Thursday, July 05, 2007

My family--Dad, Mom, my sister Katie & I--ride in an MS 150 ride called Bike to the Bay in Northwest Ohio. Our team, which includes friends as well, is called The Team ON YOUR RIGHT, so named because we are one of the slowest (perhaps the slowest) team on the ride, and polite riders will call, "On your left!" to let us know that we're about to be passed. (Our average speed: 12 mph.)

The Team ON YOUR RIGHT at the end on Saturday: Eileen, John, Bobby, Katie (behind), Cindy, Carl (behind), Jena (me), Peggy.

I'm a little biased, I know, but our team is fantastic. We laugh a lot. We sing a little. And we motivate each other--to go faster, or to just keep going. (Before the last rest stop on Sunday, this is really important, because that's where the hills are--real hills, not just overpasses. This year we were lucky enough to have a cop in the intersection who waved us through the red lights, which was wonderful because when you're going uphill, you don't want to lose any momentum because of a traffic light.) And we seem to be developing a trend where the team adds people on the ride. Peggy unofficially joined the team halfway through the ride last year, and officially joined it this year. We met Dick this year, who has ridden every year since the Northwest Ohio MS 150's started. He usually rides with his daughter, but she wasn't able to this year, so he was going it alone. (Alone on a ride through generally flat NW Ohio landscape isn't especially fun.) So he finished the first day with us this year, and met us at breakfast the next morning to ride back with us. We hope he (and he daughter) join the team next year.

Peggy & Dick & Bobby were interviewed by a Port Clinton reporter at the end of the first ride, and we found our team mentioned in the Port Clinton News Herald on Monday.

The women stretch out in Gibsonburg. (This is the stop with the popsicles--and when it's a hot day, they've been known to have a sprinkler running for riders to go through. We
re grateful that the weather was just about perfect this year--not too much wind comfortable mid-70's temps.)

Shoulder rub chain at the second to last rest stop on Saturday.

This is at the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning at Port Clinton High School. We love this--you stand back and catch your breakfast. It's not unusual to have a few pancakes on the floor (but people this year were really good about picking up what they missed and throwing them away). This year, she actually scolded you if you tried to walk up and have her put the pancakes on your plate.

The Team ON YOUR RIGHT (minus Peggy) enjoying barbecue chicken at the end of the ride on Sunday.

Our first (and at this moment only) team shirts were ordered a few years ago. Apparently John was left in charge of ordering the shirts, and when we received them, some of us were appalled to find ourselves holding safety green team shirts. But there was definitely no losing each other in a crowd... Until last year when the Bike to the Bay shirts were all safety green. We saw a couple of other team shirts that were also "our" color, so now we're trendsetters.

In order to do this, we each raise at least $200 for Multiple Sclerosis research and support (though we aim for more like $500). And then we ride, usually about 80 miles the first day and 75 the second (according to our odometers). The route begins the first day at the Maumee Rec Center and ends at Port Clinton High School. Many riders pitch a tent and camp on the campus for the night, but this year some friends of Mom and Dad's housed us for the night. In my first five rides, we stayed in a hotel suite, where we could park the bikes in the kitchen. (I've been unable to ride the last two years, because last year I was in Canada with Roger and the year prior, my sister's and cousin's weddings were the weekend before and the weekend of. I suppose they must miss a few riders every year because of June weddings.)

Of course, this isn't something one can normally do without training. In the past (this was Mom & Dad's 10th ride, and Katie's & my 6th) we've trained mostly on weekends, riding no fewer than 25 miles round trip per ride, and in the couple weekends before, riding more like 50-60. Our preferred route is riding from Pemberville to Bowling Green, then hopping on the Slippery Elm Trail and riding to North Baltimore, where we stop for a snack before making the trip back to Pemberville. That's about a 56 mile ride by the time we're back in the driveway.

The training is almost harder than Bike to the Bay itself, because we don't stop much along the way. On Bike to the Bay, we have rest stops every 10 miles or so. This year, they were exceptionally well stocked with fresh fruit, granola bars, power bars, ice-cold Gatorade, cookies and a myriad of other healthy--or not--snacks. Traditionally, the last rest stop before we reach Port Clinton offers brownies. One year they weren't there and it seemed to be one of the hot topics of discussion for all the people waiting in line for the Olive Garden spaghetti dinner or a massage. I think lots of people must have commented on their feedback forms (we certainly did), because the next year, the brownies were back--and more boxes of them than we remembered. And this year, the brownies made a surprise appearance at the second rest stop in Tontogany. We've joked about putting "We ride for the brownies!" on our team T-shirts.

And you never know what you're going to see when you're training. Two weeks before Bike to the Bay, while training, we rode past a tree with a baby/juvenile bald eagle sitting on top. (I love how Mom always seems to have her camera.) That day, we also saw a red fox running across the field and we watched a motorcyclist refuse to be pulled over. The cop told us that people had been complaining about this large group of motorcycles that recklessly zipped past their homes. The rider that he had been following was just one of many--the rest of the group had turned onto another road.

The next weekend, we rode past a rather elaborate traffic stop--there were probably half a dozen motorcycles pulled over, and the cops had blocked the road. I wonder how fast they were going...

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