BikeMS 2012 Day 1
Mike rode down to Clever with us for the start of the MS150, and we met his brother Steve down there. We didn’t see a lot of need to try to start at the front of the pack, so we just kind of fell into the starting line where we landed – at the back of the pack.
That didn’t matter, though. There was plenty of room to get our departing group pictures made.
You’ll notice Pam is pretty bundled up. She had the last laugh, though, when she looked around and saw all the women (and men) around her shivering in the cool morning air.
They let riders go in waves of about 200 to keep congestion down, so it took about 15 minutes before we actually made it to the starting line. When we did, they stopped us!
After waiting the requisite number of minutes, we were finally off! Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before we were officially in the congestion. That’s actually part of the reason we don’t really like to ride the tandem in big rides. It’s not as nimble as a single bike, takes more distance to slow and stop, and picks up speed going down hill at an incredible rate. We’re constantly calling out “Tandem coming. On your left!” during the first few miles, and that’s when people are still sorting themselves out anyway. It can get kind of scary sometimes.
This guy, on his penny farthing, is something of a fixture at the MS150. He seems to ride it the entire distance. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen anyone dismount from one of those things, but it is an exercise that takes quite a bit of skill and room! You should also see him go downhill. When the pedals get to spinning too fast for him, he throws his feet out behind him and kind of lays forward on the saddle and handlebars to get in an aero position. It looks a little like Superman.
At about 10 miles, we got separated from Mike when he made it over a railroad track just before we got stopped by an oncoming freight train. We didn’t see him again until he waited for us at the 30 mile rest stop.
We did pass Dr. Larry H. soon afterward though. He’s a co-worker of Pam’s that is always really friendly to me because he knows we ride bikes. Unfortunately, not 5 minutes after we passed him, we came upon a down rider who appeared only semi-conscious. There was a crowd around him, and knowing that Dr. H. was right behind us, we stayed out of the way.
After regrouping with Mike at 30 miles, it was time to answer the question of the day. Would we ride the century, or be content with the 82 miler? If we were going to go for it, we knew we could bypass the next rest stop which was lunch, because the century loop would dump us back out at it for a second time. Pam had no objection to riding the longer route, so we put the question to Mike. In his mind, there was no doubt, we were going for it!
Shortly after answering that question, however, I began to worry that we might be pushing the pace kind of hard for the miles we had to ride. We were fighting the wind – and would do so all day, but Mike was pushing us pretty hard to keep pace. I was just about to suggest we better slow down when all of a sudden we heard him scream, “I’ve got a bee stinger stuck in my lip!”. He had swallowed a bee and it got him pretty good on the way down. He pulled a honkin’ big stinger out of his lip and showed it to us, but when he did, we think he probably squeezed more of the venom into his lip. It didn’t take long before it began to swell.
He insisted he was OK and didn’t need to see the medic at the 42 mile rest stop, so we passed it by and shortly after turned onto the century loop. It began with a really long 2-3 mile uphill grind straight into the wind. It wasn’t steep, but it wasn’t a lot of fun. As Pam and I rode, we noticed Mike dropping back pretty quickly. We weren’t sure if it was the bee sting, or if he was just running out of gas. He has tendency to ride balls-to-the-walls, then fade quickly sometimes and he had been pushing he pace earlier.
At about 55 miles, we stopped at the 55 mile rest stop where Pam and I got our century pins and waited for Mike. When he arrived, we made him go see the medic for some Benadryl. Afterward, he admitted he wasn’t sure if he was struggling because of the sting or was just getting tired, but we felt a lot better after we knew he had some drugs in his body, and he did seem to recover as time passed.
We pulled into the lunch stop for the second time right at noon. When we went in, we were greeted with a few PBJ sandwich’s! Is that all? We’ve ridden 60 miles and all you’ve got left is PBJ? Fortunately, there was more ham and turkey on the truck, so someone went for it and we waited for them to make us some sandwich’s.
Oh…that picture above reminds me of something. Notice the bike Mike’s standing by? It’s a loaner because his blue Kona has a cracked frame. At first he wasn’t too sure about the bike, but by the end of the weekend, I think he was appreciating what he’s been missing by insisting that “steel is real”!
After lunch, we hit the road again, and realized we were truly now at the pack of the pack. The riders we were passing looked like they were going to have trouble finishing, and the wind was consistently against them and us all day.
We saw this guy offering a prayer to the wind god, but in the immortal words of Elijah, “Shout louder! Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27).
We were a little disappointed in the rest stops. It’s been a few years since we’ve ridden the MS, but the times we did it before, there was a lot more variety and effort put into them. We got pretty tired of the same options of granola bars and banana’s offered this year.
Luckily, two stops from the end, one of them finally had some homemade chocolate chip cookies! Those tasted so good!
At 81 miles, I got a bit of a scare when I started feeling some cramping in my right quad. I had been drinking both water and gatorade all day, so I knew it shouldn’t be a hydration problem. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that it was usually at about that distance where I start cramping on the tandem if I’m going to. I think it’s the fact that we spent so much time grinding ito the wind from a seated position, so I told Pam to hang on, jumped up to the big chainring and did a “standing climb” for a couple hundred yards. I’ve found that by doing that I either put some different muscles into play or exercise the tired ones differently and it really helps. I made it a point to keep on drinking and stand on just about every little hill the rest of the way in to Joplin and didn’t have any more issues.
As we started getting closer to Joplin, we noticed Mike starting to get a second wind. Maybe it’s because we stopped skipping rest stops and literally ate our way down the road! You’ve gotta stay fueled, you know!
We pulled into the finish line about 3:45 with 106 miles behind us where we found Steve waiting for us. As we got off the bike for the final time that day, I had to compliment Pam on what a great effort she gave. She seemed to finish with ease.
You can click the map below for the GPS track. It will only show you 102 miles because I forgot to turn it back on until 4 miles after our last rest stop. The internet generated map doesn’t show the gap that the software sees.
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