Coconut Telegraph

Hey Everybody,

Boy-oh-boy have I got some catching up to do. So much stuff has happened in a few short weeks. I am going to start this not quite knowing where I am going. What I mean is I do not know if I am going to do one giant coconut or break this up into smaller bite size portions, which will be lower in calories and higher in protein, we’ll see.

 Okay, I think this whole summer riding season with it’s associated and very palpable change in energy started with the MS 150. Up until this event we have been pretty much shaking off the effects of winter and the natural lethargy and malaise that sets in from immobility and waning enthusiasm. Heck, there are volumes written about this in every sports oriented magazine on the racks in April.

 This year was going to be a “Test and Trial” year for the MS 150 ride, at least for me. Our first year we had great energy, team involvement and even a bit of corporate sponsorship. Big fun was had that year and we have the pictures to prove it. When we came back for round two last year we were a bit savvier about how to make the event more entertaining for the team and it worked. We changed check-in and length of stay routines and had a much better understanding of the daunting logistics. We had our act together. Unfortunately the MS 150 folks did not. There were issues with routes, food and attitudes. We left the event happy as a team but generally disillusioned about the “Ride” itself.

 We knew enough from the banquet debacle from year one to plan our own team dinner and create our own Saturday evening schedule, which we did. Arnie and Melanie snuck down to surprise everybody and non-riding boyfriends and spouses joined in for the dinner. Big fun and great times, unfortunately lousy photographer (me).

 The ride went okay enough except the lack of course and rider monitoring left a few of our team members out on the course all turned around and the organizers at one point thinking all riders were in. Oops, that was corrected and in short order the remaining Team Boris riders arrived with another rider who got left behind by her “no drop” team, hooray for us.

 The food service despite not having much depth was served with a side of surely sarcasm. Things were not looking good for a return visit.

 So, for this year I was not expecting large team participation and figured I would ride it and make a final personal decision and then report back to the team.

 Bill and Mike Stroup joined Kathy and I for the event and the Team energy was great. We all checked into the Caribe on Friday and had dinner together. We ate at the same restaurant we di last year and the energy at the table was harmonic. One of those nights when we were all tuned to the same channel. The conversation was relaxed and free flowing. Everybody had something to offer up, so much so time kind of slipped away. We wrapped things up and went off to bed.

 Saturday we car-pooled down to the start line in Lake Wales. After some pre-ride hoopdeedoodle we were off for our 50-mile odyssey. So far the ride folks were doing a good job. One of the first and most noticeable things was how friendly and supportive law enforcement was this year as opposed to the previous year. Many more intersections were officer controlled and in my mind I think they went the extra distance to make our negotiation of the roads even easier and smoother than they needed to. Traffic was held and we were waived through regardless of how many riders needed to traverse. In the past I have been used to having the officer hold up cyclists until we were a larger group and then hold traffic and allow us to pass. Which I think is more than reasonable considering how busy some of the roads we travelled are. Besides, the officer has a line of sight that surpasses ours as riders with our forward focus and shoulder glance view. It is not difficult for them to see a half-mile behind us and assess the number of approaching riders. Not a big deal to gather up and then being allowed to pass. But this year it was as soon as we showed up, bam, they held traffic and let us pass.

 The folks at the SAG stops were always friendly from what I could remember and that was no different. Usual SAG food served with a smile and “thanks for riding” shout out. Nice.

 At Kathy’s favorite SAG (dinosaur SAG) I grabbed some puppy love from this cute guy. Always a great mid-ride pick-me-up for me.

 We rode well as a group. Everybody was on the same page when it came to pacing/speed and stopping. I was feeling a little spunky so every once in a while I would sprint a hill and then roll back down but for the most part we trundled along as a movable mess.

 At one point Bill found a lost and nearly bonked rider who got dropped by her group. She had flown in from Texas to ride this event with a pretty large team and now they dropped her. Anyway we revived her and had her join us for the remainder of the ride. She was pretty puny and at some points was riding at 9 mph.

 As we got closer to the finish they routed us through a neat little cut-off and we stumbled (rode up) upon an ornately decorated Buddhist temple that we could not ignore. We pulled in and asked permission to take pictures. The two folks who met us said sure and then told us how all of the decorations were in preparation for a celebration going on the next day. We talked a bit and she offered to get the head monk to come over and take pictures with us.

 She walked over to one of the food tents and spoke with the bare chested man and in a moment I saw him adjusting his robes and start to head in our direction. Here is where things get a little weird. As the monk came closer our eyes met and he made a clear and direct path directly to me. When he got about ten feet from me he dropped to his knees and bowed to me repeating in a heavy Tibetan accent “Rinpoche, Rinpoche.” Then a moment later he bent up from the waist looked at me again and now started chanting “Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva.” Embarrassed I asked him to stand and to please not let my secret out. (This last part may or may not be true).

 The finish line loomed and we rode across as a team. The plan was to take in the post ride festivities, eat then head off to our rooms with a plan to meet for dinner in a few hours.

 Because I was in the midst of triathlon training I headed to the gym and ran a 5k on the treadmill then went swimming. Kathy napped and swam in the bathtub and come to find out at dinner Bill and Mike napped also napped.

 So here we are at dinner and I am a bouncing bubbling nut blathering on about swimming (floating around) and going to the gym not realizing how mad I am making everybody (I think mostly Kathy) and was informed that I was close to getting a fork in the neck (Kathy). I had to do something to distract everyone from the Rinpoche and Bodhisattva talk from earlier. I am so thoughtful.

 Dinner was a replay from the night before and the conversation flowed like wine. We recapped the ride and generally girded our psychological loins for the next day of riding.

 Sunday morning found us finding breakfast and this year was much better than last year at least as far as taste and flavor went. I think they were still a little short on the amount of food they needed but better overall. Mike and Bill wrapped-up bag logistics and after a quick trip to our rooms for final ride prep we gathered our bikes and lined up to start our trip back to Bok.

 The one thing I have not mentioned yet was how wonderful the weather was. It was great weather for both days, maybe a little warm on day one but I love hot weather so fine for me. At least this year we were not getting battered by storms like the previous year. Day two was smooth and for the most part uneventful. I did realize there is more climbing on the way back to Bok than there is on the way to Disney. At least that is how it seemed to me.

 Food was still one-dimensional with burgers being served up by Bubba Burger. Nice of them to donate time and people but this is still one of the weak spots of the weekend.

 Kathy and I drove back to the hotel to finish our weekend of running away from home while Bill and Mike loaded their car and called it a day.

 The ride was a big improvement over the previous year and we are planning to do it again next year.

 This is a great excuse to spend a weekend at the resort with a bike ride thrown in for fun. Non riding spouses have tons to do and the place is kid friendly so it is a perfect family destination event so give thought to being there next year with the team.

 This Coconut Telegraph gets the ball rolling by getting all of the MS 150 published and now I will move on and get the last month caught up along with the Mount Mitchell report and a list of upcoming team ride events.

 Peace and Bikes

Steve & Boris