Tag Archives: ms ride

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, 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.

MS Ride: Breakaway to the Beach Preview

Now that Bridge to Bridge is behind me, so goes the climbing. From here on out the big mountain rides are mostly finished. The riding challenges will certainly continue, but from now on they will be flat and lengthy.

That brings me to the MS Ride: Breakaway to the Beach. On Saturday I will ride 100 miles from Camden to Florence, SC. After a lot of grub, a little beer, and hopefully a good night’s sleep, I will then travel another 100 miles from Florence to Sunset Beach, NC, not too far from Myrtle Beach, SC. From there I will pack up my bike and take a bus back to Columbia, and drag my tired behind into work Monday morning.

It sounds exhausting even thinking about, but it really should be rather easy. I’m thinking of it as more of an adventure than a challenge. Don’t get me wrong – I am going to burn a ton of calories. But this is not going to be a ride where I push myself.

The focus on Saturday is going to be about the group ride, something I haven’t talked about enough on this blog. We have a paceline group of approximately 8 riders, all of whom have similar ability and are riding the century. Our goal is an 18 mph pace for the entire ride, which should not be a problem. There will be a handful of hills coming out of Camden and the rest of the way will be flat. We will probably end up closer to a 19 mph pace, maybe even higher, without pushing ourselves too much.

We have arranged to rotate riders around so that everyone is doing equal amount of work, and can subsequently conserve energy. The person on the front doing the ‘pulling’ will remain there a minute or two before rotating to the back. Everyone knows their roles and will communicate about cars, road hazards, or anything else that needs to be known.

The focus here is on the group working as a unit. We ride as a team, which means we will stay together no matter what. If someone has mechanical problems, we will all stop. If someone cannot keep up the pace, we will all slow down. And so on. The idea is to get there quickly in a safe and efficient manner.

In a way, this will be a training ride for my upcoming ride with the Spartanburg Freewheelers from Spartanburg to Charleston in one day. That will be an unfathomable 250 miles. Yes, in one day. Crazy, I know. A big focus on that ride will be working together as a group. Since I have been pushing myself with training for the past few months, it is something I have not focused on enough.

The double century miles will also help. This will be my third double of the year. The first was organized by some friends out of Santee in February. It was a 200k Saturday and a century on Sunday. Needless to say, it was tough given the early time of year and my inexperience as a cyclist. I have come a long way since. The other one was the Lake Hartwell Challenge of the Centuries. I had the proper training for that ride, but had some mishaps. I got lost on the first day and then had mechanical and heat issues on the second day. I finished without issue, but was more exhausted than I should have been.

The best thing is that my diet is over. Woohoo! Without the climbing, I don’t have to lighten the load to get myself up the mountains. I’m at a fine weight and a couple extra pounds wouldn’t kill me. So I am going to eat what I want within reason. And I won’t skimp with the carbs on ride weekend. Already this week I have eaten a lot of ice cream and cheese and crackers. Not at the same time. That would be disgusting.