Tuesday, July 8, 2008

RATPOD

Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day.
That's what RATPOD stands for, and it's a 130 mile bike ride (that's not a type-o) that starts and ends in Dillon, Montana. It benefits a camp for kids with cancer, and a friend I met at USA Cycling's Enhancing Leadership in Women's Cycling Conference back in January told me about it. Her name is Jane O'Driscoll, and she usually does it with a group of friends. The plan was for me to join them, and Jane warned me to register as soon as registration opened back in March because they only allow 500 riders and it fills fast. She was right. I got in ... and they didn't! So, I decided to go anyway, and invited my parents along since Dad is practically a Dillon citizen. He and Jim go up there every winter for elk and deer hunting. I've been once before, about ten years ago, for a fishing trip with Dad and Jim, and it's a beautiful place, so I figured the riding would be excellent. I was right.

The ride started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. at The University of Western Montana, a small college in town.
Camp Mak-A-Dream is the camp that the ride benefits and one of their buses was parked at the start.
The scenery was beautiful all along the route -- yup, all 130 miles -- but one of my favorite parts of the course was in a valley where some cowboys -- and girls -- were doing a cattle drive along the road. I took some pics as I first rode up to them, and was soon surrounded by cows on the road. It was crazy-fun, but the cows were getting a little freaked out even though there were only a few bikes around me. Some of them were running right into fences and one even successfully jumped a fence -- wish I'd got a shot of that! I also meant to get a shot of my tires while they were green from the cow sh**, but never got around to it.
There were five rest stops -- three with food and two with just water. The breakfast stop was at mile 72 and was on the lawn of this lodge. Had a great black bean breakfast burrito.
This is a shot looking back over riders toward the road at the lunch stop.
Didn't take many pics of the scenery simply because I knew my little camera wouldn't do justice to the expansive scenery ... but I took a few here and there.
There was a band playing celtic music at the lunch stop.
I talked to other riders here and there along the way, and ended up doing a large portion of the route with three people from Helena. Being in a paceline helped me get done quicker than I would have otherwise, and it was fun talking to them.

And this is the real reason I ride ... there was pie and ice cream at the last rest stop at 105 miles. I had a chocolate covered coconut sorbet. As the San Luis Obispo bike club says, "Ride to Eat ... Eat to Ride!"
With all my transitions, I haven't been doing a lot of miles on the bike, so I was a bit nervous about doing 130 miles in one day. There was a lot of climbing at the beginning, but also a lot of descending, and I was pretty darned pleased with how the entire ride went. I was back at the hotel by 4:00 -- my ride time was just over 8 hours, which isn't too bad considering the lack of training I've been putting in. I'd like to go back next year and see how I can do with some miles under me!

We made a quick trip, as we took two days to drive to Dillon, I did the ride on Saturday, and then we returned to Bridgeport in one day on Sunday. We had a great time, though, and spent each night with Donny and Dana Keltz at the Lion's Den, their bar/restaurant. They treat us like family, and are very good friends. Donny took us to a fundraiser for the college out at the local country club Saturday night after the ride, and we had great dinner and great entertainment at the live auction. And I got to meet many of Dad and Jim's friends at the bar, some of whom I'd met on my previous trip and some new ones.

Great people, great food, great riding. What could be better? (Ok, if my ass was a little less sore on the way home, that would be better, but I'm not complaining ...)

1 comment:

patsywbp said...

Wow, 130 miles in one day! My arse would be filing for a divorce. Sounds like you had a great time.

Also, good job on your coverage of the Cascade Classic on VeloNews.