A Story of Gratitude: Pedal the Point, 2011
The day begins early. 4:15 AM. Logan is at Becky’s, and Kitty is bugging me. Nothing new there.
The plan is for Martha to meet me at my place at 5:15 AM and then drive to the ride start at Polaris School. We’re members of Team Mellen—a team named for the MS Research and Treatment Center at the Cleveland Clinic. I recruited Martha for this year’s adventure. We were active members of the Training Rider Group I lead every Sunday. This year we began training in April. Our team has about 85 riders about one-third of whom attended at least one training ride.
Team Mellen is the largest group in the 2011 ride with about 85 tiders.
We arrive at Polaris at about 6:00 AM with our team picture scheduled for 6:30. I’m excited this year. This will be my 11th Pedal-the-Point ride. My late wife Judy got me involved. We had wonderful experiences leading the training rides for 7 years before her untimely death. I chose to continue them to honor her goal of trying to rid the world of MS.
I’m also excited because I’ve raised a lot of money for MS this year. More than $3400.00! This is $800.00 more than my previous high. I’m the third highest fund raiser on Team Mellen. I feel touched by the fact that 37 friends and family have been willing to support me in this ride. That number is twice as large as my previous high number of donors.
I’m ready. I’m feeling an adrenaline high. The course is scheduled to open at 7:00 AM, and Team Mellen will be the first to leave. Our position was determined by our being the top fund raising group in 2010. Temperature is currently a cool 60.
We’re off. A safe start, gratefully. I’m never sure about the likelihood of that given the varied skill levels of the 2600 riders. Our first stop at about 12 miles will be at the home of a Clinic professional who has sponsored an exclusive Team Mellen rest stop for four years. Ignoring everything I know about healthy eating, I have a banana and two, that’s right, two chocolate donuts, one chocolate covered and the other chocolate cream filled. Mmmmmm.
Guilt sets in. Oy vey. If my cardiologist could see me now… OK, get over it Murray. Just keep pedaling.
My riding partners and I arrive at the lunch stop at about 9:45. We’re about 33 miles into the ride here. We reconnect with other friends from the training rides in the cafeteria of the Lorain County Vocational School. We eat, laugh and review our experiences for the first leg of the P2P. By 10:30 we’re ready to hit the road again. Temperature is now up to about 75 degrees and the humidity is up in the 50% range.
For much of the ride so far we’ve had light headwinds. They seem to pick up significantly after lunch. By noon the air temperature is near 80. As we proceed, we decide to skip the first post-lunch rest stop. This was probably a mistake. We’re all feeling the affects of the wind. I begin to wonder if I can keep going. Worse, I start to think that I must be losing my mind to be doing this at age 72.
The thought passes quickly. I can’t think negatively. I remember the Little Engine that Could. If the Engine could, Murray could.
We decide to take a longer rest at the stop in Berlin Heights. I hydrate with 2 bottles of ice water and one bottle of iced Gatorade. I have a small cluster of grapes and a banana. No more chocolate donuts. And, while I lust for a HoHo, lust loses. We find a nice, shaded area and kibbutz as our bodies regain strength.
I’ve always loved this spot because I’m often exhausted when I arrive, but feel much better when I leave--partly because I hydrate and refuel the body and partly because I know there’s a ½ mile downhill soon.
Sure enough, I’m feeling stronger now. My attitude is much more positive. Our pace seems to pick up. Soon we’re at the final rest stop, about 11 miles from the end. We take some extra time again.
We reconnect with Sue, Ernie, Bob, and Ray. We decide to regroup just before the finish so we can ride in as Team Mellen.
I feel like a kid again. Strong. Energized. The end is in sight. I somehow start leading a line at about 15-18 mph. How is this possible? Ah, who cares. The final miles seem to fly by.
We stop at the KFC Restaurant to regroup. Riding into the High School is always quite emotional for me. The entrance is lined by people with MS, their families and friends. They applaud. They thank us for riding. I well up. Tears form in my eyes.
We’re here. 77 joyous miles…completed. My second fastest average speed—13.3 mph. Who would’ve thought?
I’ll try to remember all of this as I begin my 12th Pedal-the-Point ride on August 4, 2012. C’mon along, it’s not too late to register.
Murray Fishel is a late arrival to biking, starting at age 51. He is an avid recreational bicyclist who has become a touring enthusiast. His bucket list includes riding in all 50 states. He is currently at 42. Murray is also co-author with Stan Purdum of Pedaling on the North Coast: Cycling the Streets of Greater Cleveland (2011, UAkron Press).