Rolling Route 66 – The 2011 Mother Road Ride

The starting line in downtown Tulsa. The sky looks rather ominous.

The event of the year for Team Superior arrived – the 2011 Oklahoma Bike MS – The Mother Road Ride! Hundreds of cyclists, hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of miles, all for one great goal – supporting the fight against MS!

Our team had some 40 participants, all ready for a rough first morning. The temp started out in the mid-50’s, wet roads and drizzling. It had the makings of a day where most cyclists would look outside and seriously reconsider. But not us. Nope, we gathered up our sweaters, pants, rain coats, and rolled out.

Flats, flats, and more flats.

Though the weather started out bad, it cleared up pretty well about 30 miles in, with the sun finally breaking through and starting to warm the air. The big problem of the day was flats. Several hundred, in fact. By the end of the first day, our team alone had accrued some 22 flats and 3 busted tires. I had a flat myself, but the big winner for the day was Ben, with 5 flats and 2 busted tires.

I rolled with a large portion of the team for Day 1. A nice, enjoyable ride where I didn’t feel like I was going to fall over at the end. 72 miles, with a wonderful team tent set up with food, drinks, chairs, a massage table, the works.

A nice line of Team Superior cyclists.

The next day, the weather had another surprise in store. The temp warmed up – high 60’s – and the roads had mostly dried. I was feeling pretty good at first. But about 15 miles into the ride, the wind started up. By the time we were 30 miles in, we had a head-wind of about 15-20 mph. It was exhausting! There were five of us that were riding together taking turns pulling at the front, with our strongest riders (Doug, Bret, and Lance) pulling for some seriously long stretches.

By the time we hit the rest stop at mile 58, I was done keeping up with the cool kids, and decided it was time to take it down a notch. About 7 miles later (4 from the end), I had a crash. Messed up my hip, back, knee, and left me with a mild concussion. But it didn’t matter – I wasn’t gonna get that far and give up. I kept rolling – if anything my injuries gave me a pain-induced second wind. I finally made it into the state capitol where a good group of Team Superior riders, friends, and family were there to cheer me on.

As with last year, the ride was an amazing experience in itself. And the goal of raising both money and awareness for the MS Society is extremely worth-while. But the thing that stands out for me is the camaraderie and amazing support that this team gives each other. The stronger riders helping the weaker ones. The smiles, the laughs, the encouragement through the many rolling hills and long miles of head-wind. The effort and resources put into making our time at Chandler (the overnight) and OKC as enjoyable as possible for all.

In the words of Colin McEnroe – another novice cyclist – “Who knew that bicycle chains pull at our hearts?”

The finish line in Oklahoma City, OK. Approximately 142 miles later.