The 3rd Saturday in July is traditionally the RAIN Ride which is a one day ride across the state of Indiana. This year the event took place on July 20, 2019. The start is at 7am in Terre Haute at St. Mary of the Woods College. Event ends at 9pm in Richmond, IN at Earlham College. One day. 160 miles. Majority of the ride is along the Historic Route 40.
Packet pick up takes place on Friday at St Mary of the Woods. Easy in and out. SWAG includes a t-shirt and some ride glide. Todd, Sara & I at packet pick up. Easy in & out. Hardest part was finding St Mary of the Woods.
Logistics for this point to point event are a bit of a challenge and that is one reason why I have not done it previously. Oh yeah, and because I had to ride my bike 160 miles, in one day. Sounds daunting, right? Well, not as daunting as the logistics.
Options. 1) Park your car in Richmond on Friday and take a bus to Terre Haute. Bike rides on a truck, separate from you. 2) Have some super awesome friends/family who love you so much that they will drive you to Terre Haute and then following you around while you ride your bicycle ALL DAY on Saturday. I have some amazing friends and family but none that I could ask to do that. Fortunately, Todd has better connections and a spouse that must REALLY love him. She grabbed a friend and they became our Personal SAG Vehicle (PSV) for this event. Meet Darla & Jen. They said they felt like they were chasing a storm on Saturday. So they will forever be called the Storm Chasers. And we are now affectingly known as “Team Twister”. A little 90s humor.
The main concern in the weeks leading up to the event was the heat
and the 160 miles. The Midwest was having a heat wave and the ride was promising to be one of the hottest in history. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of endurance events and learned a bit over the years about heat, fueling, and salt/electrolyte intake. Its never fun when the temperature climbs but it can be manageable if pace/expectation is adjusted and you are uber aware of how you are feeling and how your body is responding.
Time to ride!!! 7am start at St Mary of the Woods! There were 6 of us and we started in the “Just Finish It” corral! Lots of riders in front of us who might have been a bit more serious.
And then there were 6! From left: Todd, Paul, Matt, Adam (back/orange), Sara & myself. READY to ride!! I have a lot of love for these people and have spent a lot of time with them. Some more than others. In fact, Matt may currently be looking for a new house since he lives on my primary ride route and I just pull into his drive and wait for him to come out and ride bikes with me.
Off we go. Big pack. Police escort thru Terre Haute. Everyone was locked in, two to three riders across. Large packs continued all the way to the first official SAG stop at mile 39. View of the first riders coming thru the tunnel in Terre Haute from the RAIN Facebook page.
The official SAG stops were every 40 miles or so. Mile 39, 63, 92 (lunch), 113 (water only) and lastly mile 131. SAG stops had bathrooms, food, water, Gatorade, pickle juice, cookies, chips, trail mix, miscellaneous goodies, bike support techs and some had hoses or misting stations to cool the riders. Aerial view of the first aid station from the RAIN Facebook page.
We were very fortunate to have 2 PSVs for the 6 of us. Matt’s wife, Melissa. Then Todd’s wife Darla and Jen. The initial plan was for them to meet us at the official SAG stops for the initial 3 stops (miles 39, 63 & 92). They did a lot of driving. A lot of waiting. And a lot of managing our needs, both emotionally and physically. Darla, Jen & Melissa ….. waiting. Matt & I rolling into SAG stop 2.
By the time we left SAG stop #2, things were really starting to heat up. The packs were finally breaking up a little but there were still a lot of riders on the road around us. We had 29-30 miles between SAG stop #2 and #3. But it was hot. Too hot. We had already been relying on ice as our primary cooling agent. We were putting it in our bottles, putting it in our cycling kits, and also using water to stay wet/cool. We were going thru a lot more water than we normally would, since most of it was being used to cool us on the outside vs. for traditional hydrating purposes. We were also being very cognizant of our fueling. Any time the weather is extreme (cold or hot), the body uses additional calories (fuel) to function. It has to have enough calories to cool the body and perform the task at hand, in this case cycling. Things were starting to get dangerous. Cyclists were overheating and stopping along roadsides, under shaded trees or beside tree lined fence rows. I realized by the time we had traveled a mere 7 miles past SAG stop #2 that we would not make it to #3 without stopping. We were also in the area around Indianapolis where our Storm Chasers had to jump on 465, to get around the city, to meet us at the 3rd SAG stop. Our PSVs couldn’t get to us and we were riding thru a very populated area where we had to constantly stop at stop signs or traffic signals, which further slowed our progress and the time on the road between stops. See ride route below.
We stopped 2x between SAG #2 and #3. Bought cold water & ice from a gas station first, then a CVS the second time. Then a nice lady had a truck on route at one of the busy intersections and she was handing out ice, water & cold towels. God always sends out angels, be on the look out! A few random riding pics below.
As stated, we used additional resources 3x between the 2nd and 3rd SAG stops. Hot. Hot. Hot. My bike computer read a max temp of 116.6 degrees.
Finally made it to SAG #3, which was also the lunch stop. Indoor bathrooms. Sandwiches. Chips. Lots of goodies. We loaded up and were off again.
After the lunch stop, the PSV route and the ride route converged. Our Storm Chasers agreed to leapfrog us and meet us every 10 miles, or so, to make sure we had access to ice, cold water & fuel on a more frequent basis. Sometimes, they found a parking lot in which to pull into, other times, we found them parked along the road with the trunk popped open and waiting for us. So thankful for the extra stops!!!
We had a few mishaps with tip overs, malfunctioning equipment, and my left cleat even lost a few screws at one point (no, I didn’t crash/tip over). Thankfully Todd, or one of the other guys, always seemed to have a solution to the immediate problem and ultimately, we kept moving forward.
As with all endurance events, the finish will eventually present itself, if you can just keep moving, avoid major mishap, stay fueled/hydrated, and manage your electrolytes.
Overall, RAIN was a great experience and a well ran event. Because of the heat, I’m honestly not sure we could have finished without a PSV (or 2). We knew from some previously HOT training rides that 20 miles is a push before refilling water/ice, and most of these stops were 30 to 40 miles apart.
What to know if want to do RAIN in the future:
- Be prepared for a long day.
- Train. Stack training by riding multiples days in a row, decent length rides without getting silly and riding super long rides, every weekend. Its about time in the saddle as much as miles.
- Cycling shorts over TRI shorts are recommended, due to the potential length of the day.
- A PSV is recommended unless you are just super fast and do well in the heat.
- Expect heat and humidity. Its July in Indiana.
- Take extra electrolytes other than what’s in your fuel. We used salt tabs/capsules, in addition to Nuun and Tailwind hydration products. Nuun is all electrolytes, Tailwind is fuel with electrolytes. Then we used the salt tabs, Huma gels, ate food at the aid stations, drank Coca Cola & used Sour Patch Kids & Swedish Fish candies to help keep the sugar moving into our system.
- Talk to people. Make new friends!
- Appreciate your support crew. They are hot and tired too!!
Great event and I thought most of the roads we used were in decent to good shape. Lots of turns. We had the option of uploading the route to our bike computers using Ride With GPS or we could have relied on the well marked route, following the RAIN drops.
Lots of people do RAIN. This year was no different. 1200ish registered. 1028 picked up packets. 642 finished by the 9pm cut off. I will say that most of the issues we saw were heat and electrolyte related. Lots of people cramping up because they just didn’t take extra electrolytes. When you are taking in a lot of water, remember that you are flushing out electrolytes. Managing the heat during endurance events is about so much more than staying hydrated. My experience as a marathon runner and triathlete really came in handy for this event, even if my group was tired of hearing me
nag remind them to drink/eat/take electrolytes.
Will I do it again? I would definitely do it again. I actually can’t even believe I just said that out loud (or put it in writing). That being said, I don’t have a lot of people who could/would do a PSV for me, so ultimately, unless I can get in with a group who has a PSV and is willing to let me tag along, I’m not sure it would be smart.
Definitely give RAIN a try! You’ll love it!!
Amanda – TooTallFritz