“When I see an adult on bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” --H.G. Wells.
Well said Wells. This weekend I saw a lot. Four hundred and thirty to be exact. I and 429 others did the MS 150 Keystone Country ride from Hollidaysburg to State College. Though there were many reasons to ride 150 miles in two days, raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was the major reason. The final fund raising totals have not yet been posted, but I did hear that one team from Pittsburgh raised a whopping $60K. It would be easy to write this one team from Pittsburgh or the entire MS 150 crew off as a one-time freak phenomenon, but I see it time and time again. At the school that I work at, a Relay for Life team raised $10K. In the newspapers in my area, there are regular news stories about people raising money for others in need. Regular people are good. Wouldn't it be great if our elected leaders matched the generosity and the willingness to work for the common good of the people they have been elected to represent?
I like bicycles, and I like the cyclists who ride them. This weekend was the first time that I participated in the MS 150, and I went by myself. But, I was never alone. I met many new people. I talked and rode with one woman for an entire leg ( a little over an hour) about kids, education, health issues, pesticides...She was upset with the current state of national affairs. I told her to do what she can. Anything is better than nothing. It wasn't until later when I ran into her again that someone else pointed out that I ran for Congress (I had on my Tony Barr for Congress bicycle jersey). She was a little sheepish, then she said, “Good, now I know who to vote for.”
During the fourth leg of Saturday, I had a flat. No problem. I get my share of flats, I can fix them. The guys from Spoke and Skis pulled up. I smiled waving them off. They stopped anyway. “Hey, on second thought, do you guys have a floor pump?” The high school kid pulled the tire out of my hand and fixed it with a smile. Little thing, but I was appreciative. Later in that leg almost to the rest stop I mis shifted. Chainsuck. Bad Ju-Ju. I looked it over, figured I couldn't fix it on the side of the road without doing real damage to the bike, so I began walking to the rest stop. Again, the Spokes and Skis guys drove up. They took a look, and within 10 minutes, I was back on the road. One mile down the road, I was greeted to cheers as I coasted in. I felt a little sheepish at first, until I realized that the good ladies of the Halfmoon Christian Fellowship Church greeted everybody with cheers when they arrived. Then, there were the cookies. I don't know what was in those cookies. I'm guessing that it was not some kind of Powerbar gel, but after a half-dozen, I had a special kick in my giddyup. With that special kick in my giddyup, I departed the Halfmoon Christian Fellowship Church to more cheers for the final leg of the day.
The final leg went fast switching drafts with a guy who grew up just over the mountain from me but now lives in Morgantown, WV. For the last mile, I was smelling the barn, and we were passing people like crazy when I heard, “Tony Barr for Congress? Is that the Tony Barr who lives on Blue Knob? I live on Blue Knob too.” I hit the brakes. Turns out I had heard about this guy third hand. He and a co-worker of my wife were going to make biodiesel in his barn. I want in. We talked the rest of the ride, and he introduced me to his wife and the rest of their crew. He gave me a lot of shit, good naturedly, of course. I was eying up his crew's cooler cursing my lack of planning when I heard the golden question, “Do you want a beer?” The beer was good. I hated to go, but I needed to go and meet my wife and kids. They sent me with another.
Day 2 was similar to Day 1. I, just like every other rider, was treated like a rock star at every turn and rest stop. Thanking the volunteers for their efforts was returned with a “No, Thank you for everything that you have done.” The organizers were extremely appreciative. They wished me luck in my next campaign. I told them that I would see them next year. I have my medal for completing the ride. I'm going to hang it above the stable in the garage to remind me of the good in people on those days when I'm confronted by the dark side. The motto of the MS 150 series is "We can make a difference, that is why we ride." Sounds right to me. I know I can make a difference, that is why I am running for Congress again. I had a great weekend. I hope you did too.