Do they have the route maps available? I'm not doing the ride, but I get a chance to ride in that area quite often, and I would love to check out the route they've designed later in the summer. We usually ride down to the Speedway, and I didn't realize how close it was to the Keys.
What will make me come back was the row of MS patients, in wheelchairs, cheering us as we crossed the finish line. I was on a team led by a woman with MS, who was riding the lead position in our group - we regrouped 1/4 mile from the finish line so we could ride in as a team. I know, there's no crying in cycling, but this was tough...
Well I had a great time. On Saturday I started off riding with a co-worker and one of his riding buddies. I got separated from my team before we started. A few of them decided to kind of cheat and take off on their own. So when some of the other teammates went looking for them I lost track of them. But I found this other guy, co-worker, and just rode with him. The morning started off very nicely. The weather was beautiful and everyone was really anxious to get going. I was so nervous that I didn't even have breakfast. So when I got to the starting line I was a bit hungry but I found a spot that they were giving out organic bars. So I ate one of those. Wasn't too bad. So we took off at about 7:45 am. I was feeling really good for the first hour. After the first hour I started feeling beat up. I don't think I should have skipped breakfast altogether. I kept falling back and my riding buddies had to keep slowing down. After we passed he 32 mile rest stop I kept up for a couple of miles then just took it down a notch and just let them go on. I didn't want to keep making them slow down. I felt bad for them. So they kept going and I just set my own pace. Once I established my pace I started feeling better. I actually ride better when I am by myself. After the 40 mile stop I took off and shortly found a little group that passed me just slightly faster. So I latched on to them and followed them almost to the 50 mile rest stop. When I got there someone called my name and it was one of my team mates that I lost at the beginning. They were surprised that I caught up to them. Usually on our training rides I was the last one to finish. Anyways we all took off together but once again I made the mistake of riding faster than I trained for. So after several miles I had to drop back and go solo. From there to the bridge I felt the most tired. After stopping at the 60 mile stop right after the bridge for a few minutes I took off. I felt much fresher and stronger for some reason. So I skipped the next stop and stopped at the last one just to refill my gatorade. With 4 miles to go I felt awesome. I even ran into the guy that I finished with last year. Poor guy was cramping up so I rode the last part with him and we crossed the finish line together. I guess it's gonna be an annual tradition. What are the chances. 2 years in a row. (To be continued)
Well Sunday morning started pretty good. I had my wife and kids with me. They went with me to John Pennekamp park so they could see me take off. My nerves were absolutely on the fritz. I was so nervous that I didn't even dare have breakfast. So after picking up my bike, getting some air for my tires, getting some water and ice, I was ready to go. I got to the starting line and waited for them to let us go. I was so happy that my family was there with me. They took some pictures of me while waiting to take off. It was a nice feeling. So I took off with the group and some guys from a little group asked me if I was riding alone. I said yes and they told me to ride with them. So i was very grateful. Especially since we had to start off by heading right into the wind. So I rode with them for about 8 miles when the hunger kicked in and I started getting a headache and had to slow down. Luckily I wasn't too far from the 2nd rest stop. So I got some PBJ sandwiches, some water and Gatorade, and I was on my way. I felt pretty good after that. I skipped the next stop right before the bridge and kept going until rest stop (RS) #4. I just loaded up on some more Gatorade and did a little stretching. So I took off from there and headed south till we got out of Card Sound Road. As soon as we hit 344 street and headed East again, I knew it was going to be a long day. Not just wind. WIND!!!!!! Wow! So I got behind a few riders so not to have to fight the wind alone. And I followed them to just before RS #5 which was the Homestead Speedway. I remember last year at this point I was calling my wife and telling her that I wanted to quit. Of course I didn't but I sure felt like it. This time I felt much better and stronger when I got there. I even rode the track all the way on the top this time. It was quite an experience. So I got a few snacks and more Gatorade and took off. At the next RS #6 I was gonna keep going but I needed some more Gatorade so I stopped for a few minutes. Then I left there and continued feeling good. After several miles I went down to reach for my Gatorade and....OH NO! I lost my bottle. I realized that I left it on the table while I was drinking some water. So I said I gotta keep going to the next stop. Luckily I had another bottle with me, but it was empty. So when I got to RS #7 at Blackpoint Marina, I quickly got off the bike and drank a whole bunch of Gatorade. Man that felt good. This time I filled the bottle and quickly put it back on the bike. I ate a few pretzels and took off. The ride from there wasn't too bad. It was mainly heading North. So I stopped one more time at RS #7 got some more of the Gatorade. I called my wife and told her to take off from home so they could meet me at the finish line. So from there I said no more stopping. Luckily after that it was mainly North and West riding. Man that West riding was awesome. The tailwind was beautiful. When I passed 104 street I started getting really excited since I knew I was almost done. I turned at a few intersections and then I was heading right to the finish line. I heard someone yelling my name, "Manny" then I heard my son yelling "Daddy". Wow what a feeling. I got all emotional. The guy who yelled my name was one of my riding buddies. He had to stop short that day because after 30 miles his wife took a nasty fall and cut her elbow. They had to take her to the hospital for stitches. But he came back to the finish line and they both saw me finish. Right away I got my medal and handed it over to my son. He was so excited. He asked me "Daddy did you win?" How cute. So I let him wear my medal. So that is my experience. Sorry it's such a long post but once I start writing about something like this I can't stop. I hope everyone else enjoyed there MS 150 as well. Now I'm looking forward to next year.