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Bike MS Fundraising Progress

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My First Century Ride!

I finally rode my first official Century Ride on Saturday, June 8th - the Bob LeBow Bike tour. Great experience, and good preparation for Bike MS - but there were some highs and lows...

I've come very close to a century ride before, but have never officially crossed the 100 mile distance in a single day. Well, Saturday was that day - when Team WinCo teammate Doug Jenkins and I rode in the Bob LeBow bike tour in Nampa, ID. This is a great ride that benefits Terry Reilly's "Zero Pay Fund." Terry Reilly is a community-based healthcare provider in Canyon County and the Zero Pay fund allows them to deliver care to their neediest and most vulnerable patients at no cost. Sounds like a great cause to me. The course winds through rural Canyon, Owyhee, and Malheur counties in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. The full course map can be viewed on my GPS log of the ride here:

This ride was a milestone for me, so forgive me if I get a bit long-winded with this article...

It Begins...

We had a very early start that day. The ride started at 7:00am at Nampa High School, so I met Doug at his house at 5:45 am for the drive over to Nampa. I woke up at 4:00 am that morning, so I could get some coffee in me, and make sure I had everything I needed before leaving the house. I don't remember the last time I got up that early on a Saturday, and it was a shock to the system.

We arrived at Nampa High School, and just as with all of the organized rides I've done, there was a spirit of anticipation, fun, and camaraderie among all the folks who were also struggling with the early morning start. Doug and I got geared up, and we were almost giddy leading up to the start. Right before heading to the starting line, we took turns taking pictures with our neighbors in the parking lot...

Doug "the Italian Stallion" Jenkins and Me
 Doug's looking pretty svelte in this photo, sporting a very cool cycling kit from Castelli (I was a little envious...) I'm looking "less svelte" in one of my growing collection of beer-related cycling jerseys. This particular jersey is from Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver, CO - which I visited in February of this year with my old friend Dan Wilson while hitting the Bacon and Beer Festival. (yes, there is such a thing, and it was glorious...)

There were not many century riders starting at 7:00 am, I'm guessing around 50. There was an earlier starting option at 6:00 am, and many riders took advantage of that because they either needed more time to finish the course, or just wanted to beat the heat. I should mention that there were cut-off times for course milestones that we had to beat, or else we'd be diverted to a "short-cut" back to Nampa - and not be allowed to finish the century. This is done for rider safety - the organizers must ensure that century riders are fit and in good condition during the race so that everyone can finish the race safely and in good health. We were confident in our conditioning, so the 7:00 am start was fine with us.

Doug at the starting line
Anyway, the ride started uneventfully. Typically, there's a group that rides fast right out of the gate. I've always remembered a piece of advice that my friend Eric Jeglum told me last year before my first organized ride - and that is to NOT get caught up with the first group of "fast-starters" - these rides are long affairs, and it's best to get warmed up first, there's always time to catch the pack later. So, Doug and I started fairly slowly and worked our way up to the pace that we wanted to maintain. And we were having a great time...until the 20 mile mark...

The Blowout!

We had just started our descent into the Snake River valley, down a hill with a very steep gradient. Normally, these hills are a lot of fun! But, there was a stop sign and a sharp right-hand turn at the base of the hill, so we used a bit of caution on this descent. I heard Doug behind me yelling something that I couldn't quite make out. Turned out he was yelling that he was having trouble with his brakes! As I got to the bottom of the hill, I heard a loud noise that sounded like a gun-shot. That was Doug's tubeless tire "exploding" off of his rim. Since he couldn't adequately brake, his rim hit the road violently, and sustained a lot of damage. Thankfully, Doug did not crash - he's an experienced rider and had been moderating his speed as best he could. But, the damage he took to his rim was not repairable and required him to bow out of the ride. We flagged the nearest SAG wagon, loaded up his bike, and said our goodbyes for the day. (A SAG wagon is a vehicle that patrols the race and assists stranded riders)

Doug's chewed up rim - a race-ender
That was the "low point" that I mentioned earlier! Only 20 miles in, and I was on my own for the rest of the day. And, I sure felt bad for Doug - he was looking forward to the ride, I know. We're still not sure what exactly happened. Doug thinks his brakes were malfunctioning, and were rubbing against the tire, not the rim - which heated up the tire and broke the seal his tubeless tire had with the rim - causing the "explosion." Guess we'll never know for sure...

Anyway, I pressed on. The next segment was a beautiful ride north-west along the Snake River to Marsing, ID. From Marsing, we continued north-west to Homedale, ID. I did make a few new acquaintances along the route, including Scott - a former triathlete and veteran road-cyclist who has ridden the "Seattle to Portland" ride. I also caught up with the group of early starters - and it was nice making some new friends and having some folks to chat with from time to time.

Into Oregon...

From Homedale, we continued west across the Oregon border to Adrian, OR. This is my one attempt at capturing the pretty farmland that we were riding through most of the day. That's the Snake River in the distance. The Snake River runs along the Idaho / Oregon border from south to north.

South of Adrian, OR
Adrian was roughly the half-way point for the century ride. We had a pretty brutal headwind from Homedale to Adrian, and all the riders looked significantly more fatigued when we stopped at the Adrian aid station than they did in Homedale! There was one pretty cool moment on the road to Adrian, though, when we had to navigate around a piece of farm equipment - I've been off the farm for a long time, so I'm not sure exactly what it was that we passed. (If you can identify this piece of farm equipment, please leave a blog comment... Dad, I'm looking for your expertise here!)

Yes, we're in Eastern Oregon!
I had another minor "low point" in Adrian, when I stopped at an aid station and asked the SAG wagon to check my tire pressure. (I had forgotten to check tire pressure before the race, and suspected that my tires were a bit low) The SAG volunteer had a pretty crappy pump - and when he tried to check my tire pressure, the pump was bleeding more air than he was putting back into my tire. At one point, he left me with about 80 lbs of pressure in my tire, and I normally ride with 100 - 120 lbs. The next SAG wagon with a better pump was 30 minutes away, which was unacceptable! To his credit, the volunteer tried again - and with me holding the pump valve on my tube valve, and he pumping extremely fast, we were able to get to about 90 lbs, which was good enough for me to continue my ride. I was not happy with the quality of equipment that the SAG wagon had, but was happy with the second effort. And off I went...

Grapes, Fruit Orchards, and Hops

From Adrian, we proceeded west back towards Nampa. The headwind was now a slight tail-wind, at worst a modest cross-wind. This made a huge difference for us, and the pace definitely picked up. Adrian to Nampa was my favorite part of the ride! We rode through Canyon County wine country, fruit orchards, and - of particular importance to me - hops fields! My friend Jan and I rode through similar hops fields in Belgium last year, and I always get a kick out of it. The structures required to support hops plants are intricate and beautiful (IMO). Growing hops must be a labor of love. And, with the boom in craft-brewing here in the United States, I hope these hops growers are doing well.

Baby hops plants

This section of the ride was a good preview for the MS Society "Wine Ride" in August of this year. I'm even more excited for that ride now, and am already making plans for that. It's a much shorter ride, so there's a good chance that I'll break out Rick's old Schwinn road bike for that one - or my old Schwinn "cruiser" bike...not sure yet.

Anyway, we soon arrived at Lake Lowell in Nampa, and had a nice ride around the lake before wrapping things up back at the high school. When all was said and done, we'd completed about 105 miles. I was thirsty and famished. I wolfed down a couple of chicken breasts wrapped in lettuce with tomatoes, and chugged as much water as I could put down. Unfortunately, there were no beer vendors there! A cold beer would have been a great way to finish the ride. (I got my cold beer back in Boise later in the day, though...several, actually. Just doing my part to support the local hops growers!)

Team WinCo Was Busy!

While I was riding in southeast Idaho and Oregon on Saturday, the rest of Team WinCo was busy training as well. One of my teammates, Kathleen Romito, rode the "metric century" course of the Bob LeBow ride (a metric century is 62.5 miles.) Steve and Eric put in a nice long training ride from Boise to Star, ID that morning, and Greg Goins busted out a 40-miler in the afternoon. Adding to that the 20 miles that Doug rode before the blow-out, I estimate that the team put in nearly 300 miles on Saturday. What a great day of riding all-around!

And, Doug went above and beyond to get some miles in on Sunday. Eric, Greg, Mark, Doug and I met up in Boise for a 25 mile ride in the late afternoon heat on Sunday. I was pretty sore from the day before, especially my butt and feet - but it really felt good to get my legs moving again.

From left to right - Greg, Doug, Greg, and Mark - heading out for a ride on Sunday
Doug had a replacement wheel at home that he was going to use for our Sunday ride - but after driving all the way to our meeting spot, discovered that he'd left it at home! We were near downtown Boise, so Doug went to a bike shop downtown and talked them into providing him a loaner rim for the afternoon so he could ride with us. Way to be, Doug!

Okay, thanks for hanging in there on this post. It was a very rewarding ride on Saturday, and great to get out with the team on Sunday. Glad to be ramping up with longer distances - especially since Bike MS is only 20 days away! As always, please feel free to leave a comment here if you have any questions or comments. Thanks!

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