The ride started Saturday morning in Frisco, so Michael Lea and I got up early that morning, hitched up our bikes to the trailer hitch rack on my truck, and were off to join about 3,000 other riders at the start line in Frisco.
One of the biggest differences in this ride and all of the other rides I have done is the team concept. Almost every single rider is a part of a team. I had been recruited by the CitiSlickers team at last years Goatneck ride so Michael and I parted ways and I met up with my team. The excitment was mounting as I donned my team jersey and waited for the start of the ride. Then I continued to wait and wait. The start takes a long time as each team is ceremoniously introduced and a few comments are made about each team.
Once the ride started I surprised myself by being able to keep up with my teammates at a pretty good pace. I had not trained for the ride as much as I had wanted to so I was unsure of how I would do on the ride. My best friend on the team is James Herrod. James and I rode together during the whole two days and had a great time. Thanks, James. I couldn't have done it without you.
We rolled along pretty good until we got somewhere in the 40+ mile range. Then we ran into some rain. I'm not a big fan of riding in the rain and in fact have done only one other ride while it was raining and on that one I finally turned around and stopped because it was just not fun. But James and some other guys on the team were wanting to press on so I reluctantly joined them. We made it to the 50 mile stop which was also the lunch stop so we took a well deserved break and enjoyed a nice rest and our lunch.
As we were about to mount up and finish the Day One ride we began to hear reports of how the weather up ahead was much worse and that there had been many accidents. We decided to stop for the day and SAG in the rest of the way. Now, typically, a SAG wagon is a passenger van with space in the back to store bicycles. And when you SAG in you simply get on the van with a few people and your bikes and they drive you to the finish line. But, as we were about to find out, when you are a CitiSlicker, you SAG in style.
James and I put our bikes in the racks for transport to the finish line at Texas Motor Speedway(TMS) and stood in line along with many others who had decided to SAG in. Then out of the corner of our eye we saw a limosine with a CitiSlickers logo on it. Apparently our team captain had rented this limo in order to ride in after lunch because she needed to be at our team tent by a certain time. We walked over to the limo and began to beg, grovel, and otherwise humiliate ourselves in anyway possible in the feeble hopes that they would allow us to ride in the limo with them. We were soon granted permission to join them and along with about 7-8 other team members we began the ride in to TMS. The looks on the other cyclists faces as we passed them in a limo was priceless. As we would pass other CitiSlickers team members we would roll down the windows and heckle them-all in good fun, of course.
Our decision to stop riding for the day was soon confirmed when we came upon a team member who had taken a bad fall on the rain slicked road. He was none other than our team Captain's father who was actually pretty badly injured. We were able to get him in the limo and get him medical assistance at one of the rest stops. Sadly, his MS 150 was ended as he had to spend the night in the hospital and was not able to ride on Day Two.
I was soon to experience another perk of being a member of a team when the limo pulled up to our team tent at TMS. The team tent is where the team gathers after finishing their Day One ride. In the tent there is much food, drink, fun, fellowship, places to rest, and even a chiropractor. I was especially overjoyed to see Michele and Meredith there at the tent. They had come to help at the tent, support me, spend time with me, along with us getting to spend the night together in the team hotel.
My work for the day was not done, however, as I had promised our team captain that I would perform an Elvis show in our team tent. With M & M's help I set up for the Elvis show and delivered a performance that everyone enjoyed. After the show I walked around to some other team tents dressed as Elvis and enjoyed much attention as many riders wanted their picture taken with Elvis. After Elvis came a nice dinner in the tent and then everyone pitched in to take down the tent and then we all adjourned to the Doral Tesoro Hotel for a nice night of rest and much needed sleep.
I began Day Two of the ride by meeting James at the start line after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon while M & M slept in and later indulged themselves with room service. Riders can start Day Two by taking a lap around the speedway but we elected to skip that part. It didn't take long for us to find out that Day Two was going to be a lot harder than Day One. Almost immediately we hit a long section of very rough roads. This impacted us greatly by reducing our average speed to a lot less than the first day. But we survived the bad roads and made it to the 30 mile lunch stop somewhere between 10:00-10:30 a.m. A little early for lunch but we stopped anyway to eat our share since any rider knows that food is the fuel that keeps those pedals turning.
After lunch we hit the section that we had been dreading since the start of the ride. Leaving the lunch stop, we turned south directly into a very strong head wind. I never heard the offical speeds of the wind that day but I'm guessing it had to be somewhere between 15-20 mph, if not more. We also began to encounter some pretty challenging hills. Our average speed dropped like a rock. But we pressed on, determined to go as far as we could go. We made it through the next rest stop but after that is where our final troubles began. James started to notice that he was having a very tough time and it seemed as if he was dragging big time. We stopped a couple of times to examine his bike and adjust his rear brakes to keep them from dragging and rubbing on his rear tire. At about mile 48 we stopped again and with the assistance of a couple of Ride Marshalls we discovered the real problem: his rear wheel was out of true and was rubbing against the side of the frame. James decided to SAG in to the next rest stop while I rode on to the next rest stop to meet him there. The mechanics at that rest stop could not fix his bike so he was done for the day. I was pretty tired, was not enjoying fighting the wind, and was not in good enough shape to face some of the hills that were still to come so I decided to call it a day myself after having done 50 miles.
James called his wife to come pick him up and I climbed aboard the SAG wagon. They originally told us that the SAG wagon would only take us to the next rest stop and then we would have to get into other vans at each rest stop until we reached the finish but the driver received a call on his radio telling him that he could take us all the way to the finish line in downtown Fort Worth. That was a nice bit of luck and helped me to get to the finish line sooner. As we SAGed in past the riders who were finishing and I watched them fight the wind and the hills I was happy with my decision to stop. If I had been able to train more I think I would have attempted to finish but I felt it would be foolish and very time consuming to try and finish in the condition that I was in.
So, I rode 100 miles of the 150 mile ride. I did back-to-back 50 milers, something I had never done before, I had a good time, and I helped raise a lot of money for MS. All in all a great weekend. I plan to do the ride again next year with the hope that I can complete the full ride on both days.