MS150 Wrap Up 2018 – Adversity


The theme for the 2018 MS150 was adversity and overcoming it on a few fronts. First, there’s my cousin. Alyce has been living with MS for 20 years and has been doing a hell of a job keeping her life moving. She and her husband, Doug, founded the Feisty Devils cycling team 19 years ago to set the tone for her approach to living her life with the disease. When she started, there were three or four MS drugs which were variations of each other, now there are around 15 and they have progressed massively. The Feisty Devils have raised $2.75 million as a team since then and have a lot of pride in this progress. This year Alyce and Owen Marx, another Feisty Devil, were each awarded pins for raising $100,000 personally. That’s a huge testament to consistent passion over a long period of time. Last year, Alyce missed the ride due to an infusion treatment and still somehow had some guilt over it. This year she was back on the bike and continues to overcome adversity. I rode with her most of Sunday and her strength keeps me coming back.

2018 MS150 lineup with the Feisty Devils representing.
2018 MS150 lineup with the Feisty Devils representing.

More about the day itself. Doug has a different approach than I do on the road that’s tortoise to my hare. I’m usually a faster rider than he is, but he almost always beats me to the finish line. That’s because he somehow stops once or twice over 90 miles; I need to replenish water and need some breaks. What makes this really special is that he somehow did that last year and this year on a tandem with a daughter stoking. Last year it was with his older daughter who was (I think) 14 at the time and this year with his younger daughter, Taylor, who’s 13. The tandem was more-or-less a cast iron boat anchor with square wheels and tires made of fly-paper. This year I was riding with a few Feisty friends and we passed them three times on Saturday. That takes a special kind of strength and commitment. It’s a strong show of leading by example which could probably use some adjustment for sunscreen application 😜

Feisty Finish
Feisty Finish
Their older daughter, Jordan, was on her on her own bike this year which is incredibly impressive. The first day was 90 miles; the second was 56. Finishing it in the hot Texas sun is an undertaking. Riding as a young teen is really admirable. Doing it as a family is world-class bonding. As I was riding with Jordan, Alyce, and Alyce’s BFF Michelle on Sunday, we got to one particular spot about 2/3 of the way to the end. After powering through 120-130 miles with the heat building, it gets tough. At the top of the first big hill of the day, Jordan pulled over and stopped for a break. She looked like it was starting to get to her so I pulled over with her and talked for a bit until Alyce got to the top. We stood for a little then I motored on. I knew the worst of the hills were ahead of us and I wanted to get to the final rest stop myself. Melissa and I got to the stop, grabbed some water, and then – sure enough – up pedaled Jordan and Alyce.
All smiles, right?!?
All smiles, right?!?
I’d been fighting some on my own. I had a cold at the end of the week and fortunately it left me alone on Saturday. It hit me for real early Sunday morning and I felt like I had noodles for legs as we set out. My nose was running and I kept sweating non-stop so I drank constantly to keep my fluids up. I was riding slowly and miserably while questioning why I was even making the effort instead of jumping a sag van to the finish. The money was raised and there wasn’t anything to prove. As you’ve figured out by now, I kept my legs moving, met up with Alyce, Jordan, and Melissa, and struggled to keep up with them. All the drinking and sweating must have cleared out my system some because by the time that first big hill hit, I finally felt human again (granted, a human who’d biked 120 miles). My legs worked and I climbed fine plus could set the pace for the rest of the ride. I really enjoyed the last 1/3 of Sunday and the four of us pedaling into Sundance Square in Fort Worth for the finish felt triumphant.

Maybe the personal struggles on a road ride like that don’t mean much. Maybe they mean everything. Avoiding the hell out of metaphors, time on a bike is time in your own head. You have hours to think on any number of topics. Taking on adversity willingly gives us the chance to test ourselves. There are times when we wonder if we can get the job done and there are times when we see the spark that makes it all happen. All this goes through your mind when you’re struggling. I don’t think we keep coming back without the challenge and the adversity. And without that, there’s no $2.75 million raised by us, more by others, and there may not be the same treatment options available today. Each one of these rides means something different to me but all leave me feeling the same way at the end: It was worth it!

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