Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Amazing Bike Race

On Sunday, Ed and I did The Amazing Bike Race, which totally lived up to its name. (In addition to being amazing, all proceeds benefitted a team doing the Pan-Mass Challenge.) It was about 62 miles on an unknown course, about 30% off-road, with a start/finish about 5 miles from our house. Perfect! Only 10 people entered, which was too bad, because this event was soooo fun. We broke up into 4 teams of 2 or 3 people.

Here's the pre-race meeting.

When we heard that the prologue was a trivia question designed to really make us think and spread the teams out at the start, I turned to Ed and whispered, "I hope it's a math problem." It wasn't, but we rocked the prologue anyway (we had to write down all the TdF winners since 1990 in order). However, our lead was short-lived. We missed a course marking about 1 mile from the start and were in 2nd place heading into the first off-road section in Lexington.

We rode through some choice trails in Lexington, including the Landlocked Forest, where I fell off a plank bridge. My tires were at 50 psi, higher than I would normally run because of the road riding, so my lack of finesse getting on the bridge ended up launching my front wheel in the air and then me, plus the bike, over the side. Fortunately I escaped with some small scratches and bruises. Then we rode a great dirt bike path in Lexington that I know I've been on before but probably can't find again before arriving at the first checkpoint. I think it was in Billerica. We opted for the crossword challenge over the riding-an-obstacle-course-with-an-egg-on-a-spoon challenge. One of the crossword answers (local bike race announcer) was Richard Fries.

Waiting to have the crossword checked.

We rode the powerlines in Burlington (sandy and difficult), the Mill Pond Reservoir, and the Middlesex Canal towpath. We briefly caught up with the first place team (3 guys) on the trails, but they got away from us before the towpath. Then we missed a turn off Rt 38 and ended up riding an extra 4 miles to get back on the course. Up to this point, I think we were never more than about 5 miles from our house. Awesome. Halfway stop on Rt 62, near the North Wilmington commuter rail stop:

On the third leg, we rode some great trails near the Ballardvale commuter rail stop in Andover and in Harold Parker State Forest. I saw this view for many hours, since I only pulled through for about 10 seconds.

By the time we reached the challenge at the end of the third leg, we were in third place. I think we took a wrong turn (possibly in the Pomps Pond section, where we couldn't find the route markings and had to call the route master/promoter, Michael Good, for directions), because the team behind us passed us but we didn't see them. It was probably a good thing though, because we might have been tempted to chase, and I was COOKED.

The second challenge was a choice between eating 10 marshmallows apiece or doing a word find. We chose the marshmallows.

More Harold Parker trails (rocky, but still enjoyable), then 15ish miles of road back to Burlington. Sooo much fun. Ed was a wonderful teammate and didn't mind my relentless wheelsucking.

Neither of us had cyclocomputers, but we think we did about 67 miles due to the wrong turns, and we guessed that it was about 5 hours of ride time. Michael Good and Kurt Johnson put together a tremendous route. We ended up third and scored some nice mini-pumps. We also had the winning poker hand -- we got a card at the beginning of each leg, and ours were all spades. At the finish, the community card was also a spade -- flush! So we got to take home two boxes of brand-new flavors (no labels yet!) of Odwalla bars. Yum! We'll be back next year!

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