We spent the weekend in Logan riding in the 2013 Bike MS: Harmons Best Dam Bike Ride, which raises money for the Utah and Southern Idaho chapters of the MS Society. This was our second time participating in the ride; we did the 75 mile ride in 2011.
MPK does the ride every year, and manages to wrangle up a bunch of randoms to accompany him on the ride and the weekend in Logan. This year the group included MPK, Roger, Keith, Col and I. Col and I left SGU mid-day Friday to make the six-hour drive up to Logan. We stopped in SLC and picked Keith up and continued to Logan to meet up with MPK and Roger at the hotel. We stopped by the fairgrounds to pick up our ride packets, then hit The Beehive Grill, which serves Moab Brewery beers, for dinner and a couple drinks before turning in for an early rise on Saturday.
Col and I were determined to complete the 100 mile course this year, and fortunately due to MPK’s compulsive need to be early (and his nagging) we were toward the front for the start, which put us in a better position to make the cutoff to complete the longest course. The start was delayed by about 20 minutes due to a house on the main course. Yes…a house. Apparently someone decided it made sense to move a house down the middle of the street used to get the riders out of town at about the same time the ride was scheduled to begin. After some horrible time-filling by the emcees, the ride finally started. We were in the third wave to depart.
The course this year was modified from previous years due to some of the smaller towns along the route complaining about the riders and their behavior. MPK, Roger and Keith quickly left us in their dust, which was completely expected. As this was only my third time on my bike this year, I wasn’t anticipating a speedy day. Slow and steady wins the race in my book. Col and I skipped the first rest stop, as it was only 10 miles into the course and we didn’t feel the need for a break. While the temperature was expected to climb above 100 for the day, the morning was nice and cool and made for a pleasant ride. We did stop at the second rest station, which was in Richmond and marked about mile 23 of the course. It was sponsored by the Utah Highway Patrol and is always a fun stop with vintage cruisers and great volunteers. A quick snack and refill of the water bottles and we were back on the road.
The route winds through the foothills of the eastern portion of the valley before entering Idaho. Franklin, Idaho was the next rest stop. Another quick refill and a snack and we jumped back on the bikes. The ride took us north, and we were surprised to reach the sign indicating the cutoff for the 100 mile course. It was only 10AM, so we were really excited with our progress. We took deep breathes and crossed the road going straight…committing to the 100 mile route. Nobody (I’m looking at you, MPK) told us how hilly this 25 mile “detour” would be. While the majority of the Bike MS ride is flat(ish), this section had some pretty decent climbs, as well as a pretty fun and fast descent. We found the rest stop for this section, but didn’t linger as we wanted to make it to the lunch stop while it was still early.
We completed the 25 mile loop and turned back onto the main course heading for the next stop in Lewiston, Utah for lunch. We reached the lunch stop just before 1PM and quickly devoured sandwiches, chips and some snacks. The clouds were burning off and the temperature was climbing, so lying on the grass in the shade resulted in a short (not sure how long because at this point the iPhone was dead) nap under the trees. We saddled back up for the last 33 miles to the finish, but this stage proved to be the roughest with the hottest part of the day, no cloud cover and a route hugging the western side of the valley where little shade is available. The leg to the next rest stop was 16 miles and covered some long, gradual climbs, so we got ready for a long, hot afternoon.
We left Lewiston and quickly started burning without the protection of the cloud cover. We focussed on the beautiful Cache Valley scenery to keep our minds off the heat and our saddle weary rear ends. Logan and the surrounding towns are really in one of the prettiest places in Utah, and it’s so much fun to spend a day on the bike enjoying all the sights. We made it to the roaming water stop (which apparently hadn’t roamed at all) about halfway to the next rest top. We refilled bottles and kept moving, finishing the last big climb in good time. We cruised into Newton for the next stop, which turned out to be our favorite. The volunteers had plenty of water and sports drinks available and they were nice and cold. They had set up a misting station for riders to cool off and had a great assortment of salty snacks and fruit. They even had a pickle bar, complete with pickle juice shots! It was definitely our favorite stop.
We reluctantly left the stop and made good time to the next, and final, stop in Benson. The route was relatively flat at this point, although some parts were a bit stinky as we cruised past the pig farms. We only stayed a moment at the Benson stop, eager to kill the last eight miles and complete our first century ride! About a mile before the finish, a woman in front of us took a nasty spill on some railroad tracks. After stopping to help (there wasn’t much we could offer) we got back on the bikes and wound our way to the fairgrounds to finish. 100 miles complete!
I actually felt really good after the ride; better than I felt two years ago after doing the 75 mile ride. There was still no way I could have jumped on a bike and done the second day ride (either 40 or 75 miles), but maybe I can work that in next time. We spent the evening enjoying the awards ceremony and pool party before finding a great Mexican restaurant in Logan for a late dinner. Then it was time to hit the hay. MPK, Roger and Keith got up early the next morning for the 75 mile ride (show offs), while Col and I got back on the road for the long drive home.
My iPhone battery died about 60 miles into the ride, so I had to recreate the route. But, we figure removing rest stops and lunch resulted in a time of about 6 hours 30 minutes. I appreciate all the help from my friends and family in blowing my fundraising goal out of the water. I raised more than $1700, and overall this ride resulted in more than $1.5 million for the MS Society in Utah and Idaho. That’s really something that makes me proud, and hopefully we can continue to provide assistance to those living with MS, as well as those who are working to fight it. I know with continued support, the MS Society will End MS Forever, Restore What’s Been Lost and Stop the Disease! Thanks again.