Monday, July 1, 2013

RATPOD - R.ide A.round T.he P.ioneer's in D.ay

My first RATPOD was awesome!

RATPOD is a 130-Mile, one-day bicycle ride to benefit Camp Mak-A-Dream, a cost-free, medical camp in Western Montana for children, teens & young adults with cancer. Riders are encouraged to raise donations for the camp and bring them to the event Prizes will be awarded to the top donation-earning riders.

The ride takes place in the remarkably scenic Big Hole Valley of southwestern Montana. Riders will encounter three wilderness mountain ranges. Pristine rivers are followed. The valley is sparsely populated and therefore lightly traveled by automobile. This is bicycle nirvana!

RATPOD starts and ends each year in Dillon, Montana. Registration for RATPOD is open to individual riders who are welcome to ride as much or as little of the route as desired. Riders who choose to ride only part of the 130-mile route are responsible for their own logistics and transportation between Dillon and their alterate start/finish location(s).

 There are five food/water stops along the route, as well as pre-ride pasta dinner (Friday evening) and post-ride barbecue and music (Saturday night) following the ride at the start/finish on the University of Montana-Western campus in Dillon.

For me, the first 35 miles to breakfast was the hardest. I did not eat enough at 5am to have the fuel to feel strong over the pass.

The second section of was 40 miles to lunch with the toughest mountain pass. I felt the strongest riding up the mountain and it was gorgeous. We had perfect weather, cool temps and the forest smelled so good.

At mile 70 we stopped to stretch. My lowerback & neck and sit bones were hurting and uncomfortable - with another 50 miles to go, we tried to make every pedal stroke intentional.

After lunch we road into a nasty storm, this was around 2pm. (7 hours into ride) Rain, strong side winds, and lightning made for an interesting experience during miles 80-100. Then in "Montana fashion" the sun came out and we were rewarded with a sweet tail-wind after the watermelon stop. We cruised quickly to the last stop (PIE!) and were told that there was an awful storm ahead and the organizers were sending out a bus to get us.

We decided to leave and ride anyway into the storm. It started out icky, but then the winds shifted and we motored up the last big hill climb to mile 120. The last 10 mile to finish in Dillon at mile 130 were easy. It was awesome to arrive to cowbells, clapping and cheers at the finish line.

  Pioneer Mnt Range.

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