Please click to donate to A Dude Abikes MS 150 page: http://Main.NationalMSSociety.org/GoTo/ADudeAbikes
We Are the Champions, My Friend
The MS 150 bike ride is here! It’s April 29-30, 2017, from Houston to Austin, Texas. I On a bike. Without a motor. Unless you count my legs. Which I do. Anyhoo, it’s first about the fundraising: last year, 13,000 cyclists inspired donations of over $16 million dollars for research and treatment. But it also promotes awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. I first signed up for this ride as a logical next step in my amateur bicycle riding journey, and because a fellow rider Bill offered to donate since he couldn’t ride. But I wanted to learn more about the cause, so I became connected with a Bike MS Champion.
The Champions program aims to communicate “why we ride” by highlighting the many different faces of MS and the different ways the National MS Society meets the needs of individuals living with MS through the generous support of Bike MS participants and fundraisers. So A Dude Abikes was connected with Doug. Here is the first message he sent me:
“Thanks for Riding for the Cure! Your support is Very appreciated!
It was 1978, I was a hard-working guy in the White collar HIGH-TECH industry. My ENERGY Level was ‘BINARY’ – either on or off. Typically LOW (My energy was low, Fatigue was High), Other symptoms random / UNPREDICTABLE burning (particularity when wet (think shower!!!), numbness and tingling in my arms and legs; I FINALLY went to a neurologist; after much testing these symptoms were diagnosed as stress-related.
After MANY visits, over several years, with other medical professionals; too many similarities of “typical MS symptoms I’d learned of matched up for me to ignore Multiple Sclerosis as a possibility…
But I visited a chiropractor, hoping the numbness and pains were ONLY a pinched nerve… However, after no improvement there and visiting a new neurologist, I was “Officially” diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; the day before Thanksgiving 1990! 12 yrs after my 1st neurologist visit, still with all the same symptoms that Never quit; only changes of intensity (my new normals?).
BUT!!! in 1990 there weren’t ANY approved MS treatments or Medicines! Doctors could only treat my symptoms!
NOW – Thanks to volunteers like You, there are approved medications used to modify the disease course, treat relapses – also called attacks or exacerbations, SLOW progression – and MANAGE symptoms.
He’s a Person, Not a Condition
In these pictures Doug is wearing orange, which happens to be the color of a bandanna riders get in the packets. I’ll strap it to my bike and look at it every time I feel like stopping or giving up in order to remind myself that the sort of suffering that happens on a bicycle hour after hour, mile after mile, is optional; it is a choice, a decision, whereas having a chronic illness is not. It chooses you, even you don’t want it to.
Talking further with Doug I learned that he had to quit his job and go on medical disability. The doctors said he had an “abnormal brain.” Imagine having your livelihood taken away from you. Going from being a productive, busy, active worker to not having the energy to do a lot of things you used to be able to has to be demoralizing.
But I also learned he’s involved with the MS 150 as a VIP and the local chapter office He’s involved with the cause for himself and for others. He was a featured Bike MS Champion. He is a new grandfather. His sense of humor is intact. But while he does have daily issues to confront with his illness, “being an MSer” as he calls it, is not the only or even main thing that defines him.
Sure, riding my bike what is a crazy amount of miles for someone my age and condition is, well, as the kids say, not nuthin’. But getting up every day and putting your pants on, brushing your teeth, and going about your day – all while knowing that there are things you can’t do anymore because something uninvited is attacking your nervous system – THAT’S what I call brave, or heroic, or being a champion.
The Time is Now, and Now is the Time: Get Comfy on Your Couch and Click to Donate. I’ll Bicycle 180 Miles!
So, I’ve trained my butt off. The other day was my last training ride. Good ol’ Gregg drove us out southeast of Austin where I took five, three and a half-mile laps around the hilly and windy Circuit of the Americas track. Very cool. I even hit my fastest speed ever of 51.7 miles per hour! Here’s the Strava link with photos plus a training log.
But now the big ride day is actually finally here. Of course I must invite you to donate to my ride page to help the 10,000+ riders raise as much as $16 million for treatment and research. But don’t just do it for me. I’m just the messenger here. Do it for Doug, and all those like him who will benefit from the donations to the bike ride.
Please click on this link to make a donation of any size to A Dude Abikes MS 150 page: http://Main.NationalMSSociety.org/GoTo/ADudeAbikes
I’d recommend $1 per mile, or about $180 – which my insurance agent, scholar and gentleman Bennie E. Council did. He lives out of state and we have yet to actually meet, but he donated just today. Cue the jingle, “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is THERE!” Bam! Man, that’s one powerful ditty! But any amount that works for you works for me.
Love Thy Neighbor / We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers
I wrote this bit below earlier to a friend, and it seems like a fitting end to this blog post. It was after a hectic half day at work, a trip to a doctor to make sure this old body could actually do this ride without too much damage, then to a really interesting Chinese massage complete with slapping, pounding and the massager lady climbing on my back, plus errands. Always errands. And I have yet to pack. But tomorrow good buddy Saurabh and Paulo will pick me up to get new pedals and give me a send-off at the buses lined up downtown to take us to Houston.
While at one level it’s just a very long yet silly bike ride, it’s also an enormous task. Biking 180 miles in two days (if there’s no delay or cancellation due to thunderstorms) is no joke. So the enormity of that hit me. If you’re part of my team, you know who you are, and I’ll thank you each publicly soon. If you’re not, why not get on it? So I leave you with this bit of philosophical musing, which A Dude Abikes is wont to do before the YOOGEST athletic endeavor of his not-so-young-anymore life:
I’m really doing this ride. I think I can. I know I can. I have already seen myself do it in my mind’s eye. It is already as good as done. There is a team behind me and with me all the way. I’m doing it by myself, but I am not alone. I am part of the peloton, and it is part of me. I am one with my bike, the road, the rain, the wind, the traffic, and all that happens on this ride. There is the relentless riding, the repeating revolution of pushing on the pedals, the circling of the sun, the swirling of the stars. There is life and death, creation and destruction, breathing in and breathing out. There is everything and nothing. I am none of it and all of it. And then there is love. And love is what moves us.
Except I’ll add that I once literally bumped into James Taylor at a yoga center. He looked miffed but didn’t say anything. We took our vegetarian food and went our separate ways. I’m not sure but I think he rode a bike there. Take it away, Sweet Baby James! “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel….”
— A Dude Abikes