Recently I participated in two charity bike rides, one 50 mile event called Go the Distance for Autism and one 100 mile event called Bike to the Beach. I don’t have a personal connection with autism, which is what both events were raising money for, and honestly any cause would have been fine. I would have ridden for no cause. I rode for me, I wanted to do it. I completed a 30 mile bike ride the previous year so I had some experience with going long distances. There are tougher things to do in life than ride a bicycle, if you stop moving your legs while running you stop, if you stop moving your legs on a bike you still move. Also it’s fun to bike and fun is good.
The first ride was on Sunday May 31st and the 2nd one was less than a week later on June 5th. I started training in the beginning of May by doing ~14 miles three times a week because practicing less than a third of the distance seemed like a good idea. I’m young, my body would figure it out.
My current bike was decades old with a flat tire, so I needed something better. Looking to save some money I went to Craigslist, and to my surprise, it wasn’t the best bike in the world. The guy I bought it from said it was practically brand new, and having done 5 minutes of research I believed him, but my neighbor and an experienced biker told me it was over a decade old. The front tire tube popped after my 2nd ride and the back tire tube popped re-inflating it… So basically I replaced my old broken down bike with one in worse condition.
I swear I bought Michael Bluth’s bike from Arrested Development, I didn’t even get a free TV. Buying anything that could potentially endanger your life while using it, well, maybe saving money shouldn’t have been my priority.
50 Mile Go the Distance for Autism Ride
I went into this thinking I didn’t want to leave anything left in the tank when I finished. I tried to stay with the fast bikers and that worked out okay until none of them stopped at the first rest stop. I skipped the first rest stop, but regretted it later. I wasn’t prepared for how many hills there would be, good thing I practiced on an entirely flat trail in preparation. It’s funny, on the first couple hills I was blowing passed people, I was like “I guess I’m just good at hills because I’m tall.” By mile 20 the hills weren’t a breeze anymore, they were exhausting, I would think “I can walk my bike up these hills right?” I wasn’t generous with the brakes on the way down either, a little reckless on a CRAIGSLIST BIKE, but my legs needed the rest. Speeding down hills felt like I was flying like a stormtrooper on Endor, but with less colliding full speed into giant trees.
Everyone wore bike shorts, and I’m an advocate for underwear in public kind of guy, but bike “shorts” are so tight they’re basically yoga pants in short form for all genders. I wore regular shorts over mine, I thought that was the norm, but I stood out. There was an all you can eat BBQ waiting for me at the finish line, amazing, but all the 10 and 25 miler riders devoured all the good food before I got there! It took 3 and a half hours to finish, and that feels like a good pace at ~14 mph, especially considering how many hills there were.
100 Mile Bike to the Beach Ride
5am start time, 4am registration, and a 2:45am alarm. The positive news was that the streets were deserted, the negative news was that it was 5am in the morning. I asked for two things on this bike ride, one from the bike and one from my body; no popped tires and no poops. Went over pleasantly well, especially considering there were so many riders stuck on the side of the road with flat tires.
Where I biked with strangers or alone in the previous event, this time I rode in a team. I loved the team dynamic, at intersections on the road the person in front would check and shout “clear” for the next person crossing and it went down the line until everyone crossed. Pointing out debris on the road for people behind you was also common practice, I found this adorable. I biked in the back of the team for most of the ride because I thought it was an important position, I could oversee everyone and help out if need be. Apparently it’s the easiest because the person in the back has the least wind resistance. Oops. My handlebars came loose at one point and I tried yanking them back into place while I was still moving… I wore biking gloves backwards for over 60 miles. I thought the fingerless gloves were useless, turns out I was just a dumbass.
The first rest stop was 20 miles in at the beach…I didn’t expect to arrive at the beach so quickly, they should have called the event “bike to the beach, then keep biking.” During this ride I stopped at every rest stop. It was more of a social event where one could stretch, eat snacks, and replenish water. Some of the things I ate.
2 protein bars
4 energy gels
A slice of pizza
4 bags of protein gummies
2 bags of welch’s fruit snacks
An italian sub
Water…all the water.
And it wasn’t enough! More food!
I loved waving to strangers during the ride because usually I got a positive response and people would cheer me on. You can’t wave to strangers walking, I’ve tried, it doesn’t work, you come off as a total weirdo. On a boat or on a bike waving to people is normal, but walking or in a car it usually doesn’t work as well. In school waving hi to someone always cheered me up, and during this I was in a good mood and wanted to spread the joy.
My friend biking with me hadn’t practiced for it at all and couldn’t physically sit down because of the pain in his butt. He biked standing up for 80 miles…insane. His dad brought butt cream and offered me some, but you don’t share butt cream. The container doesn’t come in contact with butts or anything gross like that, but you just don’t share butt cream. There was a guy at one of the first stops handing out free butt cream like he was selling hot dogs at Citi Field. It was a little weird, but people were happy to take a stranger’s butt cream.
I expected to collapse at the beach after 100 miles, some sort of ramp scenario launching me into the ocean. It would have been one of the best feelings in the world, but instead the finish line was at some random bar on the BAY side. I don’t know what this bar did to earn being the finish line, they better have donated tons of money, but I was expecting a buffet. There was a buffet at the 50 mile event and since this was double the miles I expected double the food. I held back at the rest stops, I could have been eating more food! Technically I finished a 100 mile run…all it took was a bike to make it easier.
People finished before 12 apparently, that’s ridiculous. Our little group finished after 3 and that was good enough to finish in the top 30. There was perfect weather during both rides, overcast that got sunny at the end. It took me 10 hours to finish the 100 miles, but 3 and a half to finish the 50 miles. I enjoyed the 100 miler more than the 50 miler, but I felt more accomplished doing the 50 miler. I’m a lazy guy, it’s why blog posts are so infrequent, but doing these bike rides made me feel like I accomplished something. Even though it wasn’t my main goal when signing up for these events I’m glad I was able to help some good causes. The distances may sound intimidating to some, but with minimal training I think most people could accomplish what I was able to do. I had a lot of fun doing both and I highly recommend people trying something similar as well.