It's 3:30am in the early hours of Sunday morning and my alarm starts to screech.
I'd love to say I shot excitedly out of bed, but sadly the prospect of cycling 70 miles had the opposite effect on my motivation. After weeks of training, the day was finally here!
My team and I were about to embark on our first MS150. For anyone not familiar with this race, the MS150 is a two day road cycle from Houston to Austin to raise money for multiple sclerosis. Sadly, due to extreme flooding in the area prior to the start of the race, day one was cancelled, which although spared us a few hours of extra pain, was still nervewracking to say the least.
Off we set to Tully, where we would pick up the rest of the team, Kathy, Faith, Chris and Fraser, load up the cars with bikes, protein bars, padded shorts and banana muffins and head to La Grange, where day two's start line awaited.
Looking slightly like orangutans with our extra padded butts, and our neon Global Edge team cycle tops which glowed brightly in the dark, we were on the way. After a tense few moments on arrival where we discovered a distinct lack of restrooms, we very quickly regretted the decision to hydrate heavily before the race began.
The start line was absolutely buzzing! Thousands and thousands of people on bikes covered every inch of road, music was blaring from enormous speakers, teams were raring to go, and the air was filled with adrenaline and the aroma of muscle rub. There was laughter, horns, supporters with signs of thanks and encouragement, which eased our nerves and momentarily made us forget how hard the next six hours was likely to be. There were Lycra-clad cyclists everywhere, some who had clearly trained more than others, and many whom I wondered had ever sat on a bike before. There were costumes, neon, sparkles and tandems, it was a brightly colored organized chaos.
Up until this moment, we had trained hard. Some of our rides had been good, some bad, and most ugly. Each Monday we would come to work and compare war stories from the weekend....which muscles we had pulled, what was hurting, and especially how sore our butts were after 7 hours in the saddle. There were pains we had never experienced before in muscles we never knew we had. We biked in the rain, in the wind and in the blazing sunshine, which created all sorts of incredible marks- known as the bikers tan, which sadly I feel may be with us for a few months yet! I saw my first skunk (we don't have these in England!) and experienced all sorts of wildlife that made me peddle far faster. At one point I realized that circling vultures above me may mean things weren't looking too good for my aspiring biking career.
It was finally our turn to cross the start line and head for Austin. The day began with drizzle but quickly blew over into wonderful sunshine. We set off to the cheering of supporters and the YMCA tune blaring through the crowd. Whilst we wanted to join in the dance, it wasn't practical when our feet were clipped firmly to our bike pedals, not to be moved.
The ride itself was a pretty one. Rolling hills and green fields, beautiful flowers and cattle, ranches and green pasture. Although I don't think I've ever seen so many punctured tires in my life, the support was amazing, with fully stocked rest stops, a delicious lunch, and even volunteers hosing us down with water when the sun was at its warmest. When we descended the last hill and saw Austin in the distance it was a brilliant feeling. We'd made it! The crowd went wild at the finish line, they screamed and clapped for us and suddenly the pain in our butts wasn't so bad anymore. Free food and a well-deserved beer was just moments away, and we made the most of it!
Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends we raised a total of $5241 as a team. I might be speaking too soon but I'll definitely be signing up again! Well done Global Edge team, you rocked it!
North America Business Manager
The Global Edge Consultants