Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Very Damp MS Ride

Every year, at the end of July, there's a small MS benefit ride held in our county. Unlike larger, high-profile events, this one runs mainly on the goodwill and hard work of a small group of volunteers and donors who give their time and resources to organise the ride, mark the course, and provide rest stops for hungry cyclists. No fundraising is required, and the entry fee goes directly to the National MS Society. A smashing lunch is served after the ride, and a good time is had by all.

This is the third time I've participated. (You can read about the other two times here and here.)


Saturday morning we wake to dense fog and warm temperatures. The forecast warns darkly of Hazardous Weather and Dangerous Heat Conditions, and I start to wonder if I should choose a shorter course than originally planned. But the fog seems to have cleared a bit by the time I take off for the ride, and the temperature doesn't feel too dreadful. I decide to stick with my original goal of riding the 40-mile course.

Passing a house just out of town, I hear someone shout "Allez! Allez!" Apparently Mr. M and I aren't the only TdF fans in the village. :)

A tandem looms up out of the fog behind me; as it passes, the stoker looks over at me and says, "You need a set of windshield wipers!"

She's right. My glasses are so covered with beads of moisture I've had to push them halfway down my nose so I can look over them to see the road:

Everything is dripping: my helmet, my face, the trees.... The air, which seemed reasonably cool before, is now beginning to heat up. Riders come steaming out of the mist to pass me and disappear in the dampness ahead:

The humidity is affecting my shifters, and apparently those of other riders as well; I hear plenty of clunking, clicking, and cussing, and pass more than one person whose chain has come off. (Later my own chain sticks and comes off. All part of the fun.)

Finally, about 12 miles out, a few rays of sun break through the clouds:

Soon we reach the first rest stop, where a dedicated volunteer works over a hot stove to produce the ingredients needed for build-your-own breakfast burritos. Cyclists stand in line or mill around, every one of them drenched with fog and sweat and happily complaining about the weather.

My breakfast burrito is small but sustaining, with eggs, cheese, a sausage, and salsa. I half-fill a cup with pickle juice and raise a mental toast to Snowcatcher, my long-distance cycling buddy and partner in pickle-juicery.

A buggy squeezes through the sweaty throng (we're in Amish country here):

When the break is over, it's a great relief to get back on the bike and feel the air flowing past me. This is the muggiest ride I've ever taken.

A few miles later, the sun disappears, but the steamy conditions remain. We bump our way over one of the rougher sections of the route:

(I ask one of the recumbent riders if she has any suspension on her machine. "No," she replies, "but I've promised myself that when I turn 80 I'll splurge and get one with full suspension. And power assist.")

My shifters continue to alternately stick or go slack (usually just at the wrong time). And my camera is behaving oddly. About every other time I pull it out, it refuses to work and flashes the "Change Battery" sign. I think the heat and moisture are getting to it.

But it's working when I reach the second rest stop:

Here pretzels and fruit chews restore the inner cyclist and provide some welcome salt and sugar. Then it's back on the bike for another 16 miles of occasional drizzle and rolling Amish farmland.

The weather seems steamier than ever by the time I finish, and as the post-ride lunch is served, large raindrops begin to fall. I eat my burger, grab an extra brownie for Mr. M, and head home just in time to beat a severe thunderstorm. I'm glad it didn't strike sooner!

A good ride for a good cause.


Speaking of good causes: this September Mr. M and I are heading to the Pacific Northwest to join our friends Snowcatcher and the Lizard at Bike MS Washington. Our goal is to raise $750 dollars for the fight against MS.

If you'd like to learn more, or make a donation, just click on the button below:

(All donations go straight to programs, services, and research to help people with MS. Every dollar counts, and even one dollar will help!)


How's your July going? Are you ready for August? :)

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  1. Brilliant ride, well done you, you did fantastically despite the damp. The breakfast burrito looks just the thing. Amish country looks beautiful, I loved seeing the straw drying like that and the buggy as well. We did a small bike ride on Monday, I can still feel it a bit - could do with that suspension I think! I need to get a lot fitter. Had a new inner tube put in yesterday after a flat tyre, strangely it was cut in half inside the tyre. All fixed now though and I'm good to go. I hope you have some good rides this summer. CJ xx

  2. I simply would not have the energy to do what you did. Well done!

  3. I admire your ability to bike ride so far in such challenging conditions. I'd be lucky to do a mile or two in cool weather on flat ground with wind assist.

  4. Well done Sue, I would have given up after the first hour. :) xx

  5. You're dedication is a wonderful sight to behold and for such a worthy cause. I don't tolerate heat or humidity at all well anymore. I admire you so much for hanging in there and finishing. Hurray!!!!! That burrito looks delicious too! :-)

  6. OH, I love the bikers like YOU who do this ride! And how wonderful for the volunteers who also help you along the way. Great post, Sue. xx

  7. Kudos to you for riding in this event even though it wasn't the best weather. Loved seeing the Amish buggy in the middle of all the bikes. Bravo to you! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  8. Way to go, Sue! The best kind of training ride is the real thing! I'd forgotten about your local ride, and I'm so glad they had pickle juice! I hope they will offer some in Washington, too...

    So looking forward to riding with you and Mr. M again!!!

  9. I found your tutorial for the invisible join (which is awesome, thanks) and the words "Bike MS" jumped off the page & slapped me! You see, I'm crocheting for fundraising for my 4th Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River (well, 4th as a rider -- it's my 3rd as a committee member & umpteenth as a volunteer) in San Antonio, TX. I also have been living with M.S. for 19 years as of this month. I wish I could ride in WI (which is where my daddy was born & raised) with y'all. Thank you for riding!!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Ann! This little MS ride is a very local affair (not to be confused with the official Bike MS Wisconsin) but it's a lot of fun. That was my third time of riding it. I've also ridden in Colorado's Bike MS twice, and last fall my husband and I joined our Colorado friends, Snowcatcher and her husband, in Washington state for Bike MS Washington. Such an amazing cause and event, no matter where you participate.
      If you're into crochet and cycling, be sure to visit Snowcatcher's blog:
      She's a major fundraiser for Bike MS and also designs amazing crochet snowflakes. :)
      Good luck with your journey.


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