Posted by: Budger | October 27, 2007

2007 MS 150 Bike to the Beach – Riding in the Wind

Team Velo Valero at the StartThis weekend was the 2007 MS 150 Bike to the Beach.  This is a fund-raising ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that goes from San Antonio to Corpus Christi Texas.   I didn’t get to ride, but I was providing support to my team.  So as with every year, last minute logistics were an issue.  Our support Crew Chief Denise was unable to come.  So a last minute change in plan had me flying to San Antonio with Shannon rather than driving with Denise.  This was my first trip through airport security since getting the pacemaker.  

So one would think that the hassle at the airport 2007 MS150 036would be the fact that I now have to be patted down.  One would be wrong.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a nice young hottie as wished for, but I didn’t get Helga the arm wrestler either.  I did, however, get a lady with no sense of humor, and that is never good with Shannon and I in the game.  First thing out of the box, they swab the palms of my hands and run through the gun powder residue machine, and they get a hit.  OMG!  I swear I didn’t do anything.  It turns out it was residue from hand lotion that set it off, but in the meantime Shannon is standing around telling me "I told you not to handle the TNT."  Thanks Shannon!

We made it through the airport, met up with Kate the Great, and 2007 MS150 019despite the flight being late, we finally made it to San Antonio.  Friday we got up and started our running around: to the grocery store; to the bike store; picking up the RV.  Kate the Great is our RV driver and she does a great job (hence the name).  We get the RV home to Ma Vicki’s house without incident, and we start loading it up, and then off to the Expo for packet pickup. 2007 MS150 022

Saturday morning comes bright and early as everyone rushes around getting ready to head to the start.  This year the support crew, Kate and I, made an executive 2007 MS150 026decision to take the RV to the start at the AT&T Center to lessen the amount of time in getting it to the overnight in Beeville.  Once there, we had a place to relax for the riders as well.  At the start, the riders finished the prep on their bikes.  The last thing was putting Mo’s bandana on Shannon’s bike.  We tied it to the seat stem, and Monica rode Shannon’s rear the whole ride.  

Our team – Team No Limits – is a team of non-athletes that do this to raise money for MS and to promote health and fitness.  Our team captain is Shannon’s sister Kathy.  Kathy is turning 50 this year, and this is her 4th ride.  Mike, Kathy’s husband, is also riding for the 4th time with their son Matt.  Matt, Neil and Cesar are the teams "speed demons" and they will make it to Beeville in about 6 hours.  They average around 18 mph.  Vicki is Shannon’s mom and is AMAZING in so many ways.  She is 65, and is prepared to ride the whole way in addition to raising over $4000 herself.  Melissa is Kathy’s daughter, and 2007 MS150 065she is also riding for the 4th time, and her personal challenge is always to finish without getting lost.  Christina is riding for the first time.  She started riding in April after losing 60 pounds.  And finally Shannon is riding for the 3rd year.  Her goal is to do her best, and save her legs as she is also running in the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28.  She is my hero, and this year in addition to riding for Mo, she rides for me.  Team No Limits has raised over $12,000 so far this year.  

The Valero Bike to the Beach MS 150 starts in San Antonio and overnights in Beeville (approximately 90 miles south) on Day 1.  Day 2 the riders continue from Beeville to Corpus Christi another 60 miles.  The first 70 miles or so on Day 1 is hills.  As Christina says, "San Antonio is in the Hill Country, and in order to get out of the Hill Country you have to go through the hills."  Day 2 is usually plagued by a head wind blowing up from Corpus.  This year the riders had been told to look for cool weather and TAILWINDS.  There are 3100 riders who are now on the hunt for that weather forecaster.  There was no COOL, and there were HEADWINDS the whole way starting on Day 1.  So in addition to the hills, the riders were battling the headwind.  There were times when they looked like they were riding on treadmills.Team No Limits - On the Road

While the riders were riding, the support team was busy as well.  After the start, we piled into the RV and Ma Vicki’s car to transport to Beeville.  Kate the Great drove the RV, and I drove Ma Vicki’s car. We made it to Beeville around 10:15, got the RV parked in an awesome space that left room for a nice campsite.  Then we got back in the car and started driving back north to intersect our riders.  They needed Camelbacks, fresh water and snacks.  The ride has breakpoints every 10 miles or so, but we provide rider specific hydration and nutrition as well.  Also we’re there to pick riders up, if they decide they need a break.2007 MS150 043 2007 MS150 045

Our second most important job is encouraging the team as we ride by and taunt from an air conditioned car.  For this, we need the leftover Sonic bags from our lunch.  We also were made chief photographers as well.  We caught up with the team at the 3rd breakpoint and followed them the remaining 55 miles to Beeville.  Shannon decided to take a break due to the wind at mile 56.  Christina held out to mile 77.  (An awesome ride for a first year rider)  The winds were terrible, and everyone was tired.  Shannon was trying to save her legs for the marathon.  Vicki also made it to mile 56.  The rest of the team continued on.  Mike, Kathy and Melissa also decided to do the Century extension to make it an even 100 miles on the first day.  Melissa ended up doing 102, as she missed her objective and got lost on the last mile.  Next year we need to get Melissa a GPS for her bike. 

Day 2 and Day 2 At the Starteveryone is up and at it again.  The weather is a little cooler, but the wind is still there.  Everyone is now thinking about lunch at Pier 99 in Corpus.  Beer, shrimp and more beer.  The speed demons made it to Corpus in a little over 4 hours.  The rest of the team is hanging together.  Kate and I are running up and down the highway providing more 2007 MS150 056support.  We are on a break when we get the call from Shannon "Rider Down!"  Who?  A little while later she calls back to say, never mind she’s getting back on the bike.  Turns out Christina clipped Melissa’s tire and hit the deck.  This girl is amazing as she gets back up and on the bike complete with road rash.  (Another hero for MS)

Freedom Riders at the startThe most impressive thing about this ride is that no matter where you look there is inspiration.  Every time I see one of the Freedom Riders (the riders from Brooke Army Medical Center) I get choked up.  These are amputees that2007 MS150 034 are making this ride on hand bikes side by side with the other riders.  They are escorted with an upright rider the whole way, and they are out there making it alongside everyone else.


Finally the riders make it to the last breakpoint – only 10 more miles to go.  We cheer the riders in with a custom Team NoSupport Team at the Finish Limits cheer from the Portland High School Cheerleading squad.  Everybody is very tired, and anxious to get to the end.  I am looking forward to it as well, but I am also a little sad that we will have to wait another year for such a great weekend of inspiration and camaraderie.  The support crew runs ahead in the car to get a spot at the finish line and cheer our riders to the finish.    

Team No Limits - At the Finish 2Team No Limits makes it to the finish with all riders.  The Speed Demons rode back out to catch up with the team and cross the finish line together.  

Once again it was a great weekend.  I met lots of new friends (Hello Grace and Julie!), and was in awe of the 3100 riders giving up their weekends for this event.  Cheers to all of the riders, staff of the National MS Society and the amazing volunteers for making such an event possible.  When we work together we can do amazing things.  I’ve witnessed it.  I’ll be back next year…in the saddle.


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