MS Society Historic New Bern Bike Tour Ride Report 2011

My 5th year riding to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year I rode a total of 180 miles in 2 days and 27 donors gave over $1100 to support my effort. Overall there were over 2400 riders in this event raising about 1.6 million dollars (total figures not in yet) to help find a cure for and to directly support the over 5200 people in our part of the state who are living with MS. Some of these people are close friends and many we have come to know from doing these yearly rides.

There are so many causes worthy of our support. We all know people who have fallen ill with terrible incurable diseases or who have suffered from some natural catastrophe, or these days, the many unemployed and homeless. So I really appreciate the fact that you have chosen to and were able to support this particular cause that is important to me. It means a lot.

The ride this year came on the heels of hurricane Irene – a storm that brought suffering and hardship to many in the area that we rode in. On Sunday those of us doing the longer routes rode to the town of Oriental on the Pamlico Sound. There was an increasing amount of (mostly vegetative) debris stacked along the side of the roads on the way down there. After crossing the bridge into town we headed north to an area where there are many bays. This area had been badly flooded by the storm and many of the country roads we rode down were lined with the entire contents of people’s homes – TV’s, sofas, beds, dressers, everything. It was incredibly sad – everything broken and water damaged. It was ironic that during the course of that day over a thousand cyclists passed through that area to raise money for a disease while the thousands who lived there had lost everything that they owned. I’m still not quite sure how to process all that.

On both days of the ride we saw many very large trees uprooted or broken off. Quite a few houses had large blue tarps over their roofs where they had been damaged by trees or had shingles blown off by the storm. While we didn’t see any homes that were destroyed by the storm we were told by local officials that in one of the small towns we passed through on Saturday over 20 homes were completely destroyed.

But otherwise the whole experience was wonderful. There’s something about so many people coming together at one time to participate in an activity that supports an important cause. There’s a lot of excitement and it is certainly a colorful, beautiful event to witness and be a part of. The work was hard. It got hotter than expected on Saturday. A hundred miles go by pretty slowly on a bicycle. But I had the good fortune to ride with 5 women who attend our regular Tuesday night ride. They were strong riders and good company and we spread the work around by drafting each other throughout the day and reminding each other to keep drinking and applying sun screen at the rest stops. On Sunday we had a fairly large group led by good friend Steve Blanchard who was like a drill sergeant riding up and down the line keeping us in a double pace line all the way – two minutes each in the lead and then drop back. It was a very efficient operation and made those 80 miles much easier in spite of the headwind we had coming back from Oriental.

As I mentioned in my email, my wife, Karen, was unable to ride with us this year due to surgery. She volunteered all day both days at the finish line. She was given a pom-pom and a cow bell and she raised a ruckus for every rider crossing the finish line. But she’ll be riding again next year!

So many people have said “I could never do that” when I tell them I’m riding this tour to raise money for the MS Society. And I tell them that they can – there are people of all ages on these tours and in all kinds of physical condition. Many of the riders have MS themselves. There are even riders who can not use their legs and use arm powered recumbent bikes. The Historic New Bern tour that we do has routes of 30, 50, 75, and 100 miles as well as a ride for children. There are frequent rest stops with food and drink staffed by volunteers many of whom have MS. Our lunch rest stop on Sunday had a bluegrass band playing. It turned out I knew the fiddle player – he is older than me and had just had a heart transplant. It was great to see him out there playing and feeling good!

So just in case you are interested in possibly doing a ride here is a link to a map of MS bike tours across the country – they are in almost every state:

Some photos from the tour HERE.

And I want to thank you again for your support!



Bach Sinfonia Records Bach Motets

Earlier this year I recorded the Bach Motets with the Bach Sinfonia, a period instrument group based in the DC area. I played the continuo part on the violone along with the organist. Dorian Records is putting out the CD this month (I have my copy!) on the Sono Luminus label and they have recently released some video of the recording session with a very interesting interview with the conductor, Daniel Abraham. The video is on Youtube and I’ve embedded them here, also (it’s in three parts).

I recommend listening to the entire interview but if you only want to hear and see the ensemble I’ve listed the times of the music features:

Video 1 – 1:19, 2:46, 4:00

Video 2 – 0:56, 1:39, 3:15

Video 3 has the most music – Beginning, 1:58, 3:33, 6:00, 7:56

People who make a difference

Every one of us has come in contact with someone who, even though he or she may be a total stranger, says or does something in such a kind and considerate way that it brightens even the darkest moments of our lives. Little acts of kindness. These days we need much more of that to counteract all the negativity and finger pointing and divisiveness in our society.

For many years our jazz trio has been playing once a month at the General Store Cafe in PIttsboro, NC. We had decided to take a break from it for a while so last night was our last scheduled night there. For the past couple of years we’ve been greeted by, fed by, and just generally made to feel welcome and appreciated by bartender Kyle Allred. Last night there was a woman we did not know working there who informed us that Kyle had died in his sleep on Monday. He was 53.

I hardly knew Kyle and never saw him except for our once a month visits to the cafe. But he was one of those exceptional people who, no matter how they’re feeling themselves, always make you feel appreciated and cared for. We were all stunned and saddened to hear of his death. It really changed the atmosphere that night. We opened the set with the beautiful J.J. Johnson tune “Lament” in his honor. I had planned on recording the show that night but got so distracted by the turn of events that I forgot to record the first set. But I did get the second set and I think this tune pretty much captured the low key mood of the evening. 

There’s an online obituary for Kyle here.

The Bernie Petteway Trio will perform next at Cafe Beyu in Durham, NC on Friday, November 12. 9:00 PM until midnight.

MS Bike Tour Report

Karen and I rode the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Historic New Bern Bicycle Tour on Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12 to raise money for the MS Society and to support our friends and the thousands of folks in Eastern North Carolina who have Multiple Sclerosis. This is the “ride report” that I sent out to my donors but I wanted to share it here, too. This is a special event for me and I always encourage my friends to join us. Yes, you could do this, too. More info at the bottom of the post. Thanks to my friends who helped me raise $1500 for the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society!

Karen and I rode the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Historic New Bern Bicycle Tour on Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12 to raise money for the MS Society and to support our friends and the thousands of folks in Eastern North Carolina who have Multiple Sclerosis. This is the “ride report” that I sent out to my donors but I wanted to share it here, too. This is a special event for me and I always encourage my friends to join us. Yes, you could do this, too. More info at the bottom of the post. Thanks to my friends who helped me raise $1500 for the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society!

This year a record number of cyclists gathered at the waterfront in New Bern. There were over 2300 of us at the 8:00 AM start on Saturday. You can see a small portion of the group in the photo. MS Bike Tour Start
The New Bern Tour has been attracting more riders since they’ve added several new route options which make this fund raising event more accessible to folks who aren’t accustomed to riding long distances. In addition to a short fun ride for children there are the 30, 50, 75, and 100 mile routes. On Saturday we chose the 100 mile route. Well, we actually had agreed to do the 75 mile but at the lunch stop which was around mile fifty the 100 mile route branched off and Karen said she wanted to do that. I guess I could have stuck to the original plan – I have to admit my butt was hurting a bit and the thought of going another 50 was not cheering me up very much but I decided to go along and I’m glad I did. We have both been so busy this year we had not had time to adequately prepare for this event and were only riding about 25 miles a week. But it’s flat down there and much easier than riding in our area so the miles seem much less. We rode most of the last 50 miles ourselves Saturday seeing very few other riders as most of the people doing the 100 were well ahead of us. It was the perfect day – cool, no wind, partly sunny – and the route was through beautiful countryside. Our ride time was about 6.5 hours though we stopped at most of the wonderful rest stops provided by volunteer organizations about every 15 miles or so well stocked with food and drink. There was even a great band at the lunch time stop. So it was fairly late in the afternoon when we arrived back in New Bern and after showers we were treated to a dinner and more music at the convention center. A lot of folks camp at the waterfront park but we usually treat ourselves to a motel room. You may remember I camped in the rain in a very leaky tent at the MS ride I did last year out of Greensboro. I was not a happy camper then. But we got a good night’s sleep in New Bern on Saturday.

Sunday morning I woke up early to pouring rain. The parking lot of the motel was flooded. But the rain stopped during breakfast and we headed down to the waterfront park for the start. Not quite as many riders Sunday but still a huge gathering. We were treated to a flawlessly played version of the National Anthem by North Carolina Symphony trumpeter Don Eagle who was also doing the ride. While Saturday’s route took us on a large loop North and Northwest of New Bern, Sunday we rode East to the town of Oriental which gave us many scenic waterfront views. It sprinkled rain a few times but mostly we stayed dry. Because of the weather some of the routes were closed so we were on the 75 mile route which somehow became 80 miles. We spent most of the ride to Oriental riding in pace lines with a fairly large group and it went very fast. Unfortunately the trip back to New Bern was on heavily trafficked roads and the last 30 miles we were riding into a stiff headwind. We clung to the back of a small group of strong riders but it was still quite a struggle. At one point I was riding a few inches off the back of Karen’s wheel and got distracted and next thing I knew I was about 30 feet back and losing ground fast. The wind just sucked me off the back of the group. It took about 10 minutes of really hard work to catch up again.

Finish Line PhotoComing into the finish line at the waterfront park was very satisfying and there are children there handing medals to you when you cross the line. Here’s me crossing the line, medal in hand. There are a lot of folks there to welcome you back. Other riders who have already come in, folks from the community who’ve come to watch, and the volunteers – many of them people who have MS themselves. They know we’re doing this for them and they sure don’t hold back on showing their appreciation. So this is a good thing. I get to do something I enjoy – riding my bike in the countryside. And it’s good for my health since it’s the only decent exercise that I get.  I get to put some time into helping with a good cause – one that has helped several friends of mine live longer, more productive lives than they would have been able to without the research and services that the MS Society has provided. And most importantly, you have been a great help with your donations. I got cheered across the finish line on Sunday but you are the real champion here. I can’t thank you enough and just know that there are thousands of folks just here in Eastern North Carolina who thank you. Almost every one of my donors has someone close to them who is living with MS or has lost someone dear to them to the disease. I know this is a very personal cause for all of you.There’s one more benefit to me doing this ride each year. I’m sure you know how hard it is for two working people to find time to share things they enjoy. Karen started doing this ride the year before I did – I hadn’t really been riding much at all but she was riding regularly with friends. After her first MS ride in New Bern she said “you could do this!” I was skeptical both about my ability to do it physically but also I had never done any kind of fund raising before. “No one’s going to donate anything for me to ride” I told her. “And I can’t ride 30 miles, not to mention 75 or 100!” Well, I was wrong about both things – and I’m glad I was wrong! So thanks to my sweetie for getting me into this. One of the photographers on the route snapped this picture of us riding together on Saturday.MS Bike Tour Saturday on the road

And thank you all again for your generous help,
Robbie Link

For more info:

Bike MS Homepage

Bike MS Event Photos


The Life and Times of Henry Purcell

England, My England

I don’t know how I missed this 1995 film the first time around. It’s amazingly beautiful to watch and to listen to. If you love Purcell and if you love viola da gamba playing you’ll get a bit of history and a great storyline with your music fix. A play within a play. See the IMDB for details. Highly recommended. I’ll never hear “The Fairy-Queen” the same way again.


How Much Should I Practice?

It’s not quite “put the music under your pillow and you’ll learn it while you sleep” but an interesting study on passive learning. You don’t actually have to be physically practicing your music to continue learning it. Read the article from Wired Magazine HERE. 

C.P.E. Bach Concerts

The Vivaldi Project presents

A Rare Performance of

The Six String Sinfonias, W. 182

by C.P.E. BACH

performed on period instruments

with guest conductor Maestro John Hsu

Thursday, September 16, 2010 7:30 pm

First Presbyterian Church

305 East Main Street | Durham, NC

Tickets: $20/ $15 students with ID and First Pres. members

For more information and tickets please go to

The Vivaldi Project Website

Tickets also available at the door.

The Vivaldi Project is a premier period instrument ensemble, based in Washington DC, and dedicated to presenting 17th- and 18th-century string repertoire. The name, The Vivaldi Project, refers not only to the group’s core repertoire—the extraordinary works of the virtuoso violinist and composer, Antonio Vivaldi—but also the project of probing into the roots of Vivaldi’s distinctive musical style, as well as his role as the most influential Italian composer of his generation. Vivaldi’s innovative contributions to string writing, the concerto genre, and programmatic orchestral music place him as a pivotal figure between earlier baroque composers and later classical composers.  Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, in addition to being the leading keyboard player and teacher of his day, was also recognized as a composer with innovative and revolutionary ideas—the six sinfonias for strings containing some of the most audacious and dramatic material he wrote. These sinfonias illustrate how the art of violin playing as advanced and developed by Vivaldi directly influenced orchestral violin writing, increasing the technical demands placed upon the players and raising the standard of their playing.

John Hsu is the Old Dominion Foundation Professor of Music Emeritus at Cornell University, where he taught for 50 years (1955-2005). As an instrumentalist and conductor, he has toured throughout this country and Europe, and made award-winning recordings. Among them are his CD of Haydn Baryton Trios (with violist David Miller and cellist Fortunato Arico), which was chosen Winner in the Music Retailers Association’s Annual Award for Excellence in London, 1989; and his CD Symphonies for the Esterhazy Court by Joseph Haydn (with the Apollo Ensemble), which was nominated for the 1996 International Cannes Classical Music Award. In May 2000, the government of France and its Ministry of Culture bestowed the high honor of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on John Hsu in recognition of his life-long commitment to French Baroque music as a scholar, performer, and teacher. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, which awarded him the Honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1971, and the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2003. He currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC.