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!