First, a thank you to everyone who has helped support me for this race. I have a couple more weeks to raise money and would love to add some more to it Donate Here
About the event:
150 mile bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities! Seeing as my longest ride has been 60-65 miles, I was not sure what to expect for this event.
I had to drop my gear off at our main office on Friday morning. After a rough nights sleep because I was afraid I would sleep in or forget something, I loaded everything up in the car and headed to drop it off.... in the pouring rain. Quickly unloaded my army bag and bike, and kept my tri bag with some of my clothing in my car to ride on the bus with me.
I took a half day because we left from across town. We parked at Century College and waited with some teammates. Oh yeah… our company team was 182 riders. Not too shabby, last year they had 108. We are sitting about 164k out of a goal of 175k this year. Before hitting Century College, I had to hit the liquor store and pick up a couple drinks for the road since we were on a charter bus.
We got on the first bus and before we started moving, the weekend started.
It is quite amazing that even with rain and traffic heading north to the cabins, the trip to Duluth goes much faster beer in hand and not driving. I met a few new people who I would be spending the following days hanging out with.
A few beers later I had to use the restroom on the bus and as I was finishing this task, I noticed the sign:
We arrived in Proctor at the high school. We decided to "camp" out in the gym that night, the thought of getting up super early to tear down and be ready for a group picture at 6AM did not sound too appealing.
After claiming our spot in the gym, we headed on a bus to Duluth for dinner for our team. We had some pizza and calzones, and a beer or two as we enjoyed each others company and getting to know more team members.
There were supposed to be buses shuttling back to the school, but we waited and waited and waited, and ended up walking to a hotel where we luckily caught a bus back. Another 45 minutes later, we were back and crawled into our sleeping bags. Failed attempt at a gym picture:
I put in ear plugs, but was quite happy that nobody sawed logs too loud that night.
I woke up around 3 and drifted in and out of sleep until 4, where I was wide awake after going to the bathroom. 5AM rolled around and we started packing up. I had seen outside, and the picture was not perfect by any means. Dense fog, some light sprinkles and cool. I opted for a base layer, team jersey, and team jacket.
Out to the moving trucks we went with all our gear, opting to eat one of the homemade granola bars I have been making was a good idea for breakfast. (Stay tuned for the recipe, they are delightful and really easy to make, plus very good for you) The bikes all ready for us and our trucks ready to be loaded up with bags.
We hung out for our team picture and headed to the start line. This is when things got cold. Some people took off before the Opening Ceremony, and some of us stuck it out to take off with the group.
After a performance from Clay Walker, we were off, albeit not on time.
The start of the ride goes down a lot of hills. The problem? My sunglasses were fogging up like no other due to the fog and I eventually had to take them off, which remedied the problem! Now that I could see I felt a bit more comfortable, but the roads were wet, and bumpy, and down hill. This is the point where I was very happy for purchasing gloves the previous day for biking. My bars were slick, but the gloves helped a ton. After a short stop because I had some rattles in my back end, which I think came from junk roads and my valve extenders rattling in the HED Jet 60 rear.
Brandon and I ended up riding together the whole day, skipping the first rest stop to hopefully pass some of the crowd. Since there were stops every 12 or so miles, I felt comfortable making it to the second one without any issues. We got on a trail and there was some awesome scenery, I am hoping someone on our team took some pictures that I can borrow and show the amazing waterfalls. When we went past it was on a wooden bridge, I was focused on not falling since it was wet and slick.
We got to the second stop and it is quite a scene of people refueling. I had taken in a bottle of Infinit and planned on consuming a bottle every two stops to keep my nutrition up. The stops had all sorts of goodies, cereal, granola bars, fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and my favorite that everyone I hung out with would also agree with... Larabars! These are like candy!
I used the porta-potty and found this sign amusing and snapped a self pic:
We continued riding and the fog finally lifted about half way through. A little lunch at mile 46ish....at 10 AM raised the question what time is "dinner" After lunch I was struggling mentally, I was starting to fatigue a bit, and had a lot of thoughts along the lines of "Are we gonna be there soon?" Then I realized I need to take it all in, pain and all, use it as a breakthrough type workout for mental barriers. We kept going and around mile 60 I was ready to be done, but we kept pace and finally were off the trail. Let me digress.... The trail... Great long trail, pretty good condition, but man after the first part... it was all the same, trees, some rocks, some fields, and a pond here and there, that is about it.
We finally got off the trail and on some roads, (insert sigh of relief) I knew we had to be getting semi close. Some turns, some city riding, some shoulder, some on the road, and the point where I saw a guy forget to unclip last year while I was picking up my wetsuit. I just saw him tip over and take another 3 people with him. Wanting to keep mentally sharp, I tried to remember these little things.
Ahh the final turn into the casino, and about a mile of riding to the end. We left the pavement and were on some soft rock/gravel that was quite mushy from all the rain. We figured out where our trucks were, about another mile away, so we rode/walked our bikes to the trucks and then had to walk back in bike shoes. We found our Cargill tent and our gear.
Time to relax!
Well that is after we setup tents and had a beer. We made the walk back towards our trucks to the "showers" These things were badass! Semi trailers that you walk up some steps to get in. When you enter the trailer, there is a long aisle that goes from front to back, then you see a wall of doors that look like toilets at the mall or stadium. Plastic doors that you walk through, lock, and then have a small area to undress and hang things before the shower curtain to keep your stuff dry. On the other side of the trailer is the shower head. Enter that little space and pull the curtain, hit a button, Boom, water! It even had adjustable temps. This is the point I have to say I would have been happy with luke warm water. I was cold, covered in gravel and gross, and just wanted to wash off and feel somewhat clean.
I have good news, the water was hot, VERY hot. I even turned it down some because it was so hot. Now the button you hit only turns water on for a while, maybe a minute? Yeah I probably hit it around a dozen times or more.
I was in the spot right in front of the door, so I could feel the cold breeze under the door and knew as soon as the water turned off, I was going to get cold, and that did not seem appealing. Plus, I had my Zoot Compression Tights to put on, which would turn out to be a task.
I managed to get dressed and out I went, feeling renewed. We sat around and hung out in our team tent and enjoyed a few recovery drinks from a guy named Sam Adams. The weather decided not to play nice and made enjoying those drinks more difficult because it was so cold!
Dinner was served at 2PM and then after much debate, I decided to get a massage, it was amazing. I could have fallen asleep multiple times but wanted to enjoy it! This lady found a couple spots in my quads that were like rocks, and hopefully you know what I mean when I say it hurt so good. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so someone digging in to work out a tight spot is the only way for me!
We decided to hike over to the casino and watch the Twins game and enjoy some warm dry air, although it was smoking which is rather nasty when you are not around it much. A few good conversations later, leaving some money behind with the Blackjack dealer, and a couple of drinks, we walked back at about 10:00 PM. It was dead when we got back, climbing into bed for another day of riding felt good.
I slept fairly well until 4AM again and woke up. I laid there a while and then started organizing things for tear down. Camping is great, and I love it, but tearing down and packing back up is not always appealing.
I got everything loaded up and luckily our bikes were unloaded at our tent this morning. I walked my bags to the general MS150 trucks so I would have them when I got back into the cities, and walked to our tent in my bike shoes. After a quick breakfast and some much welcome warm coffee, we were off.
I rode with a group of 7 people total on Sunday, most everyone taking turns pulling at some point. This ride was mostly on roads which was a great change of scenery from the previous day. There were a lot of small rolling hills that broke up the trip nicely.
We stopped at all rest stops and my legs were significantly better than I expected them to be. My rear end.... that is another story. Yet again at mile 30, my buns started to feel it. Overall the day was good, great company, better scenery, better weather... even to the point I took off my jacket and put it in my jersey because the sun started to poke out.
We arrived back in White Bear Lake and funneled into the finish line. What an amazing experience! The finish is packed with people cheering you in, and it gives you such a great sense of accomplishment as well as knowing it went to a great cause.
I rode to my car, packed up the bike and found my bags to change my shoes and headed to the team truck to thank everyone for the great weekend. Not long after I was on my way back to life, having added one more chapter. I am very grateful to have met such great people and be able to help such a great cause. We all registered for next year again. I was not even going to joke with myself that I wouldn't do it again.