By Allan Edmonds
The 2015 Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) is now history. Over 1500 riders registered for the event, and we’ll soon hear the more-or-less official numbers of starters and finishers and their times.
It’s a big event and each person experiences it somewhat differently.
Who would ride a bicycle for up to 14 hours? Most people cannot even imagine it. But even if you can imagine it, there are many things to worry about. What if it rains? What if it’s sweltering hot? What if the wind blows all day in your face? What if you have a flat or break a cable? Can you surmount those obstacles?
Everyone who does this endurance ride has his or her own reasons and goals for the day. Many people are doing it for the first time and just hoping to finish. Others are trying to beat their previous times, although we’re at pains to emphasize that this is not a race. Yet others are helping friends and acquaintances do it, either on the ride itself or by driving a support vehicle. Most people would appear to be part of a small group doing it together. In fact working in a group, whether formal or informal, is absolutely necessary for the best times (both in the clock sense and in the camaraderie sense). But a surprisingly large number do it on their own. In any case the road is pretty crowded with bicyclists and a successful rider must be alert and courteous to others.
One of the most inspiring riders we observed along the way was a woman pulling her brother with physical disabilities in a trailer. We learned learned that she did that between two successive rest stops, before moving our on her own to finish the ride.
Perhaps the most interesting “vehicle” we saw was an Elliptigo, basically an elliptical trainer mounted on wheels. We saw one, although we have heard there were three and at least two of them finished. Whew! I had heard of such things but had never seen one and never would have imagined someone riding it across the state. But that’s what RAIN brings out in people!
More about the above riders can be gleaned from the RAIN Facebook page.
In my own case we rode in a group of 7 most of the day, all members of the BBC, including in addition to myself, CE Taylor, Kathy Cummins, Gail Morell, Thom Simmons, Tim Gehres, and Steve Galvin. (Up to the first rest stop we also rode with Robin Bruegmann, who was in the lead and just kept heading down the road when the rest of us turned into the first rest stop.)
Last year our group was a bit over 11 hours and some of us (or at least I) hoped to improve just a little and finish before 6pm. It wasn’t to be. In fact we were all over 12 hours this year. How did that happen? The conditions were good to excellent and I actually had more training miles than ever. Our lead group finished at 7:04. We can point to several places where we lost a little time: We were about 2 minutes back in the mass start. We lost another couple minutes when a freight train blocked our route in Terre Haute. (It was certainly a very large group that stopped for the train; but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the lead pack beat the train.) We were almost involved in a pile up when another rider dropped a wheel off the edge of the road and fell. We stopped for around 5 minutes or so to be sure the two people most involved (including Robin who was penned in and had to ride over the down rider’s rear wheel before finally going down himself) were okay. We were part of a traffic jam on Southport Road that had little to do with RAIN. Again a lot of riders experienced that, maybe even worse than we did. The mild breeze occasionally took the form of a headwind. Some of our group wanted to go a little slower, perhaps for reasons of previous training or just not feeling great. I think we did hold our rest stops down a little from last, with 1:15 in stops, including almost 30 minutes at lunch. We had absolutely no mechanical issues or flat tires that might have delayed us.
After our last rest stop in Dunreith we informally split into two groups for the final stretch into Richmond. Four of us found ourselves hammering along, thinking whether it was just possible to make it before 7. We couldn’t quite do it, but we did ride that last 28 miles at about 17.6 more than 2 mph above our moving average for the first 133 miles. When we got to Earlham Gail, Thom, and I rode into the finish chute. But Steve turned around and went back to where CE, Kathy, and Tim were, 3-4 miles back and accompanied them to the finish about 15 or 20 minutes later. I’m glad our smaller group, who still had some energy left, took the opportunity to see what we could do over that last segment of open road.
Special Kudos to Steve for pulling us when we needed it, looking out for everyone, and in going back to finish with the other riders (That’s how got 168 miles when the rest of us had 163.); Special Kudos to CE for always looking out for everyone—we all benefitted from his famous “packing list”; Kathy completed the ride in fine fashioneven though she had substantially fewer training miles than the rest of us; Gail put on a good show pulling our group along at crucial points. Thom pulled me along when I flagged a bit in our push at the end. And Tim was usual steady self.
After talking to friends and getting cleaned up, a few of us gathered at the finish line to cheer Rachel Caswell in. For the second year she had pulled her sister Sara along for around 80 miles before Sara’s knee announced that she was done, and then Rachel did those final 80 miles the hard way, on her on. This again seemed like RAIN at its best: helping another rider do her best and then showing the grit and determination to complete the ride on ones own.
I can’t end without mentioning all the BBC volunteers who have made the RAIN Ride a resounding success. All those volunteers at registration and the start line, at the rest stops and the lunch stops, and at the finish line. And then a core of really dedicated volunteers who manage the RAIN over the year: planning, design, web sites, merchandise, registration, contracts for rest stops and start and finish and for lunch, planning the route, making maps, painting the route, dealing with last minute road closures! This includes John Connell (chair), Jen Miers (co-chair), Tammy Berger (merchandise), Keith Bobay (registration), Mark Villanova (rest stops), John Bassett (route), Klaus Rothe (web site), Kathy Cummins (secretary), and Ron Brown (finish line recording). It’s a big job, especially for a small club and an event that takes place over such a distance and at such long way from our home base. RAIN is better for the club the more people are involved. As most club members know, RAIN funds our important local grants program as well as a few social activities over the year. Congratulations to all for a job well done.