This past weekend I completed the ODRAM – One Day Ride Across Michigan with a couple of coworkers. The map over there shows the route for those who are curious. The mileage ended up at 148.6 miles, so it’s not my longest ride yet, but it may have been the toughest. There were so many challenges present that made finishing difficult, but I did finish! Just a few notes from that day.
We set off just after 7am and right at the beginning of the ride we were rerouted. We had come upon some sort of scene, there was a roadblock, an ambulance, police, etc. Something bad had definitely gone down. The detour added a couple of miles, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t much, but it’s more challenge. As soon as we rerouted, we all started discussing the cause. We heard various murmurings, but couldn’t be sure of what happened until the finish line and even more after the event. It turns out that one of the participants in the event had been killed by a hit and run incident. More details on that here for anyone interested. An incident like that can definitely affect the spirit of the group, but the community was strong on this ride and the riders pressed on determined to complete the ride and motivate others to do the same.
Next up was the weather. Everyone who lives around here knows the prevailing winds are out of the west, I’m sure that’s why the route goes from west to east. You can plan this ride and generally assume that the winds will be favourable. But not this time, oh no! We were lucky enough to have the winds flip so that we could enjoy a brisk 15mph headwind for the entire route. That’s the fun part of doing a one direction ride versus a loop or an out and back. On a ride like this, if you get screwed by the wind, you are screwed the whole way… and we were!
We had been checking the weather for the whole week leading up to the ride. There was little to no chance of rain for any of the planned drive or ride. I absolutely hate when my bike gets wet. It gets crap on it, the lube gets washed off, etc. I had spent a good amount of time getting my bike ready for this ride. I can handle it getting dirty, but on a ride like this, I wanted all the pieces and parts to be well lubed. Well you can be darned sure that about halfway to the start, it started raining, and rained on and off the rest of the drive. Still, that wouldn’t be too bad. The night before the ride we checked the weather… chances of rain overnight. OK, no problem. We woke up early and it hadn’t rained. Cool, no wet roads. Check the weather again, no real chance of rain until 8pm – great. About an hour into the ride the rain started falling and that carried us on through until lunch stop pretty much. C’mon weather, no breaks at all? None? Really? For me, that was one of the hardest parts. Riding across the state in the rain with a strong headwind while pretty much going uphill the whole way.
And then my knee. You can see the stats graphs on the left here and you can pretty much see where it happened. We did so much climbing and I felt pretty solid despite the weather. I had put in a good amount of effort and I was really looking forward to hammering when the downhill trend came around. But just after the lunch stop I was on one of the climbs and my knee kind of popped – and then I couldn’t put any pressure on it at all. It was absolutely excruciating and made me feel ill if I tried to push. I was unable to stand in me pedals at all to relieve any butt pressure and I could only pedal with one leg. You can pretty much see it in my stats… my speed and heart rate go flat and I just had to limp in the last 70ish miles. That was a complete bummer, I was really looking forward to a fun, spirited finish on this ride getting to ramp that speed up. No dice, I just had to pedal with one leg.
Now I want to finish up this article with the pluses and not just talk about the challenges. Sure, I ran into some issues, but the ride was still great. This was a really well organized ride. We got to preregister the night before which was handy. We got a cool goody bag plus they had a tonne of stuff available to buy. We enjoyed the all you can eat spaghetti dinner (challenge accepted), and even the crappy hotel, where we somehow got decent sleep. There were well placed snack and lunch spots that were stocked with great food, and the whole event was staffed by volunteers that were the absolute best. II just felt like they wanted to be there, they wanted to help, and the wanted to make our ride great.
In all, I enjoyed the heck out of this ride. I have a list that I’m developing of organized rides I’ll return to year after year, and this one definitely made the cut. Now that we’ve done one, we can figure out ways to make it work a bit better (I literally crossed Michigan 4 times in a 24 hour period for this). I’m already looking forward to next year, I hope Ma Nature plays nice for 2016! Big thanks to everyone who helps put this event together every year, it’s a badass event you’ve got going!
And for the friends and family of the girl who was senselessly killed, my thoughts and deepest sympathies are with you. I hope you can find comfort knowing she was doing what she loved while participating in an amazing event with a truly great community!