Eleven Years and Still Riding!
The bicycle is a wonderful marriage between (hu)man and machine. Of course, it helps to have pavement roads to minimize friction, but it still amazes me that you can, using your own energy, travel 75 miles in a day. This sounds like a grueling feat, but it’s really just a series of ~10-mile rides.
Three of the our four members of “Team CSL” from last year returned, including Harold Anderson, Debbie Boyer and me, and Tim McIntyre rejoined us this year. You may recall that Tim broke his wrist last year and was unable to ride.
Harold and I drove down late Friday afternoon through a lot of rain, but by the time we got to the fairgrounds in Columbia, it was dry. We set up camp, and when we found out Tim wouldn’t be in until late, we met with Debbie and her friend Stu at the Flat Branch Brewery & Pub. The food was tasty and their selection of microbrews was terrific.
We got back to camp and waited for Tim to arrive before the three of us retired for the evening to our luxurious weekend accommodations. Harold’s “6-man” tent easily held three twin air mattresses for the three of us to sleep comfortably. We got some rain in the middle of the night Friday night, but thankfully there was no great accumulation. Saturday morning was cool and dry, and as the weather warmed up it turned out to be a beautiful day for riding. Harold, Tim and I rode pretty strong most of the early part of the day, averaging almost 17 MPH, and Debbie caught up with us at lunch.
Saturday afternoon we rode through Amish country, with rougher roads than I remember from previous years. I guess the county highway department spends their limited maintenance budget where the taxes come from and not out there. We were surprised by a cool front that showered on us at the sixth rest stop. We ended up riding in the rain for 30-45 minutes, but by the time we got back to camp it was largely dry because the parched earth soaked up the water like a sponge.
Later that afternoon, Stu prepared to cook chicken & dumplings on a camp stove as we marveled at his ambitious undertaking. We chose to indulge in the free food and beer at the VIP Tent, and listen to the band Expressions. After they ate, Stu and Debbie joined us there, and we all weathered another brief storm under the tent. Debbie went back to her hotel to shower, and the rest of us joined the crowd in the main dining hall for a selection of pasta and salad.
I tried to catch a catnap after dinner, but never succeeded in actually dozing off. The three of us joined a really small crowd to listen to the last band of the day, Pro-Bono and the Non-Billables. They closed things down at 9 PM sharp, and we were ready to call it a day.
Sunday morning Debbie called and said that both she and Stu were sick. While she was gracious about not pointing any fingers, we all suspected that something with the camp-cooked chicken & dumplings was the culprit. Debbie decided not to ride, so the three of us headed out into the cool temperatures and foggy landscape to begin our Day 2.
After leaving the third rest stop, Harold took the lead, with Tim not too far behind and me following Tim. Harold saw a motorcycle ahead, which appeared to be moving slowly. As he adjusted the rear view mirror on his helmet, Harold realized too late that the motorcycle was in fact parked upright on its center stand, and he hit it full-on from behind. The fully-dressed motorcycle’s storage trunks absorbed most of the impact, but Harold went over the handlebars into the motorcycle passenger, who actually has MS. She was shaken up and hurt a bit, and was taken away in an ambulance as a safety precaution. Harold’s bike was unrideable, but he was able to get up and walk it off, showing more concern for the motorcyclists. Thankfully he only received minor injuries, but was done for the weekend.
Tim and I rode on after we thought everything was over, unaware of the arrival of an ambulance and the Highway Patrol. We discovered at the lunch stop that the state troopers shut down route while they investigated the accident. After an uneventful afternoon of riding in warm, dry weather, we met up with Harold back at camp. He was moving slowly, but is healing slowly this week.
Harold drove west to visit his son at college in Kansas, and I rode back home with Tim after enjoying one last meal in the dining hall. It was another great MS ride, and I feel truly blessed in my friendships with my teammates. This is such a fun weekend, and I appreciate the support and encouragement I receive from you all. Come ride with us next year!
To contribute to my fundraising campaign, go to https://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/SORourke11.