The Citrus Tour


I was here for the MS-150 — the first MS-150 event of the year in the U.S. I went to registration at the Omni Resort yesterday at 5:00 p.m. As a “VIP” (“Club K” for those who raised at least $1000) we were told a perk would be an “Exclusive VIP experience at packet pick-up.”

I’m not sure what that experience was. I walked up. They gave me a jersey. I walked away and then had to go back. “Do I get a t-shirt as well,?” I asked. They went and got me a t-shirt. They did have a room with wine and hors d’oeuvres but that wasn’t my thing. I looked. I left.

The coolest “VIP” experience at registration I had was at the Livestrong Challenge-Philly in 2009. When I went to the registration desk a volunteer found my name. Then she rang a bell loudly and announced, “Barry Sherry raised $3000.” Then everyone in the room (or tent) cheered. So my thought was something similar would happen here. But maybe I missed it but it seemed like the same experience for everyone at packet pick-up.

Riders getting ready to roll

This morning there was to be “VIP parking at the start line.” As I drove in I asked two volunteers about VIP parking. I even showed them the screenshot of Club K perks. They knew nothing about VIP parking.

Tent Village at the Omni

My planning for the ride included a hotel which was actually a resort. But being a resort meant no breakfast at the hotel. Instead, I passed a McDonalds on the way and got an order of hotcakes.

I was concerned about nutrition and brought Skratch drink mix and Honey Stinger gummy chews. I also brought Hot Shot anti-cramping mix. As I grabbed what I wanted for my ride, I completely forget the Hot Shot. Crucial mistake.

Opening ceremonies recognized those riding with MS, the biggest earners, and the largest teams. The National Anthem was sung by Sonya Bryson-Kirksey (and someone can check me on this). Are helmets not hats? I removed my helmet but I would guess that less than 10% of men did. Or maybe respect for the National Anthem has died.

Always mindful of whom I’m riding for

The rollout was in groups. I expected it would be staged by the previously mentioned categories or by distance but that we would all roll together. Instead, there may have been one minute between each group as they announced them and let them roll out.

Rest Stop Bravo

We rolled slowly and it was immediately apparent that we would have stiff winds. Once it was safe I started passing riders. I had a guy join me and we briefly talked about not being able to ride a 12-hour Century (which it would have been at the pace we were riding). When he picked up the pace he was followed by a rider named Sharon (we had nametags on our backs).

At first, I wasn’t going to follow but we were all going the same pace. So I latched on. After a mile or two I went to the front and told him that I wasn’t going to let him do all the work. He dropped to third wheel and after a mile, Sharon told me he was about 20 yards back. I soft-pedaled for a while but he never came back. I never saw him again the rest of the day. Sharon, I would see her a lot.

Pickle Pops – No words

There’s a proper way to ride a Century. First third – go slow. Second third – ride at a normal pace. And then use what’s left in the tank for the big finish. I knew I was probably going out too fast although I felt good. I wasn’t sweating that I noticed but I was still concerned about losing too many fluids. I would drink a lot today.

Waiting at a traffic light in Davenport – Mile 9
First Rest Stop is just to the right

We were riding along and one of the larger teams came by. Sharon and a couple of riders joined in and I tagged on in the back. There was a split and I was caught out. I decided I would bridge up to the faster group and was about to make the catch when they went through a yellow light but it turned red for me. I waited for the light to change and the group that I tried to ditch caught up to me. When it finally turned green I let them go ahead and I sat in on the back.

Top Fundraiser (I assume)

The first Aid Station was only 10 miles in and I blew by it. I stopped at the second one, Bravo, and they were serving sandwiches. Hmm. It was 9:00 a.m. I rolled out from Aid Station Bravo and rolled through a glass field on the shoulder/bike lane. I went about 200 meters then turned around. I found a discarded shingle and spent about 10 minutes sweeping the glass off the bike path. #DOGOOD

Neat water bottles at Aid Station Bravo

At Mile 60 I felt “pre-cramps” if there is such a thing. I could feel the telltale sign of a cringe when I dug deep for more power. I tried to conserve where and when I could. I drank. I took on more than eight bottles of fluid. I was riding with a team – Road and Trail Bike Club (Lakeland, Fla.) and gently let them go up the road without me. The subtle accelerations needed to control the whiplash effect on the rear weren’t there for me. I did not want to dig deep. They never went far ahead but I never caught them. One of their guys dropped back and I passed him.

Rest Stop 4 – Lake Wales Scouts

At Mile 80, Aid Station Bravo (again), I departed on my own. I was happy to ride at my own pace. I wanted to ride solo. While there is a very real benefit of riding in a group, I didn’t have the energy to raise the pace even one kph faster to stay with the group or to match accelerations when needed. While a tailwind most of the way back, the advantage of group riding was less.

At this point, I wanted to be left alone, wind or no wind. Whether in a group of 10 or a group of two, we try to stay together which meant that I would have to find a little extra on turns and the little rises that they called hills. (Note: They’re not hills.) Riding alone I could go as slow as I needed to and not push to the point of cramps.

Rest Stop 3 – Charlie

I was caught at a light by a woman I had stopped earlier to help her with a flat from the field of glass. (She needed SAG/bike shop to make the repair). I was glad to see her riding and she was going about two kph faster than me. Normally I would match her pace so we could work together but I did not have the extra gear. Then I was caught by Sharon. She gave up waiting on the two guys she had been riding with and Sharon and I rode together until we came to an intersection. She went straight when we should have turned left. I briefly followed then yelled to get her attention. I would have ridden right up to her but I didn’t have the gear.

Road and Trail Bike Team

We had a brief interchange – basically it was “this is not the right way,” and “are you sure?” I was. We went back as team Road and Trail were coming by and making the left-hand turn. We jumped in with them.

Cute – but SHARE THE ROAD is better

The first real cramp came at Mile 95. It was bad and I wasn’t sure I would handle it. The pain was intense and my reaction was to get off the bike and stretch. As we came to a left turn at a “T” the group got into the left turn lane and stopped behind five cars waiting for the light. I had no choice. I could not coast and didn’t want to unclip and put a foot down. I kept pedaling softly and took the empty right turn lane but then went straight across the intersection to make my left turn. The group came by and I briefly tried to stay with them. I did right to Mile 98. Then I took to the sidewalk to keep moving while they waited at a light. I had to pedal at my own pace. Coasting wasn’t working and I could not add pressure. Lightly pedaling was the best way to keep the cramping from being too bad.

Crystal Lake Park – Mile 30

Still, the group finished about 30 seconds ahead of me which wasn’t bad. I would have given them 30 minutes. I was hurting. I slowly rode to my car, moved gingerly as I dismounted, found my Hot Shot, and chugged that down.

I walked over to find lunch. No one knew where it was. On the website, it said lunch was provided by PDQ. I then found some empty PDQ containers in the trash. We discovered the 25 and 50-mile riders ate our lunches.

PDQ Lunch Boxes – No lunches for distance riders

I was tired. It was 3:00 and I needed lunch. While there was a dinner at 6:00 back at the Omni, I knew I would not be going back to my hotel, cleaning up, and then returning for dinner. Partly I was afraid that I might cramp up during dinner and that would not be pretty.

In my GPS I found a PDQ eight miles (air miles?) away. I drove to it and then asked the manager if they provided the lunches to the MS Ride. They had and I thanked him for it. I also told him that the riders who rode the farthest didn’t get any. He gave me a complimentary lunch. It’s a great place and not just for free food.

Lunch at PDQ

An MS ride is more than a ride. It’s about the mission to rid the world of MS. I like to connect with people and hear their stories. The first person was a young woman, wearing a tutu (maybe a bad idea for a distance ride). She had written on her bib she was riding for her mother. I told her I was riding for my daughter and showed her the cool stem cap. (She can be seen in the Davenport photo.)

I asked her how far she was riding and she told me she was going to ride 100 but was now thinking about 60 (The routes were 23, 50, and 75 so maybe she was thinking about 50 miles). A group, her group, was rolling out of the rest step and I just missed jumping in with them but left in a hurry to catch them. And then I started regretting not spending more time with her and offering to ride 100 with her. It was obvious no one in her group was willing.

The second person I talked to was Sharon. She was in the Top 50 fundraisers as evidenced by her blue bib number. She told me her connection was seven or eight friends who all have MS. She also said she lost her 35-year-old niece within the last year to MS due to a blood clot. Of course, neither of us knows for sure what may have caused the blood clot, be it MS, medications for MS, or medications for something else.

DISTANCE: 101.2 miles
TIME: 6:04

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