MS-150 Best Dam Bike Ride  --  2015

A biker’s creed is that it is always best to keep the rubber parts touching the pavement at all times. Unfortunately no-one told me to worry about that when mowing my lawn. Some of you know that Sara and I live at the top of a hill with a 4/10’s of a mile driveway that is pretty steep. I try to always keep one mower width knocked down on each side of the road. During a lapse in concentration (brain fart) I got just a few inches too far off the road and that was all it took. The mower started to slide sideways downhill and because it gets very steep right there, over the edge I went rolling the mower over and on top of me. Did I mention I have a 61” large commercial mower; ouch.

Confucius Say; Man who disconnects the emergency shut off wires so as not to be inconvenienced by the engine shutting off every time  he gets out of the seat… Better not get upset when the engine continues to run wide open when he is upside down – pinned underneath- with his face in a patch of poison ivy...

The fact is, when you live on a hill everything you do puts you in a competition with gravity. As a pilot and skydiver I can appreciate that more than most. This time however, gravity won.

So here we sit, the MS Ride is only 24 days away and we have a huge problem. At first it seemed to be basically blunt force trauma. But after the first 5 days my ankle and leg were getting worse and beginning to swell. A trip to the doc and x-rays showed I had not broken any bones or altered anything alignment-wise, so that was good. More days of elevation/ice, etc. and still no improvement. Now I am on crutches because it can’t tolerate any weight. Back to the doc for a few MRI scans. Again, no sign of ligament or tendon damage, so that was also good. So why in the heck is my foot not getting better? The doc fits me for a boot (aircast) and this helps a bunch because it has air bladders in it and when inflated do a wonderful job of securing the joint.  After a couple days I could finally walk without crutches as long as I had the boot on. I am now given a prescription for P.T. and my first day is the Thursday before the ride. At P.T. my therapist cranks around on my ankle like mad and determines that my joint is good and strong and the inflammation and fluid from the intense trauma of the mowers weight rolling over it need to be eliminated for me to get better. His recommendation is to chuck the boot, throw away the crutches and if you got a bike ride it as much as you can. I just laughed, but he was dead serious and that started the wheels to turn. On Friday I took my bike to work and did an eight mile loop near my business as a test run of the ankle. The position on my recumbent, laid back with my feet above my heart was actually great and pedaling did not hurt my leg. So began the thinking of whether I just might be able to do some of the MS-150 Ride. After all, it's what the rehab doc ordered.

Sara had already cancelled my room in Waukesha for Friday night so we decided we would drive to the lunch stop in Dousman Saturday morning and I would start from there to see how my leg would hold up. It would be 30 miles to the final rest stop and then Sara and I would switch to the tandem and ride the last 10 miles to cross the finish line in Whitewater together.

We arrived in Dousman around 9:45am and found Jake was already there. I unloaded my bike and got everything ready to go. We went into the gym and ate lunch and watched for Rosie and Patty to arrive and about a half hour later they did. There was some good cloud cover in the morning and so the riders got some shade to ride in which is always welcome. When I shove off a black cloud covers us and it begins to sprinkle.  That soon stops and it is good riding all the way to the last rest stop. I make better time than I expect and so I get some time to recover before heading out on the tandem.  Our support team of Gary and Colleen come to the rest stop to check in with us and to ferry our truck over to Whitewater. Their support is always invaluable as we know we can call them at any time and they will be there for us, even if Gary takes the long way sometimes. Now Sara and I are on the tandem and it feels good to ride together again. It’s only 10 miles to the finish, well within her ability and we have big smiles on our faces. And to think only a couple days earlier we were certain that we would NOT be riding but volunteering instead.

Here we are crossing the finish line to cheering riders, volunteers, well-wishers, and our support crew of course. We have done this ride now 11 years and crossing the finish line never gets old. It always gives a sense of immense satisfaction and pride in knowing you are doing something that will benefit many people.  The fact that it takes hard work makes it just that much more special. A little suffering for a worthy cause is a noble thing and one that just makes you feel good inside.

We receive a standing ovation from our old team-mates, the Sonic Streamers, and it put a satisfying stamp on our accomplishment. Thanks Ken and everyone at the team tent when we crossed. It gets harder each year but we all stick together and work so hard to fund the research of MS. After all, it’s the money we raise that has a chance of curing this disease. Although we are MS SUCKS – WE RIDE for BUCKS now, we are “Streamers” at heart and always will be.

We get a chance to go to our room and clean up for the evening then pick up Rosie who will join Sara and I and our nephew Jake for dinner. The goal for dinner is recovery (chocolate milk) and carbs for the next day (pasta or rice).  We have our fill, forego the tempting ice cream machine and head for the evening program in the big-top.

Colleen Kalt, the head of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National MS Society does her usual great job in recognizing the outstanding fundraising individuals and teams from last year’s ride. It’s hard to have a program without recognizing the accomplishments of Chuck Sherwinski from team Chuck’s Athletic Supporters. He has been the #1 fundraiser for as long as I can remember, often raising between 40 to 60 thousand dollars each year. If we only had a team of 20 Chuck’s we would raise a million a year. I have gone out of my way to get to know Chuck and learn from him. Chuck has MS and so fundraising is his life – literally. Only a cure will change his life for the better and so he is fighting the fight at the highest level. It is hard not to admire his never ending drive and outstanding accomplishments. It motivates us all to do a better job of raising money. Riding bikes is fun, fundraising is hard work. In this fight against MS we need more fundraisers and less biker’s.


Sunday morning comes and our plan is the same. We will drive to the lunch stop and I will start from there and ride to the last rest stop and pick up Sara and we will ride to the finish in Madison together. As we start to get going and I fire up my cellphone, we find some text alerts about the ride. The heat and humidity are forecast to be very high and the straight line winds from the west up around 35mph. All bikers dread riding into a headwind like that. It’s like climbing a hill all the time and having to pedal on downhills because you can’t coast much. The text message informs us that the ride organizers have cancelled the 75 & 100 mile routes and only the 50 mile route will be supported. As we drive to the lunch stop we get a call from Sara’s sister Rosie that her and Patti had bailed at around Cambridge due to the heat/winds and were in a car heading to Madison. We begin to question whether we should ride or not. I notice the massive corn fields on our drive bent way over from the wind and can only imagine what the riding is like.

At the lunch stop we are seeing riders pulling in and showing the wear from the hard ride so far. Two busses are already there with the anticipation of the many that will call it a day and want a ride back to Madison. We know Rosie and Patti will be a no-show but have yet to hear from Jake as to his progress. We hang out for a while and finally decide to eat some food. We finally see Jake; he has made it to the lunch stop and looks like he already has a 100 mile ride under his belt. He says the wind was really hard in many places and he is done for the day. My plan was to ride today from the lunch stop and although the weather is not great, I have certainly rode in worse on this ride over the years. Sara says I am crazy and decides she should not ride because of the heat which I agree is the right call for her. But stubborn Mikey wants to get in the game. So I get my bike ready and load Jake’s up so he can ride to Madison with Sara.

It’s time to shove off. I have my cell phone in case I have any problems. The heat certainly is on, but the wind helps to take the sting out of it as long as I am moving. When on a westerly road out in the open the wind is strong, but my laid back position on my bike gives me minimal drag. When riding on an upright bike the rider is actually cupping the wind with the upper torso like a big sail catching the wind. On my recumbent I almost feel like I am slipping along under the wind. It’s a good thing too as the road ahead has many hills that I will have to negotiate before the finish. I am having a good ride and my ankle is holding up well. I feel it a bit on the steeper hills, but not too bad. Since the heat is so bad I wonder if I will see my new friend Jan. She sits in the back of her truck on top of a hill with about 10 miles to go to the finish line. Her sign says; I HAVE MS – THANKS FOR RIDING. Sara and I have seen her on every ride we have done. She’s right at the point where the legs are getting sore and the thought of 10 more miles seems daunting. After saying hi to Jan and wishing her well, somehow there is always enough energy to make it to the finish. This year she is standing by the truck in the heat and gives me a high five as I pass by. My ride is now complete, both Jan and I have made it another year.

The last 10 miles seems to fly by even with the numerous hills. Just a couple miles from the finish I come upon riders and cars parked along the road and as I pass by I see a rider curled up on the road and not moving. What a shame to make it so far and have a crash. Although we don’t see it very often, it makes you aware of the dangers of our sport and the concentration that is necessary to be safe. The finish is up the road and I can hear the trucks whizzing by on the Beltline. The police have staged themselves as to give us preference over cars which I am sure is pissing off more than a few drivers, but I don’t care and enjoy the perk. A couple minutes to go and I will cross the finish line and be back together with Sara. I round the last corner and see my entourage in orange team shirts and it makes me smile.

We have great family and friends and your support for Sara and MS is humbling to us and so appreciated.


See you again next year for our 12th MS-150 Bike Ride, August 6th & 7th, 2016.

Consider riding with us, it will be the most rewarding thing you do all year!