24 September 2015

Day 5 – Amesbury to Boston

It was quite a chilly over night evening, so when it was time to get up in the morning, it was really hard to convince myself to climb out of my sleeping bag! Not to mention the reality of bike shorts that I had washed that did NOT end up drying over night… but it was the last day and I was determined to get in some serious riding today.

So I pulled myself out of bed and got (mostly) dressed and went down to breakfast. It was time for Blake’s last talk through the route. I also needed to get Evan to give my bike one last look to make sure it was good to go for the final 65 miles to Boston. I loaded up my water bottles and my snacks, and was on the bike.

As I mentioned, it was pretty brisk this morning, so I had all the layers on – my Boston compression socks, plus my Thorlos on top; my damp bike shorts that warmed up pretty well after I got them on; my jersey, my long sleeve jersey, and my windbreaker; my armsleeves; and even an extra pair of gloves. Oh yeah, and a warm headband to cover my ears. And toe covers on my shoes! Man, it was COLD!! The good thing about a fully supported ride is that along the way you can shed layers and then pick them up once you make it to the end of the ride. So as the day went on and I warmed up – and the day got warmer – I was able to pull off most of my extra layers, so that riding into Boston I was all matchy-matchy with the other riders.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our first stop of the morning was a fun little farm with cinnamon sugar donuts! It was the perfect fuel, along with another cup of coffee, to keep me warm and ready to keep pedaling. On this last day, the timetable is pretty strict, because the plan is to all ride the final few miles together. I didn’t spend too much time at this stop before jumping back on the bike and heading out. The first section of the ride was a lot of rolling hills before the final downhill into Boston, but it wasn’t too bad. I was actually feeling pretty good. I was riding with a fun pack of riders – back again with my pal Ellen – and we were about to chug up another hill when I felt the gears acting up. I jumped right off the bike because I wasn’t about to fall again. Another rider – this amazing older gentleman Al who rocked all 390 miles of the ride, stopped to try to help. The chain was acting up again and luckily Evan was by shortly in the van to make some adjustments and take it for a spin. I was back on the bike shortly – all my pals had already moved on without me – but I made it to the next water stop for a quick refill and a little extra lube on my chain before jumping back on the road again to get to lunch.
My goal was to be there by 11:30.

I’m pretty sure I rolled in around 11:40… pretty close to goal. I managed to get a whole pile of yumminess on my plate and grab a seat at a table in the shade. The food crew really does an amazing job feeding us – and keeping track of food concerns that people have. There are quite a few people on the ride that are vegan, and there were always real options for them. Most of the group was still at lunch, and at one point Patrick gathered us all together and reminded us that we were about to ride along the path that Paul Revere took and that we were standing in the footsteps of previous revolutionists. And that it is our time to be revolutionary – our time to ignite a change and a movement for climate change action. Although I was sort of on the sidelines finishing up my lunch, it was really exciting to see everyone get pumped up over the though of being revolutionaries.

But soon it was time to get back on the bike and make that final push for Boston. Shortly after we were back on the road, it was time to go off-roading on the Minute Man Trail.  This 4+ mile section was all on dirt/gravel trail, and some boardwalk. It was not the most fun for those of us with road bikes, but it was neat to consider the history we were riding past. Just like the other day, when we were finally back on the pavement, I was thankful for the road. Just a little bit further, and we were on another trail – this the commuter trail that leads into the city. It was fun to kick up the speed and cruise past other riders. As one of the locals called it, this is the “thunderdome” of bike riding in Boston, and I definitely participated. Soon enough we were pulling up to the American Legion, where we were all gathering before riding en mass to the Common. We spent a little bit of time hanging out – and Josh and Molly got suited up for one super awesome “Just Married” ride (oh, maybe I didn’t mention them – this couple was legitimately on their honeymoon on this ride! They were married just the Saturday before we started the ride). It was super fun to ride along the Esplanade with them and see people’s expressions.

When we finally came up to Arlington and made the turn onto Boylston, I was getting excited about riding to the Common. I knew exactly where we would be turning in, so as we were turning onto Charles, another rider told me to take the lead of our group of riders and bring us home. It was so fun to see all the supporters gathering just inside the park to welcome us – including some riders that had already finished as well as our amazing support team!

It was such an epic adventure. It didn’t turn out the way I had planned, but I enjoyed every moment of the ride. I do wish I’d been able to meet more of the 120 riders and talk with more of our amazing support staff. There just isn’t enough time to bike 50-80 miles a day, eat and sleep and still have time to be social! I hear the Northwest ride next year might have some “off” days, which sounds amazing. Every time I do one of these rides, I finish wanting to do it all over again. The team at Climate Ride really puts on such an amazing event, and you can’t beat the opportunity to support over 160 beneficiary organizations working on these critical issues.

Fundraising continues until the end of the fiscal year – so far we’ve raised over $424,000 just for the Northeast ride. The goal is to grant more than $1 MILLION to beneficiary organizations this year, and with the Midwest ride gearing up this weekend, we just might hit that goal. But every bit helps get us closer to that goal – and helps us send even more money to our beneficiaries. For me, I’m so glad to have another opportunity to support Interfaith Power & Light and the amazing work they do engaging people of faith in the moral call to action on climate change. Please consider making a donation today to help us surpass our goal.

23 September 2015

Day 4 – Ocean Park to Amesbury

There’s a reason to write these recaps on the day… as a few days pass, it’s hard to remember exactly how things went down. Well, here we are, two days out from the ride, which means four days out from this day, and I’m going to have to rack my brain to come up with the recap. Better get it done before it fades further into the memory black hole.

So, I had a rough night sleeping because one of my bunkmates was up and down all night, not to mention my ribs are still bothering me. Every time I want to turn over, I end up waking up because of the pain. But also the overly loud non-sleeper across the way. When it finally was time to get up – around 6am – it was tough. I made my way out of the top bunk and down to the land of the living, packed up my stuff and headed to breakfast. All morning long my plan was to try to just start off riding. There were 76 miles on the schedule for the day, and I just wanted to attempt as many as possible. We would be crossing into two new states today, finally leaving beautiful Maine behind. I wanted to ride across those state lines on my bike. I wanted to really push myself. But as I headed to breakfast and dropped off all my gear, I was confronted with the reality of just how sore I really was. The smart thing was to shuttle – so I said goodbye to my friends as they headed out of camp, and waited for the van to leave.

At about 8:45 we drove out of camp and followed along behind the riders. There were two other riders in the van with me – one that had a bad crash the day before and one that was having some knee trouble – as well as an awesome mechanic (Evan) and our super support drive Kai. We had some great MJ tunes to pump us up for the day and made our way to the first water stop at the Rachel Carson park. On the way, we made a pit stop at a great coffee house in Kennebunkport and I grabbed a coffee and some more ibuprofen to make it through the next few days. But once we got to the park, I was itching to get on my bike. I had some BioFreeze in my bag that I slathered on and shared with another rider before we hit the road. It was great to once again feel the breeze against my skin and be pedaling my way along the shores.

It was about 15 miles from the water stop to lunch at the Nubble Light and the views were absolutely stunning! I got to ride through Ogunquit with a woman who had grown up there, so she took the lead and told me all about the town when she was growing up there. It was so cool to get that perspective on the ride. We pulled over for a photo stop and I got a glimpse of an absolutely beautiful white sand beach. Then we were riding all along the shore and words just really can’t explain how amazing it was. I seriously was riding around corners and just saying “WOW!” We pulled into lunch and I was ready to just call it a day. Not because I was sore from being on the bike, but because our lunch spot was purely idyllic. On the rocky coast, with classic Cape Cod cottages along the shore… and the lighthouse just over the hill. I wanted to just stay there forever. But alas, there were more miles to ride, so I was back on the bike.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it very far. Still in Maine, only a few miles from the New Hampshire state line, I got a flat tire. I was about to attempt to fix it myself (the only other time I’ve had a flat, I had my dad change the tire), when I realized I didn’t have a spare tube (remember that time my dad changed my tire…). So I called in for help and the sag wagon was along shortly to scoop me up. Instead of trying to fix it on the spot, they picked me up – along with a few other riders already aboard – and ferried us up to the next water stop. After falling less than a mile after getting started, all inhibitions about having to be in the van instead of on the bike on the road go out the proverbial window.

In the last year, a former Climate Rider was killed when she was hit by a car while cycling. Such a tragedy, because she was such a young woman, but it brings home the message of the Pass Them Like You Love Them campaign. There was a memorial for Allison this day just into New Hampshire at a park. About 30 riders stopped for the memorial. Since I didn’t know Allison personally, I didn’t feel a need to stop, and neither did anyone else in the van. It was definitely a moving tribute to see all the riders gathered there. But it meant that we jumped ahead of them as we drove on to the water stop.

The stop was along the beach, and since I was letting the mechanics take care of changing my tire and we were well ahead of most of the riders, we had some time to just take it all in. I even walked down to the beach and put my toes in the water. It was WAY too cold to put much else in! Once the right tube was on the bike, I was ready to hit the road again. I had debated about skipping a few more miles in the day, but having been picked up again, I decided I was going to try to just ride all the way in to camp – as long as the tire held up. I pulled out and enjoyed the New Hampshire beaches before we turned west and headed in land. There was yet another brief stop at this neat farm just before we crossed into Massachusetts that I stopped out and picked up a few goodies. 

I of course had to stop for the obligatory “welcome to a new state” photo as I crossed into Mass… but then realized I couldn’t figure out how to flip the picture so you could actually read it. Oh well! It was just a few more miles to camp, and the weather was absolutely beautiful for these last few hilly miles. I finally pulled into camp and tucked my bike in for the night. I was ready for a hot shower but alas, there wasn’t a lot of time before dinner, so it was just a quick change and then down for food.

Dinner was good, but I scarfed down my food so I could get that shower. This is my favorite night of the ride because it means it’s time for Kip’s slide show. Kip is our resident paparazzi and his photos are always amazing. He includes photos of riders as well as scenery shots and some cool bike shots. I love seeing how he captures the ride from behind the lens. So I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss that.

Temps were starting to drop, so it was great to finally get to pull on some of my warm, post-ride clothing that I had packed. My ride buddy Michele and I hiked down to the gathering spot and listened to the speakers before it was time for the slide show. I remembered that I had signed up for a massage, but I didn’t want to miss the show, so I headed up early to cancel. But when I got there, Kip was still sitting in the dining hall scrambling to finish up the slide show, so I figured, I could use a massage. Just make sure to head out when Kip heads down. The timing worked out perfectly and I was able to really enjoy the show. I can’t wait until the disc arrives!

Afterwards, I was just too tired for much else, so it was time to hike back up to the cabin and tuck in for the night. And man was it important to tuck in… those temps were DIVING over night.

Stay tuned for the recap from the last day of the ride!

19 September 2015

Day 3 - Jefferson to Ocean Park

Yup, we're still in Maine. In fact, we only end up riding through New Hampshire tomorrow on our way to Amesbury, MA for our last stop before heading into Boston. Today was much more the Maine I was expecting.

Ok, so as you may recall, today was century day. For those riders that felt up to the challenge, there was an option to ride 100 miles today - actually, just over 100 miles. I had wanted to do this leading up to the ride. I was stoked to try for my first century. I was a little bummed it meant spending less time at my favorite store - the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport - but it was something I wanted to challenge myself to do. That was all before those first 5 minutes of the ride on Thursday.

Once I hit the ground, my plans all went out the window. As I mentioned yesterday, my goal is just to be safe, to be smart, and to have fun. So last night in camp while Blake was giving the ride notes, and going over the options, I decided I was going to do the 54 mile option. And remembering my advice from Mainer Joan Benoit-Samuelson, I omitted the "just" - sure, there were people that went out and rode harder and longer than I did today, but I still rode 54 monster miles, with a (possible) cracked rib! I am hard core!!

Ok, so for real, here's how the day went. I swear, ladies in my cabin last night were up multiple times in the night, making me keep thinking it was 5am and almost time to get up. And then they'd go back to sleep and so would I. I had a rough night sleeping between all of that and the pain in my ribs. I forgot to mention it, but that first night I managed a room all to myself which was great for getting sleep. When it finally was time to get up, the majority of my cabin were planning on 100 miles, so they were told to be at breakfast at 5:30... which meant the lights went on at 5:08... yes, I remember exactly what time. It was EARLY for those of us that weren't doing the century and didn't have to be up until a little later. Hey - sleep is sleep, and on a ride like this sleep is IMPORTANT!

I was moving pretty slow this morning because of the pain and lack of sleep. I got all packed up and down to breakfast, and it was still about an hour before we managed to load up the truck with our bikes and the various vans to head out for the day. There was also a 76 mile option for the day, so we all headed out to the first water stop where we dropped off the first load. This was a really awesome organic farm (Goranson Organic Farm) that I really wish I could go to every day! Absolutely beautiful produce! I got mom some maple syrup and myself a mini pumpkin. Then it was back into the vans and on to stop two.

We didn't waste any time at this stop once the truck showed up and dropped off our bikes. Pam and I were on the road... after a quick photo stop with the totem poles of course! We rocked those 13 miles to lunch... to LL Bean! Seriously - I think the people in my van this morning thought I was crazy with how much I talked about going to LL Bean. I was pumped to have 2 hours to spend wandering through the maze of the campus. I grabbed a few goodies, and sadly then it was time to hit the road. I missed out on the local recommendation for lobster... still haven't had my fix. But it was time to go in order to make it to the next stop.

Once we were heading out of Freeport, the weather really changed. It was foggy on and off those last few hours, and the temps really dropped, which was nice after two sweltering days. The afternoon included navigating the busy, Saturday afternoon traffic in Portland and riding on a cool bike path... up until we had to cross a major bridge. Man, I was sweating that! Our next water stop was at the Portland Head Light, a quaint little light house. As I rode in, just ahead of the sweeper, I really debating hitching a ride to camp. By ribs were really hurting and the pain had shifted just a little bit to the center of my chest. I put some ice on it, took some ibuprofen, and decided to hit it for the last 20 miles to camp.

It was tough, especially with a 4.3 miles section on a gravel bike path. But as we turned on to that beautiful stretch of paved road, and knew it was just 3 more miles to camp, I put my head down, powered through the last hill, and coasted into camp just behind a couple amazing women that were finishing their century ride. It was epic to be out there with those riders, and especially to see them in camp. At dinner, we recognized the century riders - and there were quite a few of them.

Dinner was a great spread of Mexican goodness, including (I'm pretty sure) homemade chips! We had our evening talk from some great speakers and then a huge bonfire before it was time to head in for the night. It was a long day - for all of the riders - and we still have TWO MORE DAYS OF RIDING ahead of us!! Crazy to think for sure!

So, that's what I did today - interested in supporting the ride? Visit my fundraising page and help me get to $5000 total support for Interfaith Power & Light. 

18 September 2015

Day 2 - Hope to Jefferson

Well, I was able to get some sleep and felt up for heading out this morning. It was a day to play it smart, so when I hit that first hill on the way out of camp, I just went ahead and walked it. I wasn’t ready to push myself and test the ribs. And of course, Kip our awesome photog was there to capture the moment! It was a pretty easy morning of 16 miles to the first water stop. A few hills, but nothing like yesterday.

The water stop was great! We were next to the Maine Lighthouse Museum, so of course I had to check it out and take lots of pictures for mom and dad. I also had to pick up a souvenir/gift for them. The gift shop had just put in their new machine to start taking chip cards, and were having some trouble running my card. By the time they finally got it sorted out, I was the last one out of the stop. I got shuttle up about 9 miles, just to make up a little time. I wasn’t upset about it because I’ve decided the goal on this ride is to be safe, to be smart, and to enjoy every moment. So I enjoyed talking more with Rose, who grew up right in this part of Maine, and getting told to definitely make sure to stop for blueberry pie at Moody’s Diner. I hopped out of the van around mile 26 for the day, and was back out on the road. But MAN it was getting HOT!!! I ended up using my regular water bottle a lot to just squirt some water on top of my head. I also was so cognizant about staying hydrated that for about the last 10 miles riding into the lunch stop, I was ready for a bathroom break!

I made the pit stop for pie just before lunch and rigged up my pie on my bike to make the 2 mile journey to lunch. Rolling in to lunch, some other riders were already on the way back out. I knew I was near the back, and with the heat, I was really debating about hitching a ride to camp. But once I pulled in, there were still quite a few people there. I took a break in the shade, got a sandwich and ate my absolutely delicious pie, and decided I could handle the last 12 miles to camp. A few of my new (and old – from the last ride) friends were heading out at the same time, so we got to ride together the last few miles. It was fun to have company, as many times on these rides I end up riding solo.

We had to stop for the #mysterywell photo op – a stagecoach watering hole established around 1800. And of course we had to take a few fun photos while we were there too! Then we got to Jefferson Market and made another stop, since it turned out the ice cream shop we were thinking about coming back to was already closed. While we were there I sneezed, and boy that hurt! Guess the ribs are still sore. Just a few more miles, and we were in camp – although Michele tried to stop just one more time, but I just had to leave her. It was still pretty warm, and I was just ready to be done.

I rolled in to camp and got settled in at my bunk and then tried to go for a swim in the lake. It was absolutely gorgeous out there, and I was thinking I could even do a little OWS… but when I got down there it was CHILLY in the water. And when I finally eased myself down into the water, and tried to swim, my ribs just really hurt too much to try to get out in the choppy water. So I was quickly back out and heading back for a shower. 

Can’t wait for dinner… and BED!!! I’ve decided not to try for the century tomorrow, which is a little disappointing, but it’s the smart thing to do. Plus, it means more time at L.L.Bean!!

Thinking about adding your support to my ride - and for Interfaith Power & Light - click here!

Day 1 - Bar Harbor to Hope

Well, the day did not turn out the way I’d hoped. I got up early this morning and got some breakfast at our hotel before the shuttle took us over to camp. I was getting all my stuff ready and remembered that since I had forgotten my sunglasses, I had asked to borrow a pair from one of the support members. When I asked her about it, she said she had forgotten them but could run back to the hotel real quick to pick them up. At this point, Blake’s EPIC talk was over and people were starting to head out.

Lo and behold, I ended up being the last one out of camp because of the glasses situation. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just catch up to the others by the next water stop (in 20 miles). Well, we had been warned about some of the hills, especially the one on the way out of town. I thought I was prepared… but I turned that corner and tried to shift… and it didn’t shift. I just kept pedaling thinking it would catch eventually, and not only did it not catch, it locked up. I knew I was going down… so I braced for impact, leaned to the right, and hit the ground. OOOHH that was harder than I thought it was going to be! Also, there’s a bit of a ditch on the side of the road. I got the wind knocked out of me and laid there for a minute.

When I stood up, I debated about whether or not to call for assistance. I took stock – I was ok. No major scrapes or bruises. But man my ribs were sore. And my chain had come off. I sent in the text for help… “yup, I’m at 0.3 miles, and I need a mechanic.” I felt silly, but I knew it was the right thing to do. A few minutes later the mechanics rolled up and checked out my bike – and made sure I was ok. And we decided that me and the bike were ok to continue riding. At this point, the sweep rider had also shown up, so he stuck with me on the remainder of the ride. He’s worked at ski resorts before too, so he knew what to keep an eye out for with regard to my injury.

I had a tough time on another hill, just having difficulty taking a deep breath, but managed to make the 20 miles to the water stop. But at that point I decided it was time for a ride – in a vehicle. I was thinking I would be able to get back on the bike after the lunch stop, but once we got there and I talked with the ride medic, looked over the route and elevation for the next section, and confirmed with the ride director, I decided to call it a day. I’m not seriously injured, but I’m definitely sore enough to know my limits. After all – it’s day 1. I still have 4 more days and over 300 miles left to ride.

So the plan is to get a good night’s sleep and take stock in the morning. Hopefully I’m feeling up for the 52 miles on the agenda! If you're considering donating to my ride, please head on over to my fundraising page