2009 MS 150 and the Zuma 125

Folks that know me, realize I have two passions that revolve around two wheels; Bicycles and Motorcycles. My friends at Central Florida Riders found out that I also ride bicycles and asked me if I would ride with them on the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) 150. Again, if you know me, you remember that I was a competitive bicycle racer for many years, so the thought of the ride interested me. I had never ridden an "MS150" but I had heard of the ride over the years and I had heard good things and bad about the ride itself. The last organized bicycle charity-type ride that I had done was the Ride for the Roses in Austin back in 2001 and other organized rides like the 5 Borough Bike Tour. Charity rides are a mixed bag of fun. Obviously you are helping out a cause, but depending on the "organization" or the "organization" it will be a fun time or a nightmare. The 5 Borough or 5 boro was organized to perfection and the 70 or so miles that we rode that day was lots of fun as was The Ride for the Roses. The MS150? Riding around Lake Wales in mid-May-Florida didn't sound like too much fun and my racing days are a few years in the past, although I obliviously still ride and I have trained with my friends leading up to the MS150. I left myself the option of riding with them right up until the last minute because I had another "Two-Wheeled-Agenda".

I've always seen the Tour de France and envied the folks on the motorcycles who follow the Peloton. I wanted to do the same and decided that if I didn't pedal the MS150 I would tag along and provide support. I went to the MS150 bike site and found where the volunteers could register and to get some information. I found the following .pdf on their website. I was encouraged when I saw the following paragraph.

"Motorcycle Safety Patrol –Motorcyclists are often the first to come across a
cyclist in need of aid. Must have your own motorcycle and provide proof of a
valid driver’s license and motorcycle insurance

Way cool! Obviously I have my own motorcycle and a PERFECT one for something like the MS150. A Yamaha Zuma 125!!!

The Zuma 125 will do 55-60mph and is small and perfectly suited to ride around bicycles. It's a scooter that is perfect for the speeds that I might have to crawl along at!

I also saw this paragraph in the in FAQ section

What if someone wants to meet me along the Tour?
"If riders have family or friends driving to meet you anywhere along the tour, we ask that they please use the alternate route. A plentiful supply of support vehicles, including medical, SAG, bike repair, staff and supply trucks, are on the route to assist you. In addition, when you consider the vehicles of individuals who live in the area of the route, it can become congested. Please tell supporters to avoid driving on the bike route. For everyone’s safety, we need to eliminate as much vehicular traffic as possible. Please note that parking areas at rest stops can be limited. Once again, please consult the route map."

Ok, obviously a Zuma 125 is definitely a vehicle, but if they like motorcycles on the course, a Zuma 125 will not be a problem in the least bit! I thought about registering as an official vehicle, but I didn't want to explain to the organizers what a Zuma 125 was and what was it's capability. Sure, I could tell them I would use one of my Sport Touring machines (a Kawasaki ZZR1200), but as a bicyclist I know how slow I will go at times, and in Florida? A 1200cc motorcycle, will possibly overheat or not be able to stop along side the road in the sugar sand! A motorcycle is definitely NOT the best vehicle to take if I want to mix it up out there on the course and retain my safety and the safety of the bicycles. The Zuma, because of it's small size and mass is magnitudes better at being in close proximity to bicycles. The mass is less than a motorcycle. The emissions are less. The noise is less. Heck, with my Zuma out there, I will be a force for good!!!

So I decided...The Zuma would go and support my friends (and others) on the MS 150 as an unofficial support vehicle! Bill would drive me down on the back of the Armada and I'd work my way home from Lake Wales!

The MS150 ride started/Finished from Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales Florida.

My friends - Jason, Chris, Tracy and Richard were going to be the riders that I would support.

From Left to Right - Jason, Richard, Tracy and Chris.

The Zuma 125 Ready to Go!!!


Chris and Richard


The awesome Zuma 125!!!

They're off!!

Where is Tracy!?!


There is Tracy!!

Yee Ha!


Richard..with Jason suck'n some wheel, you can barely see him!

There's Jason!!!


Smile to go for miles!

Chris asked me to hang back with Tracy, so I decided that I would follow her and speed up to get pictures of the rest of the team. After the first SAG stop, I never saw the guys until the end. It was me and Tracy for the rest of the day. Here, Tracy is thinking about what is in store for her the rest of the day. The temperature is starting to creep up and things are getting a little hot out there. The Zuma is doing GREAT!!! I am able to ride around and ask other riders if they are doing ok and if there is anything I can do. It feels great to be out there on the Zuma, although I was also wishing I was on my bicycle. Next year Bill will do the Zuma and I will be on the Bicycle!

Tracy is getting a little sun here, but she looks great for the hills and miles she's done so far.

Yep, gotta hydrate!

The Zuma at the first rest stop. Notice how it blends in with other two wheeled brethren! Not a motorcycle and definitely not a truck taking up a TON of space out there on the course. I look back at my Zuma and think I have done a wonderful thing taking it out there and helping where I can!

A few miles past the the second rest stop, I come across a bicyclist who has broken his chain. Sure enough, the guy on the motorcycle below, a Honda ST1300 was the first to arrive on the scene. He called the SAG support guy. The ST1300 if you note, does not pull off the side of the road because of the sugar sand. If I was on my ZZR1200 I would have stayed on the road surface too! The place where the bicyclist pulled off is on the edge of an Orange grove. The Zuma 125 was easy to get off the road and did not sink into the sugar sand.

When I raced bicycles I was the team mechanic. I'm still a capable one. I diagnose the problem with the chain and realize that the rider destroyed their master link, which happens to be a simple thing to replace. The master link on the chain is one of those quick disconnect master links; I notice this, and figure the SAG guy will too.

As you can see, the Zuma 125 is off the road, and we are starting to fix the chain!

The SAG guy is rummaging through some parts in the back of his pick-up and gets a chain out of a SAG kit he was given. I notice he says "Heck, you need a whole new chain" to the rider to which I step in and say "All he needs in another master link". It appears that the SAG guy is not a great mechanic or is not familiar with expensive road-bikes. I realize I am going to have to get "involved". I go to the back of the pickup, put my camera down and make the repair to the bicycle. The master link took a few seconds to put on. I then straightened the links that had become torqued/twisted when the bicyclist didn't stop pedaling when the chain came apart. The repair, with my "race-honed-skills-of-yesteryear" was over in under 10 minutes! The Bicyclist was on his way and happy as a clam!

A few miles up the road I also came across another bicyclist - riding a lightspeed with an English accent - who was having problems with directions and his bike. I told him that there was another rest stop up the road and showed him the route on my GPS. He showed me his map, and realized that he didn't know where he was and that he was way off where he thought he was! I told him I'd meet him at the next rest stop and I'd look over his bike while he got some refreshments.

Arriving at the next rest stop, my parade was rained on. After the above bicycle repair and telling another rider that I would be waiting to help him, I was feeling really good about myself and being out there. I got to the third rest stop and a white truck pulled up next to me. A man and a woman were inside and they identified themselves as the coordinator of the SAG vehicles. The woman inside started talking to me and I realized from her tone, that I was in some kind of trouble. She asked if I was supporting a particular rider and I said "kinda, but I have a first aid kit and power aide and water and tools for whomever needs it". She then said that I needed to leave the course and stop immediately. I was to stop "interfering" with the ride. She said that I was not allowed to be anywhere near the riders. I laughed and said "You're joking right?" To which she said "No". I then said "Ok, so where have you been for the water I have already given out? Or the repair I have already done out on the course or the rider that is coming here that I told I would fix his bike?" Obviously, she was not interested as she got out of her truck and walked to the refreshments. I turned and started talking to the guy who was driving. He seemed nice enough, and they did have a point in that I wasn't the "official" support for the ride. I could tell that he realized that I was helping, and I pointed out the guy who needed help as he rolled into the rest stop.

The guy in the truck said thanks, and he got on his walkie talkie and directed some folks to help the guy I pointed out. I walked over to the guy I told I'd help fix his bike and told him that I wouldn't be able to look his bike over and that the ride folks would be the ones to turn to. He said thanks, and was grateful that I was there, since I had also given him some water when we first met.

I turned to get back on my Zuma and leave, when I noticed the woman who had gotten out of the white pick-up truck. She was getting back into the truck with her arms full of crackers and refreshments. Yepper! She was definitely into helping - helping herself out!!! Gotta get all her freebies for being an "Official" support crew. Did she even offer me a cracker? Nope. Nothing. So much for the "Spirit of the MS 150".

Just as I was about to leave on the Zuma, Tracy pulled up. I told Tracy that I would meet her at the lunch stop since I couldn't ride near her anymore. She understood, and off I went. I wanted to leave the MS150 and go home, but I had Chris's car keys and his and Tracy's sandals in my Zuma. I programmed/mapped out the route in my GPS and knew no other way around the boonies / Orange groves, so I would have to follow the route so I could be at the next rest stop.

The Lunch Stop

I got to the lunch stop with the lady in the white truck and her meanness fresh in my mind. Here I was, out on the course, baking and offering support for anyone that needed it. Did the woman not realize that the Zuma and me were a winning combination out there? I felt my balloon deflating, but I decided to not let it bother me. There was a wonderful lady, in contrast, in a maroon/red blazer/SUV that was giving folks rides back to a central location. She was alone in her vehicle, was an elder lady and she was working VERY hard to make sure things and people were taken care of. Alas, the lady in the white pick-up had another focus. As I pulled into the lunch area, I saw a car with a ton of antennas and a guy sitting next to it in a beach chair. I parked the Zuma next to him and said howdy.

As I was pulling off my helmet, the man came up to me and started talking. He identified himself as a Sheriff or something and that if I didn't leave right away, I would have to deal with the Polk County Police! I said "Excuse me? Do you have the right person?!" He then said "You're the woman on the moped that is holding up traffic and harassing the riders. If you continue this, we are going to call the police and you will deal with them".

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Obviously I was not holding up any traffic - I can do 55mph! Obviously I was not harassing anyone - I fixed a bike and gave out water! Obviously I had broken no laws - I am on a licensed and registered vehicle on public roads!!!. A Zuma 125 is NOT A MOPED! WTF?

Not wanting to create a problem, I was super nice and respectful, but I had to wait for Tracy. I told the Sheriff that I was going to wait for my friend, and that I was on public property so I was doing no wrong. In saying that, I realized that I was right at the edge of him making a scene and me getting into deeper trouble. Thank goodness I am an ex-bicycle racer as several folks from the Florida Freewheelers who I used to ride with, saw me and came up and gave me a hug! The Sheriff saw this and a few of the people that I had helped come up and thank me while I was standing there. In an instant, the Sheriff realized that he had been given bogus information (Gee, I wonder from whom!?!) about me being out there. He was doing his job and since his wife was also there in a beach chair, I was given a reprieve from anything bad happening. We talked for a few more minutes and I used my best behavior to make sure he realized that I was one of the "Good-Guys". He turned out to be a nice guy and we even kept talking while I waited for Tracy to show up.

Tracy finally showed up, and she had gotten into a group of women who were also riding at her pace. I told Tracy that I would wait for her at the next rest stop, thanked the Sheriff for being nice and rode off.

The Stop After Lunch

At the stop after lunch I was really freaked that I was going to end up in jail if I showed up at anymore stops along the MS150. I pulled in across the street from the rest stop under some shade trees where I saw two motorcycles. When I pulled up on the Zuma, one of the motorcycles gave me a dirty look, started his bike and rode off. The other biker - a guy named Jinx - was on a Yamaha Star and was a sweet guy and part of the "official motorcycle" escort of the MS150. He laughed at my story about my troubles and said he was glad I was there! He said a Zuma was probably the best bike out there since his Yamaha was getting hotter and hotter having to go so slow. Dan, on a Victory full dresser also pulled up and he too was super nice and laughed at the story. It seems that ALL of the motorcycles that were involved in the MS150 were happy and cool with me being there!!! If I were to narrow it down to a person giving me a bad name? Yep, the Cracker-hoarding-mean-spirit from way back. Dan kinda laughed and said to stay with him and listen to his tunes for the rest of the ride. Around motorcycles, I felt accepted and my balloon started to inflate again!

Tracy made it to the rest stop and she came under the shade where I was. She had a rash on her legs, and we wondered if things would get worse. As you can see in the picture below, folks were getting VERY tired!

The Final Rest Stop

Getting to the final rest stop (staying close to Dan) we waited for Tracy to show up. I got to talk to some of the bicycle folks who were there to help with support. One of the guys - Darrell I think - was from David's World and he remembered me from my racing days. For about an hour we talked about the good old days and talked about how we didn't race anymore and how things changed. It was fun reminiscing with him.

As I stood there talking with Dan and Darrell, the MS150 director pulled up in his white Pontiac Vibe or a car that looked like one. The driver (an older gentleman) and younger man were inside. Back at the rest stop where the Sheriff talked to me, he said that the MS150 director was the one who told him the information about me being a pest out there on the course. Here was my opportunity to set things straight. I walked up to the younger man and asked if he was the director.The younger man said he wasn't the director; it was the older gentleman.

I walked over to the driver's side, greeted the man with my name, a handshake, and a smile.

He was a very nice man! I explained to him that I was the person on the Moped - actually a Zuma, capable of 55-60mph - who was out there. I apologized and explained that I was not trying to be a problem. He then talked talked to me and made some very good points about staying safe and helping during a ride like this. He explained how this paragraph in the in FAQ section made sense.

- What if someone wants to meet me along the Tour?
"If riders have family or friends driving to meet you anywhere along the tour, we ask that they please use the alternate route. A plentiful supply of support vehicles, including medical, SAG, bike repair, staff and supply trucks, are on the route to assist you. In addition, when you consider the vehicles of individuals who live in the area of the route, it can become congested. Please tell supporters to avoid driving on the bike route. For everyone’s safety, we need to eliminate as much vehicular traffic as possible. Please note that parking areas at rest stops can be limited. Once again, please consult the route map."

He realized the Zuma 125 was a perfect vehicle to be out there with the bicycles. He realized that the above rules, while applicable to the Zuma, were written with Cars/Truck/Vans in mind. He (and I knew) he couldn't endorse my involvement out there, but he was happy that I was out there and thankful for my contributions. He asked if the folks were nice to me when they told me the rules. Not wanting to ruin the vibe, I said nothing about the Cracker-hoarding-mean-spirit from way back. Next year he asked that I register and become official. He made me feel welcome and part of the experience. He fully inflated my balloon and I came away with a great time.

Me, my friends and my Zuma 125...what a cool day in hot Florida for a good cause!

The finish!

I ended up doing about a 100 miles on the Zuma.

Until next year - and being an "Official Member of the Motorcycle Support"

Lauren 5/17/2009