Why We Ride

Team IRON EAGLES is a group of friends and family dedicated to fighting Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We join forces to raise money for the NATIONAL MS SOCIETY to support the great PROGRAMS they have available to help members of the community and to support the exciting RESEARCH being done in the field. We blog about why we ride, our experiences at fundraising events, our fundraisers and training tips. We also have links to information on MS and MS research. JOIN US!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marianne's Thoughts on 2011 Ride

My hand is still numb and I'm sore...everywhere...but feeling pretty good! Part of our team rode the 75 mile route and part of us rode the 100 mile route. I was one of the ones who went on the 100 mile route and I'm glad we made the attempt, even though we ended up riding 75 miles instead of 100 (well, Bill ended up riding the full 100!). I couldn't help but compare it to last year, when we accomplished the Super Human Feat of riding 75 miles. As I recall, when we hit the lunch stop we were ready to fall down (and never get back up) but after a 2 hour lunch we crawled back on our bikes and rode the last 25. I viscerally remember those last 11 miles when I literally wasn't sure I could pedal for even one minute longer (but did).

That was not my experience this year! It was tough, but not nearly as tough as last year. I think all of the marathon training I have been doing has strengthened my legs a ton. We were riding faster and able to ride much longer (without a 2 hour yoga/lunch/nap break!). We were still pretty slow, though, especially when we got to the 75 mile/100 mile split. I'd never have made it without Michelle & Bill being kind enough to ride slow with me. Michelle even switched bikes with me so I could ride a bike with gears that worked on a regular basis.

The great thing about the ride, too, is that we knew we could quit at any time (and take a SAG wagon back) so we really could push ourselves. On training rides you always have to make sure you turn around when you know for sure you have enough juice to make it back. On this ride you can just go and go until you can't go anymore! That's part of what makes this so fun (since I've always been able to ride longer than I thought I could).

The volunteers make the ride too. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. They really want to do all they can to help you have a great ride. We felt that especially when we were out on the 100 mile loop. We were the last riders out there and the last rest stop before the loop (Bad Ass Coffee's rest stop) sent a volunteer out on his motorcycle to see if there was anything we needed. I had a pounding headache and, bless him, he rode back to the rest stop to bring some ibuprofen back for me on the route. I limped on back to the rest stop and had just about decided to quit at mile 64 when I rode in to the almost-broken-down-entirely rest stop. The volunteers started cheering wildly and immediately pulled out all the stops to give us what we needed to keep on riding. One volunteer cleaned my sunglasses, one pulled out food for us, one got some ice, and they all very kindly listened to me yammer on about I-don't-remember-what and they even laughed at what I'm sure were not very funny jokes. I honestly was ready to quit before I hit that rest stop but I left truly refreshed. We would have voted for them as the best rest stop if we had gotten back in time. They won the Best Rest Stop Award from us for sure!

We started our MS Ride weekend on Friday night with the traditional Carboload Dinner as a team (delicious!) and then prepared our bikes for the morning (which came very early). After some breakfast and a team photo we headed out to the fairgrounds, arriving about 7 am. Reid and the younglings took off right away (skipping the start line!) but Michelle, Bill and I waited at the start for a couple of waves and caught up with them at the 2nd rest stop. At the first rest stop, though, we got to meet Randy Harmon, one of the title sponsors! We didn't actually know it was him. We were just trying to get another initial on our bingo cards (one spot was for getting the initial of a Team Harmon's member and he was, indeed, wearing the Team Harmon's jersey). What a nice guy! We hoped to also meet Bob Harmon but he was much faster than we were :) We had a blast at those first rest stops with our bingo card. We met Heidi's son from Team Heidi and we enjoyed chatting with a few of the ladies from Team Kirstin too. We met another rider named Angel who was on the same mission (Bingo Blackout) and shared a pen. As usual, we spent the majority of those first miles dreaming up new fundraising techniques and planning our future team jersey. We tried to explain to our new young teammates why we yell "Bonsai!" and "Hyabusa!"

This year we tried to commemorate the passing of each 10 mile marker with a team yell. This worked out pretty well until the battery on my running watch died (just before we reached a spot on the 100 mile loop called "Earth's Edge"...coincidence?). Our younglings did pretty well this year and it was fun to cheer them on. I especially liked getting my more reserved niece to yell out "I'm fabulous!" and "I'm amazing!" as positive thoughts affirmations on a particularly difficult hill. A big thank you to Reid for being the Papa Bird for our flock of under-18s while we attempted the longer, harder route. I can hardly wait for next year!!!!!

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