Many of you have already received a similar version of this. Over the next few weeks, many more will. In case my outreach doesn’t extend as far as I wish, I’m sharing my message here.
On August 6-7 I rode. For the 14th consecutive year, my resolve and commitment in this fight against multiple sclerosis peaked in a glorious Bike MS weekend. My takeaways were plentiful. Most important, however, was the single driving message I learned so long ago: Never Stop… Never Quit…
Please review this event report, covering some of my most precious highlights. Afterward, please consider a strong donation of support for my 2016 fundraising efforts: main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/EMBK.
After final preparations on Friday, I trekked down to Monmouth, OR to greet the arriving members of Team Amulet. 25 riders joined Brie, Eleanor, and me this year on our team. Though a bit smaller than some past years, the mix still blended every aspect of our lives: friends, family, neighbors, co-workers (both old and new), as well as new found connections. After site set-up and some short Friday celebrations, I settled for the night in preparation of a long day Saturday.
Definitely the most important claim to stake was the fact that I pushed, dragged, and cursed my failing body out on Saturday morning to tackle the course. I had more than my fair share of support getting me out, from my fellow rider helping me wrap a bike glove over my cramped and knotted left hand, to Brie strapping my bike shoes, to the group of fellow riders helping me ease my body down into my recumbent trike. It’s humbling to need such support for basic tasks, but he fact that I never even have to ask is a most amazing thing. My friends know my limitations, even better than I do or will admit, and they are there waiting to help…
I lifted my leg to lock my shoe into its clip, effectively strapping down a limb that provides little pedal power these days. I finally felt ‘at home’. There are few places my body feels completely at ease these days, but this is one. The only close comparison I can share is that elation I felt every time I climbed into a helicopter seat (way back when). Just being there make everything better; pain, cramping, numbness, and tingling symptoms, normally ever-present, seem to drift away when I ease into my trike. I know they’ll return, but just not now. Maybe that’s one reason I enjoy these moments even more!
All my body was able do this day was the short, flat route of 18 miles. I rode with fellow-Amulets Brie, Sue, and Tommi on the course. Like an energetic little puppy, I’d often burst ahead a bit, then slow down to circle back and rejoin my team. On occasion I would have grand thoughts of extending my course or tackling some hills of the longer routes. That wasn’t going to happen this year. A few seasons ago, I rode the 100-mile ‘century route’ and tackled the 4,500’+ of elevation. The satisfaction of 18 miles and 150’+ of elevation would have to suffice this year. Strangely enough…it was still truly exhilarating!
The greatest part of Saturday was near the end. After an incredible ride, relaxation, and celebration with our 600+ Bike MS family, we were treated to an outdoor movie showing in the early evening. To kick off the night’s theatre, all the children in attendance gathered up front, where I read them the story of My MS and E.
As I read our story, Eleanor flipped through the pages for the huddled group. The story is kind of like memorization of West Point Plebe Knowledge by now, as I can easily recite the tale backwards and forwards on command! That gave me the chance instead to stare into all the young faces present and relish in their wonderment. All I could thing was “Here I am reading a story to this adorable group of children, my words echoing across the campground to the whole group in attendance. I’m telling a story that’s a tale of my own personal fears and struggles; a story that I’ve now published for all the world to read!” That’s a world away from anything I’ve ever experienced before. Nothing compares to that moment. I never expected to ever feel this level of emotion reading a simple children’s story.
Sunday morning threatened to take the wind out of my sails as a building pain in my knees added to my standard array of ailments. I wasn’t looking forward to the ‘Victory Ride’ either. The day’s events started out with a 1-mile loop around the camp perimeter road, completed by 57 riders this year who battle MS. The I Ride With MS stage is a thank you to all supporters, as well as a motivation to us fighting.
Writing is easy for me, as I can hide behind my keyboard and share my emotions, thoughts, feelings, and fears. This short ride puts me out in front of everyone. I fear the display and often considered passing on the moment. I’m so glad I did not!
I rode with Bonnie Iglesias and Michael Braem for the loop. If you ever need to find inspiration and motivation, look no further than Bonnie and Michael. When I met them, some 9 years ago, neither could ride. Walking was a chore barely experienced, yet they continue to fight. They never let obstacles hinder the effort to gain and do more. As we rode, I watched them. I reminded myself over and over: if Bonnie and Michael can make such an effort to do this, I owe it to them, my family, my supporters, and me to try…to work just as hard.
Every once in a while, I need my own series of reminders as to why I fight and why I need to push further. Bike MS reminds me that the fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found.
I will do my best to put my fight into words, and share the need, value, losses, and victories of life with MS. Your support and donations will help us find that cure. Please support my fight. main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/EMBK
The fight is not over and it won’t be over until a cure is found.
It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we ride…write…fight!
Never Stop… Never Quit…®