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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bike MS Ozarks '17

This is my fall classic. I ride Bike MS Ozarks every year, this is my fourth in a row and I'm not stopping.

At the beginning, the emcee thanked us for 'giving up a weekend' for this worthy cause. The MS Society is a worthy cause, no doubt, I should fundraise more aggressively for it. But I was not giving up my weekend, this is one of the best weekends of my year every year.

It's a challenging ride, though four years ago it was more so, I think they shaved a few of the more challenging climbs off to cut down on the number of riders who SAG. I'm not sure that worked, I got passed by a lot of obviously full SAG vehicles on Sunday. The thing that ended up being challenging this year, they sent us back the way we came.

Which totally makes sense. You don't have to move porta-potties, marking the route is simpler, etc. But in years past they've sent us longer going out than home, and when I got to the sixth rest stop on Sunday, thinking that would be the last with about ten miles to go I learned we were about 25 miles out.

Which was fine, it was just a surprise. Better than the surprise I got Saturday night when I got to camp and learned it was a different venue than the last three years. It worked out in the end, they'd thought of the things, we just couldn't set up our 'indoor camping' as early as we'd have liked and as a consolation we were allowed to drink non-secret beer. The school we've overnighted at the past few years didn't allow alcohol, which didn't mean none was consumed, but this year it was a keg of Mother's brown ale and coolers of canned beer instead of brown paper bags and flasks.

The one criticism I had when I filled out my survey: they had an awesome spread of barbecue at the finish on Sunday, but lunch was, well, it was cold cut sandwiches with a lot more white bread than cold cuts, no toppings to speak of (except pickles, mustard and mayo, no veggies). I get that you're feeding 600 people and it's a fundraiser, but the awesome meal should be lunch, not the after party: by the time we're back in Republic we have options, you don't need to feed us at all. In some tiny town int he middle of nowhere, we're a captive audience, a captive audience that's exerting and can't just opt to buy an alternative (though they did run us by a Casey's this year, and on Sunday, realizing the lunch situation, I did opt to stop for pizza there).

Oh, I should admit to one other criticism: pickle juice. It's really popular with us riders, it really does seem to help with cramps. Some stops had it, some seemed astonishingly surprised at the demand for the stuff. God bless the volunteers on this, they make the whole thing possible, and their efforts are truly impressive. I get that a lot of them don't understand why so many of us riders are looking for pickle juice, but when your hamstrings make that sound from Down With the Sickness, you never look at electrolytes the same way again.

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