First of all THANK YOU to everyone who supported us both with donations and with love.
This year can be summed up by young riders stepping up, near death experiences, medics, SAG vehicles and the chance to win the bike again! Woohoo!
The Sunday after BikeMS Annalisa was telling one of her Young Women's leaders that she almost died the day before. It was a long ride. Then I told everyone my story and it was agreed that the person who almost died the day before was me! And I didn't even realize it until the day after.
This year was a little like a ghost town. Friday night we got to the Logan Fairgrounds about the same time we do every year. Every year we leave about 3pm, get caught in SLC rush hour traffic, vow we will leave earlier next year, and get to the fairgrounds between 5 and 6pm. Usually there is a bit of a line to get registered. This year there was no line. In fact there wasn't even anyone waiting to get registered. Very odd. When we asked about it we were told that registration numbers have been going down a lot in the past few years. When I started riding in BikeMS 13 years ago there were about 3300 riders. This year there was around 1000 riders. So odd.
Our super cool numbers :-)
The other thing we noticed is that the route for the ride was different this year. I have to admit when they changed the route a few years back we were not terribly happy. It wasn't a very youth-friendly ride and half our team is under 18. The 40 mile route was mainly on hot busy roads. Not very fun. In fact our family one year actually decided to start at rest stop two so that we could avoid the hot busy roads. It wasn't the best solution so I'm glad they changed the route this year. There was still a patch of hot busy road but it was only for a couple of miles. So that was happy.
In the morning we got to the starting line about 15 minutes after the official start. That's the earliest we've been in years! Thanks mainly to cousin Emily who insisted we try and leave by 6:15. We didn't make the 6:15 mark but we were still pretty early. That was nice because it gets hot in the afternoon. We need the early start!
Do we look tired? :-) Early morning riding. Woohoo!
When we got to the starting line we were in wave 4. There was hardly anybody waiting to start. Less than 50 riders, maybe a few more. So strange. One of my favorite memories of BikeMS is being in a crowd of thousands of riders ready to start riding and knowing that each rider had raised at least $250 for a cause that was so dear to my heart. So much love. So much support. I wanted my girls to experience that. Maybe next year. Join us next year!
The cousins. 12, 13, 14 and 15 years old. Almost half of our team. The almost 16 year old did the 100 mile route with Uncle Bill.
This was Annalisa's first year. She rode my yellow bike (now her yellow bike). Last year we had a hard time keeping our bikes upright as we trailed behind very very slow young riders. This year we had a hard time keeping up with them! I gave Annalisa the nickname Mountain Goat because she just glided past us up the hills. That is until about halfway through :-) Then mama "slow and steady" was able to pass the winded young goat girl. There are some advantages to age and wisdom. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself. Slow and steady :-) That was the end of my glory days however. Near death experiences were not far ahead.
Rest stop number one. Do you like the western theme, partner? You've got to love the cowboy stress cows :-) Devon, do we need to get some of these for the YW? ;-) Reid or Marianne, if you have a picture of the team at this rest stop please post it. I can't find it.
Living the good life at Newton rest stop. I didn't get any pictures of the pickle shots. Maybe Marianne will post some of those. This was the best rest stop probably because we spent so much dang time here! :-)
Ok. Back to the story. We made it 7 miles to rest stop one. And then another 7 to Newton, rest stop two. So far so good. Kind of. From the start of the ride my bike wouldn't shift gears. That wasn't a problem. Although the kids were faster than last year I could still keep up in the low gears. At Newton there was a bike mechanic and I had him look at my bike. That took forever! Note to self: get bike tuned before the ride! Anyhow. The mechanic looked at the gears and got them working and then he noticed a big bulge in my back tire. I wish I had a picture! It was so strange. He asked me how many more miles I was planning on doing. He wasn't sure how many miles the tire had left but he sent me on my way. I was so clueless.
So after a long while at Newton we got on our bikes to continue the ride. Before we even got going though a guy noticed Sarah's bike. Apparently when we put the bike together 3 years ago we put it together wrong. No wonder it kept scraping my toes whenever I turned! Anyhow. He said it was a simple fix. So we went back to the mechanic. The rest of our group decided to go on (we love Newton but we had already spent way too much time there!). Sarah and I would catch up. Or so we thought.....
Remember how the route is a loop? Three different loops actually. 45 miles, 75 miles and 100 miles. Newton is kind of the gathering spot. You go to Newton before and after the loops. You would think there would be better signage. Alas, there was not. Sarah and I accidentally took the 100 mile route. And the rest of our young rider group accidentally took the road back to the start line. Fortunately we realized our mistakes fairly soon and were able to regroup back in Newton. What would we do without Newton?
My sisters, Lisa and Marianne, decided that going back to the fairgrounds sounded like a great idea. They were done. Sarah was not feeling well either and she wanted to head back too. About this time my brother Reid and his daughter Emily made it to Newton on their way back from the 45 mile loop. They were headed back to the start/finish and agreed to take Sarah with them. The other young riders wanted to continue and so Lisa, Marianne and I continued on with them. Soon Marianne decided she couldn't go on and went back to Newton. She ended up going back with Reid, Em and Sarah. Lisa and I continued on with three young riders, Annalisa, Kathryn and Emily Lara. The ride from Newton to the halfway point was great. Lots of fun hills. And as mentioned above, by the end of the hills I was actually able to pass Annalisa :-) Good times. Good times. And then ..... it happened.
Right at the top of the last big hill, right before we turned the corner to go down the big hill to the half-way point watering station .... POP! My tire popped. Not just the tube. The entire tire. The tender mercy is where and when it popped. Thirty seconds later I would have been on a fast moving highway riding down the steepest hill on the route. I don't want to think about what would have happened if the tire had popped on the highway as I was cruising down that steep steep hill.
Bill and Isaac on the 100 mile route.
I was so sad when my tire popped. I was at the back of the pack but I was able to yell to the rider ahead that my tire had popped so she could tell the others. Then I got off my bike and took off my helmet -- the universal sign for Help Me! :-) To make a long story short a SAG (support) vehicle picked me up and dropped me off at our favorite rest stop (Newton :-). There I met Lisa and the girls. Lisa saved my ride by letting me ride her bike the rest of the way. That was fun. The three young cousins had fun laughing and singing at the top of their lungs. They really did so well this year keeping a good pace and riding a straight line. Lisa took the SAG vehicle back with my bike and ended up getting it fixed. Bingham Cyclery actually put a new tube and tire on my bike free of charge! Thank you Bingham Cyclery and Thank you Lisa!
The other excitement of the ride was Sarah getting sick. She ended up taking a support vehicle back to the fairgrounds, getting a ride on a golf cart and being pampered by the local medical team. Reid, do you have pictures of that? She is fine now, btw.
All in all it was, as always, a unique and eventful time :-) Every year really is so very different. I wonder what next year will bring.
Gossner Ice Cream with the young riders. Doesn't that look yummy?! Gossner's is just a few miles from the finish line. Join us next year! It's a tradition. Join the tradition. Yummy yummy tradition :-) And if you have sworn off sugar you can join Emily Lara and eat some potato chips :-)
Veteran rider, Sarah (before the medics :-).
Our rookie, Annalisa, at the end of the ride. "Now I know why you guys are so tired after the MS150!" Yep. Slow and steady kiddo. Slow and steady :-)
Four out of the five of us. Matthew will join us in 2019! Do you love how tall Sarah is? On her tippy toes ;-)
Sarah's memories of the ride: early morning, racing cousins, sickness.
Annalisa's memories: early morning, racing cousins, aching legs, healing ice cream :-)
Bill's memories: perseverance. that's all. One word :-)
Annalisa's one word is "Pain."
Sarah's one word is "Adventure."
Michelle's one word is "Happy."
Matthew's one word is "Boring." Just wait Matthew. Your time will come :-)