So let me get right into it.
DAY ONE RIDE (Saturday)
I had to wake up at 4 a.m. on Saturday in order to drive the two hours to St.Augustine Airport, where the start was. I was really tired and not really paying attention to make sure I had everything (mistake #1).
It was pretty cool driving onto an airport hangar in complete darkness and seeing more than 2,400 people with bikes walking around. (sorry if the pics aren't great. I was using a cheap-o point-and-shoot camera)
I had to wear a bracelet so that people would know not to serve me beer at the end of the race...
As I was standing on the bleachers taking pics of the crowd, I saw a guy who had the number "1" as his rider number. I asked him why he was able to get it and he said it was because he had raised more money than anyone else in the entire ride: $12,500.
There were lots of interesting people and animals...
The dog's name was Popeye.
We started the ride as the sun was rising. It was such a powerful sight to see so many people waking up super early to support a great cause and ride a big distance on the bike.
About 2.5 hours into it, the weather turned sour and it started to rain. The raindrops were soft and unthreatening at first, but they quickly thickened and came down with force. And that's when I got my first flat.
LESSON #1: DON'T FORGET TO PUT THE SADDLEBAG THAT'S CURRENTLY ON YOUR OLD BIKE ONTO YOUR NEW BIKE.
I got a flat in between two of the rest stops and I had to wait 45 minutes for a SAG vehicle to come pick me up because none of the motorcyclists had numbers for the SAG drivers. I guess that's what I get for not paying attention in the morning and remembering to grab my saddlebag.
The motorcycle escorts were nice enough to wait with me while the SAG made its way over.
I rode in the SAG car for 15 miles before we got to the next rest stop. I kinda felt like I was cheating as all the other riders were pulling in on bikes and I came in by car. I know I won't EVER forget my saddlebag again.
There was a bike repair stand set up and I paid $8 for a new tube. I wasn't the only one with a puncture.
As soon as I got the flat fixed I jumped back on the bike and trucked onward in the rain. It was actually kinda fun to ride in heavy rain. I felt like a badass.
Then, with only nine miles left to go to reach the finish line in Daytona, I got a hole in my rear tire. I felt like the unluckiest person in the world. While I was waiting for SAG for the second time, a friend I had made earlier that morning pulled over and patched my tire and leant me a spare tube. I love nice people.
I was so so happy to see my parents when I finished the ride. We all ate spaghetti at the big dinner in the host hotel and then watched the Gators get beat. Booooo.
DAY TWO RIDE (Sunday)
The day started out beautifully. I said goodbye to my parents after scarfing down some breakfast and I felt good. There was a 12mph headwind but I stuck with various pace lines to minimize the force of the gusts.
And that was working fine...for a while. I met some really nice people and I even "pulled" three different pace lines at one point or another, and I was told by people in the line that I did a really good job. :) I will say that I felt a lot of pressure when I was leading, so maybe I pushed a little harder than the person who was leading before.
I loved going over the bridges. They felt like mini hills.
With about nine miles left to go, my ride went terribly wrong. I was in the inside lane of a double pace line, following the wheel in front of me by six inches to a foot in length when my bike hit a huge object and sent my flying into the girl on my right and then onto the sidewalk curb.
Turns out I had hit a dead armadillo that the guy in front of me didn't feel the need to warn me about. I hid the roadkill, ran into the girl next to me, hit the sidewalk and then got run over by the girl who I hit.
LESSON #2: DON'T FOLLOW A PACE LINE FULL OF PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW AND WHO RIDE STRANGELY.
I was unconscious for one minute, according to the people who stopped to help me. My rear derailleur was bent and my seat was bent. I had a huge headache and a few scratches but I still wanted to finish. I was so close!
My new friend, "The Paperwork Lady"
Unfortunately, my bike was unrideable, so the girl who I hit and myself rode to the finish in a SAG car. I know, I know. Pretty lame.
The bike is going to be just fine. The guys at Chain Reaction Bike Shop were able to fix the derailleur, but I do need to search for a new seat. I'm thinking Fi'zi:k.
Here are the battle wounds:
The one on my right side is way cooler because you can actually see the tire mark from when the girl ran over me.
Very, very eventful weekend for me. I'm so glad I did it. I actually signed up for next year's race when I got back to St.Augustine because registration was only 25cents!
Last, but not least, I would like to thank these people for sponsoring me and helping me complete the ride:
My parents, Matthew and Esther Adams
My grandparents, Simon and Hinda Growick
And Debbie Schram
Here's to hoping you don't run over any dead armadillos...