Favorite Bike Bell

OK – I love sound and quality, interesting sound. So – after a ride on the Neuse River Greenway last year calling out “on your left” to the walkers and joggers I passed I walked into the bike shop at the head of the trail just below the Neuse River Dam and they had a bell sound when the door opened to alert them to customers entering. It was a beautiful, sustained ringing sound. I said “I want a bike bell that sounds like that!” Unfortunately, while they had one in stock that sounded pretty close to that it did not fit my handlebars so when I got home I searched online and found the perfect bike bell. Here it is. You can listen to the sound of it on their website. Compact and beautiful – but the main thing is the sound. No more calling out as you pass folks. Cheer them up with a beautiful, angelic ringing tone. 

Bike MS Donation Letter 2016

Bike MS LogoI’m back! In 2012 I wrote that that would be my last Bike MS Ride to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I mostly was tired of asking my friends for money when I know how much we are all bombarded with requests for help from various good doing organizations. Many of you wrote back saying “no, no – we are glad you are doing this!” and would remind me of their friend or aunt or even spouse who had MS. I realized that maybe it was a good thing to keep doing but then circumstances changed. That December my mother fell and broke her hip. She never really recovered from surgery and developed severe dementia and was unable to move again until she finally passed away just 4 days ago. 

For those 3 1/2 plus years I hardly got on my bike at all and had little time to think about fundraising for an organization. In the years prior to her illness I was averaging about 1,000 miles a year on the bike. In 2013 and 2014 – ZERO miles. In all of 2015 I rode 52 miles.

In the past year I’ve noticed that my health – both physical and mental – has been taking a nosedive. Being on the bike training for the MS rides and just biking for pleasure with friends was keeping me healthy in more ways than I knew. Earlier this year I made the commitment and signed up for Bike MS once again more for my own health – I knew I would have to start riding regularly to get back in shape – than anything else. But the fact remains that I still have friends living with MS and recently some of them have declining faster. Not to mention the many people I will never know that this organization helps.

I’ve been able to get back on the bike some this year but caring for my mom and the emotional stress involved has made it hard to get back in the habit of taking care of myself. I’ve managed to log 250 miles so far this year but hardly enough to do the century (100 mile route) ride at Bike MS. Karen and I will probably do one of the shorter routes each day this year – hopefully at least 50 miles each day. The event is in less than 2 weeks! As you can see I’m a little behind in fundraising! We ride out of New Bern, NC on Sept 10 and 11. We’ll be able to continue fundraising for some time after that (I can’t remember the cutoff date at this point) in case you don’t see this until after the ride.

The Bike MS campaign funds research and provides services for people living with MS – over 18,000 in the Carolinas alone. Fundraising dollars are used to support those affected by MS with educational programs, help groups, medical equipment loans, financial assistance, wellness programs, care management, respite care and direct assistance. A donation in any amount is appreciated but no need to apologize for not being able to contribute – I totally understand!!! But donation or not, thank you for your support!

My Donation Page: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/robbielink2016

Or you may mail a check made out to National MS Society to my address and I will submit it. Contact me by email and I’ll send you the address.

2012 Bike MS Historic New Bern Ride Report for my Donors, Friends, and Supporters

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.Sunday at the Finish Line

Other notes:

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:

http://www.newbernsj.com/articles/bike-109042-morning-historic.html

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!

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/chapters/nct/fundraising-events/bike-ms/index.aspx

And to find MS rides across the country:

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/raceMap.aspx

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,

Robbie Link

MS Society Historic New Bern Ride 2012 Fund Raising Letter

Dear Friends,

This is the last year I’ll be asking you for money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Historic New Bern Bicycle Tour. Did that get your attention? If you’re reading this letter you probably know that I’ve been raising money for the NMSS for the last 5 years through this unique method of “I ride my bicycle 150 to 200 miles over 2 days, you donate money to the MS Society”. Why do we do this? Well, I love riding my bicycle long distances through beautiful countryside AND I’ve lost several good friends to this terrible disease we call multiple sclerosis and have several friends living with the disease right now and through this bicycle tour have met dozens of other people living with the disease and praying for a cure. I don’t have money to donate myself to this organization which has helped so many people in Eastern North Carolina who have the disease so I do what I can to help raise money. If you’re reading this now it is probably because you’ve donated to my ride in the past and, as I’ve discovered, it’s probably because you’ve lost a friend or loved one to MS or know someone currently living with MS. Over the last 5 years almost every person who has donated has told me of someone close to them with MS.

 So that’s the game we’ve been playing. When I started doing this I had no idea I could ride a bike 100 miles in a day. I’d never come close to doing that before. And I had never asked anyone for money for any kind of cause and really did not expect to succeed at that, either. But I discovered physical strengths I didn’t know I had and, most importantly, discovered the generosity of my friends. The first year I raised almost $2000. It’s been a little less than that in the following years but always over $1000 thanks to you and many others.

 So why will this be my last year? Well, I’ll be 60 next year and feel a need for some change. I think it’s time to find other ways to “make good” in the world – maybe something on a more one-to-one basis. And I’m acutely aware of the concept of “donor burn-out” and want to head that off at the pass. I know everyone is bombarded with requests for help from all kinds of worthy causes and also most people I know are struggling financially themselves. I know I’ll keep riding and doing the small group fund raising rides. We did one this morning where there is a small entry fee that goes directly to the organization so I do the riding and the paying myself.

 So, if you can help, great. If not, that’s fine. No amount is too small and here’s the drill:

1.) Easiest: Go to my personal page on the MS Society website and click the “donate” link. http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/robbielink2012

2.) Or mail a check made out to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to my address: 2512 Mount Sinai Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. Do NOT make the check to me!

We ride out of New Bern September 8th and 9th. We’ll be doing at least 75 miles each day and hopefully 100 on at least one of them. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, fun (well, mostly fun) and challenging. I can accept donations up until October 1st. And, yes, Karen is riding again this year!

Thanks,

Robbie Link

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: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/raceMap.aspx

Some photos from the tour HERE.

And I want to thank you again for your support!

 

 

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

 

Bike to Fight MS

September 26th and 27th I’ll be riding to raise money to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis. I will be joining more than 2,000 other cyclists for the 2009 MS Bike Tour “BB&T Tour to Tanglewood” which will benefit the Central North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We will be riding a minimum of 90 hilly miles over 2 days to help end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often-disabling disease of the central nervous system that strikes people in the prime of life. Last year approximately 2,300 cyclists raised more than $1.5 million on the New Bern Tour that Karen and I did. We have both lost friends to this disease and each of us knows several people who are currently living with MS. As we have contacted people in our fund raising efforts we have discovered that almost everyone we have talked to either has friends or relatives with MS. We are asking for your help in this challenge. By making a pledge on my behalf, you will support national research efforts to find the cause and cure for MS in addition to helping fund local programs for the thousands of people in Central North Carolina who live with and reach beyond the daily challenges of MS each day. In the past 20 years, significant progress has been made in the treatment of MS, particularly for those who are newly diagnosed. Last year I raised over $1200 to help this cause. Please help me match or exceed that amount this year. Any amount is appreciated. If you can help you can easily donate securely online using your credit card at the National MS Society website. Here is the link: Robbie’s Donation Page

Click the “Donate to Robbie” button on top of the fundraising thermometer and follow the instructions. I will be automatically informed via email of your donation. Thank you so much for your support and for your interest in multiple sclerosis!

Notes: Due to schedule conflicts I am unable to do the Bike MS New Bern Tour that Karen and I have done for the last two years and which directly benefits our community. Karen is hoping to do at least part of that tour. But I wanted to continue working for this cause and the Central Carolina Chapter helps many people close to us.

Why only 90 miles this year? (Last year we rode 175!) The Tour to Tanglewood is very hilly compared to New Bern. I will have 3 route options to add up to 55 additional miles on Saturday. I plan to add at least one additional route – we’ll see how it goes from there!

 

Local Rides

Some rides from my house

21 miles to Maple View and down through Calvander:
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18 Miles American Drive, Mt. Sinai Hill Route
View Larger Map