Today was the big Livestong ride, and I thought it was great. I have never done an organized event like this and I was stunned at the level of organization that they had. I picked up my race packet for the 45 mile ride (they had various levels according to ability) on Saturday, and today i just had to show up and go. Each of the levels was organized into a section, so there was no confusion.

I met with Jeanette before the race and she gave me Chuck’s Livestrong Jersey to wear for the ride. I felt really honored to wear his jersey, since I was riding for him for the event. I had put four people down on my riding list. Chuck, who we lost a few years back, and Yulia’s mom, was well as my dad and Uncle, who are all survivors.

The ride started through downtown, past Chinatown and onto the express lanes of I-90. This went over the bridge and onto Mercer Island. From there we followed Island Crest way around the perimeter of the island. The hills were pretty tough, but not impossible. I was really glad to have a climbing gear on the bike. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get the front derailleur to engage my top gear. Our first rest stop was at the south end of the island.

Each rest stop (about every 10 miles) had a first aid station, bike repair, and food and drink. It was a pretty sweet setup. Throughout the ride we had support cars tracking everyone, and offering assistance as needed.

Up to this point the weather was clear. But after the first stop, things started to get cold. Within a few miles, the rain began to fall, and by the time we were across the bridge and into Bellevue, it was raining. Not too hard at first, but by the second rest stop in Newcastle Beach Park it was getting serious.

The rout went up to Newport Hills, then split, with the 75 and 100 milers heading out to Coal Creek, and us 45 milers going down to Renton. It was really starting to get wet. My hands were cold enough that I had trouble shifting gears, and had to start exercising them to get the blood flowing. AS we came around Gene Coulon Park, one rider slid and caught his tire in the railroad tracks. He took a nasty fall. By the time I got there they had an ambulance taking care of him, and had police warning other to be careful.

The third rest stop was at Renton Stadium. I had the mechanic look at my front derailleur, but he couldn’t see anything wrong, but it would work only sporadically for top gear. I chose to ignore it.

From there we went up Rainier avenue to Seward Park, then Up Lake washington Boulevard and up the switchbacks. It was cold. there was less rain but we were all soaked by that point. I went through the I-90 Bike tunnel to the final rest stop. From there it was straight through downtown back to Seattle Center.

Crossing the finish line with everyone cheering was great. Jeanette was there, and I just beat Yulia and company who were driving in to see me finish.

It was a great ride, with $800k raised in total. I will definitely be doing this next year.