“Bike to the Ballpark” Hits Helena

1017101_397834396983110_1723229863_nSummer and baseball fit together like “Bert and Ernie.” Sure, one of them alone is great (and pretty darn lovable in the case of Bert and Ernie), but as a combo, they’re unstoppable! In Helena Montana, the beautiful summer weather is the perfect excuse to get outdoors and catch baseball games with the Helena Brewers.

But to really take advantage of the gorgeous Helena summer, we wanted to take it one step further. That’s why we partnered with the Brewers to produce Bike to the Ballpark. We figured that the game would be a great excuse to get some exercise on your way, so we created a promotion to make it fun. Here’s how it works:

Step 1) People meet at the PacificSource office (Great Northern Town Center) on bicycles.

Step 2) Anyone who shows up ready to ride can enter to win a new bicycle.

Step 3) The whole group rides to the ballpark, parks their bikes at the stadium, and enjoys the game.

The last Bike to the Ballpark is Sunday, August 18 at noon (game starts at 1:05 p.m.). It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a fantastic way to burn some calories before the game. So if you’re in Helena, we’d love for you to stop by.

Bike to the Ballpark_8

 

 

Related Post: Riding with Northwest Association for Blind Athletes

We Came, We Saw, We bRambled!

Back ShotFull disclosure; I am not an avid cyclist. If you read my 5 Reasons Why Cycling is for Crazy People post last week, you know why. But thanks to some peer pressure from a few of my fittest co-workers, I decided to give a big cycling event a shot. So, along with a team of PacificSource riders, I hopped on my rock hard (utterly painful butt destroying) bike seat, and rode in Eugene’s Blackberry bRamble.

For the bRamble, I had the option to ride 100 miles (nope), 62 miles (nope), or 40 miles (still sounds dreadful). While there was a 20 mile community ride at the event, almost all of the PacificSource cycle team were doing one of the long rides, so I figured I could handle 40 miles. That was my first mistake, I had no idea I worked with people who are half bike riding robots. Here was my tale of the day:

The start

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The PacificSource Cycling Team

At 8:00 a.m. our 40 and 62 milers gathered at the start. We did have one maniac from PacificSource do the full 100, but he started a few hours before us. We took a quick team photo, and off we went!

I felt great for about 3 miles, then we hit our first hill. Whoever designed this course must have thought that putting a monster hill in the first 5 miles was hilarious. I did not find it amusing. But as it turns out, I’m actually built for climbing. I’m a runner at heart, so the cardio was no problem, and skinny guys like me can attack hills like gangly mountain goats. So by the time we reached our first summit, I was feeling pretty good. Then we hit the downhill, and I watched the pros blow past me. I always thought downhills were for resting, but I was wrong, because these guys kick downhills right in the face. I was left in the dust.

Rescued by a freight train

As the ride progressed, I realized that flat country roads are very pretty, but unforgiving to a solo rider. After I got smoked on the downhill, I was left trying to catch the pack. When you ride solo, the wind beats you down, and it takes everything you’ve got to keep pace. Luckily, Martin, our unofficial team captain, had hung back, and rescued me on the flat land. Here’s what you need to know about Martin; the man is a train! He’s big, he’s strong, and he can absolutely power through flat ground. He’s also generous, and he let me ride in his draft  so we could catch the pack. I’m 90% sure that if Martin hadn’t found me, I’d still be out there somewhere.

Rest StopThe halfway mark/the greatest sandwich in the history of sandwiches

At the 20 mile mark, we hit my favorite part of the ride; the rest stop. The Blackberry bRamble had loads of volunteers ready to feed starving riders, and I can say with confidence that I’ve never enjoyed a sandwich more. When we got back on the road, the 40 milers and 62 milers went our separate ways. Lucky for me, 6 of my teammates were also doing the 40, including Martin who destroys flat ground, and Rowan, a master on hills. I was in great hands.

The “looking like an idiot” crash

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Martin putting on a tire changing clinic

The last half was definitely harder than the first. We got a little lost (turning our 40 miles into almost 50), I blew a tire, and had a good old-fashioned “I’m not moving, can’t clip my feet out, look like an idiot” crash. But my crew had me covered, and Martin showed how quickly a pro can change a tire. It takes me about 4 days to change a flat, Martin had me back on the road in about 10 minutes. It was beyond impressive. In the last 10 miles, as my legs were burning, and my stomach was growling, I gave a thought to Chris, the lone PacificSource lunatic that rode 100 miles. The fact that he rode twice as far as we did absolutely blew my mind. The man is nuts.

The glorious finish

The Reward

The Reward!

Finally, we hit the home stretch, and finished at Amazon Park. After a much deserved team high-five, we mingled with riders of all distances. The cool part about the bRamble is that it offers a community ride to mix hard-core cyclists with casual riders and families looking to get their kids moving. It was awesome to hear everyone’s tales from the day. And of course, the reward of blackberry pie made everything worth it!

The day was a blast, and I can’t thank my fellow riders enough for carrying me to the end. And, a huge kudos goes to Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARS) for putting on such a great event. All of our community riders, our 40 milers, 62 milers, and Chris, our 100 mile crazy man, had beautiful, safe rides. Not sure what my cycling future holds, but I definitely had a great time at the bRamble.

Here are some more pictures from the bRamble:

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Related Post: 5 Reasons Why Cycling is for Crazy People

5 Reasons Why Cycling is for Crazy People

DSC_0117I used to work with a guy who was probably the healthiest man on the planet. Needless to say, I hated him instantly. We shared an office, were about the same age, and for the most part, had the same job. But it didn’t take long for our co-workers to realize that one of us was He-Man, the other was a slug. Here was the main reason why he was in such better shape:

  • Me: I lived about 4 miles away from our office, and drove to work every day.
  • Him: He lived half way to the moon, and only biked to work. No joke, one time the roads iced over and while I was debating the safety of driving my car, he skated all the way to work on his bike. What kind of lunatic rides 20 miles on ice?!

His biking to work made all the difference. While I looked like a zombie as I stumbled out of my car every morning, this spring chicken had already done more exercise before breakfast than I had in weeks.

I know I said I hated him, but after working in close proximity for about a year, I got over my fitness envy and we became great pals. Then, he finally popped the question. “Hey man, have you ever thought about buying a road bike? If you had a bike, we could ride after work.” My first instinct was to slap him in the face for even suggesting I could keep up with him. But after some prodding, I finally agreed to purchase one. Who knows? Maybe this purchase would turn me into He-Man Jr.

Since I hadn’t ridden anything since my days as a Huffy gangster, the smart thing to do would have been to test a few bikes, get a feel for what riding a road bike actually felt like (when I say road bike, I’m talking Tour de France style bikes), and landed on one that fit my gangly body type. Let’s make one thing clear, taking the smart road is not in my DNA. Instead, I found the meanest looking bike I could (online), did zero research, and bought that sucker sight unseen! No test rides, no gear, just the blind intuition from an idiot looking for speed. Here’s what I bought. Gorgeous, isn’t she?

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After she arrived, and I spent my entire net worth outfitting it with all the necessary gear, I realized I didn’t know the first thing about cycling. My first ride was an absolute train wreck, but I did learn why hard core cyclists should all be classified as clinically insane. I documented what I learned in the early going and made:

The Top 5 Reasons Why Cyclists are Crazy People.

  1. Instead of buying a comfortable seat, cyclists buy spandex with strategically placed padding. Seriously, you’d be better off sitting on a rail road spike for 40 miles. And if you think this “magical” padding does anything to ease the blow, you’re out of your mind.
  2. They clip their feet to their pedals. My first stop light experience inevitably led to a complete stop, panic when I realized I couldn’t clip out, and a slow fall into the intersection. Clipping in was easy, clipping out was a skill I neglected to learn until I was on the ground stopping traffic. While I’d like to think people were concerned for my well-being, I’m 99% sure that if I were a motorist and watched some guy slowly topple over because he couldn’t free his feet, I would have mocked him furiously. 
  3. My first hill...at least this is how I remember it

    My first hill…at least this is how I remember it

    They “power up” hills. My first real hill came when I rode with my cycling pal. When we reached this hill (which by the way looked like Kilimanjaro), he hopped “out of the saddle” and yelled, “Come on, man. We’ll power up this beast then have a nice coast down!” Are you kidding me?! If I had the energy to catch him, I would have punched him squarely in the spandex. I didn’t catch him, I just cursed at him the entire climb.

  4. The tires are razor-thin. Clearly, cyclists believe that riding on long, winding roads with waves of fast-moving traffic in both directions doesn’t provide nearly enough danger. So they decide to do so on tires thinner than my pinky. Why not?!
  5. Did I mention the spandex? I’ll admit that spandex shorts do make the riding experience much more comfortable. But it’s my firm belief that if your sport requires spandex to make it bearable, you probably need to reevaluate your decision to take part.

I’m still a pretty horrible cyclist, but I kept my bike, and I still ride today. I’m actually taking part in the Blackberry bRamble this weekend. I enjoy riding now, but I still think anyone who rides for long distances is completely nuts. That being said, it’s a great way to get fit, and as my uber healthy pal taught me, riding with a group is always way more fun.

Good luck to all the other crazies on the roads! And if you’re riding the bRamble this weekend in Eugene, I’ll see you out there. I’ll be the guy in really tight shorts.

 

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