Tag Archives: bike ms

Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach – Final Thoughts

Starting Line for Day 2

Day One – Ride Report
Day Two – Ride Report

I’ll be honest that before participating, I was warned about the convoluted logistics of putting this type of event together. From what others told me, my expectation was that it would be a major hassle and constant inconvenience. It sounds like there have been issues in previous years, but I found nothing of the sort. The opposite was true. For an event of this scale, I was surprised at how invisible the logistical arms moved. The only thing really inconvenient was the wake-up time on Day 2, but frankly, getting up that early was probably for the best. It made me more prepared to ride when everything started.

The MS Ride was a blast. I had an amazing time and cannot wait to do it again. Here are some my favorite things.

Lunch. I love the fact that they had designated lunch spots with wholesome meals. I firmly believe that an endurance athlete requires something substantial to eat sometime during the day. Gel packets and Clif bars do not cut it for eight hours. On most rides I will make do with rest stop fare. That is usually PBJ sandwiches, fig newtons or cookies. At the MS Ride, they had actual sandwiches with pasta salad, chips, etc. and a place to sit down and take a break. Even though I didn’t take advantage of the resting time on the second day, it was great for the first day when we rode casually as a team.

Park and Eat

Showers. This is something usually overlooked after a long ride. After 50, 75 or 100 miles, a cyclist is going to be uncomfortable, not to mention smelly. If there are any sort of festivities without a shower, they will likely get very little attention. Usually I’ll grab a bite to eat and get going. Since the MS Ride is both a social and fitness event, it makes sense that we have a chance to clean up before engaging with each other.

Amenities. Getting a massage after a hard ride is sublime. BikeMS did a great job at hiring good people and making them accessible to the riders for a nominal fee. Other frills were also great, like the Pepsi trucks, the Ice Cream bars, good food, etc.

Beer. I can’t think of many cyclists who don’t like beer. It was nice to have it available in decent quantity at the Francis Marion event. They even had Fat Tire, a favorite of cyclists. It is no surprise that it didn’t last nearly as long as Budweiser or Mich Ultra. There was a four drink maximum. I took advantage of three on Saturday because I was riding Sunday. You know, responsibility.

The Beach. The coolest thing is that we actually ride to a fun destination. A number of people combined the ride with their own vacations. My only regret is I didn’t realize that I could ride to the beach after finishing. I gave my bike to the volunteers almost immediately after finishing. That wasn’t going to keep me from the beach, so me and a friend ended up walking. When we were there, we walked the pier and saw other cyclists had taken their bikes and jumped on with jerseys and bib numbers intact. They probably didn’t have the most comfortable ride home, but I totally get it. Next year I’m riding the rest of the way.

Three Riders Replacing Sweat Salt with Ocean Salt

The Crowd and Volunteers. I always make it a habit to thank volunteers at every rest stop. Having recently done it myself, I understand that they volunteers give a lot of themselves. This was the only ride where the volunteers enthusiastically thanked me. I think that was just because of the charitable nature of the ride, that we were doing this for such a great cause. They were thrilled to help and it showed. Many of them applauded and they made us feel constantly welcome.

One of the many hospitable rest stops

The Stories. The guy who owns the bike pictured below attempted a double century. There was another rider who completed a double century on a mountain bike with massive tires. I met some great people along the way. I met another couple who had never ridden more than 25 miles at a time, and that was only on the Swamp Rabbit Trail outside of Greenville, yet they completed all 125 miles of the MS Ride. Now that is some dedication. On the second day when riding fast, I passed a lot of the 50-mile riders en route to the finish line. Many of these people were not athletes and did not have the top of the line road bike. They were just regular people riding casually for charity. When passing, I always tried to acknowledge them and give encouragement. There were a lot of returned, appreciative smiles.

What is this thing anyway?

Thanks to all involved for putting up this event. Here are some more photos:

Sunset Beach Pier

Getting close to sunset

We had fun even when hiding from the rain

Double Century = done!

Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach, 2011, Florence, SC – Day Two

I thoroughly enjoyed the team paceline for the first leg of this double century. Day two, on the other hand, was going to be completely different. Most of my teammates either went home on Saturday or participated in the shorter 50-mile ride. This left me as a free agent and the first real test of my cycling legs on flat terrain. I had already competed two double centuries this year, but both times had been exhausted at the end.

MS 150 start out of Florence

I felt great for the Sunday ride, perhaps better than I have ever felt on the bike. Oddly enough, I had a slight head cold, which I had been battling for a week. On the bike, for some reason, the stuffiness was gone. My body felt strong as ever.

Since the MS Ride is supported so well, I knew I could take the chance of going out strong early. If I went too hard, I could slow down in the second half without consequence. With rest stops approximately every 10 miles, I would hardly be lacking for supplies. So I decided to go for it.

When we lined up in the morning, I wanted to keep my eye on the lead pack. Unfortunately I forgot that they release riders in waves of 100 people at a time. I was around mid-way through the second wave, so I knew that I would have to push early to get with the better group. I moved ahead and managed to jump on the back of the Blood, Sweat and Gears team out of Denver, NC (no relation to the century ride out of Boone, NC). They were at the perfect pace, around 21-22 mph, and together we passed all the second wave riders and caught most of the first wave. I discovered later that they were the second fastest group at the time.

Blood, Sweat and Gears paceline

I drafted with the BSG team for around 30 miles until we all stopped at a rest stop. They took their time, apparently waiting on their slower riders. I could appreciate that, but was plenty rested and had the flexibility to look elsewhere. I hooked up with two others who had also picked up on the BSG group. Rather than wait around, we decided to go on our own just to keep moving, thinking the BSG group would eventually catch us. That didn’t happen. We eventually picked up other stragglers who skipped that rest stop, and we ended up with a paceline of around eight riders. That was perfect, and we were able to keep the 21-22 mph pace.

When we arrived at the lunch spot, the front group was heading out. Not wanting to stop long, I quickly consumed my sandwich and looked for others, but everyone was content at the dining table. There were now again three of us who wanted to go ahead. One of the guys could not keep our pace and dropped shortly after lunch. The other guy was Jon, a triathlete out of Salisbury, NC.

Jon from Salisbury

Jon and I got to know each other well for the next 30 miles or so. Just like before, we went at a good pace and figured we would eventually be caught. By now we were facing constant headwind, which was brutal at times. Our pace had slowed to 19-20 mph as we took turned pulling a couple miles at a time. This was extremely hard work and it was taking its toll. We were both getting tired. Jon really needed to rest and somewhere around mile 75 he decided to take the next rest stop. I was tired, but could continue. As luck would have it, another group turned up right about that time. I jumped on with them and Jon took the rest stop.

This was a larger group of around 5 riders. They had fresher legs than I did at the time, so sitting in with them was a nice chance for me to recover. They took the next rest stop and by that time I was ready. We took a little longer than we should have, and as we are heading out, Jon from Salisbury showed up and rejoined the group. We kept around the same pace going in — about 19-20 into the wind, which was most of the time, and when we turned south we could keep a 22-23 pace.

Destination: The Beach!

By mile 90, the two days were taking a toll. My quads were starting to burn and I was very uncomfortable in the seat. I kept on, inspired by the sun coming out and the smell of the beach in the air. It was a refreshing sight to see hints of the beach ahead, and an exhilarating feeling to cross the finish line to overwhelming applause and be handed a medal.

Mission Accomplished!

I ended up with just above a 20 mph average for the day, which was one of my fastest centuries and without question the easiest double century. After I settled down, I still felt surprisingly strong, not as sore as usual after a tough ride. It feels great to see these kinds of results from all the hard work I’ve put in this year.

GPS Link

Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach, 2011, Camden, SC – Day One


Peter Wilborn’s article has been circulating around the cycling blogosphere about the ‘Lost Art of the Group Ride.’ It is a good read, highly recommended and he makes some great points. I am certainly guilty of some of the behavior that Peter describes. Somedays I have one speed — as fast as my legs will take me. Sometimes it takes a lot of work for me to try and ride at everyone else’s pace.

Which brings me to the MS Ride, the first day of a double century for a great cause. I rode with team Perez Pedalers and it really was a team effort the whole way. Peter Wilborn would be proud. Eight riders took turns at the front, shifting every 2-3 minutes or so if circumstances allowed. The focus was on riding together through the good times and bad. That meant that if someone had a mechanical issue, we would wait. If someone could not keep a pace, we would slow down.

We were a well-oiled machine today and this ended up being my easiest century ride ever.

We started bright and early in Camden, SC. We just missed a storm when the ride began, but it would find us later. After maintaining a steady pace for the first dozen miles and getting over a flat tire, we started feeling some raindrops. They started coming down harder at our first rest stop, about 30 miles in. Once back on the road, it really started coming down. We tried to ride through it and succeeded for awhile, until it was finally enough.


The rainfall became torrential and we pulled to the side of the road to wait it out. We borrowed the front porch of an empty building and sat there maybe ten minutes before it lightened up. It was still raining, but was no longer dangerous. We rode as well as we could, getting drenched in the process.

It was just a small storm system and we thought we would pass it soon. At that time of the century route, we made a little loop while the shorter route went straight through. This meant that we kept on turning into the storm even though we could see clear skies in the other direction. It was frustrating to think we would escape, only to be turned right back into the mess. In total, we ended up riding in it for around two hours. Fortunately once we were out, we were out. It would be sunny skies the rest of the way.

At 66 miles we had lunch and almost everyone felt great. The paceline was working just as we had hoped. There was one person who was starting to wear, and was worried that she was slowing us down. She even suggested going with another, slower group. Not a chance. We wouldn’t even entertain the idea. We started together and would finish together. As it turned out, this person found her rhythm in the second half and finished strong.


The group continued to glide together, but a few people were wearing down a bit. As we got closer to Florence, SC, a couple hills were in our way and that mixed up the cadence. A few people had never been on a ride this long and they were getting tired. I felt great so decided to take one for the team. I decided to take a long pull, which ended up being around seven miles. One of the riders said he was getting tired at 18 mph, so I tried to stay below. To my surprise, people were saying that was too slow. I kicked it up to 20 mph and stayed there for most of the pull.


We finished strong, and more importantly, we finished together. We shared BBQ, beer and laughter afterward.

GPS Link

Tomorrow will be another 100 for me without the pack. Depending how I feel, I might go for speed. Since the course is flat, I should be able to manage 20 mph the entire way. We will see.