The MS City to Shore 2016 ride is now complete – for me anyway – as I write this there are quite a few cyclists crazy enough to bike all the way BACK to the start. Who knows maybe I will be one of them someday, but for now the 80 miles from the PATCO station in Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City, NJ is a perfect ride for me.
Kevin was kind enough to wake up early and drive me to the beginning – it was of course organized chaos with so many cyclists eager to get on the road. There was plenty of parking when we arrived and I loaded up my bike with everything I needed for the day and headed over to the start. I was there at about 6:15, skipped walking around the tent area and was lucky enough to get into the last chute before they closed it off and then the rest of the cyclists had to wait in line until they started releasing the (maybe) 7 or 8 chutes they had set up. Then those waiting would fill the chute just released and wait until all the other chutes went, then it was their turn. So I was lucky to get in the last chute of the first batch. The first wave started off at about 6:30 or so and then we would wait until the all clear for the next chute to be released – this was approximately every 5-10 minutes. They have been doing this ride for a VERY long time and it is a major event so they have this down to a science. 7,000 people sign up every year and it is so well organized it’s remarkable!
There were a few people who were jumping the gates and starting the ride early – some without rider numbers. My chute was released at about 7:35 and I was on my way. When I got to the top of the first bridge there were volunteers standing there making sure everyone had numbers – I’m not sure what they would have been able to do if someone didn’t, but it’s pretty low to jump into a charity event without raising the money ($300 for this ride).
I was riding behind a few people who were keeping a good pace so I decided to stick with them as long as possible. I could have gone faster, but I decided I didn’t want to burn myself out early. They somehow fell behind me and so I decided to keep going. It is a little intimidating to have hundreds of cyclists just whizzing past you, but I was keeping a good pace for being on a hybrid. Somewhere between the start and the first rest stop I ran into another solo cyclist named Tiffany. We ended up chatting and really clicked so we decided to stick together as long as possible. She was on a mountain bike and was doing the ride for the first time. We chatted and it sounded like everything I did on my first MS ride – no cycling shorts, mountain bike, doing it solo, etc so I decided to help her as much as I could.
We were both on the same page – we stopped briefly at the first rest stop (mile 19.5) and I noticed the cap on the side of the front wheel was extremely loose which was making my wheel wobble as I rode. We then rode to the next one for lunch (mile 31) and to stretch. We were able to sprawl out on the grass while enjoying some PBJs and chips.
We continued down the route, chatting, listening to music and having a great time. The rest stops are PERFECTLY spaced out – I’m not kidding when I say they have this down to a science. It gives you the little break you need to stretch your legs out, grab a snack, refill your water bottle and get back on your way – they are approximately every 15 miles or mile 19.5, 31, 45.5, 55.7, and 67 if you want to be precise – LOL.
Tiffany’s leg started to really hurt her about half way – she was able to check into one of the medical tents and get some ibuprofen and I had to do the same at mile 67. I also volunteered to carry her bag on the rack on my bike because it was starting to hurt her shoulders. We were able to secure it and it gave her such a morale boost just to have that weight gone – I was so glad I could help. She kept saying she was worried she was slowing me down, but I was happy to have the company and it really helped keep me in check so I didn’t just pedal my brains out and then cramp up. I’d go for a bit, then check to see how far she was behind me and slow up if it was too far. That girl was DETERMINED to keep up with me and it was awesome.
The only time we separated was when we reached the infamous bridges to get into Ocean City – the ride takes you over 2 and they are tough – especially since the majority of the route is fairly flat and it’s at the very end of the ride. I told her I was gonna have to just go for it if I was going to make it up them and that I would wait for her somewhere past them on the route. I was so proud of myself for making it over both – who cares if I had it in the lowest gear possible – I DID IT! I paused at the top of the second bridge to snap a few pictures and wait for Tiffany. I figured we made it this far I didn’t wanna finish without her – plus I had all of her things and with 7,000 people it would have been impossible to find her. 🙂
We coasted down the final hill together into Jersey and managed to finish strong. It was such an awesome ride and coming into the finishers area is such a cool feeling with tons of people cheering for you. Kevin was there and managed to capture a video of us finishing.
We got our medals and T-Shirts and were official finishers of the 2016 City to Shore ride!
I was so happy with the way the ride went this year – I averaged 12-14mph pace the entire time except at the end we were stuck in a traffic jam for quite a while and then going over those bridges that I love to hate. 🙂 My total riding time was a little over 7 hours and the total time I was on the route was about 8 hrs 45 mins (this includes time at the rest stops, the traffic jam and time spent on top of the bridge). I was not dead last this year! WAHOO! The weather was perfect – low 70s the entire time and a bit drizzly which felt good – every year can be like this!! 🙂
Thank you to all of the volunteers who make this ride possible and run as smoothly as it does. Thank you to everyone who came out to cheer on the riders – it is such a morale boost having people along the route telling you good job.
Last, I would like to say I dedicate this ride to everyone who has reached out to me to tell me about their MS story – from other bloggers to those on instagram – it has been awesome chatting with some of you and learning your story. I am happy to be a part of something that could help change your life for the better. This ride has been a personal challenge for me as well as a good cause – can there be anything better?!? 🙂
Did anyone else ride City to Shore this year? I hope you had fun! 🙂