Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Venus de Miles recap

Michelle, me, Karen
A few months ago, my friend Karen, from Trading in My Heels, sent a message to the tribe that she was chosen as an ambassador for Venus de Miles, a bike ride. She hoped we would join her. I had my eye on this one since last year, so it wasn't hard to convince me. I signed up for the 25 mile ride. Soon after, my friend Michelle from This Momma Runs was also chosen to be an ambassador. Both Karen and Michelle decided to ride the 62 mile route, and we made plans to meet up before the ride for pictures and good luck hugs.

Karen and Michelle looking cute as always!
The morning of the ride, I wasn't really feeling it, as I was still tired from my kayaking adventure the day before. My tummy was funky, and I made multiple trips to the bathroom before I even left the house. Feeling grateful that I wasn't running, I packed up my bike and headed to Lake Forest College, where the event was located. As soon as I got there and parked, I racked my bike and found Karen and Michelle. Karen gave Michelle and me a little gift that she had picked up at a bike shop.

Good stuff, I must admit!
After they left, I had some time to kill and I walked around where the vendors were setting up. Bianchi bikes was there, and I joked that they should let me try one of their bikes out on the course. They guy just ignored me, so I scurried away. Other vendors included Luna, Athleta, and Pampered Chef. Orangetheory fitness was there, and they led a warm up session before the race. I made one more trip to the bathroom, and lined up at the front of the pack.

Lining up at the start
Some introductory remarks were made, and then one of the Greenhouse Scholars spoke to the group. Venus de Miles is a charity ride to support Greenhouse Scholars, a group that provides college scholarships and mentoring to disadvantaged youths. I was really moved by the young man who spoke, telling his story about growing up in the foster care system.

Some of the Greenhouse Scholars
After the introductory remarks were made, the Star Spangled Banner was sung albeit with an odd twist at the end--and we were off. We headed through the beautiful town of Lake Forest, and took in the mansions along Lake Michigan. A woman wearing a bike jersey rode up to the front of the group. There were purple arrows marking the course, and about a mile into the course, she turned the wrong way. One of the women in the pack called out to her, and immediately she turned around and zoomed back to the front of the pack again. We continued forward, and a few minutes later her chain fell off. That was the last I saw of her.

Somehow I ended up at the very front, which was fine with me, because I don't like getting stuck in a group--biking or running. The route eventually took us on a bike path, which was flat and straight, and I took off. For a while there were women behind me, but most of the time, I was riding alone. About 9 miles later, we headed onto a very busy street. There were police at the intersections to stop traffic, which was really nice, and cones blocking the right lane for us. In spite of that, this was, for me, the toughest part of the course. The road was a slow, long incline, at least one mile long, and the road was in pretty bad shape, with lots of holes and uneven pavement. We were riding into the wind, and I struggled to maintain my cadence as I climbed this hill. A couple of women caught up to me, and I waited for them to pass me. But they never did. When we finally got to the top of the hill and off that crappy street, I told them to go ahead, but they laughed and said they were happy right where they were. Later, they admitted to drafting off me. I kind of figured that was what was happening back there. That's why I wanted them to pass me....so I could draft off them....

At mile 17 there was a rest stop. Since I brought my Nuun with me, I didn't want to stop, and the volunteer who was flagging everyone into the rest stop told me to go south. After a couple of miles, I realized where I was and that I was going the wrong way. I stopped and pulled out the course map. Sure enough, he sent me in the wrong direction. I turned around and headed back north again, eventually joining the other riders. Good thing this wasn't a race!

There were a few more hills and the temperature continued to rise, along with the humidity. I was sweating like crazy and drinking my Nuun. I was hungry too, but I didn't want to stop to eat. I just wanted to finish. The route went right past my sister's house, and I planned to stop there. I finally headed down her street, and there she was! It was great to see her, and she told me that the finish was just a few blocks away. We made plans to meet up there, and I headed back towards the college.

Yay! My sister Lisa and me
The fun part about crossing the finish line was that I was the only one, and there was a group of about 6 volunteers there cheering me in! I got a kick out of that. I racked my bike and made a beeline for the beer tent. They were serving Goose Island 312 and IPA, and we were provided 2 beverage tickets. Other choices included wine and mixed drinks. After I got my beer, I went and sat down under the big tent. The two women that I had been riding with were there, and they told me that they realized the guy sent me the wrong way after I left them. Soon after, my sister joined us. Two of my sister's friends were there, and they convinced her that she should do this ride next year. Sounds like she might, especially after meeting some of the scholars.


While we were sitting, two of the Greenhouse Scholars came up to us, thanking us for participating. They told us where they were going to college, and as it turns out, both of them were nursing students. I told them I was a nurse practitioner, and we had a great conversation about that. I was so moved by these young adults, both so articulate and genuinely pleasant. I couldn't help but think what a wonderful cause we rode for, and what a great experience the day was.

My sister walked me back to the car, and I loaded the bike in. As I was driving her back to her house, we heard a whooshing sound in the back of the car. My bike tire went flat, just like that. So weird. When I got home I tried to fill it back up, but it wouldn't. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm grateful I didn't get a flat on the road!



Overall, Venus de Miles was an amazing experience. My only complaint obviously, is the volunteer who sent me the wrong way. The course was well marked and having police at the intersections was very reassuring. Riding through the beautiful northern suburbs of Chicago was a plus. The after party was wonderful, with food catered by Whole Foods. I highly recommend this ride, and plan on doing it again next year. What a wonderful cause!

And in case you were wondering, here are my final numbers from my Garmin:
I know it wasn't a race, but would you not have wanted to know how you did? 

Have you ever done a bike ride for charity? Would you do a bike ride that wasn't a race?

I'm linking this one up with Jessica at The Silvah Lining--she hosts a Race Recap linkup every Tuesday. Every 3rd Tuesday, Lara from Uptite Mamas and I get to co-host it with her! Please head over and linkup a race recap you've written, new or old. And check out some of the other posts!

78 comments :

  1. You and your sister look so much alike! I was sad not to make it to Venus de Miles last year. They put on a great event and I love how closely tied the cause is with the event!

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    1. I plan on doing this one again! What an amazing event.

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  2. You did a great job Wendy :) tell us about the Hoo ha cream ;) j/k. Glad I got in a Wendy squeeze before the ride!

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    1. Ah, the Hoo ha cream. I couldn't have ridden all those miles without it! <3

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  3. You and your sister are SO pretty!! Congrats on a great ride - stinky about the misinformed volunteer! I love reading your recaps, Wendy, thanks for linking up. #TuesdayTales

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    1. I was so happy to have an actual recap for the link up this week!

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  4. What a fun event!! That would be a great one for cyclists of all abilities it sounds like! That post ride party is better than some races I've run! Congrats on a great ride and tacking on extra miles too!

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    1. This was a really great event. Michelle and I were talking about it yesterday at lunch. The post race party was the best!

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  5. Sounds like a very awesome morning :) You and the Sis do look a lot alike.
    That is so strange your tire went flat like that, so glad you didn't have that annoyance during your ride.

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    1. Me too! I took my bike to the bike shop to get the tire fixed, and he told me it was something with the valve. This is my 3rd flat this year and I've had enough! LOL!

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  6. Nice job. Suddenly I'm reading a lot of blog post by runners about their bike rides. I think it's a sign I should dust off my bike. I once did a century a month for 13 months, but now I haven't ridden in 2 years.

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    1. I was thinking about that too, how many runners are riding now! For me, I started up again when I broke my foot a few years ago. I bought the road bike and rediscovered my love for riding a bike! My coach incorporates bike rides into my marathon training plan too. It's really a great change of pace.

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  7. What a great event, Wendy! I think it's so great that those students took the time to speak with you and tell you about their experience; that would definitely make it more meaningful, for me. It sounds like you had a great ride!! Congrats on your effort and being willing to take on something new for a great cause!

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    1. This was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again next year!

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  8. I love doing these types of rides that are not races. they have a whole different vibe to them. Hoha ride glide is my favorite chamois creme. Better to be sent off course on a bike than while running right?!

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  9. Cute pic of you and your sister! What a nice organization behind the bike ride- that makes all the difference! Bummer that the volunteer sent you in the wrong direction- lord only knows where I would have ended up- I sometimes get turned around easily! Looks like this was a great event and a nice after party! Thanks for linking up today!

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    1. I have a pretty good sense of direction, which makes me happy that I figured it out before I rode too far!

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  10. Great job! Bummer about the wrong turn! Looks like you made it up though!

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  11. So glad your tire didn't go flat on the course!

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  12. That is so cool you got to meet some scholarship recipients and that they were going into nursing! Supporting a cause is great but it is even more meaningful when you actually see and meet people in which your donation is going to affect.

    I have never done a bike race or an organized ride. My hubby and I used to ride bike (leisurely) together but it is an activity he is unable to do anymore, so I have given it up too. But boy did I wish I had some hoo ha glide back in the day when I would ride!

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    1. It was so moving and touching to meet some of the recipients. What an amazing group of young people! I was so impressed.

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  13. Sounds like a great event for a great cause! It almost makes me want to sign up for a bike ride... That really stinks that the volunteer sent you the wrong way!

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    1. Since I'm not a cyclist, I liked that it was a ride and not a race. For me it was fun and a great way to get some crosstraining in.

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  14. Sounds like you had a great time! Bummer about being sent the wrong direction, though. I've never done a charity bike ride (I actually don't own a bike!) but it sounds like something that would be fun to try sometime!

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  15. I can't believe that guy sent you the wrong way! You were the only one?! Sounds like a fun time, nonetheless, and so happy that flat tire didn't happen when you were on the bike!

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    1. I don't know how I didn't get that flat on the road. The bike shop told me it was a bad valve on the tube. That's lucky!

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  16. Great job, Wendy! Way to push through! That's so annoying that the guy sent you the wrong way, grrrr. I want to hear more about the Hoo Ha cream - there is nothing worse than getting, uh, bike chafing. It must have been so touching to hear the Greenhouse Scholars stories and talk to some of them personally. That would make the event so much more meaningful, knowing how it personally helps others!

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    1. That Hoo Ha cream was, shall I say, very soothing. I need to find some more!

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  17. Sounds like such a great time. The cream...why hasn't someone else thought of that before? I am amazed at how you have the time to do all that you do. I know it's just a matter of making the time because none of us have the time....so I guess I am amazed that you make the time...but I guess you are having a blast, so that certainly makes it easier !! (the flat tire is an interesting mystery...you'll have to update us on the potential cause)

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    1. It helps that my boys are teenagers and want nothing to do with their old mom...I guess...but other things have fallen by the wayside. I have no garden to speak of this year! And my house...well, it needs some attention too.

      The bike tube had a bad valve.

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  18. It was so humid that day. I thought of you and was glad it was a ride vs a run. I'll have to do this next year. Sounds like fun minus the wrong directions.

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    1. I would love for you to do this next year. Since it's not a race, we can ride together!

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  19. I've never done any kind of biking event at all, so this is very interesting to read about! That's annoying that you were sent in the wrong direction, but glad you figured it out pretty quickly. And that is crazy that your tire got a flat right after the ride was over! Glad it didn't interfere with the actual ride!

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    1. I feel so lucky that it didn't go flat on the course. I've never really done a biking event before, and I really enjoyed this one!

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  20. I did a ride kind of like this last year - it wasn't a race, more like a "Tour" and they had different distance options. I'm doing another one in September that's 125km.

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    1. This was really fun, and I'd do more bike rides like this!

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  21. I didn't know you're an NP! That's awesome and such a great career. I think when I'm tired of OT I am going to be a PA, though I was advised by a few NPs to go the NP route. That's something to really think about. Lake Forest is a beautiful area, I'm sure the ride was gorgeous!

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    1. I'd advise you to go the NP route as well! Independent practice and all...

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  22. Oh, fabulous! What a great cause!

    I have never done a ride of any kind, mostly because I'm terrified of biking in a group. However, it always look so great. Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I'm not a fan of the group ride, but I'm getting over that. This was fun.

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  23. This is great, Wendy! Sounds like a fun time. I haven't announced publicly yet, but I think my older son and I are going to ride the Tour de Cure New England Classic 550 next year. A 7 day charity ride raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Should be good mother/son bonding time and raising money for a good cause.

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    1. I love that you're doing that! I wish my boys shared my love for the bike (or the run)!

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  24. Great job! So nice you got to see your sister, too!! I don't have a decent enough (or working at the moment) bike to do anything like this, but it sure looks fun!

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    1. This is such a no pressure ride! It was a really great day.

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  25. Sounds like you had a great day, despite a few minor hiccups! I've participated in runs that aren't races, and I always find it really inspiring to see people of all fitness levels getting out for some exercise together! Great job :D

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    1. Yep, the good certainly outweighed the bad on this day! It was fun.

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  26. Awesome job! I am very interested in biking but have never bitten the bullet.

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    1. Oh, I just love it! Cycling makes me feel like a kid again!

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  27. Sounds like a great time! Maybe next year, I can join the party...maybe (if this isn't the same weekend as the Bix7). :-)

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  28. Great job! and that... hoo haa glide... I need to check that out! haha

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  29. Woo hoo! Looks great. That glide made me giggle and I am definitely itching to get back on a bike.

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  30. So Hoo Haa glide may be the best name in the world for a product

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    1. Don't you think? Now to find it. I think I need to order it. I'd be too embarrassed to buy it!

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  31. Hoo haa cream!!! Lol. Great job, I want to do a bike race someday.

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  32. Best cream name ever! I've been intrigued by doing a charity bike ride for a few years. Maybe one day soon I will get in on one!

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  33. I would definitely want to know how I did. Race or not. I'm not a biker but I would do a charity ride. For the cause and the fun.

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    1. I highly recommend this one! Either in Illinois or Colorado. I think the Illinois course would be technically much easier! It's really flat here.

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  34. I don't have a road bike, so I've never done anything like this. I would definitely have wanted to know how I did though! Looks like a fun time! Is there a significance with the 62 miles? 100k?

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  35. I want to try the hoo-ha ride glide!

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  36. Congrats on the finish! I have got to try a bike race soon!

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  37. I got sent in the wrong direction by a volunteer in the Shawn Nassaney Memorial 5K in 2012, my first. It's a horrible feeling once you realize what happened. You can bet I asked clearly the second year. A friend and I formed a team and though I was not racing for time, I wanted to finish. How disappointing that I missed a whole loop.
    The photo with your sister is lovely. How sweet it is that you rode by her home.
    And thank you for sharing the story of the young people for whom you rode. A wonderful group, indeed.

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    1. Oh, I will do this one again! Probably one of the most meaningful events I've ever participated in. Seriously.

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  38. Visiting from the race recap linkup. Great job! Getting sent the wrong way sounds so annoying! I am paranoid about getting lost especially in trail races or something that isn't super obvious where to go!

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  39. I love how athletic and well rounded you are! I'm glad you had a fun time with your sister! Hope you got your tire fixed. :)

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