For the 13th year, Bike MS erupted this weekend with a loud and thunderous boom. For the first year, my goal is simplified to raising money. Money will fund research; that is my last option for a healthy, active future.
Before the ride I made three commitments to my supporters. This is how I fulfilled my pledge.
In 2012, I rode the Day 1 century option (100-miles) on my trike, despite brutal 103⁰ heat. I also rode the 2-day Seattle-to-Portland ride a month later. In three years, secondary progressive MS has torn my body to pieces.
I clipped into my trike Saturday morning as early as possible, to avoid the heat of another triple digit ride, determined to stay there until I rode as far as my body would allow. I was planning on 64-miles, wanted to do 81, but hoped I could do 33. After 1 mile, I wasn’t sure if even that was possible. My left side has suffered most of the damage from the effects of my MS over the last few years. Weakness, loss of function, and spasms in my leg and arm are normal. Up until that first mile, I had hoped for a bit more energy that morning.
One leg is badly battered and bruised, but at least my other is still bent! Riding a recumbent uses a muscle group that is much different from pedaling regular cycles. When you develop them, you finally understand what the term 'bent legs' is really all about. My right leg was strong enough to pedal my 35-pound trike the full 33-mile route, all the while fighting resistance from my left leg. Using two rest stops to rehydrate, plus pulling over one time to stretch and ease painful spasms up that left leg, I crossed the finish line content that I gave all the effort I had.
Brie caught up and rode alongside me for the last 8 miles. At the time, she could see the struggles I was having in my left leg and arm. I was happy to have her there to guide me as my eyes rapidly lost their ability to focus. Together, we crossed the finish line in triumph. Any possible anger or resentment over my losses already faded, reinforcing my commitment that I will continue to ride!
It seems that the weaker my body becomes, my words help me feel stronger. It wasn’t too long ago when my goal was to portray a pictures of strength and determination, physically overcoming any issues my MS brought forth. Contrary to the mindset of my prior 43 years, I know that I can’t win this fight with stubbornness alone. I need the support of my community. My community, in turn, needs to understand what the struggles of those fighting MS look like, what they feel like, and what we hope for every single day of our lives.
My stories will always portray that look, feel, and hope. Until those stories turn towards a portrayal of that ultimate victory, a cure for multiple sclerosis, this is the voice in which I will continue to write!
I’ll Never Stop… Never Quit…
I passed just over 20 miles on Saturday when I reached a point where, to steal a phrase from a fellow West Point alum, I felt that hope became forlorn. My left leg was useless; there was no feeling except the aching pain deep in my ankle, which was strapped tight in a brace and clipped to the pedal so it could not escape. Its only job now was to taunt me. My arm was weak and numb, just laying across my waist. I pedaled my trike almost exclusively with one leg, while I steered with only one arm, trying desperately to focus my sight and keep myself pointed in the right direction.
Any pity or self-loathing was interrupted by my own grumbling. I caught the irony that I was tired, sore, and irritated by the challenges faced while riding; the challenges I faced BECAUSE I was riding. I still have the fortune to ride so I made a promise to not waste it.
Bike MS 2012 was my stake in the ground for “Tracking my MS”. August 4, 2012 was the measure of 100% I use to compare every day that followed. This weekend, my personal evaluation was 65%. That needs to change. Before Brie caught up with me I finalized a plan for what I need to make that change. This is my future.
Changes in my lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimen are the focus for my body. I’ll work with my doctors, physical therapists, and family on this every day. I need to remain prepared for a long fight, ensuring I maintain the strength to win.
I’ll work with Brie and Ellie, my loving family and friends, and any other resources needed to focus my mind and soul. This fight is not a fair fight. Those close to me should never again suffer the pain of unnecessary struggles. We all have better things to focus on!
I’ll work to find a treatment for my MS, and hopefully a cure for all those fighting with me. The hard part is in the hands of doctors, scientists, and research fellows. Their job is to develop those treatments, to find that cure. My job is to help raise the money they need. With your help I will Never Stop… Never Quit…
It is a fight. For approximately 2.3 million people with MS worldwide, the fight is not over and it won't be over until the cure is found.
It will never stop….nor will we
It will never quit….nor will we
This is why we ride.
Please support our fight
I welcome everyone to join me on this journey; together we will see this fight through!
* Inspiration: P.O.D., “Boom”, Atlantic , 2002