MS 150 - Riding for fun and funds in
On the prior weekend I had
picked up a brochure about a charity bike ride in
Friday, August 13, 2004
Every day of that week I got a couple of pledge-notifications via email and saw the total amount go up. On the last day prior to the event I came to the office wearing a bike jersey and helmet and put my bike near the coffee machine to raise awareness and make a last ditch fundraising effort.
This paid off and I eventually surpassed the $1,100 mark - including Microsoft’s generous policy of matching charitable donations 1:1.
Friday I went to the local office in
Saturday, August 14, 2004
I slept through my alarm clock at 5:15am. When I woke up it was alread 6:10am – some folks already were having breakfast in Casselton since 6:00am! Damn, I am late! I throw everything in the car and leave still half asleep, only stopping at a gasstation to buy some breakfast for the drive to Casselton. One sponsor at Microsoft wrote in his comment box: “Ride hard!” Well, the first thing riding hard this morning was my car, flying down the Interstate to reach the starting point 20 miles West of Fargo as soon as possible.
Luckily I got there with about 10 mins to spare, enough time to change cloths, sign in for the ride, and pose for a quick picture.
There were about 85 riders signed up, a bit less than what I had expected, but definitely a nice group to ride with. Before I knew it the start signal for the ride was given and we were off. It was quite cool, which made for some chilly first ½ hour.
I took lots of pictures from the other riders as well as had one of them take one picture of me.
chatted with Andrea, who also comes out to ride with us on Wednesdays for the
Rollag ride. Her husband Kent was one of us 6 riders going to
after turn we navigated our way through the lonely backroads. There is hardly
any traffic at all. Eventually we reached the little
Rahul and I stopped for a quick chat and drink – it was only 9:30am. By now we were riding far out in front, but on the way back to Page we saw several other riders who also went for the full 100 miles. Back in Page another quick stop with food; many more riders were here who just went for the regular 75 mile distance. After maybe 20 minutes I started over and continued on West ward. The 100 km mark rolled by. The roads were practically empty, you could see only a few other riders when the roads spanned from horizon to horizon.
Rahul had to slow down on the way back to Page and was no longer with me. Later it turned out he had serious trouble finishing this first day reporting feeling dizzy and light-headed. I suspect he didn’t drink enough and got dehydrated. One of the few rules of long distance bike riding: Drink, drink, and then drink some more! Staying hydrated is the single most important thing you need to do on a long and hot day on the bicycle.
Since it was a ride, not a race I had plenty of time to look around or stop for a nice scenic picture like this Colnago-framed summer still with sunflowers.
expect much out on those roads, but that vast open space has its own appeal.
And at Sibley we reached the
had heard there was only one women rider in front of me (doing the 75 mile), so
naturally I kept pedaling at a good speed trying to catch up. Which I did at
the next crossing of the
After a few more minutes riding through town following the many signs set up for this ride I soon arrived at the Valley City University Campus, the Finish for the first day. It was 1:30pm. There was only one volunteer there, and it would be another 4 hours prior to the banquet and dinner. Within minutes, Rahul showed up. He had taken a ride in one of the support vehicles as he felt incapable of finishing the ride due to his state of dehydration. So we had the volunteer take a picture of the first two finishers.
I figured there would be another 7 hours of sunshine on this beautiful day, too much to just relax and stay put for the rest of the day. So I decided to finish the entire loop on this afternoon, which would put me to a 175+ mile first day! The reaction of the volunteer when I announced that plan reminded me of the old saying: “If you want to see the Gods laugh, tell them your plans!” Anyway, off I went after only 15 mins or so. The next 20 miles or so would be both the most scenic, but also the most physically demanding of the entire ride. I had to ride into a 10 mph headwind and there were three serious hills to be crossed. On one of them I took a picture of the 200 km mark rolling by at 53 km/h – reminded me of the Winnipeg downwind ride of last summer, where I was speeding along for hours at that speed in the flats!
In Kathryn I stopped for a coffee and some sweets to satisfy my craving for sugar and coffeine. Kathryn has one street, one bar and one restaurant and about 60 people. So no problem finding the right spot. In a nicely refurbished room I drank multiple cups of coffee, had two bowls of vanilla icecream and a delicious, warmed up caramel bun – all for a staggering total of $ 2.48 I doubt you’ll find a better meal value anywhere in the U.S.!
kept asking about the MS 150 ride and why we were 1 day ahead of schedule…
Well, I pressed on, crossing the
had ridden just a little bit over 185 miles or 300 km. This confirmed again
exactly my formula of 100 km per 4 hours over a long day of solo bike riding
(without wind or pack riding). I loaded the bike in the car and drove the 40
miles West on I94 to
that feast I went back to the nearby campus dorms for a shower. During a short
stroll I called my wife in
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Again we needed to get up early to get ready for a 7:00am departure. Again it was pretty chilly in the morning with temperatures around 50F (10C). Again there was the crowd gathering on the parking lot. Luckily I had found an individual willing to drive my car back to Casselton, so I would have the car back at today’s Finish line. One particularly inspirational encounter was with Jay. He has been aflicted with MS for 15 years now, but that has not let his spirits down or kept him from pursuing his dreams. In fact, he rode the entire 150 mile loop on a hand-powered wheel-chair-type bike!
the steep hills of the
The entire pack left at 7:00am sharp and “warmed up” to a first hill:
We rode the 20 miles to Kathryn again in what had to me a distinct deja-vu flavor due to the same ride the day before. The wind was stronger, but then I stayed in a group of riders and we weren’t trying to go very fast either. Andrea was again with me in the beginning, apparently going strong on her longest bike ride.
We all stopped in Kathryn at rest stop Number 2 for the day. Two more steep hills would follow to get us to Little Yellowstone Park again. Cruising down that hill I took a picture of my odometer clocking a tailwind-assisted speed of 66 km/h. Others were riding right next to me:
We stopped at the bottom for yet another food stop. This was most definitely the most well-fed long distance ride I’ve ever done. Going back up the hill was the last climb of the day.
continued riding together, now assisted by a fair tailwind. Knowing the route
ahead of time was somewhat comforting, for example I could mentally prepare for
the bumpy stretch in the road and anticipate the best road conditions at the
end. We had a lunch stop in
that second to last stop Rahul and I picked up the pace – I guess we were both
in “summit fever” and zoning in on the finish line. The 400 km mark rolled
around at 11:52am and the wind picked up our speeds to between 35-40 km/h. I
really got in the zone and kept a high speed, which dropped out all other
riders. The last stretch going north to Casselton I got that same feeling like
had lunch and chatted for another hour or so. One by one the other riders
closed today’s loop and joined the fun around the finish line. This was one
great event: Meeting nice people, riding many miles near home including the