life on a bike

2 Aug

As many of you know (because you know me or you read my blog), I spent last week on my bike. Yep, the whole week. 300 miles on a bike seat.

290 miles in....

Do you remember that I did this last year too?

This was my 5th MS TRAM Bike Tour.  This is likely my last one as I’m in need of  a change and I have big trip planned next summer. So, knowing that, I was a bit nostalgic this year. So, indulge me and let me tell you about life  on a bike tour.

First, let me give you a little background. I got involved with this tour when I started working for the MS Society back in 2001. I worked in the special events department recruiting corporate teams and sponsors to do our bike tours and walks. I loved this job. When I started working there, I didn’t really know anyone with MS. In fact, I didn’t know much about it at all. I learned quickly that it can be a devastating disease and the people that deal with it are the bravest heroes I have ever met. The people with MS that I grew to know and become connected to are my greatest inspiration. They fight. They perservere. They believe that one day a cure will be found. So do I.

I worked at the society for five years and it was such a great experience for me.

The one thing I was most excited about when I started there was working on the bike tours. I had just completed the AIDSRide from Minneapolis to Chicago and loved everything about it. Bikers are awesome people and the biking community was something I was desperate to stay involved in. This was a cool way to be able to do that. The riders I met that participated in the bike tours were truly awesome. Not only were they fun and enjoy biking, but they were passionate about the cause and the need to get more people on bikes and raising money.

During my last summer at the MS Society, my friend Jon and I decided to start a team for the MS TRAM, a 5-day, 300 mile tour across the state of MN. I had worked the event 4 times and Jon had ridden the past two years. Together we decided we needed more people on this event and Team Happy Hour was created. I know, I know. Team Happy Hour? Well, that’s how we started recruiting – by hosting informational happy hours. At our first happy hour, only 2 people showed up, but what do you know? One of them registered. Slowly but surely, we recruited about 25 peeps in our first year and over the next 6 years, we had between 22-30 riders each year. Not only that, we were a fundraising machine. Every rider on the event must raise $300, but we strived for more. We wanted to have a $1,000 per rider average on our team. We have a achieved that every year. In fact, we have been the top fundraising team on the event 4 out of the 5 years (this year’s fundraising isn’t over yet).  I’m so proud of that.

So, as I’ve been thinking about these last 6 years of Team Happy Hour, I can’t help but think about what life would be like if it was run like a MS Bike Tour. When you’re on the tour, it’s like a whole different universe where you can block out all the craziness that happens in your normal life.

Here’s what I would like to bring from the bike tour to everyday life:

  • After an hour of work, a group of smiling people would show up at your office door, tell you you’re doing great and offer you a pb & j sandwich and a banana.
  • At the end of the day, your family would greet you at home with thunderous applause and cowbells congratulating you on a job well done.
  • Gym clothes….every day.
  • Salted Nut Rolls are essential to get through the afternoon. You won’t be able to proceed without them. Seriously, they are mandatory.
  • Everyone you come into contact with is happy to see you and is excited to hear about your day.
  • Massage tents
  • Eating ice cream with no guilt.
  • The ability to see small town communities show off the best of their city.
  • The team you work with are the coolest, most awesome people ever and will always have your back.

There are some things I’d like to leave behind on the bike tour and not bring into everyday life:

  • port-o-potties
  • spandex (Granted, when everyone is wearing it, it’s no big deal.)
  • bug spray
  • mosquitos
  • headwind
  • camping gear (Camping is not my favorite activity.)
  • shower trucks (Yes, we take showers on semi’s. They are hot and wonderful during the tour, but not something I’d like to stand in line for on a daily basis.)

None of the above seem that bad during the week and all of it is worth it. Plus, I’m not in it by myself – I have my team!

I’ve been lucky to ride with some of the worlds coolest people (and weirdest, but that’s what makes us special).

This is our team in 2009 (I don’t have the 2010 photo yet).

Nice looking bunch, huh?

We are all very different, but we are all passionate about two things; biking and raising funds for the MS Society so they can fund crucial research and provide critical services for those dealing with this crappy disease.

You can help. I don’t plea much on this blog, but I am now.If you would like to help in my (and my team’s) fight against MS, make a pledge. I’m still fundraising and will be until I hit my goal of $5,000. I would love your help to get there.

Tomorrow, I’ll be giving you an in-depth food recap of the bike tour. When you’re burning an additional 1500-2500 calories per day, food is important. You know I don’t mess around with food. The team ate well last week. I know you’re dying to hear about it.

Until then, here are a few pictures of the team over the past few years.

Lake Superior - somewhere between Two Harbors and Duluth.

This was the last day of the 2005 tour through northern MN – absolutely beautiful.

Egg night

In 2006, we started cooking meals of the team. We thought egg night was brilliant. It was somewhat of a disaster and the clean up was not too awesome.

Officer Butter

2009 was the year of the mustache. This one was my favorite.

Piggy back rides

How can you not want to ride with this team? We know how to have a good time.

My dutch twin

Henriet and I have logged a lot of miles together. We even have the same jersey.

My other twin

Meghan and I have solved most of the world’s problems while riding our bikes. People actually do think we’re sisters and someone did ask us if we are twins. We don’t see it – we think it’s the freckles. :)

Hibbing, MN 2005

Of course, Team Happy Hour obeys all rules.


8 Responses to “life on a bike”

  1. Jackson August 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    You are amazing. I would say that even if you weren’t my sister.:) Keep up the good work.

  2. Dennis August 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Nice Reader’s Digest article. Thanks for putting together Happy Hour.

  3. Fav Sista August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    You ROCK Jen. I love your passion for biking and for finding a cure for MS. Glad you got home safely and looking forward to see your food post from the TRAM. Did you stick with your no meat challenge?

  4. Steff August 3, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    This is the most simultaneously hilarious and touching post of all time. I totally agree that Salted Nut Rolls and cowbell cheering should be integrated into everyday life. And I’m amazed and inspired by what you’ve done over the last five years. You are a fundraising machine!
    So…what’s your big trip for next summer?

    • jen August 4, 2010 at 8:59 am #

      Hey Steff! We missed you on TRAM – hopefully this was nostalgic for you. :)

      We are hoping to do a big Europe trip next summer as we have some friends getting married over there. I’m so excited!

  5. Butter August 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Nice recap! I am honored to make an appearance on your blog, even if I do look slightly creepy!


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