|My bro and I with 79 miles behind us after the first day!|
My first City to Shore experience in 2009 didn't go remotely as planned and thanks to encouragement from my brother, I made it my goal to give the ride another try this year, and to make it through all 150 miles of it.
The first day of the ride begins in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and follows an incredibly well marked route through Waterford, Hammonton, Egg Harbor City, May's Landing, and Egg Harbor Township before the finish line in Ocean City. After a night in Ocean City, the ride follows the same route back to Cherry Hill to finish line number two. And if you can't ride 150+ miles over the course of the weekend, there are a number of different options. Riders could opt for 25, 40, 75 and 100 mile routes on the first day with transportation back to Cherry Hill from the finish line.
|Waiting at the starting line for our wave to go.|
My first lesson - when you're on a well-supported ride, plan out the rest stops you're going to visit carefully with your team. Our team opted to visit the first rest stop in Waterford just under 20 miles into the ride to regroup, but we skipped the second one in Hammonton to try and stick to a schedule. Unfortunately, the second rest stop was the lunch stop and in hindsight, I would've preferred skipping a later stop in favor of a real meal. We did hit the third (Hammonton), fifth (May's Landing), sixth (May's Landing) and seventh (Egg Harbor Twp.) stops, though. They were great opportunities to refill water bottles and refuel along the way. It was also a chance for our team to regroup. With thousands of other cyclists on the road and our own varying speeds, it was tough to stick together for the entire ride.
|Taking a much-needed break at one of the |
rest stops on day two.
Despite the pain in my behind, I really enjoyed the 79 mile route out to Ocean City. I got to see parts of the area I've never seen, which seems to be a theme on some of my longer rides. By the time I rolled into the finish line, I was very, very ready to not be sitting on my bike, but so happy to have made it. The last few miles wind through neighborhood streets along the shore lined with people cheering and clapping. That was one of my favorite parts of the ride and the source of my third lesson - boy does it feel good to do something physically challenging for a larger purpose. My first exposure to this particular lesson came in 2010 with my Summit for Someone climb, but it's nice to be reminded of it once in a while.
|Sunrise along the boardwalk in Ocean City. We feasted on bacon and more before heading out on the second day.|
The 5:30am wake-up call came much too early, as expected. We grabbed breakfast on the Ocean City Boardwalk, which was part of our entry fee (bacon!), and were back on the road by 7:30am. Easing my butt on to the seat for the first time was almost unbearable. A few miles in, I noticed a tightness developing in my Achilles tendons. It was going to be a very long day. My fourth and most obvious lesson - make sure you've got the gear you need well in advance of your event. But it's just biking. Anyone can ride a bike, right? Yes, anyone can ride a bike, but there's a big difference between riding a bike a few miles and riding a bike 158 miles. I have gloves, shoes, padded shorts and a jersey. But I've never had my bike properly fitted, my seat adjusted, or my cleats looked at to make sure they're in the right position. A fitting at a bike shop may not have entirely prevented the aches and pains, but it certainly would've helped.
|They gave us the finisher medals in Ocean City, |
but I earned mine by making it all the way home!
The last rest stop, which was the first rest stop from day one, was 20 miles from the finish line. We'd all separated a bit based on speed over the last stretch and stopped to regroup right before the finish. Crossing the finish line as a team was an amazing feeling.
Overall, despite my general lack of preparation, I had a blast on the ride. Huge thanks to all of the volunteers and everyone within the National MS Society - Greater Delaware Valley Chapter for making the ride possible. And there's still time to support my team and I! Visit our team fundraising page to donate through October 31st.
Have you ever done a ride like this? Would you? Any pro-tips for me for next time? Leave a comment!