This weekend I rode in the Sam’s Club MS-150, a two day, 157 mile ride from Frisco to Fort Worth. This was the third of three big Spring events I had planned (here’s #1 and here’s #2). Last year Team ThinkCash fielded 7 riders for this event. This year, only 4 of us returned — me, Stephen, BenC, and Kyle — plus one new rider, Anthony.
Here’s how things unfolded:
Up at 4:30am for a 5:15 departure to Frisco. Corley, our marketing intern at ThinkCash, was gracious enough to drive us to Frisco for the start (she said it was the earliest she had ever gotten up!). Having done a few of these MS-150’s now, I’ve learned that one of the keys to success is to get a jump on the main field. So we started a couple blocks ahead of the official start.
The weather is another key, and on Saturday we had sunny skies, but morning temps in the 40’s with 20-30mph winds. As we got rolling at around 7am, all of us were shivering (unusual for May in Texas). It seems that every time I do one of these events, the headwinds are unusually strong, and this time was no exception. The winds were out of the northwest, and if you look at a map of our day 1 route, you’ll see that at least 50 of the 82 miles we covered were into the wind.
Despite the wind, we made pretty good time and I ended up finishing at about 11:30am. I even got interviewed a couple of times at the finish line — a small taste of what it’s like to be a pro tour rider.
Last year in this event, my bro-in-law Stephen injured his achilles tendon and has been struggling with it ever since. Coming into this year’s event, he thought he had it licked, but it flared up again after Day 1. So Stephen decided to “drive the support vehicle” today — meaning that he’d sleep in and grab a leisurely pancake breakfast at the hotel, while the rest of us suffered through another cold morning. To be honest I was a little envious — I had pushed myself hard on Day 1 and felt pretty rough. But I resisted the urge to crawl back into bed and went downstairs to meet the rest of the crew. Much to my dismay, the hotel restaurant was not open and there was no food to be found. Keep this in mind as you keep reading.
BenC didn’t ride on Day 1 but was able to join us today. He hadn’t registered for the full event because he recently had a baby. We got rolling at about 6:45. Fortunately the winds had died down overnight, so Anthony, Ben, and I were able to make really good time. In fact, about 20 miles into the ride, we realized that we were in the lead — #1, 2, & 3 out of 3200 riders. It was a pretty cool feeling, but one that didn’t last long because two racers came by us a couple of minutes later.
Ben was super-strong today and pretty much pulled us the whole 75 miles (meaning he was out in front breaking through the wind and we were drafting behind him). And it’s a good thing because I completely “bonked” about 50 miles into the ride. This hasn’t happened to me in a long time and I think it had everything to do with missing breakfast. You just can’t ride 82 miles and then try to do it again the next day without fueling up properly. We still finished near the front with a respectable average speed (and ahead of Lance Armstrong’s coach, Chris Carmichael), but it involved a lot of suffering for me.
I’ve now completed four MS-150’s in the year and a half I’ve been cycling. They’re always challenging and fun, but I’m ready for a break. After all, I only started cycling to increase my fitness for rock climbing but lately it feels the other way around. I had been thinking about trying my hand at racing, but I’ve decided that I just don’t have enough time to commit to be competitive. I’m happy just riding with friends and doing charity events.
A BIG thanks to Megan for taking care of the girls while I was away for my Spring events. She has an event of her own (of the more relaxing variety) in a couple of weeks, so I’ll get to return the favor at least partially.
P.S. I’ll post pictures from the MS-150 as soon as I get them.