#BikeMS 2018 Ride Recap (long)

Team Twisted Mojo started on a whim a little over five years ago (2014 event), when I found “BikeMS” while looking for cycling events, to have a goal or something to train for. What a great decision it was for us to get on board with that organization and event. It’s one of the best-run events I’ve ever participated in. The “vibe” of the event is absolutely amazing, too. It was a no-brainer to fundraise and participate, as one of my most beloved friends, Joey, has MS, and the CO/WY Chapter of the National MS Society has been immeasurably helpful to him. THAT is something I’m willing to get behind and ask people for money for. BikeMS has TONS of rides like this around the country every year (I think there’s four different ones in Michigan alone…). If you go to the National MS Society’s website, chances are, you can find one in your area. Check it out at: https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/SPageServer…

Our riding team this year consisted of Joey, Kate, Paul, myself, my husband Chris, Todd, Cheryl, and Jeff. Our support/cheerleader crew were Kevin, Heather, Dianna, and Sam. There’s a few things about some of our participants’ rides worth mentioning…

As some might know, Joey had open heart surgery in February (2018 – you know, four months ago…), to fix a heart issue. One of the symptoms that really kicked his ass last year, was having to “pay” for some of his food choices the following day. Very simply stated, depending on what he ate the day before, he could experience dizzy spells, sometimes so severe that he fell. Last year, on day two of BikeMS, while he made it further than he had his first/previous year, he had to stop fairly early in the day because of the insurmountable vertigo. That’s thankfully completely gone, post-surgery. After surgery, he doggedly stuck to his prescribed recovery and physical therapy regimen. Physical therapy, among a lot of other stuff, involved some stationary bike riding. He rode his bike on his trainer at home as soon as he was allowed and progressed to riding outside the minute they gave him the go-ahead. Joey, Kate, and I (with other friends/spouses joining us here and there) rode the US36 Bike Path (and some other fun stuff) three times a week for all of May, and half of June, to train. All that fun work paid off. He not only rode both days – he flew. It was so amazing to see his strength and endurance so vastly improved over just the year before. There were a couple hills on day two that I was cringing at the thought of him struggling with. I needn’t have worried. It was no problem, and it didn’t wipe him totally out after he got up them. Apparently, having a good ticker’s super helpful with this endurance stuff!

We had a new team member this year. For the prior two years, Kate and her husband Kevin have supported us by being the best cheerleaders on the planet. They were an integral and vital part of our experience for the prior two years, and we enjoyed everything about the event with them, without them actually riding. Last year, at our celebratory dinner, Kate quietly mentioned that she planned to ride in the following year; 2018. Kate hadn’t been on a bike in a long time, but was determined to work on a healthier lifestyle, including becoming more active. She trained on her bike on a trainer at home, over the winter. Right out of the gate, when we started riding the paths together in the Spring, she was a powerhouse – or as I like to call her affectionately, a “machine” on the bike. Not only was she a more than capable rider, she never, ever complained about anything. Ever. Her attitude has always been excellent and delightful. She got it done, and had fun. As I told her, her involvement enriches my experience significantly.

Our buddy Paul rode with us for the second year in a row. Paul has roots in Colorado, and lives in Missouri. He works 80-90 hours a week (especially this time of year), as he owns an HVAC business. Heat tolerance would be no issue for him – but altitude and lung function are a completely different story…he and his girlfriend drove out here the Thursday before the ride, and went home Monday morning. He raised the money, took the time off, and spent his own money on travel – to support his buddy Joey. We are so lucky that he commits to participating with us. It’s not an easy feat for him to make it happen. He brings so much heart and joviality to our group (and leaves with so much less facial hair). He made it almost the whole way (only 15 miles short of the finish) until his hands and feet went numb, and he started slurring his words. We called it for him at that point.

Day two brought an interesting experience. Joey had been keeping a close eye on the weather all week. The latest update, as of the time we finished Saturday, was that the afternoon storms on Sunday had moved up from mid-afternoon, to the morning. Well, poop. The day started out chilly, and windy. We all bundled up in whatever gear we brought (which unfortunately meant our super cool jerseys were hidden, dang) and headed out. At lunch, some of us gave our cool weather gear to our crew, to take with them to the finish line. A little over halfway in, we collected under a bridge to get our warmer gear back on –and we saw the looming black clouds. We resumed pedaling with a new vigor, intent on beating the storm. At one point, we passed a friend’s farm. I texted her a picture of her house and said “HI!” and I posted another picture on FB of the wall of black clouds. We pedaled and pedaled, and one of us fell over while stopped (ow), and we pedaled more. We got sprinkled on a little bit, but things were looking okay for us. It wasn’t until later that we figured out how incredibly lucky we had been. We saw sag vans full of people pass us, and we figured they were sagging because they got stuck in the rain further behind us (the stuff we were so far outrunning) and decided to quit. We thought it was weird that the last 15 miles, we only saw about a dozen ride participants, at most. At one point, I checked FB. The husband of the friend I texted, had posted on my black cloud photo that right after we passed by there was a 20-minute-long hail storm, and they had opened their arena if anyone needed shelter. We learned after finishing that the reason the ride had gotten so sparse was because the event had decided to pull people off the course (behind us) for safety reasons. We got SO lucky. It would’ve been a really, really tough pill to swallow if Joey and Kate couldn’t have ridden the full event.

After we crossed the finish line, we learned that there was one last person that still had to cross. I learned it was a woman, with her family. She had just been diagnosed with MS a year ago. Apparently, she rode in with a group of family members, to a cheering crowd (including our team) that had excitedly waited for her arrival.

The cherry on the whole deal was Joey running into Vega, the girl that sold him his Scott road bike, and fitted him. They had kept in touch, and he was THRILLED to see her, especially after such a monumental accomplishment in which she played a significant part.

This weekend was one of the most powerful for our team yet. I hope that by sharing some of my teammates inspirational stories, that it may inspire someone else to give it a shot, too. I’ve got some pretty amazing friends!

Next year, Kate’s husband Kevin is joining the ranks as a rider, instead of cheerleader!

Next up: Single Bypass (30 miles Copper Mountain to Avon) in July. After that, the three-day Pedal the Plains in September.

Thank You Heather Roell for the recap.

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