Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MS Bike - 2011

Some readers may recall that it was the 2003 MS150 from Detroit to Lansing and back that got me started cycling. That 1st effort was on a Trek Navigator 100 - a rail trail bike, and training for the ride was how I came to become a cyclist. This year was the 9th consecutive year of fund raising for this charity and I was delightedly surprised at the nice show of support from many quarters. The North Alabama ride is a one day affair, so it's not an MS 150, but rather a 75 mile ride. The course chosen this year is the NOAH trail, which is an exceptionally well marked network of roads in Limestone County. No bike lanes or shoulders to ride on, but with so much signage, the cars are LOOKING for cyclists and treat them well. A very scenic layout, it is a challenging one as well. Steep 16% drops to and from the several stream crossings as well as long grinds, err grades, and very coarse chip-seal (felt more like going downhill on a mountain bike trail) all demanded effort and attention. It was hot with a heat index of 103 and in the afternoon, windy.

The planning and ride support by the MS Bike staff was outstanding. Routes were well marked, rest stops very convenient and well stocked. I especially loved the bagels with Nutella. After the ride, showers were available across the street and a BBQ served up burgers and hotdogs or subs from Quiznos, or snack type foods.

I drove up on Friday and used frequent traveler points for a free night at a hotel. Made the 7:30 start easier, as it's a 3 hr drive from my house to Athens. I met another Rivendell for the 1st time on one of these rides. Here is Tom, from Mississippi, and his early production Atlantis. We tried to ride together but it just was a bad match. He was way faster than me downhill but the reverse uphill. I ended up quite a bit ahead and just poked along at my own pace. Tom did ride up all the hills, unlike a number of folks who just thought a long 16% uphill on a hot day was more than they cared to struggle with. I can't say I blame them either. There is no shame in walking when you need to.

I took Louise up for the ride, and let some air out of the Contis for comfort: down to 85 psi. I should have brought fatter tires. 28 mm was just too skinny on the rough stuff. Pari-Motos would have been a better choice. Here's Louise, all dressed up and ready to go!

The route was almost entirely rural. When we did go through towns, they were the tiny, charming type that made you think, "I'd like to come back here and just look around someday."

A co worker gave me another name to ride for this year, so Sarah was added to the list. Before the ride, we heard from two young men who have MS and both confirmed that recent improvements to treatment - discovered as a result of research funded in part by these rides - have given them much more normal lives, and for which they were very appreciative. As it happens, I made "top banana" this year and here is the rider #.

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