Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

I rode the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic on July 11&12, 2009 in order to raise money for FSH research. The overwhelming support of donations was incredible. Thanks to Marimichael and Melissa for donating their STP registrations to auction off. They raised a little over $300. As well as my Grandma who brought in a lot of cash donations. And to everyone who donaited online... Thank you!! It was encouraging to see that there are many people who are pulling for a cure for this form of muscular dystrophy. It affects so many peoples lives and as more people work together it will help to move us toward finding a cure.

My Mom and I went up to Seattle the night before. We stayed at a Lake Union hotel that was only about 15 minutes from the start line. We arrived around 3 in the afternoon so we could bum around and get an early dinner. Our hopes of an early dinner diminished after spending about an hour trying to get to the Columbia store. I wanted to enter to win a bicycle that they were giving away in conjunction with the Tour (de France). Which on a side note held my attention for 3 hours a day for 3 weeks. Well anyway, Seattle traffic sucks. Living in Honolulu for 5 years I often complained that things were all just backward. But traffic actually moves through downtown Honolulu! So we finally made it to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner and were back to the hotel at 7:30. Surprisingly I didn't have a very hard time going to sleep. I was really stoked to get to go ride on roads I have never ridden before!

The next morning I woke up at 4:45 and planned to leave to the start (University of Washington) at 5:15 for a estimated start time of 6:30. My Mom wasn't sure I why we were going to leave so early if I wasn't planning on starting till 6:30 and the hotel was only 15 minutes away. After I explained that 9,000 people were going to be trying to get to the same parking lot, it made a little more sense to her.

Sure enough we crept to the start line with all the other cars with bikes strapped to them. After finally arriving and unloading my bike, Rick and Terry Colella arrived. They are the founders of Friends of FSH ( The non profit I raised money for by riding the STP. They are doing great things by funding research for FSH and I was glad I could help out a little. Jason was also at the start. An avid hiker he also continues to be active despite a diagnosis. It was great to have such great support! Thanks guys!

The first part of the ride was beautiful! It was along lake Washington with Mt. Rainer in the background. It was quiet and cool and the morning light made things dreamlike. It was a good time to reflect on what I was actually doing. I was diagnosed with FSH when I was 17, and doctors told me to quit all athletics and find a desk job. Yet here I was about to ride 200 miles on my bicycle.

My first scheduled stop was at a McDonald's in Renton. My Mom met me there so I could fill up my water bottles and get something to eat. I was feeling really good at this point. I had been on the road for about 2 hours and had tried to down the 2 bottles I had. I knew that nutrition was going to be key. I knew if I didn't drink before I was thirsty or eat before I felt hungry I was going to be in trouble. This is important for any athlete, but something I am constantly thinking about, due to the potential of permanent muscle loss. I only stayed 15 minutes as I was trying to minimize the amount of time I was hanging out at rest stops thus minimizing the total time I was out for the day.

My next stop was outside of Puallyup, after "the big hill." Which I was slightly concerned about because I'm not a climber. It was described at a mile long climb with 7% grade. All of my training is based on efficiency. Because I am somewhat limited on the amount of power and strength I can produce, I focus all my training on efficiency and keeping a high cadence while peddling. The "hill" was nothing to worry about. I have climbed much steeper and longer hills and absolutely didn't need the triple I was contemplating putting on my bike. I felt warmed up after the climb and ready to go. Which showed me that I had been successful in my training. The icing on the cake was passing a very fit guy walking his Tarmac up the hill. This is still cracking me up. So I ended up missing the spot I was supposed to meet my Mom. Have I mentioned that she is the best soigneur ever!! I ended up stopping at a Safeway with a bunch of other riders. My Mom found me after a few minutes. I tried to get some solid food down, but I wasn't very successful. I figured that as long as I was sticking with a bottle an hour I was good. I mix each bottle with Infinite. My bottle ends up being 220 calories and as long as I'm drinking, have never had a problem during a race.

The next stop was going to be Yelm, which was about 25 more miles. It was pretty much a straight shot. This leg of the ride I was able to get in and work with a group of riders and made it to Yelm in the fastest leg of the day. My Mom would always stop about a mile after the large organized stops. It worked out well for the major reason I never had to stand in line to go to the bathroom. As I passed the Yelm stop there were multiple emergency vehicles. Someone must have not fueled properly. It's a scary thing. I witnessed many people who collapsed in an XTERRA race I did last year. It was 108 that day. They were all men...... : )

Leaving Yelm was really hard. My final leg of the day was Yelm to Centralia. Shortly after I rolled out of my last stop we turned onto the Challis Western Trail. It was somewhat comforting being in an area that I train in on a regular basis. About 10 miles down the trail I hit the intersection that continues onto Tenino or branches off toward Lacey. So close to my house at this point! But I kept going straight. Soon after the intersection their was a slight downhill and then a wooden bridge with a chain link fence that ran along both sides. Out in front all of a sudden I saw bikes in the air and people slamming into the fence. I was actually amazed that this was the first crash I witnessed. The volume of riders on the road was like nothing I had ever seen before. So I made my way through the carnage and continued on the Tenino. I wasn't planning of stopping in Tenino, but the last 10 miles were very hot and I wasn't feeling so hot. My Mom met me there and I sat in the air conditioned car for close to 30 minutes. After rehydrating and cooling off I was headed to Centralia.

These 12 miles or so were the longest 12 miles I have ever rode. And it probably took me twice as long as I had been averaging each 25 mile leg! Along the way I ran a cross a sign that said "way to go Kalynn Dibble." I was really tired at this point and did a double take. That is my name! My massage therapist and her family had set it up for me. She by the way she is a miracle worker and almost has my shoulder looking somewhat normal. Finally after 100 miles I hit Centralia! This had been the longest distance I have ridden so far. I loaded my bike into the car and my Mom and I went to stay in Longview for the night. I thought that maybe I would be able to make it the 150 miles to Longview the first day, but I was having trouble shifting gears at this point.

The next morning was kind of hard to get going. Ok really hard to get going! But I know my body really well and how far I can push it, and knew that I was ok. My Mom dropped me back off in Centralia. My legs actually felt fine, but just being on the bike hurt. Because of my weaker core more weight than it should rests on the handle bars and it was not feeling super hot.

I stopped in Vader, which was about 27 miles from Centralia. It took me a while. Again not really because of my legs. My hands were killing me. It was much much cooler the second day, which was nice. Although there were thunder storms to deal with. By the time I make it to the 150 mile mark and the Lewis and Clark Bridge I was starting to get that feeling of hitting the point of no return. It's hard to explain, but meticulously training and logging has taught me what my limits are and I am able to stop before I surpass them. I'm not going to lie, the Lewis and Clark Bridge looked ominous. It was steep and high and they were stopping a few hundred riders at a time and police escorting them over the bridge. So I decided at that point to pull the plug on the day. Not regrettably though. I had made it 150 miles without putting myself in a hole and doing irreversible damage (we'll none that I could tell anyway). My training had been successful. I had ridden the farthest distance to date and also raised $3,300 for FSH research. I felt pretty good about the whole thing. Next year with a little more training I will be able to make that last 50 miles.