About three weeks ago I signed up for the Multiple Sclerosis Gateway to Cape Cod fundraising bike ride. 160 – 185 miles, hilly miles on a saddle.
To be honest, I don’t know a lot about MS, but after signing up for the bike ride, I was surprised by how many people I knew who were living with it. So I decided to do a little research about it.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease, which means it affects your nerves. A substance called myelin wraps around your nerves to protect them. MS is the breakdown of myelin as your body attacks itself. The word “sclerosis” refers to the scar tissue or lesions that appear as the myelin is damaged. The unprotected nerves can’t function as they would with normal, healthy myelin. The damaged nerves produce a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity.
MS is not fatal and symptoms can be managed and controlled with medications and lifestyle adjustments.
The list of possible MS symptoms is long. It includes numbness and tingling, vision problems, balance and mobility issues, and slurred speech. There is no such thing as a “typical” symptom of MS because each person experiences the disease differently. The same type of symptoms may come and go frequently, or you may regain a lost function (bladder control, for example) after a period of time. The unpredictable pattern of symptoms has to do with which nerves your immune system attacks at any given time.
More than 400,000 people in the United States have MS with an estimated 2,500,000 around the world have MS and a 2:1 ratio of affected women vs men.
Diagnosis of MS is usually between 20 and 40 years of age
The course of the disease is unpredictable and no two people will experience the same set of symptoms.
There are four types of MS: relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, primary progressive and progressive relapsing.
Among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system.
Without disease-modifying therapy, about 50 percent of those diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will become progressive at 10 years.
Without disease-modifying therapy, about one-third of those diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will be using a wheelchair at 20 years.
MS is not contagious but is a progressive disease for which there is not yet a cure.
Increased understanding of MS has led to the development of many new treatments that target both the disease process and its many symptoms.
In countries further from the equator, the incidence of MS increases.
The Gateway to Cape Cod is one of the longer rides, but through out the year there are several Bike MS events all across the country in varying distances. Since I signed up a week before, I can’t say I was properly trained. However, I did take three spin classes in the two weeks before! So yay!
The ride started at 7:30, but I was so anxious and nervous so I got there an hour early. I’m used to showing up just before the gun for running events, but I wasn’t quite sure how it works for biking and since I’m not the best at biking in crowds, I wanted to make sure I had enough time to drop of my luggage and get into my corral.
The team I’m on is called Liam’s Lucky Charms and is made up of 150+ friends and family. Can you spot a Liana?
We (but mostly they) have raised over 306K this year to fight MS. Even though I signed up last minute on a whim from some co-workers, I felt proud of wear the jersey of the number 1 fundraising team.
Since we are the second largest team, we get to start second!
The getting out of corrals is something I was dreading and worrying about. I don’t have the best control with my clip in pedals and I was worried how it would go with so many bikers around me. Luckily, everyone seemed to be in the same position and first few miles of the road was closed to traffic that allowed us to all spread out in a comfortable fashion. I didn’t fall and got into a flow pretty well.
The first rest stop was around mile 18 which I skipped; however, by mile 30 I had to pee so badly that I decided to go for a pit stop and refill on water. Unfortunately, this is the only rest stop on Saturday that’s a little to the side. to get to it, you go up a 1 mile hill and then come down it to merge into the bike group. Next year I’m holding off until mile mile 40
One thing about biking vs. running is that you don’t have the same ease of taking photos of everything you see. I have a Gopro, but I didn’t bring it and instead just enjoyed the scenic ride. Its beautiful and for the most part goes along the coast from UMass Boston to Buzzard’s Bay just before the Cape. Lots of roads along the ocean front but the views came with a price. It was hilly. At least to me it felt hilly. About 3K elevation gain and loss over the 75 miles each day. I guess in the end, hills and distance are all relative.
The first 30 miles, literally flew by in an average pace of 16MPH, my second 30 Miles slowed to about 15MPH pace when I stopped for about 10 minutes to rest, drink, snack and stretch. The final 15 miles were the hardest. There was a lot less shade, and the afternoon sun was starting to feel hot. It was a high of 90 degrees and it did not feel any cooler.
Before I knew it, somewhere between 5 and 6 hours, I reached the finish line!
I set up my tent, showered and then began inspecting the lunch situation. Burgers, hot dogs, and burritos. I refueled with some high quality, calorie dense one meat and one vegetarian burrito. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I started to eat.
I also inspected some really high quality tan lines!
The rest of the afternoon was spent having a party with beer in our tent, beer from the beer truck and a band. We also had 6 massage tables and I got a nice 20 minutes to help with my back that was starting to kill me. I guess I was using my back muscles a lot.
Before I knew it, after my massage, I was starving AGAIN and it was dinner time! They had pulled pork, chicken, beef, mac and cheese and salad bar. To be honest the beef and chicken were gross, but the pulled pork was quite tasty! I was a bad girl and didn’t even bother with the salad bar, I just went seconds for the pulled pork. Okay to be fair, I was so distracted by what I saw first, that I didn’t even notice the salad bar until they were cleaning heh.
One of the most beautiful parts of the ride, was watching the sunset over our camping area.
It was a truly beautiful day that makes you forget how terrible the weather is in New England.
I got about 5 miles into the day. I made it up the Bourne bridge, patting myself on the back on how great I did and I even almost made it down. The ramp down was sharp and had lots of turns and somewhere towards the end, my bike started swirling and I decided I had two options, either, potential crash into cars and other bikers to my left, or damage my chain, bike and try to land on the grass/sand side on my right. Right side it was and I went down and what happened next felt super fast. Within a minute, another girl from my team who was a nurse was holding me. To be honest, I was probably being a dick. I felt humiliated and all I wanted to do was get back on my bike and continue the ride. There’s some debate in how I fell, but at the end of the day, I did land on my helmet and shoulder, so taking me to the ER was a good call for worse case scenario, even if I am not stressing out about the EMT bill I will get in the mail.
My actual ER visit lasted about 2 minutes where I saw the ER doctor for about 40 seconds. He asked me some questions, I answered, they took an Xray of my shoulder and told me it’s not broken. I had to ask them for ice and all I got was this lovely 12 page guide on how to not bump into my furniture. Can’t wait to see the bill for this print out either!
Either way, I’m happy and lucky such services are available and that my accident was not any worse.
and the rest of my Sunday was spent icing. Unfortunately what I didn’t ice was my eye, because I didn’t think I hit, but for some reason it’s now turning black and blue. Maybe it’s from the blood moving around or maybe it’s from fighting my teammate to get back on my bike, or sunglasses, but I definitely got some real beautiful colors going on. Check out instagram as I’ll spare anyone else.
I actually felt great pretty good on Sunday and I thought about trying to get my bike and a new helmet to continue the ride but at that point, I was so far behind that I just went home and pressure washed my patio instead. Towards the end of the day my shoulder was starting to hurt more.
Around 7:30, I went back to UMass to pick up my bike and luggage. The ride organizers took my bike when I went to the ambulance so it took a lonely drive to Province-town and then back to Boston. When I got it back, my chain was hanging and it was covered in sand. If you ask me, I think my bike looked a lot worse than me. Howe,ever it’s not that a little cleaning won’t fix (I hope).
It sucks being injured and my shoulder will take 6-8 weeks to heal which is not that best for my triathlon training plans. However, I still signed up for next year!
And just in case you’re feeling generous, my fundraising page could still use some donations.
Ever done a charity bike ride? It was a lot of fun and I liked how it wasn’t a race. I felt comfortable and supported the whole time?
Ever been in an ambulance? This was my first time and I would like to never have to go in one again. I’m actually pretty terrified of the bill I might be getting for a service I didn’t need. Although, worse case scenario I know it was the right thing to do.