October 2, 2007

From the Archives: The 2004 MS-150

Sept. 11th & 12th, 2004
The Kansas City MS-150
Team CommuterDude
A Ride to Remember!

The FIFTH MS-150!

A personal milestone, of sorts.

So, how did I get here? The first time I rode the MS-150, I was sore for days. Saddle sores, and aches caused by mal-adjusted equipment that lasted long after the ride. It was a long, long day. That first ride was a personal challenge. I had only been back on the bike for a year, and that first year I had logged about 300 miles, at the most much of it being bike trail mileage, with a few scattered road rides nothing organized. My training partners at the time had been raising the bar on me for months Shorty took me on my first, real, road ride, and completely schooled me on hill climbing, all with a cigarette hanging from his lips WHILE he climbed crazy. The Warbird stepped in that following spring, starting back on the bike himself after a long hiatus, and, after a few shaky rides in May 2000, began to regain his previous form, and I started a LONG chase that would last for the next four years. Needless to day, when I arrived at the MS-150 on that September morning back in 2000, I was a little nervous. Had I trained enough? Was I fast enough? On a LONG training ride with the Warbird that August, we rode about 90 miles on a route that I came up with that started from my house, wound thru Swope Park, down Blue River Road, around Longview Lake, over to south Olathe, and back north and east to the Warbirds place, then home; I was fully whipped --- I could not ride another mile, much less another ten! Aside from still being mildly out of shape, I was not a fast cyclist, and I had not figured out what to eat. The MS-150 made me a nervous wreck. Until, of course, I was done. After that first day, I was HOOKED forever, and this was before the CAUSE became important to me as well. That first year, it was about discovery, a personal mileage challenge, pushing my limits as a person. I still view that first 100 miles as the beginning of my new life. Anything before that was just a bike ride. I have often used these writings as a forum to thank those responsible for my transformation, because, after all, were men. We lack emotion. We are harsh beings that often dont say what we feel. So, to that effect, THANKS --- to Shorty, for saying to me you need to get off the bike trails, man there is so much more and for later getting me to spin for the first time, even though it would take years to eventually master it still not quite there. To the Warbird I sound like a broken record all over this webpage, but yes, indeed the catalyst for a life worth living, born from steel and rubber and sweat. Its never forgotten or taken for granted. It was not until distance, time, and responsibilities separated us three that things started to take on a different light for me I had lost a training partner; I could do two things ride alone with what I had gained, or share it. It was time for me to become the Warbird for someone else. That was the only way I could continue to carry the torch, and show others the passion that had changed my life. Changed my life may seem cliché, trite, perhaps overkill for what its words invoke but truly, when compared to the physical and mental pathway I had previously been walking on, that is the only way to describe what cycling has done for me. Im so, so far away from the person I used to be, I dont even recognize him anymore.and that is a GOOD thing.

Upon reaching the parking lot at the fairgrounds in Sedalia, MO, that September afternoon back in 2000, and nearly falling over after a botched two-armed salute (!), I was more than ready to tackle ANYTHING, including the 50 miles of day two. We hung out, listened to some live blues music and reveled about the days events. It was a good time! Upon arriving back in Kansas City, I was ready for the next year already even took my first couple of short, cold-weather rides. Our passions, though possibly forced or miss-directed, rubbed off on our mutual friend Alan he bought a bike, and got in a few rides with us that next summer, with a goal of riding HIS first MS-150, and that next September he was with us though not WITH us on the road. The Warbird and I, with a focus on FAST FAST FAST, worked hard that day in 2001, and finished before 1:00pm, even with a few stops figured in! Alan finished a couple hours after us, having taken his own pace, and enjoyed the day. We also met Jim, with whom wed end up doing Ride The Rockies the following summer it was a good time, but day two was a little nasty, with drizzle and lower 50s starting off the day.

After 2002, the MS-150 seemed almost easy getting talked into bigger and harder things, I tackled, with limited success, the spring brevet series that year, finished Ride the Rockies (barely) and rode my first real RACE at the Tour of Kansas City Cliff Drive Classic. It was a banner year, with the crown-jewel being RTR: another life-changing bike event which seems almost silly to non-cyclists but I went into Ride the Rockies with a lot of self-doubt and uneasiness as a PERSON, not just a cyclist. Through a week of hardship, sweat, and self-evaluation along with good-natured competition among new and old friends, and KILLER scenery, I emerged quite literally with a new outlook on life that I am STILL feeding off of today. Best freakin therapy I ever could have hoped for, which is why that tour holds such a special spot for me. Its been joked about in literature, about the wayward soul that went up into the mountains and found himself it CAN happen. After that, the MS-150 would just be icing on an already good year, but the Warbird would have to sit it out this time around, and Alan chose not to participate either. I was alone effectively.

That MS-150 was still a good time, but having no-one to talk with at the overnight was a little depressing, and still having a focus on fast, fast, fast, I finished in what was my best ET for a century at the time, about five hours and 10 minutes or so. Not racer-fast, but plenty fast for me. The result was a REALLY LONG afternoon and evening in Sedalia, with nothing to do but sit and wait for day-two. Day-two, another hammer session, and then right onto the bus for home I was sitting on my couch by noon, which is nuts, really. While certainly NOT a wasted weekend, it did not have the same kind of flavor that I had come to enjoy from riding.
I almost did not sign up for 2003.

However, 2003 was a pretty good year in its own right. After a miserable experience in the 2002 brevets, I came back and conquered three in a row successfully, finishing the 400K in the same 24-hour period in which I had started it, which was the goal. Even the Warbird himself commented on how strong I had been riding, even after 200 miles in the saddle that day. I was very pleased with my cycling, and so shortly afterwards I began my quest for fund-raising for the 03 MS-150 maybe 2003 was the year to finally break that five-hour barrier for a century. After some employer-decisions that I will not ever understand, our Team Captain at the time, Mark, had his position eliminated and suddenly we found ourselves without a leader at the helm. Mark had been a genuine model of a leader, and to imagine that I could have ever filled those shoes was nutty on my part, but I volunteered and gave it a shot. After several rounds of company-wide layoffs and re-orgs, there was not much of a team left to lead, unfortunately. Once a team of 70 strong, back in 2001, the numbers had dwindled into a group of a dozen-or-so. Compounded with a jersey-ordering fiasco that could be another story in its own right, I started 2003s MS-150 with a sour stomach, both figuratively and literally. A situation that actually HAS its own story on this site, I hammered like mad, looking for a new personal record for the MS-150s first day, only to be benched by stomach-cramps and dehydration at the 20-mile marker. Even though I managed to continue later that morning, it was at a much slower pace. Still, I managed to make it to Sedalia under my own power, and after a little rest I had a good second day. After the 2003 edition of the ride, and the experiences Id had captaining that Team, I decided it was time to change my focus. I thought about it, and drafted up a letter that was sent out to all of the team members, and many of my cycling friends. Team CommuterDude was born, and it had one member. Me.

Then there were two. Alan, coming out of the woodwork, decided to etch his new personal goal in stone, and signed up for the 2004 ride under the new team, and a few months later, thru the miracle of internet technology via BikeJournal.com (which, by the way, if you are reading this, currently ride a bike, and DONT have an account on BikeJournal, youre nuts. Crazy. Get one its FREE, and the information in the discussion forums is priceless! Road, mountain, tri-, whatever get on there!) we got two more members! Freshly moved into town, and looking to get back into cycling came Del, and his wife Charmaine. I was pretty excited, and a little nervous at the same time ok, theres someone on your team that DOESNT already know youtime to get real!
After that, Mike, a former member of the FIRST team, joined into the new team which was a great boost! Shortly after that, Krishna joined in as well, completing the 2004 roster. A solid effort, and my biggest fear was laid to rest: in order to be an official team, we had to have at least five members done!

So, that is a brief (ha!) history on how we got to where we are today, as I write my FIFTH MS-150 journal. This years effort was FUN. Still a little rattled by the whole team experience the first time around in 03, I was a little nervous about how things would go, but after a lot of email exchanges and finally meeting the team members on our training rides, it did not take long for all of us to become a pretty tight-knit group. Everything went really well, from the training rides, to the ordering of our custom jerseys!

We arrived the morning of September 11th at the Lees Summit Technology Center, and after a nice, hectic picture taking session in a very crowded hallway, we proceeded outside to grab our bikes and get lined up for the start. I was already amped, because for the FIRST time in my MS-150 history, every single team member was present for the photo. It was a great feeling, and the smile on my face was probably a lot bigger this year in that picture. For example, last year, our team-on-paper was supposedly about 30 strong --- we had about 12 in the photo; a little depressing, to say the least! I tend to blame myself for that, but I can only send out so many emails, I suppose! Working for such a large company, and the only common thread of the team being employment WITH that company, its quite difficult to have any kind of team atmosphere, I suppose going NON-corporate was the right choice, as I could see already.

After a lot of rolling and stopping, and rolling, and stopping, we were off, into the new sunrise! For a short time, we all rode together in a nice, easy double line, rolling down the frontage road for I-470, and Alan (whom always insists that HE is the slowest of the group) starts to advance up the road, apparently feeling pretty good. Mike and I proceeded to rib him a little for that one. There is NO ONE I know that is harder on them self about their cycling than Alan. Even with as little training as he was able to fit in, being a landlord and a single Dad (two things for which he has my eternal admiration), he has increased his average speed by a few MPH this year alone.

Although speed is not the goal for everyone, its nice to see some results from your personal training. Not everyone is a racer, something it took me a while to get past (another enlightenment), but its nice to see someone get better at something they enjoy, always. Where I used to limit my views to getting faster, possibly becoming a categorized racer, I realized that I was missing the point of the whole thing it doesnt matter what your average speed is or what you ride, for that matter were all on human-powered machines. There are enough rifts in life already. I think Ive said it before, but nothing makes me smile inside like seeing a Lycra-clad racer trading pulls with a guy on a fendered Audax bike wearing trousers and a 15-year old helmet. Its been said that you can tell nothing about a riders ability from their appearance there is a guy Ive talked to at some of the local evening rides that commutes daily, rides a very heavy-looking bike with full fenders, 37mm tires, a large rack-trunk, and a battery-light and he could probably drop anyone in the group we ride with, but he chooses not to. He takes his own pace, enjoys the ride. Nothing to prove. The unfortunate thing about human-kind is how we instinctively seem to separate EVERYTHING into categories and boxes were ALL guilty but, this guy is obviously a serious cyclist, something that probably ANY of us could learn a thing or two from, and there are riders that wont talk to him because hes on the wrong bike, or is wearing an older jersey. It doesnt make sense to me.

Speaking of rifts, apparently a few were forming out on the roads already, as our double line started to break apart, which we all expected. Part of the goal of Team CommuterDude was to stay together and ride as a team, but out on the real roads that can be hard to do. People climb differently; have a maximum pace they can maintain, etc, so we all decided that it would be more realistic to re-group at each rest stop along the way. There were eleven such stops along the route, which is perfect ten miles or so at a time, we can all do the ride the way we feel most comfortable, and never be more than a few minutes apart. Even with that option, many of us still chose to ride together and enjoy the miles with a little conversation. All in all, the plan went perfectly. For most of us.

Alan is a man that has learned to smile through some of the worst luck many of us will ever have to endure. It sometimes seems that he never gets a solid break for the background there, you should know that Ive know Alan longer than anyone I currently have contact with, outside my own family of course. Over that (dating myself) 25 year period, hes been handed more bad luck than anyone I can think of, but always seems to come out with a positive outlook. Unfortunately, a weekend that promised to be a welcome break for him and a nice ride, started to take a turn at the eight-mile marker. Front tire blowouts at high speed can be fairly traumatic, but today a tiny bit of luck was on his side still, a flat is a flat this time a front tube-valve failure. After three years of riding on and off, this was Alans FIRST flat, so we stopped, pulled off the wheel, pulled the spare tube I had given him three years before out of the saddle-bag, and proceeded to get him back rolling again. The only problem is with frame-pumps, the undersized ones, you can never tell how much air you actually have in there, but I figured 80 lbs felt about right for 2 miles, where the service at SAG 1 would be able to top it off with a floor pump. Special thanks to Tom, N0NZV, for assisting as well conveniently enough, the flat occurred right near his support post along the route Ive known Tom for years, too, but he probably doesnt recognize me back when I was stuck in Dude, Version 1.0, I was heavier, not active, and working at a local radio shop that he frequented, plus we chased a few storms together working for JCECS still, even if he doesnt realize its me, its great to see him out along the route on the MS-150 each year. The front tire made it, but unfortunately, the rear did not. This was the first two of three total flats for the day, and the soldier still threw his leg over the bike for the start of day two! Unfortunately, day two was cut short by flat number four. But, he was still smiling -- talk about shrugging it off! I would not have had that kind of patience. The cause of the flats has yet to be determined, but after several inspections by different mechanics at the stops, there is nothing in the tires, and nothing sharp like a burr on the rims Im set to mount new tires to his machine later this week, so hopefully we can get to the bottom of that frustrating problem!

Aside from a nagging front derailleur problem that Krishnas bike suffered near the end of day one, and a seatpost adjustment that Charmaine needed on day two, everything else seemed to go just fine for most of the team there were the usual aches and pains, including a dude seatpost mistake of my own. Its simply AMAZING how much of a difference a ¼-inch of extra seat-height can make. After some very high RPM hammer sessions between rest stops, mainly trying to catch up to Del and Mike, a slightly high seatpost left the backs of my legs a little stretched out. Mike, also, had some leg issues near the end of day one, but he still made it through the long route on day two without major injury, which is always good.

The one major thing Id noticed about this years MS-150, compared to years past, was the scenery. The biggest contributor to this was the fact the day-one route was brand new, so perhaps it was my new surroundings but I think more than anything it was the relaxed pace. Even on brevets, which are basically timed-tours, not races, I had gotten into the habit of taking a heavy pace, and had spent most of the mileage looking at a patch of road about 7 feet in front of my front tire. The MS-150s of years past were much the same way. This year, I made a point to look around occasionally, and I was rewarded with really neat views of farms, old barns, and rolling ribbons of pavement that seemed to stretch across the landscape forever. Its not Colorado, but it was pretty nice!

The other nice thing was conversation not only did I manage to spend at least a few miles with each team member along the way, I ran into a lot of folks from last years team, and some other people that I know Ive talked to in the past but swear I cant remember their names! (sorry!) -- and several folks from other rides from earlier in the season, like Connie (sorry about getting your moms name wrong DUH!) and Steve Conner of JCBC fame, saw Ramon S. was out there, M.ASH & The Kid, Jim Holt, Tri-Guy Mike-the-Fish, Tony D., and many, many more familiar faces even familiar volunteers, like Tom (whom I mentioned above), Terry, and the doc at rest stop 7. There are a few I missed, though Da Spinman, Mondonico-Man Woermann, and G-Dog Caspers (he was at Springfield this year). Even met a few new faces along the way (hey, there girl asking me about bike service tips while waiting in line for the loo, stop #2), some of which indicated they might be thinking about riding with us NEXT year, which is VERY cool! In fact, were already guaranteed to break ten total members for next years team, and its not even been a month since the ride! Atul in the house! Im very encouraged by this the more the merrier! Even back at work on Monday, I had two or three people ask me about the ride and how to get more information, a couple of those folks I never would have imagined would have been interested! You never know if a cyclist is waiting to emerge from a person its exciting stuff! even though at this writing its over 350 days away, Im REALLY pumped about the 2005 edition!

All in all, it was a superb time for everyone on the team I got a LOT of positive feedback from the team, and I will probably be glowing about this ride for the rest of the year, at least. The main thing for 2005 is sticking to the plan: TEAM FIRST. Although I would love to have ANYONE join up, there are a lot of folks that still have a goal to hammer out the ride and finish as quickly as possible. My personal outlook and position on the MS-150 has changed, for the better the way our little team did the ride is how it SHOULD go, I feel; there was no stress, no pressure, and everyone had a good time, pretty much at their own pace but we always regrouped, and stayed focused as a TEAM. I almost hate to use this write-up as a recruitment letter, but hey: I will anyways, because I think weve got a good formula going here! If you are reading this, and rode this year by yourself, or with a huge team that made you feel like a number (great, now I have Bob Segar stuck in my head), shoot me an email about joining up with Team CommuterDude 2005 we would simply LOVE to have you along for the ride. No matter how large our little team might become for next year, the goal will be the same. Im thrilled to find that all of our charter members have already committed to the ride for next year, and several of them have already brought someone else on board with them! We may have to come up with something special for 05, though, to rival Team Bike Stop they had squeekey horns and whistles out on the road you always heard them coming! We might need something like air horns, or cow bells (oh, THAT wouldnt get annoying!)

On your left >>>BRAAAAWWWW!!!!<<<


As for my personal experience, which a lot of people asked me about, I honestly was having such a good time riding with everyone else, that I really didnt have anything outstanding to report about my OWN ride. I did manage to accomplish, at the LAST minute, my personal pledge goal of riding 5,000 year-to-date miles BEFORE the MS-150 began on 9/11 I had to log some trainer miles in the garage the night before, but hey, I got it, with a little over a half-mile extra for good measure. Actually, I think I was about to doze off when the 5,000 mile mark rolled over, and then I realized Id been on the trainer a half-mile too long AHHHH!!! Get off the trainer and go to sleep!!!

I tackled this years ride for the first time on a different bicycle, also. Looking at all the previous years photos, my trusty metallic orange Schwinn Passage (modified with Ultegra/Dura-Ace component mix) had always been there, in one incarnation or another. This year, I shook things up a bit not only has the orange bike since been replaced with a fancy Italian steel frame, I have added a few more steeds to the stable, including this years choice for the ride, a 1986 Schwinn (ok, I like Schwinns!) World Sport, converted to single-speed for commuting duty. I picked up this prize at a garage sale earlier this year for $25, and just cleaned it up and converted it over to one-gear use. Single-speed is another type of cycling entirely; there are no gears to downshift to for hills, and conversely no gears to shift up to for faster downhills and flat sections. Some people consider this odd, but from a realistic standpoint you really only need one, good gear for all around riding. For commuting, its the perfect fit there are no cables to stretch, nothing to come out of adjustment just keep the chain lubed and the tires pumped, and youre good to go. For short errands and commutes, this is perfect but was it the right choice for a 150-mile weekend? Absolutely!

Another high-point of the ride was riding that bike although I sometimes wished I had installed a slightly bigger gear, as I hammered out 100+ RPM spins on the flats to keep up, it went REALLY well, and attracted a fair amount of attention out on the road. I would pass someone along the way, only to see their shadow sneak back up on my left, followed by, youve only got ONE gear?! What was really fun was at one point along the way, one such shadow snuck in behind Del and I while we rode along, the morning of day two, on the way to Windsor for about three miles, we had someone drafting off of us actually me, for the longest interval no big deal, I thought, as we motored along sometimes its nice to block the wind for someone, especially considering how much wheel-sucking I did back in the day but, I always tried to return the favor, which is just common courtesy. This guy, however, may not have read that chapter of the how to be a good cyclist guidebook. After pulling him along for that period of time, he ducked out to the left, passed us, and kept right on going. At first, Del and I joked about it but the more I though about it, I wanted a pull, too! So, with one gear, I sped up and latched onto his rear wheel until we reached the turn from B highway back to Mo-2 on the way into Windsor. I decided it was time to stretch the legs a little, and perhaps demonstrate what that move of his might have looked like. I threw it down into 130 RPM mode, and proceeded to put some distance into the guy, Del in chase as well. By the time we reached the next rest stop, Im sure hell reconsider giving back a pull next time. Yeah, yeah was that very dude of me? Perhaps not but was it very dude of HIM? Hmmm The point: trade pulls if you take one! Keep the brotherhood alive, man! Its why traffic on the streets is the way it is no courtesy why must we turn cycling into that kind of environment!? (steps off soap box)

It felt good to outrun someone on the 1-speed bike, though, and to some level it was pretty neat to be the freak this year. Im certainly not THE craziest person for doing this on a 1-speed, though. In past years I have seen a gentleman on ROLLER BLADES tackling the 150 miles, and a unicycle on one occasion as well. This year, two guys with HAND-CYCLES took on the 150 mile challenge unable to use their legs, they did the ride on specially-built three-wheeled machines that require you to use your ARMS to pedal --- suddenly, I had VERY little to complain about. I remembered seeing a few of these during Ride the Rockies, also, which eliminated any excuses I previously had about anything cycling related. These guys on RTR had no legs, but there they were, chugging up the mountain passes with the rest of us, their upper bodies sculpted by hours of training for something their doctors probably told them theyd never be able to do. Arms that would make the Governator do a double-take, and with steely eyes fixed on the road ahead these guys knew pain. I have no excuses! I mean, common even with personal, physical road-blocks that Ive overcome to get where I am today, at least I have LEGS, right??? That is one of the things that totally changed my outlook on riding after RTR whether Im on a $25 garage sale junker, or a $5,000 titanium race machine, I have the health and freedom to RIDE. It shouldnt matter how fast or far I go, or what Im riding. As long as higher powers see fit for me to have these gifts, I cant see wasting any time on a couch or in a car. Life is GRAND, and there is nothing quite like spending life with wind in the face, and a slight burn in the legs.

So, what does next year hold, aside from growing the team a little, raising even more money for MS research, and just riding along? Im not sure if another mileage goal is in the works or not been there, and after spacing it out completely during most of the summer and rushing to get it all in within the last 30-days before the ride, Im not sure if that is something I should try to repeat! Im primarily dedicated to year-round support of team CommuterDude, because even after the MS-150 wraps, were all still friends and cyclists so the phone-lines stay open. There will be MORE Team CommuterDude rides next year, with a solid plan for one per month, along with inclusion on the major regional ride calendars, so ANYONE can join in the fun. Others have asked me as well, now that Ive finished 150 miles on a single-speed, whats the next bike challenge? Not sure there, either at the very least, Ill probably do it on the single-speed again, but a recent garage-sale (man, I love a good garage sale, have I said that???) acquisition might hold the answer to that question: for FIVE DOLLARS, I walked away with a 1964 Hercules, English-made 3-speed cruiser/utility bike. The amazing thing about these bikes is how ridiculously well-made they were. These things were built to just be ridden to DEATH. Over-built, with 40-spoke wheels, internal gearing with a bomb-proof Sturmey/Archer rear hub (which was hidden under 1/8 of grime), full steel fenders, and a TON of chrome, this thing must weigh 50 pounds. The scary thing, after probably sitting in this guys backyard for a couple decades, it was RIDE-ABLE as-is. I pumped the tires up, and rolled down my street, to find that EVERYTHING worked perfectly. Crazy. However, the paint is in bad shape, and the chrome is covered with a thin layer of surface rust. After a few frustrating days trying to decipher the old British-standard system of nuts and fasteners (read: every freaking bolt was a different size. I would have had an easier time rebuilding a Renault.) , I finally have the bike torn down to its individual parts. A friend with a sandblaster and paint-booth is waiting in the wings, and the chrome is slowly coming back to life since I have a year or so to get it road-worthy enough to handle 150 miles, I think it might be a good choice for next years event. There will be some modifications necessary, as these bikes were not really designed for long-distance riding they were certainly built to handle it, but they were not designed to give the rider an easy time of it. These utility bikes were designed for errands, trips to the pub, to work perhaps there were other bikes to choose for distances above 10km (keeping it British, Nigel). So, the harsh, wide, steel-plate-with-leather-over-it original saddle will be hung up and replaced with a Brooks model B17S still appropriate for the bicycle, but designed for rider comfort and distance. Things like that will still keep the bike looking as it should, but will help me be able to WALK afterwards! Updates and photos from the project will make their way to this site eventually, so stay tuned!

The rest of this story is best told in pictures, so enjoy the photo essay continued below sincerest thanks to every single member of the Team; it quite literally would NOT have been a good ride without you! It was an absolute pleasure to share the road with you! This was definitely a ride to remember! Cheers!

Ive rambled on LONG enough now its the TEAMS TURN:
Thoughts and highlights from the rest of the team!


From Del Rider #1473

Most memorable item: 74 year old farmer from Minnesota riding his bike 150 miles in slacks and a long sleeve shirt.

Most memorable moment #2: Same 74 year old farmer at a rest stop, A volunteer asked him, "Are you Ok?", His reply, " I'm fine, how are you doing?". He sounded fresh as a daisy after 70+ miles.

Funniest thing to me: when the doctor from one rest stop remembered Keith from the previous year. You were that sick. I thought that was funny.

Hooking up with the group of quality riders before the Katy Trail rest stop. Loved the story the guy told us about how he got his "FREE" Cannondale bike.(Yeah, right, we all have friends like that.).

Loved riding with my wife. It was great, going back and forth between groups, plus riding by myself. That was nice.

Smokin' past the wheel sucker going into Windsor. That was fun too.

Biggest Regret: Sampling all the "STUFF" on day 1. UGH! Stick with the eating plan. Rookie mistake. Day two eating went much better.


From Alan Rider #425
My 2004 Ride thoughts and Motto choices.......
1. Sagging More in 2004
2. 4 in '04
3. Combining the MS Ride with the MS Walk..... priceless
4. Ppffffffffffffftttttttt........
5. Dude, Where's my tire????
6. Oh No, Not Again..........Inflatuation
7. 1...2...3...4...What the heck's he walking for????
8. Is that a spare in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
9. Volunteers ROCK!!!!!
10. Outside of NASCAR, this is by far the worst place to get four flats.

From Krishna Rider #719

.... I still remember the strange look on Keith's face - he really looked like my Dad of long past - after we started from our first watering hole - that was his silent response for my remark "Are we there yet!!!". I was joking since I am a firm believer in the concept that any journey is the goal itself! When I hike up a mountain, the sides are always full of life and interesting than the top, and the top of course happens as I walk along! This is my first long bike ride and I decided to enjoy every moment of it! Of course it did boost my spirits to find the whole Dude gang waiting for me at each stop! I felt special with this gift of friendship! Our bike psychiatrist helped remedy a creaking noise my wheeezy bike developed towards late afternoon on that first day!

.... Huge vistas of swaying yellow fields of grass with the whole farmer's family waving at me, the occasional straight road with hundreds of ups and downs that disappear into a dreamscape! - I pause & wonder and go wheeeeeee down the slope and huff, huff, huff, huff up the hill - am I tired ? - NO - I feel the Lance inside me coming out with bulging muscles, steely glare and a frozen smile (grimace perhaps?). Bikers take over me and of course I take over the nice old man, hesitantly throw a weak smile at him - did not want to offend his age – in fact during the long eastward final lap I take over a bunch of slow raiders and one huff-en-puffer remarks - you are in great shape man! My sagging sprits soar, my legs shift into auto and I take off like the wind!

.... My promise to myself is to be there before the sunset - I get into the lazy slow-pokiness after the last watering hole and finally break at the finish tent in the fair grounds more than one hour before the sun rests! Our nice Alan shows up from nowhere and remarks - thought I missed you, come on I will show you the showers & baggage. I gingerly follow him and spot the bike repair tent who fix my loose gear cable - check tire pressures and give a clean health check.

.... After gulping the dry pasta with salad dressing (I never tried it but it tasted like cork!), we all sit together (except Mike) and it was a surprise to win a rally prize - I guess its all beginners luck!

.... Of course slept like a rock in my tent - waited for any friendly neighbourly remarks next day. Finally Charmaine opens up- what’s that popcorn noise in the middle of the night? I confessed that’s my not so quiet snoring and promised to pitch my tent at the other end of the fair grounds next year:-)

.... I hear singing during the ride back and turn my head and find a jolly good - fellow countryman belting out popular old Hindi Movie songs while biking non-chalantly, I join him and that’s how I met Atul!

.... The reason behind this challenge may be noble - but the experience is unforgettable - I will do it again and again - I like to better myself in both attitude and biking. MS150 is one annual goal for which I am bound to enjoy the biking every day for the whole year! Thanks, Dude!

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