Thanks again to all of you who supported my ride to raise money and awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the work it does supporting our friends and the many other folks around us living with MS as well as funding research to find a cure for MS. Once again YOU helped me exceed my goal of $1000 – this year almost $1200 – and our combined force of 2400 riders have so far raised over 1.6 million dollars! It was a very successful and a very emotionally charged event for all of us.
The best part of riding this year was having Karen riding with me again after nearly losing her last year to an aortic dissection. She is fully recovered and riding again though we’re a bit slower than in the past. But this isn’t a race and we found a small group to ride both days with. We chose the 75 mile routes both days this year instead of the 100. It’s hard to believe how quickly a group of 2000 cyclists can disperse. There were very long stretches where there were no other riders in sight except for our little group of five. On windy stretches (and there was a lot of that) we’d ride pace-line style to save energy but often we’d ride leisurely along in a clump enjoying scenery and conversation.
Saturday’s route took us north and east of New Bern mainly on country roads and through a few small communities with rest stops mostly at country churches and schools. It was hotter than we expected that day but not nearly as hot as some previous years. Just when it was starting to get uncomfortable we went through a small rain shower so that helped a lot. We got inspired to pedal much faster the last 10 miles of the day as a very dark and ominous looking storm was approaching. We finished just shortly before the storm and returned to our hotel just before it hit. The wind and lightning were so severe that many riders had to be brought back by vans and trucks.
Sunday was much cooler and totally overcast the whole day. We rode to Oriental, a beautiful town where the Neuse River joins the Pamlico Sound. If you sail you probably know Oriental. The boats in town far outnumber the human population. They’ve restored the Old Theater there and I’ve played concerts there in the past. Lunch was on a high bluff overlooking the river at one of those housing boom developments that got started just as the economy tanked so there’s a lot of very nice infrastructure and very few homes. Ironically, the slowest rider in our group led us out after lunch at a very fast pace. I was thinking “this is not a good idea” having just eaten a very large burrito among other things. Just a few miles out Karen started feeling sick so we stopped and one of the many vans that patrol the routes stopped and drove her the 10 miles to the next rest stop. By the time we got there she was recovered and joined us again for the rest of the ride back to New Bern.
The end of the ride on Sunday is always a big deal – you ride across the expansive US17 bridge over the Neuse River and then the smaller Trent River drawbridge and into Union Point Park to cheering volunteers and onlookers. Riders snatch commemorative medals from waving hands as they cross the finish line. You ride once around the park loop and then you get off your bike, butt sore, tired, grimy and sweaty and then – it’s over. It’s a bittersweet moment. You might briefly think of your friends who are disabled with this disease who can’t ride a bike. Or the ones who rode that day who might not be able to ride the next. You recall various incidents along the ride, people you met, sights and sounds. The hard parts where you wondered why you were doing this. Yes, there’s pain. Numb hands, aching shoulders and many other body parts that are not happy. But there’s a peaceful feeling, too. You did something good. And YOU – the person reading this – did the even greater good. Thank you. My soul bows to your soul.
New Bern is a beautiful town to visit with lots of history (Tryon Palace, for instance) and many fine shops, galleries, and restaurants. Our favorite find this trip was Morgan’s Tavern and Grill. Excellent food and a beautiful building, too. Highly recommended.
Photos (hundreds of them – taken by volunteers) of the ride are at: http://imageevent.com/mseventpics
A great article about one of the cyclists who has MS is here:
And here is the link for the New Bern ride in case you want to try it yourself. They now have 30, 50, 75, and 100 mile options. It’s FLAT down there!
And to find MS rides across the country:
Finally – I just wanted to say that I had decided not to ask for funds again after this ride. You, my friends, have donated generously these last six years and I really appreciate it so much but I don’t really feel comfortable asking for money again. With that thought in mind I experienced a moment of intense sadness at the end of the ride on Sunday thinking “How could I not do this again?” It was a selfish thought, though. The experience is so intensely satisfying – the accomplishment, the people, the rush of riding out of town with 2000 other cyclists, the beautiful countryside – it’s hard to think about giving it up. So I may ride again next year – but I will pay the minimum donation amount myself – in honor of my friends who have MS. And I’ll have a great ride. Join us!
With sincere gratitude for your help,