If you are reading this because you’re thinking about signing up for one of Transition Triathlon’s “LoCo rides,” I have two words for you: SIGN UP!
This was such a great event and I really look forward to doing more of these.
I loved this ride for a lot of reasons, but one of the most important is that it benefitted a local charity I support, Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA). FOHA is a “non-profit, no-kill shelter that focuses on the rescue and placement of homeless dogs and cats in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area.” Back when I was a Federal employee, I supported the shelter through the Combined Federal Campaign, and while I can no longer participate in that program, I want to continue my support of FOHA’s critically important work on behalf of animals.
I also loved this ride because I had company! I met up with my friend and Oiselle Teammate, Taryn, for this ride, which was a real treat for me, as I traditionally do most of my tri training alone. It is so nice to have company and really makes the time pass more quickly.
Knowing that we would need to get in some longer rides this summer as part of our Ironman training, Taryn and I registered for the ride a couple of months ago. The early bird price for the ride was a mere $35-$40 (depending upon when you registered), which included an awesome tee shirt and several support stops along the ride with refreshments (more on both of those in a bit). Considering what you get for your money and the cause the ride benefits, $40.00 really isn’t a lot.
Riders had three course options – 25, 50, and 70 miles – and you didn’t have to pre-select a route at registration (or even when picking up your bib on the morning of the event!). I loved that this provided us with flexibility to determine how we felt during the ride. Even within the 70 mile option, there was one particularly challenging section of the course that you could bypass with an easier option. We picked the tougher route, for the record. 🙂
Another option was your start time. Riders were permitted to start the ride anytime from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. Taryn and I decided to meet at 7:00 for check-in. We were given bibs and rubber bracelets, which we were required to wear during the ride.
Wristbands ensured only registered riders took advantage of the support stops along the route.
We also picked up our cue sheets and tee shirts and even though I am not a big race tee shirt girl, I LOVE this shirt! I love the design and the shirt is super soft. I will definitely wear this one!
Who doesn’t love a dog on a bicycle??
The course started on the W&OD Trail, but fairly quickly (less than 5 miles in) turned off the trail. The course was beautiful. On many occasions, Taryn and I commented to each other about the views. We encountered a few cars along the way, but traffic was generally light.
Not too shabby on the scenery front, right?
The course was very well marked, with color-coded signs for each route. For the 70 mile route, we followed the yellow signs with black arrows and then the yellow signs with red arrows, while the 50-mile riders followed the black arrows to the finish. As I mentioned, we were supplied with cue sheets at check-in and, of course, those are important to carry just in case, but we never needed them for directions because the course markings were so clear. We did use the cue sheets for reference a few times to determine how far we were from the next bathroom or aid station, and they also indicated where to expect some of the worst climbs, which was very helpful.
There were numerous support stops along the course. The volunteers were AWESOME! They were so friendly and welcoming. At one of the stops, they thanked us for riding on behalf of the animals. At another, a young man filled our bottles for us. Just as we carried our cue sheets, even though we didn’t really ever need them, we both carried our own nutrition, even though there was more than enough to eat and drink at each stop.
Each stop had water and Skratch Labs mix to drink. For food, the two stations we stopped at (we skipped the first two stops) both had gels, and at least one of the two had several different options of Feed Zone Portables.
Since I wasn’t sure what fuel options would be available on the ride, I carried two Bobo’s Oat Bars (Lemon Poppyseed and Cranberry-Orange) and a gel with me from home. I ate those and did end up using a gel from an aid station, as well. I also took advantage of the water to fill my water bottle and to make nuun with tabs I carried with me. It was quite humid and I was sweating more than I had anticipated. I ended up drinking three full bottles of nuun! Both stops we stopped at also had pretzels.
I generally felt good throughout the ride. I had one rough patch, where I felt myself slowing down, but taking a gel really helped me bounce back for a strong finish.
This was definitely what I would consider a challenging course. Taryn’s Garmin reported the gain as 3716 (my Garmin’s elevation function doesn’t work for reasons I haven’t taken the time to investigate…). We hit some of the bigger climbs from the Reston Century Ride, including Taylorstown and Stumptown. At one point, I looked down and my cadence was 40 even in my easiest gear! I would definitely say that true beginners should be aware that the course is not flat and they should review the course descriptions and elevation profiles before registering.
Thankfully, the finish is downhill and Taryn felt so great she was ready to ride right by the store!
Sweaty, but smiling, at the finish!
Thank you to Taryn for being an awesome riding partner; Transition Tri for hosting this event; all of the volunteers for their support; FOHA for all they do on behalf of animals; and, of course, MooMotion, for supporting all of my triathlon and cycling adventures.