Ramblings, musings and generally boring stuff. Mostly about bikes...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fed Ex Rock N Roll MS150 2010

2010 marks my 15th year of MS 150 rides. Early on, we rode the Missouri MS 150. I think we camped in Mexico MO. I don't remember the camping lasting too long. I think I've blocked some of that from my memory. I do remember the year my cousin Becca and I rode, sagged and she mooned all the riders we passed from the Sag van!
I also remember the year I rode with Tunes, who dubbed herself "Rides with sore butt". That year, a POLICE team ran her off the road into a ditch! It was also that year that we hopped into the sag vehicle and convinced them to let us out just before the finish line, so it appeared we rode the whole thing. Tunes convinced me we should tell the boys that we actually did the whole thing. I kept up my end of the deal, only to discover that she fessed up to Marc within a few minutes. Phil is still disappointed that I "lied" to him about finishing.

I don't clearly remember the first time I finished both days. I do know that i've ridden the MO MS 150 10 times. Of those 10, we've seen hills, flats, amish country, fresh baked cookies at a rest stop, torrential downpours, sunny days, camping, hotels that were ok, hotels that smelled like ass, kittens, Ken getting his tongue stuck on a Popsicle, Dick taking naps at the rest stops. I've thrown up, been stung by bees. I've ridden a hybrid, mountain bike, steel road bike and carbon bike. I can still remember one year when I was doing everything I could to stay upright and just make it to the lunch stop. I watched my average and just kept hoping I could keep an all time high of 12 mph, only to see it slip into 11 something.

5 years ago, we took the Bad Dog Cycle Team to Memphis TN for the FedEx Rock N Roll MS 150. No camping on this ride!
The total participants were a fraction of those in Missouri. The rest stops were posh, the volunteers were amazing. For 4 years, this ride left Graceland and headed to Tunica MS. We initially stayed at the Gold Strike Hotel. I rode with my friends Deeds and Doc and we stopped at every rest stop and took pictures in the cotton fields. We donned "Elvis" Sunglasses, complete with side burns. My friend Doc rode "The Wall" (Hill with 15% average grade) 5 times!
In 2007, I got faster! I was able to keep up with boys and saw my average increase (17.1 and 18.3!!). We rode in pacelines and learned the meaning of "Clear for Bob!" Our overnight location became the Harrahs Resort/Casino.
In 2008 and 2009, I completed the century route on Day 1 (only offered on Day 1 for this ride). In 2008, I brought my friend Cory from St Louis for the ride. In 2009, I brought SuzanneR.

For 2010, we decided to expand the team to include the Team Revolution ladies. SuzanneR become my co-captain and five other St Louis Rev'ers participated (Alice, Lo, Susan K., Britt and Jackie)
The "core" Bad Dog team was there: Dan, Bob, Tom, Margaret, Beth, Richard. Brian returned for his 2nd year and brought GF Tracy along. I shared my Team Rev jersey with Tracy so she could fit in with this incredible group of ladies, while I sported my Bad Dog jersey to support that 1/2 of our Team. Tom paid for some cool t shirts for our combined "Bad Dog/Team Rev" team.

On Saturday, we were late getting to the start and started at the back. A volunteer at check in informed me that there were about 640 riders this year. Starting at the back of over 600 riders was a challenge. EVERY ability level of rider was there.
Phil and I stuck together and tried to find more of our team.
SuzanneR, Jackie, Alice and Lo started out together. They wore costumes of tutus, neon leggings and feathers on their helmets.
We encountered Margaret, Beth and Richard just after Richard had pushed a women on a hybrid into a ditch! (Just kidding, he had nothing to do with her running off the road!!)
Phil and I continued to maneuver around slower riders, while being passed by some fast riders and some fast looking riders- some guys in full Cervelo kits and Catlike helmets with Zipp 404s! "on your left" was being said all over the place as most of the riders filled our lane and spilled into on-coming traffic! Man, those Tennessee and Mississippi drivers were patient!
We kept lookout for Dan, Bob and Tom, figuring that they were well ahead by now.

My legs felt tight and sore, so I wanted to limit stops to a minimum. Stop 1 just seems unnecessary and feels like it sets us up for a longer than necessary day. At Stop 2, I was feeling good and we rode on. Stop 3 was just before lunch and "The hill" on day 1, so we pushed through and climbed that steep but little hill with some guys we met along the way.
I rode next to a guy with a radio blaring "electric avenue" as we crested the little hill. I kept waiting for another up-tick but reached a mark on the road that read "That was it!"
Day 1 is made up of smooth pavement and gentle rollers, but the head wind was steady. Around this time, I started the mini-bonks. I wasn't drinking enough and about every 6-8 miles, I'd slow way down. Phil waited for me to perk up again. I tried to take my turn at pulling but it was clear that I was the weakest link. I learned to love staring at his yellow rear tire!
We arrived at lunch, to discover there was no way Dan, Bob and Tom were ahead of us!
After a quick 1/2 PBJ, some sugar via Mountain Dew (YUM!) and a oatmeal cream pie tucked in my jersey for later, we were off again.
The last 30 miles included more headwind, rollers and me bonking every few miles for a couple of minutes. Phil was patient with me. We agreed that we'd do short pulls and work together in the wind on "The flats" in the last 10 miles. We could see rain looming in the distance.
That rain was no longer looming. Just after we went down the "Wall" (which we climb on Day 2), to the river valley, the sprinkles started. The wind continued. We took short pulls and the rain picked up. After we turned onto the road that leads to the casinos, the rain picked up. Phil was able to get through a light but I was stopped and as I stood there waiting for green, it began to pour! Phil was stopped on the other side of the intersection. Hard, painful rain drops pelted us as we completed the last 2-3 miles. I watched our 18 something average drop to 17.7 by the finish. The rain stopped just as we crossed the finish line. We finished just after 12 pm.

We showed, rested and I hung out at the finish and lobby as the rest of the Bad Dog/Team Rev riders finished. I waited with them as several waited for hotel rooms. Phil joined me and we headed to the Casino to watch some football with Dan and Bob, eat a little something (Dinner was several hours away and we were hungry!) and play the $10 in free slot play that was included in our ride packets. All of the Wheel of Fortune slots were busy, so I played a random slot machine. After a dozen pulls, I hit $35 and quickly cashed out.

After Dinner and awards presentation we crashed in bed, asleep by 9:15! Up at 6 and breakfast by 6:30. Most of our team were done eating and ready to roll. We packed up our stuff and readied to ride. Again, we were toward the back,having to navigate our way through the myriad of riders, 4-5 wide. We had a nice tailwind and everyone seemed to be enjoying it, as the overall pace of this HUGE group was fast. This is my least favorite part. After we turned into headwind, the group was thinning out.
Brian and Tracy were near the front as we settled into a paceline. When it was Phil's turn to pull, a bunch of riders jumped on. As we took our pulls and moved to the back, these guys picked up the pace and I was dropped. We eased up and noticed Brian and Tracy weren't with us any longer.
Fortunately we had another section of tailwind! This one was 10-12 miles worth! It was great. We filtered into a new paceline with 6 other riders and could hang with their pace of 23-25 mph. I've never ridden that fast, so effortlessly! It was great.
But it didn't last forever. Soon, we were in the headwinds again. These headwinds were intense and lead us to "The Wall" - our one major climb of the weekend. It's about 1/2 a mile long and just under 15% average grade. That high average dropped, and dropped and dropped some more.
More little bonks ensued after "The Wall" but they only lasted a few minutes. The rollers continued and Phil and I fell into a rhythm. It was just the two of us, with only a few others riders in sight until the Lunch stop.
When we arrived at lunch, it looked crowded but we soon realized it was ALL the volunteers! They had people who were there just to hold our bikes! The volunteers at the check in informed me that I was the first girl!! That's pretty cool. While we were going pretty fast in the tailwind/flats, we'd slowed down a lot since then!
Phil and I agreed that a quick stop was in order, so we didn't eat too much or cramp. We filled bottles and got back on the road. We settled into a groove again and Phil let me sit on his wheel, without having to do too much work. More rollers and few riders for the next 25 miles. Just before the last rest stop, we found some guys riding around a little skate park. As we passed, they joined up with us. They were going fast but as we filtered in with them, the group splintered up. We met Rick, who was grateful at my offer of water, as he had run out. I was soon off the back of this group with one other guy. Rick was stuck like glue to Phil's wheel. I was falling off the pace with Phil quickly and could see him moving over the road and trying to slow down, but Rick wouldn't get off his wheel. It was like the guy in the race that won't let you stop pulling, no matter how slow you go. After a couple of turns, Phil's only option to shake this guy (who was also trying to hold conversations about life with him), was to take off.
I couldn't wait for the last 3 miles to be OVER. I limped in, but still somehow managed to be the first woman to finish. Out of 600 riders, that's pretty cool! Despite my slowing in the last 1/2 of the ride, we still managed a 17.6 average.

We changed, drank a soda, hung out and waited for the rest of the team to finish. We saw as Bob and Dan crossed the line but they continued past us, toward the food! Brian and Tracy held hands as they crossed the finish together. SuzanneR, Jackie, Alice, Lo, Susan and Britt rode in and cheered. They too quickly headed past us (I don't think they even noticed us!) and went toward the building where the food and party was (The band was inside and LOUD!)
We said bye to Brian and Tracy and got on the road for the 4 1/2 hour drive home. Tired, pleased and ready to sleep in our own beds.

As I reflect on this year's ride and the 14 prior, I notice many accomplishments, time spent with friends, leisurely paces, lots of stops, fast paces, few stops, pacelines and centuries. This was the first year that it was just me and Phil, together the whole way. I wouldn't trade that quality time on the bike with the one I love for anything!

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