Sunday August 19th marked my first time participating in a large event like this. At 17 to 100 miles I chose the 30 mile loop. I saw that registration started at 7:30am according to the website but the ride would begin at 11:00am. I didn’t want to attend all of the activities so I went at 10:00am. I didn’t realize that there was no mass start – so I could have come early and started early – very important for next year when I will do more miles. I left at 11:00am and began a slow easy climb out from Crystal Mountain. Never had to use the front gears. The back country was beautiful. Homestead road had some old things I hadn’t seen since I was a kid in Oakland County 50 years ago. An old stone watering trough. Barns ready for recycling. A mix of fields and red pine plantations and everything was very green because of recent rains. Turning right onto Marshall Road it looked straight up! A mile climb the last 1/2 mile had to go 4-500 feet. At the top was the old Narrow Gauge Road winding into Beulah and cherry pie at the train station. Heading back I was passed by a couple of returning centurions. The hills that were no challenge at the start used all my gears after 30 miles and I wasn’t the only one having to dig. I play hockey during the week so biking seems like a nice compliment to the same muscle groups. I swam distance in high school and wind has never been an issue. I usually am just getting started when everyone else is done. This doesn’t always work well when a game clock is involved. I started this year low impact with the Ride For Silence then did a school bike-a-thon. I’m hoping to get a fourth event in this year and may look at combining the swimming and biking next year – although my knees don’t like running.