Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MS 150 2009

The Central Va chapter of the NMSS sponsors a very demanding two day, 150 mile bike tour every year the weekend after Memorial Day. It is now the "MS 150" although for years it was called the "Va Dare Bike Tour". This year there were 520 cyclists and the event raised ~$325,000. They ride 75 miles on Sat. to Williamsburg and 75 return miles to Richmond Sunday. In 1993 a friend of mine, Jeff Wessel, formed a bike team to ride in the event that he called Team BRUCE (Bikers Ride Until a Cure Exists). The numbers fluctuate year to year but we have about 25 riders give or take. Pam and I always volunteer to work rest stops as it's a fun event and we so appreciate the effort these folks make.

To make a very long story short another friend, Phil Rice, came up with the (at the time) idiotic idea to find a way to pull me the entire 150 miles! With donated parts he fabricated an adult trike in his auto body repair shop that he pulled with his own regular bike. Pulling about 250 lbs with a bike is no small feat but it worked! They generally change "pullers" every 12 miles or so.

Following all good ideas come some setbacks. The head office of NMSS had "safety issues" with our old trike and wanted it retired. I'll see if I can find some pics. Always up to a challange, Phil located a bike shop in northern VA (Vienna) and in it found two recumbant style bikes that were desigined and engineered to be joined via a special hitch arrangment. The new "ride" was a rocket on rails! Hittin' over 30 mph on a few downhills is a real rush especially when you live in a world of slow motion (yes, they made me sign a waver :o). Fitted with two high tech pieces of PVC pipe which provided 4 "handles" that riders could grab to assist on upgrades, we were quite a sight! The owner of the shop donated the two bikes for us to use free of charge and only requested a picture as payment! WOW!

Last year, on day two, we lost two of our primary lead bike "engines" and the 75 mile trek back to Richmond looked out of reach. About 15 miles out of Williamsburg, we met up with a team from W.M. Jordan Co. We didn't realize it at the time but the Lord had provided us with a group of angels! They immediately pitched in to assist us and what a relief it was the guy on the lead bike! As Mark Santschi was speaking about the ride at a fund raiser event at our church in May, he was overcome with emotion as he thought back to the relief he felt as the Jordan cyclists pulled along side and began to push. We thought they would probably go on their way at the next rest stop but no, they wanted to ride with us all way to Richmond! How cool is that!! And even cooler is they rode both ways again this year!!

The pic below is somewhere in the back woods of rural VA. Here, 4 "pushers" have pulled alongside and are assisting "Skip" (the "engine") on a long, brutal upgrade, the worst on the route. Powerful men and these guys rock and roll! The determination on their faces says it all! Phil, the originator of this crazy idea is on the far right of the pic. My job, besides just riding and enjoying the scenery, is to attract as much gravity as I can and make us as un-aerodynamic as possible ;o)

Seriously, to be surrounded by a group of individuals like this is a high beyond description! I feel like the luckiest man on earth!

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