March 21, 2006

Almost exactly two years ago, I was in a fund-raising event called the MS150. It is an annual event, and takes place in many different cities. This particular event (at that time) was a bicycle ride from Dallas, up across the Red River into Oklahoma for a grand total of 150 miles. It took place on a Saturday and Sunday in May with the option to camp at a state park in Oklahoma. All for the good cause of raising money for Multiple Sclerosis. This was a great experience, and I personally raised about $4,000 for the charity. This particular year that I participated set a record for having the worst weather EVER for this event. People WAY fitter, and much more serious about cycling dropped out after the first 20 miles, since they were extremely cold. Hey, my body fat came in quite handy that day. Because I've been too lazy busy to write the last week or so, I have copied and pasted a letter that I wrote to the people that I had been hitting up for money before the event.

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I survived my weekend bicycle ride, and I want to tell you about the experience.

What's the big idea calling this the MS150 ride? It should be called the MS160.3 ride - that's what my odometer said after the 2 day journey!

Day 1: My husband booted me and my gear out of his warm, dry pickup in Plano at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. It was very cold, raining, and the wind was strong and coming from the north. I rode for many miles in the rain, squinting from it splashing in my eyes and my feet, legs, and gloves were soaking wet. Even after the rain stopped it took a very long time for my shoes to go from sloshing to just damp. The lunch stop was in an elementary school where we were served Subway sandwiches. I overheard many people saying they were going to "sag" to the end. In fact, I guess that the organizers expected so many people to catch a ride from there, that they had about 3 school buses ready to haul people away. I was really beginning to worry when I heard several people that looked in much better shape than me say that they were quitting for the day. Many of them talked about the upcoming hills and being so cold. They were tired of fighting the wind. One of the volunteer motorcyclists said she'd been helping with this event for 18 years and that this was the worst year ever as far as weather was concerned. Every "sag wagon" that had passed me up to this point had a "full" sign in the window. I couldn't have quit if I'd wanted to. The MS150 organization's website called this ride a "2-day party on wheels" I felt like Private Benjamin when she showed up for boot camp and pulled her drill sergeant aside to explain "this is not the Army I signed up for." I signed up for the bike ride with the nice, warm weather where I can work on my tan. I signed up for the bike ride where the rest stops have Lazy-Boy recliners and good looking guys rubbing my legs while someone refills my water bottle with a refreshing margarita. That is MY idea of a 2-day party on wheels. OK, enough whining, I decided that I did not want to quit, I was determined to finish the miles on this first day. But I had this big fear of being alone out there on the country roads, lost for days. With my poor sense of direction and wandering mind, it really was a valid concern. The sun made its first appearance when I was about 5 miles from the first day's finish line. At least I finally had my shadow to keep me company! After crossing the finish line, they served me a big plate of hot spaghetti. Even though I'd eaten at every single rest stop along the way and wasn't a bit hungry, it was so appealing to have warm food. My husband and daughter whisked me away to a hotel for the night (CAMP and TENT are four letter words as far as I'm concerned).

Day 2: Beautiful sunshine right from the start. It was quite an experience when they closed off the bridge so that all 1,900 of us cyclists could cross the Red River at the same time. The weather was nice, the scenery was awesome, but Susan was slow. At lunch on the second day, some of my teammates were patiently waiting for me to show up. When I finally arrived, one of them said, "Susan, I was worried about you!" I said, "You should be! I'm going so slow the buzzards are circling over me. I just hope I have the strength to fight them off!" On one hill I hit an all time low of 3 miles per hour - I didn't even know you could keep a bike upright at that speed. I'll never forget the 75 year old woman who smiled sweetly as she passed me and soon became just a dot on the horizon. Speaking of being left in the dust…for safety and courtesy, riders always announced "ON YOUR LEFT" as they passed. After awhile I felt like snarling at each one, "Yeah? Who ISN'T?" A teammate said that if I was so tired of hearing "on your left" I should crowd that side so they'd be forced to pass me on the right. I had a flat tire 16 miles from the finish. It was bound to happen as I had bragged earlier in the ride that I'd NEVER had a flat tire. On the plus side, five men stopped to help me! Oh wait, let's be honest. ONE man stopped to help me, then four of HIS teammates thought HE was down, so they stopped to help HIM! It took a mechanic from the roving Richardson Bike Mart van, though, to help me out as I needed a new inner tube and a new tire. He very kindly oiled my chain and adjusted a brake for me, too while he was there. I finally crossed the finish line - greeted by cheers from the volunteers and some great 70's music.

I am only kidding around, folks, I'm not really as negative as I may sound. I'm just trying to be funny. The truth is that I had a wonderful time - even on Saturday. It was exciting to be in that crowd of people, it was fun to be a part of the big event. And I know that I am very fortunate to be healthy enough to complete a trip like this. I have to be honest and tell you that I originally chose this event because it would be physically challenging for me. Only after I signed up for it did I start to realize how many people I knew that have Multiple Sclerosis or have family or friends affected by this disease. I really thought people would donate money for ME, because they are: a) proud of me, b) friends with me, or c) afraid I'll beat them up. Turns out it was d) none of the above. I received the most money from people who donated for the right reason - because the money goes to help people with Multiple Sclerosis. And these are the people I thought of every time I struggled up a hill.

Things I learned:

o Volunteers are very special people.
o Hills are good, because there's a side of them that allows you to rest, catch your breath and really enjoy the view.
o Falling off your bike is not quite as embarrassing as I'd imagined it would be (but just as painful as I expected).

For those of you who like numbers, here are a few statistics:

o The first day time from start to finish: 11 hours. Distance covered: 95+ miles.
o The second day time from start to finish: 8.5 hours. Distance covered: 65+ miles.
o Number of rest stops serving refreshments: 11. Pounds gained: 3.


Blogger Meow said...

Sounds like a tough ride. Glad you made it through ... wow, what an achievement. Congratulations. Take care, Meow

10:38 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Luvya Ivy, for all the right reasons.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Brilliant :-)

1:08 AM  
Anonymous Penny said...

I'm impressed! Not only with the bike riding (150 miles! I'm lucky to make it to the end of the block ... oh, wait. I have to get a bike first!)but also with the amount of money you raised! Way to go, Ivy!

So when's the next one?

5:42 AM  
Anonymous TSB said...

Wow, I am totally impressed. Way to go Ivy!!!!

5:51 AM  
Blogger Marti said...

How awesome are you! What a great account!

Congratulations on finishing!

Thanks for sharing!

6:02 AM  
Anonymous TC said...

Way to go, Ivy!

So I shouldn't adopt this as a weight-loss programme...?!

6:10 AM  
Blogger June Cleaver's Revenge said...

Wow, I am impressed! That is quite an achievement. :)

7:38 AM  
Blogger Jona said...

Wow! I bet the pounds gained were in muscle weight!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I will join the "WOW" chorus. Amazing honey!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Your posts are always such a joy to read.
The "buzzards" part got me laughing, as did the "On your left... Who isn't?" part.
Gaining 3 pounds on a two day bike ride is BS. I'm sure you only gained muscle... right? (tee hee)

1:43 PM  
Blogger se7en said...

You're just plain crazee!

cool! hehe

3:22 PM  
Blogger aka_monty said...

I was WONDERING where you'd been!!

And now I have an excuse for not bike-riding in marathons, due to weight gain. :)

3:50 PM  
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3:52 PM  
Blogger Da Gal said...

wow ivy... you are amazing. I am in a flurry of volunteer activity myself these days and can relate to all that you said... I'd elaborate but I am too darn tired myself and its time to cook.. aka throw a frozen pizza in the oven. Mmmm tasty.

5:00 PM  
Blogger poopie said...

Must have been the spaghetti.

7:04 PM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Good for you (in many ways) Ivy! Sounds like you would make a great spokesman for MS donations! $4,000 is a GREAT effort! (and that is also a LOT of miles!) ~ jb///

10:57 AM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Nicely did, Ivy. But, tell me: You ACTUALLY GAINED pounds on this jaunt? So it ain't so...

11:17 AM  
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5:43 PM  
Blogger Hale McKay said...

Uh-oh! Are you going to be too tired to party with Jules and Monty?
...Wonderful feat. I'm glad you enjoyed it - it is for a worthy cause.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Karlos said...

That's a lot of bike riding! I think the most I ever did was like 30 miles. Plenty for me!

A friend of mine used to do an annual ride between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Insane!

3:00 AM  
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

I am very much impressed! This is a wonderful post. It's funny and heart-warming and just plain lovely.

And all of that is without the wonderful fact that you raised SO MUCH MONEY for MS! I know several folks with MS and this cause is near and dear to my heart. My church is doing a walk-a-thon for it next month. I can walk forever, but bike riding tires me out much, much quicker. I couldn't have ridden that distance I'm pretty darn sure. (Make that absolutely sure.)

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very noble of you.
106.3 miles - WOW - very impressive.

Take Care!

Jessica Roberts

11:41 AM  
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