Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bike MS: Waves to Wine Ride

By Dennis Pedersen

I love doing fund-raising rides, since it allows me to use my love of cycling to give back to the community. But I usually only do the ADA's Tour de Cure ride every year, since I don't want to ask too much of my family, friends, co-workers and teammates. This year my wife was out of town the weekend of the National MS Society's Bike MS: Waves to Wine Ride though, so that persuaded me to add it to my schedule... am I glad I did!

Me by the Golden Gate.
Like the Tour de Cure, we can raise money by e-mail, cash, online and through a Facebook app. On this ride the money goes toward fighting multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. I deliberately kept my goal low and just wanted to meet the $350 minimum... thanks to you generous folks I had no problem with that and ended up raising $490! And I joined as a member of the HP team, named "HP Tackles MS." The HP team was huge: 56 people! I must admit my competitive nature is challenged by this and I intend to learn how to make the 2012 HP Tour de Cure team bigger than ever (please sign up here!)!

Unlike the Tour de Cure, the Bike MS ride is held over two days: 100 miles on Saturday (see map), 75 miles on Sunday (see map) for the longest route. The Saturday ride started in San Francisco, ending in Rohnert Park. On Sunday we rode a huge loop that ended back in Rohnert Park. I found it very complicated to pack everything I'd need and plan out the many tiny details that would ensure my bike, changes of clothes, gear etc. all ended up where I needed it at the various stops. The organizers picked up our overnight luggage in San Francisco and shipped it to Rohnert Park where we could pick it up that evening, then also shuttled us to various local motels for our well-earned sleep after the Saturday ride. Meanwhile they stored our bikes overnight. Then they shipped it all back to San Francisco Sunday evening for us to collect after we were all done with the ride.

John and Kiersten at the Laguna stop.
We were spectacularly lucky with the gorgeous weather. Just a few clouds along the coast with mild temperatures. The HP team met before the 7:00AM start for a quick photo and we rode along the Embarcadero and over the Golden gate Bridge. I rode a lot with Bill Rainey and Hans Zeller through San Francisco and north on HWY 1. But at Stinson Beach I connected with my friend Rai and teammate Alida, both doing the long route. I am amazed at how they stepped up to such a major challenge! I'm used to long rides, but even I was a bit hesitant at riding so much on consecutive days.

I was mostly riding a moderate pace, but also wanted to get in a few long intervals, so after Stinson Beach I hammered pretty hard to the next stop, at Point Reyes Station (partly motivated by a fast guy from Nevada who flew by us!). Then the three of us rode together toward the rest stop at Laguna District School, built in 1906. Did I mention I ate a lot of food at every stop? I always do, and that really helps keep my energy up.

After we looped around on some inland roads (Marshall-Petaluma Road was great) we eventually ended up on Tomales Bay where we had a sumptuous lunch by Nick's Cove. And then the last stretch took us through tiny Valley Ford, Bloomfield and across the finishing line in Rohnert Park, to thunderous applause from the many volunteers.

The Saturday party, with our huge HP presence.
It so happened that our dinner and party was at the former HP "Santa Rosa" site in Rohnert Park. It was a ton of fun hangin' with the HP homies, and the food was quite good. I skipped the beer and wine though, to be safe. I also tried to pick up some pointers on how to run a big team like this so I could apply it to the Tour de Cure team in 2012. Afterward the shuttle bus took me to Day's Inn where I took a nice shower and collapsed into bed (it was nice enough for me, but I am not picky). And the next morning, at 5:45, they picked me up again for the drive back to the event site for a nice burrito breakfast (with good coffee!) in the pre-dawn darkness and another 7:00AM start. By complete chance I met up with my friend Craig and his wife, so we had a chance to catch up on news over tasty food.

The Sunday ride started out cold, but as the sun rose we warmed up nicely. Once again I was able to ride with other HP teammates including our Captain, Kiersten Regelin, and Michael Randazzo, who rides in spite of having MS and inspires a bunch of great guys to ride with him as a true team. He also blew us all away by raising $9,979.96! How cool. It was also cool seeing how so many HP employees were willing to push themselves so hard for such a great cause. Rai ended up with tendonitis after the ride, and had to ice his knee. Josh Jensen, one of our four captains, rode super well and was great company too; his wife Bethany has MS so it's very personal for him.

We arrived again in Rohnert Park, spent but in great spirits. I was ready for the massage I signed up for and the next party! This time I used my drink tickets to enjoy wine and beer, with my steak dinner. I was kind of sad that it all had to end, but I sure loved doing it. Thanks again everybody!

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