Monday, September 19, 2011

Bike MS: Waves to Wine 2011 & Why I Ride (Updated w/ Final numbers!)

The Saturday Super Slugs getting ready to roll: Carl, Katrina, Sam, Tadashi and the team hero Dennis
(courtesy of Phyllis Taylor)
The Super Slugs rode in the Bike MS: Waves to Wine for the second year, although this time the team was more than double the size.  In additional to the original three,
Katrina, Tadashi and Carl, we also Dennis, Sam, Cynthia, Peter and katch [sic] (who wasn't able to ride).  We were excited to have Sam join us; he drove all the way up from Los Angeles on Friday, only to drive straight back there on Sunday in order to make it home in time for a golf tournament on Monday.  Talk about a dedicated team mate!

Together, the seven of us raised nearly $8,600  $8,700  $9300  $9470 for Multiple Sclerosis research and programs.  I'm excited to learn that I am a top fundraiser for the second year in a row, raising over $3,500 $3,600  nearly $4100 $4120 all by myself.  Over 2,000 2200 riders participated this year, and it look like I'll be in the top 40 fundraisers once again. Indeed, I'm officially Fundraiser #36!   I'm very proud of that!

We're accepting donations until October 14, 2011.  Donations for 2012 ride coming soon.

Tadashi bringing his bike to be loaded  (courtesy of Phyllis Taylor)

Loading the bikes Saturday morning, with Perl Chavez in the background
(courtesy of Phyllis Taylor)

I bought my first road bike in June 2010, which I purchased specifically to do the Bike MS: Waves to Wine in September 2010.  I already owned a bike, but it was a hybrid that was more comfortable on a trial then a road.  I might never have known the difference if Tadashi didn't have a proper bike.  When we biked on pavement it was obvious even to me that his bike was meant to go much, much faster, and that even I could make it do way better speeds than I did on my hybrid.  So in June 2010, I bought a proper road bike.

I started training as soon as I could.  Being new to biking, Tadashi, Carl and I started on the Bay Trial in Berkeley.  Luckily, it was summer time, so the three of us were able to bike five times a week.  We would bike from University Ave in Berkeley, over the hill of Golden Gate Fields, and into Richmond.  How far depended on my stamina, because that hill over GGF was in-sane.  And I say that this way: innnnn-saaaane.  I have no idea how I made it up that hill, but I did.  Many times.  But it killed me every time.

Last year I completed the 2-day 90 miles of Bike MS: Waves to Wine, and that killed me too.  I could barely make a sandwich after the ride Saturday and Sunday morning I couldn't even make a sports drink.  I was that spent.

Struggling up the Golden Gate Fields Hill of the Bay Trail
Summer 2010

But two weeks ago I rode up Mount Diablo and was only 50 yards from the top before the park ranger made me turn around because the sun had set.  We rode down in complete darkness.  It was a good thing there was a moon.  (File that day under, " We shouldn't continue, but we came all this way, so let's do it!")

This weekend I was glad they didn't change the route from last year, because the ride was actually (dare I say it?) EASY!  Except for the 90 and 97 degree F. heat, which will take the wind out of anyone's sails.

On Saturday I realized that I could actually do the 80-mile day 1 ride next year.  This weekend pumped me up and made me realize just how far I've come in the last 15 months.  Less, actually, because between September 2010 and June 2011, I only rode two or three times.  All weekend I was pumped about doing the longer ride on the first day next year.

But today I started thinking about my friend and fellow Super Slug, Dennis.

Dennis & Tadashi taking a break

Dennis was a triathlete and a runner, and has played both football and rugby.  Due to recent health issues, he wears braces on his feet, and he injured his back this summer.  Yet he rode with us; and he rode strong.  I did this ride last year because I wanted to raise money to help people that are immobilized by MS, and people like me, who one day may become immobilized by MS.  Dennis doesn't have MS, but he has some similar health problems, and it was inspiring to see him ride.

Dennis getting ready to roll  (courtesy of Phyllis Taylor)

Dennis had given himself a 15-mile goal for Saturday's ride, and that's a darn good goal considering that he can't stop once he gets going.  Dennis soldiered on a whopping 12 miles, which was mainly uphill.

Katrina and Dennis rolling with the pack  (copyright of Tadashi Tsuchida)

His ride ended on a hill was a tight 90 degree curve with at least a 20-degree bank.  It was no joke, especially since it was at the top of a quarter-mile uphill, preceded by 10 miles of uphills.  This is a place that kills a lot of riders.  Dennis had done a fantastic job, and was a little bloodied from his fall, so he packed it in.  He was our inspiration the rest of the day.

The Saturday Super Slugs after Dennis completed his riding goal for the day.  Way to go Dennis!!!

A few miles after Dennis was done, we reached the first rest stop.  Tadashi ran into Benn, whom he had met at the start.  Ben used to do a lot of martial arts and ride his bike a lot, but after having balance problems for many years, he was finally diagnosed with MS.  Now he rides a recumbent with three wheels; it's a pretty cool ride with shocks and all.  Tadashi introduced me to Ben and we chatted with him a bit.  It turned out that the rest of his team had started in San Francisco, so he was doing the short route on his own.  Not being one to let someone ride alone -- especially at an event like this -- we invited Benn to ride with us.  I'm glad we did; he's a cool guy, and the two of us actually have quite a lot in common.  Funny where you meet people.

Honorary Super Slug Benn making his way up the hill with Katrina & Sam (copyright Tadashi Tsuchida)  
Sunday we didn't have Dennis or Benn, but we gained Cynthia and Peter, who we met at the ride last year.      Funny story: Peter and my aunt Marcia both work in the Physics department at Stanford, and they ran into each other at last years ride.  We converted the Peter and his girlfriend Cynthia, and now they're Super Slugs!  Hooray for brainwashing Physics!

This year Cynthia had a fever for a few days preceding the ride, but she stuck it out and rode on Sunday.  I was proud of her, especially considering it was 97 degrees F. on Sunday.  It was not as hot as last year, but it was hot enough that at the last rest stop, I put ice in my sports bra.  Yup, you read that correctly.  The boys were jealous.

The Sunday Super Slugs: Peter, Cynthia, Tadashi, Katrina & Carl

Super Slug Sam  (courtesy of Tadashi Tsuchida)
Tadashi using a rest stop to practice flying

After the riding on Saturday, we had our usual social event, and we were lucky to have Mark, Dawn, John and Perl all join us and help us celebrate another riding success.

John and Tadashi (courtesy of Perl Chavez)

This year's ride was a marked difference from last year.  The people were better, I was shockingly more fit, and both me and the Super Slugs nearly made our fundraising goals.   On top of that, after the party on Saturday a couple friends (Perl and Mark) told me that they're considering joining us next year.  Awesome!!!

Today when I started thinking about doing the longer route, I thought about all my friends that want to join the ride next year, and then I thought about Dennis and Benn.  Now the conundrum; I had to ask myself: do I do the 80 mile ride on day one and hope my friends are okay doing the ride by themselves?  Or do I stick to the 40 miles?

Then I had an epiphany:  I'm not necessarily doing this ride to challenge myself (although that's a bonus); I'm doing this ride to raise money to help other thousands of other people.  Why then, wouldn't I stick with the shorter route to help support my friends, who have been inspired by the Super Slugs?  Today I realized that I would rather ride with my friends and family than simply be on the same team as them.  I know I can do the 80 mile ride, but I'm choosing to do the 40 miles so that I can support, encourage and join my friends in an event that is near and dear to my heart.  Today I realized that that will make me happy, and that that is why I ride.  For me, Bike MS: Waves to Wine isn't about how far I go -- or how far anyone goes; it's about riding with my friends.  It's about fighting off the bad part growing older.  It's about putting up a good fight, but with a bicycle.

The Super Slugs will be riding 90 miles again on September 22-23, 2012.  We welcome ALL comers, of every ability, and we'll stick with you no matter what.  So think about joining us.  Let's ride!  


  1. rock on katrina & the super slugs - what an inspiration you are! - sam

  2. Well said, K. I'm glad you came to the conclusion that you did!


Thanks for commenting!