Cape Cod Getaway 2009: MS Fundraiser
June 27th and 28th, 2009
This was my third consecutive year riding in the National Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser bike ride, "Cape Cod Getaway." I have participated in the event a total of six times beginning in the 1980's.
This year, 2000 riders joined the cause, raising more than $1.5 million as of this writing. The National MS Society is still accepting donations. If interested, please click the link above right. After weeks of almost uninterrupted rain we were blessed with two days of good weather. I heard of only a few stray raindrops falling on fewer riders.
A few years ago they started offering an optional 100-mile route (as opposed to the standard 75-mile route) for those who just can't get enough. As I'm getting older, I had decided to try to squeeze one last century ride (100 miles) out of this body, but it was not to be this year. Maybe next year. Still, 150 miles, I feel, is quite acceptable for two days riding.
I arrived at the start at Marina Bay in Quincy at around 6AM Saturday morning. As usual, volunteers and MS Society staff made check-in a breeze. Three local bike shops were on hand to inflate tires, adjust brakes or make last minute repairs. Bagels and energy bars were on hand for any hungry riders. Among the various events I have ridden in over the years, I have found the Cape Cod Getaway to be the best run.
The weather was sunny and pleasant, near 70 degrees with a light breeze, a little humid - near ideal conditions as we started out at about 7:45AM. Local police waved us through intersections as we sped out of Quincy in a long peloton.
Leaving Quincy, we continued through the scenic South Shore towns of Weymouth, Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Duxbury, Kingston, and Bourne, arriving after 75 miles (or 100 for those who needed extra miles for some reason) at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts. On the way, excellent, happy, helpful and friendly volunteers staffed rest stops every 10 or 15 miles where riders could use a handy house, grab a snack, or get a quick repair from a bike tech.
Volunteers also patrolled the route for cyclists with flat tires or other difficulties and to help us through intersections.
When we arrived at Mass. Maritime Academy we parked our bikes, picked up our luggage (hauled by Casey and Hayes moving company) and hit the showers in the Academy dorms. After that, Wachusett Brewery provided FREE BEER until about 6pm, riders could help themselves to hamburgers and hot dogs until 5pm and from 5pm to 6pm to barbecued chicken, pulled pork and other BBQ delicacies. A DJ from WZLX radio provided entertainment and announcements.
Not long after dinner, riders retired to berths in the Academy dorms or to their tents pitched on the grass overlooking the Cape Cod Canal. After a 75- or 100-mile ride, an 8pm bedtime sounds just fine.
Beginning at 4am or even before on Sunday, riders were up getting ready, dressing, packing, and eating breakfast. All riders needed to be over the Bourne Bridge by around 6:30am. That's how long the State Police could keep a lane closed for us.
Sunday was overcast and foggy, ranging from around 70 to 75 degrees, dipping down to perhaps 65 degrees occasionally in various locations. After biking along the canal for a few miles, we headed off through Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro, arriving at last in Provincetown. Once again, all along the way and at rest stops we enjoyed the support of MS Society staff and volunteers who made the adventure safe, fun and rewarding.
My Back Story
Last year, as I mentioned in a previous article, I felt that I had really trained adequately, logging over 1000 training miles beginning in April. This year, due to sickness, weather and mechanical problems I only logged about 700 miles or so, and going in I felt that I had trained inadequately. As late as Thursday I was experiencing leg cramps when sprinting through a few intersections.
I am part of a team - the Polar Type Bears - but elected not to ride with the team on Saturday because they were riding the 75 whereas I was riding the 100 - so I thought.
Although I psyched myself up and was mentally ready to do the 100-miles, I found as the temperature climbed into the 80's and the humidity right along with it, I was sweating out more liquid than I could take in and was becoming dehydrated. I started having cramps in muscles around my right knee. So at the 40-mile mark I allowed that discretion is probably the better part of valor and stayed on the 75-mile route instead of splitting off on the 100. I finished the 75-mile strong (for me) averaging about 16 mph.
One of my personal victories was increasing my pace - the RPM of my pedals. While I keep no hard numbers, to give you an idea of my pace, it used to be I could ride while singing a song in my head like, "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. For this ride I used two basic tunes, "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo and "Green Dress" by Jonathan Larson - more or less march tempo.
A faster pace helps save your knees and is just easier to maintain over the long haul. Even if it means shifting down into the granny gear, it's worth it if you can maintain your pace.
At Mass. Maritime I had a couple of beers and lots of food and hit the sack about 8pm. I woke feeling pretty spent, but that's normal, so I had breakfast and got ready. I elected to ride with my team and fell in with the peloton at about 5:45am. I stayed with them until the first rest stop but there I had to get air in my tires for the day, so I let them speed on. They were keeping the 17mph mark anyway - a little fast for me.
Over the course of the day I took advantage of several pelotons as they went by. One I hung with for a long time and led for almost ten miles - a first for me. Peloton riding is a little different as you hang less than a foot behind the rider in front of you. It takes a lot of concentration, but if you can do it, you basically benefit from greatly improved wind resistance and you will find yourself able to ride faster and longer.
Overall I felt stonger the second day, with no recurrence of cramping in my legs or anywhere else. I rolled into Provincetown with "Green Dress" still humming along in my head and my pace constant. Today I'm sore, but happy and looking forward to next year!