Despite my lack of serious training (once or twice a week at around 9 miles each time, with about 16 miles being my furthest ride), and with my 'hardcore' equipment (a teammate's old mountain bike we got looked over and a helmet), I set off with my team Friday night for a weekend that would challenge me and leave a huge impression on me. I can't stop thinking about it.
Friday night we lived it up with a hearty dinner at Max & Erma's and plush beds in a suite at a hotel near the start of the race, complete with funnel cake fries and an animated story time of the biker's handbook they sent out a couple months ago.
I was nervous as we began on Saturday, but was amazed at the response the event draws. Hundreds of bikers stretched and started out, as family both of the riders and of those living with MS cheered us on.
|Before the ride|
Not only did the event draw bikers, but volunteers were everywhere. From handing out bananas and peanut butter at rest stops (neither of which I wish to see for a while), to driving their own vehicles as support vehicles (SAG vehicles) for the riders who are in need of assistance throughout the course, I was amazed at how many people were involved in the event.
|Bikes on the tennis court at Sandusky High School waiting for another 75 miles in the morning...|
After completing 75 miles on Saturday, we camped out on the Sandusky High School gym floor (which was surprisingly quiet- no one even snored!) and got up to face another 75 miles. Sunday was cold and brought a lot of rain. Water sloshing in our shoes and wearing sails, er, I mean ponchos, we made our way through the rain. I completed over 100 miles of the ride, with the total team miles traveled reaching over 570!
The kindness of every single person I encountered was incredible. Each time we were stopped on the side of the road, whether it was just for a drink of water, to give our sore back ends a stretch, or if you popped a chain, several riders and SAG vehicles would ask if you were okay, and stop if they thought you needed some assistance. The community created among complete strangers was moving.
The one thing that stuck with me most was the Craig's Crankers team (they also have a facebook page). As we approached the team, a mob of vibrant yellow shirts, I thought "This is amazing- this whole team is riding together." We pulled left of the team to pass them and at the head of the team was Craig, cranking his way through the course in a hand bike. Later I learned that Craig has MS. And seeing this cemented the feeling that the whole event gave me- we are all working together one way or another, from those financially supporting the teams, to the riders, to the people handing out energy bars and Gatorade at rest stops- we are all working together to make the lives of those affected by MS easier, and to one day have a cure.
I'm so proud of myself and my teammates! Way to go Jill's Jaunters! And thank you to everyone who supported us, both financially and through encouragement. I invite you to join the movement, whether it is through financial support, moral support, or riding yourself next year (you can do it!). Here are links to our team fundraising page and an article about our team captain, Megan Molnar and her mother Jill, who, despite MS, has such a beautiful spirit and whom I find absolutely incredible.