It’s been two weeks–a VERY busy, hectic, emotional two weeks, nonetheless–and it’s time, PAST time, I tell you all about my recent experience on the MS-150.
To start with for anyone who hasn’t had the lovely experience of hearing me drone on about this and not-so-discretely ask for donations by way of selling a certain book, every year my local multiple sclerosis chapter hosts a bike ride of 150 miles along the Mother Road (Route 66) as a benefit that raises money for MS.
Last year was my first year to participate and my husband and I had a ball.
The same can be said for this year, too. But for a totally different reason.
I should probably start by mentioning that my husband informed me the Wednesday before that he had two tests the next week. One on Monday and one on Tuesday so he wouldn’t be able to ride on Sunday and we needed to give it our all on Saturday.
So we did.
First, because of his need to study, we didn’t even leave to go to the camp we were to pitch a tent Friday night until close to dinner time. Just as we’re about to get out of Tulsa, we realize that we don’t have any blankets! No worries, right? It’s been in the 90s all week. Yeah, during the day! Night time, not so much. We found a Target and bought two very light “team” blankets that a college student might put on his dorm bed. Classic.
Then we drove to the place. Only we couldn’t find the place! We drove around this little town podunk town for half an hour trying to find the fairgrounds. Then Bob has an epiphany: it’s by the high school, he says. I remember that from last year. Alrighty then, I get out his phone and do a search for high school because apparently fairgrounds isn’t recognized. We find the high school only to realize that across the street is a cemetery. Call me crazy, but I’m NOT sleeping in a cemetery. Half an hour later and we’re onto something! Never mind that this is the way I told him to go originally. I’m just thrilled we found it. Now, if only we can find a gate that’s open…
No worries, it only took 15 minutes to find an unlocked entrance. Then it was time to navigate Tent City in our station wagon. I have to admit this is how I envision Woodstock. There were people and tents and clothes and scantily dressed people everywhere. In tents, laying on the ground, walking around, drinking, smoking (yes, really), blaring music, just chillin’ in their lawn chairs. You name it, people were doing it! Then there was Bob and me, trying to locate our team in the darkness then erecting our tent in the moonlight.
Tent went up, car was unloaded, mattress inflated, mattress deflated… As luck would have it, there was not one, but two sizable holes in the bottom of our air mattress. Naturally.
Fortunately we’re surrounded by hundreds of bicyclist and all good bicyclists have one thing in common in their bike bags: tire patches. One of the men from our team whipped his out and using two tire patches and an unhealthy dose of glue that took only 15 seconds of exposure to make me think EVERYTHING was hysterically funny, the mattress was healed!
While it was great that the mattress was in usable condition at this point, I should mention the blankets we’d purchased were AWFUL. Even before crawling into bed, we knew they weren’t going to be enough. It wasn’t just nippy or chilly, it was downright cold!
Me, being the most awesome packer/planner ever, didn’t wear socks and I had only one pair: the ones I wear with my biking shoes. To most this wouldn’t be a problem, just wear the socks to bed. But I couldn’t. See, I have this awful habit of removing my socks in the night–then not being able to find them the next day. I know, I know, it’s a small space there isn’t anywhere for the sock to go. Oh, dear reader, do NOT underestimate me. I’ve lost I cannot tell you how many socks in a tent. I have no idea what I do with them, but I couldn’t risk getting a huge blister on my heels in my clip on shoes. So I opted to not wear socks to bed and instead proposed a most shiver-ish idea to my husband: he remove one of his socks and I’ll wear it, then we’ll each have one warm foot! Alas, he didn’t go for that. So instead, I wrapped my frozen phalanges in the bottom of the blanket and prayed for the best.
I honestly think the cold would have been more tolerable had we been able to sleep. But there was this dog… This loud, yapping dog who barked all. night. long. It was awful. Absolutely torturous. I swear I slept more the night the cougar was outside my tent/car than I did that night. It was that annoying.
So shivering together, my husband and I did what we do best: chatted through our chattering teeth until morning came and we were completely exhausted in time to ride our bike! Awesomeness.
Really it wasn’t so bad. Even though sleep had been elusive, I think the excitement of the whole thing crackled in the air and gave us all a boost! The wind chill helped with that, too, and after a breakfast of champions, it was time to go get on our tandem…
There was only one issue: the dew from the night before had rolled off the top of the team tent and right onto our foam seats all night long! Our poor seats were positively soaked with water. Cold water. I *promise* my grimace was minimal as I sat upon my throne and away we went!
The first ten miles, I couldn’t feel my hands. Or my feet. Or even my derriere.
At the first rest stop, I ate my fill of pickles then went to the pot-shot and was serenaded by a man in the next stall singing about how badly he needed to poop but couldn’t… (I tell you I am SERIOUSLY a magnet for the strange.)
Once we got going again things improved. The sun came out, Bob and I weren’t stuck in a crowd, but things were more spread out, allowing us time to talk and sing or just be. To me, that’s what biking is about: spending time with Bob outside, being active and not worrying about beating anyone else’s time or looking like a fool.
I know it seems nuts that Bob and I talk SO much, but we do. We talk a lot and when we don’t, it feels very awkward, very void. So like we do, we started chatting and the miles just rolled by. Literally.
Then, a very serious topic came up.
And it’s at this time I ask anyone who knows me personally (church, our kids to to school together, etc) please stop reading! Thank you. To sum it up, everything went well and we had a good afternoon.
Back to the post…
To some, this serious discussion would mean something like: the kids, or the decision to or not to have more; or something about money or jobs; or moving. But for us it went something like this,
“Come on,” my husband grunted as we were pedaling up the this steep hill.
Gritting my teeth, I’m pedaling as hard as I can. “I’m trying,” I practically snapped.
“I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the bike.” He pauses for a moment as we power up the hill, then when we crest, he says, “You know, we never gave the bike a name.”
Silence. Pure unadulterated silence envelops us. He’s right. We never named our bicycle. I have to say that is VERY strange for us because we name so many of our things. All of our cars have had names: The Stud, The Sonicmobile, Sadie, Cameron, etc; our computers: Puter, Charlotte, Mac, and so on; Kenny the Kindle; Ivan the iPad; Warm and Toasty our winter quilt, Comfy and Cozy our summer coverlet; Cattywompus his hand built kayak, and many, many more things (one of which I cannot post on here–get your mind out of the gutter, it’s not time for that yet). We’re weird, we know. It’s okay. But somehow we’d overlooked naming this huge bicycle.
“Okay, so he needs a name,” I concede.
“No, she needs a name.”
“Well, the bicycle is red…” He added on another reason, but I shan’t scandalize anyone by posting it.
“It can still be a he,” I argue.
“No, this bicycle is most clearly a she.”
Huffing, I snarl at the back of his head “Okay, how about a unisex name so to you it’s a she and to me, it’s a he?”
We we each ponder a moment.
“Aaron,” I suggest.
“No. How about Alex.”
I started, nearly jerking the bike off balance with my sudden movement. “Absolutely not.”
“Why? I think it’s a perfect name that can be for both a guy or a girl.”
“I’m not naming the bike Alex! I can only imagine how my readers will react when I casually write on my blog or on Facebook that I rode Alex that afternoon or that I plan to ride Alex later.”
“So, what’s the problem. They know you’re weird. They won’t think anything of it if you tell them you’ve named your bike.”
“They will if I name it Alex!” Exhaling and shaking my head, I mutter. “You’re clearly having your own Alex moment.”
And that’s when he got it. “Oh, that’s right, I forgot you named one of your heroes Alex. That settles that, we’re not naming the bike Alex! That could be very awkward–for both of us.”
“Good. I’m glad you came around to seeing reason.”
A few beats pass by…and then we went from having an “Alex moment” to a “Liberty and Paul moment”.
“Nothing says it has to be a human name,” Bob says.
“Okay…. Hmmm, well…” The bike is rather butch, weighing about fifty pounds and longer than most. It’s a Sun Tandem Recumbent so it’s definitely not something that can easily be missed. “How about Big Beastie,” I teasingly suggest.
“Big Beastie?! Absolutely not. We’re not going to name our bike Big Beastie. That has to be in the top three names men give to their penises.”
I don’t know if it was the heat, or glue from the night before, or exhaustion, or if his words were just that funny, but I dissolved into a fit of giggles that made me incapable of pedaling and nearly knocked us off balance. Good thing nobody was around because I’d have hated trying to explain our way out of that!
The next hour was uneventful as we just rode down the road and had another pit stop. But as they say, there’s always a calm before a storm and in this case, our storm came in the form of a huge dog that was chasing us!
Not only was this Big Beastie (sorry, I couldn’t resist) chasing us, but he caught us. He was so close, I could feel his breath on my leg as he ran next to us and was snapping at my heels. Meanwhile, Bob was pedaling his heart out and I was screaming like a crazy lady!
Fortunately, we did survive with no broken bones or punctured skin and only one mechanical issue–a thrown chain in the middle of a huge hill.
But we survived and I was on the list for a free massage.
What I didn’t know about this massage was that it was practically a full body massage–just a handful of areas missed, no pun intended. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!
Just like last year, I had a great time and it was all for a great cause. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or not, I cannot say enough about the good time I always have doing these rides. You not only get to have fun with your friends and make new ones back at the camp, but it’s all for a good cause and nothing is better than that!
Again, thank you to all who helped support my team by either giving direct donation or by buying a discounted copy of Her Sudden Groom.