It’s done! No more hills for another year! Woohoo! Actually, next year I’m going to volunteer rather than ride. The hills are a bit much for my poor MS legs.
This years tour started from Bok Tower Gardens, which seems to be a very beautiful place. We just didn’t get much of a chance to check it out. Mom and Dad drove SAG again this year, SAG stands for Support and Gear. The SAG drivers are a lifesaver. They drive along the route and help out where and when needed. Sometimes that means helping to replace a blown tire or ferrying a tired/ill/injured rider up to the next rest stop. And they were heavily used this year as the ride took place a month later than last year and temps were forecasted to be dang hot!
The ride started at 7 am with the top fundraising team and top 100 fundraisers from last year heading out in the first wave. I bypassed the first leg of the 50 mile route and rode a SAG to the first stop, which happened to be “lunch”. J and I drove the route a few weeks ago and discovered that the first leg was the same as last year and full of hills. So knowing how well my legs handled those hills last year, I choose to skip them and start from lunch. I still had a bunch of hills I had to tackle, but not as many as the first leg has.
The first leg was about fourteen miles between Bok Towers and the lunch stop. Without me there to slow him down, J was able to complete that leg in about an hour. I was at the lunch stop only about 10 minutes before I saw him come riding in. After a short break and some PBJ sandwiches and bananas, we headed out on our way to Orlando. Remember I said I still had a bunch of hills to tackle? Well the second leg was still in the Lake Wales Ridge area, so I still had plenty of hills I had to climb and I was very grateful when we pulled into the second rest stop 11 miles and an hour later.
From the lunch stop to the Caribe Royale in Orlando, our overnight point, it was 33 miles. We were able to do that distance in about 3 hours and thankfully had no major issues. I did get caught at a light at one point and as I started going when it changed I heard “Oh No!” from behind me. I turned around and saw a girl fall off of her bike, I think she had trouble getting her foot back into her clips. She and her riding partner were in the turn lane with traffic behind them, so I turned back around to help and make sure she was ok. Fortunately she was. Much better than the girl that did get hit by a car; I’m not sure about the details, but apparently she only suffered a sprained ankle and some road rash.
We rode into the Caribe Royale just shy of noon and got checked into our hotel “suite”. Pretty nice room! And the pool was beautiful! J and I needed showers before hitting the pool as we felt absolutely disgusting. We spent Saturday afternoon just relaxing, we cooled off in the pool, sat in the hot tub a little bit to relax our muscles. And took a short nap in the sun. Don’t worry, we had sunblock on 😀
Mom and Dad made it to the hotel around 4; they had to close the course early as thunderstorms moved in and drenched the riders. They told us about one guy that all the SAG drivers kept trying to pull off the course. He kept telling everyone no, turns out he wasn’t part of the group, he was just some random guy out riding.
The dinner provided this year was much better than last years. We had salad, vegetables, chicken in some sauce, pasta and rice. It was amazing to see all the people there doing what they could to help fight MS and find a cure. One news story even reported that of all the riders, about 20 have MS. At the end of the dinner celebration the chapter president had people stand. She started with having those who had MS stand, and then those who had a spouse or partner with MS, those with family members and those with co-workers or friends. The lights were down and everyone in the room was standing and waving orange glow sticks. It was beautiful to see.
Sunday we headed back to Bok Tower Gardens in beautiful weather. It was sunny, with some clouds, mostly white fluffy ones. It wasn’t yet boiling hot either. I started out doing pretty good, as the area was pretty flat with some slight hills (slight as in when driving, you wouldn’t notice them) I was averaging about 14-15 miles an hour. But as we went on it got harder for me to pedal. I made it to the exact same rest stop as last year before I had to give in to my body’s demands that I stop. J and I were standing talking to a SAG driver to see if he could fit me and my bike with the other 2 he already had and I was leaning on my bike. When the driver took my bike to load it into the bed of the truck my legs almost buckled. I didn’t realize how much my bike was actually supporting me until that point.
J almost completed the 50 mile route on Sunday. He woke up feeling a little sick to his stomach and decided to try and go as far as he could. He made it all but three miles. The poor guy had to catch a SAG to the end, and as he had started cramping up while in the SAG truck, he couldn’t even ride the last few feet across the finish line. So neither of us did quite as well as last year, but we were out there and we did what we could. Now we have another year to prepare for the next one. Although in my case, I’m going to be driving 😀 And anyone who is in the area, or feels like coming down, we really need more SAG drivers or if you have a motorcycle, we can use you there too!
Here’s a couple pictures that I got this weekend.
While we were riding along on Saturday J ended up by a butterfly/moth. He reached out his hand to kind of sweep it away and ended up catching it on his glove.
Here’s a close up of the butterfly.
In 2008 J and I were both VIB (Very Important Banana) fundraisers, we both raised over $1,000.00. Here’s J and his sign, but we didn’t find mine.
Meghan works at the HAC with me and is my co-captain this year. This is her VIB sign from last year. Isn’t she awesome?!