Derek McHale, One of Our Damn Finest Rides for MS

Derek McHale Rides for MS

This year I participated in the 2012 MS Bike Tour from Grand Bend to London – and then back again. It was a memorable weekend and an experience like none other I had ever had before.

Over the years, I have been involved with a variety of fundraisers supporting a multitude of charities. I have donated money and volunteered for many other worthy causes. This time, however, it was different. My involvement hit as close to home as it possibly could. I was now, in this case, the one with MS. I was benefiting from the funds raised and the time and energy that the volunteers were putting in.

Years ago, my wife Heather rode in the MS Bike Tour with a group of friends. Her participation was due in part to a family friend with MS, but also the personal challenge of biking 160 km in a weekend. She enjoyed the training and had a wonderful time on the ride and, as we have a young family, I was with the kids while Heather was out on the road – so, you see, my familiarity with the actual event was second hand.

To be part of the lauded ride this year was overwhelming! There were almost 2000 riders participating in the Grand Bend to London Tour, the largest gathering across the entire country. My wife and I were recruited to a team called Butt Ugly. The Butt Ugly team originated in 2004 with only 2 members. Year after year, ride after ride, family and friends have joined the team bringing membership to an impressive 90 members. It was an honour being part of such a large and vibrant group.

The tour departed from Grand Bend on July 28th at 7:30 in the morning. We were given the honour of starting first because our team had raised more money than any other team. Riders who raised more than one thousand dollars for MS were awarded special jerseys and those very few who actually had MS were wearing special jerseys too – “I have MS, that’s why I ride”.

My diagnosis last year has compelled me to pursue a healthier lifestyle and as a result I am motivated to exercise as often as I can. While we had committed to do the ride earlier in the year, I was aware that it had been a long time since I had been on a bike. As the ride date loomed, I began to get a bit nervous, however, once I started riding again I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. The riding felt fantastic! I was riding on the weekends and even bringing my bike to work to ride during the lunch hour; I really enjoyed the training.

With the help of a favourite iPhone application, I know the details of my ride:

On Saturday it took me 3.5 hours to ride 88.25 km plus 30 minutes for rest stops and lunch, for an average speed of 25 km/h.

On Sunday I cycled 75.42 km in 2.8 hours, plus 12 minutes for rest stops (I wasn’t very interested in resting on the way back!) for an average speed of just under 27km/h.

With MS, some days are better than others. One thing that I have learned as a result of dealing with MS is that it feels good to feel good. It may sound trite, but don’t take your health for granted; it can change in an instant. I have had a lot of support from my friends and family along the way. I have also had a remarkable amount of support from the people at Foster Townsend Graham & Associates where I spend my days managing their complex computer network. They have been flexible when I needed to attend doctor’s appointments and they proudly sponsored me for the Tour. With everyone’s help I was able to raise more than $1200 towards helping put an end to MS.

For all those that have helped and supported me, I offer a heartfelt thank you.