Day 7…The final day…

Report from Day 7… A week late and a day short….

So….We headed out of Niagara Falls, Ontario last Saturday, a week ago…enroute for our final destination of Orchard Park, NY and the conclusion of their Greater Buffalo Chapter MS 150 ride. All was good. Actually great. Pics by the Falls, an easy ride along the lake and then a cross over into the US…into the US…Into the US or A. Beautiful houses and just chatting it up. Riding in a double pace line but easy. My front wheel was overlapping one of my teammate’s rear wheel by about a third….the line started sliding to the left and well…whoa…hold one…oh no….and we just touched hard and as it goes…the rear guy goes down….

Down goes Frazier, Down goes Frazier….earlier in the ride the joke was “if Bethel crashes in a forest and no one hears it…” Well, as in the Redwood forests…I crashed with the elegance of an elephant hit by a blow dart. Fortunately, there were no cars near us. My helmet was cracked in 11 places…hence ALWAYS wear a friggin helmet. My head was fine, just knocked out for a few seconds. Was taken by ambulance to the local hospital ER and then about 10 hours later I was transported to the best trauma hospital in Western NY, the Erie County Medical Center. They did a complete workup…no head or brain trauma and a broken collar bone. On the DL for about 6 weeks. But things could have been far worse.

Earlier that day, my teammates finished the journey in Buffalo. Somewhere near 460 miles around Lake Ontario. This special group of cyclists got the job done. And despite the toll it took on all of us, it makes us better people. And me, I am the lucky one to have so very many folks in my corner. To be able to represent you on this ride and, in the past and in the rides to come, thankful for your support. We are making a difference. We have to.

And so I will close now…very proud to have been on this adventure again this year. The fundraising is going fine. If you still are looking to donate please go to www.nationalmssociety.org/goto/davebethel2013

In the meantime, my request to you is a simple one. To take the time to thank the young men and women that you see in uniform…”for their service”. And at night to say your prayers for those in uniform, our families and friends and those that fight this disease every single day, that they are looked over and taken care of. And as my Ashtyn always concludes, “Dear God, take care of all of Daddy’s Marines…thank you God” Good night my friends, As always, I remain…

Semper Fidelis,

Your Friend, Big Dave

End of Day 6 – Niagara Falls

End of Day 6 – Niagara Falls (50 miles)

A terrific ride today. Left Hamilton and fought traffic for about ten miles and then we turned to and headed to the Falls. In essence this completes our loop around Lake Ontario and it has been meaningful to all of us in different ways. I have never been in upstate NY and Canada and I have to say that it is an absolutely beautiful part of our country. And the flowers and landscaping that folks have around their houses or the town squares…beautiful as well. I am so very proud of this group of riders, our coaches and of course our truck driver, Howie. He hauls the gear from point to point and like all of us, considers this team part of his extended family. A former Army type, we get along famously. He is our Log Chief and we are lucky to have him. The attached pic was taken by Howie of the Falls from the Canadian side. The Falls are magnificent, so very strong and endless in their power. Tomorrow we will conclude this year’s odyssey in Orchard Park, NY at the finish of the Greater Buffalo MS Society’s MS 150. Should be fun.

It goes without saying that I have kept all of those on “Team Bethel” close during this past week. Fighting to come off the DL has been a challenge but what else would I do?? I am reminded of our friend Andy Walker of last year extolling how we attacked the mountains in and around West Point. We miss him and Glenn and the Skipper, Edward, Terry, Jan and Bets. All good folks and we have been honored to carry the colors for them. Yup…summer camp is almost over and the aches and pains will subside soon enough, but the efforts of this team in fighting MS will continue to march.

Talk tomorrow after we wind this up. As Always, I Remain…

Semper Fi,

Big Dave

David A. Bethel

Business Development Analyst Senior Staff

Lockheed Martin MS2

2323 Eastern Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21220-4207

(609) 367-6030

howie falls

A special Addendum

My Friend Ian….

As I wrote last evening’s entry, I failed to adequately cover my Friend Ian Harris. He is second to the end on the team pic. An original member of the Great 8, he and I actually rode a year earlier before our first Great 8, in the RAGBRAI…the Iowa across the state ride. Never met as we were with 15,000 of our closest friends. Ian, a true philanthropist from Philadelphia, by way of South Africa is dedicated to the mission of the MS Society. He rides for those very close to him. Had a very enjoyable evening with him in Philadelphia at a dinner in which Gen Peter Pace USMC (Ret) for CJCS spoke. And then we opened a wonderful bottle of wine from his wine cellar with his bride Caryn. He and the other “Wise Men” inspire us all to do better. Good morning!!! OK…time to ride!!!

Day 5 onward to Hamilton, Ontario

Day 5 onward to Hamilton, Ontario (43 Miles)

Folks,

It’s late and we have had a full day. Even though only 43 miles, we banged it pretty hard in the morning before lunch. Had our lunch in a park along Lake Ontario in the town of Burlington. Very nice. Kids playing everywhere. Moms having picnics with their kids. A bike path to and fro. Calming. We headed out after we had our wraps and cold cuts and lots of veggies and we soon cruising along. Had a lot of gravel trails to contend with and a very steep portion in the woods that threw Mike Z and I out of our seats and we walked to the top. For safety everyone eventually had to unclip. Got back on the bikes and all finished very strong.

I have attached our team pic for this year. Taken outside of the “MS Achievement Center” in Rochester. Quite a group of folks. Diverse, dedicated, coming from all walks of life. Dear friends that are giving up a week of their respective lives to fight this fight, to peddle the miles, to get the job done.

From the Pic – Left to right…

Timmy B – Cancer survivor, world traveler with his company as a mechanical engineer. Has his own MS team out of Warwick Rhode Island. He is truly a “wicked Pissah”

Geoffrey “with a G”…Joined us last year. Cycles around Manhattan with his one foot not clipped in. Eloquent speaker. Was at his wife’s side as she battled MS and eventually passed from its effects. He rides to find a cure and in her memory.

Harold – Noted violinist with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the US Army Band, played at all White House receptions and dinners. A true Gentleman and with Geoffrey and Ian, one third of the “three wise men”

Mike Z – Our co-president and a great guy that has MS. Past 15 years. Cycling brought him out of a huge depression when he was diagnosed and now he is fighting the disease head on. A great guy to ride with since he is the only one I can draft behind.

Cat – Our other co-president. Speaks 7 languages fluently. Rallied to her brothers side when he was diagnosed and long with her family keep him going strong. She keeps Michael in line and actually all of us as well.

Lorinda – one of the original five, along with Ian, Cat, Mike and myself. Works two jobs, takes care of her dad and maintains the greatest attitude in this fight. Trained much for this ride and it shows.

Me – This picture paints the picture of what I get to pull up the hills!!!!

Scott”E” – Out of Allentown PA. Lost his dad earlier this year to complications from MS. Is the Inspector Gadget of the team with the helmet cam, Ipods/Pads/whatever. Always ready to step up and help.

Hope “Solo” – Joined us for last year’s ride and sets personal mileage records each time we go out. Rides for someone very close to her and gets the job done. Took a spill on the trail today, got up, brushed off and continued to march. She reminds me that she is NOT from Nyack NY, where we stayed last year in a very sketchy hotel.

Timmy – Our youngest member. Shaves like once a month. Can ride forever. Spent the last tour in the back, unselfishly keeping everyone together. Has a very close connection to MS.

So there you have it. The Alumni Tour. All ride for different reasons , with the one underlying desire to make a world free from MS. To make it that when someone is diagnosed with MS that they know they will be OK. To allow those that have this disease to live as best a quality of life as possible. I am honored to ride with them and to call them my friends.

Its late…time to sleep. We live in a great country…a place where we are free to live as we choose,

“Eternal Father grant we pray, to all Marines both night and day.

The courage, honor, strength and skill

Their land to serve, thy law fulfill.

Be though a shield forever more

From every peril to the Corps”

“Dear God take care of all of Daddy’s Marines…thank you God” – Ashtyn

Good night. I remain…

Semper Fi,

Big Dave

David A. Bethel

Business Development Analyst Senior Staff

Lockheed Martin MS2

2323 Eastern Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21220-4207

(609) 367-6030

Day 4 is in the books…73 Miles

Day #4 is in the books…73 miles. Around 300 mi total

What a day and may I say that Team Bethel is starting to make a wee bit of a comeback…Road with the first group for a while today, felt strong and knee all good. Had a chance to think about sports and the impact that playing, coaching and watching them have had on my life. Dinner with Coach Neer put things in motion and when he asked me what my mark was as a career Marine, I told him almost immediately that it was taking care of my Marines…”Mission First, Marines Always”. I have always believed that sports, team sports or otherwise, build that feeling of pride in all working together towards a common goal. Mom, who remains one of my greatest “fans” just winced when I was telling her about my knee and then this ride. But what are you gonna do. Hell, you all know we are going to get this ride done. And would I change a thing about my knee or my other physical issues??? (I said physical not mental…HA) Would I change …countless basketball games; High School, the Academy, The Marine Corps and then playing pickup and rec ball well into my 40s…Hell no. So throw on top of that miles and miles of humping a pack as a Marine and then a boatload of Marathons…No Mom, to me any issues that may surface are merely the result of a youth well spent.

Coaches…when I retired I introduced first and foremost my family and then had my fellow Marines stand that made the trip to Memorial Hall as then “Brigadier” General Joe Dunford to send me out the door. And then I talked about coaches…asked the folks there to stand that had coached kids on ANY level. Talked about the impact that they have EACH AND EVERY day in developing and shaping the youth of America. Finally, I asked my High School Coach, Skip Thorn and my College Coach, Dave Smalley to stand and to be recognized and thanked. Coach Thorn set me on the path and Coach Smalley got me through. They both set me up for success. And how very lucky I was to have had the opportunity to play for them.

And we have coaches out here with us as well on this ride. Joe (in today’s pic) is the owner of Destination Cycling out of Marblehead Mass…He and his team of Peter, MC and Nicolai keep us all safe and moving forward together. They set up this entire tour…mapping the routes, setting up lodging and meals and most importantly helping us to be better than we could ever be. Joe does it a great rate for the MS Great 8 and we are so fortunate to have them with us…or us with them, again this year.

This ride and working with the MS Society and raising money for much needed research keeps me going. Working with the players from Severna Park HS Basketball for our infamous “Saturdays with the Colonel” keeps me going. To work hard and put our Lockheed products in the hands of the warfighters keeps me going. Coaching my Ashtyn and now being a good Dad on the sidelines keeps me going. Being a good dad to my David Jr and Kate and their spouses Lauren and Ted as well as Baby Ian and Baby Morrison…keeps me going. And you all, yes you all on Team Bethel, keep me going as well. I am thankful every night for the great life I get to live and for the gift of your love and friendship. To be a better man than I ever thought I could be.

Soon time to eat and then to sleep. “How lucky are we, how lucky we are”.

Semper Fidelis,

Dave

David A. Bethel

Business Development Analyst Senior Staff

Lockheed Martin MS2

2323 Eastern Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21220-4207

(609) 367-6030

Day Three – Oswego into Canada

Day Three – Oswego into Canada (84 mi)

Beautiful day to start with as we rolled out of the rack and had breakfast at the hotel. Oswego is a tough town, like so many others up here, hanging on and trying to stay in the game. We quickly split into two very distinct groups which was fine. This is not last year’s ride for me…it is more a matter of just getting through. And so, as I often do when I ride, I quit worrying about miles and speed and then take an opportunity to do a self-assessment…topic for today is why do I, why do we ride.

One of my first Century ride’s was in CA when I was the CO of Marine Combat Training Battalion. It was the Local MS 150. Started at Huntington Beach State Park up near the top of Orange County and then finished the second day in the San Diego Harbor. I really didn’t know much about MS then, Geez I thought I was riding for Jerry’s Kids and Muscular Dystrophy. And so I rode and it was great. Beautiful ride down the Pacific Coast Highway. Came back to the Pentagon and lived in Maryland and quickly found out about the local MS rides and then all of a sudden I also start to find out about MS…Multiple Sclerosis. A very quiet and cunning disease that hangs out in the shadows. Not sure where it comes from, there is no cure. I met a host of folks through the MS Society and then when I started fundraising all sorts of people, family friends and fellow Marines started telling me about their family member or friend that has MS. And so I decided that I wanted to do my part to ensure that those with MS have way more good days than bad days. And from that I became a member of the committee and such and then part of this great team….this MS Great 8 “family”. And then, just when I thought we were good to go, Ashtyn’s Aunt Robin was diagnosed with MS. And then what was a cause, became very personal. I thought we had our defenses up and all was good. And so I ride for Aunt Robin now and equally for my daughter and nephew and young kids all the way through their 40s in hopes that these rides and our combined efforts will find a cure and allow those with MS to live a long and happy life. And so there you have it….why I ride.

We have a tough day coming up today…possible rain and the winds may turn unfavorable. Our coaches Joe and Peter, MC and Nicoli will keep us moving forward. One peddle stroke at a time. And so here is MY request to you today…besides good thoughts and well wishes…do your own survey at work or on the gym or at school on awareness about MS. In the meantime, know I am riding for you. Nothing better than getting a call from the ”Thousandth Man” LtCol Steve Walsh USMC (ret) reminding me that we made it through Plebe summer together back in 1974 with Professor Heinz Lentz leading up in PEP every morning on the Astroturf…And so…that is a good thought that I will carry with me today. I have loved reading your comments on my post and FB entries. So keep them coming. OK…time to get ready and GOOOOOOO. Have a great day.

Semper Fi,

Big Dave