2023: Beautiful Weekend for Bike MS!

If you’ve been supporting me for a while, you may recall my sad stories about the challenging storms that have plagued the Bike MS ever since 2018. So we are overdue for what most of us expect in September: beautiful blue skies with lows in the high 50s and highs in the low 80s. This year Mother Nature delivered.

At the end of the day on Friday I met with a customer who is developing some solar projects in Godfrey, right across the street from Lewis & Clark Community College, where the Bike MS event has been hosted since 2015. LCCC has become a regional leader in sustainability, and the evidence of their commitment is all around the campus, including recycling and composting, permeable pavement and EV charging stations, and fresh vegetables and native plantings.  The campus also has solar and has implemented a bunch of energy efficiency measures, so I smile with satisfaction whenever I’m there.

My cycling partner Harold Anderson and I camp every year, and the weather this year was perfect for sleeping in a tent. By the time I got there, Harold had the tent set up and dinner was almost ready in our United By Design team tent. Dan Hinkebein roasted brine-soaked potatoes and co-captain Brian Fricks roasted peppers and pork steaks on a grill to supplement the pot-luck plethora provided by team members. As always, Team UBD’s tent was the place to be, with a bevy of drinks & desserts to stimulate everyone and kept the campground alive well into the night!

To be fair, many of the ~1,000 riders choose to drive up early Saturday morning, at least in time for the 7 AM start. So a lot of the cyclists don’t necessarily take advantage of the meals provided in the facilities at LCCC. As a result, event organizers moved the dining to a smaller space nearer the team tents and start/finish line. Things moved quickly, and while I barely made it for the team photo at 6:45, Harold acquiesced to taking photos of friends on Team BJC and missed the shoot. See if you can find Where Waldo is in the team photo!

Hint – the only one wearing a helmet!

The biggest fundraising teams get queued up at the front of the gate. Team Maritz was the #1 fundraiser, with only about 30 members but some donors with deep pockets, raising $115K. Team Hogan has the largest number of riders (91!) was #2 with $73.6K, with Team UBD coming in right behind at #3 with $72.1K. Though the cool morning air was nippy, we took off from the campus and quickly found the hill down to the Great River Road, where we enjoyed the view of the mighty Mississippi before heading back up the hill from Elsah. You can see the elevation change before mile 8 and after mile 12 at the bottom of the map.

Saturday’s ride

As always, the lunch stops are largely well stocked with healthy snacks and hydration, and staffed by friendly volunteers. There are bike techs and medics available to assist with either mechanical or physical issues, which can really come in handy. Lunch was hosted by Express Scripts, and the food trucks they brought in offered a combination of hot dogs and hamburgers, including vegetarian options, and snacks consistent with the other rest stops. The afternoon was warm and comfortable, and the hills after lunch always seem harder than those in the morning!

We arrived back at the team tent around 3:30, with many of our team members already enjoying the festivities and cheering riders as they arrive. I signed up for a massage as soon as I arrived; Greg Smith with Back to Work on-site massages has always been the team masseuse in the six years I’ve been riding with Team UBD. Greg knows how to hit all the right spots to relieve the body aches, and while the timing of the massage coincided with the end of my dinner (mostly prepared by Allan and Sherita Gober), I was happy to let Greg work my legs and shoulders before heading off to the mobile shower. We enjoyed more of the selections of beers donated by Ferguson Brewing, and gave some love to a couple of teammate’s pair of pugs, Hops and Barley. Here’s Barley getting some attention.

After the long ride, we were back in the tent by 8:30 and nearly asleep by 9. We awoke to another beautiful sunrise and Chris Cakes pancakes before heading out on a “kinder, gentler” ride of 25 miles. Lots to do around the house before traveling this week, so we were back in the camp shortly after 10, and left by 12:30 after a wonderful lunch served by the Bike MS volunteers.

Sunday’s ride

I’m so grateful for the support I receive from so many friends and colleagues, and of course, equally grateful that I’m able to ride for people I love that live with MS every day. The money we raise funds important research and programs that make life a little easier, and I remain optimistic that a cure is in the cards. While I’ve surpassed my goal of $5K, any additional donations are more than welcome to help the National MS Society. https://events.nationalmssociety.org/participant/sro23

Ride on!

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