It is (past) that time of year, Pedal The Cause 2019. Here in St. Louis Pedal The Cause is one of, if not the, biggest charity bike rides you can find. It takes place on the beautiful cycling roads of west county, starting in Chesterfield, spending most of its time in Wildwood, with a little loop down to Eureka as well depending on the length of the ride you do. You can even cross the Missouri River and ride in St. Charles County and Maryland Heights if you choose the Two Bridges route.

The event offers a variety of distances, from spinning on site at the Chesterfield Amphitheater, a 10 Mile (PTC Circuit), 20 Mile (PTC Classic), 37 Mile (Two Bridges), 50 Mile (Big Hitter), 62 Mile (Metric Century) to the  98 Mile (Century). Ranging in Elevation from 321 feet to 4,809 feet for the century. Depending on the distance you sign up for, and when you sign up, you commit to raising a certain level of funds. Riding the Century route, and registering before July 1st, I committed to raising at least $600, had I signed up after July 1st, I would have needed to commit to $1,000.

In previous years I had ran on the Team ASG-SPS team, but this year I changed things up. I wanted to try to put together a team for the gym we go to, so I started the CrossFit Wildwood team. We had 7 members total on the team, 2 other members from CrossFit Wildwood, 2 members from the ASG-SPS team, and my kids signed up for the team challenge. We set a team goal of raising $5,000, which I’ll be honest, a few weeks ago, it seemed like we wouldn’t get anywhere close to that goal. But as of right now, we have $4,695, and I believe we have another $2,000 coming in from a fund raising event we held with the St. Louis Region SCCA Solo program back on the 22nd of September.

I haven’t figured out what will happen with the team next year, if I can get a few more CrossFit Wildwood members to join the team and ride, we will  keep it going, otherwise might just switch back to the ASG-SPS team with Dave and Beth.

So how did Sunday go? Well, it was both WET and HOT. The morning started out with wet roads from a morning shower that came through before the start of the ride. It didn’t rain too much, if at all, during the ride, but much of the roads were wet throughout the day. You had to breath through your nose while you were riding as to not collect/drink spray from the rider in front of you, and at each rest stop you needed to clean your glasses. The morning started out very humid in the mid 70s, and only went UP from there. It ultimately got HOT. So hot that they actually closed down a section of the course, the Babler Beast, the inner loop around Babler State Park.

I started the ride with Aaron, riding with the Stifel team, but also a member at CrossFit Wildwood. We took off at a decent clip, but started towards the back of the group, so we couldn’t totally gun it to try to stay with the fastest riders. Through Chesterfield Valley I feel like we could of used a larger pack for more speed, but we kept up a good clip and had a great conversation along the way. We skipped the first aid station at the Taubman outlets, and kept pedaling to get to the other side of the valley to stop at the aid station at the John L. LeCave Memorial Trailhead at the end of the Monarch Levy Trail. If I recall correctly, this was about mile 24 into the ride. Here I refilled a bottle with Gatorade, took a shot of pickle juice and had a half a PB&J sandwich.

From there we headed out towards Wildhorse Creek and then up Ossenfort. I told Aaron not to worry about waiting for me, as much riding as I’ve done this year, I feel like my hill climbing hasn’t been very good, so I figured he would be much faster up the hills and I wouldn’t see him again. I am pleased to say I kept up with him for the first two hills, Ossenfort and Little Tavern. Once we got up to Hencken though, I was cooked and he was much faster. We met back up at the aid station in Greensfelder, and headed south on Allenton together.

The loop south of 44 in Eureka is a pretty rough road, and steep climb to start, at this point I lost sight of Aaron and would only see him at two more rest stops going forward. Going up this first hill south of 44 I got really upset. I was climbing along, struggling, and I hear what I thought was a car behind me, I even started to yell “car back” to the riders ahead of me when I turned and saw an older gentleman cruising up and past me on his e-bike. This triggered me, here I was struggling, and here goes this guy just casually pedaling along, assisted, with ease. I really wasn’t mad at him, but I was upset with jealousy. Later in the day, when he passed me 3 or 4 more times going up different hills, that’s when I started to get upset. Good for him, he’s out riding. But man, if you’re going to pass a slow guy on climbs with your e-bike, stay in front of him so you don’t have to insult him EVERY DAMN HILL there is.

At the top of Allenton I stopped at the Greensfelder aid station again and went to the bike mechanic for some lube. My chain was loud as could be, and I hoped they could help me. I don’t know why I put dry lube on the bike two nights before, at the Hermann Gravel challenge I learned that the dry lube comes right off in the wet conditions and makes a hell of a racket when it does. I was able to get some lube and the bad sounds went away for the rest of the day. From Greensfelder (the second time) you head back to Melrose, down and then up through Rockwoods Reservation back up to Old Manchester. Old Manchester goes west back out to Melrose and up to where Ossenfort and Melrose meet. At this point I stopped to rest in the shade a bit and chat with another gym Member, Beahm, who was volunteering at the aid station. I questioned his choice in Music, the guy must be late 20s, MAYBE early 30s, but he’s rocking classic rock like it is going out of style. He must of been raised here in St. Louis listening to KSHE through his youth instead of 105.7 The Point.

From there you head down Ossenfort, which is always questionable when wet, by this point in the afternoon many of the shaded roads were still wet, even though the heat was climbing. My Garmin recorded a 99 degree temperature reading around there. From the base of Ossenfort it was down towards Highway T. This section of the ride, in the past, always sucks. You are completely exposed, no shade, going up an incline back towards Highway 100. For some reason, 2019 was different. I felt revived on this stretch of road and managed to pass two riders ahead of me and get across 100 and back on to Old Manchester in record time (for me). It was still sunny, and hot, but it didn’t drain me along Highway T like I expected.

Then it was a run east on Old Manchester to Pond, out to Babler State Park. I was definitely getting hot, and not pushing for any PRs along this section of the route. I was looking forward to Babler, because the aid station there typically has orange bandanas sitting in a cooler full of ice water, and on a hot day, these bandanas go a long way to making you feel cooler/better.

I arrived at Babler, with the intention of grabbing an ice cold bandana, and then heading into the park for the “Babler Beast”, a counter clockwise loop of the park with a hell of a climb towards the end. Unfortunately when I asked for a bandana, I was told they didn’t have any, and offered a cold paper towel. I said I would just grab one on the way back through, after doing the loop, but was quickly told that they had closed the part of the course in the park. Due to heat and injuries, they shut it down. I honestly was not too thrilled with this news. I have been training for Pedal The Cause all year, with the intention of finishing the full ride this year, something I’ve only done once previously.

I wasn’t about to let this stop me, so I headed up the chute to where the close was closed, and I just went. They chased me, they yelled, they event sent a police helicopter, but I went anyways. I ended up completing the loop, in probably one of my slowest times ever, but I completed it. I was definitely hot at this point, so I made sure to take my time, and rested before going up the big climb. As I was going up the climb, I decided to stop and take two breaks, instead of stopping and walking, I let my heart rate come back down and relaxed. I also didn’t want to overheat and need medical assistance, especially after I went against the ride’s wishes, so I took my time, and I made my way around Babler State Park.

When I stopped to rest at the Babler aid station again I noticed that two other riders came in behind me, also deciding to take to the closed section of the course. I ran into Steve at this point, who unfortunately told me he was experiencing cramping issues again. Wasn’t much I could offer him, so I went ahead and  left Babler and headed out for what I knew would be the worst part of the course. For me the last 20 miles of Pedal the cause every year is the worst. You have one hill, Reiger, which isn’t too bad, then you head down Wildhorse, a steep descent and then follow along the creek for 3-4 miles. After that you head down to Centaur and back to the LeCave trailhead. This section of the road isn’t too bad, but when you’re doing it solo you just want to be done. I’m typically riding this section of road with other riders, but for Pedal I always seem to be by myself, so it gets lonely to run by yourself.

After the aid station at Centaur, you head down the Levy trail and then through Chesterfield Valley back up a climb on Baxter to the amphitheater. The first 3 miles on the Levy trail were great, the wind was at my back, and my riding was quick, After passing under the Boone bridge you go east, RIGHT INTO A DAMN HEADWIND (it was actually from the southeast, so… it go worse). I lost 6mph on my speed into this wind, and I was going to be heading east/southeast the rest of the ride. This is where I broke. I simply couldn’t keep any speed up, my motivation was sapped. I wasn’t about to give up on the ride, but my pedaling slowed, and I was passed by 3 individuals within the last 1/2 mile of the finish.

98.24 miles according to my Garmin

After the ride I had intentions of grabbing Sugarfire BBQ, but I was completely spent. I grabbed two bottles of Propel from the cheer/dance team handing out medals and water at the finish, found some shade and laid down for 20 minutes to recover.

A big thank you to everyone who rode this year, volunteered this year, and anyone who donated to any pedal the cause rider or team. Aaron finished his first century, by riding some extra distance afterwards to get to the full 100 miles. Dave finished 73 miles, cutting out some of the course due to the conditions. Steve unfortunately had to get the SAG wagon back to the event start, seccumbing to the cramps.

Now it is back to Gravel season. I'll be getting my Niner RLT setup this week and will be back on gravel roads to get ready for the Cuban Gravel Crisis coming up in less than two weeks.