Bike MS 2008 - Cokering for Charity

Dear Fellow Unicyclists,

On September 13th and 14th, I’ll be riding in the National MS Society’s annual “Bike MS Tour” (formerly MS 150), a two-day ride to raise funds for the MS Society’s research and local programs. This is now my fourth year riding, and for the past three years I’ve been the sole unicyclist in the Washington event. The first year I rode for selfish reasons…get in shape, get better at distance riding, etc. But through my involvement in the event the past three years, I’ve met more and more people afflicted with MS, and have seen first-hand its devastating effects. I’ve also met more and more people that have been helped by the programs run by the MS Society, and have seen first-hand the positive impact the Society’s work can have on MS victims and their families.

The more people with MS I meet, the more passionate I become about doing this ride. MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord. It is also unpredictable, and can attack anyone in the prime of life. One day you’re top of your game, and the next you’re diagnosed with a debilitating, incurable disease. I feel blessed to be in relatively good shape for my age, and hope that my annual ride can help those less fortunate.

While I’ve created a post like this each year, I still always hesitate to send anything that could be seen as “spam”. But these fora and many of the members remain important elements of my riding life, so I wanted to share this and at least give those that want to—and are able to—the opportunity to join me in supporting the National MS Society’s mission. Last year, thanks to the generosity of friends, family, fellow unicyclists, co-workers, and a match from my employer, I was able to raise over $6,000 on my ride—making the top 20 out of over 1,000 bicycle riders. The pro-unicyclist community came through, and I hope some of you will consider helping me again this year with a donation to my ride.

Sponsoring my ride is easy to do and every dollar helps. Quickest way is to just click the “sponsor me” link below and make a secure online e-pledge. If you’re averse to online transactions but still want to help, just PM me and let me know how much you’d like to pledge. I’ll add it to my total and ping you in September when it’s time to write the check.

While I’ve been riding regularly, I’ll be spiking my training over the next three weeks to focus more on hills, and some longer back-to-back rides to mimic the event. Even having done the event previously, the long back-to-back days are still a challenge, and the course always finds something to throw at you. Last year it was headwinds, although there’s no good way to train for those except with more climbing. Hopefully between the extra climbing this month, a couple long rides over Labor Day, and the energy and contributions of my supporters, I’ll get through the two days in fine shape.

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE TO ANYONE THAT CAN HELP! Together we can make a difference…

Tom B

To sponsor me, click here, then click the “Donate to Thomas” button.

To learn more about this year’s Bike MS Tour or to get involved, click here.

Glad to pitch in.

I will entering into the MS ride in November (Sydney to the Gong)

A Training Ride for Tom …

I see you may be free September 7th for the Ride 542 - Mt. Baker Hill Climb. Just a short 24.5 mile training ride. It has only two hills in it. Maybe you wanted more hill work than it provides. I’ll give you my bib number for the event.

I bought it early in the spring. And the doctor will not release me to ride yet. Just yesterday the doctor started me transitioning to partial weight bearing use with the goal of being off the crutches in two weeks.

You have always been waiting for the year when the Ride 542 and Bike MS Tour did not conflict. Here is your chance.

Which routes are you planning for the Bike MS Tour? We may try to meet you some where and supply espresso.


Thanks Joe! I will give this some serious consideration, and also look at what it would take schedule-wise to make it happen. To be honest, however, I’m not at all confident I could “hack” the event. The longest sustained climb I’ve done was Hai Van Pass in Vietnam, which was somewhere in the 8-10K range. And at that I had to stop once around 7K to get my heart rate down. When you say two hills, is that one up and one down, or does the up have someplace mid-climb where it flattens out?

What was your time? If I do manage to commit, certainly your record won’t be threatened.

On a related note, glad to hear the recovery is going well, even if you won’t be cleared for take-off in time. You’ll be riding and climbing again soon enough.

Day 1 doing the 58 mile route, which turns around just after the Deception Pass Bridge crossing. Day 2 I need to figure out. The 50 mile option is less visually interesting than the 75 mile option, but the 75 mile option is not really doable (for me) in the limited time they have the course open. When I did the 75 two years ago, I was out on the course an hour and a half before the official start time, pedaling by myself in the early grey mist. What I may do is ride to Rest Stop 1, then hitch a ride in a SAG wagon out to the Shell Station before the climb starts to Lake Samish. That way I get to do the Chuckanut Drive section, which is as you know an amazing stretch of road.

But I would detour for espresso. :slight_smile:

PS: Thanks to both of you for the support. Hoping with this bump a couple others might jump on the wagon and help support my ride. I know that no one wants to see my beg, although I promise I’m capable of it. :wink:

In the interest of bumping this thread, I’ll share some exciting (for me) news. After being the sole unicyclist on this ride the past three years, I’ll finally have company this year. I “convinced” my son Miles to do the ride with me, and he’s already off and running on fundraising and training. But he’s also pretty apprehensive. At 58 miles on day 1 and 50 on day two, these will be the longest riding days he’s ever done. In fact, if they were in reverse order he’d be bagging back-to-back personal bests. Here’s the link again to my event web page. And to Miles’s page.

Nice shot from the training ride that finally convinced him:

bridge pedal.jpg

Way to go Miles

Go Miles … and more miles … and more miles …

Always ride out front of Tom and you will not have to worry about the tailgate issue.


Good luck to the both of you!

Wish I could be there to ride with you.

In the spring of 2007, only 8 months after meeting her, my girlfriend of 5 months was diagnosed with MS. I watched first-hand the effects of MS on someone who wasn’t expecting it. The collapsing and inability to walk, to get out of bed, tingling pain, and severe exhaustion quickly made her “normal” routine frustratingly impossible. We were both attending the same university at the time, from which she was forced to do a medical withdrawal, going back home to CT. She was 19.

Now my girlfriend of 21 months, she is doing much better, aided with treatments of all kinds, but still must live with this disease daily. She is still living in CT, and is attending a college near her home. She’s given speeches around her area, lead an MS walk with her old High School, and was considered to be an MS Ambassador (but was deemed too young).

I’ve seen first-hand the not only physically debilitating results of this disease, but the mental and emotional ones as well. The hopelessness, despair, uselessness, and general frustration because of the physical symptoms are just as bad.

If you have the money to spare, PLEASE donate to this cause. MS is a terrible disease with no cure and only sometimes-effective treatments with high side-effects.

I plan on attempting an MS150 ride here in Texas, hopefully in this coming May 2009. Not sure if it will be on a bicycle or unicycle yet. Either way, when I do one, I’ll be posting on the fora! But don’t save any money for me, donate now to tomblackwood! I know I am!

Giving this one (possibly) final bump. Reading SqueakyOnion’s post reminds me why I do this ride every year, and why I always put it out there to the unicyclist community to ask for support.

Tonight was my final training ride. I didn’t have a ton of time after work, so rather than trying anything epic, I invested 15 miles to do my favorite local climb twice. It has some ups and downs, but gains about 600 vf a shot, and is a nice intervals climb. I’ve been timing myself lately on the main uphill section…first about 12 minutes, then I cut it down to 11:30. Tonight I jumped on it and knocked almost another minute off. I’ve done this climb now maybe 20+ times over the last few years, and felt stronger tonight than ever before. Lungs felt good, and had legs to spare to spin the rest of the way home. I’m ready.

So for anyone who can consider making a donation, please click here to access my ride page and contribute. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE TO ANYONE THAT CAN HELP! Together we can make a difference…

PS: If you’re in the younger forum crowd or simply want to help support the youth of America in its development and charitable focus, you can also click here to support my son Miles in his ride. This is the first year I’ll have unicycling company on this ride, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s Miles. Saturday and Sunday will be the two biggest rides of his life…

Tom B

Day 1 is now history. As fine a day for cokering as you could ever ask for. At 61.5 miles, it was the fourth longest ride for me, but a new personal best for my son Miles at more than double his previous best. For a 14-yer-old kid being dragged into something like that by his old man, he was just rock solid.

Photos and detailed write-up after we finish Day 2 tomorrow. Just wanted to bump in case anyone is still interested in supporting our ride and the MS Society’s great work. Following the ride tonight there was a short, extremely moving program, which featured a number of speakers with MS who have benefited from the programs that the Society runs. Despite his exhaustion, i think this was the point where Miles really “got” that he was part of something bigger than himself.

Can’t wait to drag our sore asses back out on the course tomorrow.