Riding the Challenge Walk

Written by on May 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Bicycle support crew not only rides farther than walkers walk — they're also in a very uncomfortable seat for a very long time. Here's how to prepare.

Looking to mix up your Challenge Walk experience?  Consider hopping on a bike!
Looking to mix up your Challenge Walk experience? Consider hopping on a bike!

I received a good question today from my friend Melody, who has walked the Challenge Walk these past few years. She's decided to join the bicycle support crew in 2009 and wonders, "I am a little concerned about the training…how much do you usually ride before the walk?" I made a similar transition from walker to crew last year and discovered that being on wheels doesn't take the "challenge" out of "challenge walk"! I am not an expert bicyclist, but I'm happy to share my experience.

I rode only 2-3 times a week leading up to the event. I got accustomed to going 10-20 miles at a time, though one Sunday I did drive down to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and ride its length and back, which proved to be about 55 miles. It can be very useful if you have a little onboard computer that calculates your mileage.

The farthest I've ever ridden in a single day is a metric century — that is, 100 km, or 62 miles. Unfortunately, that was the first day I'd been on my bike in two weeks. Was I SORE!! Consistency is the most important quality of training.

Depending on how you handle being on bike crew, you may go as few as 25-30 miles a day, or as many as 50+. Since it's not hard pedaling, you may find the greatest challenge comes just from being in that seat for so long… so make sure it's a comfortable one!

Whether you're a first-time rider like Melody or have done it before like me, every crew member should sign up for the NMSS's crew training session, where you can get all your questions answered… even the ones you haven't thought of yet.

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

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