shower almost made it worth missing the thrilling 6 mile descent from Truchas.  It was a great day of riding though!  It helped I was riding with a great group of fellow riders - LeeAnn, John, Greg, Val, Buddy, and Andrew.  Finished 40 miles and done by 11 am.

This ride is truly a fantastic experience.  It is more than just a two day weekend at the end of August. For me and the other dedicated folks on the team, it starts in early May as we start holding recruiting sessions, planning for our fundraisers, soliciting donations from local businesses, planning the training season, ordering team jerseys, sending out the countless emails to the team regarding rides and events, growing our ridership, getting out of bed at 5 am on Saturday mornings for 2 months, and finally harassing friends and family for donations.  The actual ride weekend is the culmination of the 4 months of active effort and it is always worth it.  

It is always a difficult to condense every thing I feel about this ride into a short note, but let me try. First, our team is amazing!  Riders from all places in life that come together for a myriad of reasons to ride together for 2 months.  Some of them I have ridden with for over 3 years, and count them truly as extended family. The sense of camaraderie feels wonderful, and the only thing that is close is my long ago rugby days.  

Finally, the ride itself is a great combination personal challenge and celebration.  Challenge, because as life becomes more full with family and children, devoting the kind of time to this ride will become more difficult.  But more than that, if you would have asked me right after my diagnosis 6 years ago if I  thought I would be capable of riding 150 miles in a weekend I would have said no.  At the time, my mind was in the darkest of places as I contemplated my uncertain future.  So this is a yearly challenge to get out and be as active as I can and enjoy what I have while I have it.  So in that sense it is a personal celebration, in addition to the true rolling party the ride is every year.

Rider's Notes: Stacy on the MS150

[Here is a quick write up from Stacy - a new rider to the team this year.  She was a little unsure of how far she wanted to ride, and ended up riding 70 miles on day 1 and 40 miles on day 2!]

Riding the MS 150 was a wonderful experience and for a great cause.  The beautiful scenery, fantastic support from the team and the opportunity to personally challenge myself were awesome.  The best thing about the weekend is the welcoming environment from the MS society volunteers that were just so happy we were riding, it made for a great weekend.

Finishing up Day 1!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rider's Notes: Captain's Log Day 1

This year was the fifth MS150 ride for the Scrymgeour clan - my fifth year riding, Ali's fifth year volunteering or riding, and even Connor's fifth year (he was in utero at the first one).  Every year I look forward to this weekend, and this year was no exception.  It was certainly more difficult this year with two kiddos, but thanks to Ali's parents we were able to do the ride this year.

One of the highlight for me the first day was seeing so many new riders suited up in Domo jerseys and ready to go (16 new riders this year)!  The ride I was planning on today (the 88 miles) is here. The other was being able to ride with Ali for the first 20 miles.  We cruised out in the 2nd wave of riders to take a relaxed ride toward the first rest stop.  There were about 8 of us riding together and spirits were high as we chatted and enjoyed the 10 miles to the first rest stop.  We stop for refueling and potty breaks and then onto the next stop, the halfway for the 40 mile riders.

Look at all those Penultimates jerseys!
I said goodbye to Ali as she and LeeAnn headed back on the 40 mile ride.  We headed out on the next 30 miles toward lunch.  It was fun to ride this year with a few other riders - Blythe, Andrew, and John. For some reason, the last 3 years I did this stretch of ride solo.  We picked up Peggy, Tammy, and Gregg on their return from the century spur,  and we rode roughly as a group the next 10 miles - the long uphill and and then down to El Rito for lunch. 

Lunch - the best sandwich I had or will have all year.
Under cloudy skies (that threatened rain all day to no avail), we enjoyed a nice lunch before suiting up for the next leg of the ride.  It was a long downhill section that John and I kept a nice 18-22 mph pace for most of the way.  After a quick refresh at mile 60 begins the hard work.  This is the point the ride starts to get long, the weather hot, and cumulative tally of miles in the saddle start to catch up with you. But Andrew, John, and I forged ahead to the stops at mile 70 and finally 80.  At the last stop we only had 8 miles to go, but it was a long 8 miles!

We finished around 4 pm.  Completing the ride for me is always a relief.  Glad to have finished, and a confirmation that I can still do it.  This will be my personal challenge for as long as I can physically ride, and I hope to participate in this ride for a long time to come.  It is a fantastic event, and one that is always rewarding - from the volunteers, to the beautiful scenery, to the fellow riders - and I look forward to next years ride (after 10 months off from training that is!).

2013 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:
48 total teammates (10 more than 2012!)
17 brand new Bike MS150 riders!
13 riders who have done the ride >2 years
3 fundraising events
$3024 raised at fundraisers to fight MS!
Training season:
0 - number of bike free weekends since June 23 (team wide)
1 - tire blowout before the ride even started
4 - maximum number of flats in one ride by one rider (congrats Brady!)
3 - Breakfasts at Serafin's Chili Hut post Saturday ride
8 - chocolate milkshakes at Route 66 Malt Shop post Sunday ride 
12 - days of training rides
6561 - Miles of training (team wide)
At the MS Ride 2013:
42 - riders Day 1
38 - riders Day 2
25 - riders to completed the Century ride Day 1!
25 - riders to make it to Truches on Day 2
28 - riders in Penultimate jerseys
6 flat tires (team wide)
5426 miles rode a the MS150 (team wide)
12 top fundraisers

$28,934.45 (and counting) raised by the Penultimates!

$176,189 (and counting) raised to fight MS at the Pedal los Pueblos 2013!

Go Domo!

MS150 Photos 2013

Lots of great photos from this years ride.  If you are having problems seeing the flash slideshow below, click here to go directly to the online photo album.