Monday, April 23, 2007


Okay, I did it. I rode the second day with Ali. We got to La Grange around 7:30pm and built a nest in the back of her Explorer. We slept in that for the night (it was surprisingly comfortable, the first time I've really appreciated an SUV) and woke up a bit later than we should have, at 6:45am. I naively assumed we could just suit up and start riding, but naturally with over ten thousand riders, things were a bit more complicated. "They've been lining up since 6am," a woman informed me, "And they're letting them go in waves of 500. So if you aren't already up there, you might as well hang out and have some coffee."

We had a couple cups of coffee and I ate two small pancakes, and then we suited up and rode out of there just after 8am. Unfortunately, this meant we were near the back with the slower riders, since the fast riders that know better and don't want to spend all day passing groups of people had shown up at 6am and left promptly at 7.

I've never been in a ride anywhere near this large. It was all on 2-lane roads, and our lane was just packed with riders. By the end, 4 hours later, it was a bit thinner, but for the entire ride, pretty much all we did was pass people. When it was particularly dense, we had to wait for any oncoming cars to pass so we could move into the oncoming traffic lane and sprint past groups of riders. Challenging, but still really fun.

I'm happy with how we did. We averaged 18.5mph plus a 15-minute stop at one of the rest stops to refill water bottles, use the port-o-lets, and get one of the medics to slather a little Biofreeze (aka Icy Hot aka Ben Gay aka any of that stuff) on my right knee, the one that has been cranky.

Speaking of the knee, I managed to figure out while riding that the swelling and tenderness were all due to my heel being turned very slightly in towards the bike. It's nice that the pain responds really quickly to adjustments, because I was able to experiment with different positions and find ones that felt better. By the end I was still feeling some tendinitis right above the kneecap, so I'm going to bump my seat up a tiny bit for next time and see if that helps. I'm really excited, though, that my knee is in much better shape after the MS150 ride than it was most of last week after the final couple training rides.

The MS150 ride was also the first ride where I used my shiny new Garmin Edge 305 cycling computer. It records freaking everything. It's a GPS receiver and a barometric altimeter, and comes with the heart-rate monitor chest strap and a speed & cadence sensor you mount on the bike. The end result? More data than you can shake a stick at. I've put it up online for the curious:
Overall, I'm really happy with how the ride went. Plus, I made some big strides in figuring out my knee pain, and am confident I can eliminate it entirely with some more adjustments and conditioning work, and that makes me even happier.

I already sent an email directly to my sponsors, but I'll thank them publicly here, too. I couldn't have done the ride without them (literally; they wouldn't have let me) but they also provided me with motivation, knowing that I was training for something more important than just getting in good shape.

Addendum: Lulu sent me this comic, randomly, and it reminded me of a phenomenon I notice every single time I ride, and promptly forget about. On all long rides, if I do not bring my mp3 player, I will notice at some point that I have a song stuck in my head. Not a good song. A random song from the darkest recesses of my subconscious, the kind of song that I'm shocked I even remember or know the words to. Worse yet, I usually know only the refrain or some short snippet, and so it loops, and loops, and loops in my head in time with the cadence of my pedals, but I cannot get it out and I cannot make it stop.

During the MS150 it was the refrain from the theme song to the Disney movie "Pocahontas." Seriously, I was shocked I even knew it, and dismayed to be spending brain cells remembering it. Stranger yet, I cannot recall the tune or lyrics consciously, on demand. It just kind of showed up, and then I couldn't forget it. No joke, that refrain looped in my head for a good hour and a half, all the way through the Bastrop State Park and down a good stretch of 71. Ridiculous.