Friday, April 28, 2006

Fox Blog

Got another blog.  I’m apparently going wild with them.  I wasn’t looking to do this, but a sportswriter’s contest caught my eye while browsing through, and I figured what the heck.  They’ll never pull your name out if you don’t toss it in the hat, right?  So anyway, sports stuff is going to dominate what I write for a while.  Bare with me if you can!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pass With Caution

First and foremost, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that helped me raise well over $500 with the MS150.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I detest asking for money, and I was truly grateful for your generosity.  Much appreciated.

As to the ride itself, the biking wasn’t quite the horror I was dreading.  Of course, I did everything in my power to try and make it so, forgetting my race numbers at home as we left home at 5 am.   Note to self – pack the car completely and sleep in your clothes from here on out.  Well, aside from the biking shorts. Between the padding and the strongly advised inner vasoline rubdown, wearing those shorts feels like you creamed yourself.  You do what you have to do to end crippling diseases like MS.

Right off the start, the first spectator sign I saw read “Austin 5 miles (.”  I could smile at that, but knew that if I saw that sign 50 miles later, I’d swerve and ram dead on into the joker.  The ride was terrifically organized, allowing people to take off whenever they wanted and from different starting points if they so choose.  The uber-athletes who looked at this as a training run for twisted endeavors like the Ironman Triathalon (hint: it’s capped off by running a full marathon) took off before 6 am, more casual riders between 7 and 8, so the 13,000-person pack separated fairly nicely; which was great since you’re mostly relegated to one lane of road that allows 2-3 make-believe lanes of bikers.  At each break point (one every 12 miles or so), there were a bunch of volunteers giving out oranges and drinks and tons of port-a-potties.  No lines of any significance, even at lunch (Subway given out).  

What sucked: hills.  The entire hill country is off my Christmas card list.  There were two major sections of them: a state park roughly 60 miles out and a last call for brutality over the final 3 miles to the finish.  The park I could stand because I was forewarned about it and it was nice being in the woods and off the highway for a bit.  The last stretch was just a purified form of cruelty that didn’t come far off from breaking me.  The only other thing that bothered me on the trip, aside from saddle sores, numbing wrists, a strained back, and an aching knee, were people that had philosophical issues with staying to the right.  It was like relieving traffic on Virginia’s 64 all over again.  Most people would let you pass if you let them know you were coming up from behind, but some were just oblivious and deserved to be hit by a Tundra.  I was guaranteed to have a patch of these guys in front of me right before a hill, and if you aren’t hitting an incline with a full head of steam, it’s over.  

The most humorous part of the ride was when a speed limit/Your Speed Is sign’s radar gun tagged me and was flashing.  I don’t think less reliable technology exists in the world.  It was also one heck of a thrill to hit 43 mph on my bike, an obvious all-time high.  If only that idiot in front of me had stayed right, I wouldn’t have had to brake.   I had a shot at breaking 45!  Gah!  BTW, that speed is right there with most roller coasters and is just as fun…

There was an eery moment on the ride, when a hundred off us had to come to a stop and slowly march around an accident.  As I passed through, all I saw was a guy in a neck brace being loaded into a medic van and 8 bikes lying off the side of the road with no owners in sight.  When you’re clipped into the pedals and get undercut going 20+ mph in a crowd of bikes, there’s no chance that it won’t be ugly.  Not a fun thought to be stuck with.  Word later got around that they had to helicopter out at least one or two guys.  

Seeing the UT tower from 5 miles away was awesome, and entering the university knowing freedom was a half mile away was a powerful thrill.  Despite losing my lower body two miles back in the Hills for Good Measure, I went into kick off your heels and run mode.  Tip of the hat to all the teams that massed before the finish to wait for everyone to cross together.  I hot dogged through the end, lapping up the crowd, crossed the finish into the slow down stretch, and instantly felt each and every one of the muscles in my legs spasm and cramp with full effect at once.  When your quads, hams, and calves all manage to clench at once, it’s a feeling you can remember.  Thankfully, I did not take a dive into the spectators.  Sure, the wife and sister missed my finish because they were off at the mall and didn’t show up until later, but I was content with a victory Bud Light.

How did this compare with the marathon?  With the running, I trained for a year, worked up to 22 mile workouts, and couldn’t walk properly for a week afterwards.  With the MS150, I hopped in with next to no preparation (a couple 10 mile rides and one for 15) and was fine and dandy afterwards.  Maybe a little dehydrated with a mildly stiff back.  No comparison.  Which makes me wonder why I’m determined to get a second marathon under my belt yet have zero inclination to ride in the MS150 again.  It’s best that I not ask the wife, I run the risk of getting pelted with anything in arms reach.