The MS150 folks sponsored the first warm-up ride today before the MS150 in September. This was my first organized ride since last September’s MS150, and I was both excited and dreading it. I had a pretty good idea that I’d be able to make the 22mi loop, but I didn’t know what the route was, aside from the starting and ending point, so I had no sense of what to expect from the terrain. I met a couple of other team members from our corporate MS150 team, and we started off around noon.

The weather was pretty nice, with loads of low clouds and temps in the high 60s — a glorious day for cycling! The course was kind for the first four or five miles, flat and very little car-traffic. That wouldn’t last though. We turned onto a heavily travelled, two-lane back road — Eatherton Road — and things got miserable pretty quick. The cars and bikes had woven together, with cars waiting for oncoming traffic to pass before passing the cyclists running along with them. This had cars off the rear wheels of the bikes, and bikes off the rear bumpers of the cars….. Ugh. This particular road is notorious for conflicts between cyclists and drivers — the drivers don’t respect the cyclists right to be riding on the road, and frankly, some of the cyclists on that road simply won’t move to the edge of the road to allow cars to pass easier. It’s not wonder we had cars honking at us as we rode. Since this was an organized ride, we had police support, and that kept an incidents to dull roar — that’s the ONLY way I’d ride this particular road.

Once we got off that back road, we continued on to the rest stop at the turnaround point. There were several small hills and grades on the way, and some of them really kicked me hard. Once again, I was reminded that riding the Katy is just not the same as riding on the hills found on the road. I pulled into the rest area, and found it was not quite what I was expecting. It just wasn’t very well stocked as compared to the stops for the MS150 — some Gatorade, water, bananas, orange slices and Rice Krispie treats. I caught back up with my teammates, and rested for a little bit.

The return ride seemed long. The sun had come out, the temperature had come up, and I fought a brutal headwind through much of the flat. The good news was that the first part of the return journey was generally graded downhill, so the pedalling wasn’t too tough for the first five miles or so. However, Eatherton Road was a mess again, only this time the cyclists were much more spread out, so it seemed like every few minutes I was passed by some motorist. I finally got back to Ghisallo, and after stowing my bike on the truck, I found my teammates, and I ravenously ate. This spread was good — hummus wraps, meatballs, fruit, cookies, beer, water, and a variety of sandwiches. I definitely got my $5 worth!

So, some notes for next time… I have to remember to pack my Camelbak, regardless of the ride length. I find that I stay more hydrated with that thing on my back — it’s just a lot easier to reach over for the tube than to try to handle a bottle while pedalling. I also need to replace my GPS. I had no idea how far I was from the easier parts of the course, despite knowing how far I was from the finish. I also need to find a pouch for my handlebars to hold the camera. I would’ve taken photos of the ride itself if I could get to the camera a little easier.

So, it was a good start to the official season I suppose. I’d have been happier had the ride been easier on me, but that just tells me I need to do more rides into Creve Coeur this season. It’s paved, connects to the Katy, and has some good hills, along with a 75′ vertical climb to the bridge complex — all things that will help get me ready for this year’s MS150!