By Andy McCoy (I’ll recap several segments of the ride in the next few weeks)
I was stuck in traffic at 5 PM in downtown Des Moines, I was supposed to be at the Valley Community Center, helping to run a support driver organization meeting and distribute paper maps of the route. Grand Avenue was closed and Art festival traffic clogged all of downtown so I didn’t get to the pre-ride dinner until 6 PM. I briefed drivers on an individual basis during dinner.
After the pre-ride dinner my wife, Sarah, and I, and our daughters, Gemma and Charlotte, returned home and I packed up my clothes for the weekend plus a bag of necessities for the ride. I brought an extra kit and socks in case of inclement weather or an unexpected soiling. Soiling could result from a lot of different circumstances on a day-long ride in June. In the past, I have been hailed on, rained on, sprayed with wet roadkill detritus, melted candy bars in my jersey, I have been boiling, sunburnt, shivering, concussed, scraped, bruised, bleeding, and I have had violent intestinal pressure.
In my ride bag i packed chocolate chip Clif bars, Advil, A+D diaper ointment (Most people use some type of chamois cream purchased at a bike shop – but I like the smell of A+D, and if its good enough to treat a baby’s diaper rash, its good enough to help me get through a day of chafing on a bike), and tire changing supplies.
I haven’t ever slept well before this event, so I don’t even try to go to bed early anymore. I had a glass of red wine and finished up some things for work and went to bed at 11 PM. I woke up every hour between 11 PM and 4 AM.
This was the 6th OK200 that I have ridden. The first was in 2011 and it was just a few friends that thought it would be fun to attempt a 200 mile bike ride to my family cottage in Arnold’s Park, Iowa, located on Lake Minnewashta. It looked a lot different than the 2016 version. Here is a stop in 2011 at Scranton, Iowa.
After that long painful day, a group of us thought that a crazy 200-mile bike ride would be the perfect platform to use to raise awareness and funds for survivors of human trafficking, and we decided to do it again the next year.
At 4AM, when I woke up, I quickly realized that I got up 30 minutes later than i should have, knowing that I needed to pick up two riders, I should have been up at 3:30 AM. I didn’t have time for a great breakfast (eggs/yogurt/banana/toast) so i had a glass of juice, a cup of coffee, and some biscuits. In the quiet of the house i thought about that fact that we wouldn’t stop riding until possibly 7 PM, nearly 15 hours from the current time, and so I took some Advil to get ahead of the coming pain.
I thought about the girls that we had met earlier in the year that had been rescued from a brothel in Nepal and were being restored by Lighthouse Nepal. I thought about the electrocutions that one girl told us she endured in the brothel for not being completely compliant. I also thought about the 2013 OK200 in which we faced a 30 mph headwind and decided to turn-around at the 100-mile mark (link). I don’t think I have ever been as tired as the end of that day. I thought about how lucky I am to have been born into the family that I was born into. I thought about teens that have nowhere else to turn. These are the stories that build unity in our fight and compel us to ride. It is a simple reaction to evil and a desire to act.
I hustled around the kitchen filling water bottles, starting coffee, packing my bags, then going to back to the water bottles, and drinking more coffee. Sarah got out of bed to drive me to the starting point, and we picked up Joel Clutts and Joe Spradling along the way. We arrived at Valley Church at 4:45 AM, excited but apprehensive, firmly committed, and ready to ride.