riding to cure MS

This morning, Kayla and I joined a bunch of other folks to ride in support of the MS Society.  We had a beautiful morning, and a lot of fun riding.

Back a couple of months ago, we were talking about something around the dinner table.  A question came up about a second helping of dessert.  I’d used the marginal excuse that I’d done a long run that morning, and remember telling Kayla that if she would do the MS Ride with me, that she might be able to get a second helping sometime (she doesn’t recall this herself, so perhaps we can avoid dishing out that second helping).  In any case, she agreed.  Very promptly, she set up her fundraising site, and sent mail out to friends and family.  Within a couple of days, she’d cleared the minimum fundraising goal, and faithfully upped it.  Then she got on me for lagging behind her efforts … so here’s my fundraising site too.

It all worked out nicely.  Between the two of us, we’ve ended up raising close to $2000.  Not bad for an effort started over dessert!

Our training was a bit more sporadic than I would have liked.  We didn’t get out for many quality rides, and I was a little concerned about how things would go the day of the event.  Following Kayla’s 15 miler with Kris while we were up in Penticton BC a couple of weeks ago, I was confident that we would finish.  I wanted to make sure she’d have fun though, because I’d like to make this a regular thing.  In the end, both of us were just fine.  Eighty degrees, sunny, and a nice, flat course made things work well.

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We got up early, and after a good breakfast, headed the sixty miles north to Mount Vernon.  Preparing the night before was a bit disorderly, but as it turns out, nothing was forgotten or omitted.  We arrived at the "Riders Village" just after 7:30, and picked up out packets.  After getting situated, we hit the road at 8:22 in the morning.  Kayla smiled as we rolled, as said "I guess we’ve started".  Note to self – I need to learn to take things this easy when starting a marathon – it’s a perfect attitude.  WE wound through downtown Mount Vernon a bit, then followed a line of bikes out towards La Conner.  Our pace was steady and sustainable.  Based on our training rides, I’d figured we’d be able to keep at least an 8 mph pace.  We were better than that, gliding out the Skagit Flats at a 10-12 mph pace.  The speedsters passed us, and we passed some other folks.  I was genuinely impressed with the way Kayla conducted herself on the road, faithfully signalling and calling out "on your left" as she passed people.  Just under 55 minutes later, we reached the turnaround at about 11 miles. 

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I was pretty amazed at how well things had gone so far.  And even more amazed when Kayla protested us taking a water break, saying "But I want to keep going!".  Under protest, she consented to a brief 4 minute break, and then we headed back.  Riding under the blue sky, I was smiling the whole way, particularly as we passed the beautiful profile of Mount Baker while heading back towards the finish.  Our pace on the way back felt a tiny bit slower to me, and the time would verify this feeling.  But we weren’t off by much (about ninety seconds longer).  We exchanged a few stories, and got excited when we rolled back across the Skagit River, entering Mount Vernon again.  And I can’t tell you how nice it felt crossing the finish line with my daughter, 1:55:45 after we started.  This was about four minutes faster then the ‘A’ goal I’d had for us, and over an hour faster than our ‘B’ goal.

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We hung out for a short while in the Rider’s Village.  We spent some time talking with Michael, a rider from Oregon, living with MS.  Michael showed us his three-wheeled recumbent bike, which allows his to ride with us.  He’d volunteered for over ten years before finding this bike which allows him to ride, despite experiencing some trouble with his balance (a common symptom of MS).  We talked a bit about how Kayla’s Grandma Susan and Great-Uncle Steve are both living with MS, and how I’d give anything to be able to ride anywhere with them.  We called home with our news, snapped some pictures, and then headed home.

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What a morning!  I always enjoy getting out and enjoying the sunshine like this, and enjoy it more with my daughter.  Especially since she’s the one responsible for inspiring me back onto my bike following my bike accident last July.  Even better was that we got to do this in support of a cause we really believe in : getting to a cure for MS, and funding education and patient services for folks living with MS. 

I’m very proud of Kayla’s efforts here.  She did a great job with the fundraising, challenged herself to ride as well as she could, and she was very good company.  As Kayla likes to say "Today is a gift, that’s why they call it ‘the present’ ".

Indeed.

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