MS150 Bicycle Ride Duluth to Twin Cities Recap

This weekend, Kevin and I participated in the MS150 ride from Duluth to Minneapolis
for months in advance, we worked on our fundraising strategy
wanting to be creative in the ask method
I sought advice from my sister, who easily rattled off a few ideas
that could serve as sponsorship opportunities
and a list was soon created that ranged from classic spoke beads to orange hair dye.

The ideas worked better than planned and soon I had to prepare myself and bicycle:
a couple nights were set aside to hammer out wood beads,
printed logo and text on a self-sewn flag and sign.
The flag especially sparked many compliments and conversations on our ride.
One agency had donated the eligible amount to receive a logo that flapped through my entire ride
and a guy slowed as he passed me to inquire on the agency’s location whereabouts
while others simply called out “great flag” as we rode.

As rookies, some of the logistics were completely new to us
upon arriving for check in, we loaded our bikes on one truck,
then pulled our bags over to the coach buses to locate Team Andersen.
A few minutes later and we were onboard, heading to Duluth
and soon realizing that no other Andersen riders would be tenting that weekend.
Being more accustomed to Iowa’s Ragbrai, we hadn’t thought that hotel accommodations
would be more convenient in the towns we would be stopping at.

Jen setting up the tent on MS150

Saturday morning, we planned to get up around 5:30 to get ready,
pack and load our tent, get our bags on the semi, and grab breakfast.
Little did we know that our tent city was planning to wake at 4AM,
so after listening to the sounds for a bit, we finally gave in ourselves.
Again, not realizing that the 4,000 other riders would take resources,
we didn’t actually sit our butts in our bike seats until 7 or 7:30 AM.

Jen bike coral MS150

The ride on the first day was mostly trails
and trying to pace yourself knowing that today would be easier than tomorrow
yet wanting to keep a quick ride and feeling pressure from the riders ahead of us.
But dividing the day’s ride into legs separated by rest stops
proved to be the best strategy for fueling up on food, water, and a quick rest
before doing another hour or hour and a half ride to the next stop.

rest stop sign first day ms150

I quickly found that I wasn’t staying hydrated enough
and with major cramps in both quads, I was hurting badly by mid-day
before Kevin caught on and started forcing me to drink entire bottles before continuing.
And both Kevin and I each had a separate moment that day of panic
mine came after a hard stretch of quick riding
suddenly a steep hill appeared out of nowhere that caught many riders off guard
the top of the hill was lined with riders stopping to rest
and I was right there thinking “what did I sign up for?”
Kevin’s came later during a longer leg and seeing a girl hauled on a stretcher
left us with no one in front to draft
though some peanuts and Aleve quickly got him back in the saddle.

Jen and Kevin on day 1 of the MS150

After arriving at Hinckley Saturday afternoon, we pitched tent again,
took showers to wash away the road grime and sweat,
caught up with our team for photos,
ate dinner, walked around the casino to soak up some air conditioning,
then headed to bed hoping for a good nights sleep.
But by then, the wind had really picked up
and around 1AM, we were wide awake with our tent snapping in the breeze.

tent city on day 1 of the MS150

By morning, we knew the procedure and were ready to hit the roads early
to avoid whatever heat and wind we could.
By 6:30 AM, we reluctantly settled our butts back into our saddles
for another 70+ miles or trails and highway riding.
Knowing that drafting was our best bet to conquer the high winds,
we decided to face our fears and ride with Team Andersen
(not really knowing what their abilities were and wanting to avoid foolishness).
At the second rest stop, we caught up with a large group
and the camaraderie was great as we took turns leading,
and our team captain, Bill, drifted back to chat or make sure we were still hanging on.

Kevin with his bike on day 1 of the MS150

Unfortunately, we lost that group during our long lunch break,
but as we rode, it didn’t take long to catch up with a group of Andersen finance gals
who were a bit slower but steady in their speed,
and as the wind and heat rose, this turned out to be a great strategy.
As we rode, others kept joining our draft
and at one point about 20 of us were drafting in a line pulling and pushing each other.
We heard that while others on the ride were forced to stop every few miles
during those stretches to fill water bottles or regroup,
we just kept moving slowly towards the next rest stop.

The last stretch, though only 8 miles long
was mentally straining for me as we rode through residential streets of White Bear.
Riding past people spraying us with ice cold water,
we finally came up to the dreaded last hill and then a right turn
and the finish line was finally in sight!
Hearing the cheers from our fellow teammates who had already finished,
and other supporters who stood on the sidelines was truly amazing.

Kevin and Jennifer Lind cross the finish line of the MS150 ride

From fundraising to tenting outdoors in a camp when sleep is needed, to riding straight into the wind,
it was downright hard work
but somehow luck was on our side and we survived with little damage.
Not a tire burst and I didn’t even fall over when disengaging my pedals
(which can happen frequently on even a short cruise around town).

We are sending kudos to everyone who showed their support
our sponsors, our bicycle shop, fellow teammates, and family
thank you for believing in us!

We put together a few learnings and stats below for those interested in getting the down-low on the MS150 from our perspective.

MS150 Ride Learnings:

  • Frequent sayings: “on your left”, “car back”, point to road wash out, pot hole, crack, rubber line, etc, for person behind
  • Be sure to catch the person’s name you are drafting because it’s not good manners to only recognize someone by their backside
  • After a few 20 or 30 potholes and large cracks, it’s ok to stop pointing them out
  • You know you rode the MS150 when you are avoiding potholes while driving to work
  • If you are already klutzy, don’t try pulling out your water bottle when coming up to an intersection while both passing and being passed.
  • Star Wars fruit snacks are great motivators!
  • Be sure to put sunscreen on your forehead or you will end up with a couple red circle spots from your helmet
  • We are still not sure how one would train for this ride

MS150 Stats:
Team Andersen:
85 people on the team
83 of us crossed the finish line
compared to 1/3 of the total riders who called it quits early

Team Andersen $ Raised: Over $41K
Lind $ Raised: $905

Day 1:
Proctor MN to Hinckley MN
72.5 miles
5 hours, 32 minutes of riding time
88 degrees F
Sustained wind speed of 10 mph with gusts up to 23 mph

Day 2:
Hinckley MN to White Bear Lake MN
75 miles
6 hours, 13 minutes of riding time
91 degrees F
Sustained wind speed of 25 mph with gusts up to 38 mph
More details on the temperature and wind speed on Sunday

2 thoughts on “MS150 Bicycle Ride Duluth to Twin Cities Recap

  1. Pingback: New Years Resolutions « Linds of MN Blogtog

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s