Before I start, I'd like to thank those of you who donated to this amazing fundraiser. Barbara, Carla, Shweta, Katie, and Danielle--Thank you for helping me to achieve my fundraising goal. I know that your help will lead to a better life for people who have MS. While I was riding, I tried hard to never lose sight of the cause.
To recap, the MS bike challenge is a two day ride to raise awareness and funds for the National MS Society. There are MS bike challenges all over the nation and this one took place in southern Maryland, starting and finishing at the National Harbor. There are several options for distances-- On Saturday, you could do 30 miles, 60 miles, or 100 miles. Sunday's 44 miles was optional as well. Brian and I chose to ride the 100 miles Saturday and 44 miles.
Saturday's 100 miles began at 7AM at the National Harbor. We had planned to get to the start at 6AM so that we had plenty of time to get ready, but due to a really bad night of sleep, I didn't even wake up until 5:10. Whoops. So we packed up the car as quickly as we could, grabbed some disgusting "breakfast" food from seven eleven (ummm, indigestion much?!), and went on our merry way to the National Harbor. We parked our car at 6:30AM--not quite early enough to pick up our ride packet (numbers and what not), fill our water bottles, go to the bathroom, and put on sunscreen before the ride started. There may have been a little bit of bickering before we took off ten minutes late. Sorry bout that!
Oh, before I go on further, I bought a new bike. She's a real bute! It's a Quintana Roo Seduza triathlon bike. I bought the XS frame because for once it actually fits me perfectly! Believe it or not, I get into perfect aero position. The biggest difference it that instead of the 700c wheels I'm used to, the wheels on my new bike are a smaller 650c (don't worry, you don't need to know what the numbers mean, its basically just wheels of a smaller diameter). I was so pumped about my new bike that even though the people at the store recommended that I build up to riding it, I decided to ride it on the 100 miles after just 45 minute rides. Smart.
|My new bike!|
Well we departed from National Harbor and the first thing we did was turn the corner and ride up a giant hill that must have been 80% grade (exaggerate much?). Oh man, and the next several miles were equally as frustrating. Hill after hill after hill. It took forever to pass all of the slow people in the back, and when Brian and I finally got to a place where we were getting close to our usual speed we ran into a big long team of people.
You know, its great to be on a team. This team sounded so supportive, so helpful. The people in the back would shout up when there was a car behind them. The people in the front would let everyone know when a turn or big bump was coming up. Faster teammates would encourage slower teammates. The line of people must've been 25 people long. Normally, I totally encourage that kind of thing, but after our rough start, this was the LAST THING I wanted to see. For the life of me, I could NOT get around them. I'd get right up in the front and then we'd go downhill and the WHOLE group passed me. UGH. So finally after waaayyyy too long, Brian and I got passed the crowd when they stopped at a rest stop.
Then, somewhere around mile 40, we hit a giant pack of hills. It was just one right after the other. I was having a real rough time getting used to my new bike on the hills. I got so annoyed that I just went off about anything and everything. I yelled at Brian and told him to "just leave me on the hills because I'm so slow." I think Brian was equally as annoyed at my whining and so he passed me and shot up the hill. I'm sure in the back of his mind he thought, "she'll catch me in a second and realize she should stop complaining," but it seriously took 10 more miles and another rest stop until I caught him again. I know he felt bad because he thought I was a lot closer to him than I was, but it sure did help me to stop complaining.
The next 20 miles were challenging, but we were staying steady. I had some back pain (this is why you build up to using a tri bike!), but found some advil at a rest stop. All the sudden we realized that we weren't seeing any other cyclists. ...and it had been a WHILE since we had seen anyone. We had so far logged 75 miles and now we were lost. I pulled out my iphone and looked at the course map. Yep, we were about 2 miles off course. We turned back around and rejoined our route. Great, an extra 4 miles (can you sense the sarcasm?).
The rest of the ride wasn't quite smooth sailing, but it was more of the same with the rolling hills. At the very end there was a ridiculous uphill climb after a sharp turn. I was so glad to not be the one who fell into the bushes on that turn! I was sooooo happy to be done with that ride. At the finish, we turned a corner and came to an abrupt stop. The guy behind us actually yelled at us for stopping so fast, but it really wasn't our fault--there were cones and people in our way (maybe they have to plan that out a little better).
All in all, day one took us about 6 hours. We were by no means speedy, but we finished--we'll blame it on the hills! haha
On day 2 I was back to my old bike. I had gotten so frustrated the first day that I swore that it must've been the bike slowing me down (BTW, it wasn't, I can actually go just as fast on my new one). I'm not sure that I was actually riding any faster, but I sure convinced myself that I was. We rode several of the same roads as we took on the first day. However, 44 miles on the course felt like nothing after our 100 miles the day before. Not much to report from day 2 besides the overall satisfaction of being DONE!
All in all, the MS bike challenge was great. I could've done without some of the hills, but at least its good training. AND we collected several mini clif bars throughout the ride. Bonus!! haha I'm glad that we were a part of this great ride. Really, it was all about the fundraising. They said on day 2 that 1000 people participated in the Bike MS. Even if everyone simply raised the minimum, that's a total of $300,000 raised for Multiple Sclerosis. Amazing! I hope this makes a great impact on the fight against MS.