MS-150 Best Dam Bike Ride  --  2013

The 2013 MS-150 is in the record books and we are still buzzing with emotion after a wonderful event. This was the 30 year anniversary of the Best Dam Bike Ride and we were blessed with what may have been the best weather weekend in the history of the event.

Many of you know that Sara and I had a very difficult ride last year. We did manage a total of 90 miles for the 2 days, but sadly we never were able to cross either finish line which deprived us of the wonderful emotional feeling one gets from crossing that line. I know this means less to Sara, and more to me, but in reality it is the crossing of the line that defines our success. The feeling we get is the payback for the months of training rides, and fundraising we have done throughout the year.

Because we know that we no longer can do the full 150 miles, we decided to formulate a plan for this year. We have learned from our many training rides that Sara’s MS symptoms really begin to kick in at around the 30 mile mark. This is when she begins to loose some of the control of her legs, can’t put much power to the pedals, and it feels to me up front that she is pedaling a square sprocket. So we decide that in order to stay within our comfort range we should start each day from the lunch stop and ride across each finish line like we deserve. This decision makes the whole ride a very different one for us this year.

Saturday, Aug. 3rd

We realize that our new game plan changes more than just where we will start each day. For one, we no longer need to take the Friday night bus to Waukesha or spend the night in a hotel. On Saturday, we just need to drive to the lunch stop in Dousman at the St. Brunos Catholic Church. One less night for our dog to spend at the sitter adds to the bonus, even though our good friends at Far View Kennels take such good care of Brandi. We get up after a good sleep and ready our bike for the journey. We load the address in the GPS and we are off to Dousman for the start of our ride.

When we get to Dousman Jake our nephew is already there and has been for some time. We get our bike ready and await the arrival of Rosie and Patti. We grab some lunch and stick to our schedule to depart at 11:00am sharp. Off we go. The weather is just awesome and we get to enjoy the great day on our bike. Just knowing that we can make it to the finish from here makes the ride so much less stressful for us than in years past. Sara has a big smile on her face and that means everything. Although this decision to start at the lunch stop was a hard one for us, once we are on our way we know it was the right choice.

As in years past, our good friends Gary & Colleen volunteer their time to be our support group. Not only do they support us financially with generous donations to the cause each year, it is their unselfish support for having our back where their friendship truly shines. Being there for us and doing whatever we need is invaluable since Sara's MS can throw us a curve ball at anytime. Thanks guys, we love you more than you know. Each day they will shuttle our truck as needed and be there when we cross each finish line with their cheering support.

We make our way to Whitewater and albeit a nasty steep hill that we need to negotiate shortly before the finish, we do so honorably and give each other a high five knowing the finish line is only a mile away. Crossing the line we enjoy the cheers of supporters, volunteers and our team-mates and relish in the joy of achieving our goal. Sara is a happy camper and that makes me feel awesome. Our first day is behind us and we are in good shape to enjoy the evenings festivities.

We stay at the team tent and help in cheering for our remaining team-mates as they come across the line and enjoy a beer and snacks that Ken's wife Karen always provides. After a long ride a beer sure tastes good. Later we take our truck to our motel and clean up for dinner. We meet up with Rosie & Jake and enjoy dinner and the carbs that will be our fuel for the next days ride.

The evening program is always a fun event with most all of the riders getting under the big top and enjoying each others company while sharing stories and events of the days ride. I think I heard the words "awesome weather" a hundred times. That should tell you just how challenging the weather has been the last few years. Our host and leader, Colleen Kalt begins the evening program. Colleen exudes passion for her job like no other. She is the reason the evening will be full of emotion for all that attend. Her ability to make all in the tent "feel" what it is like for those who have MS is a gift. Before the evening is over no-one will have left without shedding a tear and feeling energized to get out there the next day to give it their all. I am so glad that Colleen is the head of our chapter. She gives all of the participants such motivation and gives those with MS "hope". Living with someone who has MS, I can tell you that it is "hope" that is most important.

This is hard for me to say, but this is a exciting time for those with MS. Because of your support - and that of thousands of others - this event has raised more than 24 million dollars and has helped make monumental strides in the treatment of multiple sclerosis possible. What's more, you've given "hope" to the more than 10,000 men, women, and children living in Wisconsin and diagnosed with MS; as well as those who love and care for them. When this ride was started 30 years ago, most people didn't think MS was treatable. Three decades later, a lot has changed.

Thirty years ago diagnosing MS was a mystery. Today with the invention of the MRI, the MS Society has developed new criteria to quickly confirm a diagnosis.

Thirty years ago there were no FDA-approved therapies for MS. Today there are 10 - with a dozen more in the pipeline.

Thirty years ago we had questions about what causes MS. Today, in large part through MS Society supported research we have made significant breakthroughs in identifying genes that contribute to MS susceptibility.

Your support this year will continue to accelerate the pace of research & discovery, and provide important programs and services for individuals diagnosed with MS. YOU ARE THE ROCK STARS OF THIS MOVEMENT FOR A WORLD FREE OF MS.  We have accomplished so much but there is so much more to do. This is a marathon and I truly believe we have most of the miles behind us, so there is no stopping now. A cure is within our sights.

Sunday, Aug. 4th

After a good night sleep we awake excited to do it all over again. Today we can take our time and leisurely make our way to the Fox Prairie Grade School in Stoughton which will be our starting point. We arrive in time to see the very first riders making it to the lunch stop. We are impressed to see that 2 of the first 3 to arrive are Sonic Streamers. Like the day before, we will meet up with Jake & Rosie. Patti is not riding today as she had previously volunteered for Sunday. As a rookie rider, Patti did a wonderful job completing the full 75 miles on Saturday even though she bought her first bike earlier this year. I guess being a marathon runner and in great physical condition gives one the ability to handle anything put in front of you. Great job Patti, and thank you so much for riding. I say this as this ride is not your average cruise around the block. Doing this ride means many early morning training rides, sacrifice and of course, pain. Lance Armstrong was once asked what it was about biking that he liked the most. He said; I ride for the pain. I agree. When you accept the challenge of this ride you are agreeing to endure the pain as a way of putting yourself in the shoes of a person with MS. When the hill is steep and long and the legs are on fire and it hurts is when you give your heart and sole to someone with MS. This is the ultimate sacrifice and one that is never forgotten. This is the definition of a true friend.

As the day before the weather is steller and the ride goes well. We are loving life and each other. As riders pass us we cheer them on and thank them. Many recognize Sara's low number of 35 which shows her achievement in fundraising and defines her as a "Big Cheese" in the eyes of the MS Society. We are always in awe as to the sheer number of riders that do this event. This truly is a movement.

As we get further down the road I begin to look forward to my favorite moment of this ride. Each year at the top of one of the longest hills she will be, I just know it. She is always there and I can't wait. When we finally get to the hill and make our way to the top and the legs are feeling the pain I see the truck. As we approach there she is with the same sign as before:
As in years past the pain in the legs goes away and a lump in my throat develops, this is why I ride. I don't know her name but I ride for her as hard as I ride for Sara. This is what it is all about and it never gets old.

We arrive at the last rest stop and take a few moments to lay in the grass and enjoy the moment. We contact our family to give them an approximate arrival time so they can be there when we finish. We love to see all of them in their orange shirts cheering us on as we approach the finish. As we round the last corner we see them. My mom and dad, my brother Frank, Gary and Colleen of course, and to our surprise our good friends Dick and Sue. What a great welcoming committee. We couldn't be happier. We stop to say hi and receive hugs from all and then make our way for our official crossing of the finish line and our achievement medals. We did it - again! But only because we had all of you on our shoulders cheering us on. Thank You.