By MARGIE NETZEL - email@example.com
About halfway through his first 75-mile day on his bicycle, Brandon Martin, 13, was ready to quit the Multiple Sclerosis bike ride.
“Once or twice, I was ready to be done,” he said.
But determination and some emotional pushing from grandpa and fellow bike rider Bob Martin worked as Brandon pedaled over the finish line Sunday at Conneaut Township Park, having put in 150 miles from Pittsburgh to the lakefront park.
An 18-year veteran of the ride, Bob Martin said he has made the event a family affair, bringing his daughter-in-law, son, wife and now Brandon, along for the ride.
The Multiple Sclerosis 150 Bike Tour is one of the MS Society’s biggest rides of the year, spokesperson Colleen Deleo said.
“It’s the lake, pure and simple,” she said. “The lake is a big draw for the riders. This year we had 1,350 registered riders. About half of the riders opted to take a loop back to Pittsburgh, but half of them rode all the way to the shore.”
The event is especially touching for Lori Straub of Erie. Straub, who lives with MS, teamed up with her husband, Tom, to hand out the medals at the finish line.
“My diagnosis was so devastating to me,” she said. “To see this support, to know that I am not alone in this, just means so much.”
The ride was the 15th such event for Angela Malis of Butler, Pa. She said the ride is great, but the hills are killer.
“I could go 100 miles flat,” she said, “but the hills are not my friends.”
All 270 pounds of Buddy Crockett hurt as he dismounted from his bike and cracked open a cold beer. Not a natural bike rider, Crockett was a member of the “Remembering Richard” team in honor of long-time bike tour participant Richard Baranacho.
Baranacho’s friends and family, sponsored by Clear Channel Communications, made the 150-mile ride with laughter and tears.
“Richard was a wonderful man and he was the one who got us all started on this ride,” said Nancy (Bidlack) Bires. “This was his big event. We all miss him so much and we are really proud to ride with his name on our backs today. I think it is important for people to know that you can do this ride not just to support the fight against MS, but also to honor the people you love and miss.”
Sophie Holmes is a native of England, but she only pedaled from Pittsburgh.
“I work for a small company in Pittsburgh and we all ride. We try to train as a group and in the spring we really start working at it. You have to put in the miles — like 30, 40, 50 mile rides to get ready.”
At 60 years old, Bob Martin said he isn’t about to give up his long-distance hobby, especially when he has so many bike riding companions. Grandsons Tyler and Logan Martin are next — as soon as they are old enough.
“I’m in real trouble next year,” he said. “I’ll be a year older and Brandon will be a year stronger.”