Over the years, we’ve experienced all kinds of weather, from hot and dry to cold and wet, and everything in between. But the ride went on in spite of whatever Mother Nature had to throw at us, even tents rolling across the field like tumbleweeds!
But this year the ominous forecast of what the Gordon had in store for our ride route left the event planners in a predicament. The stormfront was expected to fall into a lull over the area, dumping 4-6” of rain in from Thursday through Saturday (100% chance of rain hourly from Saturday at 4 a.m. through Sunday at 5 a.m. according to Weather Underground!) At the Bike MS ride a couple years ago, the Lewis & Clark Community College campus was absolutely deluged with rain, turning their beautiful front lawn into a mud bath fit for the finest pigs. In fact, the grounds were practically destroyed, and the weather caused quite a mess for the event planners.
So Randy Adler, with over 15 years of experience organizing the event, took the warnings from the National Weather Service very seriously. While this is the Gateway Chapter of the National MS Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, they were not willing to put the safety of the riders and volunteers at risk, with forecasts of flash flooding in a number of the paths through which we’d ride. Here’s a link to his Facebook post heralding the challenges they faced.
After the implosion of Team Microgrid last year, my long-time riding partner Harold and I decided to join Team United By Design this year. Last year we enjoyed the camaraderie of the team in their well-lit tent, sponsored by a number of architectural and building design firms, including companies like Meglio & Associates and Lighting Associates, who provided an array of LED lights that made the tent look like a carnival. After years of captaining teams, including Microgrid, CSL and Quilogy, it’s nice to take a break and let someone else do the planning and organizing. So all I had to do this year was ride and raise money!
As the event drew closer and the weather looked particularly unpromising, Harold and I made the decision to bag our longstanding tradition of camping at the event grounds. It’s one thing to get rained on while riding or sleeping, but getting rained on all weekend didn’t hold a lot of appeal. So when the organizers called off the event on Thursday afternoon, we were as much relieved as disappointed.
Of course, that didn’t stop Team UBD from carrying on their tradition of gathering Friday night for a pre-ride celebration. Over 50 riders showed up at Meglio & Associates for a potluck, with margaritas and microbrews courtesy of the host. We had a great time; while we lamented the loss of a team-bonding weekend, we celebrated our summer’s accomplishments and made plans to ride later in the weekend when the rains subsided. While Saturday certainly didn’t turn out to have the forecasted flooding, the rain on the road was enough to have washed out the weekend in some ways.
While a bunch of folks from Team UBD decided to ride from Forest Park to Alton, and then on to Grafton (90 miles round-trip!), Harold was invited to ride a slightly less challenging route with his mates from Team BJC over on the Madison County Transit trail network. I drove 35 miles in the misty rain to get to Edwardsville, and we hit the trail with our rain gear on to complete a loop around Glen Carbon. Not sure if this loop of trail was designed to be marathon mileage exactly, but the 26.2 miles was a relatively easy ride.
The truth is, I’d been concerned all summer about how well my frozen shoulder would hold up in a 75-mile ride. This has been bothering me for over a year now, and getting progressively worse in the past few months. For the most part, both hands on the handlebars only gets mildly tiresome, but I’m unable to rest my elbows on the aerobars as an alternative position. So there are times when I just allow my right arm to dangle at my side in a resting state. I’m very much looking forward to getting past this condition and fully ready to Bike MS next year!
Thank you to all of you who’ve supported me this and any of the 18 years that I’ve ridden this ride. While the event may have been cancelled, the fundraising goes on, because the need for the funds is ever-important. If you’ve not had a chance to donate yet, I encourage you do to so soon!