Paul Stockham's Blog
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Bike 4ALS – New York City to Virginia Beach!

Just finished an epic bike ride with Brian Ennesser who is raising money for ALS. Brian sadly lost his mother Lois to ALS last year and decided to do something positive to honor his mum and raise money to help others suffering from the same disease.

That was the inspiration for Bike 4 ALS and the ride south! Brian, his family and friends started planning the event and the idea was born, a 400 mile bike ride in 5 days! I first met Brian this winter when he showed up at the Liberty Cycle club rides on saturday mornings. He looked kind of new to riding, but obviously fit and we wondered what his background was? It turns out he was an Army Ranger and served in Iraq and Afghanistan – hence the fitness!

Brian quickly made a lot of good friends at Liberty Cycle, determined, a quick learner, no whining and a great sense of humour! All the traits you need to be a good bike rider! We also started hearing about THE bike ride – 400 miles in 5 days? Pretty ambitious for someone who had been riding less than a year, but hey the guy went through Ranger school and does not have the word quit in his vocabulary, so the smart money was on Brian to do it!

We thought it would be nice to ride with him on some of the stages and give him some moral support, so Paul Acomb (another buddy from Liberty Cycle) and I decided to ride with Brian for the last 3 days. This event was planned like a military campaign – route planning, website, social media, support vehicles, sponsorship and contacting every Police Department on the route!

We met up with Brian, his dad George and brother (also George) in Baltimore on Wednesday night. They made us feel really welcome and we were drafted into “Team Ennesser” for the rest of the ride! We were also handed printed route maps of every mile and every turn, which made the Tour de France stage maps look like a little bike ride with the kids!

The plan was Paul and I would split the stages and ride in front of Brian to keep him out of the wind and give him a draft to ride in.

When we met up with Brian, he had already done 240 miles in 2 days, including Philly to Baltimore, riding 120 miles on his own, with just the support vehicles!

For non cyclists reading this, 120 miles a day is tough, the same as a typical Tour de France stage, but riding alone makes it harder as you don’t get the draft from other riders.

I started writing this on saturday morning, watching the sun come up over the Chesapeake looking forward to the last stage (only 60 miles today!) and wanted to share my thoughts on the ride and more importantly the reason for the ride and what it meant to Brian and his family.

Day 3 Baltimore to Fredericksburg – 89 Miles

We rolled out of Baltimore just after 6.30am with a full police escort clearing us through all the intersections and traffic lights and really appreciated their help in getting us out of the city safely in the early rush hour traffic.

The early miles were tough with traffic and a nagging headwind (more on that later!), but we picked up another Police escort to get us through DC and got to the halfway point without any problems!

We swapped riders for the last 45 miles and I was surprised how much headwind there was! We were hitting some rolling hills and the wind never eased off. I don’t mind admitting it was a tough day and talking with Paul Acomb afterwards he said the same, but knowing Brian had got 240 miles in his legs from the previous 2 days meant we were both very motivated to give him a wheel to follow for the whole ride! On the run into Fredericksburg the wind was even stronger and I felt pretty hammered, but even more impressed with Brian who not once asked us to ease the pace!

Day 4 Fredericksburg to Smithfield Station – 120 Miles

Another early start with a cool morning and a light mist over the trees. Nice country roads today with not much traffic and although the headwind was still blowing Paul A and Brian were clicking off the miles at a good pace and looking good! This is an area with a lot of history, we passed through several Civil War battle sites including the Shrine to Stonewall Jackson. Jackson got his nickname at the 1st Battle of Manassas after his Brigade rallied the crumbling Confederate lines despite heavy casualties and the name stuck.

Apart from a minor detour which was quickly rectified the guys were ahead of schedule and looking good. George Senior and George Junior did a great job for the whole trip looking after the navigation, liasing with all the Police Departments and most importantly keeping us topped up with food and fluids on the ride! Thankyou guys!

We swapped riders and had planned to start the next session at a steady pace and do one more stop before the Ferry crossing at Jamestown. The first few miles were on fast roads and despite the headwind we got into a good rhythm and were riding at a fast pace. Brian was obviously feeling good today and when the car came up to tell us we had a planned stop coming, he wanted to keep going so we kept going to Jamestown with a Police escort for the last few miles. After the Ferry it was only 7 miles to the finish of the stage, but we ended up riding to the Hotel as well to get in a few more miles! 120 miles today at nearly 20 mph average, with a headwind! 

Today was so much better than yesterday, we all felt good and just rattled off the miles! We guessed Brian must be feeling pretty tired now after 450 miles in 4 days, but again no complaints and everytime we asked him if the pace was ok, the answer was “good”! We stayed at a great hotel right on the water and had a couple of beers that night and a great dinner, knowing that we had broken the back of the ride and everyone was in good spirits! We also knicknamed Brian “Stonewall” like the original he doesn’t break!

Day 5 Smithfield Station to Virginia Beach – 60 Miles

The home stretch! Today we had the full team with Brian’s friends coming down from New Jersey to join him on the last day. These guys have all been involved in organising the event and had ridden with Brian on the first day, so it was great that they were there to see him hit the finish! There were rainclouds as we prepared to leave and the inevitable headwind coming in off the Chesapeake Bay, but we all knew that Brian was going to make it now, actually I think we knew that all along!

There was a great atmosphere on the last day, we were all happy and relaxed and as strange as it may sound, I was almost sorry it was over. Tired and glad to see the finish yes, but it really had been an inspirational few days and I didn’t want it to end. I would happily ride myself into the ground for this guy again and in fact have already signed on for the 2011 event!

Both Paul and I finished this ride with huge respect for what Brian had accomplished and we were proud to have played a small part in what he has done. He and his brother George are a credit to their late mother Lois and father George and this event is a great way to honor their mum. Thanks again to everyone who made this happen and run so smoothly!

So far Bike 4ALS has raised $15,000 (50% more than the original target) and if you are as  inspired by Brian as we all are please go to the Bike 4 ALS Website and make a donation NOW!

There are also a lot more pictures from the ride on the Bike 4ALS Facebook along with messages of support. For the record the total ride was over 500 miles not 400, but you have probably realised by now Brian is not the type of individual who is held back by limits!


5 Responses to “Bike 4ALS – New York City to Virginia Beach!”

  1. Congratulations on a great ride! I live about five miles from the Dale Blvd/Rippon St intersection pictured above. Rte 1 is a rough road for cyclists. I’m glad you had a support vehicle keeping the traffic off your back!

  2. Congrats! I’m inspired!!!

  3. Thanks Jackie! It really was an inspirational experience riding with Brian!

  4. Hi Paul, wow! I’m impressed!!!

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