I raced BT Epic one year ago, only a few days after I had gotten my diagnosis. I already knew that I was weaker, but had been in denial that anything really serious was going on. My good friend, Jeff Sona, who was one of the few people who knew, was kind enough to throw his race and ride the BT Epic with his buddy. Even though we were off the pace from years before, we still rode well and had a respectable time. I could still ride pretty fast but would fall to the ground more often than not when I had to dismount the bike for a log. It was both fun and sad that weekend one year ago. Emotions were raw and I felt fear.
One year later, I am very very much weaker now, but actually fall less often as I am more accepting of my limits. I also feel sad less often as I am more accepting of life’s situations.
I was signed up for the race, just in case. I could have rolled most of it on my electric bike, but the parts that I couldn’t make would have been a disaster. Not to mention that that amount of effort would not be good for me.
I rode the start of the race with Mary on my electric bike, pretending like I was racing. I had committed to staying off the rough single track, but the trail called to me like a bottle of whisky would call to a drunk. The woods are beautiful in that first section. I turned around just before it got technical, went back to get the car so that I could drive to “Whisky Ridge” to meet up with Jim Davis and crew who were handing out shots. The whisky called to me like a beautiful trail would call to a mountain biker with ALS.
My good buddy who rolled slower last year in order to be with me and keep me company was planning on pulling out all the stops to see what he could do this time. After a good start, he began to feel bad and weak but finished the race. Over the hour or two after the race, he seemed to feel worse instead of better. It turns out that Jeff was having a heart attack and was immediately airlifted to St. Louis. Thinking of Jeff and a couple of people that we have lost in the last year makes me want to say, “appreciate your friends and have fun”. It turns out that he should be OK, I just hope that he can get back to the full speed Jeff that I am used to.
Even though it was an emotional rollercoaster weekend, it felt much more joyous than sad. With the love of my wife Mary and the social interaction of all the good people in our little community, life is very good much of the time.