Who are the MSing Links?
The MSing Links are a group of amateur bike riders who have organized to raise money for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The MSing Links are some of the friendliest folks around, with a diverse cast of characters from all walks of life. The vibe is decidedly casual, and though most of us are very serious about our cycling, we're all just out to have fun and get some sunshine and exercise.
Nonetheless, we constantly seek to improve our riding skills, and we enjoy the thrill and satisfaction of a good paceline. Everyone is expected to take their fair turn at the front, even if just for a minute or so. Novice riders who are uncomfortable in pacelines are encouraged to try our slower-paced rides. 'Raw' beginners may wish to check with their local bike shop. Many area bike shops sponsor beginner-level rides, which focus on building cycling skills.
When and how was the MSing Links Cycling Team created?
The MSing Links journey started with Christi Hales. In 1993 Christi was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In an effort to aid the battle against MS, her family and friends began participating in the annual Walk MS. In 1996, they began riding in the MS150 Bike Tour, and the club has been active in the event ever since. Christi served as the Team Captain as more friends joined on. John Lehnert became the MSing Links Co-Captain in 2002, and then led the team for several years. Don Belk, a past president of the Carolina Tarwheels, became Team Captain in 2011.
When and from where does the Team ride?
The MSing Links ride Saturdays year-round from Apex Nature Park (2600 Evans Road, Apex). Starting times vary by season; generally 9:00 AM during Eastern Daylight Savings Time and 10:00 AM during Standard Time. (Daily weather conditions may necessitate earlier or later starting times.) There are many other MSing Links rides offered throughout the year, since anyone who subscribes to our ride list can post a ride. We don't ride in inclement weather or on winter days where the high temperature stays under 40 degrees.
How far do the rides go?
Distance varies. Our longest rides are in July, August, and September, as we prepare for the Bike MS Historic New Bern Ride. Rides of 100K (62 miles) - or more - are not uncommon during this 'peak' time. Distances taper down to late Fall/early Winter rides in the 35-45 mile range, slowly building by Spring.
What is the pace? Is there more than one pace group?
Paces vary, depending on the Ride Leader. As the person who posts the ride, the Ride Leader will set the pace, which is to be advertised in the ride announcement. Most rides fall into the 16-18 mph category. It is expected that all riders can maintain the advertised pace. The MSing Links rides are always 'no drop', and the ride may split into different pace groups if necessary.
What are your favorite routes?
Routes will vary. Most rides travel through southwestern Wake County in the vicinity of Jordan Lake and Harris Lake, with forays into Harnett and Chatham County. The most popular rest stops are at Wilsonville and Merry Oaks.
How many people generally show up for the rides?
The size of the group will vary on any given ride, but on nice days there are as many as 20 cyclists. The MSing Links rides are best for someone looking to improve their skills and performance and to challenge themselves a bit, particularly in training for the annual Bike MS Historic New Bern Ride.
What should a rider bring?
Most riders will bring their own gear and basic tools for fixing flats. Nearly everyone carries a mobile phone these days, which is a good safety item.
What kinds of skills will be helpful?
Know the Rules of the Road! The MSing Links always obey the rules and safety comes first. We strive to be good 'ambassadors' for our sport. Also, good paceline riding skills are always a plus!
How are the motor vehicle drivers along the route?
We are fortunate to live in a generally 'bike-friendly' area. Cyclists are commonplace on the roads of southwestern Wake, and most motorists are patient and courteous. Unpleasant encounters are extremely rare.
Have you had any interesting or unusual experiences on this ride?
We're always fascinated by the evolving landscapes of our region. Newcomers are impressed by the close proximity of our urban centers to predominantly rural areas. Many riders have caught their first glimpse of a bald eagle while riding beside Jordan Lake.