I did the Minnesota MS150 Bike Tour this weekend. Last year, I rode with a friend, Jason. This year I rode alone. I looked forward to the time alone to find a place to relax and read in peace and quiet. What I found, was there isn’t a single comfortable chair in all of Hinckley, MN. On any other day an average chair would’ve worked, but after a 75 mile bike ride, I needed more than a folding chair or a picnic table bench. But I digress…I arrived in Proctor, MN at about 6PM on Friday evening. It rained most of the way up and the road construction made the ride longer than it needed to be. I caught a short nap and upon arriving, staked out a place on the gym floor for my sleeping bag and such. I took a bus down to Canal Park in Duluth and ate at the Vietnamese place I always stop at. Good food, quick, and reasonable. It was cold, but I walked out to the end of the causeway and waited for the “American Mariner” to arrive. It did. I got some pictures and then hopped back on a bus up the hill to the high school. Sleep (or at least the thing that isn’t quite sleep that you experience on the gymnasium floor with 300 other people in various states of slumber) followed until about 4:45AM.
I awoke and started getting ready to go. I retrieved my bike from the “corral” and ventured back to see about breakfast. One thing about Ira is he’s not hip to long lines — this is especially true before 6AM. I retreated from the line back to my bike out front and waited with only the frost-covered grass and bikes to keep me company. At 6:25 I’d had all I could take, I could not take any more. People started leaving and that seemed the perfect cue to get the show on the road. I embarked and soon found out exactly how cold it was. Within a mile my fingers were numb. The rest of me was OK, but the fingers were really a bother. I got out of the shade of the trees and the warmth of the rising sun helped just enough to keep things manageable.
By the time I hit the second rest stop about 25 miles in, I was feeling pretty good. I got passed by a tall drink of water about 5 miles later and his tattoos on his calves made me catch him. Portraits of the folks. Nice guy too. I rode with him for a while and then left him behind for a stage. Later he skipped a rest stop and I didn’t catch him again. Hinckley came along about when I expected it would, but the layout this year was different/worse. Instead of staying at the City Park (only a few blocks from the high school), the MS Society decided that the casino was a better idea. I disagree — and here are my reasons:
- It was another 3 miles at the end of the first day of riding
- Casinos suck
- Instead of a walk to the high school and the unification of those at the events and those of us “indoor camping” it really seperated everyone
- The casino is no where near anything else, so walking was out of the question
- Those last three miles were the most treacherous of the entire ride, right through the busiest, narrowest part of town
I finished in just over 4 hours at about 11AM. I was the 14th person to finish (out of 2600). I felt pretty good.
Did I mention there isn’t a comfortable public seat in all of Hinckley?
Thanks to Sominex and some earplugs, I slept pretty well the Saturday night.
After getting dressed, loading up my stuff and hopping on another bus back to the casino at 5:45AM. I whipped through the breakfast tent and had some coffee. I was back on the bike at 6:25 and hit it pretty hard. My ass was sore, but my legs were ready to go. The Tylenol kicked in about the same time the caffeine did and I was off. I averaged over 20MPH for the first two segments (about 25 miles). This was significantly faster than the previous day. My only thought was getting done and getting home.
I made it to the “lunch” stop at 8:45AM. No lunch. No water. No fruit. No nothing, besides a bunch of volunteers waiting for stuff to set up. This was a HUGE disappointment. I rolled out of the stop after 10 fruitless minutes and proceeded. About 10 minutes later, I heard “4 ON YOUR LEFT!” and four guys blew past at about 19 or 20MPH. I was about spent at this point, at least as far as momentum goes, so I decided I needed to catch them. I did and hung with them, taking my turns in the wind for the next 40 miles until I flatted with 5 miles to go. I was having trouble keeping up at the end, and couldn’t figure out why. My rear tire was down to about 20 lbs — certainly not helping.
I bid them (team “Outer Limits”) adieu as I filled up the tube, hoping it’d hold up for the last 5 miles. This brings me to another issue I have with this year’s event — maybe the MS160 would be a better name? C’mon guys, I can see a couple extra miles for logistical reasons, but 9.75?
I already signed up for 2007 – Click here to Pledge!.