With a spin, a whoop and a whirl, a cheer and a tear and unfortunately a crash, so goes the final day of the Jim Jaggers tour of the Mid-South. But wait, didn’t we just start? We are done already? Never has six days gone by so fast except for of course, last year’s ride.
The final day of the tenth year had us re-configuring our early morning ride logistics and coordination. Usually we meet up and drive to our departing location and end up where we start. Today’s ride required us to start on the east side of town and end up at Le Bonheur for the big finishing telethon.
Steve, Ray and I met Wayne at his house in Germantown and with everything that we thought we would need for a day on the bike that had the potential for yet more rain and a change of clothes for the post telethon celebrations all stuffed into backbacks. My fellow rider’s packs were surprisingly light and small compared to mine which looked as if I had also brought my pillow and comforter. It would be more justifiable fodder in reference to my acknowledged prima donna status. I almost needed an extra bike for my bag, but hey, there is no bad weather only the wrong gear.
Comments like, “You sure Grandma can breathe in there?” and “You really need one of those orange triangles for a Wide Load.” continued as we saddled up at 6:45 and headed out to our rendezvous with the rest of the team and breakfast at Landers Ford at Houston Levee and Poplar. Despite the prediction of my compadres I did not ride a wheelie the whole way.
In what has become a GJG day 6 tradition, the wonderful folks at Landers Ford had their usual hot breakfast spread waiting for us. Chicken and sausage biscuits, fresh fruit, hot coffee and a warm and toasty friendly reception.
Though the breakfast and the anticipation of the last ride had us in good spirits, all the riders eyes were nervously eyeing the far Western sky which was almost as black as the coffee.
Speaking of black, we also had another issue with the RV that needed to be urgently addressed. Let’s see, how do I put this without being too gross. A well hydrated and well-nourished riding team results in a RV holding tank that has to “go” as bad as the riders do. The RV would be dispatched post haste to the nearest RV “restroom” so we would be without until at least lunch. Oh well, guess we will need to plan for a backup RV for next year! Not a big deal really despite my P.D. classification. We would be in town close to lots of facilities opportunities if needed. Somehow…I would survive.
The team rolled out of the Landers parking lot around eight for a slow Collierville tour. We had two very special guest riders with us today, two very special Le Bonheur physicians, Dr. John Weyless and Dr. Andy Papanicolau, pronounced, Papa-nika-Laow. Both world renowned neurologists and solid cyclists to boot.
Our first stop this morning was the YMCA at Schilling Farms. A great sponsor and one of the reasons Jim is riding the best he has ever ridden.
After the Y and with time to spare before our first scheduled school stop, our team of nine riders tooled around some of the best riding roads in the area and yes there are some good riding roads in Collierville. Not always the longest stretch of road, but pretty good for such a busy municipality.
The fall leaves are coming and the early arrivals were blowing and dancing in our path and under our wheels. The disgruntled clouds refused to relinquish any sunshine and though they looked like they really wanted to, could not summon enough moisture to make it rain. So with the dark roads enveloped in grey we appeared to be riding though what would have been the perfect setting for an eerie Hollywood thriller, but thankfully rain was not written into this script.
In one of the highlights of the day, we made a right turn and were able to see a school bus that had been in the line of cars behind our caravan. Bellowing from inside the bus was the sound of 40 or more kids chanting “Go Jim Go!” It was so sweet and touching as it was also a realization moment that this 10 year adventure has become a real recognizable brand and a true sense of excitement for the younger children.
Our first schools stop of the day was Collierville Elementary Stadium and the little Dragons who delivered us a check for $890. Then onto Farmington Elementary where we were delighted to be welcomed by everything from Ninja Turtles to Stormtroopers, to princesses, to vampires. In a Go Jim Go first, all the children (and teachers) were decked out in an early test run of their Halloween costumes! I didn’t see anyone dressed up as a Fundraiser (Bruno Maglis, Barbour blazer and a tumbler of 12 year old scotch), but they should have been because they gave us our biggest school donation of the day coming in at $3,038! Next was Riverdale Elementary and another super job for the cause and a donation of $2,700. Followed by a superfast downhill, with a tailwind run to Sonic at Winchester and G’town Pkwy for our usual city ride lunch stop.
Once again our generous lunch provider and big supporter, Bobby Solberg was there to greet us and offer us carte blanch on the Sonic menu. While we were enjoying lunch we were surprised by team rider Donna Brown’s boss who showed up to present Jim a check from the Memphis Credit Union for and unannounced check for $5000! Getting closer to that goal!
Since this was the last day, I went ahead and let what little hair I have left down a little and ordered a large soft serve vanilla ice cream on a cone. A delicious treat that unbeknownst to me I would get to experience a second time only not so enjoyable on take two. After we departed the Sonic I saw an opportunity to do a little stunt maneuver on my bike. It was a car transport trailer with the wheel ramps down so I rode up the ramp and bunny hopped off the edge. Moments later my front wheel tire succumbed to the impact and I flatted. The team stopped for a moment and Karen Malagorski was out of the support vehicle in a flash to assist. However, the team was on a tight time frame to get to the next stop and could not wait. Off they went as Karen and I changed the flat and Ray stayed back like a true bro.
Flat was changed, but the team was outta sight. With a headwind and a belly full of breakfast burrito and ice cream Ray and I had to drop the hammer. Post lunch interval training is awful and ice cream tastes way better the first time around, smooth cold and sweet not hot, regurgitated and burning. Soon the giant booty of the RV was in sight and with about 6 or 8 minutes ridding at 25 plus mph we were able to rejoin. Nice job Ray!
Next, our second YMCA stop of the day and then off to the Campus School on the University of Memphis Campus and another fat check of $1,100! Awesome Tigers! Motor we did to Idlewild Elementary and collect we did of yet another $2,100. Closer, closer! And last school stop of 2015 at Bruce Elementary.
What has also become a Go Jim Go tradition is our final run in prior to the telethon at Le Bonheur to the WREG offices down by the river. We rolled straight down Union Avenue with Johnny Cash blasting as we passed Sun Studios. More music that made Memphis as we played some Bar-Kays rolling past the Peabody and Red Bird stadium. Lots of perplexed looks, smiles and waves from the pedestrians. Left on Front street and deeper into the heart of the city. With the team in a giddy mode as we neared the end of our phenomenal 2015 experience, laughing, singing, waving, jolly and joyous…careful, watch the tracks!
Less than a half mile from the station and the end of the ride, after 5 days of flawless riding, Jim went down. It happened behind me and I heard the indescribable, but awful sound of a bike and body impacting on the hard deck of the road. As I turned to look behind me I saw our man in a heap on the ground with a grimace on his face. I had not yet come to a full stop when my front wheel also went into one of the treacherous ruts causing me to almost fall as well. When I got back to Jim he was back on his feet. Dr. Andy was already assessing him. It was later determined that Dr. Andy’s pedal has impacted the back of Jim’s helmet causing a large chunk of the helmet to break off. Other riders had thought for a moment seeing a piece of something bouncing down the road that it was some part of Jim’s head!
We waited a moment inspecting for any serious damage as Jim insisted that he was fine. In what could have been a disastrous moment and very easily a broken collar bone, wrist or hip, it appeared that we had been blessed another miracle because aside from a scrapped knee and a bloody elbow, Jim was OK. Back on the bike he was on his way. I’d like to compliment you Mr. Jaggers on your ability to bounce. And if it is any consolation, railroad tracks continue and will always be one of the most treacherous nemesi to the skinny road bike tire. They have claimed the bike, body and bone of all levels of cyclists. Cycling Tip (for the masses): Always cross a railroad track with the most perpendicular angle possible and it they are wet, get off and walk.
We rolled into the always warm and genuine reception from Mr. Walter, General Manager and the entire Channel 3 staff waiting for us in the parking lot with pizza and ice cream. Somebody had started a cruel rumor earlier in the day that there would be a margarita machine this time, but it was only wishful thinking as we were all still on the clock. Another Kuhar idea shot down in flames.
The team was placed on a temporary holding pattern at the station as we waited for the final segment of the ride to the hospital and the live telethon. We hung out in the RV and in addition to fondly reminiscing about the most heartfelt moments of our week together also seized every possible opportunity to give each other the most good natured grief and ridicule about every flaw, mistake and personal silliness encountered on the ride. Hilarity ensued.
Last roll out. We saddled up at around 5:30 and did the last leg over to the hospital and the big show awaiting us. We got to the hospital and all the activity of the staff volunteers and audience prior to the showtime at 6:30. In typical showbiz fashion, it was hurry up and wait while we stage our bikes in the hallway waiting for the cue to ride down the long corridor straight into a live TV show. The most poignant advice of the entire event; don’t crash on live TV.
Nobody did and it was a terrific show. It was highlighted by so many amazing stories, sponsors, contributions and excitement. Steve Roberts even showed up with another $17,000! Hats off the John Gwin the WREG Director of the live broadcast who from my perspective pulled off an amazing show and provided a showcase for the for the final grand total of $343,129! WE DID IT! Got the goal and then some! Wow! So happy for the team, Le Bonheur and Jim!
Well, that’s it. End of the 2015 reports. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read the blog and for those who offered their comments and compliments. I enjoy bringing you a little insight from the road and a look behind the scenes of Go Jim Go. It’s a very special event to be a part of and I am truly grateful.
That gratitude also goes out to so many who make it all possible; Meri Armour, Ron Walter, Rick Kanschat, my wife Regina, the Support Services team at Le Bonheur, Eric Sefton, Scott Sutherland and the staff at WREG, David (Hotty Toddy) Henson, Antoinette Katoe, Karen Malagorski, Sarah Patterson, the amazing Steve Roberts, my Go Jim Go Teammates; Donna, Wayne, Steve, Ray and Bill, Keith the RV diver, the staff of the Le Bonheur Marketing, Communications and Foundation teams, the generous sponsors, Sonic, YMCA, Bikes Plus, Southhaven RV, the amazing teachers, school administrators who coordinate and orchestrate and the school children who take the time to make the signs, make the donations, make us feel so welcome and help us achieve our goal every year all while learning the value of giving. Thanks to all who gave, be it a little or a lot, it matters.
And lastly, to Jim, my thanks and appreciation for your passion, energy and commitment that has been unfaltering over an incredible ten years. Congratulations sir…A job well, well done.
Thank you all for a fantastic 2015 Go Jim Go! Until next year…