Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 MS 150 Pedal to the Point Recap (Day 2)

Day 2 of Pedal to the point is like taking part of a different ride.  The route is basically the same, but it is a completely different vibe.  More of a survival of the fittest as you are either exhausted or hungover.  Many are probably both.  Last year I was hungover and recovering from food poisoning.  Thankfully, I awoke Sunday morning feeling fairly fresh and surprisingly not hungover.  If you missed my day one's recap.  Here's a one one sentence cliff note.  I got zero sleep the day before, road 75 miles in 3:25, road another 5 to the hotel, drank summer shandy at bw3, drank wine at pool, drank beer at the after party, did waaaay to many shots of Jager at after party, and went to bed clutching a taco bell burrito.

You can see why I was a little surprised to be feeling so well Sunday morning.  My biggest concern of the day was weather.  The forecast was not good and scattered showers would be in the area through out the day.  Thankfully, it was not raining when I made my way back to the start.

The event holds a large pancake breakfast and they pay a guy to come in who throws them at you.  You just call out how many you want and the pancakes come flying your way and its up to you to catch them on your plate.  We were running late (no surprises here) and the line was not very long.

We made our way to the start and the plan was not to ride hard.  I was going to work for some friends who road the 100 the day before.  Sunday is all about helping each other out as you will see much more pacing on the way home.  You will easily see lines of 10 to 20 riders on the 2nd day.  It was cloudy and I checked the radar before leaving.  I could see a line of showers in the distance.  After the first few minutes, a group of 10 riders formed and I took pointed and whipped up the pace to around 20.  Attempting to keep us ahead of the storm.  Luckily, one other rider was feeling well enough to do some work and I would take quick spells at the back.  I wasn't resting, but being more of a cheer leader.   I was doing my best Jen Voigt impersonation.  Trying to keep the pace and mood up to keep us ahead of the storm.  We did a great job until just before the half way lunch and got smacked with our first rain storm.

The next part of the ride was fairly dry as rumors started to swirl about the weather at the finish.  As I approached Middleburg.  I could see the dark clouds in the distance and it began to rain.  The more I road, the harder it rained.  At this point, I had dropped my friends and kept pushing wanting for this to be over.  It continued to rain and its intensity increased with each mile.  In town, the road was flooding and I moved to the middle of the road in an attempt to find the shallow part of the water.  This is when I learned that Zipps cut through water just as easily as wind.  I made it back in just under four hours and was surprised to see the cameraman there taking photos in the rain.  I think this photo perfectly captures what it was like riding into town.

Overall this was a great weekend trip and for a good cause too as it raises a lot of money for MS research.  A special thank you goes to my parents, Johna, Melanie, Sean, Pantz, Chris, Christina, and Andy.  Your support was greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2011 MS 150 Pedal to the Point Recap (Day 1)

This past weekend I participated in my 3rd MS Pedal to the Point.  It is Ohio's largest ride with over 2,800 riders and is a favorite amongst local cyclists.  The ride begins in Middelburg Heights and ends in Sandusky Ohio.  You have an option of riding one day and busing back or spending the evening in Sandusky, riding back the next day.  The total trip is a little over 150 miles and there is an additional 25 mile option for the century enthusiasts.  This ride is a charity event for Multiple Sclerosis.

Each year it feels like you are going non-stop till you get back home on Sunday.  My weekend began with packet pickup in Middleburg Heights.  Then I was off to home to get in a recovery ride and finish packing. Then it was time to carb load with friends.  This is where things began to go a little awry.  I was feeling pretty tired and went to bed around 9:30.  This began a toss and turn session that lasted for hours.  I could not sleep.  I was growing increasingly frustrated, which only made things worse.  Around 1, I decide to get up and watch tv.  Thinking I would fall asleep, but I ended up watching tv till four and decided to just go get some coffee.  So, I was about to ride 75-100 miles with zero sleep.  Not good.  I made my way to the start for a meet up at 6:30.  This was the first I ran into feeling tweeps Matt and Heather Oravec.  His recap is here Matt  My friends I had planned on riding with had promised they would be on time.  Well, they were late and had now expected to be their 15 minutes after the start.  Well, after waiting an hour.  I decided to call them again.  Yep, they started with out me and were 6 miles on the route already.  So, I was miffed already about having to start last and now I was going to be riding alone.  So, I said F-it and decided to hammer.  I left the start roughly 55 minutes after the start and took about 5 minutes to warm up before taking off.  I was doing really well, hanging in the range of 20-25 mph and flying by the riders on the route.  I was in serious pac man mode as I gobbled up one after another.  I made it to the lunch stop in 1:36 minutes.

I wasn't at lunch long as I grabbed a sandwhich and refilled the bottles before heading back out.  The hammerfest continued as I began to tire a bit.  Unfortunately, I could not find anyone to work with.  So, I kept soloing on.  The rest of the route got a little harder as I began to cramp slightly and picked up a strong headwind.  I just tried to keep going as hard as I could as I was on pace for a great ride and didn't want it to slip away.  Thankfully, I made it to the outskirts of Sandusky and picked up a tailwind that carried me into town with a completed time of 75 miles in 3 hours 25 minutes.  As you can see in the photo.  I lost a bit of salt.

What's the best part of this ride?  Well, besides the flat route....its the festivities afterwards.  I had made it up so quickly that lunch wasn't ready yet.  Lol.  So I grabbed my back pack and road another 5 miles to my hotel.  It was pretty funny as a little kid at the finish line asked his dad what I was doing.  The dad said.  I guess he hasn't ridden enough yet today.  Lol.  Fortunately, I sweet talked the hotel lady into letting me check in early.  Honestly, it was probably because they didn't want me to stink up the lobby.

Now, was the time to celebrate as I took a quick shower and began a hunt for a Summer Shandy.  If you are spending the evening.  You have the option of watching a movies, going to cedar point, a water park,  listening to a band, or going to a bar.  Guess what I chose?  Lol.  I spent my afternoon relaxing at the bar, taking a nap, and having wine with friends by the pool.  My favorite part of the weekend is spending time with fellow cyclists and meeting new people. While at the pool we met a rider who was doing his 23rd Pedal to the Point!  We then headed to Big O's for the post ride party.  When we got back to the high school, we got to see the last rider finish.  I was cool to cheer them in.  Not to brag, but I had started about an hour late, road to route, biked to the hotel, had lunch, drank at a bar, took a nap, drank by the pool, and took a ride back to the finish before the last rider finished.  Wow, that's speed.

Pool wine
Tasty treat!

I have fans everywhere!

Big O's was a blast and I had a great time visiting with friends over beers and wings.  It was also great to have a beer with Team Oravec...Matt and Heather.  I also got to catch the Browns game and ended being their way later than anticipated.  By the way....WHATEVER I SAY NEXT YEAR.  DO NOT LET ME DO SHOTS OF JAGIR                                                 AND EAT TACO BELL BEFORE BED!!!
My cab ride home. 

Stay tuned for all of day 2's action!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sweet Corn Challenge recap

This past Sunday was one of the larger rides in Northeast Ohio.  It is called the Sweet Corn Challenge and is located in the high hills of Summit County.  The ride consists of a 25, 50, and 100 mile options.  It is hosted by Eddy's Bike Shop and is easily the most well run bike tour in the area.  I was especially excited for this year as I was riding with my buddy Kent as well as new friends @Matty_083, @heatha262, @jamursch, @RunrJenRN,  and @Bliedmar.

I was especially nervous on this ride for several reasons.  This is one of the harder rides in our area and it was a new route, so I was worried that it would be harder than how I had described.  Also, we were crunched on time as several had places they needed to be and my buddy was getting off work just before we were to leave.  Also, add to the fact I did a 15 mile run /15 mile ride brick the day before and went to a winery with my sis the night before.  I was sporting quite hangover as my sis and I powered through 3 bottles of wine and I didn't get much sleep the night before as I was trying to re-hydrate as much as possible.

The plan all along was to have an easy ride.  This was a great plan as the route doesn't exactly fit my riding style.  Plus, I have a hard time finding people to ride with.  Its partly from my bragging on my blog or from friends, but I have a reputation as hammering 24/7 and people think they will have to hammer too if they ride with me.  So I was looking forward to a nice and relaxing ride.  Well, it didn't exactly turn out that way.

I arrived a little early to the ride and hit the registration area.  Eddy's does an excellent job with parking and there is a small army of volunteers there to help you find a spot.  The plan was to gather around 8 with my friend arriving around 8:15.  I met up with Matt first and it was great to finally get to ride with him as he is a local triathlete who is training for the Ironman in Sandusky.  Next to join the party was Heather and her husband Jay.  I recently had the pleasure of riding a portion of the Ice Cream Odyssey with them and was looking forward to seeing their brand new road bikes.  Shortly after they arrived, Jen and her husband arrived.  They made the trip up from Cincinnati.  They used to live in Hudson and Sweet Corn was their favorite ride.  8:15 quickly came and then 8:20.  We were still waiting on one more.  Most the group was already time crunched and decided to get the route started and the remaining three of us would catch up.  I bet if Matt had to do it over again, he would have left with the first group.  My buddy finally arrived around 9, so we were roughly 40 minutes behind everyone.  I really didn't think we would catch everyone and I was ready for a nice ride.  Boy, I was wrong.

As the three of us hit the road.  A pace was discussed and I decided to take the first turn as it was mostly flat and down for a couple miles.  Now, I swear I did not mean to hammer.  But I started us off in the mid 20's.  About 5 minutes in a random rider passed me and I decided to grab the wheel and let him do the work for awhile.  I didn't know this person and would have let him go if I knew how much of a pain he would be.  Within a mile this mystery rider gave up the pace and I decided it was time for us to drop him.  He ended up 4th in line drafting off my buddy and must have done something as he really irritated my buddy.  As we approached the first climb, my buddy took off like a rocket to follow in the slipstream with Matt and I in tow.  Surprisingly we were climbing Tour De France style at a speed over 20 mph.  So much for taking it easy.  The sufferfest continued as we eclipsed the first 20 miles in just under 31 minutes!

The next part of the ride was fairly similar as we kept climbing hill after hill.  Unfortunately, these hills were a bit steep for the pace we were setting and I was dropping off the back.  I was then aggressive on the short descents, feeling like Mark Cavendish trying to keep touch with the peloton.  I was keeping them in sight and catching them before the next climb.  Only to get dropped again.  We skipped the first rest stop as we all had plenty of fluids on board and were feeling too good to stop.  The route continued to climb around Hinckley and around Bath.  We arrived at the second stop and quickly refueled before heading back out.

After this stop it was a quick loop through CVNP, which is basically 5 minutes from my house and where I train 90% of the time.  I took pacing duties again on Riverview Rd led us out of the valley on Major Rd.  Then continued to climb through Richfield to the final rest stop.  At this point we were 10 miles from the finish.  They brought us back up route 21, which is a steady climb.   Kent and Matt were pulling away as I struggled to find my legs after that last stop.  I will not use any excuses, but one of them was using a granny gear.  Which I think is a form of cheating.  Lol.  Anyways, if it wasn't for them catching a few stop lights.  I would have been dropped for sure.  When we reached the top.  I miraculously got a second wind and headed back down hill setting a decent pace again.  We finally caught up with Jen and her husband at this point and I hopped in front to pace everyone to the finish.  Well, I must have been feeling better than I thought as they were gone by the next turn.  I decided to run with it.  Figuring I would get caught at the next climb.  I knew where I was and at this point the route was getting long.  Someone at Eddy's had one last surprise for us as the route had one final turn into a massive wall of a hill.  It hit it with good speed and tried not to run someone over as riders were diving off bikes left and right.  By the time I had crested, Kent had caught up to me and I paced him up the false flat to the finish.  At this point I was trying to make it in under 3 hrs and hammered the last two miles to come up 3 minutes short.

So, we all road really well and everyone survived the Sweet Corn Challenge.  My times was 3:03:37 with an average speed of 17.4 mph.  I still can't believe we went that fast on those hills.  A good time for sure.  Sweet Corn Challenge is an excellent event and definitely is a challenge.  I recommend everyone attempts it as it is a good experience.  Like I always say...Summer ain't Summer unless you do Sweet Corn.

Check out Heather's recap here:  Heather

Check out Matt's recap here:  Matt O