The day before I leave to meet my fellow riders. Am I ready? We shall see!
The departure day is finally here! I awoke about 0430 and finished the final packing. Of course, I had to stop by the office to pick up phone numbers and contact information for people I needed to meet along the journey. And THIS is going to be a journey!
O.K., as I arrived at the airport about 0600, plenty of time to weave my way through the lines at our tiny airport. I handed my flight information to the travel agent and, after about five minuted he said, "I can't find any record of your ticket".
I had made the reservation several months ago on-line. Given for a Sunday morning the line was growing behind me but I was oblivious to all of them!! The travel agent said, "You may need to call Travelocity". I said nothing ... I'm certain the look on my face said it all!
A Sr. Agent came by to assist the first agent, and, after a few minutes, my reservation was found. My heart started beating again!
My flight destination today was Buffalo, NY, so, what better way to go North than to fly South! To Charlotte, NC just to turn around and fly back over Roanoke at about 21,000 feet.
Charlotte to Buffalo on a fully loaded 737. I was in row 25 on a plane with 26 rows. I shared the seats with a family of five ... the parents, to young boys and a baby girl that only knew how to scream and cry! Thank goodness the flight was only 1:35 and I am deaf in one ear!
Arrived in Buffalo about 20 minutes late, but that was O.K. as my ground connection wasn't scheduled to be there until 1300. As I walked down to the baggage claim, there stood Carl and Stu ... they had left Vermont about 0415 just so I wouldn't have to wait on them!
Initially, we had planned on taking the Southern route through Canada and the States a couple times but, after seeing the lines of traffic coming back into the States, we decided to take the Northerly route around lakes Huron and Superior. This option would bring us back into the States at our starting point ... International Falls, MN.
So here I am this evening in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada at a Super 8 Motel. Out to dinner and back to bed early. Just waiting to see what adventures tomorrow may bring!
We pulled out of the Motel in Sudbury about 0730 heading for Sault St. Marie heading for our long loop around Lake Superior. As we pulled into Sault St. Marie, we stopped to get gas that cost .(.91 cents Canadian) per litre. Just under four litres per gallon. A lot more than we are paying in the States. It cost us $78 to fill the tank! It's hard to believe I used to fill up my tank for under $10. Boy, I AM getting old!
After the fill up, I took my first turn behind the wheel. As we drove past Lake Superior, we had some wonderful vistas. We stopped at Orphan Lake. A sight recommended by Stu, who had visited here about 20 years back. It was a long hike through the woods, over tree roots and stumps, rocks and other debris. For those that know me well ... you are aware walking is harder on me than riding. After about a mile or so, I turned to head back to the vehicle. Jack had also hiked out and back and joined me (or should I say he walked slow enough for me) to join him!
After we all returned to the vehicle, we decided we could not make our original destination of Thunder Bay, so we began looking for alternative places to stay. We pulled into a little lake side town, Rossport, and found a litle Bed and Breakfast to stay for the night. They also had a restaurant that served a wonderful lake trout for dinner. They provided us with a box breakfast as we were hoping to start out early the next morning.
Tomorrow we finish our drive back into International Falls, MN. I am ready to get on my bike and start riding!
OK, let me start today by thanking a few folks. I want to thank Doyle Edgerton and his crew at Rev Net for setting up this website and especially to Doyle for being patient with this "techno challenged" dinosaur! I want to thank Nancy for getting me to the airport and passing on information to Doyle needed to continue the daily upgrading of this site. I want to thank Bob Grebe and News Channel 7 for helping get out the word and also to Mark Taylor with the Roanoke Times.
A very special thanks goes out to Dan Casey, ALL the members of the BRBC and especially to the DMF's ... you know who you are! You ALL are the BEST !!!
Todays ride was anti-climactic to some degree. Driving back into the U.S. should be a wonderful experience ... and it was good. The traffic, even at this small border crossing was a little hectic, though. There were people with short tempers, trying to jump line and cut people off. Hey, have they tranported drivers from the Roanoke area to make me feel welcomed home? Not really everybody ... and there were no cyclists riding three wide in the road either. So, all you drivers, see that I took a shot at "some" cyclists too! And ALL you cyclists know that I am one of you! ;o)
So, International Falls ... I have been thinking about arriving at this place since this tour was first thought up! And here I am! I hope I don't forget the real reason I am here ... No, not just because I love to ride my bike, but, because I want to raise an awareness about Multiple Sclerosis and, hopefully, through this process, to raise a little money to continue the fight to find a cure for this disease and to raise some funds to help those local folks with M.S. that may need a helping hand at some point. So, folks, if you haven't already made a pledge for this cause, call 1/800/451-0373 and talk with someone at the Blue Ridge Chapter and make a donation today. No gift is too small or insignficant. It ALL helps !!!
I am in hopes that shortly, you may be able to go to pay pal from this website and make an on-line donation as well! I thank each of you for visiting here! even if you choose not to donate today, if you keep coming back to check out my journal, maybe you will choose to help this old, deaf, gimp who has chosen to carry the standard for this fight! If I can be committed to ride, almost 2,000 miles for this dream I have, perhaps you can share a little aid,(OK, Wingfield, call it what it is!) If you could make a financial donation to the Blue Ridge Chapter of the M.S. Society ... I would be deeply moved and honored!
For now, I am going to go for a spin on my bike and make sure it is ready for my journey. I hope you come back to this website daily and follow this trek through my words!
Well, it ended up being a late night last night as our last two riders flew into Internetional Falls, arriving just after 2330. Donn from LA and Charlie from Phoenix. Now our group was complete. Back to the motel and plans to start the day at 0830 tomorrow.
When I arrived down at the breakfast area, Donn and Charlie had already begun putting their bikes together with Carl's help. Knowing all too well my mechanical aptitude ... I went on to get some breakfast. The best I could do is stay out of their way!
I met a neat couple while I was eating my toast and donut. Bob and Marlene ... they were interested in our upcoming adventure and I even got Bob to check out the website. (*by the way ... have you noticed today's upgrades to the site?!? It is looking real cool! THANKS to Doyle and the gang at Rev Net!) Well now, Bob has promised to follow the journal as we travel along on our journey to the Gulf! Thanks Bob and Marlene!
Today we set out to ride back over into Canada to "dip our wheel" on the North side of the border so to speak. We ended up riding back to a lake not far into Canada and headed back towards our hotel ... so I thought! Our little 15 mile "spin" to get the kinks out ended up being just shy of 40 miles! You think that's not so bad, after all you're riding all the way to New Orleans! Well, when I start riding tomorrow, I will have more than one piece of toast for breakfast and carry more than a half bottle of water. In riders terms ... I bonked today. Thank goodness the judges won't be testing me tomorrow as I will be back on my prescribed meds and will eat the proper food before we take off on our 86 miloe first day to Black Duck! What a name!
And now it is time to introduce you to my fellow riders: first there is Carl, a "Coder" from Cape Cod. A real one and not a transplanmt! A big guy with a heart of gold and a true friend. I first met up with Carl when I rode L.A. to Boston in 2002. He joined our tour for almost two weeks that year as he had ridden the enitre tour the previous year. It wasn't until his last couple days that we started riding together and just "clicked". We have gone on several rides since then. In 2004, he put together a 12 day, 850 mile tour of all the New England States and into Canada and last year he joined us on the Bike and Barge Tour in Holland.
Next there is Donn ... with two NN's. To tell the truth, Donn and I didn't click when we first rode together on the Cross Country tour in '02. He had this "EFI" hat and would run his mouth when wearing it. EFI meant Every F***** Inch, and it had been my dream to ride EFI but the desert heat on day 4 from Blyth, CA to Wickenburg, AZ, had forced my body to literally shut down and I had to SAG the last 20 miles. I had NEVER experienced such heat as that day! Well, to make a long story much shorter, I have ridden several times with Donn since that day and we have become friends. And we shall remain friends as long as he NEVER brings out that "EFI" hat in my presence again!
Then there is Charlei fron Phoenix, AZ. I also met Charlie on the '02 ride but he was there in the desert waiting that day with a vehicle and cold drinks ... an angel in the desert is what he was for me! That was the first time I litterally fell off my bike that hot and arrid day. He set me in his vehicle and gave me a cold beverage. A true oasis in the desert! I tought I could start riding again and after a few more miles, I once again feel off my bike and he then drove me to our support vehicle. Charlie also rode with us in New England in '04. A real good guy!
Next, the one and only female in our group, Barb, from Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I also met Barb during our Crossroads Adventure in '02. We rode many miles and days together and I look forward to riding with her again this year. She says she hasn't been riding much but after todays "spin", I know it will make me get in good shape, like it did in '02, just to keep up with her!
Next there os Stu, also a Coder. This is the first time I have met Stu but, from what I have seen so far, he is a really neat guy. He has done lots of traveling and lots of "wilderness" type acitvities. He is in incredible shape and will be 62 in just a short while! Stu is riding with us to St. Louis but I am hoping he can make the whole tour! I'll keep you posted on that.
And now there is Jack. A "rock solid" kinda guy. If he is your friend, he will be there no matter what. He has already shown that side of himself to me. As he "waited" for me during the hike from Orphan Lake the other day and at other times, he just seems to be "keeping" an eye out on this old gimp. Jack is retired from the military after 23 years of service and then another 12 or so years in the private sector. He is our primary SAG driver but plans on logging in as many miles as he can ... and I'm sure he will!
Well, in short that is our group ... of course ther is this old, deaf, gimp that you may have already read some stuff about on this site. It is a good group and I look forward to the journey, getting to renew friendships with some while making new friends along the way. As I have said ... Life is good for me! And these journeys are times I will never forget ... along with my many friends and supporters back at home ... Thanks to each of you for being there for me !!! I will see you before too long but until then ... come back tomorrow and see how our our first days journey went ... International Falls to Black Duck ... about 86 miles and the weather is supposed to ne good !!! Until tomorrow ...
Today is a whole new story and I will get into that in a minute. First, I need to say "hello" to a few more folks I have met along the way. Last night in International Falls, as we returned from dinner, there was a man standing at the front desk as we walked in. He spun around and asked, "Are you the cyclists?"
His name was Paul and he runs marathons. He was interested in our cycling journey down the Mississippi so we chatted a while. I gave him this web site address and told him I would say "Hello". I hope you get to ride cross country some day, Paul, it really had a long term effect on my life!
This morning at breakfast, I was determined to have a proper meal and not "bonk" like I did on yesterday's little spin! After all, we are looking at an 86+ mile ride today! Jane was our waitress and she did a wonderful job looking after us. We shared a bit about our ride and told her I would say "hello" today! Thanks for the great service and I hope you follow our journey down the Mississippi!
As we rolled into Black Duck this afternoon ... we were ALL whipped! The hostess that greeted us was, Kia (sorry if it is not spelled right). She was lively and showed a lot of energy. Something none of us had at the moment. We talked breifly about our ride and I told her I would say "Hello" to her as well tonight!
So, you see, you get to meet lots of interesting folks on this journey. A chance for me to spread the word and raise awareness about my cause ... to one day end the devastating effects of M.S.
Next, before I start with todays journal, I want to ask each of you viewing this sight to do me a favor... I am starting a new campaign ... "It Takes Two" PLEASE, if you would, share this website address with just two people you may have on your e-mail list. Anywhere in the U.S. or abroad and ask them to pass it along to two more people as well! You see, part of my journey is to raise awareness about Muyltiple Sclerosis. And I need your help! I'm not asking for donations, mind you, (but I wouldn't turn them down if you did!) I just want to get the word spread as far and wide as I can. And I can't do it alone! I need your help! And please feel free to share it with more than two peopla, if you'd like!
Now, to today's ride ... I could describe it as fairly flat with only 700 feet of elevation climbed today. I could say the roads were well paved with nice wide shoulders for riding on. I could say the traffic was light and wonderful at ALL times when passing ... and each of those statements would be true and accurate. But, today's word is WIND !!! The roads we traveled were fairly flat with NO major climbs at all and on another day we could have ridden this ride in just over four hours with no problems. But, we had a head wind from the Southwest ALL day long. A constant wind with gusts! We were all wore out by the time we arrived. A hot shower and I still didn't feel "revived". I don't want any alcohol ... maybe a good meal and lots of sleep before we haed out and start it all over tomorrow morning! Only about 65 miles tomorrow and I'm not sure which way the wind will be blowing! Not sure where our destination is tomorrow but, I know we go through Bemidji and get to see Paul Bunyon and Babe ... True to life size I hear too! We also go by Lake Itasca ... the head waters of the Mississippi River. I hear that one can actually stradle the Mississippi River at that point! Should make an interesting photo! So, tune back in tomorrow for that story!
Now, I want to take the last paragraph during each day to thank different people and/or groups that have helped me get to where I am today ... So, my first group recognition will be the "DMF's". They are the folks that met me at 6:00 p.m. each night this past winter at Patrick Henry High School parking lot and rode with me ... no matter what the temperature ... as long as it was dry. Each of these folks are far better riders than I am but, they ALWAYS made sure not to drop me or leave me behind. They have even given me a "DMF" name ... WKK or Who Killed Kenny ... from South Park fame! Anyway, my sincere thanks go to each and everyone of them! YOU ARE THE BEST !!!
O.K., you'll have to come back tomorrow now and see who gets "thanked" tomorrow for being a part or influence to me!
And don't forget to share this site with your friends !!! See you tomorrow !!!
Hello! Sorry I didn't get to make my journal entry last night. I was at a motel in Park Rapids,MN and after I typed and edited the days journal and then submitted it ... it flew off somewhere into cyber space! Several folks tried to retrieve it to no avail! I then went to dinner and tried once again to make an entry but half way through ... it disappeared as well. Once, maybe I goofed but twice ... oh well, what can I say. I will try to catch you up on the 8th right now!
Yesterday we finished our ride in 80+ degree temperatures with nasty head winds all day long that even took a toll on our strongest riders. This morning, the temperatures were in the low 40's but at least the wind has backed off. It is even a good chance it will be at our backs today!
We pulled out of the motel in Black Duck at 0700. the wind, as promised, was favorable and we made very good time riding to Bimidji, MN. This is the home of Paul Bunyon and his blue ox, Babe. They even have large statues of them in the center of town. As we rode through town and stopped to take photos, I realized that my high dollar throw away camera was out of film! Oh well, you'll just have to take mt word that I was there.
We then rode on to Itasca State Park ... where the head waters of the Mississippi River originate. We had some great group photos taken as we all stood on a plank that spanned the Mississippi River at that point ... all 25 feet of it! A far cry from the BIG river we will be seeing much of during this journey!
I spent the afternmoon riding to Park Rapids, MN with two of our group, Barb from Minnesota and Stu from Cape Cod. Stu had a very hard time riding with me though as he can not ride as slowly as I do! So, Barb and I(mostly Barb) fought the headwinds to out nights destination. About eight miles out from town, Jack rode out to meet us on his bike and "tow" us back into town.
As I said earlier, after loosing my first attempt at entering the journal, we went to dinner ... and was I hungry! All I had eaten since breakfast was a banana and part of a power bar ... hardly enough. I had prime rib ... a generous portion with a baked potato and salad. WONDERFUL! And Jack got some "mud pie" for dessert and let me have 1/2 and that was a great way to end the meal!
So, now is when I made the second attempt to make my journal entry. The night clerk, Deb, even tried to find the entry the second time it disappeared but had no luck. Thanks for trying, anyway! And Deb has had some issues with M.S. over the years too. So she was very interested in the story and will now follow the journal down the Mississippi with us!
O.K., remember in Thursday's journal I asked that you share this website with at least two other people? I thank you because I know that many of you have already done that! And if you haven't, it's not to late to do it right now! As I have said, this sight id trying to raise awarness about the disease and hopefully some funds as well to help find the cure!
And now, today my thanks for support go to the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. These folks have been there supporting this cause for a number of years and have even had a team in the annual MS-150 rides for at least 15 years! And, when they found out I was doing this ride as a fund raiser for the M.S. Society ...they rallied around and raised over $1,700 for the cause! My thanks go to each of you for your support and encouragement! I will see you in about one month!
Tune in tomorrow for another entry in the on going "cycle" of my journey down the Mississippi River!
Wow, I just bit my tongue as I tried to enter yesterday's entry and it at first said there was "no response" from Rev Net. I hit the retry button and it took it the second time! Hooray !!!
Now I can continue with today's ride from Park Rapids, MN to Brainard, MN ... a ride that is scheduled to be about 81+ miles.
Carl awoke very early today ... 0500. The time we have been getting up but my body is physically exhausted, and it's only day two! I guess my body isn't as young as it used to be ... thank goodness my brain has never listened to my body! As I slowly ... and I mean very slowly. forced myself out of bed and into my cycling clothes for today. The weather channel indicates it is not even 40 degrees this morning ... so, I guess I will be in tights today.
After a decent breakfast of a waffle with butter and syrup, english muffin with butter and jelly, two hard boiled eggs a donut, orange juce and coffee ... I was ready to head outside. By the way, one of my favorite side effects of cycling, if you hadn't noticed, is eating anything and everything I want!
The sun was just peaking over the horizon as we went outside about 0650. It was very cool but at least the wind was down. We pulled out of the parking lot right at 0700 and headed east, toward the sun. The first part of the day was uneventful as we spun down desolate back country roads with some very spectacular sights. The many lakes of this area had a hazy white mist or cloud hanging close to the water. This mist would soon burn off as the sun rose higher in the sky.
Stu and Barb took off ... I couldn't have kept up with them even if I had wanted to! The rest of us kept spinning along. I was left there with Carl, Donn, Charlie and Jack. Were they riding slower because of me? Quite possibly but, no one complained at all. Jack rode out with us about 20 miles this morning and then he turned back to Park Rapids and get the vehicle.
Donn, Carl and Chalie stopped right at 25 miles into the ride to take off some of their excess clothing and take a short break. I kept spinning along as I figured this would allow them the opportunity to ride faster and catch me! About 9 miles later, Carl caught up with me and pulled me along for about 2 1/2 more miles before Charlie and Donn caught up as well. We met up with Barb again at the head of the Paul Bunyon Trail. A paved trail from that point all the way to our destiantion town Brainard. MN ... for a distance of 39 miles. A reclaimed rail to trail which was virtually flat the entire distance!
We stopped in Two Pines, MN at a nice little restaurant that advertised Hungarian Mushroom soup. We each had a bowl and several slices of some delicious homemade bread. Definitely a good stop! As we were exiting the restaurant, we ran into a group of ladies entering. They seemed a bit quizical about this group of older guys in their funny outfits, so we had to speak. We let them know about our journey to New Orleans and the gulf. I offered the address of my journal so they could follw our adventures. One of the ladies said she would tell her students and I assured her it was a child friendly sight! Hello to you ladies! It was a pleasure running into you! And if your students check out the sight ... let's have fun and follow this old guy down the Mississippi! Maybe one day you may want to try this trip too!
So now here I am in Btainard, MN. Sitting here and sharing todays highlights. I hope you will continue to come back and read about this old dreamers adventures! I guess I'm like a 50 year old Huck Finn!
And my thanks for support and encouragement for today go to my co-workers and friends at the Poff Federal Building. To everyone in the Probation Office from the support staff, clerks, officers and managment, my thanks for your continued support! To everyone in the clerk's office, thanks for your help, friendship and support and to Judge and your staff, thanks Boss! And thanks for the dinner the other night ... I owe you! Take care everyone and I look forward to seeing you when I return!
Ciao for now ... it's time to go eat !!! ;o)
Hello from the cold tundra of Minnesota! Not really that cold but compared to the temperatures of just a few days ago ... it's pretty chilly! This morning it was once again in the lower 40's as we left out of the motel. We could see the sun just peaking over the horizon as the moon was still high in the sky. We were joined by a friend of Donn's today, John, who lives in St. Cloud, our destination for the evening.
First, I have to make a comment about our accomodations for last night ... the Econo Lodge in Brainerd, MN. If you're ever in town, please try to find another place to stay. I won't go into details but I'm glad that wasn't on our rest day!
This morning's ride, although a little cool, was turning into a beautiful day. The sun was bright and the country roads we traveled had very few automobiles. It was a gently rolling countryside with mostly farms on both sides of the road. Our ride today was scheduled to be about 63 miles, far shorter than our first three days ... and my backside was glad for that! We stopped at a small restaurant and had a "second" breakfast about 10:30 and then returned to our journey.
As we left the restaurant, our sunny skys had turned cloudy and the wind was beginning to pick up. On the road down the highway, our group once again got split in half. Donn, Charlie, Stu and John in one group with Carl, Barb and myself riding in the "slower" one. As the winds picked up, they, as almost always is the case, were at times in our face while at other times, a brisk crosswind. Still we pressed on. In the distance, the clouds appeared as though rain was imminent. The trusty Weather Channel had shown showers around Minneapolis today, a bit farther south than we were planning for todays ride. We did hit a few light sprinkles on our way into St. Cloud but the rain held off until after we arrived.
The hotel we are staying at this evening is the Best Western Kelly Inn in downtown St. Cloud. It is far nicer than the other places we have previously stayed. Although, I must say, I have been quite happy with our previous lodgings except for ... Anyway, we arrived here today around 1400. Almost one or two hours earlier than I am accustomed to arriving. Time to wash clothes, type my journal and get in a litle rest before dinner.
There is some confution about tomorrow's plans, and possibly Tuesdays. We were set to have a rest day around St. Paul but most of the group wants to "save" that rest day for a poterntial foul weather day somewhere down the road. I was suposed to meet up with some of the folks with the local M.S. Chapter but will now just have to settle with a phone call and a brief meeting, if they are available. Disappointing for me in someways but I can understand the concerns about the weather.
I also need to let you know that I do have an e-mail address that you can reach me at with any comments, suggestions or just to say hello! It is email@example.com I promise I will respond to each and every e-mail but it may take some time ... so please be patient with any e-mails you may send.
O.K., my thank you for this evening goes to the local Blue Ridge Chapter of the M.S. Society! Those folks work long and hard hours and, at times, don't get the credit they deserve! I, for one, am most appreciative of the job they do! I will mention Fay Painter's name as she is the Chapter President. I am NOT trying to cut out on all the others, I would just be remiss if I failed to mention all of the names! So here's to you guys !!! CHEERS !!!
I am now on my way to have some dinner. Not sure where just yet but I'm certrain I will clean my plate! So, until tomorrow, take care and continue to share this site with others. I passed the site out to at least five or six people today ... so, hello to the new visitors! Have a good evening and come back tomorrow! It should be an interesting day!
St. Cloud to St. Paul, MN. A ride that brings us back into the "metropolitan" areas of Minnesota. But before I go into today's events, I need to spend a little time acknowledging a few people. As you may be aware, I now have an e-mail site where you can reach me firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from any of you! I promise I will respond to all of you ASAP, but it may take a few days.
Yesterday, I recieved my first e-mail from an old friend that I went to elementary, Jr. and Sr. High School with, Marty Martin. We go way back! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for the journey.
Today I spoke with Emily Wilson of the Minnesota Chapter of the M.S. Society. Originally, we were scheduled to have a rest day in Minneapolis but the group decided to save the rest day in case of bad weather or rain should come our way. It was great to talk with Emily but I was disappointed we weren't able to meet. She says she will be following our journey as we ride to the gulf.
I also met a couple of people I said I would say hello to ... Lynn was our waitress at the Cornerstone Cafe in Montecello, MN. A good cup of coffee about 30 miles into our ride. We met another woman about 62 miles into our ride at the PDQ Convinience Store just north of Minneapolis. We shared a bit of our adventure and I gave her my website to check out.
So, for now we have left the more rural parts of Minnesota. Lots more traffic ... more today than we have seen the past four days combined! We checked and rechecked today's route many times last night and thought it best to avoid downtown Minneapolis, a city with a population over 3 million people.
Some of the roads we took may have appeared more "bicycle friendly" on the map than in reality. One of the roads was like Roanoke's I-581. We had no other options at the moment and we certainly couldn't turn around with cars, trucks and tractor trailers running at least 65mph just a couple feet from our bikes! Thank goodness that madness only lasted about 1 1/2 miles.
However, there were some nicer areas we rode through. One road took us by a huge horse farm with beautiful horses and colts running through the pasture.
Unfortunately, those roads became two lane highways with little or no sholder. And this was about the time the local schools were letting out with those big yellow school buses speeding right by us. Fortunately, we were able to arrive at our destination safely ... the Best Western White Bear in St. Paul. Unbelievably, this was the first motel we stayed at that did not have "public" computer access. I'm glad Carl had his lap top computer and was able to let me use it after he finished tonight.
And now for today's thank you ... this past weekend the Blue Ridge Chapter of the M.S. Society had their annual respite camp at Smith Mountain Lake for M.S.ers and their familes to get away for a couple days and just relax! Darren Ball, with the local Chapter, called me today and let me know that at the worship service held on Sunday, the group took up a donation and decided to donate the collection toward this ride's fund raising effort! It greatly moves me to be supported by my friends within this Chapter! My heart goes out to each of you and know this ... I am riding for each of you!!! Please keep our group of cyclists in your thoughts and prayers as we continue our journey to the Gulf. I hope to see each of you before too long and thank you personally!
Tomorrow, we head into our second State, Wisconsin. We will be staying in the town of Waubeshau. Come back later and check out how our Tuesday went!
Until then ... keep it in the road and I will try to do the same!
Hello everyone or as my good mate from New Zealand always says "G'day!" I first want to say hello to several of my co-workers back in Roanoke that sent out some words of encouragment yesterday ... Mike P., Annie M., Donna "Dollie" C. and Mike B. ... THANKS to each of you! And if I forgot someone ... it is unintentional! I hope you all have a good training session at SML the rest of the week! Also, good to hear from you again, Marty. Also heard from Paul, a new friend I met in International Falls the day before this journey began.
And now on to today's ride. We left Minnesota today to ride about 25 miles in Wisconsin before returning to Wabasha, MN for our overnight. I think Wisconsin must be native Indian meaning "long hills with head winds"! We have experienced some hills thus far but today's hills were just short of a Category Climb in the Tour de France! Not to worry, I have a "triple" on my bike and am not opposed to using the "granny" gear. Let's just say granny and I became good friends today!
Leaving St. Paul this morning became quite a challenge. The bike trail was shut down due to construction and we had to "improvise" our exit on the the streets during the morning rush hour traffic. What should have taken no more than five miles and thirty minutes ended up with over 10 miles and more than one hour before we entered less traveled roads. Carl and Barb were at odds at one point but it did not come to any "blows". They have "resolved" that issue and everyone appears happy at this time.
We made two good stops today. Our first was in Prescott, WI, just after coming into the State. We found a small coffee shop and had hot chocolate and the biggest cinamon bun I have ever seen! Let's just say all seven of us left that place with a "sugar" buzz which we needed within 10 minutes of leaving there. Please refer to the previous paragraph and my discussion of those hills! Let's also say that next to granny, that sugar high was my second best friend today!
The second stop we made today was at a local hamburger drive-in somewhere in a small Wisconsin town. It was a classic drive-in right out of American Graffiti. And the food was good enough to carry us the rest of the way to our destination tonight. By now, you may be noticing that very many of my "special moments" revolve around food. It is a requirement for cycling ... "ride to eat...eat to ride".
And just so you don't think all I do is complain about the hills ... that's just not true! Because I KNOW for every up hill, there is also a most wonderful down hill to experience. I often tell people, "I am a down hill specialist!" There were also some good flat runs too where five of us formed a pace line running from 19-21 mph for what seemed like miles, each of us rotating our turn pulling on the front of the line. Lots of fun!
And let's see, who do I want to thank and remember today? There is a group of people that many years ago, our lives crossed almost daily ... not all of us were close friends then but have developed into a kind of close knit group. I am referring to my High School graduating class of 1974 from Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke. We had our 30th reunion several years ago and thanks to Wanda M., who keeps us "connected" via the internet, many folks have "renewed" old friendships that had gone by the side over the years. To any or each of you that may be following my journey ... I wish you my best! Several of the class have gone out of the way and have contributed to the M. S. Society in honor of folks they know who have M.S. I thank you! Take care, God bless and we need to get together again real soon! Say, sometime after I get back to town! Get in touch with Wanda, she the catalyst behind our class. And, by the way, Wanda has M.S. and she is one of the people that I am riding in honor af as well!
So, tomorrow we have another 70+ mile day from Wabasha, MN to La Crosse, WI. And then we will have a day of rest! My body is getting weary and I am looking forward to that day! Now it's time for dinner! YEAP ... food again! I wish you well and will see you tomorrow!
As the television show, "That 70's Show" says, "Hello Wisconsin!" We returned to Wisconsin today after a brief ride through the State yesterday. So, we said good-bye to Minnesota for the last time this morning. It was a good visit, but we must be rolling on!
I first need to say hello to a few folks that have sent me e-mails, a co-worker Poe C., a long time friend, Don A., my brother, Gary and his daughter, Becky and Nancy has e-mailed me several times as well. Thanks for your support and words!
When we left Wabasha, MN about 0710 this morning, it was just turning a bit light as there was a heavy fog hanging close to the ground. We were fortunate to be starting out on a road that had a wide and paved shoulder with minimal debris. I must say that, as we leave Minnesota, I have seen less broken glass on these roads than I have ever seen on the roads in any State in which I have ridden. And the traffic was completely bicycle friendly. I only heard one car horn my entire time on a bike in this State.
We made good time riding this morning as we probably climbed less than 500 feet total today. After about 31 miles, we stopped for a hot chocolate and a bagel just before crossing the Mississippi River one more time again. We stopped on the bridge and took several photos of the sites from it's pinnicle. The river we once stood above on a 25 foot plank is now over 1/4 mile wide ... just a fraction of its size we will be encountering in just a couple more weeks.
As we rolled on down Route 35 in our five person pace line, we once again were making good time. We were even experiencing some tail wind to help push us along our way. Our only stop the rest of the way was at a nice rest area next to one of the Mississippi's many tributaries. Jack caught up with us with the truck after he had ridden out with us this morning and reurned for the vehicle. He brought us gatorade, bananas and fig newtons to fuel our bodies for the last twenty or so miles left in the day.
The roads once again became a bit congested as we were heading back into more populated areas. With one last look at the map, we headed in the direction we thought would carry us to our over night destination. We chose right, as we approached, Jack had already driven to our hotel and returned on his bicycle to guide us all safely to our nights home. And it will be our home for two nights as we rest tomorrow.
And now my thank you for today goes to a varied group of individuals ... my Dr's that help keep this old body "ticking"! My familiy physician, Dr. Mitchell who is glad I'm still out here getting as much out of this body as I can. Dr. Hormel, my neurologist (M.S. Dr.) who also likes that I keep on going. Dr. Kirkpatrick, my radiation oncologist at Duke University Medical Center, who I go back to see just over a week after I return home. And a special thank you to Dr. Thomas Vail, also at DUMC, who replaced my right hip on July 18, 2005. Since that time I have ridden over 7,000 miles ... certainly more than I ever expected I would have ridden and probably more than he thought I would be riding! But it is working well! My thanks to each of you! I hope I can keep you in business for years to come!
And once again, I want to encourage you to pass this site along to someone you believe may like to follow this trek to the Gulf! It is being done for so much more than my personal pleasure ... it is to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis and, hopefully, to raise a little money to further research to find a cure and to help those in the Blue Ridge Chapter with any special needs that may come about as a result of their diagnosis.
Finding a cure for M.S. is more than just the dream of one person. There are so many people that have been effected by this potentially dibilitating disease. Not just those that have been diagnosed, but also to the families and caregivers. If you know someone that has M.S., be it a friend, acquantance, co-worker, family memeber or your self ... contact the M.S. Chapter today at 1/800/451-0373 and help make a differance by making a pledge. No gift is too small if we all pitch in and help!
I thank you for visiting this site! Just because I have a rest day tomorrow ... "rest" assured I will be back here tomorrow with news of what ever happens on my day off the bike!
Welcome back! I hope you are having a good day! As you may be aware, this is our first rest day and I have been taking full advantage of this opportunity. I slept until almost 0800, went to breakfast, did some laundry and repacked my suitcase, rode down to a local bike shop (in a car), had a little lunch and topped it of with a nap this afternoon! So you see, I HAVE had a restful day!
The weather here today is absolutely gorgeous! I wish we were riding today. Tomorow may be another story. I understand from my trusty advisor, aka: The Weather Channel, that the winds are going to be 10-20 mph tomorrow and, of course, are slated to be in our face! The ride is only supposed to be around 65 miles but we shall see how it goes!
I once again want to remind evryone that you can e-mail me if you like at email@example.com and I will respond. It is fun hearing from family, old friends and new friends I have met along my way. Many folks have let me know that they are sharing the site with their friends and hopefully, they may pass it on too!
Today, I want to thank everyone I am riding with. Carl, Donn, Charlie, Barb, Stu and Jack! They are a great bunch of people. Each of us are very different in our own ways but, when it gets down to making sure everyone is safe and not left behind ... we are of one accord. It is amazing to see how the bonds and connections form on trips like these. We become very much like a "family" and those ties carry over. I am lucky to have this group riding with me.
And I am also very lucky to have YOU following me on this journey! This is an important event. I am hoping folks become more aware of what Multiple Sclerosis is, how it effects people and that those of us with M.S. are just as "normal" as the next person. It is not a disease to be feared, it is not contagious, and most people with M.S. just want to be treated like the person next door. As we were once taught; "Treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated yourself".
So, having stepped down from my "pulpit", I wish for each of you a special evening and until we meet tomorrow ... stay safe!
It has been a good day ... a ride that started off with a wonderful flat road, nice shoulders, limited debris and fairly decent traffic ... after we made our way through downtown La Crosse. You'd think a town less than half the size of Roanoke would be easily navigated and, to a certain degree it was, however, the roads in town did not have a shoulder for cycling so we spent part of our time on the streets and part on the sidewalks that were wide enough and well groomed enough to ride on. Not an entirely unpleasant experience though. I was on my bike realizing another dream and continuing to confirm (to myself mostly) that I am not ready for the "pasture" just yet!
I would like to say hello to several people I met today and shared a bit of this odyssey with. First, there was Kale, our waitress during breakfast at the Best Western in La Crosse, WI. She did a great job looking after us this morning ... thank you and I hope you follow our journey to the gulf. Next, there was Kelly, who we met at our lunch break in a small, but very friendly town about 20 miles North of Praire Du Chein. She was very friendly as she put up with all the antics of our group! She doesn't have a computer but said she would find one to check out our trip. And then there was Wendy, the manager of the AmericInn in Praire Du Chein. Her husband has had hip problems for a number of years and she has a friend here in town with M.S., she appeared touched by the story. Although, to me it's not really a story ...it's just my life and I have never enjoyed it from the "sidelines".
Today's ride had a special appeal to all of us. As we were riding down the road, we had the bluffs to our left and the Mississippi on our right. Between our road and the river was probably the busiest railroad line I have ever seen. Frieght trains were running in both directions about every 10-15 minutes. You could hear their loud whistles blowing from a couple miles away as they would sound their crossing a side road. As a kid, I remember the trains would blow their horns at us when we waived. But now, I suppose they are restricted from doing that. Or maybe they were just ignoring Donn as he waived frantically at each train.
We had our closest, almost incident, today ... and I was right in the middle of it. We were alternating pulling our group of five along this afternoon and it was my turn on the front. The headwinds had really begun to pick up after our lunch stop and we were all glad they didn't begin this morning! As I was starting to climb a short and steep hill, with the winds in our face, it seemed to my legs that I was pedaling with the brakes on and someone holding me back. Donn was immediately behind me and I began to move left to let him take the pull. Just as I pulled left, Carl, who is a stronger rider and better climber than most in our group had pulled up on my left. Startled by that, I jerked my bike back to the right and almost ran Donn off the road. Thank goodness he was alert enough to holler and maintain control. We stopped shortly after that to "re-group" as I believe it "rattled" most of our group. I did not feel comfortable the rest of the way into town. I was glad it was only a few miles left. The group, however, would not let me "fall off" the pace line and we all maintained a more leisurely pace, as the wind allowed, into the town.
Now, we have tomorrow to look forward to. We head into our third State, Iowa, and are scheduled to be in Dubuque tomorrow evening. There is some potential rain on the way, so we will be watchful for that.
Today, I to say thanks you to all the new friends I have made since this journey began over one week ago in International Falls ... up to and including my new friends met today. It is a constant source of encouragement talking with people that either know someone with M.S. and hearing their stories. I wish I had time to share them all.
Well, friends, this is the end of my story ... just for today. I know we will have more for tomorrow. So please come back! And, if you care, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org I will respond! I wish you well until our next gathering.
Hello from our home for the night, Dubuque, IA, our third State in our journey to the gulf! First, I need to do a little updating about the site. Originally, donations could be made on-line through Pay Pal. That has changed now. On-line donations will go through the M.S. Society's e-pledge instead. Not to worry, ALL donations made on-line through Pay Pal WILL be forwarded to the M.S. Society. It was just determined by my computer "gurus" that making the payments through e-pledge cut out some of the logistical "red tape". So, I thank you for your support ... emotionally and financially.
Next, I need to "back pedal" a bit ... last night we were at the AmericInn in Praire Du Chein, WI. Wendy, the manager, after hearing the story, placed a placard in the lobby welcoming "Kenny and his Friends" and told a bit about our ride. It was getting toward evening, but she put a fishbowl up on the check-in desk and by the end of the evening, they had collected $41 dollars for the M.S. Society! She also had the over night clerk have the breakfast set up an hour early so we could leave at 0700 to beat the weather and wind! Thank you, Wendy and your staff for making us feel so welcome! By the way, it was the BEST breakfast we have had since starting the tour!
Now for the days journey ... it began with little fanfare. We were leaving Wisconsin today and heading to our third State on our journey, Iowa! Dubuque, in fact. What we didn't count on was the dramatic change in climbing we would face today. We had become use to fairly flat roads with roads having wide shoulders while in Wisconsin. And while the shoulder remained constant, we did say good-bye to the flat roads.
As we did our slow climb out of Praire Du Chein, the winds were light and constant ... in our face. We made it to the last little border town along the river after about 30 miles of riding and stopped for a coffee. We then had an unexpected pleasure ... we rode a ferry across the Mississippi River to get into the State of Iowa.
And let me tell you, we knew we were immidiately in another State, almost another world! After getting off the ferry, we had to travel almost two miles on a dirt road before we ever reached a paved roadway! And just as we reached the "hard surface", there it was in front of us ... our first "real" hill in days! So, with a little grumbling from the peanut gallery, we attacked our first hill! You know, for a State that isn't supposed to have any mountain ranges, I was aware of, this hill could have equaled any climb out of Roanoke ... even "the wall"!
And it wasn't just one hill, it was hill after hill after hill ... I actually lost count. And one thing that gets to me more than long climbs is a constant head wind! Well, today, we had BOTH! At the same time! Discouraging to say the least! But, we all did them !!! You know it's a bad day when you are pedaling down hill and only able to reach speeds of 13-14 mph!
About 15 miles out of Dubuque, we stopped at the oldest bar in Balltown,Iowa and had some lunch. Get this, I was almost too tired to even eat! But we all had some good food and we finished our ride into town. we were promised the big hills were behind us! I was very glad! But we still had the wind to contend with! Our little group of five just kept pushing into town.
And my thank you today is for a couple different people ... first, I need to specifically thank Wendy and her staff at AmericInn in Praire Du Chein, WI. They went so far out of their way to accomodate us and look after us! It was above and beyond any other hotel we have stayed at! And I also want to thank Doyle Edgerton and Rev Net for contiuing to find ways to upgrade and improve this site! He could have just thrown something together and said, "Here it is". But, that is not Doyle. He has followed this journal and is constanly looking to improve this site. I couldn't have put it together without him and his crew!
So tomorrow we go to Clinton, IA. It's only slated for 59 miles but no one has any idea about the terrain or the weather. And you know what, it really doesn't matter because we are all committed to this ride and will perservere to its end! So, come back tomorrow and see just what this crew gets into! Thanks for reading my journal and for passing this site along to others! I will see you again tomorow!
Happy Sunday, everyone! We slept late this morning. We didn't get up until 0530! There was no rush as the Holiday Inn in Dubuque did not have our usual contiental breakfast. (There goes that food theme again). Almost unheard of these days. So, we opted to pull out of the hotel a bit earlier than normal. We also had another threat today that we really haven't had to face on this ride yet ... rain. The weather channel was showing a line of showers heading our way so we packed our jackets in our jersey pockets just in case.
Jack has spoken with a local resident and found out that there was a small town, St. Donatus, about 13 miles out of town that had a buffet bar. (There we go again!) But, to get from point A to point B (B for Breakfast, maybe?), required two very significant climbs. Once again, I am here to emphasize that Iowa is NOT flat! So, it was a well deserved and earned breakfast today. If we had not known to stop there, we certainly would have just pedaled by as it just looked like an old "Mom and Pop" country store from the outside!
Leaving the store/restaurant, we continued our journey south. One of the old timers in the store warned us about an upcoming hill, Lewey's' Hill. They thought we would be walking up but we were able to find our "granny" gear and just spin up that hill. Lewey would have been proud! And the best part about going up a big hill is getting to fly down the other side. I had been in the back of the group as we reached the top but I was able to over take them on the downhill reaching over 41 mph. Not too fast by Roanoke rider standards but pretty scary to those used to riding on the cape or in Southern California!
Our group of five riders rolled along some nice roads with the wind just beginning to pick up and never a drop of rain had fallen all morning. Only a few sprinkles had fallen thus far. There are actually six "full-time" riders. Stu, a finely tuned 62 year old athlete, generally heads out far in front of our pack as he is definitely the best rider in our group. Jack, who has done a great job supporting our group while still managing to get in some good miles everyday! I so appreciate what he is doing and I believe everyone else feels the same!
About 13 miles before Clinton, IA, our stop for the night, we passed a small country restaurant, so you know what we had to do! But we only got ice cream with chocolate syrup! Except for Carl, who had a beer with his. Beer and ice cream? I wasn't the least bit interested in that combination!
We then began our final push into town. Carl, with his beer and ice cream "boost", took the point and pulled us along. There were clouds starting to build in the distance and the wind was beginning to pick up as well. It was evident that we were racing a shower to our hotel for the evening. Jack, who had already been to the motel rode out to usher us back in. Not 15 minutes after we arrived safely in our hotel ... the rain started.
Now, all that remains is to check in, shower, wash our clothes if a guest laundry room is available, check out routes for tomorrow and go to dinner ... naturally! Go to bed, get some sleep and get up and do it all over again tomorrow! Life on the road ... fun for a short while, but, I wouldn't want to do this for a living.
And now for my thank you for the day. I was going to save this one but have an urge to go ahead and let her know ... Nancy, my wife of the past 22 years. We have had our moments, but, overall we have, as Nancy has put it, "made a 'helluva' team". With all of my health issues, she has been there, with all of my travels she has supported/tolerated/encouraged, with other life's stuff, well, we are working that out. She has been a wonderfsul and supportive wife. And, Nancy, today ALL my thanks go to you!
So, for now, I wish you all well. Be sure to send me an e-mail if you have a chance at email@example.com I like hearing from everyone while I'm on the road. And remember, it's not too late to share this site with someone else or two or three!
Well, here we are again! I'm glad you keep checking in! I heard from some new folks on my e-mails today, even from a childhood friend, Stephanie B.P., or RevSteph as her e-mail says ... great to hear from you! And I also heard from another classmate, Wanda or Wa as I call her. She is a friend who has M.S. and is one I am riding in honor of as well! Oh, and I also spoke with a co-worker today, Dollie, who is helping "hold the fort down" while I am away!
Today was just another day. If you think getting up at 0500, eating bowls of oatmeal and fruit and drinking cups of O.J. and coffee, and then getting on a bicycle and peddaling over 65 miles is just another day! ;o)
We wanted to leave earlier than usual this morning as our trusted weather guru, the weather channel, had indicated there would likely be winds of 20-30 mph blowing today. And of course, if the wind is going to be blowing like that, "Murphy's Law" tells you it is either going to be in your face of from the side. Today, it was a combination of both. However, we did make one turn and it was at our backs for at least 30 seconds as we shortly rounded another corner!
Charlie wanted to run hard today. He was not looking forward to the strong winds this afternoon. Although we found a couple towns enroute to Davenport, IA with coffee shops, we rolled on. I didn't put any time on the front this morning. I wasn't feeling up to par, so I just stayed on the back of the paceline and let the others do all the hard work. Carl pulled us for at least the first 10 miles out of the motel before he wanted a break, Charlie, Donn and Barb, all took turns on the front. They enjoy looking after me ... and I was thankful today!
On the outskirts of Davenport, we stopped at Ross's Cafe to take a break after riding almost 32 miles. The others ordered omelettes, toast and hot chocolate, while Barb had her usual coffee with hers. I just had scrambled eggs and hashbrowns with water. Jack also spotted our bikes while driving past and stopped in to join us! We then road on through Davenport and were able to hook up on the local bike trail right beside the Mississippi River. It has grown quite wide since just over a week ago ... it is really astonishing to see how it has grown from it's tiny beginings at Lake Itasca, MN. We stopped at one point and took some nice photos.
Our excitment for today was sort of anti-climactic, but, in happened as we were riding down a busy highway with no shoulder. Donn spotted Barb's tire going flat so we had to stop. And it is not time to get upset about the interuption ... it's time to have a tire changing party! Carl was the chief mechanic and not sure if Barb was there to help him or frustrate him! It was quite comical to the rest of us and a real opportunity to take out the cameras and "make a memory".
The rest of the ride was uneventful. The wind was begining to pick up as promised and we hit a couple hills as we rode into town. We have begun to call all hills "Lewey" in honor or remembrance of the hiil we rode the other day where one of the locals had said, "you will be walking"! So, after the last "Lewey" of the day, we rolled right into town where we will be spending the night, Muscatine, IA. And our first stop ... NO, not the motel, but rather a Drive-in that advertised 24 flavors of ice cream! Three of us had delicious chocolate shakes and the others had cones. *You probably think I'm going to gain at least 20 pounds on this trip but, so far, I can still get in all my shorts!
After we arrived at the motel, Charlei got the idea that Bailey's and hot chocolate would be good at the jacuzzi! So he and Jack made the first rounds for everyone and we had a fun afternoon! You see, it isn't all about sitting on a bicycle and eating food, we do lots of fun things along the way as well!
My thank you today goes to Charlie, one of our riders, who not only pulled our group a good bit of the way, he has often dropped back to specifically help me out when I may be dropping back. Donn has helped to. Carl as well. And even Barb. They all have! But today I am specifically thanking Charlie. And also for the great beverages at the jacuzzi this afternoon!
And now, what is left in the day, you may ask! Well, it's time to eat again! Appleby's tonight, I believe! You see, when I return home, I'm going to write a new diet book called "Eat ALL you want ... EVERYDAY" ... the only catch is you have to ride a bicycle at least 60 miles everyday! O.K., so it probably won't sell. It was just a thought! Come back tomorrow and I will share with you a few more thoughts! Until then, have a great day!
Welcome back! Has it been 24 hours since my last entry? My back side would say at least that much! First of all, I want to say hello and welcome to folks that are coming here from MSWorld! I just checked out that home page this morning and saw that the journal site had been placed on their home page. Thanks WriteOp/Liz! It's been a while since I have been around but, I used the name "flipper" on the site. I am glad you are visiting here!
The days are obviously getting shorter as the sun was just barely peaking over the horizon as we pulled out of the motel at 0700, sharp. We rode back through downtown Muscatine, IA on our way out of town, right by the 24 flavor ice cream store we had visited just yesterday.
We were hopeful today as the winds were slatted to be out of the WNW and it appeared we might even have some tailwinds! Alright ... we can't wait! We road along in a nice pace line for about 18 miles on flat Iowa roads before we hit our first hill of the day. Almost simultaneously we all shouted, "Lewey up!" (As you may recall from an earlier entry, "Lewey's Hill" was the name locals had given one of our climbs we had ridden.) The winds had been a mixture of cross and side winds but few from our backside. After we topped this hill though ... that all changed! Carl was on the front and we took off, easily cruising at 28 mph. Much differnet than just days ago when we struggled to maintain speeds of 12-13 mph ... the winds make ALL the difference!
A few folks had suggested that we take "breaks" about every 10 miles. At the 20 mile mark, I decided to keep spinning as I figured they would have no problems realing me back in. But I was feeling much better than yesterday. So, I took off. The only one that caught me was Barb. She has become a fairly strong rider at this point. We joined up and rode together. We were looking for a restaurant to get some hot chocolate and a bagel but there had been no stores along this stretch of road. After just over 50 miles, we rolled into the town of Burlington, IA. A nice size town right on the Mississippi River. Stu, who always rides up front, had already scoped out a small sandwich shop a block or so off the beaten trail. Is was quiet and quant. And it fit the bill just right!
After lunch, we found our way out to highway 61 for our ride into Fort Madison, IA. It was a nice four lane highway and had a decent shoulder for riding ... for a while. Almost with no warning, we ended up riding on the edge of the highway as the shoulder was completely gone! And the winds had become less than favorable at this point as well! At least most of the traffic was taking the wide lane as they passed us by.
We were taking our time, maybe moving about 13-14 mph. I was behind Donn, when he rode off the shoulder of the road. He tried to jump his bike back onto the highway but his speed had fallen off. Before I could react, my front wheel just touched his rear and I was down in an instant. Fortunately, there was no traffic at the moment and no injuries as a result. Just a small contusion on my left ankle, but not enough for me to even consider stopping riding! So, we rolled on into town.
The motel we were staying at this evening was completely on the opposite side of town. The roads were narrow and the traffic was constant but not real heavy at this time of day. We all arrived safely at our destination for the evening. I was, however, happy to learn that I was able to get the last room on the ground floor! I don't do steps very well. Sounds strange, after riding almost 78 miles and then saying "I don't do steps well". That's just the way it is!
Now, I would just like to take a few minutes and remind everyone why I/we are here. Obviously, we are riding bikes from International Falls, MN to New Orleans, LA. I am doing it for the M.S. Society, to raise both awareness and, hopefully, some monies to go towrds research and finding a cure. Various improvements and treaments are now available, but, there is not a cure ... yet. We will not stop until there is one! I say "We", because there are so many people comitted to this cause ... I am only one grain of sand but, when we all work together, the grains become a beach ... and that's good!
And now my "thank you" for the day goes to MSWorld! All of you folks are doing a great job keeping people connected and giving a place for folks diagnosed with MS a place to go to "connect" with others! And you offer so much more! If you are not familiar with MSWorld you must check out their site! Your hard work and daily diligence is greatly appreciated!
I thank each of you for visiting this site and ask you to come back tomorrow for another day on the road. And I ask you to share this site with any of your friends, coworkers, family members ... anyone that enjoys cycling or anyone that may have any interest making a difference for the M.S. Society!
"On the road again ... I just can't wait to get on the road again" ... Well hello everyone. I can't tell you how many times I have sang these lines since we started riding two weeks ago! And today was a very special day, indeed! First, we are officially half way to the gulf ... mileage wise. We have now ridden 1,008 miles since October 6th, counting our first day "warm up" ride that took us from our motel in International Falls back into Canada. And here we are this evening in Quincy, IL. Two more riding days until we have our second rest day in St. Louis, MO.
Today I want to send out a Very Special Thank You to Wendy and the crew at the AmericInn in Praire Du Chein, WI. We were there last week and they really treated us like something "special"! Well, after we arrived here today and were resting by the jacuzzi, a basket of fruit was delivered to our group from Wendy and her staff at the hotel congratulating us on reaching our "halfway" mark of our journey! It doesn't get any more special than that! The friends you make on a ride like this is actually bringing a tear to my eye as I write this. There aren't words that can express how this makes me and our group of riders feel! Wendy, WE THANK YOU!!!
I also want to say a special hello to Jeff and Carol, friends we made on a bike and barge trip in Holland last year! Great people! And yes, Jeff, we had some "Lewey's" today, but no bad ones! I also want to say hello to Sue D., a friend and co-worker back in Roanoke. And to John B., another friend! Thanks for e-mails! It is always great to hear from my friends!
And as for today's ride, it was a really nice day. It was a bit chilly as we left the motel in Fort Madison, IA at 0700. A mere 37 degrees! We were ALL bundled in extra layers as we left! It was a nice 19 mile ride as we headed into Keokuk, IA, in the extreme southeast corner of the State. We stopped at a local cafe for our breakfast before we left Iowa and entered State #4, Illinois! Of course we had to stop at the middle of the bridge for the photo ops!
We got a bit confused as we crossed over into this new State, so we asked a local driver for the best directions. He treated us right, giving us a small two lane road that took us through the small town of Warsaw, IL. And, no, we didn't stop to eat ... surprising I know! But we have entered more rolling hills than we have had for the past few days. Constant "rollers" but, our group has gotten a bit stronger than when we started so we really enjoyed the day. Especially as the temperatures warmed to the low 60's and the wind was almost calm!
Barb took off on her own little ride, so Carl, Donn Charlie and myself just had a blast hitting those hills! I was surprised how well even I was doing on the hills! I am not usually that strong of a climber but, I guess after this many days on the road ... it just kinda happens. We stopped in a little community of Ursa, IL at a local gas station. By the way, I can't believe how much gas prices have fallen since I left Roanoke on 9/03/06. I guess that is a good break for all of us! Carl, Donn and Charlie went inside for ice cream and to chat with the local farmers in side the store. I opted to sit on a bench outside in the sun. Eating a banana I had and drinking some juice ... just enjoying life in that moment!
So on we rode into Quincy, IL. This is a special town to almost all of us in our group. Most of us had ridden from L.A. to Boston in 2001 or 02. That's how we met in the first place. But on that tour, we spent an overnight in Quincy as well. Call it an overnight "homecoming" of sorts. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, making arrangements for our stay in St. Louis and confirming our route for tomorrow. So, you see, this riding isn't all hard work. Just the part on the road ... but even that is a joy most of the time!
My thank you for the day HAS to go back to Wendy and her crew from the AmericInn in Praire Du Chein, WI. To have followed our group and to know when we reached our halfway point is one thing. But, to go out of the way and send us a basket of fruit to recognize the accomplishment is special! I suppose we may have touched some lives along the way but there have been those who have touched our lives too! That is what makes good days even better ones!
So tomorrow we shall visit Hannibal, MO, the home of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I guess our little group is like the "much" older and modern version of what Tom and Huck might be doing with their lives today! Life is good! See ya'll tomorrow!
Today was scheduled to be an easy ride from Quincy, IL to Louisiana, MO. With just 67 miles noted, and after experiencing the wonderful tailwinds yesterday, we were all stoked for a good ride. Plus, it would bring us one day closer to our scheduled rest day in St. Louis. We have only had one rest day since we began this adventure just over two weeks ago. I know at least my body is craving a day off the bike!
But first, I must say a few "hellos". I would like to say hello to Nick! He is my riding buddy and roomates Little Brother back in Cape Cod, MA. I hear he is playing soccer at school now. Hey Nick, tell Carl the next time he plans a bike trip to do it during the summer when you can come with us! I also want to say hello to Brittany, she was our waitress at Appleby's last night. She did a wonderful job despite all the antics of this bizzare group! And lastly, we met a guy named David at the Comfort Rest breakfast area this morning before we left. We let him know what we were doing and I asked him to check out this site and that I would say, "Hello David". I hope you enjoyed the site. You can now follow our journey down the Mississippi River and please share this site with anyone you think may have any interest!
The word this morning shared by the group was "ominous". Not sure if they were referring to the weather or the fact they still had the maps out at 0600 trying to figure out how we were going to get out of town. The night clerk made a suggestion and we thought, "why not"? So out of the motel we rode at 0700 sharp. I'm still not certain we really knew where we were headed. Jack drove the vehicle ahead and met us just out side of town. At least that part worked out!
We headed down a long, flat two laned highway with just a small shoulder. Fortunatly, what traffic that was there was quite friendly and didn't seem to mind sharing the road with this group of cyclists. On the down side, we were heading straight into headwinds out of the Southeast at about 10-20 mph. We formed our paceline, alternating folks on the front about every 1/2 mile.
We were supposed to be heading to Hanibal, MO, to visit the home place of Mark Twain and his unforgetable characters, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We had been advised it was about 20 miles from Quincy, IL. But after riding about 23 miles, we were still in the middle of nowhere. We could see roads off in the distance, on the opposite side of some huge cornfields where we thought we should be! But how do we get there from here? After much discussion, and Carl's refusal to ask directions from a passing motorist, we found a road that said, "Hanibal 11 Miles". So, our 20 mile ride to Hanibal ended up about 32 miles.
We were all hungry by then, of course, so we had breakfast at the Becky Thatcher Cafe. A wonderful breakfast ... and a good thing ... we would be needing that energy later! We asked the waitress about the route we were planning on taking. "Does it have any hills?" She just smiled and said, "A few." I could tell be the smile on her face, we were in for trouble!
Donn, Barb, Charlie and Carl wanted to take the tour of the museum in town. That would take about an hour. I let them go and I headed out to our night's destination solo. After crossing the bridge out of town, there was the first hill. I had climbed bigger and longer hills on this trip so I wasn't worried. I should have been!
This 33 mile trek took me over some of our steepest and longest climbs of our trip yet! It even made "Lewey" pale in their shadows! There were several long and slow climbs before I hit the two that almost made me want to get off the bike and walk. But even though I was by my self ... I couldn't do it! And these roads were shared with large tractor trailer trucks hauling corn from the fields to the transfer stations near the river. These fully loaded trucks had no problem passing just off my shoulder at probably speeds of 60 mph or more. That, coupled with the headwinds and the hills, made for a long afternoon. And just to give you an idea of how steep these hills were, my top speed going down hill on one of them was 45.4 mph.
To beat the lonliness of riding alone and, quite possibly in a delusional state, was pretending I was like Floyd Landis on the day he did the solo breakaway in the TdF. I was not going to let the others real me in! Delusional or not, it worked! I arrived at the motel about one hour before the other group of four behind me. Carl, who is usually a much stronger rider than I am, only averaged 1/10th mph more than I did today! I felt good about that. And at that moment, I was glad to feel good about something as I am completely exhausted after today's ride. But, after tomorrow, I have a day of rest!
To bring things back down to a more "mello" level, my thank you for today goes to my nieice, Becky W.I. She has gone above and beyond, and out of her way to get this website out there and to help raise the awareness about M.S. to a huge number of folks! She has also kept me encouraged by sending me at leat one e-mail each day since I have been out here! Becky, ALL my thanks go to you! I will see you soon!
Well, that's all for tody, my friends. I still have dinner to go to and I need to answer todays e-mails but, my bike is already in bed waiting for the rest day as much as I am! I thank each of you for checking out this site and following my journey down the river. And let's not forget the dream of this old guy ... and many others for whom I am riding ... we want to raise awareness about M.S., to encourage further studies into finding a cure and to one day say ... "We had a part in finding the cure!" Alone, it is difficult, but together ... I hope our potential is limitless! Please come back tomorrow and share this site with someone you know! Thank you!
AAAAHHHHHHhhhhh...... I don't know how to start today's journal ... by telling you how wonderful it is to be having a day off the bike tomorrow or to tell you about today's ride?
Why don't I just begin by saying hello to a few folks who have visited the website. A big hello to a couple of my classmates from Patrick Henry High School Class of 1974 ... David L., and Pam H. W. ... great to hear from both of you! Also from an old friend at First Baptist Church, Leon B., A really good friend and co-worker, Mike U. and his buddy, Scott S., and Joy M. who we met on the Holland Bike & Barge trip last year and also to David D., who we met in Quincy just yesterday! It is absolutely GREAT to hear from each of you. And there are a few who e-mail me on an almost daily basis and I appreciate you all just as much! And, YES, I always respond to each and every e-mail as quickly as I possibly can. I also want to say hello to Charlie and Marilyn, a lovely couple we met t our early morning stop for hot chocolate. And also a BIG welcome to the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters! Thay have added access to this website from their home page www.vpff.org WELCOME!
Now, down to business. Our stay at the River's Edge Motel in Louisiana, MO was not really a quiet one. We had a beautiful view of the river from the front window. We also had a very busy railroad track between our view and the river. I only heard two of the trains whistles blow during the late evening to early morning hours but we had several in our group who were certain at least five or six trains passed during the night, with long loud whistle blows during each pass.
This hotel was one of the few that did not serve breakfast. We were lucky and found a local B&B that would be willing to serve us and they opended at 0600. It was a good breakfast, plenty to get us on our way! As we road out of town, our pace line was already working as the winds were starting early this morning. Our ride today would take us into the busy metropolitan area of St. Louis, MO. Lots of roads and traffic ... no time to take our attention off of our task.
Of course, Stu broke away early off the front, never to be seen again until we arriveed at the hotel. But our group of five did split for a while as well today. Charlie and Donn left our early morning stop ahead of us as they said they were not feeling as strong today. I think we were all still a bit fatigued from our rid eyesterday. And it has been over a week since our last rest day. I am 50, the youngest rider in the group and none of us can ride and push ourselves the way we used to!
We all regrouped about 30 miles outside of town and decided it was safer to ride in to town as a group. The roads were still two laned and it was reported by Jack, our recognoznance driver and part time rider that there would be road consruction up ahead. Jack has done a great job keeping us informed, stocked with supplies and on most days even goes in to the motels and rides back out to escort us safely in!
Several times this afternoon, we had to make hurried dashes for safer parts of the highway due to the road construction. But I was still impressed with the traffic as they always seemed to be courteous to us! Not what I am generally used to back home! But after much zigging and zagging our way around the city, we finally arrived to our home for the evening. A wonderful sight ... our home for two nights!
I must let you know something now. I noticed I had been having hard time the last few miles, particularly on the hills. I wasn't sure what it might be. I hadn't had any lunch but I didn't feel like I was "bonking". I didn't know. Then I tried getting off my bike. My left ankle was so sore, I could hardly put any weight on it while walking. Was it a shin splint? I didn't know. I had never had one. I finaly hobbled to my room and removed my shoe. It was the same ankle I had injured a couple days ago when I wrecked. I didn't think it was the same injury. The tendon on the front of my ankle was swelling. We wrapped the ankle in ice and elevated it for about two hours. I only took the ice off long enough to shower and go downstairs for a bit of dinner.
Mind you, my left ankle is my "good" ankle and this does have me a bit concerned. The ice has helped reduce the swelling but it has not gotten rid of all the pain. While the others will be sight seeing tomorrow, I may be here with my leg propped up and looking after it until Sunday morning when we are scheduled to pull out again.
I am aslking you now, if you are inclined to offering up words of prayer or into making well wishes. I am asking that you say a word for the healing of my ankle. Most of you know me well enough ... if there is any way that I can ride,I will be there. I know I must look after it myself and am willing to sacrfice the day of sightseeing with my friends to continue this dream. I will keep you posted as to my progress.
My thank you for the day goes to Jack, our driver and part time rider. After he heard about my ankle, he came straight to our room with an icebag and wrapped the ankle and saw to it that it was elevated. Jack is here to ride his bike and to drive the vehicle. He isn't here to act as a Dr. or protector of a guy that doesn't know when he should call it quits. But, from early on, Jack has looked after me in his own way. Remember the day we were hiking just north of Lake Superior before we arrived in International Falls, and Jack slowed his walking pace out of the woods just to make sure I would be O.K. For these reasons, Jack, I thank you!
Our long awaited rest day is finally here. And it seems to have come at the perfect time for me! I will be back tomorrow and let you know how I am and just what mischief I may manage to get in to! So, I hope to see you back again tomorrow!
And, in closing, I ask you once again, please pass this web site along to someone you may know. Either local, in anther State, oversea possibly ... lets help spread the word and raise the awareness level about Multiple Sclerosis. A few words can make a big difference! My sincere thanks to each of you! I hope you return tomorow!
Welcome back for my day of rest! And that is exactly what I have done! I left the room twice today. Once I went out to get some lunch at the hotel restaurant and then later this afternoon to get more ice for my ankle.
And you may be wondering how my ankle is doing this evening. I have it kept wrapped in ice all day and all the swelling has gone. I also started giving it some "hot" treatment by holding it in very warm water. This treatment process has helped. I know it's not 100% but, compared to the way it was feeling last night ... it is about 80%. So, my plans are to ride tomorrow! Did anyone really think I wouldn't be riding. ;o)
My friends had a wonderful day in St. Louis. They went down to the Arch and went to the top. They also visited other sites in and around the area. I am a bit disappointed that I was not able to be with them but, I know staying off my ankle and looking after it the way I did will help me ensure my ability to ride tomorrow and the rest of the way to the Gulf! I thank you for your prayers and wishes ... they have been answered!
Tomorrow morning our plans are to ride straight through town and cross the Mississippi back into Illinois for our next days ride into Chester. I understand we will be riding right by the Arch, so I will be able to get a photo of it for my scrapbook! We are slated to ride about 65 miles tomorrow. And, I am told the roads will be much flatter on the Illinois side of the river. I have also been told that we could expect a tail wind too! If we can have one out of three ... I will be happy!
I haven't checked my e-mails since this morning and the only ones to say hello to are Carl's little brother, Nick and my neice, Becky and her husband, Steven, and Nancy. If I missed saying hello to anyone tonight, I will catch you tomorrow evening!
My thank you's for today go to each and everyone of you that said a prayer and gave me a well wish for the healing of my ankle. I also have a gaurdian angel looking after me and I will share more about her in future entries.
Now I am ready to go to bed and get "more" rest to be ready for the continuation of our journey tomorrow! I hope you come back to see what happens with our little group as we pursue our dream ride to the Gulf!
Hello from Chester, IL. This is the second time I have entered this journal as the computer decided to boot me out here last try. I was just about finished with today's journal entry, so now I must "re-invent" the wheel ... so to speak!
I want to start off by telling you that, yes, I was able to complete today's ride. The ankle is a bit sore and I am "icing" it as I write this entry, but, all is O.K., not great but, sometimes O. K. is just good enough!
I would like to say hello to a few people today from my high school days. Steve F. called my phone just as I arrived at the hotel today. I have known Steve almost 40 years. It was good talking with him. I also had an e-mail from Wanda M. saying that Ro has been trying to reach me and also Barbara T. M. Keep trying to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully we will get connected! I also would like to say hello to a couple of folks I met outside Denny's today as we were stopping for a break. I hope they check out the site!
One sad note today, Stu, one of the riders from Cape Cod, MA had to return home to go back to work. He was an amazing athelete and most difficult to keep up with on a bike. Stu will be missed! We are now down to five full time riders and Jack, who amazingly gets in about 1/2 the miles we get in on most days!
Our group of five pulled out of the hotel just before 0700 this morning. The skies were overcast and it was a bit cool. There is a 30% chance of rain today. We have been lucky so far, missing out on any rain. Only a few sprinkles have fallen on our "parade". Being a Sunday morning, with little to no traffic on the roads, we headed straight to downtown St. Louis. Something we could not have done any other day of the week! We made one stop on the middle of the bridge crossing the Mississippi River to take some group photos with the St. Louis Arch in the background. The group had visited there yesterday but this was my first sighting. A magnificent structure.
After leaving the bridge, we headed into East St. Louis, IL and found our road which we would become most familiar today, Route 3 South. After about a mile, Carl had a blow out on his rear tire! #5 for the trip! So we had a tire changing party, with photo's for the memory. Really cool shots with the top of the St. Louis Arch in the background!
Route 3 was a quite wonderful roadway. Nice wide shoulders and limited debris but, the best feature, we had a most favorable wind to help us along our way! We stopped about 30 miles into our ride at Burger King and had a sad event occur. Charlie, from Arizona, had to get into the SAG vehicle. He had been battling sores in places common to long distance cyclists and very painful! I know how hard it is to pull yourself out of a big ride like this with all your friends. I had to do the same to myself in 2002 when the desert heat became to oppressive and my body literally quit functioning as it should. Charlie will be missed on the road. He is always upbeat and when the group is "down" physically, he has always come to the front of the pack to do more than his share of pulling the paceline.
Wih Carl, Barb, Donn and myself being left on the road, we took off toward Chester. The roads were a riders dream. Great long flats with slowly rising hills and a wind that seemed to be more of an aid than a hinderance today ... it was a good time to be on a bike! Carl did the biggest part of the pull. I didn't object as I was still trying to make sure my ankle holds on for the rest of the ride. As we rolled into a small town, a Dodge pick-up began blowing it's horn as it passed us. He turned the corner down Route 3, the same direction we were headed. As we rounded the corner, the truck had parked on the side of the road. A large white haired and bearded man was at the wheel. Nothing was said, he just staired. We rods past and the truck went by us again. We later stopped in front of a local store on the edge of town to ask each other what was going on with that driver. About that moment, he passed us one last time with his horn sounding. We never saw him again. Strange ... very strange ...
As we paced our way into Chester, Jack rode out to meet us. Charlie was at the local hospital being checked out. We came on into town. Jack and Donn stopped off at the hospital while Carl, Barb and I came on in to the hotel. We only have about twelve more riding days ahead but we are going to be jumping around to about a half dozen States between now and then. I'm glad I'm just here to ride and not part of the "route planning" committee.
We had a large meal at a local "Smorgasborg" ... in other words ... all you can eat! And we did. I am a bit over-stuffed myself right now but what hasn't already been burned up will be tomorow! One of the things I love most about long distance cycling ... eat all you want and not worry! Only a couple more weeks of that behavior and I will need to put on the brakes!
Today, I want to thank Stu. Although I didn't ride all that much with him I really gained an appreciation about him. He has worked with kids for many years and has been a mentor to many. He is involved with Big Brother and the Rotary. He is also a "workout" fanatic! He was up every morning before we rode to go run at least two miles and in the evenings, he was also looking for places to work out and lift weights. I admire folks that committed to keeping a healthy body. I know for myself, it isn't easy. So, Stu, my thanks go to you and I wish you all the best in the future!
O.K., I understand tomorrow we have a 101 mile ride. The rides mileage have always been conservative, so, no telling what we might end up with! At least I can say my last meal was more than satisfying! Please come back tomorrow and see what happens to the remaining group! Our numbers are dropping ... who will be there at the end! Me ... I hope!!!
So, contact all your family and friends, co-workers and classmates and anyone else you may know and turn them on to this old guys dream ride! It's not about anyone in this group ... it's a much bigger picture I want you to see. I want you to learn something about Multiple Sclerosis that you didn't know before. Who knows, it may be you or someone very close to you. I hope and pray not but, I never asked for M.S. either. I am just lucky and blessed with the course of my disease that I am able to be here, trying to help make a difference ... will you please help me to do this?
I thank you!!! And I hope to see you back here tomorrow! Until then, get some rest and have a good Monday!
O.K. folks, this is going to be a very "generic" entry tonight and I apologize. This will be my third attempt at making my journal entry tonight. I am a bit frustrasted at this point but I want you all to have an appreciation for what we experienced today! Also at this point, I will be entering paragraphs at a time to make sure this doesn't happen again. Believe me whe I say I do need to get some sleep after a day like today!
Our group was bit subdued this morning as we prepared to leave the motel in Chester, IL. We were slated for our first 100+ mile day today and we didn't know what to expect. Jack would be joining us for the full ride today as Charlie is still unable to ride. As we pulled out of the hotel, we headed up hill. I recall thinking, "Is this what our day is going to be like?" If it is, it's going to be a long one!
First, I need to say hello to a girl that served us tonight at the local Dairy Queen here in Charleston, MO, Sandy was her name. She couldn't believe or understand why a bunch of "old" people would want to ride bikes this far! I invited her to check out the website and told her I would say hello this evening. Hello Sandy, I hope you follow our journey down the river! I also need to say thank you to three people who sent me e-mails last night when only a portion of the journal was first there. That occurred because I was called to dinner mid-entry ... and you have become aware that we don't miss any opportunity to eat on this ride. So, thank you Nancy, Becky and Leon for letting me know that you felt "short changed" by my initial entry last night! ;o)
The first five miles or so out of town involved slow rolling hills. Our chances for an easy day were slipping away! But all of a sudden, the roads became "pancake" flat and would go for strasight lines for miles at a time. We took turns pulling on the front and often the leader would stay there for 7-10 miles. Charlie stayed at the hotel for a while to take care of his medical treatments for his "issue". Out of respect for Charlie, I will leave it at that! Charlie did finally catch up with us about 30 miles or so into the ride. A good thing, as there had been no towns along our route this morning. We were missng our usual mid morning hot chocolate stop! We have become so spoiled!
And when Charlie did catch us to refill us with gatorade, bananas and power bars, he also refilled our spirits with music from the 60's blairing from the CD player in the car. These stops became fun! Much like the ones we had on our XC tour in '02. And these "mini-parties" happened every 10 miles or so. We continued with the flat roads until about mile 75 and then the hills returned. I was amazed how th entire group rode right up those hills topping them about 15-16 mph. Not much for some folks but pretty darn good for this group!
Barb felt good today, so I held onto her wheel! Carl also joined us and it turned into a "challenge" of sorts between Carl and Barb. I was happy to be hanging onto their wheels! After about 15 or so miles of running anywhere fro 20-23 mph, I was ready to give it up. Shortly after Carl and Barb saw me back off, they slowed down as well. They both later told me they were glad I did because they were both ready to do the same. If I had known that, I would have pushed myself a bit harder. But, I'm still nursing that bad ankle and I probably shouldn't have ben running with them anyway. Oh well, it probably doesn't surprise anyone who knows me that I was pushing myself beyond my ability! Hey, that's how you become stronger for tomorrow ... if I don't ruin myslf today! And I didn't.
As we rode into Cairo, IL, our last city in Illinois, before crossing the Mississippi River back into Missouri for one more night, Charlie caught up with us and said we better wait and ride it as a group. After we got to the bridge, we understood. It was an old two lane bridge with no walkway or bike lane. It was also a steep old bridge. So, we scampered up one side and across the top and down the other side. There was a mini-van behind us making us try to run as hard as we could. They weren't really pushing us, they were probably laughing too hard watching this group scramble over the bridge!
After we crossed the bridge, Carl called Jack up to the front of the group. This is his first century (100 mile ride) and we all wanted him to be in front of the pack when he reached that goal! We all had diffreent mileages on our cycle computers, so Jack was able to experience the 100 mile mark 3 times! Jack promised to buy the group their favorite beverage and appetizers tonight at dinner. What they didn't realize is that this is a "dry" town and even the Mexican restaurant where we ate didn't have cervezas! It doesn't matter to me as my beverage of choice on this trip has become Sierra Mist!
My thank you for today, once again, has to go to Charlie. I know how disappointing it is to have to give up and get in the car, even when injured. It had happened to me on the cross country ride in '02 when the desert forced my body to quit working properly. But Charlie showed great character by giving us the best rest stops we have had all trip! A class act that deserves to be recognized and acknowledged.
Tomorrow's ride takes us into three different States. We are quickly moving our way to the Gulf! I hope you come back tomorrow and check out the adventures of this whacky, bizzare and fantastic group of travelers!
I have appreciated the loyalty of so many readers and wish to welcome anyone that may be joining in for the first time tonight. I invite you back and encourage you to invite others to check out this old guys dream ride. But, It's not all about this guy or his buddies ... this site is meant to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. To spark your interest and possible curiosity to help us find a cure for this disease. If you like to ride bikes or, if this story has helped convince you that YOU TOO can train and ride in your State's local MS-150 bicycle tour! Trust me when I say, you'll never regret it and it is truly the best way to see this great country and to meet some wonderful people! So PLEASE come back tomorrow!
Until then, have a wonderful day!
Welcome back everyone! Today's ride could be subtitled, "Agony and Ecstacy". but I believe someone has already made use of that one! With yesterday's miles, almost 105, and today's winds, the 80 miles we rode today was by far much harder on each of us. But more on that story later. We had some interesting events today I want to share with you.
We rode into Tiptonville, TN this afternoon and stopped at a local grocery store that had a Subway located inside. We were all wanting some lunch. And you may be saying ... "this isn't unusual!" We met several employees at the Subway, but the one I remember talking to was Belinda. She even came up and took a photo of our group while we were eating. Still not unusual ... read on ... When we arrived at the hotel, someone, I believe Belinda had called and said someone from our group had left "something" there. Jack took the call and asked if were an article or a billfold. The person told Jack it was money. Jack responded, "was it $100 bill?" "Yes", was the answer. Well, the only one in our group with that kind of money is Carl. When Carl arrived at the hotel he called the girl back and told her, "Keep what you want and send the rest to the M.S. Society for Kenny". Well, you see folks, that's the kind of people I am riding with! And Belinda, if it was you, Bless You for being so honest! It will be returned to you in some way, I have no doubt!
Also, when we arrived at the hotel, I shared a copy of my story with Bracken, the manager. He called the local newspaper and had a reporter come over and even donated $20 to the M.S. Society and to Big Brothers and the Rotary, the other charities Carl and Jack are riding for. Wonderful gestures from complete strangers! The world isn't all bad! There are still some very good people living here!
Now on to today's adventure. We would be riding in three different States today. Starting in Missouri then going into Kentucky for about 15 miles and ending in Dyersburg, TN. At first, leaving Missouri was nice. It was my first time riding in that State where the road actually had a paved shoulder! My previous description of riding in the State of "Misery" was a three inch wide white stripe with a three inch drop off! I was impressed! Then the final 15 miles of road taking us to a ferry crossing was like riding in a gravel pit. Long bumpy roads, riding from side to side, trying to find the smoothest spot on the roadway. At least the traffic was very light in this neck of the woods.
After a nice little boat ride across the "Big Muddy", we arrived in Hickman, KY. Opting to keep riding instead of looking for a hot chocolate in town, the winds suddenly revealed themselves. They had disappeared yesterday but returned with a vengence this morning. Charlie, with his injurty, wanted to ride in Kentucky because he had never ridden here before. So, he got on his bike and put in about 6 miles. He then traded back with Jack and got back into the SAG vehicle.
Charlie did provide us with great SAG stops at frequent intervals. Fluids, food and music ... nothing but the best! Jack joined us again and rode with us to our lunch stop in Tiptonville, TN and then rode into town with Charlie. Good news about Charlie's condition, He went to another Dr. here in Dyersburg and she said with the right medicine, he should be back on the bike within three to four days! Charlie's smile returned to his face! We were all happy to hear he would be back!
So, there were four of us left to ride the last 25 miles into Dyersburg, Carl, Donn, Barb and myself. After about five miles, Carl and Donn were taking a "chicken" break, so Barb and I didn't need to stop. We pedaled on. After several miles, Carl and Donn caught up with us. The headwinds had worn me down. The power in my legs was gone. I was pedalling only with "memory motion" and that is like the Enterprise flying on impulse engines instead of warp drive. Carl and Donn took turns pulling Barb and myself the last 15 miles or so into town. I was happy to see the hotel today!
My thanks today goes to Bracken, the manager with the Best Western in Dyersburg, TN. After he read my story, he contacted the local newspaper to have a reporter come down to interview me. He also made several donations to the folks in our group riding for charities. And this was done at the spur of the moment for complete strangers! It doesn't get any more special than that. It reminded me of our stay in Praire Du Chein WI, a few weeks ago! I am convinced that there are still some good and caring people in this world! And Bracken and his staff are in that group!
I also want to say a special hello to Angie. She works here at the hotel and also has M.S. I was able to talk with her for a while and she had a wonderful smile and great disposition about the whole situation. I wish you only the best, Angie!
Well, tomorrow we roll into Memphis. I thought it was two days away. Time flys when you are having fun! We also will have a rest day in Memphis, so, I am hoping to catch a glimpse of the King. Check back in over the next couple of days and see if I have any luck!
And it's never to late to make a difference, either in yourself or for someone else. In other words, learn to ride a bike and ride the MS-150 next year and support a wonderful cause! Or, you can check on the donate heading on the home page of this site and make a contribution. And, if you are "techno" challenged like me, call the local M.S. Chapter at 1/800/451-0373 and make a donation for this cause. Please, I am working my tail off trying to raise a little awareness for the M.S. Society and this cause. Think about it and do the right thing ... like a lot of folks did today. They were complete strangers too, but, they stepped up and went outside their own little circle to make a difference in the big picture! YOU can do it too!
My thanks go to each of you for your support! Have a good evening and day tomorrow and I will write you from Memphis tomorrow!
And hello everybody from the Southern Blues City of Memphis! Before I begin tonight's journal entry, I must first say thank you to the folks at the Best Western Benchmark Hotel in Memphis, TN! They most graciously have allowed me to use their computer tonight to do this entry! Many thanks!!!
I haven't checked my e-mails yet tonight so I'm not sure who else I need to say hello to! I will just say welcome to the first time readers and I'm glad you returned to the "regulars"!
We began today in the town of Dyersburg, TN at the Best Western in their city. And they were a wonderful group of folks as well! Getting a local reporter to come out and all! They even donated to The M.S. Society and the other two charities a couple of the guys are riding for. Most generous and gracious to a group of strangers that literally "rode into town!" After I made my journal entry for last night, I stopped back by the lounge where we had eaten dinner earlier and Angie was talking to a couple of the folks that were in there. Before I walked out to go to bed, Angie had helped me raise another $45 for the M.S. Society in just a matter of a few minutes! Incidents like this have amazed me on this trip!
We were a couple minutes late pulling out today from our usual 0700 leaving time. About four miles out of the hotel, the group seemed to be running excessively fast and/or I was running extremely slow! Donn was behind me and I asked if my tire was flat and he said yes. I can't complain, though, it is only my first flat in just over 1,410 miles! With Carl's help, the flat was quickly fixed and we were on the road again!
Charlie was once again driving the SAG vehicle today but, he hopes to be able to ride with us as we pull out of Memphis on Friday. Jack rode all the way with us today and even he admitted today's 80 miles was harder than the century we rode two days ago. I will admit, Charlie has "livened" up the SAG stops a lot. He learned much from his experience riding with the Crossroads Cyling group a few years back.
Our route today was spent on Route 51. A busy four lane highway all the way from Dyerburg to Memphis. Most of the time we had nice shoulders but there were periods where the construction areas made us have to ride on the shoulder of the highway. And the traffic was good to us. We had our first "hecklers" from a car as we were riding into Memphis this afternoon. There must be something in city water that makes drivers do "stuff" like that. But it's probably not what is in the water at all ... it's what isn't in their heads ... brains!
For the most part, Jack did a real good job keeping up with us today. When he dropped back, Donn or Carl would linger back to help pull him back to the group. And while we were doing our SAG stops every 10 miles or so, he was never far behind at any time. I spent much of the morning trying to hang onto Barb's wheel. She has become a strong rider and I figure if I can keep up, it will help me become a stronger rider as well.
As I indicated earlier, we are in the Best Western Benchmark Hotel right in the middle of downtown Memphis. Right across the street from the famous Peabody Hotel. Donn first called there to check the prices of rooms ... $250 a night plus tax! It better come with dinner, breakfast, massage and a tour of Graceland by the King himself for that price! The Best Western ... $81 ... you KNOW where we stayed!
However, at 1630, this afternoon, after cleaning up, we met in our lobby and ventured over to the Peabody Hotel to watch the ducks being escorted from the fountain in the lobby onto the elevater to their penthouse quarters for the evening. A big spectical with lots of "lookers". A lot of fanfare over a few ducks in my opinion! I was ready for dinner ... some of those good Memphis ribs!
We went down to Beale Street about 1800. At this time of the evening, Beale Street was like a ghost town. So, after walking up and down the street, we found a restaurant and went in for our feast. My impression ... much like the ducks ... a lot of fanfare. They were good but did not knock my socks off! Good thing ... I have the world's ugliest feet! It just shows God had a sense of humor when he made my feet! However, We did have a wonderful waitress at our tsable. Mia was her name. She did an oustanding job looking after this crew! I asked her to check out the sight and told her I would say hello!
After dinner, we searched up and down the streets of Memphis for some ice cream. We ended up at a small Ben & Jerry's a couple blocks from the hotel. I asked the girl in there to just fix me something she would fix for herself ... I've never walked away from a Ben & Jerry's with so much ice cream! I met a young man in there and was talking with him about our ride. I invited him to check out the website. I even quized him about the address about twenty minutes later and he remembered it! I hope he checks it out!
And a little bit more good news. I received a call today from Jessica M., at DePuy, the folks that manufacuted my new hip. She was going to try and round up some possible publicity for the ride! And she has made connections with Fox channel 13 here in Memphis and a reporter, Maria Black, is supposed to call me tomorrow morning and hopefully set up an interview! Thanks Jessica for the great help!
The others in our group want to go see Graceland tomorrow and if I don't get a call, I may join them. But, if the station calls, I have a duty and a calling to answer. This trek is not for my pure pleasure ... it is, afterall, my attempt to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. I will forgo the sightseeing for the cause if that is what it takes.
And that's the question I want to leave with you this evening ... what are you willing to give up to make a difference? Is it something simple like a sightseeing trip with five of your best buddies? Ask yourself now ... are you willing?
I urge you to find a cause, outside yourself, to give 100% to once a month, a few times a year ... maybe even one weekend a year ... maybe doing the MS-150 next year! If you live in Virginia, come out and join me! It's the second weekend in June and we always have a blast! If you live outside Virginia, check with your local M.S. Chapter and see when you can join in with them!
Trust me when I tell you, the rewards you get back from the giving of your time and efforts is TEN FOLD! Like I said ... trust me with that one ... I KNOW !!! And I want you to experience the same feelings I get from helping this wonderful cause!
My thank you today goes to Jessica with DePuy. We had spoken a few times before I left for the trip but I wasn't really convinced if it was going to happen. Forgive my doubting, Jessica, and please accept my sincere THANK YOU!
Come back tomorrow and find out what kind of mischieve I can get into in the BIG City of Memphis! Until then ... have a great day!
So, come back tomorrow and see what I can get into in Memphis! Thanks for checking out this site!
O.K. folks, I am back to entering tonights journal one paragraph at a time as I ahve lost it ow two ocasions alreadey this evening. Computers ... sometimes you love 'em, sometimes you hate 'em!
Today was our third and last scheduled rest day of the journey. We are a couple days ahead of schedule right now as we had included a couple days for inclement weather which hasn't been a problem to this point! We ahve had lots of sunny days and a few overcast ones. But as far as rain ... all we have seen on the road since we begasn was just a few sprinkles! Completely amazing!
I first want to say a few hellos to a few folks that have taken an oportunity to drop me a note. To a high schoo buddy, Chris W. Who reminded me of my old nickname, "Heavy". To an old volleyball buddy, Jan W. To Kathy K. in the State Office and to Mike P. and Kristen A in my building. I know there are other nasmes I have missed but it is not intentional! I love all my e-mails! It means a lot to me to click on my "in-box" and see the support and encouragement from each of you!
I awoke this morning at 0440, 20 minutes before our usual waking time. NO, I refuse to get up at this hour on my rest day! So, I was ablke to go back to sleep and didn't wake up until 0745. With a leisurely period to prepare myself for the day, (and NO, I won't go into that ritual!) I went down stairs to join my friends for breakfast. And what is on the agenda for today ... well, it started with a trip to Graceland! If you have never been, you should go one time. If you have been, there is no need to go back. To me, it was likd a Disneyland without little fuzzy animals running around. No offense intended to Elvis fans. I acknowledge his importance to Rock 'n Roll but enough already. Elvis paid $100,000 for Graceland in 1957 and now this empire makes millions of dollars a year!
I returned to the hotel and caslled the local reporter that had indicated an interest in doing a story tothe folks at DePuy, my hip replacement manufacturer. The reporter said she would get back to me this afternoon. One of her colleagues scheduled to do the interview was in a meeting. I guess they must still be in a meeting as I received the call yet! ;o) Not to waste time, I did get in a good nap this afternoon. When I awoke and hadn't received the call, I juist had to console myself and went to a local reataurant, Rondevous, for a full rack of the best ribs I have ever tasted! Afterward, I felt very consoled about missing the interview ... What interview? ;o)
Now, it is time to go to bed. 0500 does come early and we are scheduled to ride about 80 miles tomorrow. Charlie is feeling better and may be back on the bike. This time next week, we should be at the Gulf! I hope you will stay with me and folow this journey until the end! But the journey really won't end until M.S. has been beaten. Please help me see this journey through to the end as well!
I will see you all tomorrow. I hope you have agreat day untiul then.
Today is a very special day for me! A couple days ago, I spoke of my Guardian Angel that was keeping watch over me and that I would tell you more in a few days ... well, today is that day!
My Guardian angel is my Mom. She is 82 years old today! Mom passed away June 27, 2004, after a most courageous life with cancer. She opted for no treatment as it was inoperable. She went for a quality in her life the last few years and she had her way! People would come by to see her and pay the "obligatory" last visit to a dying person and when they left her ... they were filled with the life she had in her! Even in her last days, when it was obvious she was not feeling well and in pain ... when asked how she was, Mom would reply, "I'm fine, I'm O.K." and would give you a smile that could melt your heart! I pray I have 1% of her spirit in me! I love her and miss her but she is always with me ... in my heart!
Now on to the journey today. we had a lovely stay in Memphis. Every rest day is a lovely day! We, of course pulled out of town at our usual 0700. I was, at first a bit concerned about the rush hour traffic leaving a major city, but, it all worked out well! as would be expected, the heavier traffic was all heading into town. Jack drove the vehicle out about 10 miles and joined us on his bike to head down route 61 ... our route for the day.
At first, it really wasn't too bad for a four lane highway even with speed limits of 65mph. After the first 10 miles, we regrouped. Jack decided he would ride out another 5 and head back for the car. Everything soon turned south ... just like the direction we were heading. We lost our shoulder to the highway. Rather the shoulder turned into an 18 inch wide strip of pavement with 12 inch "rumble" strips right beside the road and gravel to our right! No one was having any fun at this moment!
Jack soon turned around and went back for the vehicle. I didn't blame him one bit and wished it had been an option for me! We knew we had trouble when we noticed literally hundreds of billboards for the casinos we would soon be passing along this roadway. Our route planners had not noticed any parallel roads for today but, after a van passed about a foot or so by all five of us riding, we knew something had to be done. We stoped at a small pull over and someone noticed a car traveling on a road that apperaed to run along side this most hazardous route. We didn't know if it was paved, gravel or dirt ... we just knew we were going to take that road!
Normally, one would hesitate taking a "road" bike to a a rough cut dirt road but, each of us readily accepted this option! And it turned out to be a good move for most of our day! It ended up being the Old Route 61, a two lane road going through some rural communities. A MOST pleasant alternative! About 1030, we were becoming hungry and noticed a town back out on the four lane highway. Our hunger overpowered our fear of the road and we ventured out in search of sustinance. Our Guardian Angel had delivered us from the danger and now she was providing food! There was a Subway in the middle of small town Alabama. We all ordered sandwiches. And I must tell you a new trick when ordering sandwiches from Subway, if you like cheese, always ask for a "variety of cheese" and you will get more than just your normal two slices.
After we got our sandwiches, we all went to McDonald's to get large Chocolate shakes to go with them! As we all walked in the store, there was a gentleman there eating his sandwich and the others had been telling him about our ride. He looked at me and said, "You can ride a bike with that leg?" My "nemesis" from the '02 Cross Country ride, Donn, stepped right up and said, "Yes he did and he road from Los Angels to Boston too!" So, you see, Donn and I have come a long way! My Guardian Angel smiled with that comment from Donn.
After our lunch, we thought we could go back out on the "new" Route 61 as there appeared to be a shoulder. Well, less than a half mile out of town, the shoulder disappeared once again. Having learned our earlier lesson, we returned to the old route for about 15 more miles until it seemed to "vanish" right in front of our eyes! We found another road that took us right back to the New Highway. But first, there was an Alabama visitor center and we stopped! The ladies working this center provided ud with ice cold Coca Cola and, gave us the news that our only option to the town we were going for the evening would be about 12 miles down the New Route 61. With no other optiopn, we took off.
As the traffic allowed, we alternated pulling on the front of our paceline. There was one vehicle in particular that passed us within a couple feet when the left lane had been wide open. I guess there are drivers like that in every State. Our Guardian Angel had wonderfully looked after her "flock" today!
We arrived at our hotel around 1430, showered up and, the real winner for me today, Jack offered to take all my riding clothes, about three days or more worth, to the laundry for me! I will gladly purchase Jack the beverage of his choice tonight at dinner!
And now, my thank you for today, as you all may guess, is to my Guardian Angel, my Mom. As I said, she is always with me. I have on my computer as my screen saver back at work, a picture of me and Mom holding each other. This photo was taken on the Sunday before I left for my cross country ride. I can still close my eyes and feel my arms around my Mom and her arms around me, the texture of the sweater she was wearing as well. That entire moment is forever etched into my memory! When my final day comes, I too want to be able to say, "I'm fine, I'm O.K."
You see, Mom was one of my biggest fans and I hers! She would be so happy to see how well this tour is going! She is so happy about all the support I have been receiving, well wishes, support, both emotionally and financially for the cause. Please help me make my Mom smile, would you help me with this cause. I thank you for your continued support. I have some GREAT FRIENDS and FAMILY supporting me! I truly appreciate each of you!
Please pass this site along to anyone else you think may have an interest. By the numbers that have been logging on ... you have been doing a wonderful job helping spread the word and raise awareness about the M.S. Society! I will see you tomorrow with another story from the road! I look forward to talking with you then! Please send me an e-mail if you'd like. I like hearing from you too!
Hello to all on a wonderful Saturday afternoon! I understand the weather back home in Virginia is nice this afternoon after a cool start this morning. I want to say hello to a few folks back at work that have e-mailed me; Jane, Dolly, Mike and hello to a friend I met along my journey, Bobbi who is excited the Illini won an upset football game today! And hello to my neice Becky! I also want to give a special Birthday Wish to Steven! I hope your Hokies won today! I also need to say hello to Amber, the clerk at the Holiday Inn Express in Greenville, MS for letting me into the business center to use the computer for tonight.
You know, several weeks ago, all I was talking about was the BIG hills we were climbing. Well, we are officially out of the hills now ... and I miss them! Since we left Memphis, the roads have become flat as pancakes! And guess what? The wind is still out there! And, of course, we seldom have been graced with tail winds this entire trip! And today would be know different.
Our hotel this morning generally did not set up breakfast until 0700, but, at our request, they set it out at 0630. A nice gesture on their part. We again pulled out at 0700 but it is staying darker later. Much later than it seems when we began this journey just over three weeks ago. Being a Saturday in rural Alabama, though, the traffic was not bad. Charlie opted to stay off his bike for most of the day. He is still having "issues" with his backside. Jack rode out with us this morning. And he stayed on the front for nearly the first 10 miles. I was content just hanging onto the back of the pack.
I am still tired from pushing it hard yesterday down that busy highway 61. My body is a bit fatigued from the overall experience but just knowing the finish is less than a week away gives me the motivation and inspiration to keep on keeping on. The many e-mails and words of encouragement are also a special motivation for me!
We had been told there would be a restaurant about 40 miles into our ride, and we were somewhat counting on that break. When we rolled into the town, the only place with food open was a gas station that also sold anything "fried". Not the best food for fueling a body needing energy for a hard afternoon ride! I ate a piece of chicken and some okra. I couldn't finish the meal. Not sure if I was "fueled" up enough for the next 40 miles.
We pulled out of town running a nice pace about 17-18 mph. Carl was on the pull and I was second. He pulled for almost five miles and pulled out for me to take over. Immediately, either the wind picked up or I was "hitting the wall". I believe it was a combination of both. After less than a mile, Donn said he would take the front. I offered no argument or resistance. So Donn, Carl and Barb did the pulling while I held on to their wheels.
After about 4-5 miles, my legs were just screaming at me to back off. I tried to hang on as long as I could. It didn't work,the group was pulling away from me. Just like back home, I don't like to take people off of their pace to look after me. The three riders in front of me slowed a bit. Barb kept on riding and Carl and Donn returned to pull this "dog" home!
As the three of us were riding through a small Alabama town, we were passing a group of black men sitting under a big oak tree just taking in the day. We all rode right up to them and just shared the shade of their tree and some good conversation! It was a wonderful moment! As we pulled out, we thanked them for sharing the shade of their tree with us and they wished us well on our journey.
Jack, who had returned to the vehicle after the lunch stop, and Charlie, were waiting at a small visitor center just about 6 miles outside our town for the night, Greenville, Alabama. Or is it Mississippi? I have been in so many States the past couple of days, I just can't keep it straight any longer!
The group, minus me, decided to do an eight mile out and back run just to say they had been to Arkansas. I was fatigued and my legs were screaming ... so I opted to head straight to the hotel! A good move for me. The eight miles out to Arkansas would be into direct headwind. I am realizing I need to save my legs for the last few days of this journey. We still have a 90+ mile day in a couple days and the weather channel says it is going to be hot and muggy all next week! What else should we expect in the deep South!
So, I got in early, cleaned up and got my journal entry completed and the group has not yet been seen. I know I made the right choice for me!
My thank you for today is quite basic. I want and need to thank Carl and Donn for staying back and pulling me home this afternoon. I hope I am more rested tomorrow and can ride without being a henderance. They never complained the first time about helping me. No one ever does ... it's just that I don't like being the "weak link". I am in pretty good shape and I do have M.S., a bad leg, a hip replacement, missing an inner ear ... hey, what the heck am I doing out here riding my bike 2,000 miles in a month for in the first place!
I am because it is my calling, my dream, to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. To one day here the words spoken ... we have found a cure! Can it happen? I know that it can! Advances have been made in the past 10 years and the research continues! I am just one person ... there are literally thousands trying to make a difference for this cause. And you can help, if you would like to, either giving a little time or effort to the Society or train and come ride a bike with me at our next MS-150. I would love to ride with each of you! If you're not in the Blue Ridge Chapter in VA, write me and let me know when and where your Chapter's ride might be and I will do my best to join you!
Together, WE can make a difference!!!
Thank you for your time today and I will be back tomorrow!
Wow, a new month is upon us! Hello everyone, I hope you are having a good day! We are still in Mississippi tonight ... Vicksburg to be exact! And I understand it has been a bit cooler back home but here in Mississippi, the heat is still on! More about that in a few minutes but, first, I need to say hello to a few people!
Hello again to Becky and Steven. Sorry the Hokies didn't come through yesterday! I know they will be back next week! Also, I need to say hi to Marian S., a fellow classmate from my high school days and a cousin to Wanda M., who is one of the folks with M.S. that I am riding in honor of! And hello again to Bobbi, a friend that I met along the way and has become a regular visitor and supporter! I also heard from Paul G. today. He is one of the "D.M. F.'s" that I ride with at night back home. We are all looking forward to our night time winter rides with lights! It is so much fun! My thanks to all of you!
Last night, we all checked the weather channel and knew we were looking at temperatures approaching the 90's. Although Charlie is from Arizona and is better accustomed to the heat, with the added humidity, it becomes a different "animal". Charlie suggested we get out of the motel as early as possible and get as many miles behind us as we could before the heat of the day set in. Everyone agreed.
So, we left a little before 0700 this morning. It is darker later than when we started but, being a Sunday morning, there was much less traffic on the road. We stayed on the main highway for about the first twenty miles or so before we took a few "back roads" to the highway that had been our nemisis just a couple days ago, Route 61.
After almost 41 miles, we came back out to 61 and stopped at a local gas station for a light snack before "hitting" the highway. On an early Sunday morning, there just isn't much open to buy any "substantial" food! The choice today was more greasy chicken. I opted for a pack of nabs, an oatmeal cookie and a sports drink. Not necessarily the best choice for long distance riding but at least I would have no problem keeping it down!
Today, Jack realized our situation. He knew the weather was going to be tough and there would be limited resources for us to buy food along the way. Not just being Sunday, the choices are also limited due to our riding in mostly rural Mississippi. So, initially, Jack drove out about 8 miles ahead of us and started riding on his own. We spotted the vehicle at a gas station and realized his bike was not with the car so we continued to pedal.
About 8 miles past the station where he left the car, we spotted Jack riding back to the vehicle. He said he would return ASAP with cold beverages and his supply of fruit and salty snacks to help us down the road. After we arrived at our desiganted "lunch" stop, Jack was great stopping about every 10 to 12 miles in shady spots to take care of our needs. He gave up much of his riding day to look after us in this heat. We were all thankful for his support!
Leaving the lunch stop, we saw a sign which said, Vicksburg 44 miles. We were only half way done and the temeratures were already in the 80's. We worked really well as a team today. Even I was taking my turns pulling on the front. After about 20 miles, even with our sag stops provided by Jack,my legs were starting to feel like "noodles", with not a lot of strength in them.
Carl, Donn, Barb and Charlie told me to hold on to the back of the "train" and they would provide the pulling to get me in to town. Even with the slight headwinds, I know they were holding back a bit to make sure I didn't lose touch with the group. I really don't like not being able to "pull my share" but, there wasn't anything I could really do to change the situation. I was the only one that was upset, they just kept pedaling and pulling me along. Yes, I was upset with myself ... but, I was also thankful they were there to help me!
O.K., we're heading south and we have left the hills behind us ... or so I thought! About 12 miles from town we saw a big hill sticking up right in front of us! Not really a hill, we soon realized it was just a tall bridge we needed to cross. Jack waited at the base of the bridge to drive behind us as we climbed up and over this man-made "Lewey". Not to worry, we all made it!
And then I realized that all of Mississippi is not flat! We hit some real Lewey's today! Were we back in Iowa or Missouri? No, right here in Mississippi! And they were some good hills too! My legs, already being "fried", left me with no choice but to re-visit "granny"! She had been lonely as it had been at least a couple States since I last used her! But we made it! And as we rode into town, there was a Sonic on the left and Charlie shouted ... "I'm buying!" So we all stopped for a drink! While we were enjoying the cold beverage and the shade, Jack went ahead in the vehicle to scope out the motel. When he returned and told us it was only a couple miles away, Charlie shouted, "I can do that!"
So, here I am cleaned up and waiting for dinner! Tomorrow should be a bit shorter at only about 70 miles compared to our 89 miles today. I can do that!
Today my thanks goes to the "team"! Jack, Carl, Donn, Barb and Charlie ... they all took a part in making sure that I made it to the hotel. They know what this ride means to me and also what my cause means to me! That's right, raising awareness about Multiple Sclerosis and, hopefully, raise a little money to help find a cure! That's it ... in a nutshell!
Now it is time to relax and, yes, find a good place for dinner! There goes that food thing again! I hope you come back tomorrow to continue the journey down the Mississippi River! And when this journey is over, the cause will continue and will NOT be over until we have a cure!
I appreciate your being here to read my journal. We have less than a week before we make it to the Gulf. You'll want to be here each day until this journey is over ... and for that date ... please refer to the above paragraph!
Until tomorrow ... have a great day!
Hello evreyone and welcome to Natchez, Mississippi! And it has been an interesting day! I won't go into the details just yet, though. As you know, I need to say hello to a few people first!
I first want to say hello to a couple we met while riding into town on the Natchez Trace, Chuck and Nancy. They ended up becoming good friends and I will tell you more about that later! I also want to say hello to a couple from Connecticut we met at dinner tonight, John and Julie. They were amazed by the riding this group of "oldsters" is doing! They are going to check out the site later!
I also received a call this evening from a reporter in Baton Rouge, LA. And I am going to embarrass myself by letting you know that I didn't write down her name and am clueless at the moment! It will probably hit me as I try to fall asleep later! But she has recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had all kinds of questions! She is headed to see a specialist in Houston, TX tomorrow. I wish her the best! She will try to call later and see how the trip is going!
Now, about today's ride. Per our usual, we pulled out of Vicksburg, MI at 0700. The one thing I have been most impressed about this area are the hills! I thought we were long out of the hills ... NOT! Not really long or steep climbs ... just hills where you don't expect any to be and it "messes" with my mental preparation for riding! Given my physical limitations or challenges, my "mental" game has to be sharp to do this day after day!
The hotel clerk in Vicksburg suggested a route out of town, Route 27. A two lane roadway with a limited shoulder in most areas. Initially, our traffic was fairly moderate and there seemed to be no difficulty with the vehicles sharing the road. However, there was one incident this morning. We were riding east and the sun was in our faces. It was a warm and humid morning already. As were were heading around a long slow curve in the road, Charlie shouted, "Truck back!" It was one of those large cotton carrying trucks.
At that moment, a car appeared coming from the opposite direction. Charlie believes the driver didn't see us due to the sun. I am convinced he saw us but was trying to make a "statement" when he locked up his brakes just yards behind us. I was the last person in the pace line and when I heard the brakes, I did a split second check of the side of the road where I was riding. It was grassy and level. I immediately rode my bike onto the grassy shoulder and stopped without incident. I waived the truck around me and as he passed, I smelled a "burning rubber" odor from his brakes. Charlie said the smoke was pouring from his rear wheels! At least we were all safe!
After 18 miles on this road, we arrived at the Natchez Trace. A beautiful roadway, much like our Blue Ridge Parkway in VA ... minus the mountains! But there were still the hills to contend with. Nothing daunting or insurmountable, just enough to stretch our legs and give us a nice down hill run at times. And we had about 62 miles to get us to Natchez! Our 70 mile day was going to end up being closer to 90! Another mess with my mind!
But, it was a beautiful road! About 45 miles into our ride, we got off in Port Gibson, MI, and found a wonderful little restaurant for lunch. They had some of the best home cooking I have had in some time. We were all ready to hit the road after this lunch!
Jack went to drive out about 15 miles and ride back to meet us, which we did in short time. At that break, I filled my water bottles and started off before everyone as I knew my legs would be slowing down as the day wore on. Jack passed me with the vehicle about 2 miles down the road. I suspected the others would shortly catch me on their bikes. They never did. After about 10 miles, I saw Jack driving back. He said he had received a call about some "problem" and he was headed back. With his authoratative military background, he told me, "Hold your position." Which I did. It gave me time to retape my handlebars which had started to separate a few days ago. Bob at Cardinal Bicycle back home would be proud of me!
After about 15 minutes and hearing nothing from anyone, I started riding back. About a mile back, I ran into Charlie. He told me that Carl had been in an accident and had banged up his head and arm. It seems a crew had been mowing along the Trace and the blade shot a stick out and it had jammed into Carl's front wheel sending him sailing over his handlebars! A ranger had been summonsed to the scene to take a report. Carl wanted to continue riding but "General" Jack ordered him into the car and took him to the hospital. He had x-rays taken and he appears like he will be back on the bike! He was lucky but I'm not sure if there will be any legal ramifications as a result of this incident!
While Jack and Carl drove to the hospital in Natchez, Donn, Charlie, Barb and myself loaded up on gatorade and snacks as we would have no support for the rest of our ride into town. It was only about 30 miles left and we should be O.K. While Charlie and I were waiting on Donn and Barb to catch us, a local couple, Chuck and Nancy rode by on their bikes. They were aware of what had occured with Carl and chatted with us for a while. They were training for a ride on the Katy Trail in Missouri next week. I gave them a copy of why I was doing the ride and asked them to check the website. They also helped us with better directions into town and our hotel for the night.
After we arrived at the hotel and before we knew anything about Carl's situation, Nancy called the hotel to inquire and to offer rides and assisstance if needed in any way! A gracious offer from some folks we had just met a couple hours earlier on the road! I did call her back and advise her as to Carl's condition after we found out and again thanked her for their generosity!
So now, we had a situation. Carl wants to ride the whole distance and if we pull out of here tomorrow going to our next location, Baton Rouge, LA, it wouldn't happen. We were a couple days ahead of schedule, so I suggested we take an unscheduled "rest day" and Carl could go back and get those miles in. It would also give "General" Jack the opportunity to pick up more miles toward his ultimate goal. So, we will be spending an extra day in Natchez. It will give my legs an extra day to recover before we head of on another 90 mile ride into Louisiana on Wednesday! It will also give me time to call Jessica S., with the Louisiana M. S. Society and see how we might get together during their annual M.S.-150 this weekend!
Flexibility is a key. Luck is a key. Training is a key. Perserverance is a key. Determination is a key. And faith is a key. There are many keys into making anything work properly. Today, we were lucky! Carl was lucky. Not only to have had only minimal injuries but to be able to get back on the bike and ride.
A lot of the same qualities are needed when trying to live with Multiple Sclerosis. And for me, I might add being hard headed and stubborn! But, I am also lucky. Through the course of my disease, there have been times when I needed one, and at times, two canes just to walk. And here I am riding my bike 2,000+ miles for the cause. Yes, I am very lucky!
But it's not an option for many folks with M.S. For some, a wheel chair is the only way to get around. For others, maybe a walker. Still others may have time when they are restricted to their beds. This disease effects everyone differently. That's one of the "fears" I had when I was first diagnosed. And fear can get the best of you if you're not careful. But hope overcomes much!
Without hope, some folks would not be able to deal with another day. And that's where you can come in! You can help make a difference! If you don't have any extra money to contribute to the cause, you could contribute your time to help out your local chapter in some way! You will get more back than you will ever put in ... I KNOW!!!
The M.S. Society isn't paying for me to ride my bike 2,000 miles. They aren't buying me any of those lunches or dinners I have referred to. The monies donated to this cause are not paying any of those expenses either. That is out of my pocket. You see, I truly want the focus to be on the cause. Because I know that with your help, WE can make a difference!
And now, before I ramble on too much more, I will say to each of you how much I have appreciated your faithfulness to following this journey! We have less than a week left, even with this unexpected rest day! So don't miss out how this week ends ... follow us through to the end!
And like I told you last night, the journey will not truly end for me until we have a cure! Help me to see this through to its end!
Until tomorrow and, yes, even though I may not be riding, I will have something to say ... I'm certain! Until then ... good night and take care! I'll see you tomorrow!
And hello again from Natchez, MI. This was an unexpected and unanticipated rest day as Carl had suffered a fall in yesterday's ride and had to be taken to the hospital. He is much better today and he wanted to get in all the miles, so, we delayed our journey for one day. Although I wish I were writing you from Baton Rouge, LA, my "backside" and legs were grateful for the rest.
First, I need to do my daily duties and say hello to a few people. To Jill A., a good friend with M.S. who I am also riding in honor of. To a good cycling buddy, Eric T. who has been a very good friend for several years now! I also wish to say hello to Jessica S., of the Louisiana Multiple Sclerosis Society. I am hoping to meet up with their group at some point this weekend as they have their annual M.S.-150 ride! And a very special hello to the Natchez Ladies Bridge Club that was meeting(and playing bridge) tonight at the Magnolia Grille!
I have to admit, it was nice sleeping past 0730 this morning. That extra two hours just ... I have no words for it at the moment. Not much for breakfast, just a little oatmeal and some orange juice. I didn't need to fuel my body for a vigorous challenge today.
Carl was feeling better too. He has some scratches on the side of his face and on his arm from his accident yesterday but he said he is feeling good. Donn, Charlie and I shuttled Carl and Barb back to the point where the accident happened yesterday afternoon. Carl, intent on riding every mile, was escorted by Barb in case of any problems that may occur. Donn, Charlie and I headed back toward town but pulled over after several miles just to ensure Carl was indeed ready for the next 30 miles. He said he was fine as he rode by so we returned back to Natchez.
We made some priliminary discussions on options for the next few days. After talking with a few locals, who are better informed about our potential routes, it was determined that the State Park in Grand Isle, if it still existed, would not be a good option. Several options were laid out at a group meeting today and we all concur that if we make it to "salt" water, the trip is a success!
But as for tomorrow, we have another 90+ miles day in store. And the final route is still not confirmed. It does appear that we will return to our dreaded Route 61 for at least a portion of the day's ride. If it stays narrow with heavy traffic ... it won't be fun. I'm avoiding the word dangerous but that is always a potential hazard when you mix narrow roads with traffic and bicycles. Please keep our group in your thoughts tomorrow for our safety during the ride.
You may ask yourself, "Why would you try riding in such areas if it is not safe?" Because I have a committment to this ride, to my dream and some things are bigger than the immediate issues at hand. We will all ride as safely as we can and I don't want to envision any difficulties. But, in reality, it is a possibility.
I also want to continue to raise awareness for the cause and by showing my commitment to it ... I hope I may reach one or two maybe more, who will also take up this standard and help further the battle to find a cure for M.S. It will happen and I would love for you to be a part of that victory!
There are now about three days of riding left. Not much when you think we have been doing this for four weeks! But for some folks, those with M.S., whose battle will continue far after this ride ends. That's where you can help make a differnce. I hope you can find it in you to become involved with this cause!
Until tomorrow, I wish you the best and I hope you will come back and see this journey to its end!
Jai Taime Baton Rouge! Sorry folks, I never took French and even with two years of Spanish, I still can't get more than a couple cervezas! Wow, where do I start? When I got up this morning, I just felt that something wasn't right today. Wasn't quite sure what it was though. I couldn't put my finger on it. Do you ever have those feelings? Let me say a few hellos and I will tell you more about my day ...
I would like to say hello to Bobbi S., a good friend who has become a regular e-mailer and well wisher! To my friend back home, Wanda M., who also writes and calls on ocassion. She was very disappointed with my Graceland review! And I need to say hello to my brother, Gary and my niece, Becky! See you all next week! Where has all the time gone? My backside is asking, "Where has all the skin and feeling gone!" I'll need to work on that after I get home! With just one more long day in the saddle left ... it's not time to think about the pain ... yet!
Now, back to those feelings I had this morning. It just wasn't my "normal" routine today. I couldn't get my mental psychie going in the right direction. With the extra day of rest, you would thnk I would be ready to take on the day ... sadly, I wasn't.
We knew this was going to be a long day and the heat was going to be turned on high! And we knew riding into Baton Rouge was not going to be an easy task. So we left about 0650, just to try to get a few minutes head start before the heat was turned on. As I wrote yesterday, I have been most surprised by the hills in this part of of the country. And less than three miles out of the hotel, we hit our first Lewey!
Now realistically, folks, these hills are nothing compared to the hills we were riding even last week as we headed into Memphis! It's just that I'm tired ... more likely fatigued is a better word. As I hit the first hill, my legs refused to respond. They instead started to burn in both the quads and the hamstrings. This is the feeling they have been getting about 70 miles into the ride ... not within the first five! "NO", I shouted, this can't be happening this close to the end of the ride! I was mad at my body for not respoding as I thought it should. Would I have to ride in the truck today ... honestly, the thought did go through my head. NO WAY ... was my response to myself!
Carl, who was back riding well after his crash two days ago, rode on ahead with Barb. Donn and Charlie hung back with me. Being mad at myself, I snapped at them, "I don't need any babysitters looking after me ... go on and ride!" They just ignored me and kind of hung back with me. Encouraging me but not coddling me. That would not have gone over well with me ... particularly at that moment.
I decided I would ride to the first SAG, about twenty miles down the road. Charlie and Donn stopped a couple times, to take a photo and just "take a break". I refused to stop. I had put on my camelback today to have extra water in the heat. After I arrived at the first SAG, I put the camelback in the truck. If we were going to have a SAG every 10-12 miles, I didn't need to haul the extra weight.
We turned onto another road shortly after the stop and the hills were less severe. I was beginning to think I would be able to last the day! About 48 miles in to the ride, we stopped for our lunch break in a small town just prior to crossing into Louisiana. I ate probably more than I should have but I was just trying to find some energy from anywhere.
As we crossed the State line, the roads altered from having a shoulder to not. And at times it didn't matter as the traffic wasn't too bad. But as we began to ride closer to Baton Rouge, that all soon changed. The trucks and cars became regular. Some passing us much closer than any of us liked. And the feeling was, it was going to get worse before it got any better!
Jack met us just on the outskirts of Baton Rouge for our last SAG stop, about 15 miles of city riding before we would reach our hotel. The brief period of energy I had after lunch had long since left me. As we were leaving this last stop, Carl had a flat tire. This allowed me a few more minutes to eat some ice cold grapes and drink more gatorade. When we resumed our way down the highway, I thought I was ready to ride to the hotel without problems.
Then I realised, we were heading back onto the highway that had given all of us a difficult time just days ago, Highway 61. And we got onto the highway on a ramp much like getting onto an Interstate. When we got to the end of the ramp, which was up hill, there was no acceleration lane or bike lane ... and traffic was doing at least 55mph+! Carl and Barb saw a spot and took off. Charlie and I were in the wrong gears. As I tried to pull out, it was almost impossible to turn my crank over. I pulled hard with my left foot and pulled my foot right out of my shoe! And, you guessed it, a tractor trailer was fast approaching in my lane! I lost it! After getting out of the way, I refused to get back on that road! With coaxing from Donn and Charlie, I finally relented and did. I wasn't happy, but I did.
We spent about eight miles riding down this highway. Sometimes with a shoulder, sometimes without. Charlie wasn't happy but wasn't expressing his feelings quite the way I was! And, finally, after those terrible moments on this horrible roadway, we heard "General" Jack shouting to his troops from across the road! We had reached our intersection for our hotel! No one was any more relieved than I was!
As for tomorrow, I have been told there will be some trsffic but not as bad as we had it today! I'm not too optimistic at the moment. The one thing that will keep me going is knowing that it will be our last long day! I am tired but, I'm not alone. We are all tired. We have ridden over 1,940 miles in four weeks. We're not Tour de France riders, we're just a bunch of old farts who enjoy riding bikes! Just to let you know, some of that joy was taken out of me today! I am thankful my Guardian Angel was there working overtime looking out for all of us! Thanks Mom!
Sometimes we all need a little help. Several years ago, I wrote in an article for our M.S. Chapter that said, "I had never met anyone with M.S. that was looking for a 'hand-out' but, sometimes a 'hand up' is appreciated". If you haven't already, you can help by giving a "hand up" to the M.S. Chapter nearest you! As I have said, either through time or with a financial donation! I would love to hear from some of you that would like to ride with me in next year's MS-150! They are lots of fun and they are for a GREAT cause, obviously!
My thank's for today go to the ones that helped me get down the road early this morning and "coaxed" me back onto the highway this afternoon when I was ready to throw in the towel! To Charlie and Donn ... thank you! I'd probably still be out there on the road if it weren't for your "hand up!"
Our time is short for this journey and I have greatly appreciated all the e-mails with support and encouragment that have been sent. The ride may come to an end but the journey isn't over yet! Not for those of us who have M.S.! Not yet!
Please come back and check out what we have to go through tomorrow just to get into New Orleans. I know this area is still recovering, and I know there are still a lot of very strong willed people living in this area too! We need people like that, like you, working with us at the M.S. Society to help make the difference!
I'll send you all a note from the Big Easy tomorrow! Have a wonderful day until then!
Wow, can you believe it! I'm in New Orleans! It has taken us almost 30 days to realize this dream. But, just like all the other days, this one has some special notes and highlights too! And as soon as I say a few "hello's" to folks I have met along the way today, I will share the news of today.
I first want to say hello to Jim at the FROSTOP in LaPlace, LA. Our group was passsing through their town when we saw the sign for Rootbeer Floats. Even though we had to cross the highway, we stopped in for a wonderful Rootbeer Float! Jim even gave us free refills of Rootbeer! I shared a copy of my story with him and he thanked me, shook my hand and gave me a free long sleeve T-shirt with the business logo on it! How cool! I met a salesman named Gary tonight in the hotel bar where we were waiting for the rest of our group to go have dinner. Gary was intrigued by our journey and said he would check out the website! And, last but not least, I talked with one of the waitresses at the Gumbo Shop down in the French Quarter tonight where we had dinner! We talked a little about the ride and I asked her to check out the site too! A good day for meeting new friends!
I also want to throw in a couple milestomes or accomplishments met today! I now have after today's ride, 2,025 miles since starting my ride les than one month ago. It is also an anniversary date for me ... one year ago today was when I did my first "road ride" after having my hip replaced on 7/18/2005. In that year, I have ridden just over 8,700 miles. More than I have ever ridden in a 12 month period! Not too bad!
As you may recall from yesterday's journal entry, we had a hard time with the traffic yesterday afternoon! Well, getting out this morning wasn't quite as bad but still challenging at times with all the morning rush hour traffic and the construction going on. But there was at least a shoulder most of the time. And when there wasn't, it seemed the traffic "backed off" at just the right moments to allow us safe passage in those tight areas. Only once all day did a single tractor trailer driver pass us by with his horn blaring. I recall thinking at that moment, there was no other traffic in either lane and we were all safely on the shoulder. He was just being a royal pain!
We rode steady this morning. Our first sag stop wasn't until about 21 miles from the hotel. Jack had driven out early and ridden back to meet us before turning around and rushing back to the vehicle to have the gatorade and snacks waiting on us as we pulled up! It really looks like "General" Jack is taking some pleasure in looking after his "troops"!
Jack found a lovely little country reataurant for us all to regroup and break bread together. He then joined us as we left our major route for the day to go down and ride on the levy. By the way, need I remind you that we are still on our dreaded Route 61! Nothing real exciting about the route ... yet! After riding on the levy, Jack returned to the vehicle and we moved back out to Route 61. After a while back out there is when we heard Jack rally the troops for an assault on the Rootbeer Float Shop! There was no discord among the ranks. We stood our ground and marched into the shop! The rest is history!
As we closed in on New Orleans, we lost our shoulder, which had then become a third lane for the highway. We rode together fairly tightly so the traffic would only be slightly interupted one time. For the most part the traffic was actually very decent to us! We only had to continually yell at each other regarding various road conditions as we approached them ... "HOLE LEFT", "BUMP UP", "DEBRIS", and "ROAD KILL" ... to just name a few!
As we closed in on the town, the road increased in size ... two lane, three lane, four lane ... all with traffic, and still no shoulder! At one brief point, the road even grew to five lanes ... three lanes turning into Tulane Street and the two lanes on the right routing traffic directly onto Interstate 10. We wanted the Tulane Street, so when there was a slight break in the traffic, we all shot across the five lanes of traffic. We then realized we were on the wrong side of the rode, so we all shot bck across the traffic. Except for Carl, who only came back across three lanes and held his line heading toward the Tulane Street exit. Donn, Charlie and myself waited ubtil we were closer to the exit before we jumped across the two I-10 lanes just before the heavy traffuc returned! These past two days, I have ridden my bike on roads that I would easily hesitate driving my car on! When you don't know and you don't really have an alternative choice, you make questionable moves. Fortunately, we had at leat one Guardian Angel looking after us today!
After that point, riding on into town was a breeze. We became a bit disoriented at one point and were riding down a small side street when we came out directly adjacent to our hotel, the DoubleTree. A very nice up scale place! We even got some very nice rates! Our friend Wendy, from the AmericInn in Praire Du Chein had called down and made the reservations for our group! A wonderful gesture!
After checking in, I called Chief Benoit from the U.S District Probation Ofice here in New Orleans. I am planning on visiting their office tomorrow afternoon! After we ride down to the salt water tomorrow morning to dip our front wheels. A symbolic gesture signifying the completetion of our journey. We already have strawberries, chocolate and champaign to celebrate the moment as well!
As I have indicated before, this particular journey may be over but the dream is still alive! I will still pursue the ultimate gosl of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Just as this ride was a dream of mine just over a month ago, it is now my reality. Finding the cure for M.S. is still a dream but, I, and countless others, are hoping that one day this dream will also become a reality! Then I will be able to ride my bike just for the pure joy alone!
It's never too late to help make a difference! As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day" ... "Teach a man to fish and feed hime for a lifetime". Part of what I was wanting to accomplish with this journal is to show people how much fun it can be doing something with your life to help others. I hope you can find the joy that I have found in working with and through the M.S. Society!
If M.S. is not your "cup of tea", then I urge you to find a cause, outside yourself, to champion! Take that first step, pick up the standard, make a stand ... make a difference ... and maybe one day your dreams may become a reality too!
But until then, please come back tomorrow! This journey "ain't" over yet! Until then ... have a great day!
Once again, this will be my second attempt to make today's journal entry. Sometimes I love computers and sometimes ...
So, what could be left? We had arrived in New Orleans less than 24 hours ago, so, what could be left? We needed to ride our bikes to the gulf and dip our wheels! More of a "symbolic" move than anything else but one we were all looking forward to! One we had all worked very hard for and had earned! But first, let me say hello to quite a few people! I didn't write down all the names of folks from my high school class of 1974 from Patrick Henry High School that sent me notes, thank you's and just to say congratulations! At the risk of missing one person's name, I won't mention any but YOU know who YOU are! And I so greatly appreciate hearing from my old classmates! There hasn't been a class like ours since we left! Truly one of a kind! I also heard from my neice, Becky and a couple of her friends,! Thank you! I heard from a couple co-workers, Dolly C. and Kathy K. ... I'll see ya'll next week! I have to admit, hearing from friends and getting your support and encouragement has been one of the best parts of this whole experience! I thank ALL of you!
Last night Carl and Jack were checking with lots of folks around the hotel trying to get opinions and options for today's ride to the gulf. One thing our group decided was that our original destination plan was not a viable option as we heard it probably did not exist anymore anyway. So, as a group, we decided to find the closest salt water to our hotel that we could find! Shell Beach seemed to be the destination we were looking for but the mileage to this destination varied from 25 to 40 miles round trip. Not a problem for this group but we all needed to return by early afternoon for varied reasons.
Donn, Barb and Charlie all needed to get their bikes to a local bike shop so they could be packed up and shipped home. They are all flying out tomorrow or early Sunday. Carl is taking Jack's bike back to Massachusetts with him and Jack is flying out as well tomorrow. I will be riding back to Virginia with Carl as he will drop me off at home enroute to his home in Massachusetts. I needed to be back early as I was scheduled to visit the local United States Probation Office here in New Orleans this afternoon. So we all had errands to perform. And with the easy miles proposed, there should be no problem.
Leaving the hotel at 0700 was no problem for us. Riding out of New Orleans at that hour was no problem for us either. Our route was to take us right through the 9th Ward, one of the areas most devastated by Katrina last year. As we started heading out of town, the atmosphere changed. There was some activity going on but there were long rows of houses still empty over a year later. Some of these houses still had water marks halfway up the side of the house. Even after seeing all the photos and television stories, seeing it all in person was still a bit eerie ... even a year later.
As we headed out of New Orleans "proper", even the rural areas had a desolate appearance. There were trees with debris still hanging in them, shopping centers standing completely vacant and a McDonald's sign, with all the letters and colors broken out just standing in a lot with no building in sight.
We rode through areas that were the trailer homes of folks diplaced by the storm. We rode through residential areas that had these trailers in front of their gutted out houses. After over a year, this is the way people still lived their lives every day! A couple of the folks wanted to stop and take pictures of the homes. I couldn't. I felt like it was almost exploiting the tragedy of others. It just didn't feel right to me.
Riding toward our designated beach, Shell Beach, took us up and down some wrong roads until we found a small reataurant open and serving the local construction workers and what few residents that had returned to the area. The waitress gave us some good directions and off we went again! Our little 40 mile round trip was at 32 miles by the time we arrived at Shell Beach. We had our celebration. Opened a couple champaigne bottles and shared some strawberries and toasted each other on our accomplishment. It was a good moment.
But, it was now 1115 and we all needed to get back to town. Carl and I took off in front and were running 18-20 mph for the better part of an hour before Barb pulled up with us and even went around us! Carl followed her up a steep little bridge and even passed her. She caught up on the downhill side but they both pulled away from me. I tried chasing them down for over five miles with no luck. My legs just didn't have the power to reel them in! After a while, they finally stopped and waited for me to catch up. Just as I pulled up to them and clipped out, they took off again! All I could do was grab their wheel and hold on!
We made it back into town and they stopped at McDonald's for lunch and were joined by Donn and Charlie. I had to get back to the hotel for my afternoon visit with the Probation Office. The visit was a good one. The Chief, Jill Benoit, was quite glad to show me around the office and introduce me to some of the folks that were still there on a Friday afternoon. I appreaciated the opportunity to visit with my "co-workers" from another district. And for their hospitality, Cheif Benoit and her office are getting my Thank you for today.
This thank you is also being shared with all of the notes and well wishes I received yesterday from friends, old and new, co-workers and family ... what a wonderful feeling it is to open my mail and see all those notes!
And again I say, this journey is coming to an end but the cause for this ride is still there, as long as one person is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, that is one person too many! I have heard from many saying they now want to get involved with this cause in some way, shape or form! And that makes my eyes and heart swell! That was a big reason for all the up front publicity for the ride ... to raise awareness about this cause and to get more people interested and involved in helping to find a cure!
Like I said last night, step outside your own litle world and dare to take a chance and make a stand for this cause! Join me and thousands of others in this fight! Together, we can and will make a difference!
Thank you for your time this evening and, yes, I will be back tomorrow as I travel up State to visit with the local M.S. Chapter as they have their MS-150 tour this weekend! Until then, have a great weekend and I will see you tomorrow!
Wow, it is so nice not to be on my bicycle today! There are parts of me that may take a little time to heal! As for my next dream ... I've not yet begun to think about it. I want to take a few days to relish in the memories and moments of this recent adventure! I know there will be another dream in due time!
Our real celebration had occurred last night as we all went to Pat Obrien's in the French Quarter for a celebratory beverages! We all then went to a small Italian restaurant where I had the best Chicken Parmasean I have ever had. We then returned to our hotel for one last nights rest before returning to our "real" lives outside of riding bicycles.
Jack arose ar 0400 to leave for the airport for an early flight home. That left Barb, Carl, Charlie, Donn and myself to go out for one last quick breakfast before heading our separate ways. It wasn't about the food at this point. It was more about just spending a few more minutes with the people that we had come to know, trust and care for deeply over the past few weeks. Adventures like this either bring people together or drive them apart. We were now a "unit".
The meal was uneventful. It was even slow being brought to us which gave us a chuckle about how long it had taken a coffee shop in Minnesota to bring us our bagels, coffee and then, after more of a delay, our checks. We even think like a unit now! All the "one liner" jokes that would mean nothing to anyone else ... send us into giddy laughter!
The goodbyes were quick and over in just a few minures. But this group will never say goodbye ... more than likely, just, "See you later"!
Carl and I also pulled out about 0945 and drove to the overnight location of the Louisiana M.S. Chapter MS-150. I wanted to meet the people that were getting this tour "back on track" after having had to cancel last year. They had over 800 riders registered and it was well supported with M.S. Staff, volunteers and lots of food and beverages to feul the riders as they came in.
Carl and I left them in good hands! Not like we were going to make any difference anyway! We had miles to drive to get ourselves home. We tried finding a motel about the halfway point in Northern Alabama but no rooms were available at any motels. It seemed that NASCAR was having a little race as some place called Taledega and all the rooms were taken for miles. It was Chattanooga, TN and about 2200 before we found a room. I tried writng this journal last night but could not hold my eyes open. I apologize.
I know many of you have checked daily to see about the progress and I feel like I at least let myself down by not having this on-line by this morning! But sometimes, that's just the way things happen. Just like getting M.S. ... who would ever plan on having this happen to themselves? But, when it does, you just have to deal with life and it's ups and downs as you go through each day! Maybe one day M.S. will not be a problem any longer to have any effect on someone's day! Wouldn't that be pretty nice!
And by now, you know my pitch ... you can help out folks with Multiple Sclerosis by donating to the M.S. Society to help fund research! Or, you could volunteer some time with your local Chapter Office for any activity or work that could help someone out who has been diagnosed with M.S. Sometimes your time can be of more value to the Chapter than your money!
In any case, I ask you to come back tomorrow for one more short journal entry. I have appreciated everyone's faithfulness in following this trip and wish for each of you a great day until we meet again.
Welcome everyone. I am saddened that this will be my last entry. I have greatly enjoyed in being a part of so many peoples' day's, even if just for a couple minutes. But, I guess all good things must come to an end.
Today, I arrived safely home after being gone for over a month. It is good to be home, quite honestly! But it has also been good trying to spread the word and raise awarness about Multiple Sclerosis! And any monies that have been donated are just a bonus!
If you, a family member, a co-worker , friend or acquantance ever receive a diagnosis of M.S., I urge you to contact your local Chapter immediately. All of the activities aren't for everyone but I am certain they can match you up with a peer support counselor to help you or someone you know with the hard questions that hit you when you are first diagnosed.
I pray this never happens to you ... I never thought about it happening to me either ... If it should, remember, do not hesitate to ask for a "hand up"! There are so many good people at the M.S. Society waiting for your call.
So, until all my parts heal and/or I earn enough leave time for another adventure ... I hope you will find a cause to donate your time, money and efforts to. You will never regret getting involved. One of the things I tell many people when I am talking with them, "On my last day I want to say, 'I'm glad I did' and not 'I wish I had'".
And my Thank You for today goes to each and everyone one of you that have been checking out this site and/or forwarding it on to other people! I thank you for YOUR time!
Well, if you have been checking this site, you would have read that the 10/08/2006 entry would be my last. Not so! I need to do one more entry! Last night, my niece, Becky W.I., got away with planning a most wonderful surprise return party for me at the Cornerstone Bar and Grille in downtown Roanoke. Present were folks from the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, family, co-workers and friends! It was a wonderful evening! You know, I seldom reflect on my life's situation, but, realistically, my physical life has been like "a bowl of lemons". I could have set back and really gotten bitter and sour ... feeling sorry for myself. And in some ways, possibly justified. But that is not the gift I have been given. To live life to it's fullest! I have learned to make some very good lemonade with those lemons of mine!
Life is too short to sit back and feel sorry about the situation you may have been given. It has been much more fulfilling pushing myself and trying to make a difference! Have I made mistakes ... who hasn't! But when our "chips are down", you can only then find what character or fiber you have within. Like I said the other day, I want to say, "I'm glad I did" ... not ... "I wish I had!"
I want to thank Becky and her husband, Steven, for the wonderful evening. I need to thank Nancy for her part even though she wasn't able to be there. And to everyone that was there in person or in spirit, I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart!
Like I told my friends that were there last night, "A rich man may be the one with the most money in his pocket," ... "a really RICH man is the one with the most friends at the end of the day!"
Looking around the room last night, I realized just how rich I am !!!
And don't ever think my "dream" is over ... just this chapter! Not until there is a cure will we have the chance to rest! Let's work together to realize this dream!