I left Thursday morning and headed off to the Chelsea fairgrounds to throw the bikes in the semis, register, and get on the bus and head for Traverse City to start the 300 mile ride back to Chelsea for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. We finally departed around 11:00 after a delay thanks to traffic on US23. We were off and into construction sites all over us127 until we reached lunch about 1pm. We had bag lunches at a rest area 60 miles south of Grayling. After lunch, our bus broke off from the others and headed some strange way up to TC. Surprisingly, we were the last bus to arrive at the TC HIgh School where we grabbed our bags and searched for our bikes before finding a spot in the HOT gym to sleep. Dinner was tasty and snacks were ate later after we took a little stroll around the penninsula on the bikes for a total of 7.5 miles. Went to bed around 10 when they turned the lights off and slep well all through the night.
Day 1 of the riding was just ahead of us and all we had to do was pedal 117.5 miles and climb 4500ft. We left as a mass start at 7am and were off towards Caberfae Ski Resort for lunch 56 miles later. I rode with a good group of guys for the first 15 miles before I went back to ride with my dad. Not to loong after riding with him, we hit heavy fog which soaked us and had us with our glasses off trying to see 100ft in front of us. We got to the first main rest stop 30 miles in and were still shocked that we had not hit any hills yet. We jumped on a group and headed out for another 26 miles for lunch with a group who was doing a good comfortable pace. That was when the hills started. There were some rollers, then there was one big climb that resembled the Kensington Rd hill. I was at the back of the train, pulled out, and went by everyone as the group split apart. I rode with 4 other guys who kept up for the next 5 miles until I dropped them on a 1 mile long gradual hill. From there I figured I would just ride into lunch since I was only 12 miles out. So I hammered away by myself passing some people and mostly looking at the scenery. 7 miles before lunch I caught another rider Ted, who picked it up and jumped on my wheel. I pulled for 1.5 miles before he came up and decided to do his duty as we went into the Caberfae area. We climbed a decent hill and he stayed on, then we hit the 1.5 mile long climb into Caberfae where I left him behind. I just set my pace and pedaled up the climb as it didn't bother me much at all. I had plenty of gears left, and I just tried to find my line(the road was in horrible shape and a base that seemed like compacted peastone). One at the top, you ride over some small rollers and then decend into Caberfae pedaling the whole time to get some speed. Lunch was 10am for me and my dad came in about 15 minutes later after I was done with my few bites of hamburger, couple noodles, and peanut butter on bread. Back on the bikes, we jumped on the group of Matt Henkel, Jon Heft-from Trails-Edge, and some other strong riders-Jeff, Scott, Barry, and Tim. After some more hilly roads 10miles later after my pull, I dropped of the back to ride with my dad. We rode together until mile marker 99 where there was a rest area. From there, I jumped back on the group that only consisted of Matt, Jeff, and Scott and rode the remining 18.5 miles into Big Rapids. We were on the chase for the beggining trying to catch a group that went by the rest area, and soon enough, we reeled them in a few miles later. Rode the rest of the ride with the group and came in 15th overall with just two groups in front of us. I ended with a 19.5 avg and my dad came in 18minutes later with a very good ride. From there it was waster time before dinner whic was still 3 hrs away. At 5pm, we went for the food and were told tha only 152 people had come through and that they sent out a semi and ordered shuttle services to pick up riders. We were in awe at the amount of riders who couldn't do it out of 650. Dinner was good and the massage afterwards was decent, but good conversations were had and listening to people complain about the course left and right was quite amusing.
5AM came and everybody was alarmingly still laying there in the 100 degree gymnasium where I got 2 hours of total sleep. We headed off to breakfast and came back to roll pack up, stretch, and burn some time. We decided to get going since everbody was leaving quite early to get on the road. We saw people departing at 5:40 and were sure there were more before that. We hit the road at 6:40am and started passing people left and right. I rode with my dad and pulled him until the 30-some mile rest area where we hooked up with the group we rode with during the first day after the rest area and hills. It was a good clip and we were going about 24 when I came up and pulled and kept it there and more up the grade until the group blew apart and I was left riding with my dad into lunch at mile 52. We were there at 9:30,so we decided to kill some time and get a 10 minute massage. After that it was lunch and then back on the bikes for another 49 miles. It was all my dad and I after that. We just went through it seeing just a few people here and there. With 20 miles to go, we pulled out of the rest stop and cruised down the road until we headed south and had a nice tailwind up a long section of a false flat. We pulled into St Johns middle school at 12:44 and were again around 15th back at the school with an avg of 19.6mph. With no food until another 4+ hours, Jon and I went off to Subway with orders for some chow. We sat around in the A/C building and chatted for a while before I went for a nap and woke up around dinner time. Went for a quick dinner in the HOT cafeteria an then searched for the audetorium where the WAMMY Awards were going to be held. We got on the massage list and thn went into the A/C audetorium and waited for the start. We sat there for a while listening to the speakers before we left the 90+ degree room and went and got a massage. We were informed later that the money raised by the WAM riders was $942,000. It was lights out at 10PM and I got some better sleep in that night thank to the cooler air.
People were up at 4am getting ready and it was disturbing, even though I managed to fall back asleep. We went out for breafast and people were all ready on the road a 5:15-It was friggin' dark. With nothing to do and almost no one left, we headed out at 6:30 to get the last 92 miles in. A few miles down, we hooked up with the group of Matt, Jon, and those guys. At mile 11, my knee went south on me and I couldn;t pedal on it at ALL. It was sore the day before, but I don't know what the deal was. So, I pedaled into luck at mile 50, mostly using my right leg while my leg leg spun around the pedals. It was so frustrating and painful, but it got better after lunch. I ate some food, and threw down a few Motrin before heading out for the last leg of the ride. A few miles in my pain went away and I picked it up. 5 miles in, we passed 2 guys who jumped on and I pulled them up to the next rest area 20 miles up. They were loving it and the sounds coming from the back made my day! With 10 miles to go, they couldn't hold on any more and went off the back. I rode with my dad as we went by the marking counting our miles down for us. Finally we came back to the Chelsea fairgounds where we finished in a cheering crowd of people(again15th back and an average of 19.1 after a 18.5avg at lunch), had our bikes taken away for us, and went to find our luggage and change. We came in at 11:54 and were just in time for a good lunch thanks to Caraba's. It was good and the cold drinks were resfreshing. We went and recieved our medals by the Wish Heros and then went over to the massage area. We stood around talking with some fun guys and had our massage and left before the rain came. Just as we unpacked the car, the storm rolled though!
It was a great weekend, nice to meet some new people and good riders, and had an overall GREAT experience on the WAM. I will surely be back next year. The volunteers are amazing and will do anything for you. All of the people are nice and courteous and best of all it is for a great couse which I learned much more about this past weekend.