For all those who are avid sports participants, for all those who are dedicated spectators of those sports, this is a commendation. It is truly amazing, the effort, the dedication, the knowledge, the courage, that it takes to enter and compete in a long distance event; not to mention what it takes to plan one and, much less, to support those who are involved. As a spectator, I most admire this and am in awe of those bicyclists, runners, walkers, swimmers and any other sports persons who utilize their talents, their bodies for both personal achievement and the “greater” good.
During the first weekend of May 2010, I was lucky enough to be a spectator to a MS bicycling event (MS=Multiple Sclerosis). I had long known about “The MS 150” from Houston to Austin (which really is about 180 miles), and knew a few folks who had participated from time to time. However, I became more personally involved, and much more enlightened, when my own daughter decided to enter the MS 150 Bike Ride from Frisco, TX to Fort Worth, TX - a 2-day event. It is a matter of logistics, planning in advance, practice and following through. The big teams with the big sponsors have less worry about cost and logistics; they have big trucks to carry things and motor homes in which to camp out. Of course, the individuals as part of those teams must practice and get ready for the 2-day, 164 mile ride – and that is no small task. The smaller teams, though, depend only on a few individuals to help them carry out their goal (which is to finish the course after also raising some money for MS research).
In addition to figuring out how I would get my car from Frisco (I was in Frisco so I could watch the 7:00 a.m. start) to where I would then stay in Euless, and then drive my car and then my daughter’s car from Frisco to Euless and to Ft. Worth (my brain was mush), I also volunteered myself and two friends to help set up tents for the overnight stay of the riders at Texas Motor Speedway. What did we know about setting up tents? Fortunately the person with the rider’s gear was a pro at tent setting up! We were there for support, and we were there when the riders came across the Finish Line at Texas Motor Speedway. Waiting/working in the sun and warmth for four hours cannot be compared to 84 miles of sitting on a very small seat on top of a light-weight frame with only two wheels, pedaling and pedaling (not to mention encountering flat tires.) Seeing that our riders were safe and settled into their camp, my friends and I returned to our comfortable abodes.
The next morning, all the riders took a lap around the speedway, and then headed out for another 80 mile trek north of Ft. Worth (the 6:00am start call was not on my agenda that day). There were some more mechanical issues and some hills on this route, but no accidents. Our team, Tyler Bike Club (eight in number, with the only tandem entered in the ride), came into Sundance Square around 2:00pm with fanfare and big welcoming arms (mine and some long-time friends included.) What a sight, each rider that crossed that Finish Line was so proud (and I think I saw most of them!) It was an accomplishment and we, as spectators, recognized and acknowledged it. YAY! (White poster with green printing.) The National Multiple Sclerosis Society had the planning “down pat.” Things were so well organized on the course with many ride marshals to assist with mechanical problems, EMS, and police presence to monitor traffic at each of the towns; the streets were fenced off in Fort Worth and there was music in the square.
So, hats off, and much applause, to the MS Society, the multitude of volunteers, and to all of those 3,200 riders for a spectacular event! Continued applause for all of those who keep this type of event in the forefront – all are awesome!