150 miles of grueling bicycle riding in the wind but for a great cause.
There are many people to thank and I will get to that but I thought most people would want to hear about the details.
I signed up with a team called the Queen Creek Rollers for this event. What a great group of people.
I didn’t meet most of them until the first day of the ride but some of the experiences we shared will last a lifetime.
There were different mileage options for Saturday, 35 miles, 70 or 100 miles, Two of the team members were only doing the 35 mile route, 2 were doing the 75 mile ride and 5 of us were going for the 100 mile ride from Florence to Casa Grande and back.
It was 55 degrees so we all put on warm gear and we started off at 7:30 am on our quest along with about 800 other people. I was riding a sweet bike that Global Bikes loaned to me for the event, a Specialized Roubaix $3,700 of carbon fiber road racing fun.
The wind was strong and it seamed to be blowing against us the entire day, the trick was to get behind someone bigger than you and stay close so they would block the wind. This is called drafting and after this weekend I got the practice down. I had several people following me (I guess fat guys block a lot of wind).
About 25 miles out I went to wipe my face and realized I had lost feeling in my hands. I should have been thinking about riding but instead i was touching my fingers to each other realizing I didn’t even feel the pressure. Then I heard a lady behind me tell me I was doing good and I should let her know when I get tired.
I was confused, why would she want to know when I am tired. Pride kicked in and I wasn’t going to let this skinny lady pass me so I pressed on at 14 mph, then 13 then 12 when I hit 11 mph I heard her say thanks now it is your turn, she told me to pull to the left and drop in behind them. Eyes burning, lungs on fire, legs spent and pride crushed I complied with the skinny lady. Suddenly I was being passed my a whole team of ladies, in fact that was their name, The ladies, This was my first experience seeing how drafting and riding as a team works, These ladies were awesome, I was back up to 14 mph and I wasn’t working as hard. We rode together with them and some members of the American Express team the rest of the way into lunch.
At 38 miles we arrived for lunch, as we rode in there were people cheering us on, some of them had MS and they had all they could do to clap but they were there supporting us. I was humbled.
After lunch, I knew I was close to the half way point and would soon be going the opposite direction so the wind would not be a problem. I slowly presses on and I started getting passed by people on fixed gear bikes (like beach cruisers not race bikes). Then we turned and what is in front of me but a SIX MILE climb.
It was slow going but I made it and there was a rest stop at the top of the hill. I no longer knew where any one on my team was and was again questioning my own sanity for attempting this. There were volunteers holding bikes for the riders and one of them offered to fill my water bottles, I was a little taken back and told them I could do it but he insisted, I handed him my bottles and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade when the volunteer returned he handed me my bottles and I notices his hands shaking, I asked if he was OK and he said, yes, it is a symptom of MS. Its funny how God knows just how to motivate me to keep going. Now It is downhill for the next 7 miles, time to fly.
This was probably the easiest part of the ride, yes it was into the wind but it was down hill. I was flying I had a renewed purpose and I was determined. Then a couple of turns later I was back into a 14 mph head wind, that is when I met the Rhino team. On their website is the verse (Revelation 19:1) After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
I rode 100 miles & crossed the finish line at 3:15 PM, 45 minutes before I expected. My wife was on her way, I was beat but excited at the same time.
There was a live band and Fat tire beer at the camp, The band was good but for some reason no one was dancing. Pizza and pasta for dinner and we went back to the camper. My wife left about 7 and by 8:30 I was asleep so I could wake up and do another 60 miles on Sunday.
Sunday was more wind, rest stops almost every 10 miles and we needed them. 48 miles into the ride is the start of an 8 mile climb, Chris, our team Captain and I ware the only two going for the 60 miles today and he allowed me to draft him most of the way. I think he is a natural leader, Tall wide shoulders, big bike, he blocks a lot of wind. I did pretty good until just before the 8 mile climb. My legs were fried, they burned and were exhausted, I was determined but after the first 3 miles of the climb I told Chris I was spent and could not continue. I wished him well and turned around.
Down Hill YEAH, 25-30 mph and barely peddling, this is what I needed, I turned the corner and headed for the park. I was able to maintain 18-19 mph all the way back and the park was in site.
Police had traffic blocked of the entire route both days but today they had the streets closed for us, coming into the park was almost like being a one person parade.
People lined up on both sides of the street waving and clapping, cheering you on. Some in wheelchairs some obviously uncomfortable but all genuinely thankful that you are there supporting the fight against MS.
Lunch was provided and I decided to eat before I packed up to go home. I was joined by two other riders that heard I had raised over $2000 they sat with me to thank me. See they have MS and the money that is raised at events like this has paid for the research needed to create medications that allow them to function day to day.
This was a great event and personal triumph, however I am in awe of the people that overcome obstacles bigger than this daily, they cant turn around half way up an 8 mile climb, they must live through the struggle every day.
I want to thank everyone that donated to this event, your support is what motivated me to start this event with the mindset of going the distance. If you haven’t donated but want to you can click here
I would like to thank Alan Shelton for being a great friend and for loaning me his Lightspeed bike to train on.
I would like to thank Global Bikes, for not only loaning me a great bike for the ride and allowing me to train on it for a week before the ride but for also sponsoring the ride and providing sag support for the riders that broke down.
Thanks to My loving wife for supporting me while training and for coming out to the ride just to see me on Saturday.
Thanks to Sarah Meeks and the entire MS staff for organizing this event and to all the volunteers that came out, You guys rock and this event would not be possible with out you.