This weekend I participated in Bike MS:Historic New Bern. This was my 2nd year as a participant. I’ve been beating myself up mentally about the weekend. Why I don’t know? I had goals of biking 50 miles on Saturday and 30 miles on Sunday. 1 of those goals was met. I’ve been laying around this morning feeling sorry for myself for absolutely no reason. Then I told myself get up out this bed and go write about the experience. What an experience it was.
There are 3 of us traveling to New Bern from Raleigh. Myself, Karen Friedlander and her daughter Erika Friedlander. This has become a tradition for us. All 3 of us are returning again this year. Karen and Erika biked 50 miles both days last year. This year they are going for 75 miles on both days. They have a relative who has MS so this is very personal for them. I enjoy fundraising and cycling in charity bike events. We drive down Friday and head straight to packet pickup. Since it’s still summer, the heat is on. I’m starting to regret my decision to wear linen pants because they are feeling HEAVY on my legs. Oh well! We stop by Cycling Spoken Here bike mechanics to get our bikes officially inspected for the ride. Blue thunder has been cleared for duty!
We head inside the convention center so i can pick up my packet and i have been tasked with picking up my TRI sisters packets if i am allowed by the volunteers as well. I have been given the green light and I have a total of 4 packets.(SN:Sharon Johnson, Claudia Gunter and ClarLynda I am still accepting birthday gifts) I’m probably used to bags at PPU from the races i do so i just assumed they have them here as well. That is a negative. I ask if they have a bag since i now have 4 envelopes and 4 shirts and only 2 hands which 1 is currently holding onto blue thunder. One of the volunteers pulls out a bag from his back pocket. Thank you kind sir! I pick up the cue sheets fro Saturday’s ride. As a turtle i need to know where I’m going just in case i get lost and the cue sheet has emergency contact #. Packets have been picked up. We head to the 2nd floor to drop our bikes off. This is a really cool option they have. You check your bike in and in the morning you check your bike off so there’s one less thing you have to worry about. We drop off our bikes and head out. One of my TRI sisters from Charlotte, Kristie Pyle recruited me this year to join the Bank of America team. She is over at their tent across the street in Union Point Park. We make a beeline over there so i can pick up my team BOA jersey. Another TRI sister is there as well, Patricia Howe. Of course we must take a picture. There’s a rule in our tribe, if there is no picture, then it didn’t really happen.
We head to our hotel and check-in. We are all starving and walk over to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. Saturday morning arrives in like 5 minutes. We are up and at it. Head over to the convention center to get this party started. I pick up blue thunder and head over to the park for the start. I line up on the side where the 30 milers are. In retrospect, this is where I should have been on Saturday but I will get to that soon. As I am waiting for the start, I run into another TRI sister Trish Crabtree who is doing the 30 miles and she’s chilling in her team, Selma Cyclepaths tent.
After spending quality time with them on Sunday I am truly thinking about joining their team. The event has started and they send off the riders in waves of 100. I notice the waves are getting smaller so i slide in from the 30 milers and head out with one of the waves. Last year i was with the 30 milers and we turn right out of the park onto flat road. The 50, 75 and 100 milers turn left which goes UP the drawbridge. I start to downshift my gears to be able to pedal up the bridge. Gears are low and up i go up the bridge. So far so good. I bike over the bridge and i follow the blue arrows for the 50 miles. The arrows point to the exit ramp. WTF!!!! I have to pedal UP the exit ramp. I am really starting to wonder what in the hamsandwich have i gotten myself into. I am in my low gear and i just keep pedaling up the exit ramp. When i tell you it felt like this ramp went on forever forever it did. I make it up the ramp onto the highway. I see the cops have traffic halted for us cyclists. In case you weren’t keeping count, I was. In this moment, there were several firsts for me 1st time biking up on an exit ramp, 1st time biking on a major highway. I’m on highway 17 biking across the water. I was told by my Lifetime spin instructor when i’m on the bridge to not look left or right because it will FU up and to just concentrate ahead and on your bike. I’m following the green arrows and i exit off the highway. I see another cyclist ahead of me in the shoulder. There is someone else out here with me in this craziness. Apparently i must be feeling pretty good because lo and behold i pass her. I tell her good morning and she responds back. The road is open to traffic and it’s a 2 lane road so I’m riding as close to the shoulder as possible. Cars are flying past me. Few cyclists pass me on my left. The next turn is ahead at the light. The cyclists who pass me pass it and then realize they missed the turn. As I turn left, they cross the street. I tell them i wondered if you all saw the turn. I’m on some narrow road where there isn’t a lot of traffic. I see a road sign that reads “REST STOP 1 MILE”. This is like a blessing from God. I’m not really tired but I’m glad the rest stop is ahead. I stop in at the rest stop. Eat 1/4 of a banana, drink some Gatorade, add some ice to my water bottle. Talking to the volunteers about how many miles I’m doing and all of a sudden my Garmin starts beeping and i tell the volunteers “my watch just told me I’ve been here too long gotta go.” I get back on Blue Thunder and head back out on the route. The next rest stop is about 10 miles out. The route is going through some rural spots. I start to play a game of how many confederate flags and Donald Trump signs I see. That’s pretty much what i see out here. Last year i saw the most confederate flags I’ve ever seen when i was biking and kept thinking if i go missing, they won’t find me out here. The sun is out and I am feeling the heat. It’s like the heat is rising up from the ground. I push on through and see the sign that the rest stop is 1 mile ahead. When I pull in to the rest stop I have never been so happy to see a chair i can sit in. For some reason i thought this rest stop was lunch. I walk over and see PB&J sandwiches and I’m a little disappointed. Then I’m talking to one of the volunteers and she tells me the next stop is Lunch. thank god!! I’m sitting in some shade wishing i had some lemonade (Doug E Fresh fans will get that). I see the lady i passed earlier come into the rest stop. I tell her i saw her come into the 1st rest stop as i was leaving and I’m glad to see her again. We are both out here by ourselves so we decide to ride together. She is from Durham. I tell her I’m from Raleigh. She tells me that I’m faster than she is and she doesn’t want to hold me back. I tell her that’s ok, i would love the company. After we have properly rested and refueled we head out. One of the volunteers tells me that if we go out the back exit of the stop we can head back. We do that but we don’t see the green arrows. We turn back around the church and follow the green arrows. We are rolling through the route. We make a left turn and there is a slight incline which is hitting Liz(my new buddy from Durham) hard. I tell her why don’t we walk up the incline. I’m walking ahead of her. She tells me she’s not going to make it. She wants to call the SAG. As soon as she says it, guess what is pulling up behind us, the SAG. She feels bad that she’s going to leave me out here by myself. I tell her no you not, we are taking the SAG together. They load up our bikes. This is not your normal bike rack. The SAG driver has to remove my front wheel to load blue thunder on his rack. I’ve never done this myself so i am watch him doing do it so i can remember for future reference.
Our bikes are loaded, we get in the SAG and we head over to the next rest stop which is lunch. We pull up and it’s like a cyclist hangout. Bike racks are full of bikes. Cyclists are all over the place. Blue thunder is back together again and i head over and rack my back. My plan is to get some lunch and refuel and rest and head back out. Liz is calling it and finding the SUPER SAG to take her back to the convention center. After i rack my bike, i head over to the food line. I’m ready to EAT. At this point i have biked over 18 miles and i am starving borderline hangry. I’m in line with some extremely high expectations for food. There is rice, black beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, sour cream. I’m thinking to myself so where’s the chicken or ground beef that goes with in. NOPE. they are cold cut sandwiches. Yes i know i am grateful that lunch has been provided. Yes i am. But umm can i get some hot protein. That’s all I’m asking. I pick up a turkey and cheese sandwich and head down the line. I see an open cooler with sodas. I grab a coke which is my Achilles heel. Little did i know the sodas went with the ice cream to make floats. I discover this after i sat down at the table and saw other folks with ice cream floats. I’m eating the food and contemplating my life. I’m really getting bummed because it’s so hot out there and i just don’t know if i can make it to finish the 50. All of a sudden i see someone waving at me. It’s one of my TRI sisters Amanda Law.
It was so good to see a friendly face. Her and her husband are doing the century, that’s 100 miles. They are at the 1/2 way point, 50 miles. I am in awe. I’m slowly feeling better. I go get some ice cream to make my coke float. Can we stay DELISH!!! Best thing I’ve had all day. I head to the restrooms and guess who i spy with my little eye chilling under the shade, Kristi Pyle. She’s trying to rest and recover in the shade. She’s waiting for her BOA teammates to come in. I head over to the restrooms and then come back and join her. We are both feeling drained by the heat. We decide to head out and ride together to the next rest stop and then decide if we will keep on going or SAG. We head back out. Next stop is i don’t know too many damn miles away. I’m pretty ugh at this point. I did sign up for this. I saw that on a shirt at Rock n Roll expo last weekend. We are back on the route. It’s afternoon and the heat is on. You really feel the heat when you are biking on long open roads with no shade and the sun is attacking you like you stole something from it. We are both pushing through this madness. I am so GLAD when i finally see the rest stop sign. When i pull in, Kristi is already there and she is DONE. So am I. We make a mutual decision to SAG. I check my bike computer and i am at 26.5 miles. Did i mention that when i thought i had started my Garmin i didn’t and i wasn’t aware that it hadn’t started until about 2 miles into the ride, rookie move. The garmin is reading 24 miles. We are going with the mileage off the Cateye. Saturday’s mileage is 26.5/50. I was slightly disappointed that i didn’t make it to the 50 but i also know that i listened to my body. That’s way more important.
So there are 4 of us headed to the SAG. As we were riding in the SAG, i told Kristi i was already blogging in my head this adventure as the SAG chronicles. I’m no strangers to SAG. Kristi and i meet another lady on the SAG. She has recently moved to Charlotte. Kristi recruits her to join Tri It For Life as an athlete. I tell Kristi, the SAG at Diva NMB is where i heard about TIFL and where i met Jen Davis and Julie Chaffin in 2013.We all thought that we were heading back to the convention center. Well let’s just saw we took the most SCENIC route imaginable. We head out the rest stop and we head towards another rest stop. We stop and check on riders who we see on the road who look like they need help. It feels like Greyhound bus that makes frequent stops. I kid you not. We pull into another rest stop and pick up more folks. As we leave the rest stop, the SAG barely misses hitting a telephone pole. We all in the SAG yelling about it. The driver is oblivious she just missed hitting it. Do you see why i call this the SAG chronicles? Pure comedy. We are back on the road again. We head back to the very rest stop we were picked up at. HILARIOUS. One dude gets out. His family is coming to pick him up. We pick up 2 more folks. We head out again. This time we are headed to the convention center, finally. FYI 1 hour has passed since i first got on the SAG. I know this because i checked my text messages. Karen had text me at 1:20 to check on me and she had gotten SAG because she was overheated. I saw her message at 2:20. It was now 3:20. We head back into New Bern. We are on Front street. As we turn towards the convention center, i see a red Mazda crossover and I’m thinking that car sure looks familiar. It’s Karen. I’m yelling that’s my ride. Kristi asks me where I’m going. I tell her to find Karen she’s my ride. I hop out the SAG and go looking for Karen. She sees me. She tells me “how did you find me” i tell her i saw her while i was on the SAG. New Bern day 1 ends with both of us SAG. Erika is the true rock star of our adventure as she knocked out 75 miles.
We have all done great today. Karen biked 48/75 miles. Erika bikes 75 miles. I biked 26.5/50 miles. There is no shame in that at all.
Erika’s boyfriend drove to New Bern from Raleigh to see her finish. How cool is that? I need to find me one.
Guess what else? I kissed a bear and I liked it.