If you came to me a year ago and said “Kurt, you”re going to ride 80 miles on a bike from Cherry Hill to Ocean City,” I probably would have laughed and continued to eating a carton of ice cream. Now, here I am – a daily commuter to work, from Manayunk to Center City on my Craigslist bike, Ruby, preparing for the ride of my life – the MS: City to Shore Ride.
What drew me away from the ice cream and onto a bike? The cause. The fact that I can help the more than 2.3 million people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The opportunity to contribute to the funding for research and local programs for those affected by MS.
Prior to joining the City to Shore Ride, I didn”t know much about MS, or to be completely honest, anything at all. I’ve only known one person who was touched by MS. My high school classmate’s mother had been diagnosed with MS, and my classmate would openly talk about the struggles of living with a loved one with MS.
It was tough listening to her talk about the difficulties her mother had walking or doing everyday tasks that we take for granted, but even more difficult hearing how demanding it was for an 18-year old and her family to take care of her mother. The symptoms of MS, like debilitating fatigue, affected the way that family did everything. I couldn’t even imagine being in her shoes but I felt for her so much.
It was five years later, during my first month at ChatterBlast, that I was introduced to the City to Shore Ride for MS. I heard the personal stories and learned about the disease that affects so many. Team ChatterBlast was preparing and fundraising for months. It was too late for me to join last year, and casino to be honest; the 80-mile ride scared me anyway. It scared me even more when Matt came in the weekend after the race and could barely walk across the office, but despite the physical pain, never once did he say it wasn’t worth it. That’s all I needed to commit to the 2014 ride.
After conquering my fears of committing to an 80-mile bike ride, I started preparing. I bought my bike, Ruby, from a nice hipster guy and have been riding it to work every sunny day since. The 18-mile round trip to work is something I never imagined myself doing. I show up to the office a little sweatier and red faced than usual, but besides the “unattractive post work-out look,” I’ve loved my daily commute….it sure as hell beats that bus.
In the month I’ve had my bike, I’ve rode close to 200 miles and nearly 12 hours. I track my progress and times everyday on my bike app, Strava. My times range from 35 minutes into work and 38 minutes home. Each day my body gets more used to the ride. My girlfriend and I even started doing yoga through an app on her iPad to limber up for the ride. At the end of the day, I couldn’t begin to tell you the wonders a 30-minute yoga session can do.
I thought going from no physical activity to biking into work everyday would be a tough transition, but it hasn’t been too bad. There are days where the head winds are frustrating and make the commute harder, but any pain, sweat or “unattractive post work-out look” is worth it for a cause like this and for those it will help. With my high school classmate in mind, and knowing the devastating effects of this disease, I’m more than happy to devote my time to getting ready for this ride.
Even though the ride is about a month away, my journey to the City to Shore Ride is just beginning. My bike still needs to be inspected; I’m going to attend the free “Group Ride” Lesson and Rider Expo the MS Society offers; my fundraising goal of $1,000 still needs to be met and more practice miles biked. Be sure to check back on the CBM blog for another installment of “Diary Of A First Timer: MS City to Shore Ride.”