Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banana Ride

We survived the first annual Banana Ride on Saturday! Truth be told, it wasn’t that bad – which is good news, because it was 20 or so miles less than the distance we’ll need to cover in any given day when we tackle the TransAm next summer! The Banana Ride was a benefit for Girls, Inc., a great national organization that helps to empower young women. Introduction to an organized ride, for those who haven’t been there before:

1. Registration - You usually have to check-in when you get there (you’ve pre-paid and registered online beforehand) and pick up your t-shirt if you ordered one. You’re given a bracelet to ID you as a registered rider for SAG stops, and post-ride festivities (FOOD!) and a cue sheet. The cue sheet is your map for the ride, but luckily they usually have the route marked in spray paint on the pavement (I’m not good at reading maps as I ride!)

2. The Start - Some rides have a shotgun start, similar to a 5k run where the whole group begins at once. This is possibly more annoying than a foot race start, because there are inevitably a bunch of people who tip over on their bikes almost immediately (no major injuries!), and everyone has to dodge around everyone else for the first mile or so. This ride started at your leisure, which was perfect. No stress, no worrying about 75% of the group passing you up at racing speed in the first hundred yards, no dodging slower riders.

3. Routes - Most organized rides have several routes with varying mileages – from 1 mile family routes, to century (100 mile) routes. The Banana Ride offered several of these options, and we opted for the “Gone Bananas” route, which was the longest at 53K (should have been about 32 miles, was actually just over 34 miles). This is another running theme – distances are definitely approximate, and can vary, we’ve found they’re typically longer than advertised, which does very mean things to you mentally when you know you should be nearing the end of a ride!

4. SAG (Support and Gear) stops – these are little oases, especially on longer rides. They offer several re-fueling options, from Gatorade and water, to bananas and home baked goodies! There are usually a couple of these on the longer routes – and the Banana Ride had 3 of these on the 53k route!

5. Roads – the rides we’ve been on in rural settings take place usually on county roads. They are still open to auto traffic, so you have to be aware and still follow all the rules of the road. There is a really fun ride we do called the Nite Ride in downtown Indianapolis every year, where they close off 20 miles of city streets for a couple of hours in the middle of the night and bikes completely take over the roads. While this is a much safer option, it isn’t cost effective for these smaller rides raising money for a specific cause (there are many permits and the paying of off-duty police officers involved), or really feasible to trap people in their homes on rural roads for 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning. There was a rider struck by a vehicle on the Banana Ride this year, luckily only suffering some minor injuries – but it just goes to show how careful you have to be, whether you’re out alone on a training ride or on an organized ride.

6. The End – Ahh, the glorious finish. There are always a variety of wonderful options to assist you in consuming twice the calories you just burned off on the ride. This time, it was pizza and barbecue, but being the good vegetarians that we are, we stuck with cheese pizza. The post-ride food doesn’t even have to be good – at this point, you’re just hungry, and will eat nearly anything. We took our seats at the elementary school cafeteria tables, and devoured some pizza, then headed back home for a much needed nap.

Well, that was long-winded, but maybe intriguing to those of you who were interested to know how an organized ride works. We’ll work as many of these organized rides into our training schedule as we can – they tend to keep us accountable, help out some great causes, and are really just fun.

Hopefully you enjoyed (and didn’t get motion-sick from) our lovely on-bike filming via iPhone. Next time, we’ll remember to bring our flip camera with a bendable tripod and see if that works a little better. And for the record, I’m making Mel do all of the video editing, because I can’t stand the sound of my own voice on video! I’d probably delete the whole damn thing and call it a day, but where’s the fun in that?