Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bike MS, Part II: No Pain, No Rain

My teammates and I got another late start Sunday morning; again we started our ride at about 7:20am. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I was riding with a bunch of women, but I am not for sure a bunch of guys in 3 different cars coming from 2 different sites, both about 35 minutes away, could do any better. In the end it really didn't matter.
A few of my teammates were going to ride the 35 mile route; Cathy, Natalie, and I were going to tackle the 75 mile loop. Cathy would have to leave early because of another committment, but she wanted to ride with the big dogs as long as possible.
The ride was relatively uneventful. The weather was just about perfect; approximately 70 degrees and overcast, and we rode through some beautiful woodlands around the Kishwaukee river. Obviously, I do not know what Saturday's route look like in its entirety, but I don't think it was quite as picturesque as Sunday's. My teammates and I enjoyed each others company and conversations. When we got to the lunch rest stop, we were all feeling pretty good, and we took a nice long break to enjoy our sandwiches, fruit and cookies.
Sadly, Cathy would have to leave us and take a SAG vehicle back to the Convocation Center, but I am holding her to next year's ride in its entirety. Natalie and I got back on our horses and rode out for the remainder of the trip.
Back at the Convocation Center, Katie and the kids had shown up to cheer on the riders as they arrived.
They were there when our friends Rachael, Molly, and Alicia finished their 35 mile ride.
Elsewhere, Natalie and I were riding along, talking a lot about our fitness goals and home lives. We stopped at one rest stop that was inside an airplane hangar solely for the use of the local residents (and of course, on that day, a bunch of bike riders). And slowly the miles kept ticking by. Eventually the NIU campus came into view and we knew we were close to the finish line. Which was great, except that we got word that some bad weather was moving in again. We made a turn to the south and the wind was really hitting us in the face. That particular leg was only about 3 miles long, but it was a tough 3 miles. I tucked into my aero bars and hammered it out as much as I could. In the process, I got a little ahead of Natalie. So when I turned back towards the finish, I stopped and waited for her to catch up. I had ridden all day with her, there was no way I was going to race ahead of her at the finish.
We finally turned onto the driveway for the Convo Center and there were quite a few people cheering us on for that last hundred yards. Most importantly, Katie and the kids had their signs and homemade noise makers waving in the air to welcome me home. It was definitely a highlight of the weekend.

Natalie and I snapped a quick finisher photo before she headed off for a free massage.

The medals (the ones with the orange ribbons) were being handed out by a gentleman who would say "As a man suffering with MS, I want to give you this medal and say 'Thank you!'" It really struck a chord with me.

Katie and I grabbed a quick lunch, changed clothes, and started to pack the kids up when another downpour ensued. With the help of some volunteers and an extra change of clothes we finally got back on the rode to home.

The Wrap-Up: There are a few things I need to say before I finish this post out.

1. I am extremely disappointed that I did not get to ride the full 175 miles. Over the weekend I still road about 110 miles, which is a great accomplishment. However, because of the rain-shortened Saturday, I never road over 75 miles in a stretch. Considering that I had a training ride of 80 miles, I did not have the chance to set a new personal record. And considering the time committment that a ride of this length requires, I have no idea when I will be able to do it again before next year.

2. This whole thing started out as a personal fitness challenge to myself, but somewhere along the way it became bigger than that. I really began to consider the charity that I was riding for, and it gave me a tremendous amount of pride to be contributing to the fight against multiple sclerosis. I achieved my fundraising goal for this year (thank you so much to those of you who contributed to my efforts), but I think I will challenge myself with a greater goal next year. And given the time, I may consider more charity rides.

3. I have said this many times before, but I will say it again. I have the most amazing, loving and supportive wife I could ever ask for. Katie did so much for me this weekend that I could never thank her enough. She volunteered to cheer on the riders in the "Spirit line", she and the children made personal signs and noisemakers, and they made homemade chocolate chip cookies for the snacks a the tent. She also brought games and a pool for the tent. She entertained, fed, and enriched our children, while I spent hours out on the road. I truly beleive no one does anything all by themselves, and I could never have achieved what I did without the love and support of my family. That is why this blog is called Racing Home. Thank you so much! I love you with all of my heart!

And now with this chapter complete, it is time to move on to my next challenge. I have already decided what it is: a half-marathon in August!! (Seriously, August! Do you know how hot it is going to be?) But with the love and support of my family and friends, I know I can do it.


  1. Congrats Brian! Very proud of you.

  2. Brian you are awesome.
    Love you