By Ed Chasteen
I drove to Brian’s house Friday evening. We had dinner at Neighbor’s Café in Lee’s Summit. I was in bed by nine o’clock. And up at 3:45. I went out to strap our two Treks on my car. It was raining. Still raining when we got to the check in place at 5:30. We ate pancakes and listened to tales of riders who weren’t coming and some who were going home. Rain puts riders in a dour mood.
I have started other MS-150s in the rain. No problem. This morning, though, a civil war is raging in my head. I’m fighting a losing battle with this timid voice of caution that tells me not to ride, that I’ll be sorry if I do. It’s still raining at starting time. “What do you think we should do?” Brian asks. It’s my call. He rides if I do. Caution wins. “Let’s go home,” I say.
Now it’s Monday and I’m sending this email to all those who expected me to ride. “My Friends, I regret to tell you that I did not ride this year’s MS-150. I was there at the starting line Saturday morning, ready to ride my 21st consecutive MS-150. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the strange tiredness I felt. I wanted to want to ride. But I didn’t. That voice in my head that I try always to listen to kept saying, “Don’t ride.” I could not shut it up.
“On this Monday morning I feel bad because I didn’t ride. But standing there in the rain Saturday morning, I made the only decision I could make. It has long been my practice never to second-guess myself and never to regret a decision I have made. For reasons I will never understand, it was right for me not to ride this year. I plan to be back next year.”
Only a few seconds later, I begin to get emails in response.
“Well, we Mormons like to interpret that voice as the Holy Ghost. So I’m sure you would have had a bigger regret on your mind if you had gone. I was able to talk a slightly older guy into going by telling him my no pain, no compassion theory out in the rain that morning. He said his engine light came on as he drove to Lee’s Summit. I saw him at an afternoon stop and he thanked me for giving him something to think about! I think it is reasonable to take a break every 2 decades. Not more than that though. Ha ha. (This was my first time in 10 years.)”
“I am sorry about the MS 150. But, it’s good to listen to your instincts.”
“Ed -I can certainly understand. But, I think you did your job. I’m glad you made it to the start though. I was right there with you. My lead up to the ride was less than ideal and the rain certainly wasn’t helping. But, seeing you in the elementary school when I was begrudgingly going in to pick up my packet lifted my spirits enough to get me on my bike. I’m not sure whether to thank you or to scold you for that. But, at the end of the day, I was glad I rode.”
“Ed, I hope you are feeling better today and I hope you and Bobbie have a great trip to Michigan.”
“Dad, this morning, when I came to work, I was told that one of my co-workers (in my department) father committed suicide over the weekend, I was reminded that we are lucky to have loved ones in our life and that we should tell the people closest to us how much we love them TODAY! We might not have another opportunity. If we knew that this was our last day or week or month, how would we spend that time?
“I love you very much…More than I could ever say. Spending time together is the most special part of my life. If I only had a day, week, month or 6 months, I would make certain you were a special part of that time.
“I too feel sad that we did not ride. Not because we decided not to ride. We made the right decision and I would make the same decision given the same set of circumstances. I feel sad because if I had not been with you, one of two things would have happened: 1) You would have ridden the ride or 2) you would have made the same decision not to ride & gone back to your house. Either way, you would still be traveling to Michigan today.
“We only know the outcome of how things played out because we did not ride the MS 150. We would feel far worse if we had gone, not feeling optimistic at the time, and something tragic happened to either of us. That would have been hard to live with. Love.”
I just wanted to congratulate you on listening to the voice in your head saying not to ride on Saturday. Being an athlete, I understand the discipline it takes training for an event! Being a Christian man, I also know the discipline it takes to listen when the Lord speaks to me, contrary to what I want or believe. Rest assured, this is a word of encouragement, to say YOU ARE A WINNER TODAY AND ALWAYS!! I applaud your discipline, Ed!! Blessings.”
“Ed – Glad to hear you listened to your “guardian angle’s” voice. I believe mine has often pulled his hair out because I wouldn’t listen. Best of luck!”
“Hi Ed: I applaud your decision to listen to that voice in your head. I’ve learned to trust my own voice, or intuition. You have ridden so many miles, and raised so much money for MS, that one year off is no big deal. I think our bodies know when to rest, and plowing forward would not have been wise. Congratulations.”
“Ed, It’s good you can trust that voice in our head, there are a lot of people who don’t. The rain was a surprise for many of us. We had only five of our twelve Team Applebee’s ride this year. It was a good ride after the rain and Sunday was a beautiful day. You are such an inspiration to so many, it was your turn to pass this year. We’ll all look forward to seeing you out there next September. Take care.”
“Ed, You may not have physically ridden, but I am sure you rode in the minds of all the people you have helped and ridden with over the years. I think your streak is still alive! Take care.”
“Ed, Lots of us rode for you. You were in our thoughts. It was a very wet morning on Sat. I saw too many people wipe out due to road conditions. I hope you are feeling better today.”
“I knew when I saw you Saturday morning that you were having to make a tough decision. I wish I could have had the time to discuss the options for you, but every best plan was thrown into disarray and everyone was late as a result of the rain. A jillion things were going on in my mind of things that had to get done before the start with my family and the team. I wish we could have suggested that you at least drive to Sedalia, join in the team fun, greet people at the team tent and then enjoy our dinner and football games on TV and then get up the next morning and do the Sunday route. Sunday was a great day, but everything is hindsight now. If we get a situation like that again, lets see if we can find a way for you to at least ride some of the ride. I also think you might have been able sag forward to dry pavement and then start riding from there on Saturday. You could even possibly ride the Kansas MS150 this next weekend. There is always tomorrow!”
“Thanks for the note, we were all asking about you. Glad to hear that you listened to that little voice. Too often we don’t. It wasn’t a fun ride the first thirty + miles, but it turned out to be a good day for riding. I think the event was another success, but without people like you to urge us on its just another ride. I’ll see ya next week. Stay Strong!”
“Sorry you couldn’t make it, but sounds like you made the wise choice. Better to safely regret then dangerously forge ahead. Your spirit was with all of us as we rode in your absence. I will be on the Springfield MS150 this weekend, but look forward to joining you in the near future on the road. Your friend,
“We did miss you! I too thought it was too dangerous for you to begin. When it is dark it is real hard to tell what the weather will do for who knows how long. When we were in Dallas for a MS150, it rained before start, then stopped for the start, and then 30 minutes later started up again and rained for 4-5 more hours. Wouldn’t wish that on anyone. You can always live for another day and all it’s possibilities! See you around!”
My reply to Richard:
“Richard, I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m wondering now why I didn’t think to drive to Sedalia and join our team, then ride back on Sunday. I feel stupid now for not even thinking of doing this. I apologize to you and to our team.”
Richard is our team captain. He sent me this third email in response to my reply.
“That’s ok. The most important thing is your health and safety, and at the time before the ride started, it was really being threatened with the possibility of rain for hours and hours. Too bad they didn’t have a big screen TV there showing the radar of the rain storm for all us to see so that we could see if it would be short lived or all day long like it was in Texas for us. Like I said, the most important thing is you are around all healthy and not hurt and ready to continue the fight forward bustin’ hate and MS for years to come.
“By the way, one of my father’s distant relatives his age on the ride got clipped slightly by another rider when it was wet and all crowded and fell down. Got up and tried to continue but half way pain got worse and they took him off the road thinking he had some cracked ribs. That could have been you also. So…………which choice was the smarter? Who knows? The important thing is you are OK with lots of options and opportunities to help out in the future. You just missed out on some fun!”
“You can always live for another day and all it’s possibilities!”
Richard, you nailed it. Now it’s Tuesday morning, and my depression over my failure to ride is lifting. I’m getting my head and my heart back to where they normally are. Here’s how I see it.
I have a MS riding season, beginning with the Greater Liberty Ride for MS on the Saturday in May before Memorial Day weekend and ending with the MS-150 on the weekend after Labor Day in September. For 15 weeks—105 days—I’m riding for MS and asking people to give. I quit years ago keeping track of the miles I ride. But I ride most every day, anywhere from 20 to 60 or 70 miles, and now and then a century. So this MS riding season I figure I’ve ridden somewhere between 1500 and 3000 miles. I’ve raised $10,000.
So the 150 miles I missed riding this past weekend were but a fraction of the miles I rode this year for MS. All of those who make financial contributions to my ride know that I ride all the time. It is as much to my constant riding that they give as to my MS-150. The other eight months of the year I ride for HateBusters, raising money and hope for those who have been hurt because someone hates them.
What I missed by not riding the MS-150 was the excitement of riding with almost 2,000 other riders and visiting with friends from previous rides at rest stops and being recognized by former students as I pedal along in my yellow HateBusters shirt. I look forward to this from year to year. I’m heartbroken that this year I was not part of this. Sometimes life does not work out just the way we hope it will. The only thing I know to do is to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back in the game.
The Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there at the startin’ line for the 2007 MS-150, the culminating event in my 2007 MS riding season.