2009 MS “Bay to Bay” Tour

100 and 150 mile riders

100 and 150 mile riders

In 2008 Team NetApp had 9 members who raised just under $8,900 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society for the “Bay to Bay” Tour, a very scenic bike ride along the southern California coastline from Irvine to San Diego with an overnight stop in Carlsbad.  That year we only had one person, David Rhodes, a NetApp customer, who rode the longest 150 mile option (108 on Saturday, 43 on Sunday).  The rest of us rode the 100 mile option (68 on Saturday, 43 on Sunday).

NetApp’s motto is “Go Further, Faster.” What a perfect motto for a cycling team!  And in 2009 we did!  The team grew to 29 riders who, once all donations have been collected, will have raised well over $30,000 for the MS Society!  In addition, well over half the team rode the full 150 mile distance.  Most people on the team had never ridden a bike even close to the distances they rode over the weekend!

Leo at the Day 1 finish

Leo at the Day 1 finish

Leo joined me again for this trip to provide some logistical support for transporting luggage and people during the weekend.  So I drove down to Tucson to pick him up before heading to San Diego where we picked up a few more people on the way to Irvine.  The traffic reminded me again why I will never live in California!  There was an accident on the freeway that caused traffic to come to a complete stop.  I was supposed to be a ride marshal, but I wasn’t able to get to Irvine in time to attend the ride marshal orientation session.  Dang.

We were up before dawn on Saturday morning getting ready.  The team started to gather in the lobby of the hotel before heading over to the start for a few group pictures.  The MS Society sends groups of riders out in small waves instead of doing a mass start to keep road congestion down.   Team NetApp was at the front of the 4th or 5th wave to hit the road.  It was overcast, but warm enough to get by with just arm warmers (for us Phoenix dwellers who get cold when the temperature drops below 75).

Team NetApp heading out!

Team NetApp heading out!

We split up some through the rolling hills in Irvine.  I stopped along the way for a few action shots of teammates riding up one hill.  The faster guys on the team were well up the road when I got going again, but I wasn’t in a hurry and just caught up to Leonard and Loree Zito for a bit, then rode up to ride a bit with Robert Ehlbeck.

David Rhodes with Leonard and Loree Zito in LaJolla

David Rhodes with Leonard and Loree Zito in LaJolla

We rode to the first rest stop together, then waited for Robert’s wife Kim.  Robert was our team captain this year and was a bit stressed making sure everything was going right.  Understandable, but I just wanted to enjoy the ride, so I decided to ride alone for a bit.  I did catch and ride with a few teammates a couple times and we regrouped at a couple stops.

At the lunch stop the faster guys were just pulling out when I pulled in.  So I had a quick lunch and headed out again.  So far I had been following the same course as last year, but after the lunch stop I started the “hilly” part of the course.  David Rhodes said there were some tough climbs, but I was surprised by a very long climb that included sections in the 11-13% grade range!

I caught up to the front group at the next rest stop and left with them.  I have to be honest and admit that I turned into quite the wheel sucker for the rest of the ride.  I didn’t want to push myself too hard since Cochise was the following weekend and we had some pretty strong guys on the team, including one guy, Greg Moyer, who is sponsored and races with a team in the bay area.  Yes, I stuck to his wheel pretty closely!

Teammates Jan Aufdenkamp and Greg Moyer

Teammates Jan Aufdenkamp and Greg Moyer

The rest of the day wasn’t too bad.  It got a bit windy, but sitting in a nice draft behind Greg (or Paul Jezowski) kept me out of that for the most part!  We’d stop at the rest stops and wait for most of the team to show up, cheering them on as they came into the rest stop.  I think this is a record for me for the amount of time stopped at rest stops, but it was well worth the team spirit and camaraderie!

Given the difficulty of the last 45 miles, the team did fantastic!  And NetApp sponsored massages at the finish to help recover from the day’s efforts!  What a great company!

After getting cleaned up, we headed over to a NetApp fundraising reception where another $750 in donations were collected.  We also got to chat with teammates who did the 30 mile ride earlier in the day or just catch up with old and new friends.  It was a very nice evening.

Sunday morning came a bit too early though and we were up once again before sunrise getting ready.  The team broke into some small groups before the start, so we didn’t all leave at the same time.  I rode most of the day with David Rhodes.  There was some good bantering along the way but I got to the top of Torrey Pines hill first! LOL! … inside joke.  Actually I got a pretty good head start on the descent right before Torrey Pines Hill and David caught me on the climb.

IMG_0521

Checking out the LaJolla scenery

We stopped in LaJolla for another group picture at a very scenic point.  That stop will probably become a tradition.  There were quite a few little rolling hills through town and one long section with a lot of stop signs, but overall not too bad.  Leo was waiting at the last rest stop and took a few pictures of us milling around.   We had a good size group leave together and ride to the finish.

Overall, it was a great trip!  Rick Congdon, our VP of Sales for Americas West, has proclaimed that our 2010 goal is to have 100 members on our team with a $100,000 fundraising goal!  Wow!  But knowing this company, we’ll make it happen!

For a different perspective on the ride or to see quite a few more photos, checkout Loree Zito’s blog.

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