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Monday, September 10, 2012

Biking for Brains

My friend Brian Gallmeyer refers to this ride, routinely, as "Bike for Brains."

It's probably an unintentionally accurate assessment of why most of the hundreds of riders who turn out for this ride do what they do.  It's Labor Day, the weather is beautiful, so mental health seems as good a reason as any to go on a long, fun ride.

I was guilty of the same thinking in m first to trip son Bike MS: even though I know a couple of victims of MS, I was really just there for the party.  I'm not certain how helpful my fundraising efforts actually were, but it seems a worthy cause.

There were some wounded Vets riding across the country who joined in. As we went down Lamar to Southwest, one in a hand-trike broke out and zipped down the hill past everyone. Down on Merriam Lane, one of his teammates was chewing him out for being so reckless, and he said, 'What? I kept it to 57."

Those recumbent trikes don't have much wind resistance. I don't know how that chap got disabled in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I bet he joined the army because he is an adrenaline junkie.

Corinna set up a booth at the event, and I wanted to get a Century in since I hadn't done that this year. B4B doesn't have a Century route, they have every other distance from 10 or something like that to 70, a 70 Ken Sonnensheim assured me felt like a Century (he wasn't lying). So we left the house around 5:00 a.m., and after arriving at the staging ground together I went off on a short ride and had breakfast.

Buying breakfast, I realized I'd left my wallet at home. I had a little folding money, most of it going to the cause of breakfast, but I was hard put to figure out how I was going to pay the entry fee with no debit card and less than ten bucks on me. I'd gotten seventeen miles in before the start myself and I honestly figured I might as well poach the whole ride.

The organizers (even if I know them and like them) don't own these streets, after all, and since I probably can't keep up with 80% of the riders on speed, I might as well just go on a bike ride, even if it happens to coincide with their highly organized group ride for charity.

This worked out in practice more or less like theory until I was down on Holiday Drive heading into the suburban sprawl wilderness of West Shawnee. A SAG driver gave me waters and told me the next rest stop was about two miles away.

Five miles later (car people are terrible at approximating distances), I found this SAG stop, at a Casey's out in an area that was so remote back when I was in high school, I used it as a destination on dates with girls I hoped were sexually adventurous and/or irresponsible. It's all built up now, a staggering array of large, identical custom houses.

The SAG stop had free sandwiches, water, and even Casey's pizza, all you cared to stuff down your gullet.  Which, for me, turned out to be six slices of pepperoni.  That was a mistake, because I was cramping a bit when I got there, and with that kind of hydration deficit, it's imperative that you leave room for liquids in your stomach.

So the cramps didn't let up as I went on through some of the most brutal hills Shawnee has to offer.  On one climb, my thighs started cramping and I dismounted to stretch them, and as I walked stiff-legged, I realized that it felt like such a relief I just walked the bike the rest of the way to the top of that hill.  Where the SAG truck was waiting, hoping I'd cry 'Uncle' and let him take me back to my car.

I got to know the SAG guys pretty well by the time I was in Olathe.

Of course, they figured my car was back at the start of Bike For the Brain—so seeing I was struggling, they wanted to give me a ride back to the start of the ride.  In reality, my car was in Waldo, at my work.  Where I'd left it a few days earlier.  This is a bike ride, but you still run into lots of people who don't undersand cars aren't the only way people get around.

I had finally gotten mostly ahead of the cramps situation in terms of hydration, but they told me they wanted to pull me in because the organizers wanted to close the course.  I'd be on a bicycle home from there, I explained again, and they gave up trying to get me off the bike.

If I'd gotten in that truck, cooled off all the way, it would have been a nightmare setting out to ride again, and no way I'd get my century at that point.

I didn't quite finish the course.  It went up Quivira to Johnson Drive and then back to Mission.  Climbing Johnson Drive from Antioch to Metcalf is a stretch I'll avoid if I have the choice.  You can do it, take the lane, but Johnson County drivers tend to be slow on the uptake that this means you're a vehicle, so you're more likely to get buzzed.  Going super slow because of a long, steep climb aggravates this problem.  Since the organizers were packing up while I was still down at 119th or so, it just didn't make any sense to route myself where I didn't want to ride.

Corinna and Gallmeyer eventually met up with me and me at the Merriam Farmer's Market.  Gallmeyer had 93 miles in for the day already and was on his way to ride home and get his mountain bike so he could ride over to the Plaza and play Frizz.  I'm guessing this put him up around 120 miles by the time the day was over, but that's Gallmeyer.

Corinna was operating on one lung, effectively, getting over a bad case of bronchitis.  Still, she rode about 40 miles, accompanying me out by the Isle of Capris and on an extra insurance loop through the West Bottoms and out to 38th Street in KCK before we wound up at home.  I set my PR, 109.87 miles, a little over a mile better than my previous record.

The milage reads like a countdown: 10-9-8-7.

When I thought about all the SAG assistance I'd accepted on the ride, I couldn't go through with the poaching, though.  I went and made a $30 donation on the Bike 4 the Brain site in honor of the SAG crew.

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