“Thanks for riding! These rides are the reason my husband is doing as well as he is.”
Heartfelt words from a stranger mean so much when you’re riding for a cause. At the MS rides, you hear these words, “Thanks for riding” over and over and over again. The gratitude of the people who have MS or who have family members with MS overwhelms.
No thanks necessary. I’m thankful that the National MS Society organize these rides. These rides give me a chance to make a difference in the lives of people who are struggling by doing something that I love – riding my bike with friends and struggling myself.
The route we ride is sixty-five miles. To more seasoned cyclists, this may sound inferior – to those who never pedal further than down the street with their kids, this may sound unbelievable. But to me, it’s the sweet spot.
The first 50 miles seem to unfold under me with minimal effort. I struggle over a few hills, but essentially, they melt away under the spinning tires and turning cranks. The last 15 miles always become a real struggle. Even with the rest stop at mile 52, I struggle to make it to the end of the route each year.
Our route takes us over familiar roads from my childhood. Roads with names that I remember from Dad’s fire radio. Sixes Bridge Road. Bullfrog Road. Motter’s Station Road. Mumma Ford Road. Bollinger School Road. Barlow 2 Tavern’s Road.
The list goes on.
These roads, named after people, destinations, or wildlife wind their ways through open space marked with cornfields and soy fields flanked by barbed wire and treelines. The roads submit to the landscape in ways that reveal their age – following a stream rather than crossing it, rising with a hill instead of cutting through it, abruptly turning to avoid a house that has stood for over a hundred years. These roads are the scene of many single car accidents involving 16-year-old boys with too much testosterone and not enough sense.
The Mason-Dixon Challenge runs through the open space skirting the towns of my youth, Gettysburg, Fairfield, Emmitsburg, Rocky Ridge, Thurmont, Taneytown, Harney, Barlow and Two Taverns. These are towns from which I could not wait to escape; I hardly looked back when I left 23 years ago. Now, I am drawn back each year and left with a yearning for open space when I return to my suburban home.