Gunny Ski Memorial Ride 2004

March 30 through April 1, 2004

It started out innocently enough.  In the dead of winter in 2003 I was contemplating doing something extreme on the bicycle when I came up with the idea to ride from my house in Round Rock, TX to the school in Harlingen for the Alumni Reunion.  I tossed it around in my head for a bit, mentioned it to Debra (who just rolled her eyes and questioned my mental facilities), and decided that I'd study the idea.  I bought a few road maps, mapped out a proposed route, and drove it on the way down to the reunion.  Everything looked good except about 50 miles between Mathis and Kingsville.  While at the reunion that year, I mentioned the idea to a few of my friends, all of whom had about the same response as Debra's.  Undaunted, I came home and began making my plans.  The original plan was to make the 350 mile ride in two days:  200 miles on the first day and 150 on the second.  Those plans changed when my friend Craig Matteson called one day in August and offered to come along, but he wanted to make it in three days instead of two.  Figuring that it'd be nice to have company along for the ride, I agreed to the three day trip.

Craig also mentioned that if he was going to ride 350 miles on a bicycle he was going to raise money doing it.  A long-time member of the Marine Military Academy staff, Gunnery Sergeant Larry Wisnoski ("Gunny Ski"), had passed away in the spring and the Alumni had created a memorial scholarship fund in his name.  We decided that we'd do the ride as a way to solicit donations for that fund.  The fund raising effort fizzled for various reasons and was not well-publicized, but we did manage to raise over $5,000. 

I found plenty of excuses not to ride much over the summer, but Craig's call got me re-energized.  I laid out a six month training plan that would get me into shape for the ride and began training in earnest on October 1, 2003.  The plan I developed is based on the 200 mile training program that I found in the book The Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling, a book that I highly recommend for anybody who is contemplating bicycle training.  The training program started me out slowly, with short rides of seven to ten miles the first week and a long slow 30 mile ride the first weekend.  After that, ride distances increased about ten percent per week, with a couple of plateaus thrown in so my body could rest and relax.  I won't say that I followed the plan religiously, but I was on the bike doing the training rides most mornings at 5:30.  I did my first 100 mile ride the first weekend in January and by the middle of February I was ready for the ride.  I knew that I could make it with little difficulty.  I'll let Craig tell the story (if he is so inclined) of how he trained for the ride.

Craig drove in from Chicago on Monday, March 29, and we spent a couple of hours that evening making sure that everything was ready for the ride.  See the pages linked below for details of each day.

Day One Round Rock, TX to Kenedy, TX
136 miles
Day Two Kenedy, TX to Kingsville, TX
108 miles
Day Three Kingsville, TX to Harlingen, TX
98 miles