I had never biked more than 70 miles before, but wanted to see if I could ride a century. So this year, I trained to participate in The Bike MS: Best Dam Bike Tour 2-day bike event from Pewaukee to Whitewater to Madison. It was an amazing event that raised money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research a cause very close to my heart.
I’m lucky enough to ride regularly with a great group of ladies in Madison through the Spoke Haven Cycling Club. We ride on a range of easy to challenging routes through beautiful scenery near Madison and often end with a beer or dinner. Riding a bike is so much more fun with friends and riding with these ladies is an absolute blast.
Best Damn Bike Tour Day 1: 98 miles
On Saturday we boarded a bus at 4:30 a.m. to bring us to the start at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) in Pewaukee. Our bikes had been transported by semi the night before and were waiting for us at check in. The Bike MS crew had everything ready to go for a very busy start line and Wheel & Sprocket had mechanics on hand to pump up our tires and fix last minute mechanical issues.
There were three routes to choose from On Saturday: 48 miles, 73 miles or 98 miles. All six team members started off together and met up at the first couple of rest stops. Two members decided to ride the 48-mile route while the other four of us decided we would try the century.
Since we all had trained in the hills West of Madison, it was a great first century to tackle. The course was relatively flat and the weather was warm, but not too hot. Having not spent time in the countryside around Milwaukee other than the interstate, I was impressed by the well-paved roads and beautify lakeside communities.
There were some small teams and some huge teams with matching jerseys. Along the route, we often rode with people living with MS, sometimes riding a tandem bicycle. Every time the ride started to get hard, I thought about everything they are dealing with and pushed on.
I was impressed by all of the fantastic volunteers at the many rest stops and we seldom felt alone on the road because we frequently saw the SAG (support and gear) support vans and motorcycles en route.
We rolled into the UW-Whitewater campus where some of us camped outside and others stayed in the dorms. We all got to enjoy a hot meal and hot shower and put our bikes to bed in a secure lock up.
Bike MS held a celebration party that night and many of the teams spoke about how MS has affected their lives. Our team was even called up on stage as we were recognized as the “Best Rookie Team Name” and we received a trophy made of bedazzled chainrings. Pretty cool.
I was so impressed by the turnout at the celebration party. It was announced that 1,500 riders had raised $1.5 million dollars to fund MS Research — which is staggering.
Day 2: 62 miles of heat and wind
We woke up on Sunday with text messages letting us know that there would not be a 75 or 100 mile option for the second day due to the weather conditions. The winds were forcasted to gust up to 30 mph and the heat was predicted to climb to 95 degrees with some bonus humidity. It was a relief that the predicted rain had passed us by.
Our whole team was planning on doing the “50” mile route anyway, so this was not a blow, but we knew that day 2 would be hillier than day 1 to add some more challenge.
We dropped our luggage at the transport, ate another hot meal and climbed back on our bikes. The first few miles were the most difficult. My legs were fatigued and I had some saddle soreness, but after a few windy miles I started to warm up and even feel pretty good.
The team rode together for part of the day and split up at other times. At one point, I latched onto a peloton of three 2-person tandem bikes with three other cyclists drafting behind them. The draft from this group was so fun to ride and saved a lot of effort from the wind for about 10 miles.
The volunteers continued to be amazing through day two, keeping us hooked up with water, ice, sports drink, sunscreen, pain meds and lots of moral support. We rode past neighborhoods with cheering crowds and country homes with waving children. One cheering supporter even had a large sign that read “I have MS, thank you for riding” (which I’m tearing up just thinking about).
Really, we had the easy job. We got to have fun riding in a well-supported event while the volunteers were baking in the sun on their feet for long hours taking care of all of us. I am so grateful for their support.
This was such an amazing ride that I hope to participate again next year and raise even more money for the cause. If you’re interested in donating still this year, it’s not too late, you can visit my personal donation page or donate directly to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or you can put the event on your calendar for next year, it’s well worth the ride.