It was the fourth weekend in June and my husband and our two sons, ages 14 and 12, had just finished the first day of the 2011 Colorado MS 150, riding just shy of 75 miles on their road bikes.
“Are you okay?” I asked, hearing his voice catch a little. “Yes,” he laughed. “I’m just a little choked up. Our youngest son had a hard time getting up the hill by Horsetooth Reservoir,” he explained, “and when he got to the top, these women rode up behind us and congratulated him. This happened all day long. You can’t believe how friendly everyone is.”
Flash Back to 2009
Actually, I had no trouble believing it. Two years ago, I too, rode in the Colorado MS 150 with my husband, my brother and our older son, who was then 12. He was the youngest participant to finish the ride solo, as opposed to on a tandem. At one point, he was lagging. We had only 10 miles to go, but he was tired and it was hot.
At a stoplight, a young man rode up to our son and encouraged him. He looked our son in the eye and said “Today is my 21st birthday and this is the first time I’ve ridden this far. How old are you?” Our son answer “I’m 12” and as the light changed, they fist bumped. It was the boost my boy needed and he ended the ride with a 1/2 mile sprint.
Five months prior to that June day in 2009, my husband’s much-loved stepmother, Boydena, had died after a 30 year struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. About three weeks after her death, my brother called and invited us to join him in riding 150 miles over two days from Thornton to Fort Collins and back to Thornton. He explained how this ride would raise money for the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. He also explained that the MS Society takes care of everything — transporting a change of clothes and other personal items for each rider to Fort Collins, providing well-stocked rest stops along the route, and hosting a post-ride meal and beer garden at CSU.
Our younger son was only 10 then, two years below the minimum age, so he couldn’t take part. The rest of us decided to sign up, raise as much money as we could and ride our hardest. We promised our younger guy that he could ride when he was 12.
So along comes 2011 and I am at home following my family’s progress by email, cellphone and Facebook. Recognizing that I would be the token female in our group (husband, brother and two sons) I decided to pass. Not only would the weekend be a great opportunity for some serious male bonding, but this way they could stay in the Colorado State University dorms together and I wouldn’t be left out, all alone, in the women’s dorm.
When my family returned home on Sunday evening, they were still flying high. Prior to the ride, our younger son had been worried. Like most kids, he didn’t want to train. He doesn’t even really understand why anyone would train. With two weeks to go, he said he wouldn’t ride. He told us he was dropping out. At one week to go, he became enthused when we put clipless pedals on his road bike. The next day, we rode 12 miles together. Then it was show time.
For our younger son to complete the two-day ride and to do it in good time (about 7 hours each day, including rest stops), was a huge achievement. It isn’t easy to be the younger brother in our family, or probably any family. But for this weekend, he and his older brother were a team, partners in the pain, the joy and the accomplishment. I am so proud of both of them.
Riding For a Cause
The MS Society requires that each MS 150 participant raise a minimum of $400. This year, my family raised just over $1500 for the fight against MS in memory of our friend, stepmother and grandmother. When my three athletes walked in the door on Sunday, we all exchanged hugs and kisses and welcome homes. Then my younger son looked at me and said, “Next year, I’m going to ride my bike door-to-door to raise money. It was so much fun.”
When You Go….
Next year’s Colorado MS 150 event will take place on June 30 and July 1, 2012. In addition to the two-day ride, there are also two one-day rides of shorter lengths. More information will be available at the Colorado-Wyoming MS Society website beginning in October. Registration will open before the end of 2011. There are over 4000 slots for riders, but they fill quickly. Sign up early!
Other Colorado MS Events This Summer
Hike MS takes place at Copper Mountain and Aspen/Snowmass on July 30th, and at Royal Gorge, Winter Park and Durango on September 17th. Hike distances and registration fees vary, so please check the individual hike links provided above.
Finally, the Colorado-Wyoming MS Society is partnering with The Original Mud Run, to host the inaugural Colorado MS Mud Run on August 27th in Winter Park. The Mud Run is a 10k race with boot-camp obstacles surrounded by, or made entirely of mud. Good, dirty fun!
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