Thursday, October 9, 2008

Guest Commentary: Tour de Shore

Our man Stephen Bardsley during his self-created, self-supported cycling Tour de Shore.

We are in the midst of an RUR coup. First Keene turned triathlete on us. Dominic was first a cyclist, having competed in 24-hour mountain bike races in Colorado before coming east. And now, post-op, rehab Landy is turning our band of runners into bonafide cross dresser...umm...cross trainers. We have a cycling coup d'etat on our hands.

To be honest, it's pretty cool. I've heard reports of Keene's and Bieber's antics on rides, and the miles they are able to cover in a morning. There is a freedom and speed that cycling brings to the table, where running is somewhat limited if you don't have all day to devote to covering 50 miles. This opens up some creativity in being able to come up with challenges either for yourself or a group.

With that in mind, I offer a guest commentary (our first!), on the kind of nutso adventure I expect from this group. The perpetrator of this adventure is RUR friend, blog reader, and frequent commenter Stephen Bardsley. Stephen has run Tuckahoe with Keene and I a few times and I guarantee logged more miles than anyone out there in 2007. He also ran the JFK 50 last year, rocking a 9:3o (roughly) finish. Stephen is a heck of a runner. Earlier this year, while training to break 3:30 in the B & A Trail Marathon, Bardsley ruptured his appendix, and running got put on the shelf, ending his streak of more than 400 consecutive days with a run.

Bardsley used his time off and his rehab to try something different, but no less epic (more-so, in fact). He set out to ride the entire C&O Canal Towpath unsupported on his mountain bike. He test rode, got his gear dialed in, planned meticulously. And then the rains came. Faced with canceling a trip he'd labored over, Stephen got truly creative. Below is his story as sent to Keene and me in an e-mail. Awesome stuff. Between adventures like this, the New Year's Day RUR "Tri" and the rising current of cycling in our midst...I can tell I'm gonna have to spring for a bike! --Mike V.

By Stephen Bardsley

I had planned the C&O canal trip for Sept. 7-8-9. I decided to go with my mountain bike, and had tested some intermediate tires, to cut down on the rolling resistance, and still have some form of tread for the terrain. Our Saturday night hotel was booked in Cumberland, and my wife Lauren was to pick me up Saturday at work and drive with the family up to Cumberland. I was to start the ride Sunday morning, and had logistics worked out for a buddy to finish the ride with me into Georgetown on Tuesday, and drive me back to my car at work.

I put a rack on the back of the bike, pannier bags were full, my one man tent, and light sleeping bag were tied on top of the rack. I also got a nice sized handle bar bag to hold camera, wallet, cell phone, flashlight,and lots of Ibuprofen.

Saturday morning showed up with all the rain from Hannah. Lauren and I spoke frequently throughout my work day, and by noon i called C&O bike shop in Hancock Md. The man told me that with all the rain forecasted, the trail would be a swamp in most parts, and the camping areas would be flooded. TRIP CANCELLED! The forecast for Sunday, Monday, and most of Tuesday were flawless, and after a couple Mapquests, the TOUR DE SHORE was planned.

On the way home from work, i bought a pair of slick tires to fit the mountain bike wheels, and mounted them on the bike. Sunday morning i left the house early, and by late afternoon, I had taken Rt. 50 all the way into Salisbury, 92 miles. I found a cheap hotel for the night. Monday morning, I kept heading east on Rt. 50, and had pizza and Red Bull for lunch on the boardwalk in Ocean City. I proceeded up coastal highway, all the way to Lewes Del., 85 miles for day two.

I got a campsite at Cape Henlopen State Park, and stayed in my tent. Tues. morning I had a lot of knee pain, and Lauren had warned of severe afternoon storms. With the knee pain, I planned on spinning all day in a high gear, and told Lauren I would get as far as I could, and she could pick me up somewhere on Rt. 404 when she got out of school at 4:00. I left Henlopen at 176.5 miles, and was hoping I could just get to 200 miles. I had headwinds all day, so the light spinning idea was out the window, as I had to mash the pedals to get anywhere.

I managed the knee pain throughout the day with Flex-All. I went through Georgetown Del, no storms, made it to Bridgeville, no storms, made it almost to Denton and got hammered by a storm. Ducked into Dunkin Donuts, and got a coffee. The storm passed, and the wind went with it. I kept pedaling, and made it to the big Royal Farms by Tuckahoe, had a Red Bull there, and rode to the 50/404 intersection.

Lauren called, and was out of school, I told her to pick up our son Joshua, and call me, I would probably have her pick me up at the Prime Outlets on Rt. 50. By the time she called me at the outlet, I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn't finish the journey. I told her I would see her just before dark.

The 18 miles from the outlet to home were brutal, I was a mess turning the corner of my street. As I rode into my driveway, Jacob and Joshua were standing there with little checkered flags. Lauren took the finish line photos, and had a killer meatloaf with mashed taters and gravy ready! Final odometer reading was 268.4 miles, and 21 hours and 36 minutes of ride time. Very satisfying, a great adventure, solo and unsupported!


Derek said...

Man, that is EPIC!

stephen bardsley said...

Mike, WOW! what a nice cap on that trip for me to click onto the RUR blogsite, and see this entry. This was absolutely one of the hardest endurance events that i have done! I think that three days is what made it so difficult. However, i loved it, everything about it. The only elements missing compared to the marathons or ultras, are the fancy splits on the internet, and the shiny finishers medal. This blog entry is now my finishers award! your opening comments to my story are very flattering. Thank you so much for doing this for me, and thank you to the RUR members for allowing Mike to use this forum to share this accomplishment. Yes Derek it was in my life one of my EPIC events! I cant wait to do a run with all of you! Later, Bards

Joel said...

Awesome achievement!
That is the sort of inspiration I need. Now I just need a weekend pass, or maybe a day off er...
Anyhow great work Bardsley!