Bike MS: Tour to Tanglewood 2012

This isn’t the post I planned on writing. It’s not an epic recap of two back-to-back 50 mile bike rides. It’s not even a tale of two 40 mile bike rides. In fact, it’s not a story of two bike rides at all.

It’s about one 18 mile ride on a Saturday morning. The end.

There’s a lot of people out there that could eat an 18 mile ride for breakfast. I’m not one of them, so I’m still proud of my accomplishment, I just wish it could’ve been more.

But let me back up and start at the beginning.

cycling event

I’m a casual type A {if there is such a thing}. The night before a race or event involves knocking out The List: the to-dos, the prep, the ducks in a row. Equipment ready to go, bags packed, food prepped, maps printed, race numbers pinned, and plans made.

Friday night I put the babe to bed and came downstairs to start The List. I stopped being nervous about our upcoming ride and started getting excited. I detoured out to the garage before making dinner to give the bike tires one last pump of air and check on the husband’s bike-rack building progress.

He was holding the bike latch package in his hand, utility knife poised to cut through the zip ties, knife pointing towards him. Just as I started to utter the words, “Well that’s a good way to hurt yourself”, IT happened.

getting stitchesemergency room visit

I saw the blade jam into his wrist, right where that vital artery hides. I looked up at him and said, “Hospital?”. When he barely hesitated before saying yes, I knew it was time to go- and fast.

bike hitch and knife accident

I darted up the stairs, scooped the babe out of bed, and we were off.

3 hours and 6 giant stitches later we came home. It was way past my bedtime and The List was not getting tackled.

The husband was lucky- he missed all the important arteries and tendons, but he wouldn’t be able to ride in the morning as he was unable to squeeze the brakes on his bike.

trek madone road bike

Saturday morning rolled around far too soon and I scrambled to get everything together. I dragged the wounded husband out of bed to help me rack my bike and collect my pump supplies while I fed the baby. {Those are 2 things I’ve never had to include in race-day prep.Winking smile}

I hopped in the car with a mug of coffee and allergy-friendly granola bar and started the 45 minute trek to the park. I sat at the stoplight waiting to get on the highway and thought about turning around and going home. I was going to be late, I was by myself {my other team members didn’t meet the fundraising minimum}, I was tired, hungry, and didn’t want to leave my family. Most of all, I had serious doubts about my ability to complete even the shortest ride of the event.

tour to tanglewood park bike ms

I pulled into the park, jumped on my bike, and rode through the grass to the start line where I barely paused before we took off. My number was half hanging off my bike and I didn’t pack any fuel. Not the prepared approach I normally take.

bike ms

The course started in the park before heading out to the local streets. The park is full of long, gradual hills and speed bumps that aren’t so fun on a road bike. It was a bit of brutal awakening and didn’t do too much to boost my confidence. My feet were already numb {they never get numb} and my hip ached where I tweaked it getting stuck in my pedals during a training ride.

As we turned out of the park onto the roads, I recognized the first part of the course from the triathlon I did in the same park. I hoped I wouldn’t be repeating that sequence of events. {Chain falling off, getting stuck, waiting for help…}

The roads were fairly quite and traffic wasn’t much of an issue. I had a couple riders in sight so I could follow their lead when it came to maneuvering around cars and waiting for traffic. At one point we got stuck behind a Bobcat –the equipment, not the animal {although we do have those in NC}- which slowed us down for awhile, but it was nice to just relax and pedal calmly for a few minutes.

Soon after we escaped the farm equipment we approached the rest stop. That was the moment I knew I could do it. Not only that, I knew I could do the longer ride the next day.The rest stop was the turn around point. The halfway mark. It took me by surprise when it came so soon in the ride.


I grabbed some sports drink and a handful of snacks, took a potty break, and stretched out my hips. As soon as I did that I felt better. The kinks were worked out, I was loose and warmed up, and I was ready to bust out the last 9 miles.

I spent most of the second half of the ride by myself on the rural roads. Instead of being lonely and scared, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew I was safe and soaked up the rising sunshine and country scenery. The weather was absolutely perfect and I felt great.

The last couple miles brought a few hills. I had no idea how much of the ride I had left and my confidence started wavering. I wasn’t sure I could do it.

But then I thought about my dad, who has MS and is in better shape than most people I know.

I thought about my mom, who rode 75 miles last weekend and finished her first triathlon last month.

I thought about my in laws, who were happily and lovingly taking care of my son so I could participate in this adventure.

I thought about the last time I rode my bike in this park, when my feet hurt so badly I could barely coast down the hills and I needed help racking my bike because my hands didn’t work.

And then I saw the entrance into the park. I’d done it. I dominated the long slow hill. I let out a cheer for the people pushing their bikes up the side and I let out a little silent cheer for myself for managing to stay on my bike.

I couldn’t help but smile as I crossed the finish line. It may have been the shortest ride of the event, but it was still a ride I pushed through and finished.

cycling finisher's medal

I can’t say much about the event itself. Although it prides itself on being accessible to all levels, it was clearly geared towards the longer rides of the day and the focus was on the individual fundraising teams, as opposed to riders as a whole. I planned to hang out and partake in the post-ride festivities, but there was nothing going on when I finished {even after I took a timeout to pump in the car}.

I headed home a little disappointed, but pumped for the next day’s ride.

bike cue sheet

And then at 4am I woke up to a baby and thunderstorms. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would subside in the next couple hours, but no luck. Lightening + bike spokes don’t mix. Bike ride day 2 = no go.

So instead of doing a victory dance and relishing in our amazing “endurance event” accomplishment, the husband and are I wallowing a bit in what could’ve been. We’ve decided to do another ride at the end of October when his arm has healed to make up for it- we don’t want to let those that sponsored us down!

bike ms cycling jerseys

Not the way I pictured this going, but at least I have my first post-baby event under my belt. Winking smile

Bootylicious: 24 Hours of Booty 2011


24 hours

1,200 riders

400 reboot riders

400 volunteers

99 degrees

110 degree heat index

4 meals

15 between meal snacks

4 team members

$1.25 million dollars

10 years

8 bajillion Powerades {exactly}

Countless waters


The one & only 24 Hours of Booty

bob roll 24 hours of booty 10th anniversary jersey

We knew it was going to be a tough one this year when the car thermometer read 101 degrees Friday morning on the way to the event. By the time we’d pulled up to Queens University at noon, unloaded our bikes, staked out a camping area, and moved the car, we were already jonesing for cold drinks.

car thermometer 101 degrees

We spent the first four hours of our adventure volunteering- the husband and our other teammate Andrea directed traffic like pros, and my mom and I helped with stuffing bags and packet pickup.

myers park traditional school

The drinks didn’t arrive until we were mostly through our shift, and we snatched them up before they even had a chance to get cold. It was the beginning of the Powerade-drinking marathon.

mom and i at 24 hours of booty

We had a little bit of time between the end of our volunteer shift and the official start of the event, so we set up our tents, prepped our bikes, and took ice cold showers in the campus athletic center- a complete and totally luxury of the Charlotte event.

camping at 24 hours of booty

set up tentbootyville campground

prepping bike for ride

The hour before the first lap of the evening was spent with introductions and awards. The Charlotte event alone surpassed the $1.25 million dollar mark this year; an incredible accomplishment.

mountain khakis bike teambank of america bike team

Awards were distributed to the highest fundraisers, and the 2011 edition of the “Booty charm’” was given to a handful of deserving survivors and influential participants. One of them was my mom!

booty awardsbooty charm recipient

A local meteorologist & two-time cancer survivor gave an official weather report of “you don’t want to know how hot it is”, although she gave us the clue that the reported forecast temperatures are taken in the shade, and you can expect sunny areas to be 15 degrees hotter. Yikes.

charlotte meteorologistsir purr panthers mascot

Spencer Leuders, the man that started it all, was surprised with a scholarship in his name to go to four students at Queens University dealing with cancer themselves or in their family. It’s hard to imagine 10 years ago a lawyer borrowed a bike and rode it for 24 hours to raise money for cancer- just look at what it turned in to.

spencer leuders booty founderspencer leuders and family

By 7, it was time for the ride to start. First up, the survivor parade lap, led by Sir Purr of the Carolina Panthers and Bob Roll, former professional cyclist and Tour de France announcer.

begin. 24 hours of booty

sir purr and panthers bike teamsir purr rides his tricyclespencer leuders starts bike ride

bike ride escorts

There goes mom!

survivor loop

The Booty loop is a 2.97 mile loop through the gorgeous neighborhood of Myers Park in Charlotte. The road is lined with skyscraping trees and humongous houses. The neighbors came out, set up chairs and tents, and cheered for the riders late into the night.

myers park charlotte

neighbors cheering in myers parktree swingporch party

We spent most of our 24 hours brainstorming words that accurate conveyed the temperature. “Hot” just simply wasn’t enough. By the middle of the night, the temperatures had cooled slightly- still hot, but bearable. I waited until the sun started going down before hopping on my bike, and rode as late into the night as I could.

24 hours of booty myers park

booty loop

sir purr bike ride


Even at night, the course was crowded and packed with cyclists. The number of serious, skilled cyclists surprised me compared to last year’s ride. I can’t tell you how many times I was startled by a flying paceline of cyclists soaring just inches past me. Fairly intimidating, while at the same time, pretty inspiring. If only they knew how lucky they were to not have me swerve into them in surprise!

spencer leuders cyclingmom riding bike

After attempting a few hours of sleep, it was back on the bike at the crack of dawn. I’d ridden 32 miles by early breakfast. After grabbing a quick bite to eat {oatmeal included!}, we headed to the survivor hour event. My mom is a 16 year survivor, and this year friends and family were invited to join the survivors for a special breakfast.

mom on her trek madone

We not only heard inspiring stories of courage and survival, but we learned exactly what kind of power raising money for 24 Hours of Booty has, and what kinds of programs it makes possible. We learned about where cancer research is going and why, and we learned about the progress Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong Foundation are making.

survivor hourbob rollspencer leuders

As we sat in the survivor tent, we could feel the temperature soaring. By the time it was over, we were back to coming up with new expressions for the insane heat.

I don’t do well with heat. I drank and drank and drank, but by the time survivor hour was over, I knew it was time for me to hang up my helmet. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t even meet my mileage from last year {on a better bike and a better course}, but I knew it was what I had to do.

I’m still amazed at the number of people that kept going strong throughout the day. I’m both in awe and impressed by how little they let the heat affect them.

24 hours of booty 2011

After touring “Bootyville” and visiting some of the vendors, the husband headed out for a few more laps {determined to beat my mileage}. He did great, but came back with the report that it was just too hot. Saturday’s loop was even more crowded as the loop was cut down to one lane, and 400 more riders joined the course for the day.

wall of hope

cancer sucks

By the time lunch rolled around, we were struggling to find shade, stay cool, and drink enough. At some point my team realized none of us were riding, and we were just going downhill in the heat. We made the ultimate decision to pack up our stuff and head home a little early. Both disappointing, necessary, and an intelligent decision in the end. {My stomach is still paying for the mass quantities of Powerade consumed.}

24 hours of booty auction

Despite the outrageous heat, 24 Hours of Booty was yet again an incredible event to be a part of. You could feel the heartbeat of the Charlotte cycling community serge through the campground. There were people that had been doing this for years, and you can feel the dedication and commitment. The staff that runs the event is incredible, both in their ability to keep such a large event organized, and in their friendly demeanor. The volunteers that come willingly come out in such heat and insane hours of the night show what it’s really all about.

24 hours of booty survivor breakfast

The two events I’ve done now, one in Columbia and one in Charlotte, are completely different from each other, and it was great to experience both of them. I can’t wait for what next year may bring.

booty ends

Rugged Maniac Revisited

Official race photos are notoriously bad. Like really bad.

But the Rugged Maniac official race photos were not only rugged, they were awesome- so fun to go back and look at what all the other racers were doing and what the course looked like.

Here’s a few of the proofs from the photography company, AltaSky. {Who did a fantastic job- the pictures rock.}

Ready, set, mud!

rugged maniac barbed wire

It’s tire time.

tire jungle race

Oh, just a little cargo net in the way…

climbing cargo netjumping off cargo net obstacle

The jumping may have been worse than the climbing.

mid air jumpflying cargo net dismount

Yes, that’s barbed wire.

mud crawl

Do you like my blonde highlights mud-lights?

barbed wire mud pit obstacle

After crawling hands & knees through the first barbed wire pit, apparently I decided to crouch my way through this one.

adventure mud run

Balance beaming. {As you can tell, it wasn’t exactly a race.}

all kinds of muddywalk the plank mud pit

This guy was just freaking awesome rugged.

flying mud leap

Water’s a little deep…

splash mud pit

Do you see how high I’m looking up? Long climb up to the slide.

climbing the slide

Almost mudslide time…

time for mudslide

How you can you not love this picture?

conquering the mud slide

Here goes nothing!

rugged maniac mud run

{No slide pictures of us. Boooo.}

Speaking of deep water…

mud pit water obstacle

The bottom of the mudslide was at least 4 or 5 feet deep…we watched people just disappear at the bottom before we slid down.

giant mud pit splash

Yup, I’d say it was rugged alright.


Do you ever buy race photos? Even if they’re awful?

Run Like Crazy & Try Not to Die {aka The Rugged Maniac 5K}

A look at the Rugged Maniac mud run obstacle race in NC. Spoiler alert: I jumped over fire and survived.

When the forecast turns from 83 to 53 and the sunshine turns to dreary gray skies, suddenly jumping through mud puddles seems less appealing.

But still awesome.

Yesterday’s Rugged Maniac 5K was a race unlike any I’ve done before- and one I’d do again in a heartbeat.

More obstacle course than race, the 5K was ramped up a notch by swinging tires, fire pits, and mud slides.

fire pits

Not to mention at least 4 inch deep mud- sticky, clay-like North Carolina mud.

north carolina mud

The Rugged Maniac

The day didn’t start out completely fantastic when I made rookie mistake #1 by not re-checking the weather before getting dressed for the race. Oops. I figured it out when I got to the race site and there was a bit of a logistics nightmare. The off site parking lot was full and we got re-routed to another site, but no one told the bus driver. After waiting for 45 minutes for the 5 minute shuttle ride, I’d pretty much figured out it was cold. Really cold.

And I missed my start wave. As I walked up to registration to claim my race bib, I heard the next group of runners starting the course. Oops again.

Luckily, Anne and Tina missed their wave too.

{All mid & post race pictures courtesy of Tina, who’s both talented and brave enough to carry a camera mid-mud-run.}

anne and tina

Did I mention it was cold?

freezing cold at rugged maniac

Note: Add “check weather report” to morning-of-race-duties.

race entrance

Before long it was time for our wave to start.


rugged maniac start line

If you like races where you bolt off the starting line, the Rugged Maniac is not for you. We were instantly greeted by thick, sticky mud that sucked at your shoes and nearly held you in place.

muddy running shoes

{This was after maybe 6 minutes of running?}

It wasn’t long before it was time to get dirty. The first obstacles? Crawling through a mudpit {that reeked of manure} under barbed wire. Yes, barbed wire.

barbed wire mud pit

The course Rugged Maniac course continued on for 3.1 miles of mud, curves, and trees. Oh, and some skinny drain pipes you had to crawl through; tall, wet, slippery wooden walls; and lots of truck tires.

tire jungle

truck tire combine

Some cargo nets.

cargo nets

Up was easy…down was a little scary…

Then there were some walls to climb.

climbing walls on obstacle course

Hey that wall doesn’t look as big as it did online. I got this, no sweat.

muddy wall on obstacle course

Ok, that one’s big. Wanna give us a boost? {He gave us a boost and let us use his fists as a step. He also mentioned he wasn’t volunteering for this position next year. I wonder why? Winking smile}

adventure run



There was a little bit of running too.

trail running

And your typical jumping-over-fire-pits. Oh, that wasn’t in your last 5K?

jumping over fire pit at mugged maniac

And then the grand finale, the giant water mud slide.

climb to mudslide

mud slide

It looked pretty innocent until Anne and I watched Tina go down….and instantly submerge under muddy water.

Oh well, here goes nothing!

giant mud slide

Followed by a little swim…

water pit at mud run

And a steep climb up a muddy slope to the finish.


We were a little wet after our mud bath…

soaking wet after mud run

And that was surprisingly the cleanest we were the whole race.


The race was followed up by some log rolling and alleged hammer tossing.

log rolling contest

We missed our chance to log roll. Sad smile


Then it was time to clean up.

post run shower station


muddy clothes

And refuel.

post race beer


These pictures do nothing to imply how absolutely frigidly, freezing cold we were. Freeeeezing.



As for the knee, we’ll see. I’m cautiously whispering to the internet that it seems to feel ok right now. But I’m not making any grand statements until tomorrow…

The official Maniac pics are awesome, by the way.

All in all, I LOVED the Rugged Maniac. So when’s the next mud run? Sign me up!

24 Reasons Everybody Should Sign Up for a 24 Hour Event

From events like Relay for Life to 24 Hours of Booty, an event that lasts literally an entire day & night is unlike any other event you’ll do, and it’s one that absolutely everybody can do- no matter your ability, size, age, shape, or training.

Here’s why:

1. You don’t need to be an elite athlete. Heck, you don’t even need to be an athlete- a repeated loop means it doesn’t matter how fast or how long you go, you’re still in the middle of the action.

2. Even if you are an athlete, you can participate with people that aren’t, and still do it together. There’s no other “endurance” event that I could have done with my mom.

mom and daughter race

3. You’ll be inspired in ways you never expected. Volunteers are amazing regardless, but try finding volunteers that will make peanut butter banana sandwiches at midnight, or sit at an abandoned intersection on the course alone at 3 in the morning. Now that’s incredible.

bike race volunteers

4. When you see an 11 & 13 year complete over 100 miles, you’ll realize you’re probably capable of more than you thought.

5. It’s a great way to expose kids (or non active people) to physical activity. Because of the loop set up, kids can easily join in for a lap or two (or more). I didn’t even know this kind of stuff existed when I was a kid.

bike ride starting line

6. The options are endless. Bicycle, unicycle, tandem, walk, run, skip, hop. Whatever means you choose, goes.

crash test dummy on unicycle

7. Food. Lots of food.

race dinner race breakfast pasta salad race food cookies, pasta, and salad cup of black coffee pile of food for bike ride

8. Friends & family can join you even if they’re not participating. They can volunteer, spectate, cheer, or keep you company for the night.

9. The money raised goes to a good cause.

10. How much you do is up to you- you’ll learn how strong you are not only physically, but mentally.

11. Exercising on minimal sleep is a different experience than being well rested.

12. No other endurance event occurs in the dark in the middle of the night. When else could you do that safely?

race volunteers at night

13. Even the shyest of shy can make new friends. When you’re together for 24+ hours, you’re bound to start talking. Plus, you already know something they’re interested in, and there’s probably a story behind what got them to the event.

14. The shower after 24 hours of sweat, dirt, & sunscreen will be the best shower of your life.

15. The night after 24 hours of sweat, dirt, & sunscreen will be the best sleep of your life.

16. You get to see a beautiful sunset.

bike ride sunset

17. You get to see a beautiful sunrise.

bike ride sunrise

18. You get automatic bragging rights: “I _______ for 24 hours” (biked, walked, etc.)

19. You’ll be able to cover distances you never thought possible. Biking 4 miles then resting and biking 4 more is less tiring than bike 8 miles in a row.

20. You’ll be able to hone your inner Girl Scout skills. When’s the last time you pitched a tent by yourself?

camping in tent

21. You can safely participate even if you are injury prone (or injured).

22. You’ll hear amazing stories from amazing people- on the course, at home base, on the campground. 24 hours is a lot more time than a few minutes during a race.

23. The minute it’s over you’ll be inspired to do it again next year- only bigger & better.

strong female athlete

24. You get to be part of something much, much bigger than yourself.

23 hours of booty bike ride for cancer

P.P.S. Clipless pedals rock. I’ve logged 60+ miles and I’m wipeout free (knock on wood). So don’t be scared of them. 😉

24 Hours of Booty

Eight years ago Spencer Leuders rode his bike for 24 hours around a neighborhood in NC- a route fondly known as “booty loop”- in support of a friend with cancer.


Eight years and three cities later, 24 Hours of Booty is raising millions of dollars in the name of cancer, with thousands of cyclists biking through the day and night in support of those who have fought, are fighting, or will fight the horrible disease of cancer.

This weekend I was honored to be one of those cyclists.


There’s really no way to adequately pack such an experience into a recap, but I’ll do my best.

By the time the event clock started rolling at 1 o’clock Saturday, I’d already spent a good nine hours with the ‘booty crew’ playing the role of volunteer before I switched over to cyclist.


The 24 hour ride kicked off with a ‘survivor loop’- those that had beaten cancer got things rolling (literally) by leading the riders around the first loop of the course- a 2.1 mile loop around a corporate park.



Home base was "Bootyville”, where riders could get on and off the course as they wanted, to rest, eat, or just hang out.


Beyond keeping things safe, there are no rules in booty land- you ride as much as you want, as often as you want, and as fast as you want. (Which also means you get to ride as little as you want and as slow as you want- it’s not a race, and there’s no winner, besides those the event is benefitting.)


The course loop started out with a slight downhill which turns into a fairly flat area- though after riding it 26 times, I’d probably be more inclined to say it was a series of small up hills. The end of the loop was everybody’s favorite part- a long, gradual hill that turned into a fairly steep hill right at the end of the loop. After powering through the hill a few times, you start believing somebody’s raising the summit when you’re not looking.


Some riders had lofty, specific goals: 300 miles in 24 hours, 100 miles without stopping, 75 miles before night fall, or simply “more than last year”.

The founder, Spencer, was challenged to ride 200 miles- he finished before midnight rolled around. (He rode fairly casually at first- chatting with other cyclists, but when dark fell and the number of riders on the course dropped, he kicked it into high gear and started booking it.)


Every rider had their own approach: do as many laps as possible in a row, do a lap and stop, ride only at night, etc. Worried about my knee, I rode a few laps and took a break, rode a few laps and took a break, repeat, repeat, repeat.


I skipped the first lap in order to watch my mom finish her survivor loop- she was nervous about being with ‘serious’ bikers and riding her heavy hybrid up the big hill- but she did it, and with a smile on her face.

 IMG_7111 IMG_7122

After she did a loop or two, I joined her & rode my first lap with her, then continued while she went back to her duties as a Booty Organizer Committee member- “BOC” if you’re hip.


In between laps, I hung out in Bootyville, either eating, rehydrating, or volunteering. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but it was h.o.t & humid. It was hard to get enough fluid without constantly drinking.


Before we knew it, the sun set and the heat started to subside. After riding a few laps at dusk with me, my mom & team headed home to get some sleep. I took advantage of a safe, closed course to do my first night time bike riding. (I had to use my new head & tail lights after all!)


IMG_7143 IMG_7145

By 11 Bootyville had turned into zombie land, as the few people left sticking it out for the night were either sleeping or out on the course. The midnight pizza party brought the whole place back to life though. I didn’t even realize how hungry I was before I devoured 2 slices in a matter of seconds.

IMG_7171 IMG_7175

After filling up on pizza, I tried to get a few hours of sleep in my luxury hotel for the night. Besides having to get up to pee constantly, I was able to get a little bit of rest which recharged me for some early morning riding.

DSCN7067 IMG_7182 IMG_7184

The next few hours went by in a flash- my teammates returned, riders with families brought their kids out to ride, & spectators came by to cheer.DSCN7078

My stepsister & brother in law should probably win an award for best enthusiasts- they not only volunteered for a shift, but stayed to cheer on the start of the race, then came back to cheer at midnight, and again at the end of the race. To show my appreciation, I joined them to cheer on the last loop of the event.

 IMG_7091 IMG_7112

But plans changed when two riders from Team Fight (Ulman’s training team) came by and said I was riding the last loop with them. I ran to get my shoes, hopped on my bike, and met them at the loop entrance to join everyone for a final lap.


At the beginning, 24 hours seemed like a long time. During that last loop, I couldn’t believe it was already over.

Though many people did much more, I was proud of my 54.6 miles of riding- farther than I’ve ever ridden before, and more than I thought I’d be able to do untrained & recovering from injury.

All I could think was next year I’d be back- doubling the money I raised, and doubling the miles I rode. 100 miles—at least. 😉


(More to come later, but first it’s time to drive back to NC!! :))