1998 MS150 Ride Report


August 1998 


150 miles under the tires

This years MS150, a two day, 150 mile bike ride was another fundraising success for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), and a heck of a lot of fun for us riders. I’d ridden the MS150 in 1995 and had a great time, and my wife Claire asked me if I was going to do it this year. With her encouragement, I decided to do it, even though life is very busy - we’re expecting our first child in September. Also Claire’s suggestion, this year my brother in law Alan flew up from the Bay Area to join me! This ride report, along with my sincere thanks, goes to all those who contributed to the cause. With your help, I was able to raise over $600 for the NMSS.

The Ride

What was it like? Challenging, inspiring, beautiful, fast, slow, occasionally grueling, but most of all - fun! This year, we started in Gresham at the McMenamin Brothers funky brew-pub/winery/resort Edgefield, wandered through the countryside down to Molalla on day one, then wandered on different roads through the countryside back to Edgefield on day two.

Day One, Stage One: McMenamins Edgefield to Pleasant Home Church

We arrived late. About an hour late in fact, owed to the fact that we were up until midnight putting Alan’s bike back together (he brought his own ride with him on the plane), carbo-loading, and making sure everything else was ready. Anyway, we finally found the designated parking area, put our cycling clothes on, put our bag on the truck going to Molalla, and checked in with the ride start volunteers who were busy packing things up since everyone else had already left. They were happy to see us though, and gave us our guide books, tags, T-shirts, and waivers, then pointed us down the road. “They went that way.” “They” in this case consisted of nearly 400 cyclists, all of whom were out in front of us.

Things started out very nicely - it was cool, flat, and overcast, ideal conditions for riding. We took it easy, slowly warming everything up. The ride went through Troutdale and along the Sandy River, a lovely, heavily treed area with many nice houses tucked away on the river banks. This is where we got our prank phone call. Alan had his cell phone with him for his family to get in touch if they needed to. He had given the number to Claire, who then (as a practical joke) gave it to her friend Anna to give us a little call. It took a while to get the phone out of the seat pack and answer it, but it was pretty funny none-the-less. I chided Alan for giving Claire the number...

We then crossed the Sandy and started climbing. I think we were both still asleep as we didn’t really notice the climb until one of us said, “Oh, we’ve got a little hill here.” We were still in heavily treed country, so it was difficult to tell where we were headed, but eventually it flattened out and we were rolling through farm land. The fields of purple cabbage, freshly mown hay, and country gardens were a visual feast garnished with the occasional beautiful old country barn. The air was fresh, and we were feeling great. Soon enough the first rest stop was at hand - but we decided not to stop to make up for lost time (and because we had just gotten warmed up).

Day One, Stage Two: Pleasant Home Church to Camp Kuratli

It was still overcast, a blessing now that we’d been riding for an hour. There was a short stint on Highway 26 (only about ½ mile) that was a bit of a shock after being on quiet country roads, but it served as a nice reminder about what the rest of the world was doing while were we out riding our bikes. This stage ended with a rather fun little descent over 300 feet in just under a mile. Alan showed off the rewards of training in hilly Woodside by leading me at a startlingly fast pace down the hill through the corners, inside pedal always up to avoid hitting the road. It was great fun, and we were ready to stop when we got to the second rest stop a few minutes later.

Day One, Stage Three: Camp Kuratli to Viola School

After a short rest, a little food, and some chatting with the natives, we set out for... lunch! Always a treat when the NMSS is putting it on, we had an inspiring end-point for this stage. The whole area we were in was quite hilly, and though we started with a nice gentle downhill, soon it got steep and we had a short climb to contend with. Following the little uphill was a wonderful section of rollers, with open fields and farms, reminding me of the land I grew up on out in Hillsboro. Of course, you get the nice “dairy” air too, but that’s part of country life. The miles blended together until we saw the sign we were looking for: an arrow and some of the Honda Goldwing crew pointing up the hill to a large mass of people gathered around what can only be described as a very old, very small school. Viola School, and the lunch stop was at hand.


Day One, Stage Four: Viola School to Oregon City

This was the least pleasant stage of the ride, due to the fact that we had to interact with autos again. We started out after lunch with two miles of gentle down hill in the country, a nice period during which the various foods we’d eaten were digested a little. But then we went up. Now climbing on an empty stomach is one thing, but after a decent meal it’s quite another. By the top of the hill we were very glad to be on flat land, and soon enough we were starting a descent. This was a nice long downhill, and once again Alan picked the line and the speed. There were a couple of turns there that I would have been much too intimidated to take at speed, but a little confidence goes a long way when cornering on a bike, and it’s remarkable just how fast you can corner.

After this fun little downhill we went back up a little, and then had a flat cruise to the next rest stop, which we elected to pass since we had just successfully digested our lunches and gotten back into a rhythm on the bikes that we didn’t want to break. Besides, we wanted to get out of the traffic and back into the country!

Day One, Stage Five: Oregon City to Clarke’s Methodist Church

One of the amazing things about cycling is that you get into a “groove,” a pace that feels as if you could keep riding forever. As long as you have water to drink, and some food to keep you going, you can get to the point where you don’t want to take breaks. Eventually of course, reality sets in, but for those stretches there is no other feeling like it.

Most of this stage was flat, and we were back in the country so it was very pleasant riding. The weather was still mostly overcast which was very fortunate since earlier in the week we had had records highs of more than 100 degrees, which makes cycling almost unbearable - you just can’t take in enough water for the body to work efficiently because so much fluid is being used by the muscles and the cooling system. Clouds can indeed make the perfect day. Soon we were starting to feel the effects of sitting for so long (there were 29 miles between Viola School and the Church) and we were very glad to see the final rest stop swing into view. We stopped and ate, drank, and chatted with the volunteers, during which we found out that there were only about 70 riders ahead of us! This was a surprise, given that we’d started out behind everyone else and didn’t feel like we were going that fast. But I suppose by skipping rest stops we gained some lost time.

Day One, Stage Six: Clarke’s Methodist Church to Molalla H.S.

The last stage was upon us for day one with a rather fun descent two miles in. During the following two miles we dropped 800 feet in elevation - another fun swoopy downhill. I don’t remember too much about the last 8 miles, except that I was sick of eating Power Bars and was looking forward to the ice-cream promised at the High School. Mostly it was flat. Alan started having a few problems with cramping muscles, so we were taking it slowly. There was a nice round of applause from the folks at the school when we rolled in, and sure enough there were ice-cream bars waiting for us! We had called Claire from the last rest stop on Alan’s cell phone and she was on her way to meet us at the school. Claire would have been out riding with us if not for her case of MS, which prevents her from doing extended physical activity. My dream is that one day she’ll be able to join me for a ride like this one, if there is enough progress made for a cure.

We went to the truck to get our bag, then sat down and relaxed until Claire arrived. I was very happy to see her - it’s always wonderful to be with the people you love, and all the more so after a great day of riding. We put the bikes on the roof and settled in for the drive home.

Statistics, Day One



Total Time


Riding Time


Ave. Speed (mph)


Rolling Ave. (mph)


Total Elevation Gain (feet)


Estimated Calories Burned (kcal)


Ave. Heart Rate (beats per min)



Day Two, Stage 1: Molalla H.S. to Canby

We got up early Sunday, and had a quick breakfast of cereal. Then we loaded up and drove back to Molalla, about a 45 minute drive early on a Sunday morning. This time we weren’t late, and were among the earlier riders out. It was nearly chilly out, and clear blue sky above promised a warmer day than Saturday, but not yet. It took a while to get warmed up, though the glimpses of Mt. Hood floating over the wheat, corn, and grass pastures were a wonderful distraction. We tooled along at a moderate pace made possible by the nearly continuous, gentle descent that made up this stage of the ride.

We had decided to stop at all rest points in order to maintain adequate hydration, as Alan had a some problems with cramping after yesterday’s ride. Cramping is typically caused by a lack of water and/or low potassium. So bananas and water were at the top of today’s menu. At the first rest stop I caught a conversation on the radio of a volunteer about a cyclist down in the next stage - apparently he’d been rushed by a dog and crashed trying to avoid it. He was not seriously injured, but as a veteran of a few road crashes myself I know how scary it can be to go down at speed. We exchanged strategies about how to deal with dogs - I point my bike at them as they come out which forces them to keep far enough to the side such that when I pull the other way they are out of reach. Another good one is to stop the bike and get off. It’s amazing how many snarling, vicious dogs turn and run when confronted. Of course, yelling “NO!” and “BAD DOG!” is most likely to stop them from rushing.

Day Two, Stage Two: Canby to Clarke’s Fire Station

I was lucky enough to have been ignoring the guide book for the whole ride - the route was well marked and the rest stops obvious. Had I been looking closely at the book, I would have seen just how tough this stage was going to be. I’d heard some people at the last rest stop dreading this stage, but I didn’t pay too much attention. It started out nicely enough, the first two miles were flat. Then we start climbing, gaining 450 feet in elevation over the next 4 miles, followed by a nice down hill, by which time I was thinking “Ok, that wasn’t such a big deal, what was everyone so worked up about?” That’s when we got to the bottom of the descent (back down 300 of the feet we’d just climbed) to find ourselves deep in a valley. There was only one way out, and that was up. Not just up, up. So we began. Other than myself, Alan, and two other people, every single rider we encountered on that climb was off the bike and walking. It was nearly 600 feet of climbing in less than two miles - a 6% grade. Now 6% may not sound all that steep, but consider this: it’s the maximum slope allowed by the government on all new interstate highways. If you’ve driven up Mt. Hood, most of the way up to Government Camp is a 6% grade.

Lots of riders were looking discouraged, and if I’d had to walk that whole damn hill I wouldn’t have been all that pleased myself, especially in light of the insane, unwalkable cycling “shoes” I wear. However, when climbing I hate feeling like I’m going slow - I don’t like dragging it out, so I climb out of the saddle (standing) in a fairly high gear. (Only having two chainrings on my racing bike means that I don’t have any low gears anyway J .) Fortunately, I’d been training in the West Hills of Portland, which have plenty of long, steep climbs upon which I had been practicing this very technique. I can climb for 4 miles out of the saddle with my heart rate hovering around 170 beats per minute, and having gone up some monstrous hills in my recent training (Weir Rd. in Beaverton, 14% grade for a mile) I was relatively unfazed by this climb.

I say relatively - I was pretty tired at the top, but I circled back a little bit to ride with Alan, whose approach to climbing is a moderate pace and complete consistency. He just keeps going, and when he gets to the top he doesn’t need to stop since he’s paced himself. It’s really the best technique of all, since he gets to enjoy the scenery!


After finally gaining the top of the hill we had a nice rolling ride in to the fire station where the next rest stop was. We took in water, ate a little bit, and joked with around with some other riders. At one point, an odd character in cork-soled closed-toe sandals, cut-off denim overalls, and a helmet complete with full-face visor rolled by - Claire had seen him at the finish yesterday and wanted his picture. I took it for her, and the thought lodged in the back of my brain “he looks familiar.”

Day Two, Stage Three: Clarke’s Fire Station to Viola School

On the way out of the Fire Station we both got “hit” by a volunteer with squirt gun (how appropriate). It felt pretty nice, as now it was getting a little hot. This stage had some really great, long descents. We were in the “pack” with quite a few other riders, and one in particular was passing, then being passed by us. He was on a mountain bike (MTB) with road tires, and looked like your average psychotic downhill mountain biker. Sure enough, when we started going down he went wild. If you’ve done any mountain biking you may know what descending a steep, rutted, rock-strewn fire road is like - scary as hell, fun, and pretty much completely out of control. MTBers who are used to that kind of riding go down paved hills very, very fast. So, we hooked in behind him and followed his line as we blasted down the hill. It was superb fun, totally exhilarating. At one point, a corner sign flashed by reading “15mph” complete with a picture of a 180 ° curve. We were coming into the corner at over 30mph, and we hit the apex only a few mph slower than that - the lean must have been remarkable to see. Scared me anyway, but we all made it through. At some point during that descent, we managed to hit 45.4mph. Following this intense downhill was lunch at the old Viola School (there’s a musician’s joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going to touch it).

Lunch was nice again, staffed by friendly volunteers who somehow had the patience to deal with brain-dead cyclists too hungry to figure out what they wanted to eat. We ended up sitting next to the “odd,” sandaled cyclist mentioned earlier. Now it dawned on me why he looked familiar - it was Bud Clark, former Portland Mayor. Nice chap, avid cyclist, eccentric Northwesterner might begin to describe him. I was glad to see him supporting the NMSS. 


Day Two, Stage Four: Viola School to Youth Orchestra... err... Camp Kuralti

Stage 4 was another nice one, with the exception of what appeared to be the traditional after-lunch climb. Two miles and 400 vertical feet later, most of us were ready to be ill, but were saved by a slow pace and a nice descent during which we could coast and digest. The rest of the stage was a bit of a blur (you know, like an after lunch meeting), but I do remember getting caught behind a slow moving pickup during one of the downhill sections and feeling slightly cheated. Soon we arrived at Camp Kuralti, which is, as far as I know, somewhere in Oregon. The last stretch seemed unending, but I think that was due to “watching the clock” and trying to figure out when we would get there by the mileage on my computer, which I hadn’t reset after yesterday’s ride. Doing arithmetic in your head while riding a bike can lead to some very confusing conclusions. Anyway, the rest stop finally showed up and they had - CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! Most welcome indeed.

Day Two, Stage Five: Somewhere in Oregon to Schmidt Nursery

This stage started out - surprise! - with a hill. Or “Big Uphill” as it was called in the guide. This one was 400 feet of climbing in 1 mile, or nearly an 8% grade. Again, only three of us that I saw stayed on our bikes for the whole climb. It was truly brutal, especially coming as it did at mile 51 on day two. Nevertheless, it was only one mile and was over with soon enough. Of course now it was hot, we were tired, and we still had 25-odd miles to go. It became “the wall” stage of the second day. There wasn’t much else to do other than ride, talk, and suffer. Ironically, one of the entries in the guide book was “Mile 52.8: Right, Enter Boring.” Not that the stage was boring (Boring is a town), it was just long, and we were, or at least I was, ready to be done.

At about mile 60 there was a left hand turn onto a smaller road which was in a trough between hills. Ahead I saw a cyclist who had gone straight and was making his way merrily along the wrong road! Being the hero type (translation: stupid) I went after to him to save him. Riding hard, I caught him within a mile. As I approached, I noticed he didn’t have an MS150 banner or tag on him. When I informed him that he’d missed the turn back there, he gave me a funny look and said, “what turn was that?” At this point I’d figured it out - he was just another cyclist out for a ride. I apologized, turned around, and tried to catch back up to Alan who had continued on ahead. So much for heroics, except I did manage to help one rider just after they’d missed the left hand turn.

I caught up to Alan as he pulled into the next rest stop. I had ridden hard catching the “lost” rider, then ridden hard trying to catch up to Alan, so I was very glad to be stopping. We had water and food, and as I was stretching I noticed that a screw was missing from the cleat on my left shoe. I wandered over to the support vehicle, a preposterously stretched (5 doors on each side!) 1960s International TravelAll, and asked him for a replacement. He put a new one in for me when I decided to check the other cleat, which was missing two screws. It was a good thing I noticed - losing a cleat while riding would be bad. How and when they fell out I have no idea.  

Day Two, Stage Six: Schmidt Nursery to McMenamins Edgefield

This was the final stage of the ride and was blessedly downhill almost the entire way. By the time you’ve gotten this far on a ride, a little exuberance is typical since you know you’re going to make it. That makes the last stage the most fun for me - I’ve been known to ride fastest during the last stage of a long ride! So, we were feeling good and having a lot of fun, with plenty of self-generated wind to keep us cool even though it was in the 80s by this time. We chatted as we rode side by side, savoring the end of the ride. About 4 miles from the end there was a short, somewhat steep hill to climb. At the beginning of the climb, 4 riders from the Oregon Guard squad passed us. Soon enough we’d passed them back, both being pretty decent climbers.

Two miles later they passed us back on the flats, and were slowly pulling away except for one rider who had tucked into Alan’s draft, apparently not up to keeping pace with his three teammates. About a mile from the end we were in a quick moving pace-line of three - me, Alan, and the orphaned Oregon Guard rider. The other three Guard riders were visible in the distance. Then I heard a voice behind me saying “let’s go get them!” Alan was ready to catch them at the end of the ride. So we started hammering along, bringing the pace up to 26mph from the comfortable 18 we’d been doing. Just as the finish came into view we caught up to them, and all of us finished together. It was a photo finish of the nicest kind.

Statistics, Day Two



Total Time


Riding Time


Ave. Speed (mph)


Rolling Ave. (mph)


Total Elevation Gain (feet)


Estimated Calories Burned (kcal)


Ave. Heart Rate (beats per minute)




This years MS150 was a wonderful ride, run by great volunteers and ridden by selfless, enthusiastic people. I very much enjoyed meeting the other riders and the volunteers, and consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to participate in this event. My special thanks go to my wife Claire who encouraged and inspired me to do the ride this year; and to Alan, whose company made the ride a special one for me. And of course, my deep gratitude to those who contributed funds to this cause - your generosity is uplifting to the spirit.

I cant wait for next year!
Overall Ride Statistics



Total Time


Riding Time


Ave. Speed (mph)


Rolling Ave. (mph)


Total Elevation Gain (feet)

5,086 ft

Calories Burned (kcal)


Ave. Heart Rate (beats per minute)