What is the MS 365 Project?

The MS 365 Project is a celebration of my 20th year with Multiple Sclerosis and the active lifestyle that I have used in my fight against MS. This year long project will hopefully raise money for the Can Do MS organization and raise awareness of how strenuous activity can help in the fight against MS.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

National MS Awareness Week

I'm a single parent  for a few days this week since Golden is at a 3 day workshop in Raleigh. For the first time in almost two years, I drove to work today after dropping Owen off at daycare. It was a weird experience and made me feel way more anxious than riding to work ever does. There is a certain feedback loop involved in running late as a bike commuter. You can stress and pummel yourself into going faster, or you can relax and realize you'll get there sooner than you think.

This situation also means that getting my mile a day in will be a little tricky, but doable. I'm well ahead of the 10 mile a day average I need to cover 3,650 miles this year. As of yesterday (day 73), I have completed 912 miles about 18 days ahead of schedule. It's funny how the one week that meshes perfectly with the goals of the MS 365 Project is the week that it will be the most difficult for me to meet the project's goals!

Jeff and I went for a long road ride on Sunday. In an effort to rediscover the climber I was as a kid, I suggested we ride from town to the top of Hwy. 181 at Jonas Ridge. 181 is about a 12 mile climb and is the most feared portion of the Bridge to Bridge Incredible Challenge that is held here every year. We rolled out of town in to a stiff headwind, trying to keep the pace moderately interesting while not totally burning all of our matches in the headwind. We made the turn on to 181 and both of us were immediately aware of how long it had been since we had made the climb. As we discussed it, we figured out it had been well over a year and possibly two since we had climbed Hwy. 181.

As we climbed, I felt good, really good. The first time I ever rode up Hwy. 181 I was 17 and had travelled to Hickory with some friends to do some climbing rides since all we had in Fayetteville that qualified as a climb were the highway overpasses. I rode up Hwy 181 in 1987 on a 6 speed, steel road bike with a low gear of 42 x 18. I was 17 and weighed 94 lbs. Now, I am working hard to get up with a low gear of 39 x 26. Oh, to be young again. But my mission this year is to rediscover that inner climber and ride strong in the mountains. I want to break the 6 hour mark for the Bridge to Bridge (my previous best time is 6:27).

I started to bonk a little and fell off the pace. When you have MS, sometimes you think that your problems are MS related instead of just being human related. I'm discovering that I'm not incapable of climbing long, sustained climbs due to MS, but that I'm not eating enough and bonking during the climb. Thanks to Jeff and my wife, I'm starting to recognize the difference.

Fortunately for us, we had a 20+ mph headwind as we climbed, which really made us earn every bit of the two or three thousand feet of elevation gain. Along the way though, you get to see stuff like this:

We got to the top, fueled up and then started down the ridge. Within moments, the now tailwind pushed us to ridiculously fast speeds. Jeff sat up on a straightaway saying, "We gotta watch it. I just hit 42 like it was nothing." We naturally starting pushing it to see how fast we could go down the curvy descent that is a favorite of sport bikes (but was being heavily patrolled by law enforcement, so they weren't really out in hordes like normal). The final high speed was 49 mph. The 1+ hour climb was a 20 minute balls out descent!

I'd like to accomplish a few things this MS Awareness Week. I want to encourage you to get out and do something, anything active no matter what the weather or your schedule is like. Share your experiences here or at the MS 365 Project facebook page. Help the Project hit 250 "likes" on facebook by the end of the week. Hopefully, more people will join the ride with me as I tackle the rest of the year's rides!

Next event on the race calendar: 6 Hours of Warrior Creek where Golden and I will try to better our Coed Duo 3rd place finish from last year. 

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