Originally posted by Dale Robertson at the Houston Chronicle.
Early on in her training for this weekend’s 25th anniversary BP MS 150, Carolyn Gomez took a nasty fall on her bicycle. It was her first and it really, really hurt, leaving her with multiple abrasions and bruises.
“I wanted to cry,” she admits.
But Gomez kept her tears in check and climbed right back on the bike. No way she was going to not finish that ride, just as there’s no way she’s not going to make it to the La Grange campground Saturday, and into Austin Sunday.
“My mom can’t quit having MS,” Gomez said. “She can’t quit being confined to a wheel chair. So quitting is not an option for me, either.”
The 35-year-old Harris County Justice of the Peace Court 2-1 clerk ranks among the rawest of MS 150 rookies. Training only since January, she will set out Saturday morning having never pedaled more than 20 miles on a single ride. Still, as will be the case for so many of the expected 13,000 on the road, the hope of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis will serve as a virtual tailwind, an extra gear pushing her toward the finish line at the state capital.
She’s a realist. She expects to be far closer to the broom wagon than what the French call the “tête de la course” – the head of the pack. There’s no way, however, that she’s going to SAG either day, even if she misses the time deadline.
“They’ll have to chase me,” she said. “I’m not getting off the bicycle until I finish.”
Gomez’ mother, Irene Valdez, was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago and has been confined to a wheel chair since 1998. Mom was moved by her daughter’s plans on her behalf, but also fearful.
“She told me, ‘You don’t even have a bicycle! You’ve never done anything like this. You’ll get hurt. What if you can’t finish?’ ” Gomez said. “But I finally convinced her everything would be all right.
“I’m excited and nervous, too, but I don’t know what I’m nervous about because I don’t know what to expect. I compare it to giving birth to my daughter four years ago. I didn’t know what that would be like, either.”
Several of her office colleagues agreed to ride with her, and it didn’t take them all long to conclude that joining an experienced team would be a wise idea. Gomez signed on with one of the best, Sun & Ski Sports, and says team captain Casey Chapman has been invaluable in allaying her fears about the challenge ahead.
“I know I’m going to be really tired, and I know my butt is going to hurt,” she said, “but I’m going to finish.”