Posted on August 22, 2006 at 01:42 AM
This past Sunday marked the 16th annual Corporate Cycling Challenge which gives Omaha cyclists the opportunity to get out and ride with thousands of other area riders. This blog has participated in the ride with fellow coworkers for the past 5 years, but this was the first year I chose to make the 42 mile round trip trek to Ft. Calhoun (a.k.a. The Tour de Fort).
42 miles may seem a bit daunting to some, but as far as this blog is concerned, I would rather ride 42 miles on a bike than run 2 miles on foot (ahh, my high school cross country days are but a distant memory).
The ride itself was mostly uneventful, though I was surprised to see how many people were at the starting area for the 42 mile ride. I would estimate the numbers to be in the 1500-2000 rider range. Below is a picture of just a fraction of the people at the 8th and Farnam starting area.
At one report I heard that this year's event had over 10,000 registered entrants. As a company we had a very good showing and am happy to report we logged approx. 496 miles, so we should be in the running to claim the top spot of the "A" division (though results at this point have not been posted).
What's interesting to note is the type of bikes people show up with the day of the event. You will see anywhere from $5000 road bikes all the way down to $100 Wal-Mart Huffy's and anywhere in between. Also riding where a lot of tandem bikes (with Mom/Dad in the front and a child bringing up the rear) and recumbent bikes (where the rider is in a seated position with the pedals situated in front of the rider).
This purple, two wheeled bo-wheemoth was just ahead of me for most of ride back to Omaha and it was interesting to watch the rider mash the pedals up large hills as he battled gravity and friction due to the bikes humongous tires. You are probably wondering why someone would ride a bike like this 42 miles? The only answer I can muster is that some people just want to be different. My other answer of course would be pure lunancy, but I digress.
While I thought the ride was a huge success there were just a few things I thought could be improved upon for next year. Here are a few helpful hints for the events organizers:
1. Sub par restroom facilities at the Ft. Calhoun turnaround point.
This blog has excellent bladder control and didn't feel the need to go while at the turnaround point. Though if I did, I would have had to stand in about a 15 minute line for the men's restroom (which was your typical two stall restroom found in your local park). The women's line was an estimated 25 minute wait, which held up a few of the riders in our group. Just a thought, maybe mix in a few port-a-potties for next year in order to speed up downtime at the turnaround.
2. Change up the route.
The ride to Ft. Calhoun has varied a bit over the past years but never really deviates from the Highway 75 route. I'm cool with that, but maybe next year think about sending people towards the Boyer Chute route on the return trip to Omaha. It's a very scenic road that is nestled between the high bluffs of Northern Omaha and the Missouri River. Plus there is an excellent trail that follows the route which would be good exposure for those who never knew that trail existed.
3. Ditch the Powerade.
It seems every year I make the same mistake of thinking that the free Powerade they offer at the turn around point will actually taste better than last years. I don't drink Powerade at all so I am not real familiar with its taste, but I can't imagine it is supposed to taste like watered down sweat squeegeed of the backs of all the riders with a little blue dye #5 added for effect. So if that's what it is SUPPOSED to taste like, then please disregard this comment.
Other than those few preceding gripes the ride in my opinion was a great success. Mad props go out to the rides organizers who again put together a great event and also to the local area bike shops who lent a hand in support of the riders. I know fixing flat tires for 4 hours can't be much fun, but until the average-joe-bike-rider-who-thinks-it-would-be-fun-to-ride-42-miles-without-first-checking-the-conditions-of-their-tires thinks before showing up with crappy tires your expertise will still be needed and greatly appreciated.
Also a few shout outs to local law enforcement for halting traffic at different points along the route. I'm sure you got sick of all the motorists wondering where the hell did all these bikes come from and when the hell will I be able to cross the street, but your efforts were greatly appreciated. Especially the one officer who held the traffic back a little longer for me as I zoomed down the hill at I-680 at close to 40 miles an hour. Having to stop with that kind of built-up momentum would have been definitely below average.
And just to clear things up, the following video is not of this blog taking a short-cut on the trip back to Omaha, though I would love to know the secrets of that guy's speed for next year's ride.
Here is the link to the video for those not able to see the embedded movie.