Tour de Cure 2008

Sunday I rode in the Tour de Cure, a charity ride to support diabetes research via the American Diabetes Association. It was predicted to be hot and humid and it was, although starting out at 7:30 it didn't get too bad until near the end. The ride choices were 10, 30, 50, 62.5 and 100 miles. I chose to ride the 100K (62.5 miles, 63.9 by my computer) as I thought that would be a good challenge since I have recently ridden 50 and 60 miles (mostly flat) OK.
The first thing I observed (not that I didn't already know it) is that cycling is largely an affluent sport. I felt a little isolated and out of place with my beater '95 GEO and "vintage" stem shifter Raleigh. I'm sure there were others there but I suppose the 100K and century riders were the more "serious" cyclists.
The 100K group started at 7:30. After a few miles I noticed some odd noises which I thought might be my rider number which I had pinned to my Camelback flapping in the wind. At mile 7, a rider passed me and said "Do you know your rear wheel is wobbling really bad?" I immediately knew what had happened. Broken spokes. I had 3 broken spokes on the rear wheel replaced about 2 weeks ago and Matt at Mad Dog warned me that others might break but I had hoped the wheel would hold up through the 2 benefit rides I had scheduled for June. I guess not.
Rider after rider passed me telling me that my rear wheel was wobbling. "Yes, I know. Thank you," I said, trying to keep the cynicism and irritation out of my voice. Of course what I was upset most about was the possibility of not being able to finish the ride. Replacing spokes or even the whole wheel was trivial but it wasn't likely to happen here. I had been checking the wheel too, and it was fine on my last ride so I thought it a cruel twist that they should break right at the beginning of the first important ride of my biking "career". I'm thinking that people are going to think "yeah, retro-man is out of his class and he just made up an excuse to quit." I determined to ride to the first rest stop and maybe seek out a mechanic to see if he could possibly do anything that would allow me to continue riding. I knew there was little chance they were going to have spare spokes or a 27" wheel or even the time to change either out.
At the rest stop they told me the mechanic's wagon would be a half hour yet. The wheel was rubbing on the brake pads with every rotation so I just disconnected the rear brake. I decided to keep going. I remembered that I had ridden the bike before with broken spokes so I thought with luck, I could go a few more miles. What's the worst that could happen? The wheel could suddenly collapse while going fast downhill and I could crash although it would probably be less likely or serious if it did happen than if something happened to the front wheel. It would be at most a minute before somebody would come by plus you had all the EMTs around and other support vehicles cruising the route so it's the best situation for something like that to happen. More likely, more spokes would break and I would just stop from the wheel being unridable. So, I kept going.
Believe me, it seemed like EVERYBODY was passing me. Once I got over the ignominy of that and I was mostly alone, I enjoyed the ride. What I like most about cycling is the time alone in the outdoors enjoying the sights, sounds and fragrances of nature, the smooth, rhythmic activity of pedaling and constant breeze of motion in my face. There was a long, flat, shady section with virtually no car traffic along the Hudson River. Heavenly!
I stopped at every rest stop. They were serving Nuun, a sugar-free electrolyte replacement drink. There was lots of ice, water, bananas, oranges, pretzels, etc.
After 20 miles or so I began to think maybe I can finish this thing even with the bad wheel. At about the halfway point the route headed east into some hilly farm country, very beautiful but more challenging especially as the day got warmer. At the 42 mile rest stop there was a mechanic who offered help. At this point my wheel was hitting the chain stay. He tightened up a few spokes and managed to straighten the wheel enough for me to continue in a little better shape.
The only physical problem I encountered on the ride was between this rest stop and the last, about 13 miles. The smaller 3 toes on each foot started to hurt really bad, almost unbearable but I was determined to not get off the bike until the last rest stop. At the rest stop the pain went away almost immediately when I clipped out and took a few steps on the ground. It was probably dumb to suffer like that when a minutes rest would have helped but I am stubborn that way.
The rest of the ride, another 10 miles, was uneventful but I was glad to see the end. I would like to say I was jubilant but it was hard to muster a smile for the crowd at the finish and my wife's camera. I suppose I was spent. I weighed 4 pounds less than when I started out that morning even though I tried to drink as often as I could. I found that toward the end, I had to make a conscious effort to grab that bottle of Nuun and drink. Even that little extra effort was too much. I felt much better after lunch, ice cream and a nap! My first stop was not home but the bike shop to buy a new wheel. I told Matt that once I got home I would not be getting off the couch before he closed at 5PM! ;-)
Here I am at the finish:

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  1. Anonymous Says:

    Fantastic!!!! I am not surprised....Hey maybe we are getting "better" rather than "older"....

  2. MTB Man Says:

    Thanks, Fred. Anyway we have to keep telling ourselves that, right?

  3. Stephanie Says:

    You are tenacious! Good job on the finish! And thanks for sharing the story. My favorite things are also the quiet times, sights, sounds, smells; being in the moment and connected to my surroundings and my body, and not living like I normally do in the details that are spinning around in my head.

    I’m a little late sharing the news of my finish last weekend, but I’ll post about my adventure soon.