This year, I survived the MS Bike Tour. Let me briefly recap the day.

I was supposed to be on the road by 6am, in order to arrive at Monmouth University by 7am, so that I could get in the group photo with the team. Alas, I woke up late around 6am, and had done nothing to prepare. No paperwork filled out, no water bottles or Gatorade or snacks purchased, no directions. I still had to get ready, load the supplies, load the bike, buy supplies and breakfast, and make my way the hour to the university. Yeah, right. I decided not to stress about a team photo when my goal is to ride to support multiple sclerosis. Why be stupid?

Teammates Sheri and I

Teammates Sheri and I

I got on the road by 6:35, and only forgot my bike pump and tool box at home. Not the biggest deals. I also didn’t have time to pick up breakfast, but I hoped they had something for riders at the start. When I reached the campus, there were no directional signs, so myself and other drivers with bikes tied to their cars all drove around looking for the gymnasium. We finally found it, and I parked at 7:45. The parking lots were full of riders. I walked towards the gym, and found coincidentally found three of the team riders from last week’s practice ride, including Ravi. Of course, I missed the team photo, so maybe if I had not been lost, I could have made it. Oh well, who cares in the end? I registered, and the gym was full of people. We had a special table reserved for the team, so I signed in, dropped off my collected money, and got my tags. I also got my t-shirt, a goodie bag of snacks and stuff, and ate a quick bagel and banana for breakfast.

I later found my team member Sheri at a station getting more air in her bike tires. We chatted and hung out until 9am. We also met a woman riding the 50-miler by herself, so we invited her to come along with us. We all started a little past 9am after a few speeches and the national anthem. It was a bit crowded, but it cleared up once we all got on the road. It was a beautiful day, and there were places to stop and refuel and rest every 10 miles. I didn’t even need to pick up beverages or snacks, as the supplies at the rest stops were really good.

2010 Cycling Joel

2010 Cycling Joel

Most of the ride, I rode solo, joining various people who were riding together to make conversation and for the company. Almost everyone from the CentraState team riding the 25 and 50 were on slower bicycles, so I often went ahead of them, but we would catch up at the rest stations. I met some nice people along the ride, and only got yelled at by one a-hole in Sea Girt who passed us and called a bunch of us “punks” before driving off. I don’t think he was yelling at me, because I stayed to the shoulder. I did notice a lot of bad behavior from other riders who took up the entire side of the road. Even when I yelled “Car back!”, they either didn’t hear or ignored me. I think they ignored, because even when the cars passed, they didn’t move over. See, that’s not good. Everyone has to obey the rules of the road.

Around 12:30pm, I realized I wasn’t making good time, and I was running late to run errands and make it to a birthday party in Pennsylvania. For the last 18 miles, I went solo, and went a flat 15 MPH the rest of the way. It kind of hurt, but it kind of felt good too. I reached the campus by 1:45 in not too bad a shape. I loaded the bike in 10 mins, and made my way off to my next destination. Although my muscles and back were seizing up on the drive home and in the evening at the birthday party, I’ve been feeling pretty well today a day later. That’s a good sign that my body is coming back. All last week, I was nursing a pulled muscle in my left leg, but that’s not the case today. As a matter of fact, if you look at the overall mileage I’ve done since last Sunday’s ride, I rode over 90+ miles in the same week. That has to be a new personal best!

To wrap up, I want to thank everyone who supported me by contributing to my fundraising goal of $500. I primarily dedicated this year’s ride to my childhood friend Allison, who was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She and I share the same exact birthday day/date, so we both used to bring cupcakes to class on the same day. Through your kind donations, I raised $595, which I was proud to raise in just two weeks. Next year, I’ll do this again, and start sooner. MS is a terrible disease, and I want to do what I can to ensure Allison continues to enjoy her wonderful life for a very long time.