Wynne-ners and some Marianna Magic! Our day in Arkansas

Well, chalk one up for the cause because I really should have been in the office today due to a whole bunch of big stuff coming down at work, but Jim’s stuff is a big deal too so I had to re-prioritize, delegate and negotiate to justify the decision in which the padded shorts won out over the neck tie. So there I was at 7am on a morning with weather that only Jim Jaggers can deliver, in a parking lot in Arkansas, gearing up in my colorful Go Jim Go, Channel 3 super suit, getting ready for the ride scheduled today from Forrest City to Wynne and back, feeling a twinge of guilt for neglected work, but mostly giddy because, dang, this was going to be a great day to ride.

Already present and working the phones for every unspent dollar in the county was Le Bonheur’s Angel of Arkansas, the man in the boots, Mr. Steve Roberts.
SkittlesNbootsFor those of you who don’t know him, Steve Roberts is the man who works in the agriculture industry in east Arkansas and started off his involvement with Go Jim Go back in 2007 with a road side donation of $40. Every year since has increased that number by shocking proportions. Last year he collected over $80,000! We’ll see what kind of financial fireworks Steve has in store for us today.

Roll out right on time to the tunes of DJ Sara Burnette. First song today from Foster the People and kinda appropriate because the nice guys from that band paid a visit to the Le Bonheur inpatients a few months back. Wow, did Sara have a wild playlist locked and loaded for us today.

Le Bonheur’s own Chaplin Jack Conrad sends the greatest motivational emails to the associates at the hospital throughout the week titled “Light Moments”. They are always introspective stories and quotes about the importance of on occasion, taking pause in our full speed lives and investing a bit of awareness into all the beauty and good around us. Though I am often tempted to quickly delete due to my never ending, futile fight to clear my email Inbox, I’ll always stop and read Chaplin Jack’s messages, his stories and insights are always an encouragement to look at life and situations from a perspective of grace, understanding and gratitude. Today’s ride in eastern Arkansas was simply full of Jack Conrad style Light Moments. Enough to fulfill a month of emails and certainly a blog. Here’s one now…

Today we stopped at the Country Store on Highway 284. We have stopped there every year that I can recall. Today at the store we met a Mr. Danny Linley. He shared with us his Le Bonheur story. When his daughter was fourteen she suffered several seizures. He explained that he had been to several doctors and even another children’s hospital with no positive results. Finally, a physician recommended that he take her to Le Bonheur. He shared with us how he called and the response that he got he remembers to this day. He said, “They didn’t ask if I had money or insurance. They simply said how soon can you get her here?” And straight to Le Bonheur he went. His daughter Rhonda is doing fine now and according to him, “Mean as ever.” Then he produced a money bag and counted out to Jim $371 for Le Bonheur. It was a special moment for all of us on the side of an Arkansas highway on a golden morning.

Mr. Linley shares his story with Jim.

Mr. Linley shares his story with Jim at the Forrest City Country Store on Hwy. 284.

$368, 369, 370...$371! Thanks Mr. Linley!

$368, 369, 370…$371! Thanks Mr. Linley!

So down the road we continued. Bright sunshine across the road in patterns and stripes of bright white as the sun climbed higher and flooded through the tree lined highway. A peleton of nine riders of old and new friends in a perfect double paceline surrounded by our generous support crew. Gears buzzing and clicking, skinny tires humming along on the blurred, smooth asphalt, yellow road paint to the left, white line to the right. No finish line, podium or race winnings at stake, no attacks or breakaways to be concerned about. No hurry, no worry. As John Denver’s Country Roads plays on our sound system and echos down the country road you are riding on, take a big, deep hit of that fresh Arkansas morning air. This be what cycling dreams are made of and a mental moment of respite and appreciation to remember and cherish.
old_barn IMG_1234 IMG_1249Correction: There was one city limit sign sprint to be concerned about as Wayne and I have an ongoing road battle throughout Go Jim Go as we we try to best each other to be the first one to cross over the official city corp limit road marker for all the the towns we visit. Hate to beat up on my buddy so bad, but I had him thinking I was going to attack him from his left. I saw him checking left over his shoulder, checking left, checking left so I attacked on the right and handily skunked him. I think that makes the tally…
BR: 4, WL: sadly, zero. It has to be my cleaner bike Waynerd!

As always, our traditional lunch stop at Kelly’s in Wynne is a delight. Great country cooking and moan worthy good cobbler with a self-serve, soft-serve vanilla ice cream station. Oh heavens, be still my heart! Temptation stop! I have 30 more miles to ride! Guest rider today Brian Flax won the Blake’s Blog Most Interesting Desert Photo Contest:

Brian's moment of weakness. Looks like a visit from the Christmas dog in a bowl!

Brian’s moment of weakness. Looks like a visit from the Christmas dog in a bowl!

Following our big carb reload, our laid back schedule today afforded us an extended lunch break and we created our own outdoor patio experience in the Kelly’s parking lot.

Enjoy it while it lasts, but we still have to ride back to Forrest City.

Enjoy it while it lasts, but we still have to ride back to Forrest City.

I’ll share another one of those special moments I mentioned earlier. After lunch, as I was sitting at our table talking to Sara, A gentleman walks over from another table and introduces himself as Mr. Tony Bull. Mr. Bull graciously thanks us for what we were doing and tells us a story about his now grown son and how Le Bonheur had helped his son through some difficult health issues years ago. Mr. Bull then gestures towards the check for lunch on the table in front of Sara and asks, “Is that your check for lunch?” Mind you this is a ticket for almost twenty people.
“Yes, sir.” Sara replied.
“Let me have it. I appreciate what you are doing and I’d like to buy everyone’s lunch today.”

Wow! the kindness of strangers and another example for us all of how Le Bonheur has positively impacted the lives and memories of so many people over it’s sixty plus years of service. Thank you Mr. Bull. Jack Conrad loves this stuff!

After lunch we rolled over to our first school stop of the day and a brand new Go Jim Go school and our first school ever in this town, Wynne Intermediate. The little Yellowjackets knocked us out with a wild reception and then proceeded to blow our minds with a $9,100 contribution! THANK YOU JACKETS!

Wynne-ers!

Wynne-ers!

Our roll continued on the Wynne High School, another Go Jim Go first and then back out onto the open road for more super stellar road riding. Our mobile pedal party treated us to musical gems like the aforementioned John Denver, Bing Crosby, East bound and Down (Smokey and the Bandit Theme) and even the smooth stylings of the Arkansas Razorbacks fight song?

The thrills kept coming because it ain’t everyday that you experience this on your ride:

WOW! A huge thank you to the Colt, Arkansas Blue Angels! Next year please consider spraying Jim down with a hairy leg defoliant.

A smooth, pleasurable roll back to Forrest City under a blue sky and early fall colored countryside.

Brian Flax loving the way he chose to spend the day!

Brian Flax loving the way he chose to spend the day!

Guest rider and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare's own Karen Lamport

Guest rider and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s own Karen Lamport

Le Bonheur OR associate Ben Cornelius riding with us today.

Le Bonheur OR associate Ben Cornelius riding with us today.

Though I mostly “blogginate” about how awesome our rides are, today we had a frightening reminder of of how important safety awareness is paramount at all times. Even though we have our support vehicles protecting us and allowing us to ride where no unprotected cyclist would ever dare we are still vulnerable. As we were rolling back into Forrest City we came to a right turn at a red light. The pace car, Wayne and Brian rolled through and I was about to go as well when out of habit I checked left to see a giant black semi rolling straight at the intersection at a speed that would have been impossible to stop. It must have been Cledus behind the wheel. I screamed loud and hit the brakes hard. Jim who was right behind me on my wheel grabbed his brakes hard too, but lost his balance and went down onto the curb. I felt so bad for Jim as we helped him up, but I can’t even think of what could have happened. Something like this would be a devastating blow to an incredible day and endanger the entire event. Thank heavens Skittles was OK and shed no blood. A few expletives later, I won’t say said by who, we were safely rolling again.

Last stop of the day had us headed down to Marianna, Arkansas and to the small school with a huge heart, Lee Academy.

Thanks for the welcome Cougars!

Thanks for the welcome Cougars!

And in an absolute end of the day stunner, Lee Academy knocked us straight on to our padded shorts with the biggest school check contribution we have ever seen! $13,000!

A big check bomb about to go off! Wow! Lee Academy. Thank you!

A big check bomb about to go off! Wow! Lee Academy. Thank you!

I really am so humbled and awed by what the citizens of our community do for our children’s hospital. I say “our” because Le Bonheur does belong to us all and I appreciate how so many people come together to keep us strong. On behalf of Chaplin Jack and everyone at Le Bonheur and WREG, thank you Cougars, Jackets and to everyone in East Arkansas who made our day a phenomenal success. Especially this guy. He’s not revealing any information yet. We’ll have to wait for the telethon. So whatever you got up your sleeve, in your envelops and in those boots. Thank you Steve Roberts! We’ll see you in Memphis on Wednesday.

Steve Roberts working the phones for every unspent dollar available for the kids of Le Bonheur.

Steve Roberts working the phones for every unspent dollar available for the kids of Le Bonheur.

P.S. Happy Birthday Mom!

A Trojan not a Spartan – Tipton County Day

Well, good day Go Jim Go tight short fans! You’re back? I’m touched! Really! Thanks for reading. Just logged a tremendous day on the road with Jim and the immediate description that comes to mind is that it was a non stop flow of cycling awesomeness! Not to rub it in, but if you are a rider at all, you missed a good one today. You saw the weather and to be out in it, on your bike with all the rider amenities and support that are part of a class event that GJG is, not to mention the screaming adoration of thousands of kids who treat you like a Beiber…it’s just awesome awesomeness.

Ain’t nothing like it, a shiny machine.
Got a feel for the wheel, keep the moving parts clean.
-Van Halen

I’m pretty sure DLR is not thinking of a bicycle when he sings that lyirc, but for Go Jim Go week, it’s all about the bike. For those who know and ride with me understand that my bike needs to be like Dr. Boop’s OR when we roll out for another leg of Jim’s big week. Wayne even has bike detailing stops scheduled into every ride. Just kidding, but as Steve Kuhar says this a TV show that happens to involve a bikes. So I got up a tad early this morning to give my Giant TCR Advanced carbon fiber frame (from BikesPlus) with full Campagnolo Record and a set of Zipp 404 Firecreast wheels an early morning spa treatment. For the non-cyclists reading who made it through that last sentence, weighing in at 15.9 lbs. that’s a pretty respectable speed package. Never know when Scott will need you for a close up so my rig was looking sharp and ready. To me, it’s the best way to start a ride when all the equipment is shined up, all the high speed, high tech equipment is perfectly adjusted and dialed in insuring every single watt of energy produced by the body goes straight to the pavement and forward motion. So if you find a great mechanic, like Mike Hamm at BikesPlus, keep him happy! As for my personal challenges related to camera close ups, well, that can all be mostly remedied with colorful spandex, cycling caps, helmets and sunglasses!

Today’s plan was to meet at the Millington YMCA, (another one of our great sponsors) at 7am for a scheduled 7:40 roll out. Wayne picked me up in the Dirty Dova at a little after six, we bubble wrapped my bike and we headed out.

A Rembrandt inspired sky with a sleepy cloak of low fog in the fields as we traveled north.

Quick, get my oils and canvas!

Quick, get my oils and canvas!

Shortly following that spiritual moment, we arrived and put pre-ride preparation wheels in motion. Team all checked in, check the route, check the broadcast schedule, bottles topped, caffeinated, hydrated, tires pumped, riders pumped.

As of yesterday, Jim has been honored by his team with a new code name, as all great commanders are. Given the colorful new team leader kit Jim is wearing this year, he will affectionately and respectfully be referenced henceforth as “Skittles”.

Arm warmers required this morning sans “Skittles” as his natural fur coat provides ample insulation from any fall morning chill.

Rollout right on time and day two is underway! All the same drivers and riders this morning with the exception of a few fresh team rotations. In the pace car, from Le Bonheur, Marci and “DJ Maucky Mauck” from our Institutional Advancement department. Joining Antoinette from WREG is Katrina Dover for her day on the road with us. Also, we had a guest rider today returning from last year, a Pinarello Dogma and FedEx pilot, Brian Flax. Great to have your legs and your draft back Brian!

Like a Pro Tour peleton, the team lined up behind the pace car in a perfect two person paceline, followed by Karen Malgorski in the BikePlus support vehicle and providing the ultimate rear protection, Keith in our massive RV. As a cyclist, is is such a treat to have that insulated zone of protection giving us a chance to ride main roads and highways that would otherwise be ridiculously dangerous for a cyclist. Gives us maximum visibility and awareness for the cause and makes for giddy fun as a rider.

First stop today at Homer Skelton Ford in Millington, Then on to Millington Central High School where we were greeted by their live band and some pretty vocal students considering the early hour. They must have expresso machines in high schools now. Sadly, I committed a serious Millington Central High School faux pas. While trying to arrange a photo with the school mascot who was also there to greet us, I referred to him as a Spartan. Cue record scratch sound effect. At Millington Central High School it is THE TROJANS! Sorry Achilles!

A row of 3's with Achilles. Thanks Millington CHS!

A row of 3’s with Achilles. Thanks Millington CHS!

Back on the road for some superb Tipton County back country riding. Just a stellar morning to be traveling the sun streaked, treelined roads in the perky September air.

Onto the next school which was a absolutely pinnacle of the Gog Jim Go experience, the Brighton High School Cardinals rocked our morning with a fat check and a max decibel welcome:

Fortunately, I was able to distinguish the correct mascot name this time! Hard one to goof up.

Brighton High School Cardinal rocking the red!

Brighton High School Cardinal rocking the red!

From there on to Brighton Middle School, then back out on the road for more cycling nirvana. Headed to Covington, TN, next stop, lunch!

Skittles and sky!

“Skittles” and sky!

We had an unexpected treat as we approached Covington, the city police department met us on the outskirts of town and gave us a VIP escort for an uninterrupted trip through every red light and intersection straight to their unbelievably charming town square and our awaiting BBQ.

Covington Town Square Courthouse

Covington, TN Town Square Courthouse

The entire square was decked out for their Fall Festival this weekend and we had a chance to relax in the shade and enjoy some Little Porky’s pulled pork sandwiches, beans and slaw. If you happen to be in the Covington area this weekend or if you are looking for a nostalgic slice of Americana, I would highly recommend a visit.

Team shot with some of Covington's finest. Thanks for the escort!

Team shot with some of Covington’s finest. Thanks for the escort!

As much as we hated to leave, we had to finally end what was a perfectly delightful lunch stop and gear back up for the return leg. Our exit from town was once again given the uninterrupted presidential motorcade treatment. Apparently, they think very highly of Mr. Jagger’s up there.

On our way to our last school stop, Jim achieved a considerable milestone in his nine years of of this event. On Osborn Road we hit the sixty mile mark for the day which gave a Jim a grand total of 3000 miles ridden in nine years for the children for Le Bonheur. Congratulations and gratitude most sincere to be sure. Simply awesome “Skittles”.

60 today means 3000 in all!

60 today means 3000 in all! You can see my heartrate is a little elevated due to the moment :)

Last stop Bolton High School and a big check of $2,214. Thanks BHS! Then a nice, tight 20mph team rider paceline back to the YMCA.

I know, I know, I have said it before, but I can’t say it enough, it was simply a phenomenal day. Terrific weather, amazing riding on gorgeous back country roads, most hospitable treatment from a wonderful community as we were the recipients of humbling generosity. Thank you Tipton County for a memorable day. I hope I have done it justice recapping the memories here.

70 miles of smiles

70 miles of smiles.

No mishaps, no mechanicals and very few sections of gravel and dust on the road, resulting a very low negative impact on the cosmetic brilliance of my hot looking bike. 70.5 miles logged in 4 hours and 26 minutes of actual ride time. That’s about a 14 and change mph average. Total raised today was $ 6,690 for a $95 per mile average. Grand total for all the rides so far, $69,570. All for the 177 kids being cared for today at Le Bonheur today.

The crew heads to Southhaven for day three tomorrow, but I regret that I cannot be there as my responsibilities to some big projects back at the office will have me sitting on something non-carbon fiber tomorrow and driving a mouse and keyboard instead of my Giant TCR. Good luck tomorrow team. I will see you again on Monday!

Still some great riding ahead and if I have swaded any of you other riders out there it’s not too late to join us. Drop me a line if interested and I will get you the details, blake.robertson@lebonheur.org

To Jim, all the Go Jim Go crew and riders, the nurses, Docs and leaders at Le Bonheur… thank you!

And to the Le Bonheur kids…may you get well soon so you can eventually go on your own bike ride on a magnificent day like today.

A non-stop flow of cycling awesomeness!

The non-stop flow of cycling awesomeness!

.

Shoes Optional – Our Day in Memphis

As the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair once said, “WHOAW!” Go Jim Go 2014, year nine, is officially underway.

So, if a bunch of Hollywood screen writers were sitting around in a bungalow on some LA studio back lot and collectively decided to start writing a feel good script about this weather guy who comes up with this crazy plan to ride his bike around and help raise funds for a local children’s hospital, well the opening scene would have been exactly how this day went. Wow, what an amazing day. With the exception of a ten gazillion dollar anonymous donation, today’s ride was absolutely perfect. Here’s the story. Fade in: It’s an early fall, heaven made morning in Memphis, TN…

The first Shelby County day is always a logistical challenge to get started as we have to start at Channel 3 and end up in BikesPlus in Bartlett. So figuring how to get people and bikes and vehicles somewhere where they can be accessed at the end of the ride is difficult and at the worst a huge inconvenience to the family who has shuttled riders all the way downtown for the start. Wayne, Steve and I hatched a plan late last night to park vehicles and meet at the intersection of Farm Road and Mullins Station and take the Greenline in this morning. We’d spare having to bum rides from our loved ones, then it would be a relatively easy ride from Bartlett back to the cars. Worked out terrific. It was great fun being on the our amazing Greenline at that early hour with my good riding buddies looking forward to a big day. We started rolling at 7am sharp and got to WREG at a little after eight.

Simply magnificent morning on the river bluff today. From a happy dream, crystal blue skies with lazy tufts of white clouds lolling around in the low fall morning sun. Lots of non-lazy WREG and Le Bonheur staffers, some frantic, some chilled getting ready for the kick off show. All wearing the new cool, green Go Jim Go T-shirts.

Also there already was Le Bonheur’s audio visual engineer/magician, Eric Sefton, who was putting the finishing touches on our new super upgraded pace car sound system. For those of you who are familiar with the old system, it worked great compared to the bullhorn Jim originally used, but it sounded like the audio from an ice cream truck. Eric spent days researching how to improve the system, what speakers to use, how to power those speakers off a car battery and then how to attach and secure the whole system. Well, he figured it out because the new set up rocks! Thanks E! Great job!

Eric Sefton next to the four new speakers for the GJG PA system

Eric Sefton next to the four new speakers for the mobile GJG PA system

Most of the folks working on this big show have been doing it so long it is just a matter no-sweat professionalism. Everyone has a job and gets it done. Typical ride preparation of the vehicles and bikes as we eventually gathered over on the WREG helipad for the Live at Nine kick off show. Hugh props to the Channel 3 production team who moved their live broadcast equipment out of the studio to kick us off outside on a beautiful morning.

WREG Live at Nine team making it happen.

WREG Live at Nine team making it happen.

Mary Beth Conley and Alex Coleman did a great job orchestrating the the live interviews, Meri Armour our Le Bonheur CEO was there, City of Memphis officials with a Go Jim Go proclamation, a real life Le Bonheur superhero, Dr. Trey Eubanks who has performed more miracles on kids in the Le Bonheur OR than any of us will ever know. Of course, we had a Le Bonheur family with three year old twins. For those of you who missed it, when a three year old has to potty. Live TV no matter, she has to potty!

Every Hollywood script needs a little drama. Today’s only hiccup was the realization by Jim with thirty minutes to ride that his cycling shoes were not only not in the RV, but not even in the same zip code. Multiple phone calls and logistical plans were made in a haste and we quickly had a plan to finish out Mr Jagger’s full cycling ensemble. But for now Jim would have to rock his nerd factor nine, dirty beige leather NBs strings and all. No doubt a flagrant violation of a Velominati rule yet to be written. However, maybe the misplaced shoes was a divine plan in play all along because the most wonderful part of every GJG kick off is when after the countdown on live TV, Jim gets his feet on the pedals and rolling through the tall grass (which is hard to do on a road bike) without a mishap. Much easier to do with a flat, rubber sole vs. the clip in pedals. Jim hit the road/grass like a PRO. It has begun!

Rolling today was the full GJG contingent. On the skinny tires, Jim Jaggers, Steve Kuhar, Wayne Lichliter, Donna Brown and myself. In the pace car WREG’s Antoinette Katoe, Julie Meadows and Ellen Dykes. From Le Bonheur, DJ Julie Ashby spinning the iPods on our bangin’ new traveling dance party PA system. Bringing up the rear, our mobile bike shop and expert tech Karen Malagorski in the BikesPlus vehicle and once again piloting the Boeing MD-11 RV, Keith! David Hansen and Scott Southerland again the scouting party, advance team hitting the schools to set up prior to our arrival.

Wayne had us once again all over town on roads I had never seen before, but they always lead to where we need to be. First stop today was American Way Middle School, then onto East High School, Kingsbury Elementary, White Station Middle School, St. Agnes, St. Louis School finally arriving back to BikesPlus, then to our last stop today at Autonation Ford.

Standard Go Jim Go delights of wildly excited kids and the extraordinary effort put into collection of money, making banners and coordinating getting all the children out to greet Jim and his elves. One of the highlights to day was a song performed by the St. Agnes girls choir. Exquisite! Last but never least, our thanks to Bobby Solberg for a hit the button and order whatever you want lunch from our friends at Sonic.

In another missing shoes incident of no worthy mention, Wayne forgot his off the bike flip flops! Cue dramatic musical crescendo! No worries because he is as comfortable having lunch with friends and sponsors in his bare feet as he is in the corporate boardrooms of Le Bonheur and WREG wearing an LSU T-shirt. A rare and enviable trait to be sure.

Speaking of a scene from a movie, at one point this afternoon, Julie had “Eye of the Tiger” blasting on the sound system as we rolled past a school yard full of schoolkids. They all came running over from every corner of the playground to see us and cheer as we rode by. We turned the corner onto a street facing the other side of the yard and they all ran from one side to the other to get another glimpse of us. Now I know how Rocky felt.

So our day started in the saddle at 7am and did not end until 5:30 when we got back to the cars. Quite a long day on and off the saddle, my neather regions shan’t be happy in the morning. About 72 miles logged today in five hours of actual ride time. That’s a 14.3mph average. Although the actual official Go Jim Go tally is closer to 49 miles because the trip downtown this morning doesn’t count! No cycling mishaps, just fun urban riding on a beautiful day to be on a bike.

The streets we traveled today.

The streets we traveled today.

Today’s money collected totaled $6,292. That’s about $125 per mile today. Grand total so far is at $60,899. We are off to a great start, but have a long way to go to our goal of $300,000. Please give what you can anyway you can. Le Bonheur is caring for 172 children today. Thank you for any support.

I can’t even begin to think of how many people had a hand in getting this 9th edition of Go Jim Go underway in such grand, smooth fashion today. It is such a massive team effort. My sincere thanks, appreciation and mad love to everyone. Onward to Millington and Tipton County tomorrow.

Nite, nite. End Scene.

Go Jim Go, Day one crew.

Go Jim Go, Day one crew.

 

Tour de Oxford – Day 3 – A guest blogger and a gut benching tale

So the waves of nausea started Sunday afternoon around 2pm. By 6, I was completely horizontal and stayed that way for the next three days. Everything was coming out and nothing going in. I’ll never know what evil little virus I had, Roto, Norvo, Rarvo or just plain Oh No!, but it was a nasty one. I lost five and half pounds of body weight in three days. I made it back to work by Thursday, but was still very weak and when Captain Kuhar saw me at the Go Jim Go planning meeting on Friday morning he knew immediately that I was still way off peak and benched me for the scheduled ride in Oxford.

In cycling, when the rider on the front of the pack starts to weaken, they swing off and the rider behind takes their place to continue the pace and take on the extra burden of the headwind. In classic teamwork and cycling paceline rotation style, Go Jim Go navigator, Wayne Lichliter aka, Waynerd, aka Wayne, Wayne aka Lip Lighter is taking a pull for me with a special guest post about the ride that I missed. Thanks a million buddy!


THE GROUND LOOP TOUR
by Wayne Lichliter

Let’s get this out of the way early. You are now entering Wayne’s world and I’m not worthy. Your regular Master of Blogging, the clever song writer, comedian, and not the least, 2014 Master’s Road Race Champion, the one and only Blake, was under the weather (wimped out) and delegated this effort to an amateur. Proceed under caution.

On a beautiful fog ridden morning, our entourage headed down the road to North Mississippi. This was to be a day all about great people and many great places. Because of distance logistics, only a few miles were to be by bike. The rest was a constant shuttle in and out of the Mega RV. Try getting a bike in an RV doorway (Thanks, Keith!). The Core, minus the aforementioned wimp, of Captain Kuhar, myself and a guest appearance by Jim Jr. (Will) were the crew. Two very nice young ladies from Oxford, Hope and Jill rode with us for the first three schools and a great scenic ride down to Water Valley. We hope to see them for some longer miles later. But enough of that, let’s get to why we do what we do.

Schools – Kids – Le Bonheur

We knew we were in for a great day because of the wonderful communities we were to visit. We have been to most, but not all in our grand loop. Nothing really prepared us, though, for what was coming our way. Right away at Lafayette High School, there was a spirit to the air. Leading the Homecoming Parade and winding up at the throng of elementary students was special indeed. Getting to see Jim faint at the site of $7,000 early in the a.m. was something else. Thanks Lafayette Elementary!

After a short ride through some beautiful by ways of North Mississippi (I will admit I know where the great roads are – if you’re thinking about joining us for a ride) we cruised into Water Valley.

Only the beginning. At Davidson Elementary, the whole school rocked out to We Will Rock You. Having it on video does not do the students and the rock STAR music teacher justice. Our next leg was a relaxing ride by luxurious motor coach to seemingly the middle of nowhere. After shooing off a few menacing pooches, we turned the corner in Pope, Mississippi to a welcome reception and yet another phenomenal effort at fundraising by Pope Academy. Where these people come from I do not know, but certainly fitting for our grand tour.

TIME OUT

Let me take a moment here to throw out a little of the appreciation of Le Bonheur we feel while on the rides. In these very rural areas we visit, where discretionary income is difficult to come by, we encounter some of the most generous and kind people that you would ever meet. They all have Le Bonheur stories, many of the kids have been there, and they really get why we are there. Just another reason why, despite the many hours in getting the pony show (sorry Jim) on the road, we on the team never consider this work.

The last leg of our North Mississippi Grand Tour was Batesville, home of the Tigers, large and small. With only one exception, we visited every school in town. Although several schools are just starting their campaign, Batesville Middle left us feeling pretty good about the whole day when they ponied up for over $3,000. That is a lot of horse feed for Le Bonheur!

Batesville also provided our team with a little culinary lesson. Peppers may have a tendency to be hot. As adults, we know that, as a teenager, maybe not. We are here to testify that Will Jaggers, from hence forth to be known as “Pepper Man”, now knows you do not play with fire. He has recovered, but for a few moments the ER at Le Bonheur came into focus.

Today was our last of the three tours and I think we have a good working routine to start the Big Kickoff Day. There will be many more guest schools, people, and communities. There will be many difficult miles, time constraints, and the inevitable change of plans. But there will be thousands of smiling faces waiting for us to come around the turn, and we can hardly wait for them.

WLwayne

Tour de Collierville – Day 2 – C stands for Cash!

The following to be sung to the tune of “Roxanne” by The Police.

Cue the reggae guitar licks…

Jaaaa-gers, time to put on your red tights.
Ride the streets for money.
Give high fives to all the kid’s delight.

Jaaaa-gers, time to put on your red tights.
Le Bonheur needs you, they take care of the kids all day and all night.

Jaaaaaaaaa-gers!, time to put on the red tights.
Your legs are so wooly, you give all the other riders such a fright…

Should I go on? Naaa, don’t want to get a pink slip for a smart lip before the big week even starts!

Outstanding day today! Wow! Jim must have renewed his subscription to his customized weather management app because he ordered up quite a contrast to last Friday’s deep fried ride. What difference a week makes. Ha! So glad yesterday’s monsoon was not scheduled for today!

Not only did we have to break out the fall weather riding gear, but we practically needed an armored vehicle as an escort today. If the B in Bartlett stood for “Bank”, then the C in Collierville stands for “Cash!” The generous contributions from the kids, families and teachers from Collierville totaled just under $15,000! Outstanding, considering Go Jim Go in its very first year grossed about $12,000 for the entire week.

The Tour de Collierville started with the standard pre-ride routines in parking lot of BikesPlus in Germantown at 8am.The big concern today was the threat of wet. Of course, the best way to stay dry is to fully gear up for rain including bike fenders, rain capes and shoe covers which we did so having done so nary a drop fell.

Riding two wheels today were all the members of the Million Dollar Ginny Club, Wayne, Steve, Donna, Jim and your current blogspondent. Riding the four wheels were the WREG team, pace car pilot – Antoinette Katoe, RV trucker – Keith, Scott “Got the Shot” Sutherland and Account Exec. Carrington Walthall. All the way from the big heart hospital downtown, the Le Bonheur team, Amanda Mauck aka “Deejay Maucky Mauck”, Nellann Mettee and David ‘The Hustle” Henson. There was a lot of big time corporate talent out to support our little band of bikers.

A perfectly executed GJG cruise today. We rolled out of BikesPlus right on schedule and immediately started hitting the schools. First stop was Bailey Station Elementary where the halls were rocking with the screams of “Go Jim Go!” Then onto Schilling Farms Middle Schools where the Stallions stunned us all with a check for nine thousand dollars! Nine K, Ninety Benjamins or as the Italian Stallion would say “Nine large”. Mama Mia!

The dash for cash continued on to Sycamore Elementary, Collierville Middle, Collierville United Methodist Preschool, Tara Oaks Elementary, Collierville High School and finally Crosswinds Elementary. Hey Stallions and all the Collierville students we visited, today you helped save the life of a Le Bonheur child, you should be proud. It’s a dang fine way to spend a Friday. Thank you!

After the schools riders and crew were all ready for a caloric reload. We headed to the safe haven of one of our long time sponsors, Sonic at Winchester and Houston Levee. As usual, it was great food, great service and great soft serve.

31 miles logged in about three and half hours including stops. Zero mishaps, zero mechanicals. The ride worked out to be about $474 per mile and about $4,206 per hour. Great work considering Le Bonheur has 204 kids in the hospital today.

So thrilled my requested cold front came through. Though the air was cool our reception was warm in Collierville. Thank you so much to everyone who welcomed us and made a contribution. What’s reported in the news is mostly so awful, but what we experienced today shows how much good there is in our world.

Blake’s Blog shout out to Eric Sefton, Le Bonheur’s Media Design Specialist. He spent a bunch of time this week working out the issues we had with our sound system last week. Today it worked like “budda”! Thanks E!

FYI – Today’s blog introductory butchering of a classic Police song was inspiration from Amanda’s awesome music playlist over the mobile PA system while we rode. Thanks Maucky Mauck!

The Go Jim Go Tour really hits the road next Friday with a big route planned for Oxford, Mississippi. I wonder if my picture is still on the wall at the Pike House? Looking forward to seeing you Rebel Kids, err, ah…Black Bears or is it Land Sharks? Anyway, in my book you will always be Rebs! Whatever…we are all on the same team when it comes to healing sick kids. Bring it Ole Miss! Hotty Toddy!

Hit it Sting!

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Jaaa-gers (Put on the red tights)
Jaaa-gers (Put on the red tights)…
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Tour de Bartlett – Come on Cold Front!

Imagine a `63 Chevy Camaro that’s been stored in Granpappy’s garage for the past forty years. Burnt orange with a black racing stripe. It’s been perfectly preserved and the keys are in your hand so you throw a brand new AC Delco battery on it and turn it over. The sound that you imagine you’d hear is what I am hearing as I kick the ignition over for the Go Jim Go 2014 blog. Time to blow out some adjectives, fire up the spellchecker and hack some English language punctuation so you can have an inside look at the Go Jim Go team experience since closing up the blog shop almost a year ago. Man, has it been a year already? Time is going by faster than a Marco Cipollinni sprint.

So today marks a new chapter in GJG activities. Today was the first of three of what’s being called Tour de Mid-South Go Jim Go dates. The addition of these Tour dates is a result of the absolute phenomenal job David Henson of the Le Bonheur Institutional Advancement Department has been doing recruiting schools to participate in fundraising. Because we have so many schools (ninety plus!), there is no way to visit them all during the usual six day event later this month. Because we want to personally visit and say thank you to every school that we possibly can, we have added these tour dates and based on our experience today they are already a huge success.

First, before I go too much further I have to give the biggest thank you possible to all the kids and students today. You guys were so awesome, so much energy and excitement. You guys waited for our arrival in the heat and gave us the most enthusiastic reception at every location. Words alone can’t describe the feeling it gives us when we receive that sort of greeting. Also, to the teachers and the administrators who coordinate getting all the students outside and ready, no small task to be sure, thank you so much.

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On with the recap.

Go away summer. Enough already. I know we got off easy this year, but it’s September now. I’m ready for my arm warmers. Instead we were in for a heat town beat down the minute we rolled into the parking lot of Bikes Plus Bartlett. Maybe I would have been better off emailing the day away in my nice, little air conditioned office downtown…NAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Upon arrival you wouldn’t think it has been a whole year because it was the usual ride prep activities like clockwork, checking routes, stocking supplies, filling water bottles, getting repulsed by Jim’s Cro-Magnon man’s wooly legs. (Tangent: All cycling geeks will understand the reference to Jim’s hairy legs. For the non-cyclists this reference will be clarified in a later blog post stay tuned, that is if you can handle that kind of TMI). It all seems too familiar. Just like getting the band back together and going back on tour. A big upgrade this year for the early supplemental rides is that we already have our pace car and RV. And speaking of upgrades Landers Ford has really stepped up big with a beautiful, brand new Ford Expedition! In addition to the Expedition, our RV sponsor Southaven RV and Marine has provided an amazing vehicle to support us in style on the road. Please don’t think us a bunch of pampered divas having an RV. We have done this event in the past without an RV and it makes it so much more logistically challenging not having the storage, refuge, refrigeration and urination support (Sorry, TMI again! Crazy from the heat) so we are truly and deeply grateful to have the bigger pace car and RV amenities available to us.

Huge dance card today, fourteen schools on our day one Bartlett Tour. So we have a tight schedule and little time for luxuriating in the RV. We rolled out on schedule at zero nine hundred. Riding today was an abbreviated team. We had Captain Steve Kuhar, Bill Fredrick as our team disciplinarian and navigator, Greg Gillespie who is a returning guest rider from last year. Although, I almost didn’t recognize Greg as he has dropped over fifty pounds since we last saw him! Salute! Yours truly and of course, our big star Jim. Also joining us a special guest rider, the son of the one, young Will Jaggers supporting his Dad now, but really preparing for WREG’s Go Will Go, coming in 2020.

As always, huge acknowledgement to our support team in the vehicles. They are every bit as much a part of the team as the riders and are so terrific to support us so well on the road. I know it is a challenge to ride in the car at eighteen miles an hour for five hours while managing all the details of navigation, coordinating school stops as well as keeping us safe. We have a new WREG point person this year behind the wheel of the pace car, her name is Antoinette Katoe she has yet to experience the full immersion of life on the road with a sweaty GJG team. We look forward to her hazing and initiation. She has done a great job getting this year underway. Liz Salton and DJ Julie Ashby representing Le Bonheur in the pace car and longtime GJG logistics alumni Jacque Hood from WREG running our mobile social media. Bringing up the rear of the pack is my man Keith, driving our 747 size RV. Lastly, doing all the forward pre arrival action was the aforementioned Le Bonheur rep David Henson and WREG’s superstar videographer and everything else broadcast media, Scott Sutherland. It’s a great team that makes this all happen and I am so looking forward to the coming days on the road with these hardworking, fun folks.

The tough thing about firing up and old machine is that some of the parts have forgotten how they are supposed to work. Today was a great chance to run the motor and see what needs tuning. As Captain Kuhar put it, it was a “shakedown cruise”. Quite a few issues with the sound system today. We kept losing connection with Jim’s wireless mic. That is a very high visibility issue and we apologize to the students who might not have heard all that Jim was saying at your stop. I only mention this because the sound system is one of my responsibilities and we will have this week to make some adjustments to correct. There were a few rider errors in judgment when safely dealing with city riding and traffic. Let this be a reminder to all who are riding with us, safety is paramount. We cannot even begin to consider what a damper it would put on this event if someone got hurt. Do not take chances and keep yourself and everyone safe. Overall however, everything fell into place and we found our grove. Now we just have to do it all over again eight more times!

What a blur of schools today. Starting with Elmore Park, Bartlett Preschool, Bartlett High School, Bartlett Elementary, Rivercrest Elementary, Oak Elementary, Bartlett 9th Grade Academy, Bon Lin Middle, Bon Lin Elementary, Appling Middle, Saint Benedict, Kate Bond Elementary, Ellendale (Shout out, Marlin McKinney!) then lastly to Alturia followed by a much needed conclusion and frozen beverage splurge at our longtime friend and sponsor Sonic on Stage Road. Once again thank you so much students and teachers not only for your awesome reception on a really hot day, but for the tremendous generosity to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

I must share a poignant moment that happened at one of the stops today. Jim has added a new line to his repertoire as he speaks to the students and today while standing in front of what must have been four hundred children at one of the schools, so sorry I can’t remember exactly which one, but Jim asked for a show of hands of how many kids in the crowd had been patients at Le Bonheur. I was standing next to Julie Ashby at that moment and we both were taken aback at how many little hands shot up in the crowd. Jim repeated this question at several other schools and each time it was the same result.

Of course as a Le Bonheur associate, I’m totally biased, but we are so blessed to have Le Bonheur in our community. That sight of all those children who have been healed and nurtured by Le Bonheur made me think of the infinite impact on little lives and families across the region and county over Le Bonheur’s sixty plus years of service. As I always say, we hope and pray that you never need us, but we want to be strong and ready if you do so thank you for your support.

Wow, a really tough day in the heat today, five hours in the saddle with a distance of forty two miles logged. At times on the pavement while waiting on a light to change with all the idling cars around the asphalt surface temp heat index was 120 degrees. Great job today team and riders for getting it done so well with challenging temps and a tight schedule. Again, thanks so much the schools and students and my sincerest thanks to our unflappable, eternally resilient leading man Mr. Jim Jaggers.

The motor is now running and today’s test drive was a great start. We will continue our Tour de Mid-South this Friday as we visit Collierville. Come ride with us. Drop me an email if you have any questions about the ride or registering. Thanks for reading! Always appreciate your comments and feedback. Cheers to the MS 150 riders this weekend. Ride safe everybody. See you on road. Support Le Bonheur! Go Jim Go!

Come on cold front!

bR

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The Strange Wail Heard in Lauderdale – Day 5

“No Madame President, there is no more Neapolitan ice cream. Well, because we gave it all to the one legged turkey. Pardon me Ma’am? That noise? It sounds like an alarm. An alarm for what I wonder?”

NO! Not my alarm. Not at 4:30am. Seems I just closed my eyes ten minutes ago, but Tuesday morning got here quick and it’s time rise and whine, I mean shine. Go Jim Go Day five has begun.

Usual o’dark thirty routine getting my engine to turn over with high octane, truck driver dark roast. “Wayne Man” will be here at half past five and I still have to proof and post my blog entry from the day before.

As dependable as the sunrise, my driveway lights up with the taillights of Wayne’s giant Yukon carbon credit killer, backing in to collect the morning cargo. Sharon Lichliter joined us today as a super special sweet gesture to be an extra vehicle driver for the Bike Plus follow car to give Karen a chance to ride today.

We meandered through the early morning darkness back north to Ripley, TN. We met the crew on the very charming and pristine downtown square. Riding with us today were two new “JimGo” freshmen, Ray Hanshew and the president of the Memphis Hightailers Bike Club, Bill Ramina. FedEx flyer Brian Flax from Monday was back plus Steve, Wayne, Donna, Jim, Bill Fredricks, Karen Malagorski and I. All eyes were up because there were irritable looking clouds rolling all over the sky and spattering of drops had begun to fall. Would this be the first day in my six years of doing GJG that we would get drenched? Looked that way and early, soggy socks and shoes for six hours? Oh yes, please my I have some more.

Well the Murphy’s Law of Moisture and riding bikes came into play as the whole team geared up for a chunk floater, but we always take for granted the clout Jim has with the big producer in the upper office cause the downpour just never happened. Rode through some areas that had just been dounpoured as the payment and ground were soaked, but aside from a few drive by drops, we were spared the grit, chaffing and misery that is cycling in the rain.

A few school stops in Ripley including Ripley High School. Here the entire team had our perspective and reality kicked in the gut. As part of their check presentation Ripley High school featured a Le Bonheur personal story from RHS student, Bethany Gooch. She eloquently shared her experiences of over thirty procedures at Le Bonheur, meeting and losing her best friend there and how she is living and appreciating her life to the fullest thanks to the hospital of the heart. Thank you Bethany for sharing your story. You give us strength and motivation. You give us a chance to reflect on our own blessings. You are living proof as to how important the mission of Le Bonheur.

With a renewed focus we reassembled and headed out onto the open roads. As I have blah, blah blogged before this Lauderdale County has some beautiful riding. Miles and miles of twists and turns and surprises through gorgeous all American farmland. All the rides are special, but from a pure cycling perspective this and Forrest City are my favorites. The group rode really well and everyone enjoyed every mile. There are more dogs out there than I remember, but we called their bluff each time they gave chase and always stopped short with only bark and bravado.

A funny thing happened on the way to lunch. They must have been feeling the effects of five days on the road and getting a little loopy because the pace car drive team decided to take advantage of their mobile PA system and DJ Carol Matthews was wafting the countryside with some road trip classics over the speakers as we rode. It was awesome! As if that wasn’t cool enough, then they discovered how to use Jim’s school stop microphone and started a mobile karaoke studio. Carol, I think “Hit Me with your Best Shot” was your best performance! So if you happen to be a resident in the area and heard a strange wail in the air, not a Halloween prank, but just the Go Jim Go crew being silly. Thanks team for making a memory that will always make me smile.

We got to lunch in Halls, TN at another one of the area’s gems, Charlene’s Colony of Shoppes. This place is so neat and Charlene herself was most gracious in taking care of us. The food was delicious including the fruit tea and the black berry cobbler. That’s right I’m tough enough to admit I drank fruit tea. Thank you Charlene and Ms. Pam, our waitress, who took care of our rowdy bunch. We know you are used to much more refined, better smelling clientele. We so much appreciate your hospitality anyway.

The ride back to Ripley was just dreamy. Scattered clouds and sun, comfortable temps and postcard roads. Another great day in the saddle.

Day five is in the books. Sixty three miles and five and half hours of ride time.

I can’t believe it’s almost over! I am so excited for Jim and Le Bonheur. I really hope he hits that goal. Please help if you can. Remember, there are so many children like Bethany out there and we need your help to help them. As I always say, I hope you never need Le Bonheur, but please make sure we are there if you do.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a fan of Go Jim Go and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. See you in Memphis for the big finale!

bR

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What's older? The bike or the tree?

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My Le Bonheur Road Crew!