Monday, June 1, 2009

2009 Audi Best Buddies 100-mile Cycling Event: A to Z

What can I say? I had great friends along the way, HPHC support front and rear, wicked support from sponsors and family, and enough food and water, or so I thought! This was the ideal distance for a 1-day event. I plan to do it next year, too.

I have to give a lot of credit to two personal trainers I've worked with over the past 2 years:
Dan and Bri are the source of my ability to rapidly accelerate my weekly mileage and long weekly rides in May. They're also the reason why I was able to comfortably complete this ride at a much higher average speed and without any post-ride issues. Dan relocated his practice to Rhode Island in preparation for starting a family. I continue to workout with Bri twice a week, and every workout is a challenge both physically and psychologically. Just what one needs for century rides and more.

We started at The JFK Library in Boston. That's The Library behind Paul Laferriere and me. Paul's another Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Team rider. We were posing for a HPHC photo, and we got this one taken, too.
Registration, breakfast and dry land were inside The Library.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
Bananas. Bagels (I never saw anything to spread on the bagels, at the water stops or at the finish.) Water. Coffee.
People were enjoying the (spreadless) breakfast. A lot of people traveled to the event, and they were likely coming from hotels.
Outside, riders continued to stream in. Many needed technical help. The Belmont WheelWorks crew was standing by to help.Riders checked a bag for the finish line with these folks. I checked my red courier bag. The woman to the left picked it up like it had cooties. I was about to explain that it was a bike courier bag, handmade by those bike riding people at Courierware, but I caught myself. (Note to self: Louis Vutton next year.) It was a bike showroom outside.
We had ride officials who were supposed to do ___? Maybe remind people of the rules of the road? Maybe they were escorting the VIP riders. Nice jackets. (I saw one on the road, and he refused to move over when I said Car back. It must have been my Boston accent.)As planned, I started at the back. I wasn't alone. Plenty of people wanted to avoid the crush at the front and in the middle of the pack. It was a good place for last minute adjustments, like tieing your shoes, too.There was a VIP Bike area, where I'm assuming the major league fund raisers and celebrities had the option to put their bikes. Hmmm. Maybe they were staying dry under that tent.There was a brief announcement, and someone kicked off the ride! The Audi R8 led the procession:
...and we rode out of The Library.
My first attempt at behind-the-back photography as we move towards Morrissey Boulevard.This rider and his Best Buddy planned to go the whole way together on this tandem.The rider closest to them is a woman riding a tri bike. She shadowed them for as long as I was near them (the first 10 miles or so.) They kept up a steady conversation the whole time. That's one of the great aspects of a ride like this. Many people enjoy the social aspects as well as the good will and physical feat.The roads were still wet.
Dorchester Gas Tank in the distance. Up around the bend here, we were forced to walk across a steel gap bridge. The bridge surface had rectangular holes in it (for what purpose, I have no clue.) Walking across it in cleated shoes was tricky. Riding across it (while still wet) would have probably been worse. Major props to the police.Riding over to Quincy, the sky still looked icky. Many riders wore tights, arm warmers or full length insulated jerseys and jackets. Those clothes would hurt later in the day.We were bunched up for a while. I stayed at the back to avoid the crush as well as to have plenty of time to see anything in or on the road that might cause some problem.Eventually, and as predicted by veteran riders of this event, we started to see more space between riders.
Wollaston Beach anyone!? It was too early for most of the walkers and runners who use the beach.We still had a police escort (somewhere up front) as we left Wollaston Beach and headed towards Quincy and Weymouth.
I was able to warm up riding at the back. Could I have centered this any better!? This was my first attempt at photography while in motion in a long time. I wonder if there's market for this skill!?
Spreading out a bit more. We've been riding about 8 miles now.
Once we got to 10 miles and the police left us, things opened up a lot and we rode much faster. So fast that before I knew it, we were at 20 miles and the first rest stop. I stopped to pop a GU, and what did I see? Bagels. Bananas. Water. How about those guys riding in long nylon shorts? Were they planning to play basketball at Craigville Beach!? Mr. Blue Shorts is wearing running shoes. I'm certain he's fit enough to do it all, but did he read the guidebook section about recommended clothing!? He probably dances on his pedals and rides up a storm.Rest Stop #1 was a busy place.
This was the first event I can remember where I never saw lines for the port-a-johns. (If potty talk isn't your cup of tea, skip ahead now.) Not only were there plenty of them, they were spotless, odorless and level. I remember an event (but which one escapes me) where at one stop, the port-a-johns were on small moguls and WAY out of level. I am not kidding when I say, no matter what you planned to do, you had to use your hands to keep from falling. Potty talk over. Major props to the event planners. Riding away from this rest stop and into suburbia, we were riding on our own now and at our own speeds. I had long ago decided to try for 15mph+ for the ride. I hadn't ridden this far in 13 years (Boston-New York AIDS Ride of 1996; wicked ride, if only for the weather and the opportunity to be saluted by Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy on more than one occasion!) I only boosted my rides from 15-20 miles in the past month. I knew I was risking not finishing if I tried to push it all the way. Last week's 84-miler told me I could do the 100-miles if I was smart about it. OK - enough about me. Back to the ride.The sun was starting to make an appearance. Much of the riding up until the Miles Standish Reservation was tree lined, so we were protected from the sun much of the time.Lots of room to ride now.
We were definitely sharing the road with cars, trucks and motorcycles.Rest stop #2 at 40 miles. This one came up in a hurry. I stopped to take a quick picture (maybe too quick) and left. I had plenty of water, but I wasn't drinking it fast enough. I figured that out around mile 85.I saw this tandem team a few times during the day. I never saw them not smiling.
I heard my name called while riding in Marshfield. Fortunately, it didn't come from one or both of the drivers I yelled at a few minutes beforehand. Both expressions cannot be repeated here, but each time the driver either meant harm (#1) or was indiscriminately risking harm to me (as in ME) and the riders around me (#2.) I wasn't happy with myself after uttering these expressions as I had weaned myself off verbal reactions on my regular rides. I think I was just surprised to be muscled out of the way wearing the Best Buddies jersey. Lesson learned, and no holiday cards to those drivers! (This was the only car talk experience I had on the ride. Maybe they were both late for the same Pilates class!?) Dermot took this photo of me as I approached them:
Dermot and Tricia timed the ride perfectly and met me in Marshfield, their home town. We talked for a while on the sidewalk. Both Dermot and I took some photos of other riders.Then, it was back a-ridin'. The road conditions and surrounding terrain became a little more rural. The roads were quieter but narrower, and we passed more farms and open land. Not a Dairy Queen in sight though!
Rest stop #3 at 60-miles. I was moving at a pretty good pace. This one was very busy at the time I arrived.
I started to see bikes on the ground versus in a rack or leaning against something that wasn't going to drive off.There was room in the bike racks. It's your bike dude!
Rest stop #4 at 75-miles (I think.) Not too busy at the time I arrived. There was a dance tune planing on the PA when I stopped riding. Weak, I thought. (I like a lot of dance music, just not that tune.) I got off my bike thinking I should go over and request that they play a Led Zeppelin song. A remixed verison of Whole Lotta Love came up next. I was stunned. It bordered on pathetic, but it had enough of the original to qualify. (What were people thinking when they remixed Whole Lotta Love for dance!? Those producers must be in Witness Protection now.)

The WheelWorks mechanics were on alert:And an army of port-a-johns stood by silently, waiting to fulfill their mission.
I refilled my CamelPak here:
I left here thinking the worst was behind me since we were at 80-miles. Not true. I did feel good, though. Here's a closer look at the engine:
We had to ride through Miles Standish Reservation (or is it a Park!?) It was a series of rolling hills with very few flat road sections. It's my least favorite part of the ride. Boring and repetitive riding. Nothing to look at. There was harder riding ahead I learned, but that would be more engaging (if you can call hill after hill engaging.)
Now, we were riding primarily in the sun and without any breeze. Hot Hot Hot. After starting out on the cool side of things with rain and then drizzle, I started to bake. I wasn't alone. I came out of the park and rode up a short hill to find 8 guys sitting, lying and moaning once in a while on the side of the road. A few were stretched out on rocks. Most were tall well built men, and I assumed they thought they could muscle their way through the ride. This hill was the first time I saw people walking their bikes, too. (I couldn't take pictures of any of that. I was feeling a little zonked, too. I got off my bike here and stretched, something I didn't do at the rest stops. Bad Bad Bad) These guys were laughing as much as they were aching. I got back and continued riding. My left foot had started acting up 10 or so miles before this point. (Sorry. I forgot to mention this earlier.) This would be an issue for the rest of the ride. Towards the end of the ride, my right foot complained in the same way. I am attributing both complaints to ramping up my mileage too quickly to get ready for this ride.

Oops! We're at The Sagamore Bridge now. Time to walk:
I was originally a little miffed at the whole idea of walking across this bridge. Once I got there though, I couldn't wait. My feet had been telling me I ramped up my mileage too quickly (or words to that effect) so I treated them to a tip toe through the sand, gravel, stones and glass to the other side of the bridge. (It will be the rare person who does not complain about the winter debris on the walkway. I'd go down the week before next year's ride with a dozen people and sweep the walkway if its allowed.)

Up we go: (It looks soooo far away!)
At the top: (There was a great breeze.)
Let's look around a bit while we're here: (facing East)
..., and facing West. The sidewalk on the West side is 1/2 the width of the one we used.
Time to go down now:
If you're worried that your Mass. Tax Dollars are being spent to maintain the sidewalk we used, you can rest easy. Anyway, we exited through an opening in the guardrail into the Christmas Tree Shop parking lot. (Could I make this stuff up!?) That's in the ride directions for crossing The Bridge, and it made sense, too. Once out of the lot and onto the road, it was back to residential riding.
These riders were sticking together on the ride. That yellow sign with the black arrow means ...
... another rest stop. This made sense to me but only after I was done with the ride. There's some hard riding ahead, and this was a chance to eat something (Bagels. Bananas. Water.), drink and refill, and stretch. Of course, I didn't know much of the next 10 miles was rolling good-sized hills with no shade (and no Dairy Queen or faux DQ.) Here I made a mistake. I dumped my 2 water bottles thinking I could spare the weight since I had a good amount of water left in my CamelPak. I know better. At 95 miles, I had no water and no place short of a resident's hose to get any.

Our friends, the port-a-johns, always vigilant:
The rest areas were scaled down (and down) as we approached the finish line. I guess that works, as each one was less busy when I arrived. There was more easy bantering at each rest stop, too. I think the further into the ride one was, the more one had realized just what was needed to complete the ride.

The next 8 or so miles were primarily consumed by the access road that runs parallel to Route 6. It's much hillier on the bike (than in the car) and the sun was now directly overhead. I saw a lot of people walking up some of a hill or up an entire hill. Several people would accelerate up a hill and then stop pedaling before the top. Some were stopped on the side of the road just standing or stretching. I felt I had something left in me so I was able to push a bigger gear more of the time than I could or would have a year ago. My feet would occasionally complain, but I knew that if I could get through this section, the worst was likely over. You'll notice: No pictures from this part of the ride. I had to concentrate on pedaling efficiently (with little or no foot talk back at me) with the occasional Are you OK? to people stopped or walking their bikes.

After clearing the access road, the terrain leveled out. We were really out of the woods and back in residential civilization. I started riding a few feet behind a woman at this point, and we traded places a few times until the finish. She was pushing a bit and then sliding backwards, and I was no threat to any land speed records myself. I could see behind her with my Third Eye, so I would call out Car back and Clear. It was a relief to speak at that point, if only to say that stuff. We chatted a little but we were both beat and really had our heads down except for intersections. (Yes, this is where my stupid dump-the-bottles trick haunted me. I could have dumped some of that water on my head to cool me off and consumed some if it, too. Lesson learned for next time.)

We had to ride out and do a short loop before turning back in the direction of the finish. We saw riders coming back at us at one point, and we were a little surprised. They could tell and laughed. They told us they were riding the last loop before the run-in to the finish. So we didn't laugh and rode the loop and looked forward to the finish. At one point, we came around a turn and saw a big sign, Best Buddies and a large black arrow. We thought it was the Finish Line pointer, but our brains slowly read the smaller sign below: Parking. We had ridden to the Best Buddies Official Parking Lot but still had less than a mile to go. We could see the end off in the distance:
..., and closer...We both sped up, and I'm certain we both did it to finish and not to beat each other to the line. I couldn't manage the camera and turn into the chute at the same time. I put my camera back in my jersey and finished. When we hit the "U" in the shoot, we stopped and were given our finisher's medals. We congratulated each other and then went our separate ways. I did come back to the finish line to applaud other finishers after showering. (A tradition.) Here's what it looks like when you finish:
When you have your medal in hand, someone comes up to you and offers to take your bike. (My sisters are laughing I expect. They know I'm a little reluctant to part with my bike.) This person wanted to put my bike on a trailer leaving for Boston at 6PM. I told him I was staying on The Cape and that my bike wasn't going off Cape without me. (It would have been more likely that I would have put him on the trailer.) He said he understood, and I watched him take my bike off to a rack:
See those trailers on the right that resemble black holes?
I think it was at this point that I met the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care team at their table. I was walking around stretching my legs. Some pictures were taken, and then I went off to collect by bag, take a shower and change. Nice crew. (At least, this is the order I remember. I could have showered and changed and then met them... I was a little baked at that point. Not tired, just a head heated by the reflected sun off the pavement. A little dehydrated, too.)

There was food:
In addition to bagels, bananas and water, there were apples, mangoes and sliced oranges. There were also 2 trays of sandwiches but they were not labeled so I avoided them. I had an apple and a Gatorade.

Then I picked up my bag: (see those bags at the back of the tent? Mine was in the cooties section.)
I also picked up my Kenneth Cole goodie bag. Kenneth Cole is a major Best Buddies supporter. (I saw people riding with a Kenneth Cole bag over their shoulders. They must have been fashionistas.) The bag alone is impressive, and inside we received a large beach towel, sun block, lip balm, a Best Buddies elastic, and an Ibex clothing catalog.

Outside the Luggage tent, people were stretching out and just relaxing as much as possible.I showered and changed. Then I signed up for a 15-minute massage. It was well worth the very brief wait:
There were several vendors at the finish area, too:
I felt fine. All the things one associates with a long and potentially uncomfortable bike ride were not an issue. I attribute that all to my bike and the guidance and expertise available to me when selecting it, sizing it, building it and riding it, too.

I decided to skip the lobster and clam gala and the Bangles Concert. Leaving early would give me some more time to hang out with my sisters and my mother back at their place (before they went to dinner with friends.) I also had to reclaim my bike before 6PM (I was told), and I wasn't optimistic about being able to take my bike into the gala tent. I grabbed my bike and departed the scene.

I'm very appreciative of your support for this event and for my participation. If you were one of the people who sponsored me with $, you should feel very good about yourself this week! The event raised $3.6M (so far!)



1 comment:

  1. Thank you - you took (and posted) all the views I wish captured with my camera. - Jonathan