MS150- LPGA Cycle to the Shore Sept 20, 21 2008

July 23, 2008- before i registered but after already deciding i HAD to do this...

i am corrupt
that's it. the guys said i am corrupt, bitten, ruined, turned into a monster.

joined a group ride about 2 weeks ago (never did a group ride before). did 27 miles (never rode 27 miles before-most was 16 or 17). showed up for the next 2 rides despite the pouring rain, "why are you cancelling guys, its just rain?" loaned one of the guys a towel to wrap his bike ("it's just a towel. THAT'S a bike. yes that's bike grease from jeff's cannondale. uh yeah. it's a new towel. so? what's more important- a towel or [the safety and comfort of] THE BIKE???") did 19 miles last night, including 2 garage runs (why are we stopping guys, i'm just getting warmed up) after doing 8 miles yesterday morning [took today off, too many appts. will compensate tomorrow.)

"Robyn, you've never done this before but you've come to every ride since then. you keep up, you go FAST, you take curbs and stairs, you don't care if you get hurt, and you come back for more. you're hooked"

now all i need are some photos to post here...

Sept 4, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,

I recently accepted the challenge to raise funds to support National MS Society. Please help support me in this important project by contributing generously. For information about this volunteer fundraiser and its programs, you can visit .

It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause by making your tax-deductible donation online using the link below. If you would prefer, you can send your contribution to the address listed below.

Whatever you can give will help - it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

robyn weinbaum

that'll teach me not to save every 10 seconds!
so, let's start over and i'm going to make it shorter, so as not to bore you.

i ride. i've been riding for a few years now. i heard about this charity when i covered the florida state national championship road races in june. and i wanted to do it.

the timing was perfect. the ride is just after the high holy days, when we all give tzedakah, when we think about what w've done, what our failings are and what we could do better next year.

well, next year is now. i started training about 2 months ago, have tripled my miles per week, ridden more difficult courses than i knew existed (THERE ARE HILLS IN FLORIDA?????) (on a bike, ALL roads are uphill) longer rides than i thought i'd ever achieve or have interest in. and when it got boring or hard or i fell(do you have any idea how many black and blue marks, cuts, bruises, scrapes i've gotten in the last 2 months? trust me, you do NOT want to know. although i'll show them to you! maybe even post them!) i reminded myself that there is a greater goal than me staying upright, i have a REASON for this madness.

this is the reason.

right here.

maybe i don't know anyone with MS. maybe it's not personal.
maybe i do. maybe it is.

but it could be. if not today, then next week. or the week after. or the week after that.

maybe you don't know anyone either. tonight. but you might.
tomorrow. the next day.

friend. neighbor. relative. lover. self.

look in the mirror. take a good look.

anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Sept 5, 2008
so now you know the real reason i've turned into a bike maniac. i've been hard training for this for two months now,
have gone from 30-40 miles a week at 10 mph to 120+ miles a week, average ride length (LOTS of hills) of 30 miles, doing that 3-4 times a week,
have done 48 miles in about 3 hours, 36 miles INCLUDING sugarloaf.
average speed of 15-16 mph, so should be able to do this, even if i have to crawl.
will be updating the profile on the MS site later tonight, but leaving on a training ride in an hour!
wish me luck, please make a pledge and i thank you for your support!

Sept 5, 2008
Just registered for MS150 Charity Ride. is anyone else here participating in this?
i've never done this before, it was my actual reason for joining, to learn to group ride, deal with hazards, increase my strength and endurance.
knew i couldn't do this on my own, that i would need support, skill and to interact with those more advanced (generally MUCH more advanced)
than myself. still a novice, but i am a stubborn novice.
i imagine when you see me tues sept 23 i will be covered with new bruises.

Sept 8, 2008

i continue to train, despite bruises, scrapes and black and blue marks all over my lower half.
noticed on wed am that i had marks all over my bottom, from the spill i took sunday. ankle swelled up rather nicely, too. thurs, got bumped into or perhaps i bumped into the tree i passed, skidded down the sidewalk [would have been in the street, but it was too broken up with construction] BEAUTIFUL SCRAPE the full length of my left shin, 8", should leave a nice scar. the pavement is NOT my friend. it does NOT love me,it wants to hurt me. or maybe it DOES love me and wants to hurt me.
these are thoughts i will explore elsewhere.
so yesterday, sunday, i skipped the morning ride, was too wiped out from the meds i took saturday [actually went to the doctor: healing as it should, robyn, it's just a nasty ugly bruise. perhaps you'd like to take up a new hobby,one you'd be less injury prone at? no? well, good luck then. and i'm sure i'll see you again soon.]so TLB and i rode out in the heat of the afternoon [we must be crazy. great movie that, the gods must be crazy. i'm a god when i write. separate post on my blog, my thoughts on the creative process], went down to boggy creek airboats, not what i planned, but it's where we ended up, did 36? 37? 38? miles, have to recalibrate my odometer, have some nice new suntan lines on my shoulders.
the whole time thinking to myself, this is why i ride in the early morning or at night, to AVOID the sun. and the high heat.
MS150 takes off about 7 am each day, should have a goodly amount of the distance covered by noon, chanting my personal mantra the whole way. no, not ohm mane padme ohm and not the shema either. not even the first ten lines of the aeneid-in latin. my ride mantra is: stubborn stubborn stubborn. you CAN do this, you WILL do this, up down up down, there is a reason you are doing this, you are NOT going to let the road win, stubborn stubborn stubborn. lather rinse repeat.
TLB, if you'd be so kind, please have a straight jacket with my name on it for me to wear upon my return to st augustine, 5 pm on the 21st. please.
every one else out there: DONATE

Sept 15, 2008
deadline is approaching readers!
i ride out saturday morning, 6 am. please help me make my goal.
click on the link below, make a donation (any amount) linked to my name. click on donate/epledge,
search for rider (robyn weinbaum) and voila! there you go!

sunday's ride
rode with a different group. much easier pace, no curbs, no stairwells, no in-and-out of buildings. kept to officially designated bike trails (west orange trail) but took it AWAY from sugarloaf where there was a massive assault of bike riders. apparently a few of the groups who regularly ride up that way avoided sugarloaf because of that.
felt odd to be so close and NOT be struggling with the mountain. then again, i had the pedals to deal with, my first real ride. they take getting used to but i can see that they conserve energy.
we did a total of 37 miles, then i did an additional 10. so a total of 47, legs not tired, wrist was okay too.
i have acquired a biker's tan: my arms are dark from shoulder to wrist,my hands almost white from the gloves, my upper thighs dark, lower legs medium, stops at my socks, back has odd lines from my various bike tops.
and guess what?
the gash on my shin (couldn't upload the photo, sorry) is healing nicely. well, let's see what happens this week.
i need to be in tip-top shape for saturday am.

Sept 15, 2008
so i have to be there by 6 am to sign in, get my tags, arrange to have my overnight bag shipped to my hotel (along with my extra eyeglasses, i'll be wearing my sunglasses) (no i do NOT need a full medical kit, they have EMS squads every 10-15 miles along the route. and one EMT has been personally assigned to moi)
and then i get to ride 75 miles to daytona (it's actually a little bit more than that, but when you're looking at such big numbers,
we stop counting. you know, one, two, three, more than 75....) eat, sleep, tend my wounds (my wrist hurts already)

and do it all over again the next day.

Sept 18, 2008
got to the ride site early, did about 5 miles just cruising around lake eola (no bikes allowed, rode outside the park.
note to self: swan boats ARE a form of transportation. resolved: to ride in a swan boat)
we were a large group, way over 20, lots of new people. how can we tell they are new?
well first off, never saw them before. 2nd, no helmets, no gloves, no lights.
i may have ridden a junker, and been happy to do so, but i ALWAYS wore a helmet.
keeps my nose from getting broken. protects my eyeglasses too.
to we did 11 miles, nice and easy, the newbies dropped out, they'll join us again thurs or next week.
and then we took off, did another hour, perhaps another 12 miles.
i skidded out on some loose sand, bruised my left side, tore my jersey, dislocated my right thumb.
starting to wonder if this carelessness on my part meets some psychological need for praise
or if it truly a physical thing, result of my VERY poor night vision, loss of depth perception,
still getting used to the clipless pedals etc etc.
probe all of this AFTER the weekend.

because i am riding. 84 miles each way (official route, NOT 75, but when it is that long who counts anymore?)
(unless you're doing the century option, adding 16 miles at the end to get the 100 mile patch.
and NO i am NOT going to do that. i will be VERY HAPPY to finish both days) (crazy but not totally nuts)

i'd like to thank all of you for your support and generosity. this is a wonderful cause.
research, individual support, helplines, psychological, emotional, legal support-YOU ARE THE ONES WHO MAKE IT POSSIBLE.


every single one of you.

thank you.



my first post, i said "maybe i don't know anyone with MS. maybe it's not personal. maybe i do. maybe it is."
well, it turns out i know more than one. more than two. i am hoping not more than three.
those senior moments we all get? maybe they're not just senior moments...
pray that they are.

thank you for helping

robyn weinbaum

Sept 18, 2008

I was on my way out to have lunch with elles. hit the 'save' button (or so i thought), apparently hit the 'send' button instead.
thought the whole post had gone 'POOF!'
instead it went out without the photos i had planned on attaching.

look at that lump! if i wasn't so toned from all the biking there is NO WAY i'd be able to get into my shorts!
look at the collar of my jersey! how did i manage to rip that?
thumb has almost returned to normal (normal? what's that?)
going to curl up for an hour or 3 with a book of bukowski's poetry.
charles bukowski has received any number of awards, commendations, been told he is a genius, oft-quoted etc etc
"oh robyn you HAVE to read his work, you will love him" well... i've read 8 pieces so far.

it does not strike me as poetry for the ages. it is very much of its time and place.
which is fine. i think 90% of my work is of its time and place, not for posterity IF it manages to escape the trash can or shredder.
i have a heavy duty shredder and i'm not afraid to use it. which i do.
only a small portion of good writing is writing. the rest is reading, refining, editing. lather rinse repeat as often as needed.
which is generally 2-3 more times than you think. stop too soon you do an injustice to the reader, to yourself AND to the piece.

get that marker. get that red pen. ATTACK!

i'm going to curl up and rest for tonight's 25 mile ride.

i am so hyped about this weekend.



many hugs and thanks,

robyn weinbaum

Sept 19, 2008

This time tomorrow...
24 hours from now i will be dead
48 hours from now i will rise to the heavens in a poof of smoke.
a few months from now i will do it all over again.
the MS150 (LIARS!!!it's 172 miles, NOT 150) charity bike ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis.
will report back next week. after i'm scraped up from the asphalt.

teshuvah, tefila, tzeducah.

(see! i told you i was a jewish mother! GUILT! GUILT!)

Sept 20, 2008

Day 1
i'm not dead. not quite anyway. pulled out of st augustine airport about 7:15. taking an easy pace, not pushing myself, not suffering, stopping at the various checkpoints to see what was there, who was there, taking photos (which i will upload at a later time) hit the midpoint about 10:15, earlier than i thought. "midpoint" was 44 miles.

keep telling you, IT'S NOT 150 MILES, IT'S MORE. but once you're at that level, what's a few more miles?
actually paused for a second at the 'century' turnoff, had a brief hallucination of myself, on the ground, stars on eyes, stake through chest with dirt being tossed on my face. shook my head to clear it, continued on the plebian pathway

saw tandem recumbent, a family on a pair of tandems, an old 1970's style recumbent, junker bikes, top of the line megabuck bikes, many teams, some of whom found their noses slightly out of joint when a certain not-so-young punk passed them.
i should have been much more tired than i was.
i can say that now, i've showered and rested. going to take the shuttle bus to dinner at a certain point, take more photos.
oh yeah, skipped the pool party, started raining about 10 miles from the finish point, so... maybe 12:15 or so, when i got over the SECOND drawbridge. yes two drawbridges. some of you may know about my inclination to anxiety attacks when crossing bridges or elevated roadways. don't mention it that often any more, had behavioral therapy for it years ago in order to be able to get my driver's license. in fact, i hardly ever think about it any more. well, the first drawbridge. as i pedaled over it, i looked down through the grating, saw the choppy water and panicked. deep panting breaths, cold sweat, muscle tremors. yes i realize those can all be attributed to extreme exertion but soon as i got back on land i was fine. the 2nd drawbridge, longer, because of the rain, we had to walk across. five bikers had skidded out before i got there. so dismount and walk. on a narrow pathway. with grating to my left and a low railing to my right, whitecaps underneath. you know part of my mantra, "up down, up down, one foot after the other, that's it. you can do this, half way there, 3/4 way there, you are over you are done you are fine" well it's playing in my head nonstop, just the way adam taught me years ago. got over, rode around on the grass to relieve the tension.

oh great. i get to do it all over again tomorrow.

well, at least my life insurance is paid up. girls, remember me fondly. make a chocolate cake in my honor.


ps: reached the finish point about 1:15, an hour earlier than i estimated at my BEST time.

Sept 21, 2008

it's late. no i didn't just finish. i finished hours ago.

and now comes the let down-the what's next? how will i top this?

i already registered for next year.

Sept 21, 2008

2 days

176 miles

5 hours biking each day

1 VERY sore crotch (pass the orajel, burt's bees etc etc)

over $1000 raised (personally)

megabucks raised collectively

over 2500 cyclists

countless volunteeers, MS staff, contributors, SAG riders, support groups and heroes, sung and unsung

we can walk, write, move, bike. be grateful. every day.

special thanks to bike fitters of ponte vedra for their support and assistance
couldn't have done it without you, golden!

Sept 22, 2008

It’s a let down. After all the anticipation, the training, to have it stop, be over, is a let down. The amazing high of knowing i was going to finish knowing i was this close to the end and then passing that line, how could i not feel deflated after? What is going to give me a thrill like this again? A sense of accomplishment, achievement? What?

After a desultory dinner of spaghetti and marina sauce topped with tasteless shaved cheese (not grated, shaved. Reminds me of my shin with the thin layer of flesh shaved off) tossed salad and coffee and cake (no tea. Only oddballs drink tea. I can make tea in my room later) the North Florida Chapter of the National MS Society makes a few announcements, not wanting to step on any toes, and then they list the various reasons people take part in this charity fundraising event: family member or friend afflicted with MS, near one who has died, actually diagnosed, believer in the cause or a personal statement of strength and challenge. We are asked to rise as our reason is announced, snap the glow stick left on the table and raise. The dark room is awash in blue light. The lights remind me of small limbs, small arm or leg bones, swaying gently in the dark room, much as a person with MS will lose control of his/her limbs and wobble, perhaps fall, the individual lights are lowered, laid down on the table of hung around necks.

The room is still full. Dinner is over, announcements made and honorifics given out, cyclists and their families wander the room, reliving the days events, their training regimes and what they;ll do differently the next day, if they are planning to ride. There is a one day option for the MS150, which about a third of the riders elect to do, not wanting or able to give up a whole weekend with their loved ones.

The riders are a diverse group, from 22 states and 3 foreign countries. Perhaps 3/4 of the riders are male, which surprises me. Recreational cycling is a male sport, whether it is because of the time or money involved or because women can’t find mentors to help them, give them tips to be comfortable and train, I don’t know. I do it and I feel it and I have no one to discuss this with, no woman who has cycled longer or harder than I have to tell me what will help. I look around, recognizing some of the faces from the day. The family at the next table didn’t meet at the hotel; they rode down on two tandem bikes, mom, dad and the 2 kids. Over there? A group of recumbents, a university team, a business team, a family reunion. It is a patchwork, more colorful than the room holding our bikes for the night.

Talking to various groups, finding other ‘virgins’ we discuss our preparation. I seem to have the unique honor of having the shortest, most intense, highest number of cuts-n-bruises of any other newbie I meet. The consensus is 6 to 8 months of increasing time on road racers, going from 30 miles per ride (mpr) to 70 mpr over a few months. My two months of 10 mpr to 45 mpr provokes horror, although my fellow cyclists seem to find my scrapes (shin, shoulder) and contussions (left thigh) rather appealing.

No interest in the bar, head bach to my hotel to sleep. Breakfast is 6 am, 7 am take off again. Wait a sec. I just did 90 miles. I’m going to do that again? AM I OUT OF MY GOURD? I open the window on the terrace and watch the moon, listening to the breakers. They sing, ‘teshuve, tefila, tzedukah, that is why you are here.’ The crash reminds me of the blowing of the shofar. And I fall asleep.

In the morning, restless, I ride in circles, then decide to take off. I hear the Pledge of Allegiance recited and The Star Spangled Banner being sung in the now faint dark behind me. A few groups have already ridden off, they’ll reach the finish point at perhaps 10:15, keeping a 24 mph pace. These are road racers and century riders. I’ll be happy if I get in. Whenever I get in. After all, it’s not a race, it’s a ride. My challenge is personal to see if I can finish, not to beat an arbitrary clock or the rider to my left. I set a goal, made a promise to my readers, to myself and I intend to keep that promise.

As soon as I assume the position and take off, I know something is wrong. Despite copious amounts of anti-chafing cream to my bottom, thighs and shorts liner (assomaster and butt’er are popular brands) I am raw. And it hurts. Oh boy, does it hurt! I can’t get comfortable on my bike seat. I have to ride 86 miles and I am in agony, my skin rubbed right off, no drugstore in sight and no topical painkillers in the med buckets. What to do, what to do? Ride. What choice do I have? SAG out? [SAG out: Support and Gear will transport injured or tired riders and their equipment to the nearest reststop to await transport to the finish area]

I ride. I find a group with a speed that matches my own and a pedaling cadence that I feel comfortable with. I watch the knees rise and fall, a long line of knees, pedaling, pausing, pedaling, pausing, and slide in, taking advantage of the draft and the rhythm riding with a group forces me into. This will be the best thing for me, enabling me to reach the end. I won’t have to concentrate on keeping my timing, I’ll be able to look around, admire the clouds, the shadows AND HUNT FOR A DRUG STORE FOR SOME *^&%(*#o@ TOPICAL

Did you know that convenience stores, which seem to carry everything, do NOT carry topical painkillers? I rack my brain, trying to come up with a substitute. At the 44 mile stop, halfway there, the medic offers me some Biofreeze, telling me it’ll numb whatever it is that needs numbing. I ask, "I just need a numbing cream. You sure this will do the trick?" A pair of women cyclist tap my arm: "Where are you planning to use that?" Embarrassed, I mutter that my crotch is kinda sore. One cyclist takes out a small tube of butt’r, says to use that, NOT the BioFreeze, it would kill me. The other cyclist pouts, says, "Oh but it would have been fun to hear her scream when it went from numbing cold to blazing hot in about 30 seconds. You didn’t know BioFreeze was another IcyHot gel?" I mutter my thanks, and slip my goo covered fingers inside my shorts to apply the gunk to my loins. Done. Relief. Bliss.

It doesn’t last. But that’s alright because I found a truck stop which carries Oragel. If it’s good enough for a baby’s mouth, then it’s good enough for my crotch.

And it was. OMG, the absence of pain is a beautiful thing. I can evaluate its intensity by the difference in my whole demeanor and ability to move once it stopped. It reminded me of when I was in labor with my first-born. After 8 hours of back labor, 90 second contractions only 3 minutes apart (again, an analogy which men cannot fully commiserate with, the closest parallel being pack pain or sciatica), it stopped. Like snapping off a light switch, it just stopped and I was able to coast, reveling in the pleasures of the human body and the wonder that is the central nervous system.

I rode. I rode some more. I rode up bridges, which did not bother me at all as I was too busy thinking about my nether regions at the time. I rode down small inclines. I rode into the wind. I rode under tree limbed canopies. And I clocked miles. Checking my odometer, I had perhaps two or three miles to go, so I flew, left turn, straight, right turn, left turn, right turn and under that banner, that banner with one word on it: FINISH.

I was done. Over. It was over. For this year. I stowed my bike. And registered for MS150 2009.

But I wasn’t done, not quite yet. I still had to get home. Wandering around, the fully occupied massage tent, sore muscles being pummeled into shape, the medic and bike repair tents, empty except for staff, the musician tent, and the largest of all, the Bubba Burger tent, where we could consume as many burgers as our calorie starved bodies could hold. I ate one, a whole burger, but would have been better off confining myself to the lettuce and tomato, I think. I’m not used to eating that much red meat at a sitting any longer, a whole 5 or 6 oz. of chopped meat. My stomach clenched in rebellion, or perhaps it was muscle cramping from the sudden inactivity after five hours of pedaling. Perhaps.

Driving home, it struck me. There were over 2500 cyclists in this one event, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society holds 100 of these each year, including in my home towns of New York and Orlando. Not every event is two days nor do they each attract as many riders. Yet they require support: the NMSS, the NFMS, volunteers to do paperwork, cook, clean, serve, clean up, medical personnel, bike shops, SAG teams. There are as many of them as there were of us, and without this group of unrecognized persons, the people that don’t get the applause, silly necklaces, nutritious but disgusting granola bars, none of this would be possible.

Without your support it wouldn’t be possible.

I drove home, shaking, at this world so much larger than myself, each individual trying to help, to achieve a small bit of grace by going outside him/herself and started to shake. How many degrees of separation are there in this, as in all things? None. Not a one. I drove my car, the same roads I’d ridden the day before, powered by my legs and will, knowing I played a small part in fighting this disease that steals the ability to power legs but leaves the will whole, to be frustrated over and over until all that will can control is one finger.
One of the few times I hit my kids, my oldest was pretending she couldn’t walk, that she required a wheelchair. "Don’t you EVER do that. Your aunt has a withered leg and SHE doesn’t use a wheelchair. You be grateful that you CAN walk or dance or whatever and
don’t you EVER make believe that you can’t walk again." How prophetic

I remember and think of all those who can’t dance and I cry. It’s cathartic, after the highs of the weekend, to cry. I cry for about 15 miles, from when I pass Daytona, the ending point of Day One and the beginning point of Day Two, until I am well onto I4, quiet tears. When I get home, I sleep.

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