This past weekend I took part in the Bike MS Great Lake Escape 2016 fundraising ride. It went well! The ride covered 70 miles, most of which was along the Lake Erie water front down south of Buffalo.
It was an early morning start at Evangola State Park, our wave was released at 7:30am. Upon arrival I had the guys from Campus Wheelworks do a quick once over of my bike, and they were happy to see that I was sporting their branded water bottles. After I got the green light I picked up my turn cue card, and proceeded to the breakfast table. To my horror there was several dozen Paula’s Donuts available which I had to refuse, which was absolutely one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
The ride proceeded on time, and I was released with about 20 to 30 other riders doing the 70 mile ride. A little smaller group than I was expecting, and I very quickly got out in front. I have never had to pace myself on a ride before, so I was a little nervous I was going out too strong.
Over the next five hours, I rode solo nearly the entire time. Every twelve to fifteen miles there was a designated pit-stop which we had to check in at, and I used the opportunity to refill my bottles and grab a slice of orange or banana. We stopped at 21 Brixx and Liberty Wineries, and while I heard rumors of riders stopping for a tasting, I plodded onward, not stopping for more than a couple of minutes to stretch.
Riding the course, which was Route 5 and Route 20 predominantly, was a little bit taxing. These roads are major commuting lines in this area, and as people woke up and went about their Saturday mornings, the traffic in spots became a little un-nerving. Crossing thruway entrances and busy gas stations in the Seneca Reservation was not something I was expecting.
I am proud to say I only got off my bike one time during the race around mile 55 when there was a killer hill in Silver Creek. It was absolutely leg crushing, so I strategically bailed to save my energy for later in the ride. I think that move paid off later.
As I approached the finish line (still solo) I quickly realized I was one of the first 70 mile people returning, not seeing another blue-wrist band anywhere in the post race party. They called out my number upon arrival and I posed for pictures, and quickly racked my bike and destroyed a Lloyds burrito. Overall a success.
It was a great event, the people and course support was fantastic. The ride itself went well and I have no real sore-ness to speak of. Success!