A weekend of cycling and raising money for Multiple Sclerosis….
I awoke at 4:45a.m., left the house shortly after 5 a.m. and arrived at Front Range Community college around 5:45 a.m. to participate in the 2-day, 150 mile bike ride from Westminster, CO to Fort Collins, CO and back.
After airing up my tires and dropping off my over-night bag at FedEx truck for transport to Fort Collins, I seeked out my brother and sister-in-law, her two sisters, as well as 52 other team members. Our team, Ain’t Too Proud To Sag, is led by energetic, captain Steve. Our riders range from advanced to inexperienced. Some have MS. Some have relatives with MS. And some simply ride for the cause. Our team, which is made up of a variety of individuals and is not sponsored by a large corporation, has been able to raise several hundred thousand dollars over the last 10 years, and this year we have topped $62,000 and rank 7th in team fundraising.
Of the last 6 years, I have ridden the Dallas to Fort Worth ride once, the Denver to Fort Collins ride four times, and participated virtually when I took my year long trip around the USA. I have had many supporters who have helped me be a high roller since the second ride. To ride with high roller status in the current year, a rider must raise $2,000 the previous year. My supporters have been so generous, I’ve even made the top 100 club a time or two which generally takes $4,000 to $5,000. One year I ranked #69 and rode with the corresponding number. One can imagine the comments I got as I pedaled along the course that year.
Outside of raising money for a cure for MS, the biggest incentive for being a high roller for me is the short port-o-let lines. Every rest stop has two port-o-lets designated strictly for the 300 hundred or so high rollers and the other 2,700 riders have to wait in line for the eight other potties! That alone is worth five bucks!! It is also nice to hear a few congrats on high roller status from fellow riders, especially during the 4th hour in the saddle when every body part is aching.
Single guy is in the High Roller bathroom line…the line to the right is the other bathroom line…
the line continued…
….and continued….isn’t that worth a $5 donation?
The ride meanders along country highways, past barns and farmlands, and continues on main streets of the cities as hot air balloons float above. It is so well organized. Volunteers or police officers stand at every intersection holding directional signs, pushing the walk button, and directing traffic. SAG wagons cruise around the course in case a rider needs a lift to the next rest stop or the finish.
The rest stops, every ten to fifteen miles along the route are loaded with volunteers filling gatorade and water jugs, setting out a variety of snacks, and manning first aid tents with sunscreen and ibuprofen. The ever coveted snow cone is at the last rest stop on the first day. In addition to volunteers, bike techs are on hand to fix any issues with our mode of transportation. If only they could fix my knees and back!
Due to the High Park fire in Fort Collins, the route was changed this year. The prettiest, yet hardest part of the route, a 1,000 foot climb over a short distance around Horsetooth Reservoir was removed. This area was affected by the fire and out of respect for those who lost their home and for the protection of the riders from inhaling smoke, the course was rerouted and shortened to 68 miles the first day. The second day the route again excluded the reservoir and was shortened to 65 miles. While I feel for all those who have lost so much, selfishly I was happy for an easier and shortened course. Even being from Texas, I must admit it was extremely HOT! The sun is very intense a mile high.
Upon finishing up around noon the first day, we checked our bikes into the bike corral, picked up our overnite bags, and hung out at our team tent at Colorado State University. We enjoyed a second lunch (our first lunch was at 9:30 am), before finally riding a shuttle our hotel for a shower, a pasta dinner, and an early bedtime.
On Sunday, we were up again before 5 a.m., hopped the bus around 5:15, grabbed some powdered eggs, cereal, fruit and yogurt provided by the event, enjoyed the sunrise and crossed the start line around 6:30 a.m. One rest stop at a time, we pedaled our way back toward Westminster.
Just before lunch I came about half a second from wiping out. It was at a busy intersection with cars, volunteers, and riders. As I made a right hand turn, my front tire slipped into a crack in the pavement the exact width of my rim. My momentum slowed and direction changed as my tire scraped through the crack. Please don’t wreck, please don’t wreck, I thought to myself just before somehow I ended upright and in control. I found out 30 minutes later, four riders in a row crashed at that corner…one slid into a light pole! Whew, I’m glad I finished the day without a roadrash.
We finished around noon again, hung with the team at the finish line for a while, and then dispersed to our respective home towns: Denver, Fort Collins, Steamboat, and Colorado Springs just to name a few. Thanks everyone for your support…hopefully one day there will be a cure for MS.