Thursday, September 18, 2008

Randonneurs Having Fun: Bike MS, New Bern, NC, 2008, by Dean Furbish

On September 13th, more than 2100 cyclists descended on the historic town of New Bern for the 20th annual Bike MS celebration sponsored by the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Randonneurs are rightly viewed by their friends as a determined lot, logging miles in 100km multiples.

This begs the question: What are randonneurs like when they are not riding their metric marathons? The answer is that randonneurs can be a very charitable and fun-loving lot!

This was certainly the case this past weekend in historic New Bern, where I caught up with NC randonneurs: Ed Hirsch, Alan Johnson, Mike O'Connor, and Sridhar Sourirajan.

Friday afternoon. Some cyclists opt to be close to the the action, camping at the water's edge in Union Point Park, near the start of the the ride.

Cyclists anticipate the Saturday morning start of the 30-, 75-, and 100-mile routes.

Capturing the festive mood of the weekend, these kids felt obliged to test the sprinkler system.

Riding buddy and friend, Sridhar, in Blackbeard MS team Jersey. Sridhar and I have ridden together this year more than 1000km of sanctioned randonees. Thanks, Sridhar! On Sridhar's left is Karen Ambrose, capable captain and organizer of my MS team, the Rehab Racers, out of WakeMed. Thanks, Karen, for your charitable work!

Time for a little fun with an RTP quiz question: Can you spot the randonneur/randonneuse in the above picture: Sridhar or Karen? Hint: Check out Sridhar's steel Heron bike, replete with generator-hub headlight and handlebar bag. It seems we randonneurs can stand out in a crowd!
Mike O'Connor lined up at the start. Although initially dogged by a couple of flats caused by errant wheel rim tape, Mike made great time anyway! Somebody said there were no hills in New Bern. But, here, Mike seems to be holding onto his Eddie Merkx in order to prevent it from rolling downhill. Or is he holding it close because he's noticed several covetous admirers?

This weekend, I learned something interesting. . . Our Fearless Leader, Al Johnson, is a native son of New Bern! Not only was he a great riding companion, but doubled as tour guide, pointing out several points of interest.

This quaint church near Tryon Palace was founded in 1895 as an Episcopal Mission Chapel. Today it is a garden and gift shop called Late Bloomer.

And what is historic New Bern without Tryon Palace, which we passed on our route?

A couple of my Rehab Racers teammates. Angela on the left and Lee on the right. Pacelines are ubiquitous at the MS ride. Part of the fun is being able to hop one almost any time.

First class operation. With its many volunteers, the MS folks really know how to spoil cyclists, with complete SAG and rest stops every 10-15 miles. This particular operation of filling drink bottles was as efficient as an Indy pit stop. What the picture fails to capture are nearby volunteers stuffing cyclists' personal drink bottles with (n)ice!

An interesting community on the 100-mile route.

The approach back to New Bern (between the two distant cranes) at about mile 95 over the Neuse and Trent river bridges, the only hills on the route.

Sumptuous buffet reminds me of the ingenious NC randonneuring slogan coined by Branson Kimball: Ride, Eat, Sleep. Once again, the MS people spare nothing.

And when sleep finally restrains us, may we find ourselves in the misty contours of our dreamworld in the shape of fun-loving kids!


Jerry Phelps said...

Great pictures Dean. And it sounds like the ride was a rousing success! I was thinking about you guys Saturday morning. Thanks for sharing.

Sridhar said...

Dean -- Lovely report and lovelier picture...You are a great cycling companion. I am on brevet hiatus at the moment (cramming for a brutal exam in mid-Nov) but look fwd to rejoining you.

Did you know that my team's Blackbeard jersey -- got the Best Jersey award this year. This is the second year running for MSing Links jersey. Yippee!!