Thanks to teammate Paul Decker for taking heaps of photos. If you are interested in obtaining a full-res version for your personal use, all Paul asks is to make a donation to our Bike MS fundraising page to help the fight against MS.
by Dean Okun and Vanessa Schilling
At the end of every year, Dean and I look through our videos and pictures to gather a kick ass selection for the end of year video. Every year, looking at these pictures, we have the same overwhelming feelings of happiness. We don’t even know where to start explaining how exciting Spidermonkey has been for us but we’ll try to scratch the surface.
When we first started this adventure 6 years ago, it really was just a few of us and the idea that we would ride together, have cool kits, and most importantly, call ourselves the “Spidermonkey’s”. That was the extent of our thinking. Needless to say, the first kit was not that cool and there were a lot of other unexpected side effects coming our way.
With some unbelievable luck, we got involved with Goose the week that we decided to officially start a team. It was a perfect match, we love beer and they love cyclists! We have built an incredible partnership with them and have met some terrific people throughout the years.
Turner also stepped into the picture right away, they were excited for what we were building and wanted to help us make something happen. They strongly agreed with our motto of “It’s about completion, not competition”.
We also knew we wanted to do something extraordinary and get involved with a charity. Bike MS was a natural fit and once we got involved, they saw what a fantastic group we were and decided they wanted to build a partnership with us. To date, we’ve raised close to $100,000 to help fight MS. Holy crap!
Throughout the years, we’ve gained some incredible sponsors who have become our friends. We feel very lucky.
In the first two years, we exploded so quickly that we had to close membership, we couldn’t handle anymore new people! This year, we capped our membership at 100 and are closed again. It has always been important to us that we keep the intimacy we have with the group.
From the beginning, we went to the races and a few of us even raced. It was and still is so exciting to cheer “Go Spidermonkey!” Now, we have an incredible group of hella strong racers and one of the nicest, down to earth pro cyclists on our team! It thrills us to think of all the people involved in growing this team into what we have now.
We can’t count the number of people who have come out on our rides and knew nothing about group riding. We love watching the team pitch in to help and encourage these new riders! We’ve even watched some of you go from falling at a stoplight clipped in to turning into terrific riders…and even ride leaders. Now, when we ride together, we’re like a well oiled machine! It’s so impressive to watch and be a part of. It’s one of the things we are most proud of.
Then, other things happened. We started going on cycling trips together as a team. We started training together over the winter at VisionQuest. Spidermonkey’s started racing cyclocross…and loving it! Awesome people started meeting other awesome people. It affected people’s relationships. It affected our relationship. We started dating. People started dating. People fell in love. Roomates happened. Strong friendships formed. Babies happened. Wedding’s happened. Dean officiated Spidermonkey’s Brandon and Justeen’s wedding and now Dave and Kristi’s upcoming wedding. People moved to other states, we go visit them! We continually meet people who truly inspire us and others. All of this through Spidermonkey. This is what overwhelms us with happiness.
We are extremely grateful for all the help we’ve had throughout the years from all of you. Even after years of riding with the same people, we still hear encouraging comments within the group: “Wow! Nice job on that sprint!”, “Get on my wheel!”, “Nice pull!”. We never ever would have guessed that we would know so many amazing people and have so many amazing friends! It’s true, that we meet the most incredible people while riding our bikes. Just think…Dean and I met on a Saturday morning group ride…the rest is history!
At the end of every year, we ask, “how will next year possibly be better than this year?” And every year, somehow it is.
Hello Family and Friends!
Thank you to everyone that has texted, called, emailed, posted on Facebook, etc. to offer words of encouragement and to check in to make sure I made it through the weekend alive! This past weekend was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Having come from a background of running and triathlon, this was my first endurance event in cycling. I knew I could do 100ish miles in one day because I have done it a few times before, but trying to do 150-175 miles over TWO days was something I was unsure I could do, but knew I wanted to try.
The start of the ride was delayed a few hours on Saturday due to bad weather. Thankfully this weather produced an overcast sky with some wind and light rain – which believe it or not – made for a manageable 100 miles on Day 1. The ride is completely supported, meaning there is a rest stop every 12-15 miles with plenty of nutrition, water, bathrooms, sunscreen, etc. I can only imagine what kind of site it was to see nearly 50 of us in orange/black cycling kits roll up on each aid station. Most people would cheer for us, and shout “we love the Spidermonkey’s” which was exciting and made me feel like somewhat of a celebrity. While we tried to ride as a group of 50 for most of the day, as the miles progressed, some legs got tired more quickly than others. There was a natural split in the group, and I ended up in a very enjoyable group of about 8 for the last 30ish miles of the day. By the time we rolled back to the finish area, I was MORE THAN ready to be off the bike and enjoy a cold beer and some food. I camped out with some of my teammates near the football stadium at NIU (in DeKalb IL) which turned out to be quite fun, yet provided very little sleep.
Day 2 was much more tough. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing hard and it was HOT. We took at team picture and then rolled out around 8:30am. It was a much harder ride due to the humidity, but the wind didn’t do us any favors either. It’s nice to be in the middle of a 50 person pack because it helps block the wind, but you also have to be very aware at all times so that when the group slows you don’t crash into the person in front of you. I was tired, and had some knee pain. It turns out that my seat had been a little too high up during the ride on day one, and I think I strained or pull the muscle behind my right knee. So, unfortunately that plagued me for most of the day. And, without offering up TMI (too much information), my undercarriage was pretty sore from 100 miles the day prior. Ouch!
We rode for 21 miles straight before we stopped. I knew at that first rest stop that I wasn’t going to make it the full 75 miles the group was planning on traveling. One group broke off and chose to do 35 miles, and I ended up with just three other teammates doing 50 miles. I was bummed to have to make that decision because I mentally had committed to 75. But, I also wanted to be smart about my knee, and let’s be honest, I wasn’t enjoying sitting on that bike seat so much after day 1 – if ya know what I mean :)
I rolled back to the finish area around 12:30pm, having clocked just over 50 miles for day 2. I was so happy to be finished, so thankful for some of my teammates that really helped me get through that ride, and so proud of what my team accomplished to fight MS!
Nearly 50 Spidermonkey’s came together to ride and raise money for this event. I’m thrilled to say that we exceeded our team goal of $40,000…and have raised over $44,500…and counting! Below is a picture of my entire team from Day 2. I’m sure by looking at this amazing group you can see why I had so much fun and why I love being a part of the cycling community with them. Personally, I have raised over $1,500. That’s because of you! If you know anyone that still wants to donate, please send them this link: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/mishmoore Donations are being accepted through July 31.
I am so grateful for every dollar you’ve donated to help fight MS. Throughout this fundraising experience I learned of far more people that have a connection to this disease than I ever would have imagined. I am humbled at the amount I was able to raise in just a few short months, and hope that your loved ones will be free of this disease one day soon through donations like these. In the meantime, please know that each and every person you donated on behalf of crossed my mind over the course of 155 miles. And, I have a sore bum and sun burn to prove it! :) They are welcomed discomforts to mend, knowing that together we are all fighting for a greater cause.
By Tim Hogan
My Specialized Rockhopper was stolen in 1998, and a cyclist friend of mine suggested I take a trip to Johnny Sprockets and invest in an entry road bike or a hybrid. Having spent the previous two years going over the bars in the Kettles and Palos Hills, I thought maybe a change would be good. I bought a Jamis Aurora with drops—which I hadn’t ridden a drop-bar bike since my 1986 Schwinn Traveller. (Thanks to 80’s movies like Quicksliver, Breaking Away and American Fliers, as well as a trip to the Little 500, I regularly donned my Campagnolo cycling cap and sped through the mean streets of Palatine like a zit-faced Kevin Bacon). I rode the crap out of that Jamis, including my first distance ride from Elgin to Lake Geneva with a group of fellow cycling buddies. Sadly, after some 11 years of service, the Jamis was stolen while locked to a fence outside of a bar in Wicker Park. I replaced it with a temporary $100 single speed I bought off Craigslist, which was in turn stolen from a neighbor’s garage whom I had loaned it to. Not to be dissuaded, I found an inexpensive Swobo commuter and a good lock. Along with a Burley trailer, this is the rig I typically use to pull one or more of my three my kids to school.
I began regularly commuting to and from work in 1999 and continue commuting by bike to this day. In addition to the health benefits and having more energy throughout the day, riding to work allows me to sort through things on my way in and decompress on my home. It’s also become an unexpected way to meet people, usually at stop lights along the Elston express. On one trip heading into work I noticed a guy riding an orange Voodoo frame and I decided to ask him about it. We rode together for a few miles and realized we had a lot in common—including having recently finished the miserable North Shore Century in the rain the week before. Turned out he has two kids eerily close in age to two of mine, and lived less than a block away. His name was Matt Katzfey and he suggested I come out for a Spidermonkey ride, which I did that very next weekend. (Ironically this would be the last I saw of Katzfey for almost 6 months). The timing was perfect, since the indie group I had been riding with for the past few years was starting to train pretty seriously for the Wisconsin Triple Crown and I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to training for those rides, but I still wanted to join regular rides.
In addition to my day job as a creative director, I serve on the board of an organization called EPIC—an organization dedicated to pairing creative professionals with nonprofits that need their help most. So when I saw that Spidermonkey assembled a team and raised money for the MS Ride, I knew this would be a good fit, and decided to join. Being my first exposure to an organized cycling club, I had no idea what to expect, but I liked the combination of competitive and recreational male and female cyclists that don’t take themselves too seriously. In 2012, I participated in the Easter Ride, plenty of WNR and weekend club rides, the Tour de Farms and the North Shore Century. I was able to raise almost $1,800 in the fight against MS (look out Decker!), and consider it to be the highlight of my summer. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people on the team, and have continued coming out as much as work and family allow—It’s been a great opportunity for me to improve at my own pace, which as of recently includes ass-kicking sessions at VisionQuest. Who knows, maybe my 40’s will be the decade I start racing.
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