MS-150 Best Dam Bike Ride  --  2014

Our 10th Anniversary of the MS-150 Best Dam Bike Ride is in the books and we were blessed with another stellar weekend. It sure makes for a good ride when the weather cooperates and the wind gods take a little break. There were some good and bad parts to this year's ride, but we come away with a successful outcome which we can be thankful.

If you have read my "We Did It" - ride summaries of years past, you will know that we have tried to modify our tactics to accommodate Sara's ever changing physical decline and struggle with MS. Each year brings new challenges and limitations and so we need to always figure out what can be done to keep her in the game. She is a stubborn Italian and does not want to succumb to the ravishes of her MS. As a stubborn Hungarian, I doubt if I would be much different if things were reversed.

Our plan was to follow last year's success by starting from the lunch stop which shortens the ride enough to get her to the finish line. But this year I had the desire to do the entire ride as my show of support for her. So the plan changed to where I would take the bus to Waukesha on Friday night, spend the night in a motel and begin the ride from the start. I would ride my solo recumbent bike to the lunch stop where we would then switch over to the tandem to continue on to the finish line in Whitewater together.

This year we decided to start our own team for the ride. Our motto from the very start of doing this event was "MS-SUCKS". We have had t-shirts with this written on them and it always produced a nod of agreement when a fellow person with MS saw us wearing them. It's hard to argue that these simple 2 words pretty much define MS. So after the many years of un-officially claiming this tag line, we decided to make if official with our new team; MS-SUCKS we ride for BUCKS. For our first year we were able to recruit only one person in addition to Sara and I, and we knew we could count on our nephew Jake to be that person. He has always supported his Aunt un-conditionally, so instead of riding for her, he now rides with her. Thanks Jake, and thanks for giving your Uncle that same support. You have grown into a fine young man and we are very proud of you.

Next year we will aggressively recruit new riders so we can slowly build our team to the point where the MS Society gives us our own table at the Saturday night motivational event. This year the theme of the event was to give accolades to the largest teams. These teams are made up of many riders, but that does not always mean productive fundraiser's. For Sara & me, it's the amount raised by each person that gives true meaning to the success of this event. After all, riding does not cure MS, but money might. The goal for our team is to look for people who not only want to ride, but who will commit themselves to raising a minimum of $1,000 each year to help cure MS.

If YOU are that person, contact me and together we can make a huge impact in the lives of those stricken with MS. I guarantee it will be the one thing you do each year that will make you feel awesome inside.

Saturday morning Jake and I met up at Waukesha and made the decision to shove off prior to the "official" start. It is so crowded and dangerous when the start is done with hundreds of riders hitting the streets all at the same time. We had no bike traffic and little car traffic to contend with all the way to the lunch stop. It was just great! At the lunch stop as planned, we swapped out the bikes and after a bite to eat Sara and I headed for the finish in Whitewater. Our great friends and supporters Gary and Colleen came to the lunch stop to shuttle our truck back to Whitewater for us as in years past. Again, we need to thank them for all the sacrifices they have made by giving us their time on this weekend each year. I have always wondered how it is that we have such great friends

By now the sun was right overhead and the winds were low so the heat was on. In addition, the route begins to show its teeth with many hills to climb. This proved to take more out of Sara than we had planned. By the time we got to the Palmyra rest stop some 15 miles down the road she was suffering and her MS was at full force. It took many minutes to get her into the bathroom as her legs just quit working all together, the worst I have ever seen. When she finally was able to come out of the bathroom, she had to sit down immediately. We knew right then that there was no-way she was going to continue from here. My MacGyver skills quickly went to work and I commandeered a delivery cart that was in the school and rigged it so we could transfer her to it and I could push her around. We got a few interesting looks from our fellow bikers who had no idea what was going on, but sometimes you just have to improvise. The ride support volunteers went to work locating a SAG wagon and we were able to put her into it for a nice air conditioned ride to Whitewater. Jake and I continued on, and I refused Gary and Colleens offer to bring me my bike. In flying; when we lose someone we fly a missing man formation in their honor. That empty seat behind me on the tandem was my way of carrying Sara's spirit with me so we could finish the ride together. She was there at the finish cheering us on and that made the pain in our legs go away. We enjoyed a couple beers with our friends and watched as others were making their way to the finish. It is nice to see the reactions of those who finish. There is immense pride and satisfaction to suffer for a friend or loved one and you can see right into a person's soul when they cross that line. This is why we ride!

The Saturday night program was again filled with emotion and it was great to see the huge showing of several hundred rookie riders. They are the future of this movement and we welcome them all. We retired for the night and looked forward to the horizontal position after a hard day on the bike. Tomorrow is only 8 hours away and we need to recharge the batteries to do it all over again.

Sunday morning I got up early and readied my bike and myself for another day. I rode to the start to meet up with Jake although I was about 5 minutes late so I feared he might have already left. When I could not find him, I waited about 15 minutes and then ventured out on my own hoping to maybe meet up with him on the road. For me, riding alone works well. Hours on a bike give a person time to think and provides a platform to harness ones own motivation. I have always been self motivated and I like to do things my way, at my pace, so the solitude of riding alone suits me fine. Today we will encounter many hills and rough roads. Many people who don't ride do so because they fear it is above their physical ability. But take if from me, biking is 75% mental and only 25% physical. Hill climbing is concurred in the mind, and if successful, the body will follow.

Sara and I feel she may not do so well as she is still feeling the effects of the previous day so we agree that she should wait to ride until the last rest stop of the day. From there we will ride to the finish together. I have forgot how hilly the 2nd day is, especially if you stay on the 75 mile route. The leg just before the lunch stop is especially challenging and takes a lot out of the body. I see many people walking their bikes up the hills. For me that is not an option. On my own bike I will not under any circumstances walk my bike up a hill.

There is a special place on this second day of the ride that I have written about many times over the years. At the top of a long hill is a truck and there sits a woman with a sign that reads; I have MS - Thanks for riding! We see this kind of thing all along the route, but this woman is always here and has been each year for the 10 years we have been riding. She sits all day to say thank you to ALL the riders. So this year now that I am alone, I finally do something I have wanted to do for a long time. I stop and ask for her name. I tell her that I have written about her but have never known who she was. She starts to cry and says; my name is Jan. We hug, and I tell her thanks for always being here, it is what gives me the motivation and energy to make it the rest of the way. This makes my entire day. Sometimes it is riding for the people you do not know that makes this trip so worthwhile. I shove off knowing that not only was this a great moment for me, but that I gave her the validation she so deserves for her years of supporting us. I already look forward to next year when I can again see my new friend.

Goodland Park is not far away now and my legs are strong. A few more hills separate me from the love of my life and the person that is waiting for me to take her to the finish line. My pace quickens with anticipation. A slight drizzle starts to fall and I embrace the cooling sensation of the rain. It feels so good after a long day of climbing. I pull into the park to see Sara, Gary, and Colleen waiting for my arrival. I am finally here. Life is good!

We have a special treat this year. My uncle Kalman Sr., and my cousin Kalman Jr., are visiting from Hungary. They planned their trip special to be here to watch us cross the finish line in Madison. We round the last corner and see them along with my mom and dad, my brother Frank and his wife Laurie, Gary and Colleen of course, my nephew Jason and his girlfriend Ashley, our close friends Dick and Sue, and a very special treat, my niece Julie. Everyone is wearing their orange MS-SUCKS we ride for BUCKS team t-shirts. From our view on the bike it seems like our squad has taken over the finish line. It's awesome. We stop for hugs and congratulations from our family and friends and relish in the fact that the weekend is over and we have achieved our goal. After a bit we continue to officially cross the finish line and receive our achievement medals. We did it again!

We thank all of our supporters and sponsors that have donated so generously to our cause. We are in debt to all of you. We long for the day when we can say that we helped cure MS. I can only dream it will be soon.

We look forward to our 11th MS-150 next year. Consider riding with us, it is an adventure that provides immense satisfaction. Do it for someone you love!

ONWARD...