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!

Jaaa-gers (Put on the red tights)
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!

Forrest City Shock and Roll – Day 4

Any fitness trainer worth their spandex will tell you that rest and recovery is just as important as setting goals and pushing your limits. After two days off chilling with my family, I woke up this morning for day four of GJG recharged and ready to rip up some pavement.

Today the Go Jim Go Road Show was scheduled for Forrest City, Arkansas. The home and heart of one of Le Bonheur’s greatest hero’s, Steve Roberts.

For those of you who don’t know Steve, he’s the guy who started off back at the 2008 Forrest City Ride handing Jim a couple of twenties by the side if the road. The next year he came up with a twenty as well, as in thousand! Each year after that he has trumped the previous year collections by “gawdacious” amounts. What’s in store for this year is likely to be a shocker. Just keep in mind that this is just one, single passionate, salt of the earth guy who pounds the pavement, gavel and rich agricultural soil of St. Francis county, pulling, yanking and even arm wrestling the heart strings of all the great folks of the area to support the greatest children’s hospital in the region.

The day began painfully early with a 4:30am wake up call and a 5:30 pick up from “Wayne Man.”

The forecast was sketchy. There wasn’t any sizable green blobs in the radar, but plenty of water moving through my gutters in Cordova.

All the way across the river into Arkansas we were doused with waves of showers. No matter. Had all the required wet weather gear and the temps were supposed to hit eighty.

Going across West Arkansas in the pre-dawn light and gray, foreboding low clouds and mist was like something out a David Lynch movie, bleak and dramatic.
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Our rendezvous was at the Wiley T. Jones Fairgrounds just south of Forrest City. Steve Roberts had something big planned for later in the day that required the space a fairgrounds could offer.

As we met up with the other riders, the sun was fully up but there was a thick overcast, but the air was comfortable and dry.

Riding today was the regular “JimGo” team plus guest riders Brad Smith, Elaine Bartges, Bill MacDonald and Brian Flax. Bill Fredrick’s is back from the beach ready to ride. An evenly matched pack of ten riders.

We rolled out of the fairgrounds at 0800 and headed north.

There is some beautiful riding in this area. Easy rolling hills and fantastic rural roads that wind around orchards and farmland. We had zero school stops scheduled so we leisurely cruised our way out Hwy 294 across Crawley’s Ridge headed toward Wynne. All the dogs we encountered were very well behaved as well.

Well, the plan was for Steve Roberts to do his first big reveal during a live shot for the Live at Nine show. Scott set up the satellite truck on the side of the road.

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Steve Roberts was so excited that he valeted his truck right in a ditch.

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Luckily, Steve has some connections and Arkansas Triple A got him back on the road easy.

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But it was time for the real drama. What would Steve have for Jim in one of his now famous colored envelops? See for yourself.

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Wow! We have have to consider carrying a defibrillator for Jim not to mention a security detail. Unbelievable Steve, but if course with Steve there is always more to come.

After the big revel. We dried our tears of joy and got back on the road. We did some easy rotating pacelines which is each rider taking a short pull at the front in the wind then swinging off to let the next rider pull through. When is done right it’s like a group of riders rotating in a continuous oval diagram. This helps the group move faster and spreads the workload amongst all the riders.

Funny how these things work, but we had just been discussing how we don’t get as many cash contributions from drivers on the road anymore. We think maybe it’s because nowadays most people have one hand on the wheel and one hand on the mobile phone. I was riding at the rear of the group and all of I sudden I hear frantic honking behind me. I turn to see a car has positioned itself between Karen in the Bikes Plus follow car and the riders. “Oh great”, I think. “A crazed driver showing some road rage at being delayed.” When I turned to look again, I say that the driver was waving cash! Turned out to be Susan Clarke and her grandson Julian. Who saw us roll by back up the road and jumped in her car to get her one hundred dollar donation in! Thanks Mrs. Clark! It’s not OK to text and drive, but we feel that it is perfectly OK to donate and drive.

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A terrific buffet lunch at Kelly’s and back towards Forrest City by way of Colt and a quick stop at our long time friends at County Line Irrigation. They sell pumpkins for Go Jim Go. This year they had us sign some big ones and and planned to auction them off. I hope they fetch more than I think they will!

The sun came out at 2:08pm.

A very nice ride back into town where we finished where we started, but there was a lot more going on at the fairgrounds than when we left this morning.

That’s the second Steve Roberts surprise. He had organized a full on live concert featuring the southern fried rock and roll superstar local legends band Black Oak Arkansas!

Jim did the kick off for the show and then we all had to head out. We were so disappointed that we could not stay, there was a real party shaping up there but we had one more sponsor stop scheduled for the day in West Memphis at 7:00. So after Jim’s acapella version of “Misty” we all headed to Southland Park and Gaming. In a Go Jim Go first we rolled up on the bikes to a casino! The folks at Southland were so gracious and welcoming. The coolest thing was that their contribution to the cause went from $1,500 to $3000 before Jim was done with his interview! The GM decided to match what had been collected. Jackpot! Thanks Southland Park and Gaming!

Today we went dark to dark and it really was a great day. Yet another unique Go Jim Go adventure . Not completely sunny weather but still good. Cool and pleasant and a refreshing alternative taste of fall riding. We were on the bikes just under six hours and logged seventy three miles.

Looking forward to the Ripley ride tomorrow.

bR

The Turkey Leg Express – Day 3

Sometimes one of the toughest parts of climbing a challenging hill on a bicycle can be the last few meters from the top. Already fatigued, the anticipation of the relief can pull focus and cause all discomfort to be more pronounced. Time itself seems delayed by the very gravity and weight you are fighting against. That’s when personal breakthroughs are made. Grit and intensity become the final source of fuel to power the will and body forward.

Some of my appreciated friends who follow this blog may not know that back on July 21st, ten weeks ago on Sunday, I suffered a pretty nasty bike crash in a criterium race in Murfreesboro, TN. It was the very last turn of the last lap; I leaned the bike over just a millimeter too far in a sharp left hander and clipped my pedal on the pavement. I went down with the full impact on my left shoulder. The resulting injuries were a broken left clavicle and five broken ribs. As bad as it may sound and terrible it was, it’s a common injury for cyclists and part of the risks involved with the sport, but the timing was particularly bad in preparing for the unique physical challenges of riding Go Jim Go.
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As I have mentioned in this blog in years prior, it’s not the pace or speed, but the sheer volume of saddle time that is unique to this event. The back to back days of five plus hours of riding is what is personally most challenging to me. My injuries had me completely off the bike for four weeks and only sporadic, short sessions on my indoor trainer after that. I did not do my first real bike ride back on the road until two weeks before our scheduled kick off. So I began this year’s ride with least amount of fitness and lowest level of physical conditioning of any prior year of Go Jim Go.

Welcome to day three. I am under trained and I am feeling it. Body aches, sore in sensitive spots, groggy and tired. The phrase TGIF crosses my mind and passes my lips often. I am at that point on the proverbial hill climb where the end is in sight, but yet so far away. Discomfort is pronounced.

However, Friday morning did feel like a bit of a reprieve, since we were riding local, I got to sleep in a whole extra half an hour. I made absolutely zero operator errors with the coffee maker so was able to get an adequate amount of caffeine into my system rather than on the kitchen floor. I met Wayne and his always bright side perspective at 6:30 and we headed south the YMCA in Olive Branch to meet the rest of the team.

A significant factor of the days ride is the tradition on this leg of the journey being that we are joined by the always jovial and affable members of the Hernando Cycling Club. They are a great bunch of guys and solid riders. They bring an added energy and excitement to the Go Jim Go pack as our numbers swelled to nineteen total riders, a real peloton! Riding today from HCC was David Bauchard, Michael Klappholz, Michael Smith, Jesse Newman, Bo McAninch, Kevin McCarter and his Dad Ronald McCarter. Also, riding was first timer Wes Hale. Eric White from Brown Missionary Baptist Church is back for the trip. I’ll add that for the third year in a row, Brown Missionary Baptist is a $10k contributor to Go Jim Go. Yes, not a typo, ten thousand dollars! Returning rider from last year, Bill McDonald, who is the captain of the captains at FedEx. Matt “Toucan” Wengler back again for day three and John Ferguson from Wednesday’s ride returns for more mileage. I was also so proud to see my fellow Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare associate Karen Lamport ready to roll and the last rider of note today is David Cook from Ripley, MS. David is riding for his granddaughter, who was born not only prematurely but also with a case of pneumonia. However, thanks to the Le Bonheur NICU at she’s now doing great.

These cycling saints and the Jim-Go regulars suited up, zipped up, lubed up, lathered up, watered up, clipped up, carbed up and were pumped up for an awesome day of riding.

It is always a challenge safely moving a caravan of that many vehicles and riders through the busy roads and intersections of North Mississippi. We had a quick pre-ride meeting and expressed the importance of safety, the need to keep the group tight, to stay focused and communicate to the front any issues from the rear.

Typically, I ride point with Wayne keeping Jim out of the headwinds so he can conserve as much of his energy as possible from point to point. Today however, just like any cycling team, the roles and duties change depending on the conditions and situations. Kuhar and Mango, Mango rotated into my spot and I went to the back to help keep things moving efficiently and to provide any needed assistance to our guest riders.

Sometimes the traffic lights and left turn signals are just not long enough to get nineteen riders rolling again from a dead stop back up to speed. Not to mention the following Bikes Plus support vehicle and Go Jim Go RV. Also, on flat road with no hills with our group we can only maintain a pace of about 19-22mph. That’s miserably slow for Mississippi morning commuters. So for any of you drivers down in Desoto County that we delayed or inconvenienced that might be reading this, I hope you will forgive us and understand our mission and cause. Overall, the motorists were most generous sharing the road. The vast majority of horn honks were of greeting and support including that one Ford F250 that sadly suffered an unfortunate horn malfunction as it passed. The horn seemed to get stuck and would not silence as it drove by. I sincerely hope that mechanical bad karma does not manifest itself in the transmission on I-55 at rush hour.

The team rode really great through the very pleasant morning sunshine and temps. Often times we were lined up in a perfect two man pace line looking like a real Euro PRO squad.

We visited our awesome Ford sponsor dealerships, Homer Skelton Ford and Country Ford. Then began our school visits. I am always amazed at the incredibly creative routes that our team navigator Wayne comes up with to maximize the number of school and sponsor stops we can make. Friday’s schedule and route was flawless and we hit all eight stops right on cue. Again, with all the bodies, bikes, vehicles and traffic, it was a logistical planning miracle.

It was yet another amazing morning of support from the area students. Not only did they cheer. They cheered loudly. They also backed up all that bravado with cold hard cash! Just about every school we visited had collected more than a thousand dollars with a few exceeding over two thousand. Kids helping kids, very cool when you think about it.

So when our school and sponsor stops are on time that also means lunch is on time! Today’s scheduled lunch had been creating a buzz since breakfast because today we were headed to the Mid-South Fair for some of that famous, delectable one of a kind fair food. Behold the turkey legs!

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A special Blake’s Blog shout out and humble thanks to Belinda at the Mid-South Fair who set up an absolutely delightful lunch under a tent for the riders. The spread also included Pronto Pups, fresh corn on the cob, baked potatoes with all the fixins’ and grilled chicken kabobs that were so good I came so close to ending my day on the bike right then and there. We really enjoyed the lunch and hospitality. In addition, Jim collected a face full of funnel cake and a check for over four grand! Thank you, thank you Mid-South Fair!

And then it was time to ride again. It was a bittersweet pill getting back on the bike after laying waste to twenty plus turkey legs. After all that a man needs a hammock, not hills and heat on a skinny bike seat. Yet duty calls and the worthy must answer… Burp.

To add insult to injury, after that exquisitely delicious lunch, our next sponsor stop was Southaven RV who had on display some of the most luxurious RV mobile master bedroom suites I have ever seen! Though I shudder to think how it would depreciate the value if a sweaty biker borrowed one of the king size beds for a post lunch siesta. Thank you Southaven RV for the very nice vehicle and mobile respite you provide for our team. It is essential for our travels and prevents any indecent exposure arrests.

There are some beautiful riding roads just south of the state line and Wayne put us on a bunch. By this time the temps were pushing ninety plus on the pavement and many of those beautiful roads also have repetitive rolling hills that keep hitting you like waves rolling in. With the hills and the heat, add some tighter time constraints with the approaching bus pick up and car line school schedules and you have a need for a faster required pace that started to take its toll on some of the riders.

When the muscle cramps start to come, they are devastating, there is not much you can do but back way off or call it a day. As Captain Kuhar often reminds us, “This is not a bike ride; it is a TV show that involves a bikes.” Meaning we are beholden to live TV schedules and satellite windows. So for the few guys who had to call it and get in the RV, you have my sincerest respect. You gave it your all and had the smarts to know when it was time to punch out without complaint for the sake of the greater cause, the schedule at hand and safety of the rest of the team. It was an honor to ride with you and I hope to see you again next year.

Hernando Middle School and Lewisberg Primary and Elementary came through for us big then still under turkey leg power we started out our long haul back to the Olive Branch YMCA.

The turkey leg express pulled into the station with the day three mission safely accomplished. Sixty five miles covered and almost seven hours in the saddle. Thirty eight bike wheels, zero flats.

My accident recovery over the last ten weeks has been a bit of a hill for me to climb, but with much love and support I have reached the summit. I am grateful that I reached that summit in time to be a part of Jim’s team again this year. Once you crest any hill, the heart changes from pumping in effort and strain to exhilaration and joy. Pain dissipates, muscles begin to relax, the lactic acid clears, your tunnel vision readjusts to panoramic and your breath becomes more fluid as gravity shifts from foe to friend pulling you forward. It could be small or large, but it is always a victory. With your success, you are grateful for the experience, celebrate the achievement and appreciate what got your there. Now it’s time to recuperate your physical engine and reflect on the acquired knowledge to prepare yourself for any new challenges on your road ahead.

Thanks team, tanks sponsors, thanks for the donations, thanks for reading.

Go Jim Go!

bR

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The Coffee Catastrophe – Day 2 Go Jim Go 2013

Ah, the wonders of modern technology. A small circuit board in my 21st century coffee maker allows me to take the productive initiative to set the time in advance so that when I arise way before the rooster crows, blurry eyed from fifty miles of Go Jim Go in Memphis and from staying up until 11pm writing my blog post and because Wayne has sixty five miles scheduled for today in Tipton County and will be arriving at my house at 5:50am, I will have waiting for me a fresh pot of the lovely, hot, black stuff ready to offer aide and comfort. Unfortunately, I do not possess the same brilliance of circuitry in my head, otherwise a process of electrical diodes and transistors would have signaled to me that it is imperative to empty out the contents of the prior mornings brew before presetting a full container for the following morning. When I stumbled into the kitchen at 5am it looked as if the Exxon Valdez had crashed on my counter top. So began day two! I soaked up about thirty sheets of Brawny and wrung them out into a mug and drank it anyway.

As expected Wayne showed right on time and we loaded up into his land barge and fossil fuel abuser and headed north. Temps were delightfully pleasant predawn this morning. No wind. I almost wished we could have ridden the bikes to Millington.

We arrived to the usual routines of the Go Jim Go morning camp at the Millington YMCA. Do the morning shot for Channel 3, organize the vehicles, set up the pace car PA, gear up, check the bikes, check the routes, lube my chamois (oops TMI), mount up and leave on time. General Holly and Wayne, her time clock enforcer had spokes spinning at 0730. Guest riders today where the returning Mathew “Toucan” Wengler and Phillip and Debbie Dees.

First stop today Homer Skelton Ford in Millington and the friendly manager Randy Hart and his lovely daughter and former Le Bonheur patient Lindsey. Randy and his team came in early to meet us and we did the shot for the Live at 9 show.

The picture on Jim’s handlebars is of Ginny and Ginny’s Alma mater is Millington Middle School. This was our first school stop on our second day. As always the kids did not disappoint and their enthusiasm made up for any coffee deficiency I may have been feeling.

A few quick turns and side streets through Millington, passing directly by a Starbucks I might add and just like that Wayne had us headed north on Wilkinson Road and into the Tipton County farmland. Wilkinson Road is on one of Wayne’s old century routes he used to do when frames were made of granite. It was a perfect morning to be out of a metal box with four wheels and out in the refreshing fall morning air riding on two.

Next stop was the thousand plus students at Munford Middle School and the Cougars. We got an Elvis worthy reception and got to hear the sweetest voice over Jim’s PA when he interviewed Annie Katherine Osborne. She is a spunky, little cheerleader who is a Le Bonheur frequent flyer and was able to take part in today’s activities thanks to the place on Poplar with the giant heart in the sky.

Back out onto the road and more pristine riding on shade streaked, easy rolling country byways only to be spoiled by the startling pop and hiss of Wayne’s exploding rear tire.

I think I have already firmly established that Wayne is old school, so not to pummel a deceased camel, but Wayne uses an old tire technology called tubulars or sew-ups. This is a type of tire where the exterior tire rubber is actually sewn to a piece of heavy duty fabric. There is no “inner-tube”.  The fabric is actually glued to the wheel rim. Gluing a tubular is a real hassle of a process and must be done correctly with care or it could come off while riding equating to disaster. Tubulars are thought to enhance the feel of a ride more so than traditional wheels called clinchers where the tube is separate from the tire, but with today’s technology, that is debatable. They are also incredibly durable. This was Wayne’s first flat in seven years! When flats inevitably do happen, more hassle. He had to rip the old tire off of the glued rim and put his spare tire back on the rim and finish the day with no glue. A sketchy situation no doubt. Think of taking a turn at too hard of an angle and the tire can come clean off. Wayne go down.

Speaking of sketchy, our next stop was a little vague to me on how it all came together. From what I gleaned it was some friend of a friend who knows somebody who knows Jim and somehow since we were going to be going right by their house could, we stop at their home to pick up a donation. What seemed a little odd at first turned out to be one of the most touching experiences I can recall on Go Jim Go. The “home” turned out to be The Fox Hollow Senior Community. As we entered they had made a truly special, homemade Go Jim Go sign. As we approached, 20-30 senior citizens, all waving more homemade signs were standing outside their recreation center showing just as much excitement and celebration as middle school students. I was so touched. Jim was so great and generous and we all expressed our deepest appreciation. They had balloons and a big spread of fresh fruit and snacks. Their hospitality was overwhelming. Thank you Fox Hollow! We are so looking forward to seeing you again next year.

By now the heat is kicking up and we beelined to Covington, a quick stop at Covington High School and a live shot on the charming city square. A delicious lunch on the awesome patio a Marlo’s and back on the road again.

The time crunch was on, time to hammer. Had to beat the buses to Drummond Elementary School by 2:20. Kuhar later states he has seen the most 20 plus mile an hour speeds on Go Jim Go in the last two days ever. So many schools this year! Over 80! That’s because my Le Bonheur fellow Go Jim Goer, Carol Matthews has been working so hard on getting the schools and shooting for Jim’s goal. Makes us have to ride faster or I guess we could add more days! Right Jim? By the way, we made Drummond with only moments to spare and collected their $700 contribution. Nice work team!

Hole! I spotted it. I called it, but not fast enough. Debbie hit it and it drilled her rear tire. Flat number two. Quick change by Karen Malagorski of BikePlus and we are back up to speed. Two miles later, “FLAT”, number three. Debbie’s tire had really been decimated. Nice save Debbie, way to gruel it out. Thanks Karen!

Once again we are against the ticking clock we are due at our next sponsor stop for the four o’clock live shot. Hard driving, we roll to the Memphis International Raceway. So cool! What a neat place. I have heard of it, but never been. They let us ride out onto the actual drag strip which is covered on this tacky substance they call VHT, it’s like a dry rubberized flypaper and my tires made a sticking noise when riding on it. It provides traction for all that horsepower, dragsters not me. I even got to do a couple of runs down the quarter mile strip full gas. Good thing the stands were empty. I really don’t think anyone would have been impressed with my 26mph sprint compared to the 200mph plus they usually reserve the track for. Thanks to Carolyn Cartwright for sharing all the info about the track with me and to MI Speedway General Manger Pam Kendricks for her support of Go Jim Go and Le Bonheur. I’ll definitely be back to check out some real racing.

That’s pretty much a wrap on Day Two. A day that offered the best of everything related to GJG. Good weather, terrific riding, exuberant kids, big checks, delicious food, some character building adversity and a few touching surprises and Wayne did not go down. I’ll bet he’s re-gluing that tube right now. We did right at sixty five miles and almost six hours of riding.

Last charming moment at the YMCA, a little boy of about four walks up to Jim, and says, “You Jimgo?, You Jimgo? I like you new co-lews, Jimgo” So sweet. I hope we never see you at Le Bonheur little buddy, but we are there if you need us.

Thank you Tipton County for all the honk, honk road shout outs and for delivering a terrific day!

Yo Beau! You guys bringing it in Olive Branch tomorrow? Come on son! Better get that playlist dialed in cause I got my coffee set right tonight and I’ll be caffeinated to hilt Friday.

bR

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A shine so fine! Day 1 – Go Jim Go 2013

It’s been one year. Hard to believe it, but we are back for another edition of Go Jim Go. Number eight in all, number six for me, but this year is a big one. If we get the numbers right Jim can hit a grand total of one million dollars raised for the kids of Le Bonheur. I guess it’s also time for me to shake off the digital dust from this blog and document his progress and share some stories from the road.

First of all I have to give recognition to WREG for helping us make all this happen. No matter what the year Go Jim Go is a big production. When you see how much time and coordination goes into pulling of a kick off that went as smooth as today’s did, it’s obviously a big deal for the station. They throw a ton of resources and people at it to make great for their audience, the station, Jim and most importantly the kids of Le Bonheur. Thanks Channel 3. Great job.

So, who does the forecast around here? I got home yesterday and based on the confidently predicted dry morning, I completely detailed my bike which included flossing the cogs and spraying copious amounts of furniture polish. What? Furniture polish? Yep, little secret for you future cycle roadies who become obsessed as I do about running a clean bike, plain old furniture polish gives all the surfaces of a bike and frame a rocking shine and leaves a slight protective coating and does not build up. So went to bed with my ride smelling all lemony fresh only to wake this morning to gray skies and steadily increasing drizzle. The saying about washing your car to make it rain applies to Cervelo S2s as well, but I can certainly handle riding a grimy bike in the rain when there is a child at Le Bonheur who needs to get their heart fixed.

The whole GJG pack is back! Wayne Lichliter and Steve Kuhar met me at my house at 7am this morning and we packed bikes, gear, my twins, school back packs and my very patient, understanding wife into our van and we rolled out of Cordova at 7:20. Captain Kuhar had my six year olds enthralled with his story about his recent run in with a deceased possum, but he can tell that story on his blog. We dropped my A & E off at their school and started fighting the traffic and the rain all the way downtown to WREG. If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to commute in Los Angeles just hit Walnut Grove through Shelby Farms at 7:40.

We did make it with plenty of time to spare and Channel 3 was hopping with activity. Much to my delight the skies had cleared and the sun was making a tardy but much welcomed appearance. Looked like my bike shine would be fine. Water, Gatorade, snacks, T-shirts, supplies were being stuffed into every available storage space in the RV and the pace cars. The Live at 9 production was in full “half hour to show” mode. All the Le Bonheur Foundation and Marketing department dignitaries were there, Channel 3 talents and sales team VIPs along with special guests and the other riders were meeting and greeting. Everyone was enjoying the lovely morning and the excitement of the approaching kick off.

Justin Jaggers and his band were providing the soundtrack for the show as Jim rolled onto set with a new golden outfit and sporting the physical results of eight months of consistent training. The number one Mid-South Meteorologist was looking fit and ready to ride.

I was so pleased and happy the see Mayor AC Wharton personally come to wish Jim well and to deliver the paperwork and proclamation of making today officially Go Jim Go day. Mayor Wharton and his team have been investing so much into improving the city’s cycling infrastructure with incredible results. Thank you sir! He also said that the proclamation could probably get Jim out of a speeding ticket, but not out of the dog house with Mrs. Jaggers. Hilarious. I was also proud to see my big boss, Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour literally jogging onto set just in time for her segment. Nice Meri! Thanks!

5,4,3,2,1… It begins. Impressively and miraculously all the cyclists made it off set and out on the road including Jim without a mishap on live TV. Ridding today we had nine riders; Memphis Hightailers Greg Gillaspie and John Ferguson, fighter pilot, Mathew Wengler call name” Tucan”, Donna “Mango, Mango” Brown, the fastest bike riding grandmother I will ever know is back for another edition, the Go Jim Go old skool (emphasis on old) team of Wayne, Steve and myself, our fellow in yellow and finishing out the pack, none other than another Jagger, Jim’s younger son Will. Who was, I might add, rocking a spotless pair of bright white Louis Garneau roadie shoes, very PRO.

The awesome, hardworking vehicle and support team consisted of General Holly Ford, Carol Matthews, Patti Ferguson, Jacque Hood, Scott Southerland, my man Keith! Everybody truly shined today. Thanks!

Like clockwork and like the well-oiled and furniture polished team that it is, we began hitting today’s line up of local Memphis schools. I can tell you it never gets better than riding up to a school and being on the receiving end of the raucous noise and cheers for Jim and his pedaling posse. The kids are so full of energy and optimism. It’s a celebration. Gotta give a shout out to the teachers and principals who not only coordinated the fundraising and arranged for us to be there, but also manage to keep the wildly delighted masses organized and safe.

We visited twelve schools today! That has to be a record. So many in fact that at certain points in the ride we had to pick it up to a 20mph plus pace to make it to our next scheduled stop in time. I have to compliment my fellow riders on how well everyone did in holding the pace and keeping the pack tight. Nobody got dropped, nobody needed a push and nobody had to get in the RV. Nice work all!

Perfect ride today and amazing early fall weather to go with. We got in just over 50 miles and had a total ride time of about five and half hours. Oh, and collected about $40,000. No mechanicals, no flats, no mishaps, no blood spilled.

Much, much appreciation and acknowledgement for the sponsors; Bobby at Sonic for the outstanding lunch and service, Steven at Autonation Ford for providing the incredible pace vehicles and an unexpected buffet for us at our last stop of the day and Karen at Bike Plus for the hours behind the wheel of the follow car, keeping us safe and ready to pounce on any mechanical issue.

Also, a snobbish tip of the hat to Wayne who for this year’s big show actually broke with tradition and cleaned his bike and chain which is usually nastier than a Tijuana mens room.

Jim is going for the million dollar year! Every little bit helps. Every big chunk helps more! With your contribution, the nurses and docs at Le Bonheur can fix more kids so that they can go on their own bike ride. Shine Memphis! See you in Tipton County bright and early tomorrow!

bR

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