It’s that time of year again, WHAM RIDE!
This year was probably one of the best years to date. But I will get into that as we go. The weather to start with was nearly perfect, not to hot or to cold, but it was just a little humid out. This year sadly Kool-Aid couldn’t make the ride, but I was able to catch a ride with my friend Alex“Sierra Nevada” and his girlfriend Shandi! As he pulled up in his prius I was amazed how he was able to fit 3 bikes with only having a 2 bike rack. Those little prisus can pack more than they look like. We arrived I think around 10pm and after parking we went to pick up our registration packets. But before we could leave Alex realized he had forgotten the mounts to his lights!Luckily for him I had my kitty litter panniers and had brought some electrical tape. He hooked it all up as best he could and we headed towards the pavilion. As I went to go pick up ANOTHER tie-dye shirt that I would never wear in public, a sack style “backpack” and some soap, I started noticing that a bunch of people had on some pretty cool shirts. They were a pleasant blue, with a bicycle in white over a map of Indiana.
Could this be this years shirt? YES! Not only did we get cool shirts, we got awesome mini top0tube panniers instead of the backpacks!! But don’t worry, I still got my bar of soap. This worked out very well for Alex as his light was shining to high, but he was able to use a pocket on the tube bag to hold his light.
I did run into Jose “Red” from the previous years but didn’t get much chance to visit. While they still had a DJ this year the music played seemed better and the volume wasn’t uncomfortable. After registering, we had to get our “party” on with some glow sticks I had picked up at the store earlier (though I did see they added some vendors this year, they even had someone selling glow sticks!).
With our festive illumination in place, and the clock about to roll around to 12 we got in place. We decided to leave with the fast group again, now what I hadn’t mentioned is that Shandi has only been riding for 3 weeks! She had a nice 80’s Schwinn (I believe), and we had talked her out of doing the 10 mile and join us in the 30. As we waited for the signal to go off, I was all set. We were nearer to the front this time, but still part way back. HOOOONK went the air horn to signal to go, when I realized I forgot to start my mapmyrun! I tried starting it but it was acting up, so I had to stop for about 30 seconds to get it going. Within that time both Alex and Shandi had left me in the dust. I could just make out her “halo” (made from a glow stick) in the distance. It ended up taking me almost 9 miles to catch up to her. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t get the speed, but more so I lost sight of her and I couldn’t get around people who were riding 3 abreast at times.
By the way, this is a shout out to the gentleman who got mad at me because my bucket was in his way, as he tried to pass me on the right, when I was in the right lane. Don’t get pissed that there wasn’t room, either slow down or PASS ON THE LEFT WHERE NO ONE WAS. Also, I was surprised by the number of people riding this year without lights, I counted about 10-15 of them. Those are just the ones I saw. It’s midnight, partly cloudy, and you need lights people. Ok now back to the story.
After catching up with her, I found out that Alex had taken off like a bat out of hell at the start of the ride. So we rode together for the rest of the ride. It was nice this year having someone to talk with, it really made the miles go a lot quicker. Now from what I had remembered from the previous years the big stop at Cabela’s was at around mile 15. We both were looking forward to taking a quick break, but mile 15 came and went without a sign of Cabela’s. It couldn’t be much further, I figured it might be at 16 or 17, but I was wrong. We finally rolled into Cabela’s at mile 20. It wasn’t as busy this year, but I also noticed that the ride in general seemed to have less people. My guess is that with the weather being kind of iffy all day, many were afraid of the rain. The other thing could be that I was way off and they had more people than I realized.
It turned out Alex has still been waiting for us at the stop, which I was surprised to find out as I was sure he would have left already. He had gone nearly 20mph! He has been working out and eating right this last year and is really in great shape, which seemed to have paid off nicely for him! So with only 10 miles left to go, we all decided to ride together.
I almost forgot to add, for the first time ever I was recognized for my blog out in the wild by a stranger! It was about a mile before the stop, and he rolled up on us. He asked if I was the “big boned blogger” and said he was happy to meet me, as he pulled away lol. So if you are reading this, thanks! It really made my night, and encouraged me to write this post.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, so I will just cut to the next parts. We finished the ride a little before 3am and had an 11.7mph average. Not bad all things considered and I still felt like I could have done some more mileage.
But now it was time for Breakfast! This year breakfast was served by Tapas Cafe! This was the best breakfast so far, the eggs were tasty, the sausage patties yummy, and the pancakes fluffy and not burned/undercooked.
So now for my annual feedback!
- The directions were much better this year, didn’t feel lost at all, plenty of signage and people pointing the way.
- Food was excellent, stick with them!
- Would like to see some food options, would have been happy to pay a bit more as I was still hungry after.
- Consider a live band
- The swag was much better this year, thank you!
Thanks again for a wonderful event, and already looking forward to next year!
Keep on Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
Whiting Hammond After-Midnight Ride 2015
Man, I can’t believe it has already been an entire year since the 2014 WHAM ride! Last nights ride was just as epic as last years too.
I arrived with my friend Kool-Aid at about 10:45 this year, since we knew what to expect as far as entertainment is concerned. Sure enough, it was the same as last year, a DJ and not much else going on. I was looking forward to meeting up with a couple of folks from last year and as we make our way from the parking lot to the pavilion we run into “Sierra Nevada” from last years ride! I wasn’t expecting him to make it, so it was an awesome surprise. He was riding his 1975 Schwinn road bike, nearly all original if I remember correctly. Fun fact, someone had almost the exact same bike as him on the ride too!
I was a bit worried about getting a swag bag this year, as I forgot to sign up, and they have limited amounts. As I roll up to the tent I am told the have exactly one bag left. I ask the size and it’s my size too, woot! As I was heading back to the car to drop off a few things who do I come across? “Red” from last year. Though this year he was wearing a kit from a local bike shop Michigan City Bike Shop, and also riding a different bike. I forgot to mention that Kool-Aid was also riding another bike, as his main bikes frame cracked on him. That meant I was the only one of the 4 of us who was riding the same bike as last year. I also brought with me my kitty litter panniers, which have sort of become my signature/branding. Here we are before the ride:
I haven’t been out riding as much this year, and my average speed has typically been around 10-11 without the kids. I also haven’t even done a 30 mile ride this year, so I was a bit nervous about keeping up and finishing.
The weather outside was perfect again, not to hot or cold, and just a beautiful evening. Again, they separated the riders by 3 groups: Fast, Normal-Long, and Short. Last year we decided to ride the Normal-Long group but this year we figured it would be smarter to ride at the tail end of the fast group. This had me worried, would I really be able to keep up? As we took off, every peddle stroke felt like my feet were made of lead. I was keeping up, though sustaining it was getting iffy. Suddenly I realized , I was doing well. The real realization came to me when we hit the first “hill” (bridge); where instead of slowing down, I was actually passing people (on the up hill even). I soon found myself near the head of our portion of the faster riders (so the back half of the fast section). I was feeling like an animal, and just having a blast!
I was up near the front, feeling like a winner and Mr. Murphy comes to say hello. My chain came off, and after stopping to fix it, I was no longer near the front. I decided that was ok though, this ride is about fun, and I sink back into my groove. I look behind me a bit later and realize I wasn’t near anyone anymore. I could see the tail lights of others up ahead of me and I just keep on rolling. I was able to actually catch back up to where I was! What really made me feel amazing is when I heard “wow, he caught back up! You’re an animal man!”. So I am flying along and Mr. Murphy says hello again. This time it is my water bottle that goes flying off my bike. By the time I stop go back and find it, I figure I may as well grab a quick bite of my power bar as I still had a ways to go till Cabela’s ( which I was NOT going to miss this year). When I finally get back on, the rest of my friends had caught back up to me and so we ride along till we get to the sag stop. Would you believe we missed it again this year? Yup, well almost. The turn was so poorly marked that we actually had to turn around a bit and go over the curb to get to it. It was a welcomed break, and I was very appreciative that they had the bathrooms open. Here are some photos:
“What do you have in that bucket?”, everyone was wanting to know just what I was carrying. My first response was to joke and say “cocaine”, which I realized was not a good thing to joke about with all the cops around (they blocked the roads so we could ride through). Some of the guesses ranged from explosives to smuggling babies. I will say I am surprised no body put rocks or other heavy objects in it when I wasn’t looking. Sierra Nevada decided to make it his mission to try and touch my bucket while we were riding. It made for some interesting off-color banter back and forth for sure.
As I was leaving the sag stop, Mr. Murphy paid me one last visit. Again, my chain came off, and this time my rear break decided to start acting up again. I found myself in the back of our group again, but like last time I didn’t let it stop me. I dug in deep and was able to catch back up with everyone again. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, and I completed the ride in 2 hours 10 min. and an average speed of 14.5mph! It was a freaking awesome ride!
The food this year sucked though, went through the line received 2 small pancakes, 2 sausage links…that was it. I burned 3200 calories riding and I was starving. They also ran out of food for a bit and a few people just left rather than waited.
NOW for some “feed back” to the folks running it:
1. LIVE music, I am positive you could find some local bands willing to play.
2.The food this year sucked. It wasn’t near enough and Kool-Aid’s pancakes were crunchy.
3. Consider a beer tent.
4. Maybe have a bike mechanic at the Cabela stop.
5. More stuff going on, maybe add some vendors/food vendors.
Hung out with some good friends, made some new ones, and had a fantastic time.
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
WHAM! Not just a cool sound from batman! It is the Whiting-Hammond After Midnight bike ride, and I am proud to say I did it. I signed up last minute for it, but thanks to a new friend it was a blast. Let me set the scene for you, it is dark, lots of bike, and 30 miles of open road!
I am really grateful for my friend inviting me to it, it really showed me how much I can push myself. I typically have been riding at about 12mph, but that night we were coming in close to 15 avg(and up at 18-19mph at times). It was such a unique experience and I hope my story can help others give it a try.
First off, we showed up early, right when registration was starting at about 9:30PM. I had been up since about a bit before 7am and was running on about 5 hours of sleep, always a great combo night and lack of sleep. We get registration out of the way, and look to go around and mingle, the only issue is that everyone is acting like it is high school. Everyone was simply hanging out in their clique and that was a bit disappointing. They had a DJ but the music was way to loud, and while a few good songs played, most of them were crap. Luckily we didn’t come for the music, right?
We had so much time to kill that we decided to go do a warm up ride, nothing crazy just a nice slow pace. I was later to find out that I worried my riding buddy a bit, he was thinking this was going to be high gear for me! We rode down the road trail until it ended in an area that looked kinda “rapey” as my friend put it. We meandered back to the pavilion and I was starting to feel a bit sleepy, though I hoped the excitement of the ride would wake me up a bit. We arrived in time to give us a chance to glo-ify the bikes(next year will be much better)
If I had one suggestion for the ride organizers it would be to figure out starting areas better! They had 3 classes of riders, and they wanted them to start at different times, but they didn’t really have 3 areas. The speedy riders were to go first, the long haulers(30 milers) second, and the short track(10milers) last. We were in the long hauler group, 30 miles of darkness! We were lucky that the weather was so amazing, it made the entire ride more comfortable. As we started out, this being my first organized ride, I realized that it was a bit scary! You have people riding at all different speeds, on many types of bikes, from wal-mart cruisers to high end racers! I even saw a couple of tandem riders to make the mix even more interesting. I followed my friend, who shale here by be referred to as Kool-Aid, and he followed a couple of guys we met in the line up! Sierra Nevada and Red, not their real names of course, but it will make sense at the end. They said they were going to shoot for a 12-13 mph pace, which is close to what we wanted(14ish). I soon found myself not only having to fight through the pack, but also having to deal with everyone’s rear blinker! It was freaking annoying as all get out!
We soon found ourselves pulling away from the pack, but I was very surprised when I noticed we were catching up with the front end of the long haulers! There were “sticks” on nice road bikes that we were leaving behind us, some of them with a shocked look on their face(Kool-Aide and I don’t really look like the type to be passing folks). I would be a lair if I didn’t say I enjoyed that part, just a little bit. There was suppose to be a SAG stop early on, but we never saw it. Our two friends SN and Red soon left us behind, and we settled into a comfortable pace. It was such an amazing experience, and I wish I could have stopped to take some pictures. The world is so different at midnight, ordinary buildings can look nearly magical in the soft glows. My light (http://astore.amazon.com/bigbonbik-20/detail/B00E1NQ3DU) that I brought was working great and ir was kinda neat that Kool-Aide actually had the same one!
We did actually catch up with our ridding buddies at a train crossing, and riding through the streets, owning them as if cars didn’t even exist, was an eye opening experience. How much better would our world be, if we all rode our bikes, or walked, just a little bit more? I want to take a moment and thank the police dept, state troopers, and others, who watched over the roads allowing us to move so freely. It was a comforting feeling knowing that someone had our safety in mind.
Cabela’s was the next scheduled stop and as we saw it up ahead we were ready for a quick break. We get to the corner where we should go straight, only to be met with a guy yelling “TURN RIGHT!”. Turning right, I figure that the SAG stop would be marked up ahead, but as I road further away I noticed that their was no SAG spot. We keep riding, noticing that we are nearly alone on the roads, I think most of the other riders had stopped at the Cabela’s store. Eventually, after about 25 miles we come to a stop! They were handing out water, and we both were getting hungry. Luckily someone had dropped off some food, and we were able to get a quick bite in. Refueled we hit the ground with a nice strong pace. All of a sudden there arose such a clatter, wait wrong story. All of a sudden Red comes up behind us and says “we are on our second lap!”, 12-13 mph my ass! Sierra Nevada soon comes up behind us and they both pass us again. As we roll into the last few turns, I find myself feeling sad that the ride ended so soon. We had only been out for 2 hours and 10 min, and that was including our stop for the train and the break. At least breakfast was waiting for us, hot yummy pancakes and sausage(though some eggs would have been nice).
We meet back up with out new friends and we all sit down to eat, I did find out that they really were NOT on a second lap, they apparently had found the SAG stop at Cabelas. After a few beers, a bit of bike chat and some facebook befriending, we all call it a morning. I slept from 5am till nearly noon, and I have to thank my amazing awesome wife for letting me do this!
I wish I could have written more, but much of that night was a blur. I recommend if you are in the NWI area you try out this ride next year. Event organizers, Beer Tent, Better Starting, and a 50 mile option!
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
P.S. Thank you all for staying with me over this long dry spell of blogging.