If you like blogs that post totally random articles with absolutely no regularity, then this is the blog for you. Or maybe not.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year + Soccer

New England forward Taylor Twellman celebrated his 7th birthday today. In honor of this rare occasion, fellow teammates made a humorous video to help celebrate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MS 150

Wow, this has got to be the most overdue post ever. That's right, I'm finally getting around to posting about the MS 150. Back in September. Ring any bells?

To refresh your memory, the MS 150 City-To-Shore ride was on September 29th and 30th (Saturday to Sunday). The ride started in Cherry Hill, NJ (east of Philly, on the Jersey side of the Delaware) and ended on the first day 75 miles away in Ocean City, NJ. The second day, the ride followed the same route in reverse, from Ocean City back to Cherry Hill, for a total distance of 150 miles. Thanks to a lot of people's generosity (and you know who you are), we raised over $800 for this worthwhile cause - so thanks once again!

Without further ado, I present to you, the MS 150 Recap:

DAY 1
Saturday morning: After being delayed by unexpected traffic, Christy and I pulled into the starting area at the PATCO Station parking lot in Cherry Hill at 7:55 am. The check-in deadline was 8:00. Suffice to say, the start of the ride was a little more hectic than I'd like:

I just made the 8:00 deadline and got going. C took the car and extra equpiment to Ocean City and would meet me at the finish line.

As for the ride itself, my goal was to complete each 75 mile leg of the ride in 5 hours or less, maintaining an average speed of 15mph.

After biking a few miles, I found myself riding in a group with five other riders. This was very helpful as it cut down on wind drag and allowed the group as a whole to move much faster. Plus is was just cool to ride fast in single-file formation.

Around mile 18 was the first rest stop: My bike, number 5116:It's an old Schwinn, but it still moves pretty well.

Once back out on the road, I managed to get a photo of the group I rode with. Trying to take photos while on a moving bicycle is not as easy as one would think. I don't recommend doing this:Riding in the group was really helpful, as we could move pretty fast (~20mph). Unfortunately, we were spending WAY too much time at the rest stops.

At mile 42, I broke off from the group because they were all doing an extra 25 mile loop (that would make their ride a century ride). At that point I realized that I wasn't going to complete the 75 miles in 5 hours. Note to self: don't spend so much time at the rest stops!

For the rest of the ride into Ocean City, I just rode along at my own pace, trying to keep moving as fast as I could. I knew I wasn't going to make the time I was hoping for. Now I was just trying to minimize how late I would be.

Riding across NJ, I realized how flat that part of the state is. And when I got close to the shore, it got VERY flat. Which makes for pleasant biking:On the way into Ocean City, we had to cross over two bridges connecting the island to the mainland. Ironically, these bridges were the biggest "hills" during the whole trip. Being able to ride a bike over those bridges, over the water, was pretty cool. Here's the approach to the first bridge:
Second bridge ahead:
On the second bridge, the light reflecting off the water was so brilliant, I had to stop and take a proper photo:
Once into Ocean City, it was only a few miles to the finish line. Along the route there were several people cheering from sides of the road as we rode by. At about a half mile from the finish line, a small crowd began to form along the side the road as we rode in. It was pretty cool riding to a finish line with a bunch of people cheering. Good for the ego. I managed to get a video as I crossed the finish line. Yes, that's Vogue being piped over the loudspeakers:

video

It's difficult to see in the video, but Christy is along the fence holding a "GO E!" sign and wearing her "Team E" shirt she had made up (you'll be able to see it from the photos from Day 2). Aweseome. Here's a shot of the finish from Christy's point of view:I crossed the Ocean City finish line at about 2:30, six hours after starting in the morning, an hour longer than I was shooting for. When I checked my trip computer it clocked my actual on-the-bike time at 4 hours and 30 minutes. That means I spent 1.5 hours at the rest stops! The next day I would make a point to spent a LOT less time at the rest stops.

I was definitely tired at the end of the the first day, but I still felt like I would have enough energy left for the second day. I left my bike at the secure overnight storage area where it would be waiting for me at the start of the second day and Christy and I headed out to meet up with my brother Paul and sister-in-law Jenn who were coming down to hang out for the day.

I got cleaned up and then we went out for a tasty dinner at this Italian restaurant with the most awesome name: Jo Jo's. Since we were in Atlantic City, we headed over to the Borgata for a little coffee and dessert. The Borgata has many pieces of glass art by Chihuly:Paul and Jenn pose in front of one the pieces:
Christy and I take a turn:
A relaxing even (only lost a few bucks on video poker) and by the end of the night I was fast asleep by 11:00.

Day 2
We were out the door by 6:30am. It was dark and very cool (upper 50's) This photo does a good job of capturing the "briskness" of the morning:

(The bridge in the photo is one of the two bridges we had to bike across the previous day. And we'd all would be biking back across that morning. COLD.)

My legs were still a little tired from the previous day but still I couldn't really complain that morning. Until this:
Apparently the side walls of my bike's rear tire ruptured. Fortunately, the MS 150 is an insanely well-organized event and one of the many helpful volunteer bike shops replaced the tire in a quick 10 minutes! And they didn't even charge me! Those guys totally rocked!

Bike all fixed, I'm ready to ride:

I was on the road by 7:30 - a half an hour earlier than the day before. My goal for the second day: complete the 75 miles closer to to 5 hours and not 6. To do this, I was not going to stop at every single rest stop along the way. And if/when I did stop, I was going to get back out on the road as soon as possible.

After a VERY chilly ride over the two bridges out of Ocean City, things began to warm up once we got to the mainland. Here's the view from the mainland looking back towards Ocean City (and the two bridges):Around the 8th mile, I ran into one of the guys (Bill) from the group I had biked with the day before. We were of the same mindset of trying to complete the second day's ride much faster than the previous day. So we stuck together for the entire ride back trying to push as fast as we could.

Ok, let's jump ahead to the finish...the finish was AWESOME. There were crowds of people there at the finish line. Plus the MS Society had tents of food and drinks waiting for the riders, as well as live bands providing some tunes. It was a party. Christy was waiting at the finishline in full regalia. My parents and another brother arrived just after I crossed the finish line, too. I'll let the photos do the talking.

Crossing the finish line:

Christy at the finish:
Balloons from my parents! Fellow "team" rider, Bill, in the blue jersey:
"You can't kill the metal":
The party rages on:I don't remember how well the second day's ride went. I know I completed the 75 miles in less time than I did on the first day, but for the life of me I can't remember off the top of my head the actual figures. I know I wrote them down somewhere. I'll dig them up and let you know.

In a nutshell, the MS150 City-To-Shore was a blast! I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to post all this. I got nuthin' resembling a good excuse so thanks for being patient! Thanks to everyone who donated time and money for this event! I really appreciate all the support and your generosity all went to a great cause. Thanks to the guys I rode with - hopefully we'll bump into each other (at least not on our bikes) next year. And lastly, if you think you might be interested in trying the MS 150, I completely recommend giving it a go! I'll be happy to help you out. I'm totally planning on participating in it again next year. And when I do, I'll be sure to post about it much faster next time.

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