More like 151.5 miles, but who was counting…
My roommate and I woke up in the neighborhood of 4:15am gathered our
things and headed to Woodcrest station in New Jersey. There was
absolutely no traffic until you reached the exit on 295. Woodcrest
station has a narrow lot . After unloading our bikes and packing up
our overnight bags we headed over to the team tents. Once we found
ours we dropped off our luggage picked up our numbers and waited for
others to arrive at 6:45 the announcer came over the loud speaker and
started the count down for the first three teams to start. The three
highest fundraisers from the previous year always start first, however
this year things were staggered even more. We officially started in
the at 7:00am.
For the first mile or so there were tons of traffic lights and we
stuck with the other members of our team, however things eventually
opened up and John and I took off. After passing what seemed like
hundreds of people we found two other guys from Team Elf who we
started a small pace line with. It worked out nicely we cruzed along at
about 24mph and picked a few people up along the way.
At about the half way point we decided to stop quickly and fill up our
water bottles, so we pulled into the rest stop and ran around doing
everything as quick as possible. The Team Elf guys had lost a buddy a
few miles back and decided to wait at the stop for him so we were on
our own again.
After pulling out of the stop we saw and then passed some of our other
teammates. It was a bit impressive to see that they were only about
five minutes behind us considering one person was riding a mountain
bike and the other smoked about four cigarettes before the ride.
With about 30 miles to go we found another little group and had an
even larger paceline. These guys were really good. They managed to
keep things at about 24mph while a few others only maintained about
23mph (including us). We stuck with them until about 3 miles left. At
that point we saw what looked like two massive bridges to cross into
Ocean City. At a stop light the crossing guard tells us to be careful
the wind is gusting and could blow us painfully into the guardrail.
Halfway through the climb on the first bridge I loose John and the
group looses me. (Note for next year, learn to climb better). To pick
up speed I took the downhill at about 37mph which was awesome.
However, the meant I reached the next bridge faster. The second bridge
seemed easier and I was over that one a bit more quickly. I slowed up
a bit and waited for John to come back down, but he was beat at this
point, he told me to just go if I could. I decided to coast along
until the very end. As you come through the last mile they had signs a
posters congratulating the ten people with MS who were completing
this ride. It was a very touching mile.
As you came through the last turn there were people cheering and
yelling “thank you” and an announcer calling out as you crossed. After
an immediate and abrupt end to the course you have people directing you
and congratulating you and telling you to move. It was a bit crazy
after finishing 77 miles. I was immediately informed that I was the
first to finish from my team as well as one of the first 50 to finish
overall. (Including the 75, 45 and 25 mile courses). That was a bit
exciting. Moments later the roommate crosses and we are off to gorge
ourselves with food and await the rest of the team.
My alarm went off at 5:10am Sunday morning. Thoughts of throwing in
the towel and taking the bus home cross my mind. “You did 75 miles one
day. It was an awesome job. Why suffer again?” No. If I don’t do it,
everyone will know I backed out… So we packed everything up and rode
the three miles from the house to the start with our backpacks (not a
very comfortable thing to do).
The Sunday start was a whole lot less formal. Everyone was told to
start when they felt like starting. So we grabbed some breakfast,
refilled the water bottles and headed out at 6:45am. Going back over
the bridges was not nearly as bad as finishing at them the day before.
However the Sunday course was mostly uphill and times were going to be
The Sunday ride was a little lonelier, a lot less people decided to
ride back and from our team we were the only people I saw. We found a
few small groups early on and cruzed at about 22mph, things were
hurting. I developed a sharp pain in my left knee early on which I was
largely ignoring the entire day.
At around the half-way point we came to a rest stop exit. Normally you
go straight to pass the rest stop or right to enter the rest stop.
Well there was a truck parked in the intersection with an arrow
pointing straight. I was not paying attention and blindly followed the
arrow into some nasty road and a huge traffic cone. I fell off the
bike hitting my right knee hard. The volunteer runs over and screams
he is so sorry the car was pointing the wrong way. I said no worried
and limped with my bike up to the rest stop. After a few minutes of
making sure everything was okay we were on our way again.
Well, apparently this was the worst rest stop ever because myself and
a group of about 20 other riders realize we are no longer on the
course and have to ask a cop for directions back. Only a slight half
A few miles later I manage to roll over some glass in an intersection
and my rear tire bursts. (Boo! This day is not going well). I quickly
change the tube hoping the tire was okay and will last the last 25
miles. A few moments later a SAG vehicle pulls over and offers to
check it out. The guy said the tire wasn’t going to hold, he took the
tire and in a matter of two minutes replaced it and put it back on the
bike. (Granted he just replaced a $50 tire with a $20 one, I was
pretty happy, at least I could finish the tour.)
The worst part of having to stop was the fact that we lost the good
group we were with and were largely on our own for the rest of the way
home. During the last ten miles all I could think about was finishing
and it was in such close reach. As we came back through Cherry Hill
everyone was cheering and the riders were staring to fall apart a
little. The final turn into Woodcrest station was awesome. Everyone
was cheering and the finish line was huge. It was fun to speed through
and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Day 1: 77.0mi / 3h40m = 21mph
Day 2: 74.5mi / 3h45m = 19.9mph
Total: 151.5mi / 7h25m = 20.43mph