First up was the MS150 Jack & Back charity ride. This is a GREAT ride that supports the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's a ride that starts in Franklin, TN on Saturday morning, and makes it way to Lynchburg, TN, which is where the Jack Daniel's Distillery is located. Jack Daniel's then hosts a huge dinner / party for the riders that night, and then you ride back to Franklin on Sunday. We have a friend, Lisa, who battles MS and put together a team, so Dudley and I signed up to be a part of it. We had actually done this ride previously a few years back without knowing we had a personal connection to MS. And we've since done the ride a couple of times in Lisa's honor. Soon after registering, I found out that Karen, who is the sister of my running friend Kim, also suffers from MS. For those who don't know - MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is mainly diagnosed between the ages of 20-40 years old. Symptoms include a loss of balance, double-vision and painful muscle spasms. There is no explantation as to why this disease strikes some people and not others, and there is no cure. Dudley and I were proud to ride in honor of both Lisa and Karen in the MS ride this year.
Though it was 80+ degrees on Friday, the temperature was mid-40's and overcast/drizzle on Saturday. Not the best day for riding and the weather was kind of a shock after such a nice day before. But we bundled up and went on our way. It was nice to just "ride" and not "race." We took out time, had some nice conversations and took in the scenery. It was pretty cold though. Cold enough for the rest areas to have fire-pits. And let me tell you, they were REALLY appreciated.
FIRE PIT! The rest areas even had fixin's for smores!!
After a long day in the saddle, we made it to Motlow Community College, which served as the staging area for the ride. Here we would leave our bikes for the night, grab some food and catch the buses for the hotel.
Team "Lisa's Longhorns" hanging out with Jack D.
After a long shower and a short nap, we boarded the buses again to head up to Jack Daniel's for dinner. What's interesting about Jack Daniel's is that even though it's a distillery, it's in a dry county - so no drinking. They aren't even allowed to have tastings during their tours. I, personally, don't drink, so this is no big deal to me, but it's kind of ironic that a famous distillery is in dry country. HOWEVER - the distillery has an event space that gets an exemption to the non-drinking rule, so yes, there was plenty of Jack served at dinner.
A little dinner and music at Jack Daniel's
This dinner was particularly special because our friend Lisa was the keynote speaker for the night. MS is such a bitch of a disease. It's one thing to read about a disease from a website or brochure, but to hear first-hand experiences from a personal friend is a whole different experience. She was nervous to speak, but she did a great job and received a standing ovation.
Lisa sharing her story. So inspirational!
Morning came WAY too early, but we were on our bikes and riding by 7:30 am. It was, again, cold but not rainy. Unfortunately, it was CRAZY windy and we were in a strong headwind for most of the ride. We tried to pick up pacelines when we could to get out of the wind, but they were few and far between. We generally don't stop at all of the rest areas on charity rides, but we stopped at all of them this day - we HAD to get out of the wind. It was just exhausting. Of course, the weather really cleared up with about six miles to go. Isn't that usually how things work?
MS 150 Jack & Back - DONE!
It was a great, inspirational weekend. The ride also raised an insane amount of money for the MS Society, which is awesome. As cold, rainy and windy the ride might have been, we were always aware that we were riding for the bigger picture - the MS Society, and Lisa and Karen specifically. Those two women were on the top of my mind the entire weekend. It's funny, because I know I can complain about how tired/sore/frustrated I am from all of the training I do for races. I look back on that and laugh because my pain is nothing compared to what people like Lisa and Karen face everyday. And the biggest difference is - I can stop my suffering at any time. My pain is voluntary. Their pain isn't. This ride was for them and it made every shivering pedal stroke worth it.
FYI - There are MS rides all over the country - check them out or just donate: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx/.