Thanks to my sponsors, Forza (Andrea), Walter H., Theresa J., Rosemary C., The Basey’s, Holly R., Patricia H., John F. and Bill S – I was able to raise over $550 to support MS research while participating in the Ride to Gold this last weekend. I want to say a special thanks to George S. and Andrea (Forza) for all the help they provided over the last few months to push me into good shape to be able to make this ride! The MS Ride to Gold was a new ride and route this year instead of the Sedona “Ride the Vortex” route. This new route was 2 days with a 90mile/60mile option on the first day taking you from Peoria to Wickenburg and a 50 mile return from Wickenburg to Peoria the second day.
On Saturday, I was ready for the 90 mile route and left in the middle of about 300-400 riders. I quickly found the pace group and began ridding with them near the front. By the time the route split into the 90mile and 60mile routes we had a nice group of 5 riders taking turns pulling and the leading two riders, doing the 90 mile route, were no more than 1/2 mile ahead. Our group did a great job of working together and we maintained a fast pace as we returned back to the combined 90/60 mile route. Then we hit a level 4 and 5 climb near and then to Lake Pleasant for the lunch stop at about 50 miles. I was feeling good and strong on those hills and was able to climb them in great shape reaching the stop before others in the group. We took a good break and then 4 of us headed out climbing back out to the main road which was a long up hill into Wickenburg. For the rest of the day as I looked up the road, riding by myself, the hills just seemed to go on – as you would crest one hill the next hill was out there waiting for you. As the route turned onto HY 80 the wind was finally at my back and the miles seemed to go faster. As we hit “downtown” Wickenburg, thinking the finish was near, we had one last 3 mile hill climb into the wind to the finish line – a tough finish to a tough day. I finished the 88 mile ride at an average speed of 18.7 mph climbing 3,360’ and taking 4:42 on bike time! I was in the first few (3, 4 or 5th) to finish the 90 mile route. No one had passed us all day and I was the first of our little group to hit the finish line. It was a great ride and great group of guys to ride with.
As the ride began Sunday, I could tell it was going to be a tough day as I was still tired and my knee was a bit balky. We “knew” it was going to be downhill so I was hoping for a much easier day and quickly found some of the same guys from our group the day before and a few others – about 15 riders – that pulled away. As the first few miles were down hill or fairly flat we set a fast pace in the mid-20’s mph. As I began a turn to pull, our first hill of the day started. I took my turn and pull over to take my place at the end but was so tired from my pull I could not keep pace with that pack. I had stayed on pull too long plus the hill had increased and I did not have the legs I had the day before! I was dropped from the lead group about 15 miles into the ride just before we turned off HY 80 on to HY 74. At that point my average speed was 22.7mph and I was tired but luckily 2 other riders were dropped so we formed a small group. In that group two of us took turns pulling and we kept together the rest of the day. For some reason the road still looked (and felt) to be up hill all day plus it always seems like a head wind! There was one good climb going up out of Lake Pleasant that I felt good on, then the last 7 or so miles to the finish. As we tired to finish, a sign had blown down and we missed a turn that added a few extra miles to our ride and slowed our actual time. We finishing in the Top 15 as the only finishers ahead of were the same group we started with. Once again no one passed us once we had formed the initial group. For the second day I rode 56 miles averaging 20.6 mph while only climbing 836’ with 2:42 of on bike time (and less than 3 hours of elapsed time).
This was a really good ride and I felt really good about my results, how my knee handled the 2 days plus the training I have done to this point. As the miles became hard from time to time, I would think of the struggle that MS is daily and how easy I have it! THANKS again to my sponsors that make it possible to do these great rides while supporting great causes!
Next up is a non-charity event the Mount Lemon Hill Climb (that Amy is talking me into riding for my birthday). This climb is ranked 33rd on the toughest 100 hill climbs in the USA and will be a grueling 26 miles gaining over 6,600’. I am not sure how far I will get but I think I will find out.